The local children who donated shoes to underprivileged kids instead of bringing gifts to the birthday party of Chestnut Hill’s Taylor Delli Carpini (it was Taylor’s idea), were: front row, from  left: Libby Kline, Angelina Baker, Abby Leckrone, Ava Egan and Anaya Swiggett; and back row, from left: Emily Kallmeyer, Chloe Summers, Eryn Martin, Shania Spivey, Summer Delli Carpini and (behind her) Taylor Delli Carpini.

by Lou Mancinelli

The storms that have pummeled the Western Hemisphere the last few years, from the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina before that and the recent disaster brought to the northeastern U.S. by Superstorm Sandy, which left 7.5 million residents and businesses without power in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to CNN, has inspired a local girl to trade away her birthday gifts in exchange for offerings for the poor.

Seven-year-old Chestnut Hill resident Taylor Delli Carpini, a second-grader at Our Mother of Consolation (OMC), asked the 13 guests attending her Saturday, Nov. 17, birthday dance party at the Philadelphia Cricket Club to bring shoes in a gift bag that can be donated to the less privileged instead of buying her gifts.

“I have so much stuff, and some people don’t” said Delli Carpini during a telephone conversation the Wednesday evening before her party. “I want some people to be as lucky as I am.”

Delli Carpini’s mother, Jane Trombly, says charity is a passion of her daughters. “I don’t know where she came from,” Trombly joked about Taylor, remembering how as a little girl her mind was as far from thinking about charity as her daughters’ is close to it today.

Trombly thinks her daughter’s affinity to help has been awakened by the efforts of her 28-year-old cousin, Meghan Greeley, a Peace Corps member who spent time volunteering in Guinea and traveled to Haiti after the devastating January, 2010, earthquake, measured at a level of 7.1 magnitude, decimated the region around Port-au-Prince, its capital.

“We are trying to instill the give-back mentality,” said Trombly, an account executive for Thompson Reuters (a giant Canadian media and financial-data firm) about raising her two daughters, Taylor and 5-year-old Summer, with her husband Joseph Delli Carpini. “So when they complain what’s being served for dinner, they are reminded there are some kids who aren’t having dinner.”

The sisters spent the summer raising money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand to benefit children with cancer by running a neighborhood lemonade stand, and providing massages and other services for relatives, neighbors and babysitters. She also raised $500 for OMC’s Trike-A-Thon, a benefit for St. Jude’s hospital.

For Trombly, the interest here is that her daughter lives a privileged life and yet is consumed with helping the less fortunate. The Chestnut Hill family belongs to the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Taylor plays golf and tennis, has taken piano lessons and likes to sing but envisions her future will somehow incorporate charitable efforts.

“I thought TV was a waste of time, and she came back at me with ‘look what I learned’,” said Trombly. She’s referring to how her daughter watched a Disney Channel infomercial last year that served to raise money after the Haitian quake, then was insoired to raise money herself for quake victims.

Since Superstorm Sandy, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern Jersey has seen a near tenfold spike in its web traffic, according to Jill Michal, executive director. She said its website has received 7650 hits since the storm, compared to a few hundred over a normal three-week period. The United Way is primarily a volunteer organization that helps provide volunteers with opportunities, as opposed to one set up to receive charitable efforts.

Trombly reached out to Born To Run, a shoe store in Springhouse and Lafayette Hill involved in charitable efforts. After the party, Delli Carpini and Trombly plan to drop the shoes off at the store for staff members to distribute the shoes at a Philadelphia charity or orphanage.

And as the idiom suggests, the child is becoming parent to her parents. “She’s teaching us to open our eyes and look around,” said Trombly, who volunteers at the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, visiting with older members of the community.

“We’re complaining in our day-to-day lives because we have cash flow problems or can’t go on vacation … the value of our house is decreasing … the things we are trying to teach her, she’s starting to teach us.”