Last Wednesday when 10-year-old Warwick resident Kassidy Underwood stopped at Mayor Frank Picozzi’s home to make a donation to his annual holiday lights display, she had no idea the series of …
Last Wednesday when 10-year-old Warwick resident Kassidy Underwood stopped at Mayor Frank Picozzi’s home to make a donation to his annual holiday lights display, she had no idea the series of events it would trigger.
The St. Kevin School fourth grader included a letter explaining that last spring she had a lemonade stand in which she raised $101 for The Tomorrow Fund. The Tomorrow Fund is an organization that helps to ease families suffering the traumatic financial and emotional stress of childhood cancer. The fund is Picozzi’s charity of choice for the proceeds of his lights display. What the letter did not contain was Kassidy’s full name and this is when the Mayor sprung into action. He was so moved when he found the letter in the donation box that he took to his Facebook account. He posted a picture of the letter and a plea to his followers, “If anyone knows who this child is, please tell me privately. I would love to meet her.”
He also made a personal appeal to Kassidy indicating that he saves letters like these, occasionally reads them to remind himself that there are truly wonderful people in the world, that she has a beautiful heart and she and her family should be very proud. This is when the magic of the interconnections of social media came to play.
Mayor Picozzi’s Facebook buzzed with hundreds and hundreds of comments and over 3,000 likes of this holiday story about a kindhearted child and her lemonade stand donation. He said he has a lot of followers and began receiving dozens of messages claiming, “I believe this person to be Kassidy this, or I think it’s Kassidy that”, saying many were wrong. As the wild Christmas light goose chase continued one theme become apparent, many people were inspired by Kassidy with the unknown last name. So inspired in fact that the Mayor’s overall collection for the fund kept ticking upward as more and more people became aware of the story. From the time of the initial post to date more then $1,500 was contributed by those touched and provoked by Kassidy’s $101 offering. A mother of a student in Kassidy’s class correctly identified her.
Meanwhile, Lisa and Mike Underwood, Kassidy’s mother and father, were going about their daily hustle bustle of the holiday season when word of the Mayor’s Facebook appeal made it their way. Lisa said she was shopping, and had her phone in her pocket and when she pulled it out it was full of messages. She called her husband, who was home, and said “I have to go on the Mayor’s page and see what is going on.” Once she got home she read the comments and responded to Mayor Picozzi.
On Friday morning, the Underwood Family was invited to City Hall. The Mayor presented Kassidy with a citation in recognition of her charitable work to benefit The Tomorrow Fund. Picozzi said, “most children your age would just take that money and buy something for themselves, and I understand that, but you thought about other people. I don’t think you know how special you are, I really don’t and that is why we wanted to bring you in here and acknowledge your story. You are my hero.”
When asked what prompted her to raise money for the fund, Kassidy said, “it was a natural feeling.” In mutual admiration Kassidy’s father Mike added, “She comes to your light display and you inspire her.” Also in attendance was Lisa Abbenante, Executive Director of The Tomorrow Fund. She explained to Kassidy how the funds help families effected by childhood cancer pay their mortgages and keep electricity working. She graciously told Kassidy, “Your story is fantastic. It is the most sincere form of children helping other children. Your donation is tremendously helpful and on behalf of those children and families we say thank you so very, very much.”
Mayor Picozzi also pointed out that 2022 has been a slow year for his light display. He said that there were about seven or eight rainouts, three of those being on Saturdays, generally his busiest night. He said he was a little disappointed with donations, however after the events of the past week his hope was restored. In addition to the unexpected extra $1,500 in Kassidy inspired donations, the Warwick Police Department extended their No Shave November fundraiser, where members of the department refrain from shaving, into December. They chose The Tomorrow Fund as their recipient and raised $4,145 which was dropped off to City Hall last week. Picozzi said, “As Mayor I am so proud of our officers for their generosity and dedication to our community.”
Not to be outdone, Kassidy Underwood did not show up empty handed to receive her citation. She had two more donations each in the amount of $101 - one from her grandfather and the other from her cousin is Alabama. Picozzi gleefully retorted, “ See? You’re inspiring people.” He then had Kassidy take a seat behind the desk in his Mayor’s chair, he claimed “You might as well try it out… You are going places”.
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