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7-year-old from Hayden hosts food drive for holiday season

Lola Haycroft said everybody deserved a nice meal with their families during the holidays, and she wanted to do what she could to make that happen.
Credit: Coeur d'Alene Press

HAYDEN, Idaho — This time of year, most children are preparing a list of presents they want from Santa Claus.

Lola Haycraft is not most children.

The 7-year-old was indeed giving out a list on Saturday at Super 1 Foods in Hayden, but it didn't say anything about toys or dolls or games, reports our partners from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

It was a list of food.

Pasta. Rice. Soup. Peanut butter. Crackers. Applesauce. Granola bars.

Dressed neatly, wearing boots, she waited quietly on a rainy afternoon, next to a box decorated with wrapping paper, a ribbon and two words: FOOD DRIVE.

As customers entered the store, she stood as tall as she could and quietly held out the list. Some smiled and accepted it. Some stopped to ask questions, which Lola answered. Some ignored her outstretched hand.

No matter.

Lola Haycraft had a purpose. She had her reasons for standing there, patient and polite, joined by mom Kaela Haycraft, hoping people would respond. She was going to keep standing there for nearly five hours.

"Because it would help other families," Lola said.

She began to recite some of the information she has looked up and included with her food list.

"Only 38% of families have enough food," she said, before pausing, then stopping, searching for the words but not quite able to recall them.

Mom helped and pointed to the piece of paper in Lola's hand. It read: "Did you know that 38% of Kootenai County residents live in poverty or are one disaster away from poverty? Last year, over 60 million Americans relied on food banks to feed their families. Help me spread some holiday cheer by keeping our local families fed this holiday season!"

Many did help.

Customers emerged and handed over pre-filled bags they bought for $10 each, or selected some of the items on their own.

In just a few hours, plastic sacks of food were overflowing from the large box and piled on the floor behind Kaela Haycraft.

Friend Heid Vonlind showed up to shop and gave Lola a hug.

"We heard of Lola's big heart and wanting to do this and thought it would be a good thing to support,” Vonlind said.

Store Director Brian Howell said they were happy to host Lola's food drive.

"A 7-year-old girl is going to win everybody's heart," he said.

The daughter of Mike and Kaela Haycraft came up with the idea just before Thanksgiving after seeing a poster for a food drive at her school, Northwest Expedition Academy.

She went home and told her parents she wanted to do more, and asked about a food drive of her own.

She said everybody deserved a nice meal with their families during the holidays, and she wanted to do what she could to make that happen.

"Mom, I want to do this," she said.

Mom said OK.

Lola has always had a big heart, her mom said.

"She gives her last cookie to anyone who wants it," Haycraft said.

The idea quickly became a plan.

Lola created a short speech and gave a presentation to her school principal and at Auburn Crest Hospice, where her dad works.

She got the green light from both to set out collection boxes. She'll be collecting food until Dec. 17, which will be donated to Heart of the City Church in Coeur d'Alene for distribution.

Donations can also be made via the Fred Meyer app under Lola's name.

The goal was 300 pounds. Late Saturday, donations totaled 770 pounds.

"People have been so generous," Haycraft said.

Lola, when asked if she was bothered when some people walked past her without a word Saturday, shook her head. No, she didn't mind.

What about when people stopped and donated?

Yeah, that was better. She grinned and offered a double thumbs up.

In case you were wondering what Lola wants for Christmas, turns out, it's a short list.

"She says her biggest Christmas wish this year is to bring a smile to others," Haycraft said.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.


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