Mackenzie Hinson served food to people devastated by Hurricane Matthew last October, but recognition never crossed the 12-year-old's mind.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, however, invited Mackenzie to his first State of the State address at the Legislative Building in Raleigh Monday night, and the food pantry owner was "very" excited.
Cooper recognized Mackenzie for serving food to 8,000 people in Wayne, Johnson and Sampson counties during the hurricane.
A Wayne County native, Mackenzie opened her Make a Difference Food Pantry two years ago in Grantham, which serves 4,000 people monthly. But Mackenzie said people needing food doubled after the hurricane hit.
Cooper spoke on disaster relief during his address, and Mackenzie said the governor turned the focus to food pantries -- presenting an opportunity to recognize Mackenzie's efforts.
"I was asked to stand in front of the state (legislature) and the Senate," Mackenzie said. "I was a special guest for the governor, and I sat beside the governor's wife (Kristen Cooper)."
She said the governor will visit her food pantry, located at 3514 U.S. 13 S, on March 22 at the Grantham Strip Mall.
"I'm actually the voice now of people who don't have a voice, and a voice of hunger," Mackenzie said. "And for me to be recognized for that, it was just phenomenal."
Mackenize attended the governor's address with her father Michael Hinson, mother Paige Hinson and Goldsboro Mayor Chuck Allen.
"We were very, very proud and very humbled to see her recognized in front of the Senate and the House last night," Mrs. Hinson said.
"Mackenzie is a very, very special person. She has a heart of gold for helping people," he said. "It's a great recognition for her, and it's really special how she represents Wayne County.
"So I think we all should be very proud of her."