Giving comes naturally to Alabama third grader

By Crystal Caviness*

Clearly, Abbagail Henderson was born with a heart intent on giving. Even as an 8-year-old, Abbagail already has a track record of seeing a need, then finding a way to contribute.

As recently as one week ago, Abbagail did extra chores, such as mopping the kitchen floor, washing her mom’s truck and cleaning the bathrooms, to raise money to purchase pet food for animals affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. When a friend said he was driving to Texas to help with flood recovery, Abbagail asked him to deliver the $100 worth of dog and cat food.

Abbagail says she was motivated to help the animals in Houston because of her love for her own two dogs. “It made me sad and upset to think that Daisy and Noah might not have food,” she says.

The yearning to give started when Abbagail was in preschool at Grace United Methodist Church, where the family attends. Through an event called Penny Harvest, Abbagail participated when her preschool raised money for a local food bank. Soon after, the youngster asked to be given canned food instead of gifts for her birthday; she donated 70 pounds of items to the local food bank.

Last Christmas, Abbagail came up with another idea: give everybody in her school a gift. After talking about it with her mom, Abbagail began doing extra chores to raise money and her mom also set up a website so others could donate. In the end, Abbagail collected enough money to assemble 430 gifts – enough for every child in the school – that included a Christmas cup, two pencils, a small toy and a piece of candy.

Right before Christmas, Abbagail and her mom went to school one evening and set out gifts at each teacher’s door with a note that said “Merry Christmas. Enjoy your presents. Love, Abby.”

“That felt good,” Abbagail says, noting that everyone was excited about their special treat. “We accomplished what we wanted so nobody got left out.”

The list of ways that Abbagail helps is lengthy. She and her mom volunteer to walk dogs at the local animal humane society; using her allowance, she purchased school supplies for a first-year teacher at her school; she contributed money and helped paint at a fundraiser for No More Shacks Sweet Homes for Alabama, and she has helped out at a community garden.

Next up: “Me and mommy are making Christmas bears for every kid at St. Jude’s. It’s a lot of kids,” she says. In preparation, Abbagail’s grandmother is currently teaching her how to sew. The goal, according to Abbagail’s mom, is to make 100 bears for patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The third grader already knows what she wants to do when she gets older. “I want to go on mission trips,” she says. “I like to help other people and to help them learn about God.”

* Crystal Caviness is a PR specialist at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee.
You can contact her at 615-742-5138 or

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