8-year-old gathers nearly 1,000 pounds of food for food bank,

Apr 22 2012 - 9:40pm

WEST POINT -- It's not unusual for Catholic Community Services to receive large food donations.

What is unusual is for a large donation to come from an 8-year-old child.

Armani McFarland, of West Point, decided she wanted to hold her own food drive after learning about hunger at school.

"My teacher was telling us about kids who come home and don't eat, or go to bed hungry and don't eat any dinner," she said. "That made me really sad, and I wanted to help them."

When she got home, Armani told her mother, Cassidy, she thought she should start a food drive and collect 300 pounds of food for Catholic Community Services and the Box Elder Food Bank.

"It brought tears to my eyes," Cassidy McFarland said. "My daughter is always teaching me to be a better person, but this really topped it."

Armani took food bins to various places, including the Ogden Police Department, Fresh Market Grocery Store, Elite Gymnastics and her school, Majestic Elementary. After one month, she gathered the goods to split between the two organizations.

"Her goal was to collect 300 pounds," McFarland said. "She ended up with 986 pounds."

Armani said she collected everything from peanut butter and tuna fish to spaghetti and other high-protein foods. She delivered the food April 13.

"It is unusual for us to receive a donation this large from one, very young but determined child," said Northern Utah Catholic Community Services director Marci Valdez. "Typically we see groups or schools or even Eagle Scouts do food drives, but very seldom do we see a single child take on a project this big, for no other reason than she wanted to help."

Valdez said she is amazed when one person so young understands the difference their actions can make.

"I have worked in the non-profit world for over 14 years, and I have seen many times during large disasters or times of need how it is often our littlest people who make the biggest difference," she said. "But again, it is very unusual to see one child acting on their own."

The food Armani collected will supplement the food CCS provides for about 33 families.

"We serve over 2,000 households monthly, and each family receives about 150 pounds of food," Valdez said. "It takes a lot of individual donations to make this happen. We absolutely could not do what we do without the support of our community. Every food donation, large or small, contributes to our ability to provide over 200,000 pounds of food to families in need each month."

Armani said she was excited to hear how much her contribution will help. This fall she plans to do a coat drive.

"It makes me happy," she said. "One person can make a difference. I love to help people, and I would like to be a nurse one day, so I can always help others."

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