Kira Andreucci, 17, of Fitchburg, Mass., a junior at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, provides backpacks filled with food to more than 225 children every Friday during the school year to keep them from going hungry over the weekend. When Kira was in the fifth grade, she saw a child taking food out of a recycling bin at her school. This touched something deep in Kira, who was adopted from China by her American family when she was 17 months old and who, her parents believe, often went hungry during the early months of her life. She and her father did some research and learned that one in five children go to bed hungry. “I wanted to do something to help children who are less fortunate than me,” said Kira.
She first met with her principal and presented her idea of providing a backpack full of nutritious, nonperishable food on Fridays to 10 children the school deemed most in need. After the principal agreed, she asked her family for money instead of gifts for her birthday, then bought food items and began filling and delivering her “kidpacks.” That was over seven years ago; Kira’s program now has expanded to all four of her town’s elementary schools plus children enrolled in a local Head Start program. To raise money for her food packs, Kira solicits donations through a blog and Facebook page, organizes fundraisers and applies for grants. To stretch her donations, Kira clips coupons and buys in bulk. Then she and a team of 10 volunteers pack the kidpacks and deliver them to schools for distribution on Fridays. Her group also collects Christmas gifts and Easter baskets for the children, and provides food to some of their families over the summer.