October 08, 2012 12:00 PM



As a counselor at a summer program, Carly Sanderson, 16, listened in stunned silence as kids fretted about leaving, not because they’d miss their new friends but because of the bare cupboards that awaited them. “I had no idea,” the junior at Bethel Christian Academy in Kinston, N.C., says, “that so many were hungry.” The quietly determined daughter of a farmer, she decided to make a difference for needy students at Southeast Elementary School. Partnering with the Louisville, Ky., nonprofit Blessings in a Backpack (see box), she and a handful of volunteers pack 50 food-filled backpacks for kids to take home to their families every Friday. “We were struggling,” says Michelle Moore, 33, a college student and mom of backpack recipient Tysheka, 8, and her three siblings (11, 4 and 10 months); Moore’s husband, Antron, was laid off from his airline-parts plant job. “I thank God for [Carly].” Third grader Tysheka loves to share: “I like the juice and noodles in my backpack. I give some to my brothers and sisters.” For Carly, that is reward enough. “I see the kids’ faces when I pack each bag,” she says. “And that keeps me going.”

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