Name: Michael B. Rolf
School: Sonoran Sky Elementary
Describe your mitzvah project: My mitzvah project is helping to collect food and money for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. A year ago, when I would go out with my mom to different places, I started noticing these big boxes that said they were for St. Mary’s Food Bank. I wanted to know more, so I went on the St. Mary’s Food Bank website. I decided to make my own box and my own sign that was unique, colorful and cheerful.
What inspired you to do this project? I chose to do this project after I read the caption on the St. Mary’s food box that says: “1 in 3 families in AZ does not have food.” I felt bad for those people. I have good food, a nice home and many people don’t have that. After reading more about how St. Mary’s Food Bank helps people, I was inspired to make my own food donation box to help them more. The pictures on the St. Mary’s Food Bank boxes made me sad, so I decided to make my own unique signs and decorated boxes to collect food. Now, I make new signs and boxes for holidays every month or so.
Why did you choose to work with this organization? I knew about Goodwill and Salvation Army because we donate to them every year. I chose to work with St. Mary’s because I wanted to help them and become a part of their organization by joining their Junior Hunger Heroes program. I wanted to work with other kids – I’ve been working with St. Mary’s Food Bank for the past year. When I started my project, I thought I would only do it for a few weeks during the holidays on my winter school break. I was so surprised and happy with the amount of food and money I was able to collect on my own for St. Mary’s that I was inspired to keep going. The first month of my project, I collected $50 in cash donations and enough food to fill three of the large St. Mary’s food collection boxes. I can’t think of anything better than this; it’s really great.
Describe the work you’ve had to do to complete the project: First, I had to get a box from a store to use – I got one donated from Sports Authority. Then I wrapped the box to look like a present. I handmade a sign with markers and stickers asking for food donations. Before and after school, I would put my box on the corner by my house. After a few days, I was very sad that no one had donated anything in my box. I asked my mom if I could go around to our neighbors and knock on their doors to ask for food donations. She said yes, and I was able to collect much more food and one of my neighbors gave me a check for $50 when I asked her to help! After the holidays when I returned to school, I had an even better idea. I asked the manager of my community center if she would allow me to put the box there so when people walked into the community office they would notice and maybe bring food when they came back again. After that, the office manager sent emails to everybody in the community where I live telling them about what I was doing. Since then, I have collected more than 700 meals for the poor and homeless! I go to my community center every week to check my box, and then we drive to the Goodwill by my house to deliver the donations so they can send them to the St. Mary’s office.
How do you hope your project will affect the people it’s designed to benefit? Since I’ve been able to collect food weekly from donations, along with toothpaste, shampoo, baby bottles, soap, etc., I hope it will benefit the people who don’t have food and other things they need. I hope it will help them to go from impoverished to not impoverished.
What have you learned from the project? Doing this project has changed me. I’ve learned that an ordinary child can actually make a difference; can help families in need. It’s not about the age, it’s about the heart and dedication of the person. I feel doing this has helped me. I feel a lot better about what I do. I feel more confident in myself, I feel like that’s my job – to help collect food for the people who really need it.
Donate items at the McDowell Mountain Community Center, 10607 E. Paradise Lane, Scottsdale or drop off at Goodwill and ask them to donate to St. Mary’s.