12-year-old collecting bottles and cans to help best friend's family in need

At just 12 years old Payton Lulek shows kindness and compassion well beyond her years. The Commerce Township girl also knows the blessings that come with having a special best friend named Malia.

"She means a lot to me, she was in two classes with me this year and she would help me out a lot, when I was struggling and we would just have a lot of fun," Payton said.

Payton and Malia met three years ago when Malia's family moved to Metro Detroit from France.  

But Payton learned Malia's family, like so many others, have fallen on hard times. She says Malia's family may have to move back to France if they don't have the money to stay in the US.

"Malia is a good person and I just don’t want her to move back to France and I just wanted to help her out," she said.

Payton is collecting bottles, cans, and started a GoFundMe to raise money for Malia's family. She is also holding events, giving out free hot dogs and Kool-Aid in exchange for returnables.

"I’m happy that what she’s doing, I’m doing the right thing and raising the kids the right way of looking out for their friends and looking out for other people," said her dad Ryan Lulek.

The community and even an Oakland County Sheriff's Deputy, have all stopped by to show their support. Her dad calls the response inspiring.

"To see people what they were doing for her, I really didn’t think it was going to take off like this," he said. "I really didn’t. I just posted on Facebook just trying to get people's cans and it just took off."

Now bags of returnables are stacked up in the Lulek's garage. Meanwhile, Payton's efforts are a big surprise.

Malia and her family are going back in France for the next month.  When they come home they'll truly learn the compassion and blessings that come with this special friendship.

"It makes me happy and I hope me and Malia can stay together a long time

If you would like to drop off bottles and cans in person, go to 9543 Chaumont, Commerce Twp.  Or donate to the GoFundMe page HERE.