By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — About two weeks ago during a school field trip, Aubrey Noe did something very unexpected.
The 10-year-old was visiting the Krasl Art Center with her classmates from Watervliet’s North Elementary School as part of a program to help schoolchildren understand art.
As part of the program, students tour the center, learn about art and make some of their own in the process. There is normally a $2 fee per student.
However, some of the school groups can’t afford the cost of the program or transportation. Julia Gourley, executive director of the Krasl, said the center sometimes provides scholarships to the schools when necessary.
Despite this, Gourley said North Elementary School still invited its students to contribute. That’s when Aubrey, a fourth-grader, submitted her donation.
“We normally get a Ziploc bag of coins and dollar bills,” Gourley said. “We began to unravel all the stuff and here is this handwritten note from this girl.”
In the letter, Aubrey noted she understood there was a $2 donation, but instead gave the art center $4.14.
She not only wrote in cursive, but printed the message to ensure Gourley and her staff could read it.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and I don’t remember a donation coming in that was this sweet and had this much thought put into it,” Gourley said. “She said that ‘you told us we didn’t have to pay anything, so I decided to give more money.’”
The small act of kindness led to a donation effort from others in the community.
Friends of the Krasl Art Center were so inspired by Aubrey’s generosity, they pledged to match her gift of $4.14, launching Aubrey’s Matching Gift Campaign. Gourley said a special donation box was placed in Krasl’s lobby.
As of Monday, the campaign has raised $72.81.
An inspiring gift
Gourley said they next went to visit Aubrey at her school, where they discovered her mother had no idea she had done this.
“I wanted to thank her for her gift, and I wanted her to know her gift inspired others. I was also curious what prompted her to do so,” Gourley said. “When I asked her why she decided to do that, she said she wanted to support the business because she thought it was important that all people look at art.”
Mallory Noe, Aubrey’s mom, received a call from the school’s principal, due to Krasl’s visit.
When Noe was told how inspired the Krasl staff was by her daughter’s donation, she too felt inspired.
“I was kind of surprised. It’s nice to know my little girl can think like that and want to help people,” Noe said. “What I loved the most is that she did it on her own with the last bit of money that she had.”
Noe said she was aware that the school had asked students to bring $2 for the Krasl program, so she gave Aubrey $2 to donate. Unknown to her, Aubrey took an additional $2.14 she had been saving to add to the recommended donation.
The mother and daughter are both artistically inclined. Noe enjoys painting and Aubrey is no stranger to doodling.
On April 2, Noe said they are going back to the art center for Family Day.
“She loves art, likes to doodle and sketch. She just wanted other kids to enjoy the art as well,” Noe said of Aubrey. “She’s always had a big heart, she’s such a sweet girl. I hope she continues to do this the rest of her life and inspire others to do the same.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 28, 2017)