Braxton Hollis, 8, and a student at Howland Springs Primary School, is one of the many individuals helping to make a difference by collecting food so others won't go hungry.
Braxton, the son of Matthew and Courtnie Hollis, has collected food items for the past two years during Second Harvest Food Bank's annual Harvest for Hunger campaign. This is the 22nd year for the food drive.
''It's nice to help people out and know you are making a difference in the world. I really enjoy doing this and wanted to do something,'' he said.
Howland Community News / Bob Coupland
Second Harvest Food Bank kicked off its annual Harvest for Hunger campaign this week, which includes various fundraising and collection of canned good and nonperishables throughout the area through the end of March. Braxton Hollis, 8, of Howland, who has held his own collecting effort in the past two years, and Michael Iberis, executive director, address the public on the need for helping to provide food.
The month-long food and fund drive helps the food bank stock up for summer months when donations traditionally decrease and children are home from school.
Mike Iberis, executive director of the food bank, said last year the food bank was able to distribute more than nine million pounds of food, the most it has ever been able to provide throughout the tri-county area.
''Braxton is the food bank's newest friend,'' Iberis said. ''We are very impressed by what he was able to do. He shows that one person can make a difference. It means so much for us to see people like Braxton helping us. So if you think you can't make a difference, just think of Braxton.''
When Braxton was on vacation last year watching the Food Network, he told his parents he wanted to turn the garage into a place to collect food to help feed people in need. His parents said he would not let the idea go and even saved some of his vacation money to help do something when he got home.
Braxton learned of Second Harvest Food Bank where he could take the donations
In 2011 at age 6, Braxton began collecting food items at his family's garage and collected 580 pounds of food from friends and neighbors. In 2012, he set a goal of 600 pounds and collected 840 pounds of items.
Rick Stevens, board president for the food bank, said last year more than $160,000 was raised and over 41,000 pounds of food was collected in the 2012 campaign.
''That goes a long way to help meet the needs of the community so no one in the tri-county area goes hungry,'' he said.
Officials said 50 food drives are planned for March. They said 15,000 people visit the more than 150 local food pantries each week in the tri-county area.
"This community is incredible. It seems like every time you ask for help the people of this community come together. They're starting to see friends and neighbors more and more need help,'' Iberis said. Fifty percent of the children attending schools in the tri-county areas are on free and reduced lunches because their families are at or below the poverty level, he said.
Groups or individuals interested in supporting the effort by conducting a food drive can call 330-792-5522, Ext. 11, or visit the website at www.mahoningvalleysecondharvest.org.