Writer / Janet Striebel
Emmy Seifferlein is not a typical 10-year-old girl. Her bedroom isn’t pink or adorned with flowers. Instead, it features the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team.
She admires Blackhawk right-winger Patrick Kane so much that she wears his number 88 on her travel softball jersey. Though she has birthday parties with her friends, she doesn’t ask for gifts wrapped in pretty paper to open for herself. Instead, she encourages everyone to bring food and toiletry items to help stock the local food pantries. She even makes her own videos and prepares speeches to promote her cause — Emmy’s Food Drive.
Recently, she celebrated her 10th birthday at her 5th Annual Birthday Food Drive held at Geist Christian Church. She’s been collecting donations since she was five.
“Through my church, my family has helped families at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, but I know that help is needed all year long,” Emmy says. “One-in-five Hoosier children struggle with hunger daily. Just thinking about kids and adults not having enough food to eat is what keeps me going.”
Each year, her food campaign has grown substantially. In 2013, she collected 180 cans for The Sharing Place food pantry in Hamilton County.
In 2014, the number more than doubled to 417. In 2015, she collected 1,800 pounds of food and toiletry items. Incidentally, Geist Christian Church allowed her to start hosting her birthday parties in the gym due to the increasing number of attendees. In 2016, since she gathered 3,000 pounds of donations, she decided to help stock a second pantry, Come-To-Me Pantry in Marion County.
Emmy’s crusade is contagious, and some of her peers are starting their own movements. For example, Quinn Nagy, a friend at church, has collected canned goods for the second year as a mini food drive in honor of Emmy.
Maisie Thomas, a neighbor friend, collected 25 pairs of shoes during her birthday party and donated them to Children’s Bureau, Inc. Her parents made a donation to Emmy’s Food Drive and here’s what Maisie’s father, Scott Thomas, wrote to Emmy on the donation page:
“Emmy, we are so proud of you and the work you have done. You’ve inspired our Maisie to have a vision to help others as well, which is an even bigger way you are expanding your work.”
This ambitious fourth-grader at Geist Elementary, decided to meet with her principal and assistant principal to see if they would partner with her.
“That was so scary,” Emmy recalls. “I also had to give a speech to the student council.”
She managed to persuade everyone. On February 10, the school held “Decade Day” where students donating a canned-good item could dress up for their preferred decade.
She also arranged for her softball team to volunteer at the Come-To-Me Food Pantry on February 21.
“They gave out crock pots and bundled recipes with the ingredients,” Emmy says. “When people go once a month they get a one-week supply of food. The kids even get a birthday cake mix, icing and a toy.”
She is grateful for how some companies have supported her mission. Kroger on Olio and 116th St. has donated food for the second year. Chick-fil-A in Noblesville donates food for her birthday parties. Moore-Berry Dentistry and Fishers Pediatric Dentistry donate toothbrushes.
Emmy’s siblings volunteered at her birthday party held on February 10. Her big brother, Ben (17), played basketball and football with the kids. Her older twin sisters, (14) helped too. Sami taught canvas-painting as an activity and Abby held a Wii bowling tournament. Neighbor Maddie Schade (16) volunteered her time making balloon animals.
Emmy says she recently picked up a black, magic 8-ball and asked if she would ever get to meet Patrick Kane. The answer read, “Your wishes will come true.”
Whether she’ll ever get to meet her idol or not, one thing is for sure. She’s helping to make other people’s wishes come true every day in her community.
Emmy’s goal this year is to collect 5,000 pounds of donations. She reminds us with her tagline that “even the smallest donation makes a huge difference.”
If you would like to donate, email Emmy or her mother, Stephanie at EmmyFoodDrive@gmail.com.
To see what items are needed or to learn more, visit gofundme.com/emmys-5th-annual-food-drive.