Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A new purpose for birthdays?

Since Gabbie St. Peter and Alice Willette have been best friends as long as they can remember, they decided last year to celebrate their 8th birthdays together. Instead of a party with presents, the second-graders wanted to help their community, but how?  At their George Mitchell Elementary School in Waterville, ME, about 70% of students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The need is so great that the PTO President started a "No Questions Asked" food pantry in a school closet. Before long, it helped feed over 100 children.

Gabbie and Alice

So instead of gifts at their birthday party, Gabbie and Alice asked for food for the school pantry, and they got a lot of it. "My basement looks like a grocery store," said Gabby. The girls also launched an online fundraising campaign. It has received over $40,000 for the pantry, which has been moved from a closet to a larger space and named for them. Last June, each girl was awarded a Youth Philanthropy college scholarship of $2,500 which they will use to attend Waterville College together.

With their 9th birthday coming up, the girls are now requesting supplies for animal shelters in the Waterville area. They're collecting doggy blankets and toys, pet food and cash. Kids from Forest Hills School in Jackman, ME, collected all winter for Gabbie and Alice and drove 90 minutes to deliver their gifts in person. This year's party will be March 21 at the Waterville Humane Society. "How cool is that?" asked the girls. "We get to party where the puppies live." For more details or to make a contribution, visit

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