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Estacada 8-year-old helps the homeless

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Laura Dillon and Austin McRae unload personal care packages that Oregon Connections Academy put together to support Austin's efforts to help the homeless. Austin has cystic fibrosis and Type 1 diabetes.

Some people might be bitter about facing lifelong medical issues. Austin McRae isn’t.

The 8-year-old Estacada boy, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth and Type 1 diabetes at age seven, has spent the past year donating items to the homeless whenever he can.

“I have cystic fibrosis and people have helped me my whole life, and now I want to help the homeless,” he said.

Because of his medical issues, Austin knows firsthand that all people have needs. That inspired him to help those who are homeless.

“They need our help the most,” he said.

McRae, along with his parents and siblings, drive around Estacada and the Portland area to deliver care packages to any homeless people they see.

They do this at least several times per month, depending on their personal schedules and what they’re able to give.

“I’m happy Austin has such a big heart,” said his mother, Rozita McRae. “It brings us so much joy to be able to help.”

Recently, Oregon Connections Academy, where Austin is a student, hosted its annual “Cares Day.” Every April, the school organizes a field trip where students, parents and staff come together to support a charitable cause.

This year, the school chose to support Austin’s cause.

The Oregon Connections Academy, an online charter school, is affiliated with the Santiam Canyon School District but has more than 4,000 students across Oregon. Approximately 280 students live in Clackamas County. Recently, students, parents and staff gathered at Memorial Park in Wilsonville to donate personal hygiene items and assemble them into kits for Austin to give out. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LAURA DILLON - Oregon Connections Academy seventh-grader Mike Haldeman of Wilsonville is joined by his mother, Jennifer Birch-Reinmuth, while seventh-grade adviser Kris Brown of Gresham oversees assembly of personal care kits for the homeless during a field trip to Memorial Park in Wilsonville.

They assembled approximately 60 kits in total.

“We really wanted to support Austin’s cause,” said Laura Dillon, the academy’s outreach manager. “We’re thrilled we could give donations.”

On Thursday, April 21, Dillon delivered the kits to Austin’s house so he could continue donating.

Austin was excited to receive the care packages and said he couldn’t wait to give them out.

“I like putting a smile on their face,” he said.

His mother agreed.

“The more we can give, the better it is,” she said.

So people can learn more about their efforts, Austin and his family have recently created a website and GoFundMePage. They’re available at Austinscause.com and www.gofundme.com/austincause.

Meanwhile, Austin continues to have a positive attitude. He believes the future can get better for anybody.

“You’ll never know what might happen, or what you might get,” he said.


If you’d like to donate to Austin’s cause, visit www.gofundme.com/austincause. For more information, visit Austinscause.com

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