Young crusader’s birthday haul: PB&J for hungry children

When Lauren Gramlich turned 16 last year, she didn’t ask for jewelry or cash or gift cards.

She wanted peanut butter. And jelly. Lots of jars of both.

By the end of her party, she had quite a haul — 185 jars of the favorite staples of many kids. She donated all of it to City Union Mission in Kansas City to help provide sandwiches for people at the homeless shelter.

Again this year, the junior at Olathe East High School wanted to help feed people. So on National Wear Orange Day, a day in September set to raise awareness of hunger, she sponsored a canned food drive at her school.

In the end, she and her classmates donated 608 pounds of food for Harvesters.

“It touches me in the heart that I’m helping people,” said Lauren, who turns 17 next week.

Advocates for the hungry say more young people are becoming aware of how some children often don’t have enough food at home. Because of that, they offer to volunteer at Harvesters and help with food drives.

Lauren learned about hunger through school activities. Through Camp ABLE, Assets to Build Leaders and Entrepreneurs, she visited elementary schools and met children from different backgrounds. Through Youth Congress, she learned about homelessness and poverty.

It’s why Lauren, who plans to be a teacher, wants to do what she can.

“I think it will always probably be there,” she said of childhood hunger. “It’s not going to end, but you can always help with it.”