For his 7th birthday, Antonio Thomas, II wanted to celebrate turning one year older differently than other children. While most first-graders would wish for money or toys for their birthday, Antonio only had one wish — to feed people who are less fortunate and were desperately in need of a nutritious meal.
With help and support from his mother, Antonio and Aneecha Bradley prepared and packed boxes of food, and delivered these care packages along with cases of water to an area in Baton Rouge where many homeless people are known to normally congregate. Antonio even gifted his birthday money to someone he felt needed it more than him.
“These people shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you for thinking of us on your birthday,’” Aneecha recalls. “He is always thinking of others and it makes me proud.”
At first glance, Antonio seems like a typical 7-year-old boy. He loves lollipops. His favorite animal is a dinosaur, and he recently earned his Tiger Cub Scout badge in the Boy Scouts of America program. Antonio can be bashful at times. Yet once he speaks on the topic of helping others, he is enthusiastic while maintaining a sense of altruism and selflessness well beyond his years.
“Antonio cares about giving back to those in our community who are in need and less fortunate,” Aneecha says. “He wants to help serve his community.”
Giving back to the community is something that Antonio is extremely passionate about. His desire to serve others is encouraged by his mother Aneecha, who aims to instill charitable morals and values within her children, Antonio and Amaya, who is 8 years old. By volunteering during Family Night, Antonio and his family are given the opportunity to spend more time together and also have fun while sorting through various food products and packing boxes for distribution.
“Family night and volunteering teaches them the importance of community service and shows them how rewarding it is to see their impact on others,” Aneecha states.
On the second to last Tuesday of every month, the GBR Food Bank hosts “Family Night,” which provides our volunteers with the opportunity to serve with younger children. Traditionally, the age requirement for volunteering is 10 years old with a parent or guardian. However on this particular evening, we do not operate any machinery thus allowing us to lower the volunteer age to 7 years old.