Milford boy spurs food drive for less fortunate

Landen Jones, a first-grader in Milford, spearheaded a family-organized food drive to benefit the Food Bank of Delaware. He poses with siblings Hutson, 3, and Parsyn, 5. (Submitted photo)

MILFORD — It started with a simple question to their first-grade son at bedtime: if you could do anything to help people right now, what would you do?

“[Landen] thought about it for a few seconds and he said, ‘I would give them food,’” said his mother, Amy Jones. “We were like, ‘OK, we’ll see what we can do.’”

That was about two weeks into the state of emergency during the coronavirus pandemic, with schools closed and day-to-day Delaware life changed for many. They were watching the news, which had discussed food distribution in the community. It seemed to stay fresh in Landen’s mind, Mrs. Jones noted.

“I want people to get food and stay well,” Landen noted.

With grocery stores thoroughly picked through, Mrs. Jones recalled the food drives from Landen’s school, Lulu Ross Elementary in Milford, and they decided to do their own drive for the Food Bank of Delaware.

The family set up a collection table by their garage, with the idea that the food donations could run in a socially distant manner.

Landen and his siblings, Parsyn, 5, and Hutson, 3, posed for photos with the items they were looking to collect and signs that said, ‘Thank you,’ ‘Please donate food or money’ and ‘In this together.’

Mrs. Jones put out a call to her Facebook friends and, within a few hours, they had their first donation.

The family has collected $4,255 and about 261 individual food items, which weighs in at just less than 300 pounds of food. They dropped off one round of donations to the Food Bank so far, and are gathering more items for a second.

“It was Landen’s idea, and we just came together as a family to put it together,” she said.

The Joneses has sought to instill a drive to donate and volunteer in their children.

“I try to let the kids see that it’s important to be able to give back and help people that aren’t as fortunate as we are,” she said. “[For] so many other families, the last 10 weeks have been very challenging — physically, mentally, financially, emotionally. I just thought it was … a teaching point to them, even though they’re young and all, just to show that it’s important to give to people who are in need. And there’s so many people right now that do have that need for the food donations.”

Landen agreed that his parents had taught him the importance of giving back, and he enjoyed working with his siblings on food collection “because they’re my friends,” he said.

Beyond teaching the Jones children the importance of serving their community, it also allowed them to connect with those who were dropping off items.

“We had people come regularly,” Mrs. Jones noted. “Most of the people were friends and family that were making donations and the kids would run out and say hi to them. So it was a nice way for them to be able to interact with people.”

Mrs. Jones said she is proud that her kids are helping other children and families around them.

Landen agreed.

“It makes me feel happy,” he said of the donations. “I’m happy that I’m raising lots of food for lots of people.”