9-year-old Oak Harbor girl sacrifices birthday gifts for needy

Nine-year-old Chyann Barrett asked for donations to the Help House for her birthday and she delivered them in person.  - Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times
Nine-year-old Chyann Barrett asked for donations to the Help House for her birthday and she delivered them in person.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

When Chyann Barrett noticed a problem in Oak Harbor, the 9-year-old decided to do something about it. The only thing she requested for her ninth birthday was donations to the North Whidbey Help House.

Barrett, who is deaf, arrived at the Help House smiling to drop off food items and monetary donations on Nov. 3. The smile didn’t leave her face as Barrett, her mother and her grandpa carried bags of food into the Help House.

Barrett thought up the idea entirely on her own.

“We were driving down the road and she saw the line of people at the Help House and wanted to know why they were waiting there,” said Barrett’s mother, Traci Wisdom.

Wisdom explained to Barrett that the people were waiting for food and help. In the backseat, Barrett nodded and thought about it, Wisdom said.

“Then she said, ‘I have a good idea. For my birthday, I want to give food,’” Wisdom said.

Instead of gifts, Barrett requested that her friends bring food items for the Help House to her birthday party. They all brought food, Wisdom said.

“She was thrilled. She knew she was helping,” Wisdom said.

Barrett’s grandpa, Tim Turner, watched with glistening eyes as his granddaughter handed donations to Jean Wieman, executive director for the Help House.

“To see this, words can’t explain what it means to be not only a father but a grandfather of a child that cares about other people,” Turner said.

Turner said he raised his family with Christian values, which emphasizes giving to those in need.

As a more isolated island community and in this poor economy, “We have to gather and help each other,” Turner said. People who have donated to the Help House all their lives now have to turn to the Help House for assistance due to the economy, which is humbling, Turner said.

“It’s great to see kids that age realize what’s going on and be willing to do something,” said Wieman as Help House volunteers gave Barrett a tour of the facility.

The fact that this was all Barrett’s idea because she saw the people waiting at the Help House awed Wieman.

“It’s amazing a 9-year-old could see that and realize it’s not right. It’s very encouraging. What a wonderful thing,” Wieman said.

Barrett’s actions inspired the staff of Rue & Primavera Rehabilitation in Oak Harbor to start a food drive in her name.

“We heard about her story and what she did for her birthday and wanted to keep it moving,” said physical therapist Wendolyn Rue.

While the food drive at the clinic is just getting started, people will be able to bring food to the clinic at 785 SE Bayshore Dr. to be donated to the Help House in Barrett’s name.

“We should all be as kind as she is,” Rue said.

“It’s wonderful! And all because of a little 9-year-old,” Wieman said.

When people hear Barrett’s story, Turner said he hopes they think, “If a little 9-year-old girl who’s deaf can do this, then maybe we can do this.”

To donate food or receive assistance, visit the Help House, located at 1091 SE Hathaway St., Oak Harbor. For information call 675-0681.


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