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Macomb teen raising money to make Community Change

Kate Killian (left) presented Shawnee Huston with a donation for the Macomb High School counseling office.
courtesy photo
Kate Killian (left) presented Shawnee Huston with a donation for the Macomb High School counseling office.

Macomb High School junior Kate Killian said she started doing fundraisers around the age of five.

“A lot of the kids in my class couldn’t afford snacks, so I raised money for them,” she said.

In addition, her classroom couldn’t afford markers for the whiteboard so she raised money for those, too.

“It’s been my goal in life since I was really little to make the world a better place. So I’ll do anything I can to make the world a better place,” Kate said.

She calls her fundraising Community Change, and she’s asked for donations in lieu of birthday gifts. Her mother, Tammy Killian, said Kate has raised $21,000 through the years for various causes.

The past few years, Kate has focused on mental health issues. She’s found a lot of people are willing to contribute money to such causes, especially after so many people struggled during the COVID pandemic.

“Most of the time, people have gone through something mental health-wise themselves, and so they feel that this is a really good cause and they’ll put their money towards that,” she said.

School counselor Shawnee Huston is grateful for Kate’s contributions. She’s known Kate since her freshman year.

Shawnee said the fundraisers are improving the quality of life for students at Macomb High.

“It might seem like a small thing, but really she’s impacting the entire student body in a positive way,” Shawnee said.

She called Kate a unique, bubbly, well-rounded student that you would be lucky to have in any facet – someone who’s always willing to help and always there to offer encouragement.

“She’s definitely somebody that you want to keep around,” Shawnee said.

Shawnee said that over the last three years, Kate has donated $8,580 in Community Change funds to the high school counseling department, much of which has paid for keynote speakers for the student body.

This year’s donation will help the school bring in nationally known youth motivational speaker Jordan Toma.

He will speak to the entire high school on Friday, Feb. 16.

In an Instagram post this week, Toma said he hopes to leave every high school student with a message of hope “and the view from their own eyes that their struggles are their Strengths!!!!”

When she’s not helping others, Kate is on the high school dance team and takes classes at Project Dance Company, which is a dance studio in Macomb.

She would like to go into law enforcement or emergency management. She said those both involve helping people.

And Kate urged people to remember that everyone goes through struggles that you might not be aware of.

“It might not seem like they’re going through anything, but you never know,” Kate said.

“So, no matter what, just be kind to people.”

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.