5-year-old girl turns pain into love this Valentine’s Day

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A 5-year-old from Western New York is spreading love this Valentine’s Day. Aaliyah Jenkins handed out more than 30 blankets to people at the Eden Heights of West Seneca Assisted Living facility. 

She’s showing big hearts can come in small packages. 

“That little girl was just tremendous,” Betty Raczyk said, a resident at the facility. “All the people were so happy and so proud that they got a blanket.”

Every blanket was received with a smile; sometimes a hug. Many of the residents were thankful someone was thinking about them on Valentine’s Day. 

“They were happy,” Christi Bowker said, Aaliyah’s mom. “(They got) a warm feeling.”

It’s not often you see such a little girl with such a big heart. But many little girls haven’t gone through what Aaliyah has either. 

When she was two, she found out she had a rare brain condition.

“It’s called neurofibromatosis, or NF1,” Bowker said. “It’s a neurological disease where you can grow tumors anywhere in or outside your neurological system. You could go blind, you could go deaf.”

Bowker said her daughter has a tumor right now, and her growth is also affected by the condition. 

But since her diagnosis, her mom said they’ve been given the world from this community: tickets to sporting events, stuffed animals and other toys, parties at the hospital, and more. And today’s blanket giveaway was just a small way of paying it forward. 

“Always appreciate other people,” Bowker said. “Just because you receive services, you should also give back to other people.”

A tough diagnosis can discourage some, but not Aaliyah Jenkins. She’s giving back and spreading love one blanket and hug at a time. 

She’s showing you don’t have to have the biggest hands to give so much. 

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