7-year-old uses birthday as catalyst for church’s food drive

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O’FALLON, Mo. – At Sunrise United Methodist Church in O’Fallon, Missouri, a birthday request is being delivered in person. Thanks to 7-year-old girl Cassie Miller.

“I thought, ‘Hey, instead of asking for presents, why don’t you ask for donations for Food for Hope at church?’” said Julie Miller, Cassie’s mother. “She got really excited about that. She loves bringing in little bags for the porch over there.”

The porch is where non-perishable items are collected as part of Sunrise’s food ministry program, Food for Hope.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Miller family paid a visit to the porch.

“The ministry partners with schools in the area,” said Amy Houke, volunteer at Food for Hope. “We stock their food pantries so we’re not a traditional food pantry. Instead, we partner and assign a liaison to each school.”

As more schools are feeding breakfast to children, sunrise recognized the need and began supplying food staples and weekend essentials.

“A backpack is stuffed at the end of the week on Fridays,” Houke said. “It’s done that way so that a kid is not carrying food on the bus; it just looks like their backpack. But then they’ve got food and a couple of meals over the course of the weekend in case there is not enough at home to eat.”

And Cassie was okay with her collection instead of traditional birthday presents. One hundred seventy items, from a 7-year-old’s nontraditional birthday party.

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