Rachael Mendohlson, an 11-year-old who lives in Quail Hollow, says her life is pretty idyllic.

“I’m blessed and lucky to live on a beautiful ranch with my parents and sister,” she says, where she helps care for 40 chickens, 20 cows, five cats and two rabbits.

That’s why, when she heard about a kid her age in Kansas who provided gifts to children staying in a homeless shelter, she thought she could do something similar in her community.

Rachael asked her dad, Lane, to help her get started.

Lane sought out a family shelter in Pasco County and found out that Rachael’s timing couldn’t have been better, as the county’s very first shelter that accommodates families is opening this month in Port Richey.

Rachael’s plan was to pack new backpacks with toys and activities so that kids arriving at the shelter would be greeted with a bag full of new items just for them.

To fund her idea, she planned to use one dollar from every dozen eggs she and her sister sold from their egg business.

That’s where Lane stepped in again, offering that his company, Vantagepoint AI, would pay for the backpacks and toys so that Rachael could have enough funds to make an impact quickly, making a donation that would pay for 70 backpacks, along with toys and activities to fill the backpacks.

Rachael and her sister, 8-year-old Abby, sorted the toys by age and packed all of the bags themselves, including items such as coloring books, colored pencils, a book, fidget toys, and magnetic drawing toys for the younger kids, while choosing items such as a watch and a hat for older kids.

“Being a girl and going to school, I know Pop Its fidget toys are very popular,” she said, “so I made sure to include a lot of those.”

In early October, Rachael was invited to bring her donations to the new shelter and speak to invited guests at the shelter’s opening ceremony.

She said that if she can do something good to bring someone else happiness, that’s what she wants to do.

“I hope a kid will see the backpack and think, ‘Oh my gosh, someone really cares about me,’ and that will give a little spark to make someone happy,” Rachael says.

Lane says he wants to pass on what learned from his parents to the next generation. “I want to instill those values of gratitude and giving people a hand when they need it in my own daughters,” Lane says. “It’s so important that they grow up that way.”

It seems he’s doing just that, as Lane says that Abby has expressed interest in finding her own way to give back, thanks to her inspiring older sister.

“Giving back is my way of saying thank you,” Rachael says, “because I’m grateful that I have such an amazing life.”

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