It's almost Danielle Jelinek's birthday and her family knows how they want to celebrate it.
Danielle, who was reported missing on Dec. 9, turns 28 years old on Friday.
Danielle is known for always putting a smile on someone's face, whether that person was a stranger or a close friend, said Cory Jelinek, Danielle's sister.
With her birthday around the corner, Danielle's family has decided to declare Friday, Feb. 1 as "Do Good for Dani Day." The family is asking people to do a small act of kindness in honor of Danielle. Some examples include:
- Buy coffee for the person behind you in line
- Leave a generous tip at a restaurant
- Compliment a stranger
- Bring muffins to work
- Let someone ahead of you in line at a store
- Smile at someone who's sad
- Give blood
- Shovel someone’s sidewalk or driveway
- Make a donation (clothes, household items, books, food, money)
- Send flowers
- Send a thank you
- Visit an elderly person
- Clean someone’s house
- Bring a meal to a widow or widower in your neighborhood
"We want to do a 'pay it forward' type of thing because that's basically who Danielle was," Cory said. "Every person she came in contact with she would put a smile on their face. So we want to put a lot of smiles on people's faces."
Danielle was reported missing after family and friends could not make contact with her. Danielle has been living with her sister in Oakdale for the past two and a half years.
"Most people probably would not have contacted the authorities if they hadn't heard from their brother or sister by noon on Sunday, but she would always text to say 'Hey, I'm up. Hope you're having a good day.' So for her not to respond to anyone made us concerned," Cory said.
Danielle was last seen in Chisago Lake Township with her friend Aaron Schnagl, who was then arrested on unrelated drug charges and has since been named a person of interest in her case.
Schnagl has had two court hearings so far in regard to his drug charges.
"Family members have been at both (hearings)," Cory said. "I physically don't think I could see him. I don't feel ready."
The Chisago County Sheriff's Office — the agency investigating Danielle's disappearance — has conducted searches by foot and helicopter, in addition to several water searches with dive teams.
The sheriff's office has also partnered with Crime Stoppers — a non-profit organization that seeks to help law enforcement by gathering information and offering rewards — to offer a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) involved in Danielle's disappearance.
The Cottage Grove Crime Prevention is also providing another $500 to the reward since Danielle is a Cottage Grove native.
Danielle's family is planning a fundraiser in the near future to raise money for a larger reward. The family's reward money will be designated for whoever can tell the family where Danielle is.
"The money will basically be if you can tell us where she is and lead us to her," Cory said. "We'll have it at a place that has meaning for her or whatever we can do to make it memorable."
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