Nine-year-old Lauryn Hinckley watched as a family with a cart half-full of groceries had to put many of their items back because they could not afford it. She could not shake the image of hungry children from her mind and set to work almost immediately.
Hinckley founded her organization, “Stopping Childhood Hunger–One Backpack at a Time,” when she was just nine years old. After speaking with United Way about their backpack program, she learned that peanut butter and jelly were the most expensive items. She began by holding local peanut butter and jelly drives, and over the years, the program grew. This summer, Hinckley received one of five Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarships and was invited to a ceremony in Washington, D.C..
“The experience of being surrounded with innovative youth from across the country was invigorating. I also received a standing ovation from more than 1000 attendees at the event. The best part beyond telling my story was to take part in raising over $1,000,000 to stop hunger across the United States,” she said.
In her first peanut butter and jelly drive, Hinckley partnered with one business and collected 100 pounds of food. Since then, she has created shirts, social media campaigns, a blog, posters, and flyers to spread the word. Around her hometown of Bismarck, N.D., she contacted school principals, local businesses, and student councils to create partnerships in the community. As a result, she found more than 750 volunteers, donated more than $120,000 to help childhood hunger, and indirectly provided over 144,000 meals to children.
Right now, Hinckley is working towards ways for Cobbers to get involved, and will have more information in the near future. But until then, she has some advice.
“If anyone sees a problem in their community, take action. Any action or awareness can change lives. Because I started the conversation about hunger, a janitor at an elementary school changed one boy’s life. A little boy in 1st grade came up to him and said, “I’m so glad it’s Monday because I finally get to eat.” The janitor signed the little boy up for the Backpack Program because he heard about the peanut butter and jelly drive at his wife’s work. Now the little boy gets food over the weekends because my project creates awareness in the community. Anyone can change someone else’s life, no matter how small the act,” she said.
Stay tuned for updates on “Stopping Childhood Hunger–One Backpack at a Time!”
Annie is a senior double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Heritage and Museum Studies, as well as minoring in German. She loves adventures, coffee, and dogs. This is her third year with the Concordian.