By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
A nine-year-old girl is being dubbed the “R.O.C.K. star” by a group in Chatham-Kent that delivers food to the homeless.
Mattea Marchand has raised more than $1,700 going around Chatham collecting money and canned goods for the less fortunate.
“She’s doing this because she can do whatever she wants. And she knows that in Chatham, with COVID, people are struggling,” said Darlene Rylett, Mattea’s proud grandma. “I’m really proud of her because nine-year-old girls don’t really do this.”
Mattea’s haul from the fundraiser is going toward R.O.C.K. Missions. She walked down streets with her little blue wagon honking its horn to let people know she was approaching in an effort to be safe during the pandemic.
Rylett said the fundraiser was called Honk and Walk for the R.O.C.K.
“I’m pretty proud of her to take time out of her day to go do that, and I think she’s doing such a good job,” said Mattea’s mom, Brittany Rylett.
Mattea got most of her community spirit from her grandmother. A few weeks before the May 16 Miracle took place, Rylett, who works for Copper Terrace, challenged long-term care workers to see which home could collect the most canned goods.
Now with the next miracle, The Gift, coming up on Nov. 21, she is once again hosting a friendly competition with the local LTC homes.
Any unwrapped toys and canned goods collected will be donated to the local drive.
“It doesn’t just have to be for children. It can be for adults. And it doesn’t have to be for Christmas. It can just be celebrating the community coming together.”
Rylett’s second initiative is the Mitten Tree, which is collecting hats, scarves, toothbrushes and other items the homeless could use during the winter. All items collected will be given to the R.O.C.K.
“Anything you know that some of our street friends can use that they don’t have to carry around after. Disposable things. So far, the turnout has been great. It’s awesome.”
Rylett’s other daughter, 14-year-old Jerzie, has also been giving back by singing to the community to lift spirits during the pandemic. Every Saturday for the remainder of the month she will be singing outside the LCBO on St. Clair Street to raise money for the homeless.
Rylett said it is important to her that she teaches the young generations about community service.
“Because they need to know what Chatham-Kent is about. We all need to stick together, and as they’re growing, they need to know that we’re all here to help each other. Just because one might have this and someone doesn’t have that, we all need to become one.”