Madison Schuckman, eight, of Mountain Lakes was so moved by the stories she heard about the Carmel Forest Fire that she held a bake sale at her elementary school.
The third-grader first heard about the fire on Dec. 8, at Hebrew school, nearly a week after it broke out on Dec. 2.
Madison explained that morah Leslie Tubul at Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell told the students about the fire as she was leading davening, or worship.
“We were praying for the people who lost their homes or lost people they loved when we davened,” Madison recalled.
A few days later, she said, “it just came to me. I knew I would do a bake sale.”
Madison recruited her friends to bake items for the sale and brought home a list of goods they had promised to make. Her mother contacted their parents to make sure everyone was on board.
And Madison’s parents, Alison and Michael, pitched in, too, by offering to match whatever she raised, and other family members agreed to do the same.
Madison held the bake sale outside the Wildwood Elementary School in Mountain Lakes on a freezing cold Dec. 16.
This wasn’t the first time Madison reached out to help others, according to her parents. A year ago, she donated locks of her hair to Zichron Menachem, an organization that makes wigs for sick children in Israel.
“She has a very big heart,” said Alison Schuckman. “She likes to help people as best she can.”
Madison is also a member of her school’s Giraffe Club, associated with the Giraffe Heroes Project (the name refers to people who stick their necks out to help others).
But she ran the bake sale on her own.
On the day of the sale, she raised $300 — which grew to $1,500 with matching gifts from family and friends. The sum has been donated to United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ’s Israel Fire Disaster Relief Fund.
“If I read they need more money,” said Madison, “I will run another bake sale.”