Teen Who Was Once Starving Starts Charity to Pack Weekend Meals for Less Fortunate Kids
Not every kid has access to meals when school's out, but one Massachusetts teen is doing everything she can to make sure students like her have the food they need.
And although she may not remember her life before she was adopted, it is perhaps her own starvation as a child that caused the persistence.
When Kira Andreucci of Fitchburg was just 11 years old, she was determined to make sure less fortunate students were well-fed on weekends, when they couldn't receive meals provided by the school.
What started as an overwhelming endeavor to pack a weekend's worth of food for 10 students over the course of a school year grew to an ongoing non-profit, Karing 4 Kidz, that ensures more than 200 students from four elementary schools are fed every weekend.
"I told her that if she wanted to do it, she would have to do it herself," Kira's father, John Andreucci, told InsideEdition.com. "But she kept at it."
Today, Kira, a sophomore in high school, spearheads Karing 4 Kidz, which is made up of herself, her father and 10 volunteers. They spend several hours each week purchasing food, packing meals, and sending the packages to elementary schools to be distributed to students who may not have access to food on the weekends.
The organization grew to include 207 students on their list. Kira's father explained it costs approximately $3 to feed each child for a weekend, and through different fundraisers and donations, they raised about $23,000 to cover the costs.
"It's really great to know we're able to help these kids with little effort," Andreucci said.
But his daughter's valiant efforts to combat child hunger locally were never a surprise to Andreucci.
Kira joined the Andreucci family when she was 17 months old after she was born into a poor family.
"When we adopted her from China, she was a starving child," her father said. "I would sit her down, and if I put a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in front of her, she would eat the crust and all. She would not leave until all the food was gone. I watched her with amazement."
He recalled taking Kira to feed the ducks in a local pond as a baby. When she handed her the bread crumbs, "she would refuse to throw the bread in the water.
"I remember giving her a bath after, and [the breadcrumbs] were still in her fist," he said. "I had to rip the bread out of her hands [but] she ate it right away."
So when his daughter approached him when she was 11, and said she worried about students trying to pack food handed out by the school away for the weekend, he supported her every step of the way.
"So many of these kids believe that you have your meals at school, not at home," Andreucci said. "They didn't have food at home, and [Kira] wanted to pack some food for them."
He then explained to his daughter that there were several necessary steps she would have to go through, including speaking with her school administration, and raising money for food.
The 11-year-old gave up her birthday money that year, and relentlessly bugged her school's administration until they gave in, and helped her reach her goal.
The first year, they committed spending $1,600 to packing "kidpacks" for 10 students to take home every weekend. Each student would have 38 packages of food to take home for every weekend school was in session.
"We had to come up with the money, so we had to be really careful and watch these kids, and know what they really needed," Andreucci said.
That year, they were able exceed their goals in packing weekend meals for 16 kids, which gave her the motivation she needed to go on to help more than 200 students around her area.