By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota sixth-grader stepped up her tradition of Black Friday giving this year and made it even bigger.

Nika Hirsch, an 11-year-old from Northfield, has spent her last five Black Fridays doing as many acts of kindness as her creative mind could come up with. Every year she’s surpassed her goal of 100 kind deeds, but this year she set her sights on doing 1,000.

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An early stop Friday for Nika and her mother, Jana, was Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. They dropped off donations of stuffed animals, books and a Nintendo Switch.

“I think it’s just important, because we like knowing that people will be happy when we donate stuff,” Nika said.

This year though, the Hirsches are missing their regular driver and pillar of support. Nika’s father, Rico, died in September of glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer.

“There is absolutely no cure,” Jana said. “It’s brain cancer. My husband thought he had carpal tunnel syndrome at the end of April and by the end of September, he was gone.”

The family gave brief thought to putting off the busy day of giving, but they say that wouldn’t have been the right way to honor Rico.

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“He was the most wonderful thing in all of our lives, and we just want to keep all his wonderful going in the world,” Jana said.

After their hospital donation, Nika and Jana picked up trash along Chicago Avenue. Then they headed to the Mall of America to meet up with Nika’s older siblings, Kaia and Noah.

They set up tables to give away painted rocks. They hid gift cards in stores for shoppers to find and collected sock and toothbrush donations.

Nika left Post-It notes with supportive messages on fitting room mirrors. She also says they went into a chocolate store and bought a chocolate for everyone inside.

An anonymous donor agreed to give a dollar to cancer research for every good deed Nika accomplished Friday.

She’s set up a donation link on her Facebook page “This Life Rocks” for the Conquer Cancer Foundation’s glioblastoma fund.

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David Schuman