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April 14, 2014 2:16 pm
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7-Year-Old Girl Sends Passover Macaroons to Jewish Soldiers Serving in Iraq, Afghanistan

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Freida Atkins standing next to a pile of macaroons. Photo: Sara Atkins.

A second-grader from Pennsylvania sent 160 cans of macaroons to Jewish soldiers stationed away from home for Passover in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the New York Daily News reported on Thursday.

Freida Atkins, 7, was saddened to hear that the soldiers would not be with their families for Passover— her favorite holiday, according to the report. She cannot eat macaroons, as she is allergic to them, but knows the snacks are a holiday tradition and she wanted to share them with soldiers abroad.

“If it was up to her, all these soldiers would be at our house for Passover,” her mother, Sara, jokingly told the Daily News. “She wanted them to know that they’re not alone and that they’re part of the bigger Jewish family.”

To deliver the coconut treats in time for Passover, the Atkins family teamed up with the Aleph Institute, an organization that serves Jewish soldiers. Aleph’s Rabbi Menachem Katz told Freida that while many soldiers already receive kosher foods for the holiday, they do not always get dessert.

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Freida campaigned in her neighborhood with her 7-year-old friend Hannah Brophy. The pair convinced two local supermarkets to donate some cans of the goodies and their mothers then advertised the plan on Facebook. Soon enough, people were dropping off macaroons at the Atkins’ front door.

Freida’s big heart and activism are even more noteworthy considering that she also contends with a number of serious health issues, including Tourette Syndrome and Idiopathic Anaphylaxis. The conditions often force her to miss school. Aside from having verbal and physical tics, she often gets stuck repeating the same word, which makes learning to read a challenge. Her body also produces a high level of histamine that leads to severe allergic reactions.

At one point during her macaroon project, Freida went into severe anaphylactic shock and spent several days in the hospital. Sara told the Daily News, “Every time the steroids wore off, she would have another reaction.”

Freida’s body was pumped with antihistamine medications that made her so tired she slept for all but two hours of the day. However, whenever she woke up she would ask about the macaroons and how many more had been collected.

“It really took her mind off the negative,” Sara said. “It really gave her confidence, even when times are tough and things are a struggle.”

“Her disabilities can never stop her,” Sara added. “If she puts her mind to it, Freida can do anything.”

Freida is now helping her family prepare for Passover and Sara said she is already asking about the next challenge.

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