CRYSTAL LAKE - Two weeks ago, 6-year-old Allison Vander Mey was flipping through her copy of Highlights magazine when inspiration struck.
The character in the story was a young girl who decided to make Easter baskets for sick children in the hospital. Vander Mey, of Crystal Lake, then went to her room and began counting all the money she had received from the tooth fairy and earned doing chores. She decided then that she wanted to make her own Easter surprises for those in need.
"She said, 'I want to get some baskets. I want to put my stuff in them and give the baskets to sick kids in the hospital,' " her mom Tracy recalled. "I thought it was the sweetest thing ever."
Allison's family members and friends soon found out what she was doing and donated money so she could go to the store and fill the Easter baskets with treats. She filled 15 Easter baskets with coloring books, eggs, bubbles, play dough and candy, which she will deliver to children at Rockford Memorial Hospital on Good Friday.
"I'm extremely proud to be called her mom," Tracy said. "We can't tell her enough how proud we are."
Tracy that she has tried to instill in Allison the importance of giving to others, and the family has often donated to charities like Blessing Barn in the past. But Allison came up with the Easter basket idea all on her own, Tracy said.
"It makes me feel like I'm really nice and it makes me feel kind of happy that I'm doing it," Allison said. "It's really important to me. I really like to do this."
Allison said Highlights is her favorite thing to read, and she wanted to do something nice like the girl in the story.
"I like Highlights and I read about a girl [who made baskets] and I wanted to do that too," she said.
Allison said she hopes to donate Easter baskets again next year and make a tradition out of giving to children who are ill.
"It's definitely something she wants to continue doing," Tracy said. "I think it's the greatest thing ever."