- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Angela Behnke knows exactly how many birthday presents she got this year: 668.

Those presents aren’t toys and clothes, though. They’re cans and boxes of food, packages of bath tissue and toiletries. And she gave them all away to the food pantry at Common Grace Ministries in Kendallville on Wednesday, in boxes complete with handwritten notes and decorations.

“I have a lot of stuff already. I want to help other people,” said Angela, who just turned 10 years old.

She set a goal of collecting 100 items for the food pantry, decorating a few cardboard boxes and adding a note explaining her goal. Those boxes placed around town soon filled up, and people were dropping off stuff at the house, too. Angela blew away that initial goal.

Food is the top thing people need to survive, so they should be able to get it if they don’t have enough, she said. The donated food, which filled the bed of a pickup as well as a good portion of Grandpa’s utility van, made her feel happy she could help someone else.



“You can make a difference by doing something simple,” Angela said.

Mother Darlene Behnke was surprised her daughter came up with the idea. She said Angela had noticed how the best meal some kids get is lunch at school, so she wanted to make sure they had plenty to eat at home.

Her daughter’s devotion to the project was absolute, Darlene Behnke said. When she offered to still get her daughter a couple of presents, all she ever heard was, “No, I want food.”

“She really wanted to do it,” Darlene Behnke said. “Words can’t describe how proud I am of her. She has a big heart.”

The Common Grace pantry located just off Allen Chapel Road and U.S. 6 serves about 375 families per month on average, totaling more than 1,000 people, program director Angelia Shock said. Kendallville residents can stop in twice a month and pick up canned and boxed foods, bread, fresh produce and frozen meat, depending on what is in stock.

The pantry is stocked with government surplus items, but local donations also play a major part in keeping the shelves filled, Shock said.

Shock and Common Grace Executive Director Angie Kidd thanked Angela - a thank you that included a birthday card, a small present in a brightly colored gift bag and a certificate of appreciation for her big donation.

“My heart has just been so moved,” Shock said. “How selfless is that? That is so kind and thoughtful. She didn’t ask for gifts for herself, but gifts for those in need.”

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Information from: The (Kendallville) News-Sun https://bit.ly/1PILgCo

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Information from: The News-Sun, https://www.kpcnews.com

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