ZALESKI, OH (WCMH) — As Christmas approaches, boys and girls are busy making a list and checking it twice. But, one Vinton County girl is dreaming big.
The sound of Christmas carols dance through the air as shiny ornaments hang on the village tree. A modest patch of snow clings to ground just as many in the small village of Zaleski try and hold onto the Christmas spirit.
“There’s not a lot in Zaleski anymore,” says village councilman Craig Walkerow. “The stores have left like a lot of small towns and it’s one of the things we have that brings people together.”
The Christmas spirit is alive in a community so small, you could blink and miss it. Stacey Thomas adds, “Everybody knows everybody.”
The village population is 274. It is one of the village’s smallest residents that has the biggest Christmas wish.
A letter to the village council put 8-year-old Haylee Lemay’s Christmas wish into action.
Haylee wrote, “To the Village of Zaleski. For this Christmas I think we should change some things around.”
That change would bring a smile to everyone’s face.
She explains, “Everyone should get one present. I think this is good for the town and to get an idea of what everyone wants, just ask, ‘what would you like for Christmas?’”
“By the end of the council meeting we kind of put a little bit of a plan together and left it for her to do the work for it,” Walkerow says.
Haylee’s mom Stacey laughed, “I never ever imagined that she would want to do anything like this. She is an amazing child and she has come up with a great idea to help her community out.”
“Usually in Zaleski, not everyone gets a present for Christmas, so it might be a big thing for people in Zaleski to get presents for Christmas,” Haylee says.
The young girl has raised $178 so far. The money will first buy presents for the elderly and village residents with no family.
The reason behind Haylee’s idea is simple.
“People are so nice to me throughout the year,” she says. “They always get me stuff and say ‘hello’ and ‘good morning.’ Also, Christmas is about giving.
“It makes me feel happy because whenever I give something to people, they always smile and say thanks.”
The true reason for the season restored by this adorable third grader and her Christmas letter that we all could learn from.
“Everyone will get to have a Christmas this year,” says Haylee.
If you would like to help Haylee, you can mail a donation to:
The Village of Zaleski
PO Box 176
Zaleski, OH 45698
Or contribute to her GoFundMe.