TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A St. Petersburg fifth grader is giving back with his own hard-earned money and has inspired others to do the same during the holiday season.
Finnian McCallen goes to school at Lutheran Church of the Cross Day School in St. Petersburg.
The school is in the midst of its food drive. According to the school’s website, each year, non-perishable food items for St. Pete Free Clinic’s food pantry are collected. Money is also accepted.
The school is also collecting money for the Free Clinic’s “Pack-A-Sack” program for children who receive free breakfast and lunch at school.
“Without the Pack-A-Sack Program, these children may not have food on the weekends or school holidays,” according to the school’s website.
Finnian has previously helped with the drives and has fundraised by selling snow cones, cookies and other goodies in his neighborhood. As he’s gotten older, things have gotten a bit busier for him, however.
“Last year I did a snow cone and baked goods stand to raise money, but I have lawn jobs on the weekends this year, so I didn’t know if I’d have time. So I thought it would be a good idea to donate my lawn profits,” he said.
Hearing her son say he wanted to donate all that he had earned through his hard work inspired his mother, Nicole, to go an extra step.
“I really just put it out because I was proud of him. He’s a hard worker. I thought it was impressive that he decided on his own to donate his funds from his lawn jobs,” Nicole said. “I asked him if he wanted to just donate part of it or a percentage and he said, ‘oh, I can do them all.’”
She was so impressed she took to social media, after promising she would also match Finnian’s $150 donation. Nicole said she thought turning to Facebook might be nice, as people are in a giving spirit this time of year.
“…and I had a very overwhelming response and a pretty quick response. I had just said if people want to donate $5 and we’ll get another $150 match and call it good,” she said. “And I had a lot of people donate anywhere from $5 to $50 pretty quickly and we had racked up $350 in just in a couple hours.”
Nicole said she was touched as donations came in from former colleagues, friends and family from all over the country.
“But then I also felt bad, like we had gotten so much money so quickly and we’re just trying to get to a certain amount, so I did update my post to say, ‘thank you, that’s been great. You guys should all contribute to your local food drives and find ways to contribute in your community.’ We’re very grateful for the response that we had,” she said.
According to his teachers at Lutheran Church of the Cross Day School, Finnian was able to donate $600, as well as food items for the fifth grade donation table for the food drive.
His teachers called him a dream to have in the classroom, saying he is “kind, hardworking and respectful.” They said he is always looking for a way to make things better and easier for others.
“It feels good. With all the prices high and everything else that way, I think it’s hard for some people,” Finnian said about giving back.
The fifth grader said he is thankful for a lot of things this holiday season.
“I’m thankful for all the people that contributed to this event that we did and all that. And just be thankful for what you have, you know?” he said.
Those who wish to donate to the St. Pete Free Clinic can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org by calling 727-821-1200, ext. 154.