This summer a pair of sisters from Chandler have used their extra free time to raise money for a good cause. Kamryn and Mae Keesling have started a joint operation in which Kamryn bakes cookies and Mae draws art, selling both and giving all proceeds to the new Mesker Park Zoo penguin exhibit.

Kamryn, who is 10 years old and will start 5th grade at Chandler Elementary this fall, baked sugar cookies and sold them by the dozen to help raise money while Mae, who is 12 and about to start 7th grade at Castle North Middle School, sold artwork she drew digitally.

The cookies that Kamryn bakes are adorned with glitter and sprinkles, while others are penguin shaped and frosted to look like the aforementioned bird. Mae uses a tablet to draw pen to pixel art in a distinctive anime art style. According to their mother, Krista, both girls are big fans of anime and they use it to inspire their art. Most of the work Mae sold was personal art she had already completed and decided to sell, but she did a few commissions, mostly drawings of the buyer.

“We wanted to beat summer boredom. My kids are 10 and 12 and I didn’t want them to sit around playing video games all summer,” according to mom Krista. “I gave them a challenge to earn money to give to a cause. I let them choose how they wanted to earn the money. They decided on Mesker Park Zoo because they are building a new penguin exhibit. My 10 year old decided she wanted to bake and my 12-year-old wanted to sell her artwork. They each turned their favorite hobby into a business with my help. I created a Facebook page and have reached out to friends and family for their support. They loved the thought of it all going to the zoo. They raised over $600 in a week and half. We baked and delivered over 1000 cookies while my oldest was printing, farming and selling artwork. It was a good project and gave them purpose for the summer. We were super happy to give it all to the zoo. The zoo offered plaques and we purchased one for $500 that will be featured on a sculpture at the new exhibit. My husband also decided to match whatever their donation was to the zoo, which meant we donated $1,200 total. We were glad that they had the extra incentive.”

Of the choice to raise money for the zoo, Krista added, “We had visited the zoo back when they were doing the orchids in Amazonia and we saw all the construction going on for the penguin exhibit. The kids decided to donate to the zoo as their first idea. We love animals and we love the zoo.”

The Penguins of Patagonia exhibit in Mesker Park Zoo is currently in the development phase and will require $6.1 million to complete, with a large amount of funds already donated.

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