UTICA, New York – Few little girls would ask the people coming to her birthday party to skip the presents, but there are few little girls like Eliana Convertino. Instead of dolls and clothes, Eliana asked her family and friends to bring soup, peanut butter and other non-perishable food items to her fifth birthday celebration so she could donate them to the Feed Our Vets food pantry in Utica.
Feed Our Vets (www.feedourvets.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to stocking food pantries across the nation in the battle against hunger among U.S. veterans. Eliana said she didn’t want veterans “to go to bed hungry” and decided that food for their families was more important than birthday gifts this year.
Eliana’s mom called her daughter’s sacrifice “a good lesson” for the entire family. “There’s other people out there that don’t have everything they have,” Alice Convertino said of Eliana and her siblings. “It’s a lesson they’re never too young to learn.”
The food Eliana donated will provide a week’s worth of food for at least 35 veterans, said Richard Synek, the founder and Executive Director of Feed Our Vets.
“We were not only grateful, but truly astonished that a little girl would have such a big heart for people she has never met who are struggling to feed their families,” said Synek. “Eliana’s generosity is a great example of how a little effort can go a long way in helping people in need, and there are many local veterans who will be grateful for her sacrifice.”
There are an identified 62,619 homeless veterans in America, and one in three homeless people in America is a U.S. military veteran. Nearly 3 million veterans and their families don’t have enough to eat each month. Feed Our Vet’s food pantries in Utica and Watertown offer specific pick-up days for veterans and their families, and a mobile pantry distributes food to veterans in underserved rural communities in upstate New York. Founded specifically to reduce hunger among American heroes, Feed Our Vets hopes to establish additional veterans-focused food pantries in the coming year.