Community News Elementary school student works to feed 4,000 people

Community News Elementary school student works to feed 4,000 people

April 19th, 2017 by Shane Foley in Community North Hamilton

Soddy-Daisy Elementary student Ryan Jenkins sits with some of the food he collected as part of a food drive to benefit the Soddy-Daisy Food Bank.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

When Soddy-Daisy Elementary School third-grader Ryan Jenkins submitted an application for a grant from Disney last fall, he and his mother Colleen didn't think they'd actually get it.

They were in for a surprise when Ryan received $500 to benefit his community through the grant in February.

Soddy-Daisy Elementary student Ryan Jenkins, center, stands with Soddy-Daisy Commissioner Rick Nunley, County Commissioner Randy Fairbanks and Soddy-Daisy Mayor Robert Cothran outside the Soddy-Daisy Food Bank.

Soddy-Daisy Elementary student Ryan Jenkins, center, stands with...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

But he wasn't unprepared; coming up with a detailed plan was part of the application process.

"He had to involve other children and his community," his mother explained. "It was a pretty lengthy process. He had to explain why he was doing it and what the money would go toward."

Ryan knew from the beginning what he wanted to do: organize a food drive at his school for the Soddy-Daisy Food Bank.

"I have a lot of friends at school that I know get help from them," Ryan said, referencing the food bank which serves roughly 400 families monthly. "I also took a trip to the food bank once and saw how good it was to help end hunger."

His plan came to fruition in March when the school helped him organize a food drive across all grade levels. While Ryan expected a good turnout, he and his mother both said they received as much food on the first day as they expected to receive through the entire week.

At the end of the five days, Ryan had collected enough food and money for over 3,100 meals, according to the food bank's website.

"I was really happy. It let me see that my friends cared about what I was doing," he said. "I think they were proud of me and wanted to support me."

Colleen Jenkins said she's tried to instill the values of community service in her son since he was little. When Ryan was first born, she had to temporarily stay with him at a Ronald McDonald House, and ever since, she's worked to show him how important giving back is, she said. She routinely encourages him to pick different organizations and work on projects on his own.

The local Ronald McDonald House has already been a beneficiary.

Applying for the Disney grant and collecting food was simply an extension of the type of community support Ryan cares so much about.

"We're extremely proud of what he was able to accomplish," his mother said.