As a 6-year-old, she wrote a children’s book to raise awareness about the plight of dogs in the animal shelter, with all proceeds going to a local veterinary hospital to save a bulldog that was suffering from heartworms. She plans to follow up that book with another soon. So it wasn’t surprising to her mother, Christine Cassell, when Madison said she didn’t want any toys for her birthday. Rather, she wanted all her friends to bring pillows and blankets to help those who are less fortunate.
“I saw on TV a girl who got 30 pairs of shoes for an orphanage and that made me want to do something to help people,” she said. “I think (collecting blankets and pillows) was the first thing that popped into my head.”
Her friends obliged her request, and she also used the birthday money she got from relatives to buy more blankets and pillows, bringing her total to 30. Though her birthday has passed, she continues to collect items for families in need.
“We delivered to one family locally and we’ve been helping some other families to help them get a bed and some other stuff,” Christine said. “Whatever we have left over, we’re actually going to go to Atlanta. We’d love to help locally as much as we can because people don’t realize there are so many people right here who need our help.”
Madison and one of her friends, Hayden Arnold, went beyond donating blankets and pillows and gave a bunch of their toys to two local families.
“We went over there and surprised the kids and they were just ecstatic,” Christine Cassell said. “We’re still trying to find them a bed and a kitchen table. You can make a big difference in people’s lives just with the little things.”
Though Madison asked for only blankets and pillows, her mom and dad, Scott Cassell, did buy her three other gifts so she would receive something for her birthday she could use personally.
Christine has two other children, but she said Madison’s philanthropy is something that is unique to her. It’s partly genetics, she believes, but she gives a lot of the credit to what her daughter learns in church at LifeGate Church in the Mirror Lake community.
“I think a lot of it is just church and talking about stuff,” she said. “We’ve been going to LifeGate since she was 3 and they show films and they talk about these kids who don’t have water and you visually see it. It just kind of got to her and has gotten into her DNA. She listens to what Pastor Tony is saying and she gets it.”
Madison is so moved by what she hears in church she has already said she wants to be a pastor one day.
“Maybe one day I can open my own church,” she said.