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Local sixth grader opts for gifts for needy instead of herself

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Albany/HV: Local sixth grader opts for gifts for needy instead of herself
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With new gadgets hitting the market seemingly every day, it's not surprising many kids have a long list when comes to asking for birthday and Christmas presents. But as YNN's Matt Hunter reports, for a Saratoga Springs girl, her lengthy wish list didn't include a single gift for herself.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – As Christmas approached this past year, a thought dawned on then 11-year-old Ella Payer.

"What's the big deal about Christmas?” Payer recalled. “Everyone's donating at Christmas but why not make it more of a year-round thing?"

With her birthday approaching the following month, she and her mother came up with an idea to help Saratoga's less fortunate. Rather than have her friends bring presents for her, she asked them to show up with gifts for the Franklin Community Center.

"My birthday was coming up and we thought it was a perfect opportunity," Payer said.

Ella's friends eagerly answered the call, supplying a haul of toys, toiletries and canned goods.

"It's just hard to think that we have so much but other people don't and it's great to know we can help them," said 11-year-old Kate Della Ratta, Ella’s friend.

"I was proud of her but I know that many of her friends would happily do the same thing," Ella’s mother, Beth, said.

In the months since, Ella has been pounding the pavement on social media urging her friends to take a step further. Much to her surprise, many people around Saratoga Springs have followed their lead and are now scheduling donation parties of their own.

"We already have a few parties in the grid as far as people getting ready to host them and drop off and we're hoping it really takes off," said Bo Goliber, Franklin Community Center’s coordinator of development and volunteers.

This week, Ella was able to get her Girl Scout troupe to pitch in and bring a fresh batch of supplies. With an ever-present need, she's grateful her small idea has sparked a growing trend.

"That's really cool, that's the very best outcome," Beth Payer said.

"I just felt how great it felt and I thought other kids should feel the same way," Ella said.

People wishing to host a party can contact Franklin Community Center by emailing or by calling (518) 587-9826. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP