Teen donates time to needy on birthday

Savannah McIlrath, 14, of Columbus, has spent her last three birthdays donating her time to different charities. This year she chose Arabella House, a group home for girls in Waverly Hills, Ga. / Doug Reardon

For most people, birthdays are about getting â" not giving.

But Savannah McIlrath isn't most people.

The Columbus native spent her 14th birthday today baking to raise money for those less fortunate than her, as she has for the past three birthdays. And instead of asking for gifts, Savannah asks for donations â" anything the charity she chooses can use.

Each year, Savannah has chosen a different charity to turn her focus on. Two years ago it was Harvest Hands; last year, Saint Jude's.

From the confines of her grandmother's kitchen in Cordele, Savannah explained to us why she decided to give instead of get on her birthday.

"I've always wanted to help others and since I'm kind of young it's hard to get out and go do something on my own," she said. "But this is just a way that I can show God's love through myself."

It's a sentiment few people her age have. This year, Savannah chose to help Arabella House, a group home in Waverly Hall for girls ages 12-17.

Her mom Shannon McIlrath said Savannah's decision didn't surprise her.

"I wasn't really surprised because she's always been a very special kid," she said. "She's always looked out for others and is very caring, so it absolutely seemed just like her to want to do something for someone else."

Really, Savannah's act can only be described in one word: selfless.

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