A Lacombe boy opted to pay it forward in celebrating his birthday recently, raising funds for the local food bank.
“It makes me feel really happy that my birthday could be used to make many other kids and families in Lacombe happy and maybe a little less hungry over the holidays,” explained Fenton Adams, 10.
“This matters more to me than presents or a big birthday party.”
Fenton’s mom, Tiara, said that back in mid-November, she and her son had gone for a treat at a local eatery.
They came across a boy who had attempted to purchase a burger for himself, but he didn’t have enough money.
Fenton, who is in Grade 4, asked his mom to please help out, so she offered to pay for the boy’s supper.
“He was so appreciative and tearful. I then let him order whatever he wanted and it totally made his day. When he was leaving with his meal in his hands at about 8:30 p.m. that night, he came over to us and told us how much he appreciated it, and that it was the first thing he’d eaten in a day and a half.”
Tiara asked the boy, who wasn’t much older than Fenton, if he was getting anything to eat at school. He said he hadn’t, so he was all the more grateful for the family’s generosity.
“He said, ‘This is going to fill my belly and it makes me so happy! Thank you so much’.
“Driving home, both Fenton and I were in tears,” said Tiara. “He has such a giving heart, so he said, ‘You know Mom, my birthday is coming up in two weeks and I feel really guilty that I’m wanting Lego and parties and a present when some kids in my own city don’t even have something to eat.”
Later that evening at bedtime, he came up with the idea to raise money for his birthday instead of asking for gifts.
And so the ‘Hungry Bellies’ Food Bank Fundraiser was launched.
“We contacted the food bank and went for a visit. First of all, they were shocked that this was something a 10-year-old boy would want to do! They were also more than happy to accept a donation like this. So a few days later, we posted on Facebook and reached out to family, friends, and neighbours.
Fenton also got down to work canvassing the neighbourhood and others the family knew for any extra pop bottles and also for donations of winter gear. “So that’s how it all came about.”
In just 12 days he raised $1,295 through the bottle drive and by collecting donations from friends, neighbors and family. He also was able to collect four large bags of winter gear items.
Tiara also noted that with the help and a very generous discount provided by Joe Tait of Lacombe Sobeys, Fenton was able to deliver more than $1,600 (nearly 800 lbs of food) in grocery items to the Lacombe Food Bank as well.
Initially, Fenton’s goal was to raise $1,000 but thanks to outstanding community support, he was able to surpass that amount.
For her part, Tiara coudn’t be more proud of her boy, adding that he’s always had a generous heart.
“It wasn’t out of character but it’s definitely the biggest gesture he’s ever done. He’s always the first to offer to shovel a neighbour’s sidewalk, and he’s always thinking of other kids,” she explained.
How quickly the whole campaign took off was also something of a wonderful surprise for the family, too.
“I know that the last few years have been really hard for many in our community. But the outpouring of generosity and support in our community is never lacking. When the need is expressed, instantly dozens of people will say they can help, or drop something off.
“It’s just such a nice feeling to know that you are in a community where everyone supports everyone else.”
She also pointed out how sobering it really is to see such a need so close to home. “When you also see it involving a child who isn’t much older than your own child, it rattles you. That’s what also struck a chord with Fen that night.
“He said, ‘Mom, I don’t think that boy was much older than me’.”
For his part, Fenton is one fulfilled little boy these days, and only wants to do more things like this that ultimately make such a tremendous difference.
Asked again what made him happy to do it, his answer was simple but profound.
“Sharing blessings - God has blessed me so much that I want to help other people for Christmas.”