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Pay It Forward: Child buys Christmas gifts for Knox County kids in need

Through Baylie's project, she bought presents for 38 kids last Christmas and she plans to increase that amount to 100 this year.

KNOXVILLE, Ill. — Christmas time is almost here and one child in Knox County is thinking about children who may not have presents to open on Christmas morning.

Baylie Mayfield, 9, of Knoxville, is continuing the 'Junk for Jingles' project she started in 2020 after collecting aluminum cans.

"Baylie never ceases to amaze me in her willingness to be heartfelt," Baylie's mother Briget Mayfield said.

Baylie picks up scrap metal and turns it in for cash at junk yards.

"I'm getting good Christmas presents, why should they not," Baylie said.

Baylie's father and grandfather help her with the heavy-lifting as they make trips around different towns to haul materials often after school.

"We're very proud of her," Baylie's father Eric Mayfield said. "It's also good family time."

Through Baylie's project, the money buys Christmas gifts for children in Knox County. She bought presents for 38 kids Christmas 2020 and she plans to increase the amount in 2021.

"My goal is 100 kids," Baylie said.

Briget takes Baylie to shop for the gifts on the Salvation Army Galesburg Angel Tree wish list.

"My grandma used to call it grit. She's got grit," Briget said. "She individually shops for each kid based on their wishes and likes."

Around 400 kids were in need of gifts Christmas 2020, according to Salvation Army Galesburg.

"Stefanie and Bryan, thank you for nominating Baylie," Alvaro Macias with Ascentra Credit Union said to the pay it forward nominators. "With the great program that she created, she's inspiring not only those in this community but everywhere else and showing that our youth does care, is compassionate and it's just a wonderful program. And it really speaks to the listening, caring and doing what's right. The beliefs we have at Ascentra Credit Union. And for that reason, I'd like to present you with $300 to pay it forward. Congratulations!"

Baylie's parents helped pull off the surprise as she got out of school. 

Knoxville residents Stefanie and Bryan Eklund nominated Baylie for the award after learning of her work in the community.

"We've heard you're doing some amazing things with your kindness," Stefanie said to Baylie. "On behalf of Ascentra Credit Union and WQAD News 8, I'm paying it forward for your Junk for Jingles. "Your kindness is amazing. Always be kind."

"Thank you," Baylie said. "I didn't think I'd walk out of school and someone would hand me $300."

Briget said this work has taught Baylie life lessons, including social and financial skills. 

"I don't want to stop now," Baylie said.

"I think it's a good thing for the kids to show some initiative to get out there and do something good for the community," said Chad Eiker, resident who donated materials to Baylie's cause.

Baylie has already turned in around 40,000 pounds of scrap for Christmas 2021.

"Above all, she's generous," Briget said.

For information on how to donate to Baylie's Junk for Jingles project, go to the Facebook page by clicking here.

If you know someone you'd like to nominate for the Pay It Forward Award, click here.