A child shall lead them A 10-year-old Manchester girl provides a lesson in giving

October 06, 1995

THE MOTHER OF Jamie Ridgely often delivered a familiar admonition at the family dinner table: eat everything on your plate because there are plenty of starving children in the world.

That maternal logic may not always have convinced Jamie to eat her vegetables, but it made an indelible impression on her conscience. "Maybe if all the kids would help, we could wipe hunger off the earth," the 10-year-old Manchester girl thought.

Translating that global idea into local action, she organized a food collection drive for Carroll County Food Sunday, a volunteer organization that serves more than 300 families a week.

Pulling her red wagon door to door, Jamie gathered cans and boxes of food from her neighborhood. And then her one-kid campaign against hunger really took off.

She camped out one Saturday at a supermarket, asking for donations of food and money from shoppers as they left the store. The generous response was overwhelming. Her parents drove Jamie to other areas of town to expand her solicitation for the local food bank.

Jamie took her appeal to Manchester Elementary School, collecting canned goods in the lobby and visiting classrooms to spread the message. To acknowledge contributions from her schoolmates, the fifth-grader gave out handmade maroon-ribbon pins. And that sparked even greater participation; everybody wanted to wear one of Jamie's pins.

With the slogan "Help feed a child in need," Jamie Ridgely collected more than 600 cans and packages for Carroll County Food Sunday, and bought more items with cash donations.

Her young example of philanthropy is an inspiration to all. True charity is born in the heart and responds to a recognized human need.

Jamie's first impulse was to send money to programs that feed children in poor countries. Her parents persuaded her that the need existed at home, and the child's plan took shape. She used available resources and her boundless humanitarian instincts to address that need. Her enthusiasm was infectious.

The Carroll County youngster showed what one good person can achieve in helping many. But the task is not finished: She is already making plans to canvass the town for warm coats, hats and mittens for needy children.

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