Community responds to food drive
By Laura Collins
Published in News on December 24, 2009 1:46 PM
Sam Thacker, 11, stands near the truck holding the food donations he collected Wednesday afternoon. The food will go to needy families and other organizations in Goldsboro.
When 11-year-old Sam Thacker said he wanted to have "the best food drive ever," he had no idea how close he would actually come.
By Wednesday at 1 p.m., after collecting food outside of Brooklyn Pizzeria for only two hours, the bed of the family's pickup truck was already nearly overflowing with cans, and he still had five hours to go.
Melissa Thacker, Sam's mother, looked at the hundreds of cans in awe.
"Just the outpouring of love from the community has been amazing. It truly has," she said.
It seems Sam's story had made an impact. Last Friday, Sam and his parents found out they were recommended to the YMCA as a family in need. Over the past year, the family has had a number of obstacles including the death of Mrs. Thacker's mother, Sam's father Joseph Thacker suffering a stroke, decreased hours at his job and health problems for both Mrs. Thacker and Sam. As a result, they were facing a stark Christmas.
But with the help of volunteers at the YMCA, the Thackers were given food for the holidays, toys for Sam and money for a Christmas tree.
Though young, Sam decided he wanted to organize a food drive in an effort to help others like his family was helped.
"The response has been amazing. People have come up and asked specifically for Sam," Mrs. Thacker said. "They've hugged him and told him what an amazing young man he was. We've had a lot of people say they hope their children turn out like Sam. It's amazing to hear."
One small girl drew a picture for him with the message "Merry Christmas. Thank you for all you do."
A local church brought by cans and a card for Sam, it said "May all your Christmas dreams come true."
Another woman not only brought by cans, but also a sweatshirt for Sam, which he immediately put on and proudly wore around.
Local businesses, schools and community members donated canned and boxed items at the food drive.
Judie Harrison, of Goldsboro, said she wanted to help Sam because of his thoughtfulness.
"A lot of kids now are about what I want for Christmas and what I can get," she said. "But that's not his focus at all. He must have special parents. This is what Christmas is all about."
Phyllis Smith, of Goldsboro, said Sam could serve as a role model for others.
"I just really admire what Sam is doing. I think we should all just help each other, especially this time of year," she said.
Nearing the halfway point of the food drive, Sam took some time to reflect on the impact he was having.
"I think this is going really, really good," he said. "With everything we've gotten, just in the first hour, it's been really great. All year long you feel like you've done nothing at all. But something like this, it feels really good."
With the help of Marissa Davis, of the Goldsboro Police Department, the food will go to families in need, as well as the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro and the Salvation Army.
"It's unusual to find someone of Sam's age that wants to give to others," Ms. Davis said. "But with the donations that people have brought in, it shows that people in this community do have heart for other people and a mind to give."