I met a remarkable fourth grader at All Saints School in St. Peters. Get this -- 9-year-old Ryan Webb is giving away his autographed Yadier Molina baseball to one of his classmates in exchange for food to feed the hungry.
A school-wide food drive was all Ryan's idea. And, as an incentive, Ryan offered up his prized possession for anyone who brought in canned food. Each kid who did so got his/her name in a drawing for the ball.
"The idea came from when I was just sitting in my room and it came close to Christmas, and I thought not very many people have some food, so I decided to start a food drive," Ryan tells me.
Ryan's dad got him the autographed ball and also taught him a valuable lesson.
"My parents were talking to me about sacrificing and to give something away for other people, and I just thought the Molina baseball would pretty much be a big sacrifice," Ryan tells me.
Now, Ryan won't tell you this, but his principal will -- Ryan also wanted to give away $20 of his own money that he'd saved, but his principal told him the baseball was more than enough.
Ryan and his classmates tell me they're grateful to be able to give this holiday season.
"I know that because I'm giving something up and that some other people who I totally don't know are going to be really happy," Ryan tells me.
His classmate, 9-year-old Sydney Ladendorf, echoes his sentiment: "It feels pretty good because a lot of people are a lot less fortunate than us, and we're going to give food to them."
All of the food collected will be donated to Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Center, the largest food pantry in the St. Charles area. According to its website, more than 75 volunteers show up weekly to sort food, prepare bags of food, and help distribute the food and household goods to the 168 registered families who qualify under its income guidelines.
In some cases, the distribution from the pantry is the only food in its clients' homes. In 2006, Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service assisted more than 7,000 individuals of all faiths by providing basic necessities such as food, shelter, and much more. Programs like these help individuals and families combat the threat of homelessness, sickness, malnutrition and despair, so they may work confidently toward self-reliance and become productive citizens.