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8-year-old serves hot chocolate to fund children’s programs at YMCA

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With the temperatures dipping into the 20s Friday morning, Mary Burke Smith’s plan to bring warmth to people at the YMCA of Rome was right on time.

The 8-year-old daughter of Jimmy and Hollye Smith was set and ready to serve hot chocolate to those passing through the front lobby of the East Second Avenue building.

The donations they offered went into her pink bucket, and will go toward helping fund children’s programs at the Y, like camps or swim lessons.

“I think the fun part about it is knowing that I’m helping people,” Mary Burke said. “This is just really fun to me.”

With her mother standing by, Mary Burke dispensed hot chocolate and offered patrons sugar cookies and other snacks to go along with it.

“This was all about her taking initiative to give back to the community,” Hollye Smith said. “This was her thing to organize and prepare.”

Mary Burke first set up a fundraiser for the YMCA in June 2013, when she was 6, in the form of a lemonade stand in the Between the Rivers historic district.

“After the lemonade stand, she had been asking to do a hot chocolate stand for a while,” Hollye Smith said.

Mary Burke and her family are involved with the Rome YMCA through volunteer work and membership programs.