By Libby Hopkins

Ysabel Medina-Gukeisen of Brandon is an amazing young lady. She recently turned eight-years-old and she wanted to do something extra special for her birthday.  Most eight-year-olds would want a huge birthday party where friends and family bring them lots of birthday gifts. Medina-Gukeisen wanted that but she also wanted to donate all of her birthday gifts to the orphans at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home in Lakeland. This act of kindness is what makes Medina-Gukeisen so special because most children her age wouldn’t think twice about giving away their birthday gifts. “The reason I chose to give away all my presents is because some kids don’t have parents or toys to play with, so I wanted them to have all of my stuff,” Medina-Gukeisen said. “I’m not even leaving one little crumb for me, I’m letting the kids have fun with what I get from my party.”

Medina-Gukeisen’s mom, Jaime Gukeisen, was speechless when her daughter came to her and told her what she wanted to do for her birthday. “She told me she wanted clothes, hats, and toys and that’s what most girls her age want for their birthday, but then she told me she wanted to donate all of her birthday gifts to the orphans; it gave me goosebumps,” Jaime  said. “I told her that if she really wanted to do that, then let’s go for it because anything my girls want to do makes me happy and I want to do it for them.” Jaime and her husband, James, have five girls.

Medina-Gukeisen and the rest of her family volunteered at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home over the summer. The family fell in love with the children and staff at the home. “That’s kind of how Ysabel got the idea to donate all of her birthday gifts,” Jaime said. Medina-Gukeisen asked everyone to bring a wrapped birthday gift to her party as well as gently-used clothing. The family will take all of the wrapped toys and donated clothes to the children’s home a few days before Christmas to surprise the children. “I’m saying this to all the parents, give your kids an opportunity to help other kids,” Medina-Gukeisen said. “I want to give every kid in the world a wonderful life.”

The Florida Baptist Children’s Home is a faith-based non-profit organization that provides safe, stable, Christian homes for boys and girls who have been neglected or orphaned. The home has been helping children since 1904. To learn more, visit or call 863-687-8811. The home is located at 1015 Sikes Blvd. in Lakeland.


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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.