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Kansas City transplant connects with Florida through sand dollar art project

Abby McDonald discovered the beauty of sand dollars on a trip to Pass-A-Grille Beach. She started painting them for family in Missouri.

LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — Nobody is going to confuse Kansas City with Tampa Bay. One is known as the “City of Fountains”. The other is known for its picturesque coastline.

Abby McDonald is learning to love her new home.

“I was missing like all my friends and I was really freaked out by this new state,” said the teen, who moved to Lakewood Ranch last August.

To learn her new home, she began exploring beaches. She went to Pass-A-Grille with her mother and swam out past the waves. She dove down and found sand dollars dotting the ocean floor.

It gave her a great idea.

“Ever since I was little I’ve been trying to do something creative with my time,” she said.

She harvested sand dollars to take home making sure to grab only the dead ones.

“I make sure they are not living,” she said assuredly.

Each sand dollar takes about 20 minutes to complete. She paints a mixture of glue and water over the dead sand dollar to help prevent breaking. She adds her creative seascape with acrylic paint and then posts the finished piece on Instagram.

“This one, among my family, has been the most popular,” McDonald said, holding up a sand dollar sporting a red and gold sunset scene. “I actually learned how to paint this in fourth grade.”

Posts on her Instagram page show off designs ranging from shark-infested waters to tie-dye paintings. McDonald never expected to have a creative business. She says she hasn’t sold many of her sand dollars but has gotten some interest. She's really found pleasure in giving them to friends and family back in Missouri. But, her midwest heart is slowly embracing Florida.

“This has definitely made me feel more at home here,” said the recent transplant.

I asked if she’s adopted Florida now.

“Yeah. Definitely.”

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