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The gift of giving


GENEROUS GIRL Achill girl Ellie McManamon pictured outside Mayo University Hospital with the toys she bought for the Pediatric Unit with her Confirmation money.

Achill girl uses Confirmation money to buy toys for sick children

Edwin McGreal

A few days before her Confirmation, young Ellie McManamon from Achill Island started to receive cards to mark the momentous occasion.
Ellie (11) was shocked when she opened the cards to find money inside. Her reaction was very unlike most children her age.
“In her innocence she wanted to give the money back and we explained that might be seen as an insult so she was quite upset about what to do,” her mother, Donna, told The Mayo News.
So, unsure what to do next, Ellie recalled her stay before Christmas in hospital and so used her Confirmation money to buy toys for the sick children in the Pediatric Unit of Mayo University Hospital.
“Santa was there when Ellie was in hospital and gave out gifts. Ellie got some art supplies and that got her through the night. She had been quite distressed about being in hospital. So she thought if she could get something that would make other children in the hospital feel like she did after getting the gift from Santa, that would be a nice thing to do,” said Donna.
So one week after being confirmed in Pollagh Church, Ellie and her mother hit the road for Castlebar and spent all her money buying toys for kids less well off than herself.
“We went up to Pediatrics and a lovely nurse came and met us and was so thankful. Then when we were leaving a lovely mum and dad came out with their sick little girl in their arms and spoke to us. They told us that if their little girl was ever able to leave hospital, they hope she will turn out like Ellie. That had both myself and Ellie in tears,” recalls Donna.
Donna is full of praise for all the doctors, nurses and staff in pediatrics who she said ‘went above and beyond for Ellie when she was in hospital’. Last Thursday the McManamons received a ‘fabulous’ thank you card from the Pediatric Unit.
Her mother describes Ellie as having a ‘big heart’. It’s hard to argue with that assessment, especially when you consider what Ellie did after her previous sacrament.
“When Ellie made her Communion, the day after she said she wanted to go to the hairdresser. I said I’d bring her but asked her why she wanted to go. She said she wanted to donate her ponytail to the Rapunzel Foundation. I’m extremely proud of her. She has a huge heart. It is a nice trait to have,” said Donna.
Ellie, a fifth class pupil at Dooagh NS, has an older sister, Molly (16) and a younger brother Micheál (4). Her parents Peter and Donna have been complimented on their daughter’s selfless act all week but Ellie herself does not know what all the fuss is about.
“Ellie doesn’t understand why people are fussing over her. Ellie thinks everyone should be doing this,” said Donna.
What’s rare is indeed wonderful.