Lauryn Hinckley, a sophomore at Century High School in Bismarck, ND, remembers the day well.
“I was 9 years old at the grocery store – cart over-filled, grabbing candy bars trying to put them in the cart – like normal 9-year-olds,” she says. “There was a couple in front of us with two young boys that resembled mine and my brother’s age. When their parents’ credit card got denied, all of their food had to be put back because they couldn’t afford it. They were almost in tears, and I never want to see that look on another child’s face because they’re that hungry.”
That experience inspired Lauryn into action, and this year she organized her sixth annual peanut butter and jelly food drive for the Missouri Slope Areawide (MSA) United Way Backpack Program. This year’s food drive ran March 28-April 12, and generated 7,928 pounds of peanut butter and jelly and $3,720 in donations.
Lauryn is the daughter of Lewis and Lynnette Hinckley. Lewis has been an employee at Dakota Gasification Company’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant for about 33 years, the last three as a pipeline operator.
Lewis Hinckley is generally involved in transporting the donations as part of his daughter’s operation. “I’m extremely proud. She’s a busy young lady,” he says, noting she was honored by the National Honor Society for organizing the community service project. “It’s a big deal what she’s doing, plus helping feed local kids who don’t have food to eat on the weekends. It’s a nice thing.”
Nearly 30 schools and numerous businesses supported this year’s effort.
“Oh, my gosh – the community support has been overwhelming,” Lauryn says. “There are so many people leaving me messages to call them so they can donate money. I would’ve never pictured this when I first started.”
Watch and hear more about the need within the Bismarck-Mandan community from Lauryn and Kathy Wamsley, MSA United Way: Dakota Gas employee’s daughter helping address hunger in the community