As her fourth birthday party approached, all Susana Resende wanted to do was shop.
But not for the hottest toy children her age are playing with — Hatchimals, anyone? Like, no.
This 4-year-old wanted to shop at Renfroe's Market for her birthday so she and her friends could purchase meals for families in need through the Montgomery Baptist Association. Because they are hungry, she said. And because they don't have anything.
On Sunday, she and a dozen of her closest friends shopped with their 2-foot-tall shopping carts, purchasing ham, corn, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables — everything on their customized six-item lists made by Susana's mother, Brooke Resende.
"Her dream was to have a party at a grocery store," she said. "She has had this planned for months. That's funny, because as a mom, I like to go to a grocery store for 'me' time.
"She just enjoys going there. Together, we decided we would come up with the idea to shop for families."
The idea made an impact on her mother, and also the store's vice president, Rob Renfroe. While the Resende family had the idea of shopping for enough food to provide for two families, Renfroe's stepped in and provided enough for eight additional families.
This is the first time Rob Renfroe remembers a birthday party being held at the store.
"We couldn't be more proud and honored to host Susana's party at Renfroe's Market," he said. "It is refreshing and is quite frankly an inspiration for someone so young to be using her birthday as a time to think of others and give back."
Having a birthday so close to Christmas, Resende said, makes it difficult for a child to understand that it's not all about receiving, and "that it's also about giving.
"We really want to show her how we can give back to others as well."
The grocery store birthday party has been all Susana has talked about for a year, her mother said. All she wanted to do was shop at the store she was familiar with, and bring her friends with her.
"And then we talked about how we could use this time during the crazy season where 3- and 4-year-olds are all about 'give me, give me, give me' ... and how we could use this to learn how blessed we are and to be able to give back to our community.
"So she's very excited to see all her friends together and to learn to go grocery shopping."