12-year-old boy starts ‘amazing’ online effort to help Calgary Food Bank

Hayden McManes was busy Tuesday sorting bags of donations for the Calgary Food Bank.

“Ramen noodles, beans,’ the 12-year-old said. “There’s actually some mandarins, which is pretty cool.”

All of it was for a food drive he’d organized for a Grade 6 project.

Read more: Food banks’ demand surges amid COVID-19. Now they worry about long-term pressures

“My teacher was like, ‘Why don’t you make a website?’” McManes said. “And I was like, ‘That’s a good idea.’ I’ve made one before, so I made the website.”

Visitors to whynothelp.ca can donate money, which McManes, with the help of his family, uses to buy pre-packaged food donation bags at a nearby supermarket.

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“I’m amazed that he can make a website. Kids of today — it’s pretty cool!” Hayden’s mother Lisa McManes said. “We’re just really excited to see him giving back.”

It’s an effort that the Calgary Food Bank really welcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: COVID-19 crisis could increase food insecurity among minority communities: studies

Between March and April of 2021 alone, demand for the food bank’s services went up 43 per cent.

“This is unprecedented for the Calgary Food Bank — we have never seen such a demand.” the food bank’s Shawna Ogston said.

“The help that Hayden is putting together is amazing.

“It’s so inspiring to see the youth coming together to make a difference in the community, but also to inspire others with his passion.”

It’s turning into a project McManes will probably remember way beyond elementary school.

“I am learning actually a lot of stuff, (like the fact that) 43% of the people that can’t afford food are kids,” McManes said.

Read more: Feed yourself: 3 ways to boost your food security during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The response to Why Not Help? is beyond his wildest dream.

“I’m just mind blown because, so far — just under 48 hours — I’m so grateful for everyone who’s done this. We’ve got 210 packages of food which is really crazy for me.” McManes said.

He said he’ll keep collecting donations as long as people keep giving them, noting in a video on his website, where he’s heard saying, “You will feel proud and accomplished, for making a person’s day better.”

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