NEWTON — It’s always fun to get birthday presents, but Emma Gordon decided she didn’t need them this year.
When she celebrated her 9th birthday this month, Emma asked her guests to bring canned goods for the local food pantry instead.
And that’s just what they did.
The birthday girl from Newton collected more than 100 items that she planned to deliver to the Newton Town Hall Thursday night. The donation will help keep the shelves stocked at the food pantry.
“It always feels great when you help others. You get that warm happy feeling knowing that someone else will be able to smile and not worry about a meal,” said Emma, who turned 9 on Oct. 15 and is a third-grader at Hampstead Central School, where her mother teaches.
The idea for the food drive started when Emma began thinking about her birthday and a special friend she wanted to invite. She knows money is tight for some families and tried to think of a way to make her friend feel comfortable coming to the party to have a good time. She knew her friend would want to bring something, so when her mother mentioned that the food pantry was running low, Emma jumped at the chance to help. She found a huge box, decorated it, and waited to fill it up at the party.
She thanked everyone for their donations at her party and was proud of her accomplishment and knew grandmother, MeMe, who passed away four months ago, would be proud of her, too.
Emma said this was the first time she’s asked for food donations for her birthday, but she has twice donated hair to the Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to disadvantaged children experiencing hair loss from medical conditions.
She was surprised by the amount of food she collected, which included soup and boxes of pasta, cereal, rice and crackers.
Her parents, Dale and Kara, were surprised, too.
“We were really pleased and happy that everyone took her request so seriously. When people started coming with boxes and bags of food it was a really overwhelming feeling. We are very proud of Emma,” Kara said, adding, “This really shares the spirit of looking out for others, compassion and empathy, helping your neighbors.”