Metro-East News

Delaney Hall’s prolific donation machine keeps on trucking

The O’Fallon Progress

The O'Fallon Progress serves readers in O'Fallon.
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The O'Fallon Progress serves readers in O'Fallon.

What began as a birthday fundraiser six years ago has turned into a labor of love for not only Delaney Hall, but her family, friends and the community.

Turning 13 on May 2 might be the best year yet, as her efforts on behalf of Randy’s Rescue Ranch has yielded $10,000 — her goal was $6,000 — and a truckload of supplies.

Delaney recently presented Randy Grim, who founded Randy’s Rescue Ranch in 2017, with the check and supplies. The ranch is on 20 acres at 1400 East Highway 50 and is a safe home for many kinds of animals.

“Not only are we grateful for Delaney’s tireless work to help the animals, but she is a wonderful reminder how one person really can change the world. She inspires!” Grim said.

Grim wasn’t the only one stunned. So was Delaney.

“I was very surprised by how much was raised for the animals at Randy’s Rescue Ranch,” she said.

Her mother, Lynn Hall, said that’s typical Delaney, not to think this is a big deal.

“So proud of my girl. It’s amazing what a purple haired, 13-year-old can do,” Lynn said. “She has worked so hard over the past six years — almost half her life — and has done so much for others and never asked for anything in return. She has such a pure heart and really puts others needs before her own. I’m just so blessed to be able to call her my daughter.”

The entire family — including dad Eric and brothers Benjamin and Nolan — worked hard, and efforts began this winter.

“Delaney set her goal higher this year than she has in the past, so she had to do more fundraisers along the way. Her fundraisers started in January and went through May, although the planning process started in November. She had four restaurant fundraisers, a poker tournament at the ranch, a painting event at Courage & Grace and a trivia night with silent auction at the KC Hall in O’Fallon,” Lynn said.

The community support was overwhelming, Lynn said.

“She had great support from the community. There were several people that came to all four restaurant fundraisers and several people that couldn’t make it to any fundraiser, so they made monetary donations,” Lynn said. “There were a lot of local businesses and individuals that made donations for the silent auction.

“And a lot of family, friends and even strangers made up a pretty significant chunk of the total raised. It was a lot of hard work that our entire family was involved in at some point along the way. I’m so happy it was such a huge success, it makes all that time and effort we put into it worth it,” she said.

But Delaney didn’t stop there doing things for people. Both she and her mom cut their hair and donated it to “Children with Hair Loss.” Delaney cut nine inches off, and her mom 11 inches.

Delaney cut hers after their memorable trip to the nation’s capital.

Delaney’s community service earned her a state award and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., May 3-7. She was recognized as the top middle-school volunteer in the state through a national program — the Prudential Spirit of Community Award — which honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Delaney, who will be an eighth-grader at Amelia V. Carriel Junior High in O’Fallon this fall, won $1,000 and an engraved silver medallion. She was honored by O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach at a city council meeting, and he read a letter she received from President Trump.

She joined the top two youth volunteers — one from middle level and one from high school — from each state and District of Columbia to participate in four days of national recognition events. They toured landmarks, attended a gala at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Sponsored by Prudential Financial, the awards are in their 24th year and in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Ellen Hays, principal at Carriel Junior High, recommended Delaney for the honor.

Her mother accompanied her. And then her dad joined them on his own.

“The D.C. trip was absolutely incredible. I’m so proud of her for earning the Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the chance of a lifetime to go on this amazing trip with her. We were able to visit places and do things we never would have been able to do on our own,” Lynn said.

Delaney thought it was special too.

“It was very interesting to see all the historical buildings that are in Washington. The events were well planned and memorable,” she said.

Lynn was very impressed with the trip’s itinerary.

“Every detail was planned out,” she said. “A few of the highlights we got to experience were a service at the National Cathedral, a private viewing of The Hope Diamond, an awards ceremony with Viola Davis as the keynote speaker, a sunset dinner cruise on the Potomac River, amazing tours of historic sites, incredible meals and receptions in historical buildings, and the honorees participated in project sharing activities and volunteered at local schools to read to the children.”

Another plus was the camaraderie among the group.

“We also got the chance to speak with other parents of incredible kids. It’s amazing what our young children are doing and the impact they are having in their communities. It really gives me hope for the future. The entire experience was absolutely perfect and will be one of my greatest memories,” Lynn.

Delaney’s special deeds began when she was 8 years old, and her mother asked what she wanted for her birthday. She decided that instead of a gift for herself, she would collect to help Gateway Pet Guardians. They had a party at the park and people brought dog food, leashes, and other items, and Gateway brought dogs to foster.

“It felt so great when I delivered all the food and supplies that I decided to do it again,” she said.

That began the tradition of “Donation Parties” for every birthday. St. Louis Children’s Hospital, The Shoeman Water Project, Fontebella Maternity Shelter and Caritas/St. John Bosco Children’s Center have been the beneficiaries.

So, what’s next?

“I have no plans as of now. I usually don’t decide if I’m going to do anything until later in the year,” Delaney said.

Delaney would like to thank the following restaurants for hosting fundraisers: Dairy Queen in O’Fallon, McAlister’s Deli in Shiloh, Dewey’s Pizza and Gia’s Pizza, both in O’Fallon.

She also wanted to thank Courage & Grace for hosting a paint party and Chris and Christine Boemecke for playing such a vital role in making the trivia night a success.

“Thank you to all the volunteers that helped with the events, there are too many to list, just know that your help was greatly appreciated,” Lynn said. “And mostly thank you to the community for all the support and for showing my purple haired, 13-year-old girl that she can do whatever she puts her mind to.”