Words and Image by Jenny Lynn Davis
Ruby Gilbert will turn nine years old on June 25. But this rising fourth grader at Cordova Elementary School is not your typical birthday celebrator. While most children her age are busy planning parties and creating gift lists, Ruby has a different idea – running a food drive to support the Mission of Hope, a food and clothing pantry in Dora.
Ruby’s philanthropic journey began two birthdays ago when she organized a book drive as her first birthday initiative. Last year, she shifted her focus to a food drive for another local organization. During her initial book drive, Ruby sparked an interest in addressing food insecurity.
“I read a book called The Hunger Monster, and it talked about people who don’t always have food,” Ruby shares. The eye-opening experience helped her realize the hunger needs within her own community. Inspired by her newfound understanding, Ruby decided to continue organizing food drives.
Recognizing the significance of Ruby’s passion, her mother, Savannah, supports and encourages her daughter’s efforts. “That helped her realize the hunger needs in her community, and she decided to do food drives going forward,” Savannah explains.
When selecting the beneficiary for her birthday drive this year, Ruby and her mom researched various local organizations. Eventually, they came across Mission of Hope, and Ruby’s heart was immediately drawn to their cause. “My mom showed me a video from Mission of Hope, and I said, ‘That’s the one!’” Ruby recalls with a smile.
Ruby collaborated with Lori Abercrombie, the director of Mission of Hope, to ensure that her efforts would have the most significant impact. Together, they determined the specific needs of the organization. Ruby and her mother compiled an Amazon wish list that would benefit Mission of Hope’s weekend food bag delivery program for senior citizens.
The items on the wish list were carefully chosen to cater to seniors’ unique requirements. Ruby explains, “We put things on the list that are soft and easy for seniors to eat, like mac and cheese cups, mashed potato cups, and oatmeal cups, and we also put fun things like large-print word searches.”
Mission of Hope’s weekend food bag delivery program ensures that approximately 60 home-bound senior citizens in Walker County receive essential food supplies every week. Ruby’s efforts have already yielded impressive results, with her drive amassing a remarkable 526 items and counting.
When asked about her motivation, Ruby simply states, “It’s a fun way to help people, and I like helping people.”
Her selflessness and compassion serve as a powerful reminder that age is not a barrier to making a positive difference in the lives of others. WL
Mission of Hope, located in Dora, Alabama, provides food and clothing to those in need. The organization’s programs are all directed toward the hope of keeping hunger and economic desperation at the lowest possible level. Mission of Hope distributes 12,000 pounds of food to 1,000 Walker County, AL and Jefferson County, AL residents each month.