McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 4, 2014

Young donor received citation from governor

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A little McAlester girl has been honored by Gov. Mary Fallin for using her own money to buy headphones for special education students at a local high school.

Emali Bellis, 9, received a Citation of Recognition signed by Fallin in the mail just after Christmas for doing a good deed in November.

According to the citation, Emali is “worthy of this distinguished honor for her valuable service in living up to the responsibilities out lined in our Constitution as a true citizen as an outstanding community member for her example of leadership, through her caring spirit and her sensitivity to the needs of others ...”

The good deed happened in November when a family vacation was canceled and Emali used $200 she saved for months to spend on the trip to help buy headphones for special education students at McAlester High School.

The students can use the headphones while using a computer for learning and for testing, according MHS instructor Shelly Kirkes.

“The headphones reduce the outside noise to help them stay focused and the headphones also help the students hear the instructions on the computer,” Kirkes said.

The citation was recommended by Oklahoma state Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester.

On Thursday, Condit said Emalie’s unselfish action was awesome.

“What she did is what makes our state great, our country so great,” Condit said.

“She’s a young person who saw the need to help and she took action.”

Emalie’s mother Emma Bellis said her daughter is home-schooled and the two volunteer in the community in different ways such as working at a local soup kitchen and delivering meals to senior citizens through the Meals on Wheels program.

While making Meals on Wheels deliveries one day, Emma Bellis said she and her daughter met Dawn Picotte.

Picotte said she and the Bellises talked about the need for headphones in the special education class. “I just mentioned something about headphones and how much they help my nephew and one other girl in the class who have them,” she said.

“I said it would be wonderful if the whole class could have headphones.”

Picotte said she was amazed when Emali offered to use her own money to buy the headphones.

“When she offered to do help these kids, it brought tears to my eyes; it just got to me,” Picotte said.

Picotte said she and Emali each put in $200 and together they were able to purchase 13 pairs of earphones for the class.

Picotte and her husband Ted said they were both in the classroom Nov. 14 when Emali delivered the headphones.

“It was the sweetest thing in the world,” Picotte said.

“The students were able to chose which color they wanted and they were all so happy.”

The teacher of the class said she was also happy about the headphones.

“It’s just so much better for the kids,” Kirkes said.

“They all get to wear the headsets now; it’s really nice for them.”

Emali said giving the headphones to the students gave her a good feeling.

“I just felt all warm inside,” Emali said. “And it made me have a really good day.”

Meanwhile the Oklahoma legislative body stated that Emali is a most deserving individual. According to the citation, Emalie “serves as a splendid example and a source of inspiration for others.”

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.