By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Needy families will go less hungry thanks to the generosity of a 12-year-old Maurertown girl.
Kara Bowman decided she didn't need any presents for her June 14 birthday -- which she celebrated on Father's Day-- and instead asked friends and family to bring old T-shirts and food.
Kara learned in her Family Career and Community Leaders of America class how to turn the shirts into grocery bags, her mother, Cathy, said.
"She decided that she didn't want anything or need anything for her birthday, so she sent the invitations out asking everyone to first of all bring an old T-shirt...and non-perishable food so she can donate them to the Lighthouse Grocery," Bowman said.
She said most of the family's birthday parties are down at their river lot so the youngsters can so swimming.
"She invited everyone there," Bowman said. "We have awesome friends and family and the turnout was amazing."
With a large extended family and with people who couldn't make the party dropping off food on the Bowmans' porch, an "unbelievable" amount of food was collected.
"It's amazing," Bowman said. "It's covering a good portion of my living room."
Many people brought enough for complete meals, such as pasta, spaghetti sauce and cake mix, as well as cereal, macaroni and cheese, and noodles, she said.
"One lady brought soaps and toothbrushes," Bowman said. "We got the flour and the sugar, just canned veggies and a variety of things."
Kara dropped off the groceries, which will be given out in the T-shirt bags at the Lighthouse Grocery in Woodstock on Friday. She'd met the food pantry's founder, Roy Marshall, on a church youth group field trip, her mother said.
"He made an impression on Kara," she said. "He's just amazing."
Another inspiration was her English teacher having students complete monthly community service projects, Bowman said.
"I think that kind of hit home with Kara, too, that you know, we're lucky, but not everyone is," she said. "We don't have to look very far to find someone that needs help."
The rising Signal Knob Middle School seventh-grader said she didn't miss out not getting presents for her birthday this year. She's a fan of the food pantry.
"I think it's very nice what they do, and how they don't ask questions when [needy persons] go and need something," Kara said. "They just give it to you."
Lighthouse Grocery volunteer Vonnie Hepner confirmed that those coming in asking for help don't have to meet any eligibility requirements.
"The purpose of the Lighthouse is to bring glory to God and show His love," she said.
Kara's donation filled the shelves, and was worth at least several hundred dollars, Hepner said.
"It was awesome," she said. "We were excited."
The Lighthouse Grocery, which shares space with Marshall's The Gym, is at 109 N. Main St., and is open 11 a.m to 1 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, according to Hepner. For more information, contact David Varela at 975-6360.