Girl sells hot chocolate for Sandy victims

Mackenzie Gallagher, 5, sits at home with her

Mackenzie Gallagher, 5, sits at home with her sign and the $400 in cash she raised selling hot chocolate for superstorm Sandy victims. (Dec. 8, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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Five-year-old Mackenzie Gallagher came home from school about two weeks after superstorm Sandy and told her mom that she wanted to sell lemonade so she could raise money to buy clothes and mattresses for people devastated by the natural disaster.

Victoria Gallagher, 28, of East Rockaway, told her daughter that it was a little chilly for the cold drink.

"We decided on hot chocolate and she sold her little heart out," Gallagher said. She raised more than $400, which she will donate to her church's Sandy relief fund.

"I was thinking about the storm, the people, the people's houses and the money, and I put it all together," said Mackenzie, describing how she came up with the idea for the fundraiser. She spoke about her friend's home that was destroyed in Sandy and how that made her felt "scared and sad."

On a recent sunny and cold afternoon, Mackenzie got bundled up, putting on gloves and donning a winter hat over her long, dark brown hair, and went out to a corner near her home.

She set up shop, holding a cardboard sign she made with her mother. At first, business was a little slow, but it picked up, especially after Gallagher posted about the drive on Facebook.

Gallagher said her daughter "froze," but never once complained and stood on the corner for about three hours, toting her sign. She ran out of hot chocolate, so her grandmother had to go to the store to get more supplies.

Gallagher said one man bought a hot chocolate and later returned with the rest of his work crew, who all donated cash.

Another bought a cup and gave Mackenzie $50. Mackenzie also served hot cocoa at her church, where she received more donations.

Her drive has been dubbed "Mackenzie's Hot Chocolate Sandy Relief Effort." She has stored her proceeds in a cardboard treasure chest that usually holds her dress-up clothes.

The money will be sent to the headquarters of her church, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Franklin Square, in Pennsylvania, and will be added to its Sandy disaster relief fund.

Mackenzie's family, like much of East Rockaway's residents, experienced firsthand the wrath of Sandy.

The Gallaghers lost three of their cars, their basement was flooded and they didn't have electricity for weeks.

"I am so proud of her," Gallagher said. "It makes me honored to be her mom."

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