Templeton native’s family receives support from across the nation in effort to adopt eastern European girl with Down syndrome
|Templeton native Kimberly Simpson says she understood adopting a child from overseas would be difficult.
What she could not foresee was the enormous support she would receive from family, friends and complete strangers from across the country.
“We’ve just been completely overwhelmed with the generosity and support from people close to us — people I haven’t talked to in years, and people we don’t even know,” said Ms. Simpson, who now resides in Wartrace, Tenn. “We’ve received donations from literally people from all over the United States.”
Ms. Simpson and her family — her husband Chris, and their three sons, David, 7, Henry, 6, and Jack, 3 — have been trying to adopt a young girl from eastern Europe who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. They have already named her Katie.
The amount needed to bring Katie into the Simpson household is roughly $30,000.
“When a child (in eastern Europe) with special needs reaches the age of five, they are transferred to asylums, which can often end tragically,” Ms. Simpson said.
After much deliberation and research, the family collectively decided that they wanted to adopt the young child, and started collecting loose change in plastic sippy cups in their home to begin the process of raising some money. Little did the Simpson family know that within months from the first coin they collected, over 200 similar cups would be in homes, schools and offices around the country.
Word soon spread of the Simpsons’ desire to bring Katie into their home — through social media websites, word of mouth and Ms. Simpson’s blog titled “Coins for Katie.” Her local community in Tennessee, as well as her former community in the Templeton, started to contact Ms. Simpson and ask for similar sippy cups with Katie’s pictures on it for their homes and offices.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for this little girl,” said Erin MacKay, who grew up in Templeton and graduated from Narragansett Regional High School in 1995 with Ms. Simpson. “Kimberly is the right type of person to share her life with someone who needs that type of help.”
Ms. MacKay is a first-grade teacher at Forest Avenue Elementary School in Hudson, and for this year’s community service learning program, the entire first grade at the school has joined in the cause to bring Katie into the Simpson family.
Around 90 students at the elementary school brought home sippy cups titled “Coins for Katie” to fill with change. The students also write to the Simpsons’ children, becoming pen pals over time.
The students use the drive in other curriculum studies, including graphing how many cups and coins are brought into the classroom, as well as studying the different makeup of families across America, according to Ms. MacKay.
“ Our students are creating a journey with them,” said Ms. MacKay, who is also a former Templeton Center teacher. “Even my two-year-old daughter is trying to fill a cup anytime she finds money.”
Multiple staff members at the elementary school have also brought the sippy cups home to fill.
The Simpson family inspired local Gardner High School student Brandon Hursey, 15, to help in the cause. Brandon has organized a benefit concert taking place at the high school auditorium.
“I figured it would just be a good idea to get money for the family to adopt the girl,” he said. “All the money is going to go to Katie.”
Brandon gathered his own band and other local musicians to perform at the event, scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 16.
“I’m so proud of him,” said Kathy Hursey, Brandon’s mother and a childhood friend of Ms. Simpson. “He can’t even clean his bedroom, but he can do this? I am shocked.”
Ms. Hursey reconnected with Ms. Simpson through Facebook, one of the multiple social media sites Ms. Simpson used to spread the word of her family’s mission.
Dozens of families across the country have donated items to the family to raise money at silent auctions and yard sales. There is also a team running a marathon in Tennessee next weekend to raise funds for the effort.
“There’s no way we can say thank you to all the people for the things they have done,” said Ms. Simpson. “This woman I never met all the way from Canada has a ‘Coins for Katie’ cup at her work office.”
There are currently “Coins for Katie” cups in Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Maine, Illinois, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Vermont, while various areas in Massachusetts, including Fitchburg, Hudson, Westminster and Gardner, also house the cups.
Once a sippy cup is filled with coins, participants send a check to the Simpson family, which has thus far raised nearly $6,000 in less than two months.
“The premise behind this is that a little bit of change from everyone adds up,” said Ms. Simpson.
“A lucky little girl is going to come home to a family and community that has already supported her so much.”
For more information or to have a cup sent to you, visit Ms. Simpson’s blog at www.TheSimpsonSix.blogspot.com