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9-year-old boy celebrates his birthday with a canned food drive instead of a party

Mason's birthday was a success.
Mason's birthday was a success. (Courtesy photo.)

By now, we’ve likely all heard stories about the ways in which people have been getting creative in celebrating their birthdays amid a global pandemic.

One child in particular really stood out: A boy who decided he wanted to give back to the community for his 9th birthday.

Erica Gamboa said her son, Mason, wanted to use his birthday this year to help out locally.

At first, Gamboa said, Mason had an idea of collecting stuffed animals to give to younger children, but considering the COVID-19 situation, Mason and his mom thought it’d be best to think of something else to donate.

That’s when the idea of a canned food drive came in.

“He decided on helping people who may not have access to groceries or a quick meal,” Gamboa said. “We decided the easiest thing would be to raise money and canned goods for our local food bank.”

The original plan was to have it done all online, but Gamboa decided to surprise Mason with a birthday parade instead. Mason asked for only food bank donations.

Gamboa said the pair reached out to family, friends, Mason’s classmates, teachers and even neighbors, asking if people wanted to participate in the birthday canned food drive -- and judging by how much Mason was able to collect, it looked like everyone was ready to help out the community.

“We were able to collect $485, and also a lot of canned goods,” Gamboa said.

Mason’s family donated the canned goods to a local food bank, and Gamboa was able to donate the money through her employer, which matched the donation.

The canned goods Mason collected on his birthday.
The canned goods Mason collected on his birthday. (Courtesy photo.)

Mason felt so good about raising money and canned goods for local charities that he wants to do another one soon, and probably before his next birthday arrives.

This likely wasn’t the way Mason expected to ring in his 9th year -- but he made the best of celebrating his birthday in a pandemic, and was able to give back to his community; something that will probably stick with him for the rest of his life.


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