Wilmette, Community

10-year-old’s charity project is all heart

Tornadoes swept through western Kentucky on Dec. 10-11 and left devastation in their wake.

Many families, including the Gayles of Wilmette, watched it play out on the news. Ten-year-old Emmy Gayle saw heartbreak.

“We just woke up and saw it all over the TV,” she said. “It looked like they were really sad.”

She wanted to do her part to help and quickly came up with a project.

Emmy, a fifth-grader at Highcrest Middle School, created and framed hearts made from sea glass collected on the shores of Lake Michigan and sold them to friends and family, raising close to $1,500 for the victims of the deadly storm system.

“We wanted to show that Kentucky was in our hearts,” she said.

Emmy Gayle’s sea-glass project raised about $1,500 for victims of the recent Kentucky tornadoes.

The Gayles have family members who live in Kentucky; though they were not in the path of the tornadoes. Rob Gayle also attended the University of Kentucky.

He said that they posted about Emmy’s project on Facebook and immediately saw a response.

Emmy had been collecting sea glass throughout the pandemic — she called it a “really good distraction” during the shutdown. But with all the orders coming in, the family soon had to stop outreach efforts.

“We were getting pretty low on sea glass,” Rob Gayle said.

The funds were donated to the Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, and while sea-glass orders are closed, donations are open at the fund’s website.

Emmy was heartened by all the support her work garnered.

“It was really exciting because I haven’t done anything like this before,” Emmy said. “Most of the sea glass I’ve made goes to family for presents. It was really exciting to see more people who wanted to help.”


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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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