A recent Sunday school lesson resonated with Paisleigh Thurston.
While learning about the importance of service, the 8-year-old and other youth in the class made a booklet listing 10 things they could do to help others.
One of the ideas is to bake cookies for a neighbor. About a month ago, Paisleigh did that for a man who often helps people in her neighborhood.
Another idea is to collect canned goods for a food pantry. She recently did that and delivered more than 120 items to Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry in Seymour.
Both service projects meant a lot to the recipients, and they also made an impact on the giver.
“We should always help other people,” the Margaret R. Brown Elementary School second-grader said.
Her mother, Tiffany Thurston, made a video of her explaining she was collecting canned goods and letting people know how they could donate and posted it on Facebook. Paisleigh also asked family members to donate.
“Even some of our families from class saw her video, and they brought it into school, and some teachers (donated),” Tiffany said.
In a couple of weeks, Paisleigh’s collection grew fast.
“I got excited,” she said.
“She took it on by herself,” Tiffany said. “Once she started, she said, ‘When can we go get the cans? How many cans do we have?’”
Before they took the items to Anchor House, Tiffany said she talked to her daughter about the nonprofit organization, which provides a food pantry to people twice a week and offers temporary housing for homeless families with children.
“I felt good when I delivered those cans and all of that stuff,” Paisleigh said.
Julie Otte, director of the food pantry, happily accepted the donation.
“She told me, ‘Thank you for collecting all of the cans,’ and she asked me for a big hug,” Paisleigh said.
“They just hugged her and hugged her and hugged her,” Tiffany said. “They helped us unload it all. They helped us carry it in. They were so appreciative.”
The lesson made Paisleigh realize Anchor House needs donations throughout the year to keep its food pantry stocked.
Her mom also told her that some kids at her school benefit from Anchor House’s services.
“There are kids that go to our school that don’t have a house and they live there or go there for the food pantry,” Tiffany said. “Sometimes, people go through a bad time. Sometimes, people don’t have money to go get food. She goes to school with these kids. It’s pretty close, so it’s just to know that there are kids her age that need that help.”
Tiffany said she hopes her daughter’s initiative encourages others to do what they can for others.
When donating to a food pantry, whether it’s one can or 100 cans, it helps, Tiffany said.
“Just being so young, if she has such a kind heart to do this at age 8, think about the things that you could do at the age of 2 or the age of 5,” Tiffany said. “Whether you donate time, whether you donate canned goods, whether you donate a care package to the soldiers or a care package for the men that stand on the street, just anything is helpful to someone.”
Tiffany said she’s glad a giving spirit has been instilled in her daughter at a young age.
“She was the only child for five years, and she and her sister don’t want for many things,” Tiffany said. “We try our best to give them everything that they need and a lot of things that they want, but (it’s good) to know that she’s still super-kindhearted and she knows that not everybody has everything they need and everything they want and to be kind and supportive toward others.”
So what’s next on her list from the booklet she made at Sunday school? One idea is to make everyone’s bed in the morning at home.
“We’ve still got to work on that one,” Tiffany said, smiling.
No matter what’s next on Paisleigh’s list, Tiffany said she knows she will put her all into it.
“She has a heart of gold,” Tiffany said. “To anybody, any time they need anything, she’s always right there to help. She’s a very good girl. She makes me tear up. She is so smart, and she is so giving, and she is so kind. She could help a lot of people.”
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Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry is at 250 S. Vine St., Seymour.
Staffed shelter hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
The food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays. Clients must provide identification, and they can visit twice in a 30-day time period.
For information, call 812-522-9308 or visit anchorhouseshelter.org or facebook.com/ahfamilyassistancecenter.