Hasty student shares blessings

Student gave up birthday gifts to help children in need
Mar. 27, 2013 @ 06:59 PM


Shawn Earnhardt's son was 45 minutes late getting home from school on a snowy Friday afternoon in January.
When Gabriel Barker finally stepped off the school bus, he was befuddled. He wondered aloud, why did Hasty Elementary School cafeteria workers send home lunches with all of the children? As his mother struggled to help him understand, the wheels started turning inside his head.
"I explained to him that some kids eat breakfast and lunch at school and that's all they get to eat," Earnhardt said. "He knows he's very blessed and he knows there are a lot of kids who are not as blessed. He just could not wrap his mind around the fact some kids don't eat dinner."
While the news may have shocked him, it didn't take him long to develop a plan to help. When people started asking Gabe what he wanted for his seventh birthday, he knew exactly what he wanted for his special day.
Gabe said he had enough toys. He wanted everyone, especially his classmates, to have enough food.
For his Feb. 20 birthday, Gabe collected 400 food items and $160 that he intends to spend on more food for kids close to his age.
"I wanted to do that for other people who didn't have enough money to buy stuff," Gabe said. "I have so many things, items like presents, and my mom said there was a food bank I could do."
Gabe asked his mother if there was anything like The Salvation Army Angel Tree to which he could donate the collected food.
"I explained to him that they don't have an angel tree for birthdays," Earnhardt said. "He kind of laughed when I told him it's not an angel tree, but a food bank. Because he associates a food bank with going to the bank.
"Every year now, he wants to do this for his birthday instead of receiving gifts. He said ‘I really don't need anything; I've got a lot of stuff.’ "
Next year, Gabe plans to put aside the “stuff” with a goal of 700 food items. Even without the birthday gifts, the 7-year-old knows he is the one who is blessed.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or kennedy@tvilletimes.com.