Kindergartner’s Can-Do Spirit Feeds 200,000 People

Who: Phoebe Russell

What: Kindergartener Inspires Community to Feed 200,000+ people

Where: San Francisco

Why: Phoebe saw homeless people and she knew two things: 1.) It made her feel sad 2.) She wanted to do something to help

Have you ever walked by a homeless person and felt bad because you didn’t know what to do?

Maybe you gave them a dollar or your leftovers.

I met Phoebe Russell when she was a kindergartner, but don’t let her age or size fool you. She’s one of the youngest philanthropist-teachers I’ve ever met. Her big heart and “can”-do attitude (pun intended) has inspired the San Francisco community to enable the San Francisco Food Bank to dole out more than 200,000 meals.

On the way to school, she would often see hungry and homeless people.

She asked her mom why they look so sad and dirty. Her mom said they didn’t have a home and didn’t have food.

She may not understand mortgages or rents, but she couldn’t see why people didn’t have food when there are grocery stores nearby and lots of food in her pantry.

She asked her Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Kathleen Albert, “Who helps hungry, homeless people?”

“The Food Bank,” Kathleen replied.

Phoebe was on a mission. She wanted to raise $1,000 before she graduated Kindergarten. With only two months of school to go, some adults told her it would be nearly impossible to raise that amount before being promoted to the first grade.

She didn’t give up, she wrote letters asking for aluminum cans. She knew that she could get five cents a can.

“Does she understand it the way you and I do? No, but she understood that she could do something,” Kathleen said.

“I think they’re looking at that it doesn’t have to be big,” Kathleen explained. “We talked about how it was the little money and the little donations.

“So when people came to the door with one or two cans, people we didn’t even know, she would say, ‘Oh that’s five cents, that’s 10 cents, that’s 15 cents.’ She understood that you have something small, and you just make it bigger, bigger, bigger.”

The idea was a smashing success.

Thousands of cans trickled in. People donated cash anonymously. Parents and the community wrote checks. Companies matched the contributions.

Phoebe raised $3,736.30 to be exact!

Everyone who knows me knows I love a good party, so I crashed her cupcake and balloon party where she gave the money she collected to the Food Bank and created this video for my nonprofit Go Inspire Go:

Inspiration is infectious. After this video went viral, the S.F. Food Bank emailed me to let me know that we helped her raise $20,200, or 90,000 meals.

The inspiration continues…​

Find out how social media and other kids in the community were inspired by Phoebe and helped her raise enough resources to enable the S.F. Food Bank to give out more than 200,000 meals!

Hint: It involves three other kindergartners who were inspired by Phoebe’s “Yes you CAN” message, and a chicken company donating 15 tons of food on her behalf!

Part 2:

Part 3:

“I learned something from her,” Kathleen said. “When you learn something from children it’s great. These children are all our tomorrows. They’re my tomorrows, they’re your tomorrows. They’re the people who are going to make a difference in our world as we get older.”

*This blog/video is dedicated to the late Kathleen Albert. Your energy and love lives on through the kids you inspired.*

Now, may I ask you, “What can YOU do?”

More info:

‘6-Year-Old Inspires Movement’ (Go Inspire Go)

‘Four Kindergarteners Inspire 135,000 Meals for the Needy’ (Go Inspire Go)

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