A father’s quest to help his disabled son take a stand against bullying has resulted in a non-profit organization in Gainesville: Box Tops for Makenley.
Makenley, a fifth grader living in Indiana, has been bullied for his speech impediment as a result of Cerebral palsy. After Makenley’s school administration failed to get involved, his father and family friend from Gainesville, Scott Mullen, decided to start a fundraising campaign using General Mills box tops.
Mullen felt Gainesville would be an ideal place to start the organization, Box Tops for Makenley.
“This community has such an amazing culture for philanthropy, it was a perfect fit,” Mullen said.
Mullen and supporters of the organization are collecting box tops from General Mills products to take a stand against bullying.
“The whole common bond kids all have is that they want to be accepted,” Mullen said. “A lot of times when kids have disabilities or special needs, they kind of feel like an outcast, and so what we want to do is raise a culture of protection for these kids so they don’t have to withstand this abuse.”
According to Mullen, Box Tops for Makenley has only been in action for about ten weeks. So far, the non-profit has collected approximately 2,730 box tops, more than 800 of which were donated from Gainesville residents. Collection sites have been set up around the city as well as the University of Florida campus.
However, the founders and supporters have not limited themselves to just Gainesville.
So far, eight different states have made box top donations to Makenely.
A five-year old girl, whose parents are friends of Mullen from Tennessee, said even she understands what bullying is. The little girl is participating in the organization by telling people she’s “helping the boy in Indiana”. According to Mullen, she has sent Makenley more than 100 Box Tops so far.
Box Tops for Makenley and supporters have bigger dreams for the future of this organization.
“A story of a dad wanting to help his kid that was getting picked on and bullied, and wanted to make him feel better; now our ultimate goal is to be able to do this and touch children’s lives nationwide,” Mullen said.
Mullen said the nonprofit hopes to also help other children who have fallen victim to bullying.
The organization is collecting the box tops printed on General Mills items such as cereal boxes, vegetable packages and office supplies. Participants can donate them to various drop-sites in Gainesville or directly mail them to Makenley, he said.
For more information on how to get involved, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Box-Tops-Against-Bullying/362091330589907?ref=stream.