Cookbook fundraiser boosting spirits for Pendleton County family

Six-year-old cancer-fighting Kinsley Armstrong likes to help out in the kitchen.

“She loves sweets, so it’s often baking cake or cookies,” said her mother, Bobbie Armstrong.

However, Armstrong said she was hesitant when staff members at Brandywine Elementary School proposed a cookbook fundraiser for the family to help deal with Kinsley’s medical costs.

“I was surprised and thankful that people were thinking of us, but didn’t know how a cookbook would go – would people buy it?” Armstrong said she asked herself.

They bought it – more than 1,000 of them. In fact, “Cooking for Kinsley – Recipes of Love” has been so successful, it is going into its third printing.

The book has raised thousands of dollars for the little girl’s medical expenses.

Armstrong said she is still amazed.

“It went way beyond what I expected. I was surprised at how many recipes came in – there was great response.”

The fundraiser idea came from Erin Eye, Kinsley’s first-grade teacher, as well as substitute school aide April Simmons.

“We both collect recipes and especially enjoy smalltown cookbooks,” Eye said. “We thought it would be a good idea to make a special cookbook to benefit Kinsley.”

After community members heard about the need for recipes through word of mouth and on Facebook, people sent in more than 700 recipes.

“The hardest part was proofreading,” Eye said. “I did more than 600 until April took over and finished the rest of them.”

Eye and Simmons then worked on the cookbook online, choosing a title, cover and personal pages.

The school and Kinsley’s class helped.

“Kinsley is always very sweet, and when she left, it made all of us sad,” classmate Lily Mortimer said. “Her family needs to travel a lot. That’s why they need money.”

“We say prayers for her and love her. She’s a special part of our classroom even if she is not here,” friend Kaylee Arbogast said.

Kinsley was diagnosed with a type of cancer called neuroblastoma in September 2011.

She has undergone five rounds of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries and a stem cell transplant of her own frozen stem cells after the high chemo mixture “wiped out” her own stem cells.

She recently started eight to 10 rounds of radiation in a therapy program at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

Eye said she heard the treatments have helped, and scans have shown improvement.

Kinsley is a very happy but strong-willed child.

“If something makes her unhappy, she has no problem telling us. That’s what keeps her going,” her mother said.

“She’s used to people praying for her, so now, if she hears someone has something, even just a cold or the flu, she wants to pray for them,” Armstrong said.

The whole community has been awesome, she added.

“I want to give a humongous thank-you to our neighbors and God. He is No. 1. If it had not been for our faith, there’s no way we could have come this far,” Armstrong stated.

Eye agreed.

“The family says and seems to know that God is going to take care of Kinsley. They are a special family, and Kinsley is so very special to me,” Eye said, noting that she has taught Kinsley in preschool, kindergarten and first grade in the classroom and at home when Kinsley was unable to attend school.

Kinsley’s favorite recipe is for a chocolate chip cake, submitted by Erin Eye’s mother, Patricia Hammer:

Chocolate Chip Cake (Kinsley’s favorite recipe):

1 box yellow cake mix

1 box each of instant chocolate and vanilla puddings

4 eggs

3/4 cup oil

1 cup water

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat with mixer until combined. Add 1/2 to 3/4 pack of chocolate chips and stir in with a wooden spoon. Bake at 350 degrees in a bundt pan for one hour.