by Janet Detter Margul
Plano, Texas, USA
When my daughter Lisa was in kindergarten, for her sixth birthday she asked if she could invite not only her whole class to her party, but the other class at school too. I probably turned pale at the thought of 60 kindergartners at a party because she said quickly, “Wait! Don’t say no yet. I have a plan.”
I was already thinking about how she’d been making a birthday wish list for weeks — that’s one way to get a lot of presents! But I let her tell me her plan. She wanted to invite a lot of people to a picnic in the park, and ask them if, instead of bringing gifts, they could bring food to give the food pantry.
Just the month before, her scout troop took a field trip to the local food pantry, taking canned goods we’d collected for a service project. Lisa explained that the lady there said it looked like they had a lot of food, but come spring all that food would be gone and many people would be hungry. She thought that if she asked for food for her party, the people wouldn’t be so hungry in May.
Well, I had to say yes to that, but I was worried she’d regret giving up all her birthday presents for food. I kept asking if she was sure she wanted to do this. Finally she explained, “Mom, you know I always get a bunch of junkie presents at birthday parties. I’d rather have food to give instead of those. Besides, the people who give good presents, well, you know they’ll give me food AND good presents anyway.”
So we had the party in the park, with a cotton candy machine, hot dogs, and jugs and jugs of lemonade. A ton of kids came, and some adults. Lisa was just beside herself when someone gave her TWO cans of food. Some gave big bags of food. It was like a one-child food drive. I was overwhelmed at how much food. We filled up two station wagons with it.
There was too much to take home and then take to the food pantry later, so we went straight there from the park. We arrived pretty late in the day, close to closing time. My tiny kindergartner marched into the building and told the volunteer at the desk, “I’ve got some food to give you.”
The volunteer smiled down at her and said, “well, bring it on in, honey.” Lisa said “but it’s a LOT of food,” so the volunteer got a shopping cart to help Lisa bring in her donation. The volunteer was obviously thinking of a “child’s size” donation but, once she saw all the food, she just boggled.
Lisa handed her one of her party invitations “so’s you know how I got so much” and the volunteer started to cry. I, and the other adults, joined her. Lisa looked up at us and announced, “stop crying. I’ll help carry it in.”
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.