Every little bit helps at the Harry Chapin Food Bank when it comes to providing food for those in need.
These donations are particularly meaningful when they come from children who give up getting gifts at Christmas or for their birthdays in order to give back to others. We introduce you to three young donors who have learned early that the satisfaction received from helping others who have less than they do is a gift in itself.
She brings joy
Joy Youngblood, age 5, may be one of the youngest contributors ever to the Harry Chapin Food Bank. Joy broke into her piggy bank and brought in the total, $8, to donate to help feed those in need for the holidays. Why did she do it?
“Because there’s a lot of money in there and I save a lot of money,” she said of her piggy bank. “You give the money away so people can eat, because that’s being a nice, kind friend.”
The Force is with her
Samantha Callaja, 8, who lives in Naples, did something a little different. At her fall birthday party her grandmothers, aunts and uncles asked what she would like. She told them, ‘I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything.”
But she knew that there were others who did want and need something; food. “I didn’t really want any presents from my family and I thought it would be nice to give to the people in need,” she said.
Samantha got the idea from a friend who held a party and asked for donations for another charity instead of presents.
“I am absolutely proud of her,” said her mother, Gisselle. “She is very giving, giving of herself and her time. She is a very committed.”
Samantha, who loves Star Wars and had a Star Wars theme for her birthday party, gathered 256 pounds of food in “gifts”. The second-grader at Royal Palm Academy said giving up material gifts and helping others out made her feel good, “because when we give to the poor it makes a better life,” she said.
Shy but mighty
Andelino Calderon, 14, gave up birthday presents for his December birthday as well as Christmas gifts for the second year in a row. He asked for donations of food instead.
Last year, he brought in 540 pounds of food. “His goal was to beat last year’s goal,” said his mother, Barbara Thomas.
They brought a van stuffed with canned beans, tomatoes, mac and cheese, apple sauce, Stove Top stuffing, cans of salmon, corn, chicken and more.
"You name it, it’s probably in there,” Thomas said. She said her son got the inspiration from a friend who donates every year to the Ronald McDonald House.
Andelino, a Cypress Lake Middle School student, was shy when asked about his charitable efforts. “I know there’s people who aren’t as lucky as us,” he said. “I know that we’re able to donate and able to gather more food than what we need.”
And last year’s goal? It was blown away. He nearly doubled his donation, at 1,058 pounds.
Their gifts will touch the lives of people in the community who often don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The Harry Chapin Food Bank serves 30,000 people a month in Southwest Florida, about 12,000 of them children.
Because of you, many children and families will have food on their tables.
Thank you again, Joy, Samantha, and Andelino, for helping to fight hunger and feed hope in Southwest Florida. We hope your good deeds might inspire other children to do the same.