Shining Star: Aubrey Brookes

Shining Star

A birthday is usually one of the most exciting days of the year for a child, but for 9-year-old Aubrey Brookes, it’s a chance to do good in her community.

For two years in a row, Aubrey has asked for birthday party guests to bring donations for local non-profits instead of presents. This year, Aubrey decided to help Penguin’s Pack, a Wellsville-based group that raises funds to help families of those fighting cancer.

Penguin’s Pack was formed in honor of Mathugh “Penguin” Johnston, a child who lost his own battle with cancer in 2007. Now, the Pack donates money so that families can afford gas, food, hygiene products and other necessities while traveling to hospitals.

Cancer directly affected Aubrey and her family; she was only one year old when her father, George Brookes, succumbed to cancer.

“Cancer’s affected everybody,” Aubrey’s mother, Michelle, said. “He found out he had it and not but two weeks later he was gone. She wishes she remembered him.”

Aubrey raised $750 for Penguin’s Pack. Much of the money came from her birthday donations, though she received an assist from Simply Sweet Cakes in Wellsville. The banquet center was the site of Aubrey’s party, and the owner, Ashley Haddox, sold penguin-themed cupcakes with a portion going to Aubrey’s cause.

“That child has a heart of gold,” said Clara Clutter, Aubrey’s grandmother. “She’d like to have people pay it forward.”

“I’m very proud of my granddaughter. She is exceptional,” said Brady Clutter, Aubrey’s grandfather. “No matter what she gets into, we’ll be behind her. We’re proud of her.”

Michelle offered to make her own donation to Penguin’s Pack so that Aubrey could receive birthday presents, but Aubrey wasn’t interested in that plan.

“She’s genuine,” Michelle said.

It’s becoming a tradition. In 2016, Aubrey solicited donations for the Columbiana County Dog Shelter. She collected $300 plus some chew toys and food for the dogs. Aubrey said she chose that first non-profit after her family adopted their second dog from the shelter.

When she’s not in school at Southern Local Elementary, Aubrey enjoys singing and drawing fashion designs. She said she plans to keep using her birthday to raise funds for local charities, though she’s not sure which one is on the docket for next year.

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