Second-grader hosts Philabundance food drive for Christmas wish
When 7-year-old Kyleigh Oswald-Scholl, of Elkins Park, wrote her Christmas list this year, her mother was surprised to learn her No. 1 Christmas wish was to give canned food to the poor.
“When you look at your child’s Christmas list and you see her No. 1 one wish is to give food to the poor and No. 6 is an iPad — I just thought they would be reversed,” said Suzie Oswald, Kyleigh’s mom. “I guess I’m not surprised because she’s a really good kid, really smart and [cares] for other people.
“I had to figure out a way to make this happen. She was really getting into the true meaning of Christmas.”
Kyleigh said she always wanted to add this wish to her Christmas list but forgot until this year.
“I just know that a lot of homeless people don’t have a lot of food,” Kyleigh said.
Familiar with the local organization Philabundance, Oswald decided to contact them. They responded with an email that contained information about the organization and donations, she said.
Established in 1984, Philabundance is the region’s largest hunger relief organization and works with a network of more than 500 agencies, according to philabundance.org. The organization said it believes no man, woman or child should go hungry.
Oswald and Kyleigh decided this would be the perfect organization to work with.
Kyleigh’s goal was to collect 400 pounds of food for Philabundance. To reach her goal, Oswald asked friends, family and co-workers for non-perishable food items through social media, mass text messages and word of mouth.
They were able to garner items like hot cocoa mix, macaroni and cheese, cases of soup, canned vegetables, creamed corn, pasta and pasta sauce, cake mix and an assortment of other items, they said.
“I was really touched,” Oswald said. “People went out of their way to help out. Up until the morning we were going to take donations to Philabundance, I was still getting phone calls about donations. When a 7-year-old mentions they want to do a food drive, people really want to help.”
They received so many donations that Kyleigh said she plans on having another food drive in June because she learned that’s when the organization is low on donations.
Kyleigh, a second-grader at Saint Joseph the Protector School in Glenside, was able to get her classmates involved in the food collection, too.
“My classmates were really, really excited,” Kyleigh said. “My friend bought in six cans.”
Oswald said that Kyleigh’s teacher, Heidi Hector, was supportive of the initiative. Hector described Kyleigh’s act of kindness as a “breath of fresh air.”
“It was a special moment as a teacher to witness a young student demonstrating the true meaning of Christmas,” Hector said. “I was honored to have Kyleigh include myself, her class and the entire Saint Joseph the Protector School community in her Christmas wish food drive and provide us all the opportunity to help the less fortunate during the holiday season.
“All of her peers were extremely supportive and eager to be a part of her initiative. Kyleigh is very generous and kindhearted. She demonstrates the type of person we are all called to be.”
Thanks to the generosity of others and items Kyleigh and Oswald contributed to the drive, Kyleigh exceeded her goal and was able to collect 475 pounds of food for Philabundance.
Oswald and Kyleigh drove to the Philabundance headquarters in Philadelphia Dec. 23 to donate the goods. Kyleigh had the opportunity to meet the organization’s program coordinator, Stephen Schaeffer, and was given a tour of the facility.
Kyleigh said she was excited to see how much food was being housed at the facility and the giant freezer and also to learn how volunteers sort and organize the donations.
“When Suzie first [contacted] me and told me about her daughter wanting to hold a food drive, I was pleasantly surprised,” Schaeffer said. “There aren’t too many 7-year-olds who are thinking of others in this kind of way.
“[Upon meeting Kyleigh], I was expecting [her] to be a bit shy but was so impressed with her sparkling personality and her passion for making the food drive a success. It was clear that she was very involved in the drive itself, especially at school. Kyleigh is the future of hunger relief. Getting young people to understand there are people in need and they can make a difference even at a young age is important for agencies like Philabundance.”
Kyleigh said she was happy her Christmas wish came true, and she looks forward to collecting for the June food drive.
“Everyone in my class kept saying, because of you, poor people will be able to have Christmas dinner,” she said.