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When Peyton Medick of Weston, WI was eight years old, a news story about hunger issues across the country shocked her. "My family and I watched a show on ABC’s 20/20 about Camden, New Jersey," reflects Peyton. "The story was about kids living in Camden and what their lives were like. The thing that touched my heart most was Ivan Stevens, a little boy who was homeless and was going to his first day of kindergarten. On the first day of school, Ivan was scared and nervous. He knew his colors, numbers and letters, and yet when his principal sat down with him and asked him what the three meals of the day were, he had no clue! I asked my parents if there were kids like that in our area and they replied, 'Yes!' This was the moment I discovered that there was a problem with hunger, both in New Jersey and right here in my town. It really touched my heart and it motivated me to help kids and families in my community."
After seeing the story, Peyton was determined to fix the issue of hungry kids and families. Four years later, fixing it is her mission. Her goal is to "Make the World a Better Place, One Can at a Time" by keeping her local food pantries stocked. Today, Peyton's Promise has collected close to 30 tons of food for local pantries!
In the past four years, Peyton’s Promise has grown from one food drive to many different food collection activities. Each year, Peyton contacts local principals, businesses, churches and community leaders seeking groups to participate in Peyton’s Promise. Because her organization now has gained community recognition, some organizations reach out to Peyton to organize events. While group size and facility determine how the organization presents its mission, as Peyton says, the objective is always the same, "To collect as much food as we can, get it to local food pantries and into the hands of people in need as quickly as possible and as often as we can."
Peyton has also come up with creative ideas for engaging the community to collect more food and increasing the nutritional value of the food that is donated. In 2010, Peyton's Promise added the Feed a Family program into the mix. Taking advantage of the fact that many of the members of a local church had gardens and extra produce, the organization worked with the church to pass out 150 bags to church members to fill with food for one meal. Church members were able to include produce, bread and even some meat in the bags, which were distributed the same day. Meanwhile, Peyton has also launched Item of the Month, whereby Peyton's Promise posts one item each month on their website that is most requested by the food banks. Community members can make a donation at convenient Peyton's Promise drop-box locations.
"When I speak to groups of students, I point out that I was only eight years old when Peyton’s Promise began," notes Peyton. "I ask, 'Who thinks an eight year old can make a difference?' Then I ask how many of them brought in a can of food today. When most of the students raise their hand, I tell them that at the age they are now, they have just made the world a better place, too. If everyone does a little bit, no one will have to do a lot! Age does not matter when it comes to following a dream or reaching a goal. I will always strive to make the world a better place, and if I can inspire a few others to do so as well, then that is great!"
To learn more about how Peyton Medick is making a difference, one can at a time, visit the Peyton's Promise website.
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