A little girl’s big dream just might come true by the weekend.
Tatum Rhyne of Ellerbe will be 8 on Aug. 31, and her wish was to raise $10,000 for Habitat for Humanity. She has already raised over $8,000.
Nicole Carbon, Family Services and Outreach Manager for Habitat for Humanity, said if Tatum meets her goal, the funds will cut about an eighth off the total cost of a house for a family in need, making it more affordable. Wednesday, her tally hit $8,045, and the numbers keep climbing.
“She’s almost there and we do need the community’s help to reach it,” said Carbon. “When you meet Tatum, there’s something different about this little girl. She just has this gift, I don’t know what to call it. She’s remarkable and inspirational.”
She’s a typical third grader in some ways, but her fund raising has been a series of unconventional birthday wishes. First she collected non-perishable food, then she collected clothes for the homeless. Tatum told her mother that, through conversations with Jesus, she decided to raise money to help a family in need get a home.
“I had given to her in honor of my birthday,” said Carbon. “Adults could learn a thing or two about the way Tatum lives her life. She doesn’t just pray that something is going to happen, she takes it upon herself to do something.”
Tatum isn’t your typical fundraiser, according to Habitat staff.
“It’s usually adults and groups — it’s certainly not 8-year-old little girls doing it. She’s so selfless. She’s not doing it for recognition or to be a hero,” said Carbon. “She’s extremely humble. She’s really doing this out of the goodness of her heart.”
The Rhyne family organized a softball tournament in Ellerbe a few weeks ago, to help raise funds, and that brought in a whopping $2,650.
“She was excited after the ball tournament,” said her mother Jennifer Rhyne. “A lot of people came to watch, and we all had T-shirts made.”
Recently a guest on radio station Star102.5, Tatum surprised her family by breaking out of her shell.
“We didn’t know it would be live and when the light went on and the guy started asking her questions, she started talking,” said Jennifer. “She is the shyest kid. I don’t think she realized the attention she was going to get, especially not from strangers. People want to congratulate her and tell her how sweet and special she is. She’s done a great job of handling that because it is overwhelming.”
Tatum’s birthday will be what any 8-year-old girl could hope for; horseback riding, ice cream and cake with friends. And, you can still give to Tatum’s fundraiser on her birthday. Send your card and donation to Tatum Rhyne at P.O. Box 383, Ellerbe, NC 28338.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.