A local 11-year-old has brought national attention to her growing passion to help the hungry — and a well-known national department store is honoring the East Valley youngster for her efforts.
Starting a collection in August of last year, Faith Finnie of Gilbert raised more than $9,400 — enough for more than 39,000 meals for children worldwide — for Feed My Starving Children, a nationwide ministry working to eradicate youth hunger across the globe.
“I have been going to pack food there for years,” Faith said of her time with the national organization, which has a nearby location in Tempe. “I love doing this. But I wanted to do something more for them.”
What she did: she distributed mini tubes of M&Ms to just about anyone she could – family, friends, church groups, classrooms scouting troops and more. When the candy was gone, she asked that people fill the tubes with quarters, since the cost to feed a child for a day through Feed My Starving Children was 24 cents a piece.
For her efforts with Feed My Starving Children — a Christian organization that distributes hand-packed meals to more than 70 countries through missionary partnerships — Faith was honored recently with a $1,000 scholarship from the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship program for her community service.
Faith was one of four regional winners, Dulce Gariepy, 11, of Phoenix, Max Benning, 15, of Scottsdale, and Krista Moller, 18, of Gilbert. Moller was rewarded for her support of The Clothes Cabin, a Chandler nonprofit that provides free clothing to the homeless. When The Clothes Cabin was struggling to stay afloat, Krista organized a clothing drive and fashion show, bringing in more than $2,800 and 2,000 pieces of clothing.
Gariepy made take-home literacy bags for kindergartners to practice reading and phonics at home, while Benning created videos and artwork on social issues.
The Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program is a philanthropic program focused on improving the lives of children, according to a press release. Since it was started 12 years ago, the program has recognized more than 17,000 youths, with nearly $3.5 million distributed in scholarships and prizes.
“From collecting books for underprivileged children to fundraising for a community food bank, the efforts of these kids are undoubtedly making our communities better places to live and it is a pleasure to recognize and thank them for their work,” said Julie Gardner, Kohl’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in a press release.
Faith’s mission — and that of Feed My Starving Children – aren’t over, however. Anyone can help Faith’s cause by purchasing an M&M tube and filling it with quarters. One tube can feed a child 58 meals.
“I will continue to collect quarters or any donation for the organization. I will also continue to go there and pack food. I recommend it to anyone,” she said. “You will see what a difference one person and one quarter can make.”
• Caitlin, a senior studying public relations and journalism at Northern Arizona University, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org