SOUTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT -- While a local food center saw an influx of food donations for Hurricane Sandy relief and Thanksgiving, they may not have expected one donation effort to be led by a kindergartner.
Hannah Hallisey, a five-year-old student at St. Joseph School, took donations for the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center at her home for about a week and a half, ending on Nov. 20. She said she started the effort after seeing a commercial about those affected by the hurricane.
“I was sad, so I wanted to do a food drive,” she said.
Hannah was herself affected by the hurricane, which damaged coastal areas and felled trees in southern New London. She was at her Ocean Ave. home with her mother, father, and five-month-old sister when the storm hit. Soon after her father went outside to check the property, a tree limb came crashing down in front of the house.
“When the tree came down it was scary,” said Hannah. “It fell down on the road.”
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
The limb took down some wires in front of the house’s driveway and knocked out power to the residence. It was a week before it was restored. In that time, the Halliseys stayed with neighbors who still had electricity.
Hannah’s mother, Katie Hallisey, said Hannah came up with the idea of a food drive and she helped organize the effort by creating a Facebook event inviting people to drop off items. Hannah decorated a box with pictures of the food she was looking for and left it outside the house.
“I thought it was really cool, and how can you tell her, ‘No let’s not help,’” said Katie. “And here’s someone who was affected in her own way and scared.”
The response to the food drive caught both of Hannah’s parents off-guard. Hannah checked for donations every day after coming home from school and the number of donations picked up in the final days.
“At first when they brought it up I thought it was just a novelty,” said Chris Hallisey, Hannah’s father. “But then the food just kept coming.”
The final tally: 207 pounds of food, which Katie calculated to be more than the combined weight of herself, Hannah, and her five-month-old sister Emaline.
“I was surprised that it was that much,” said Katie. “Monday night people kept coming and bringing bags and bags of food.”
The Gemma E. Moran center took Hannah’s photo with the collection and gave her a pin for her efforts. Katie said she was deemed the youngest food organizer they had seen.
Hannah said she plans to continue doing food drives to help the community. How many overall?
“Sixty-five,” she answered.