Teen donates her birthday to neighbors in need

Genevieve Garson as a young child with her grandmother, Susan Monks.

Genevieve Garson of Centennial, Colorado knew she wanted to do something special for her birthday despite the pandemic. In fact, it inspired a very fitting birthday wish. For her 17th birthday, she asked that family members take the money they might have spent on gifts for her and donate it to their local food banks instead.

“I knew that I could not have a huge birthday and get expensive gifts knowing that there are people who are struggling and need things,” she said. “I didn’t have enough money to do the amount of donating I wanted to,” she continues. “I needed to get my whole family on board.”

Her good will reached The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, nearly half-way across the country when her grandmother, Susan Monks, a resident of western Massachusetts, donated to our organization in honor of her granddaughter’s wish. She reached out to our Donor Relations team to let them know why she was donating to support individuals and families facing hunger at this moment.

When asked about her granddaughter’s special birthday request, Monks said she was very surprised.

“She is generous, but this was totally unexpected. I don’t really know what inspired her to do this except she has been following the COVID-19 situation closely.”

The 17-year-old said she witnesses food insecurity often at her part-time job at her local grocery store and that was the reason she was inspired to help feed her neighbors in need— and asked her family members to do the same.

“I see the struggle people face with food stamps [SNAP] and trying to buy on sale things to make it through their week,” she said. “I have always been aware of food banks, because I have always admired what they do for a struggling population.”

Here in Massachusetts, food insecurity is on the rise due to the pandemic. Feeding America estimates that one in every six adults, and one in four children, are facing food insecurity.

Monetary donations, like the ones made by Garson and her family members are the most effective way to help food banks right now. For every dollar donated to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, we can provide four meals to a neighbor in need. That increased purchasing power is what enables us to obtain and distribute enough food to meet the rising need.

“I believe that what I do has an effect,” Genevieve says.

Genevieve’s kindness and generosity really shows how one person can inspire others and make a real difference,” says Jillian Morgan, The Food Bank’s Corporate Relations Officer in charge of planned giving.