Braden to the Rescue: Local Kindergartener Organizes Food Drive for Food Pantry

Reading, MA – There are many things that you might see out your window in Reading. A neighbor walking a dog, a runner struggling against the winter wind, or perhaps, if you are lucky enough, a small boy dragging a red wagon full of donated groceries. 

Braden and his trusty wagon collecting food to be donated. Photo courtesy of Jenna Rickley

Three weeks ago, that is exactly what the neighbors of local kindergartener Braden saw as they peered outside their windows. According to Braden’s mom, it all started with a coat donation. 

“He and I had just dropped off a bag of coats to donate at Anton’s Cleaners, prompting a discussion of passing them along to people who need coats this winter. On the drive home, he asked me, ‘What about food?’ I told him that’s another important thing people need, but this place wasn’t collecting food, only coats,” said Jenna Rickley, Braden’s mother. 

Arming himself with a pencil and a piece of paper, Braden decided that something must be done about this. Taking great care, Braden wrote a letter to his neighbors saying that he would be coming around with his wagon to collect food for The Reading Food Pantry.

The letter Braden sent to his neighbors. Photo courtesy of Jenna Rickley

“He worked so hard on it and was going to continue handwriting letter after letter, but I told him I’d be happy to go to Staples to get it photocopied for him. The next morning I dropped him off at kindergarten and went to Staples and explained to the man what the note was and that I’d like some copies. When he returned with the copies, he said, ‘Tell Braden this one’s on us,’” said Rickley. 

Later that afternoon, Braden and his mom traveled up and down their street, delivering the letters. When they returned later that week, with Braden’s wagon in tow, they were shocked by their neighbors’ generosity.

“I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, but at 1:00 pm Thursday, he got his wagon and set out to collect food. Oh, did our kind and generous neighbors show up for the cause. They left out bags and boxes of food, as well as several kind notes attached to the bags for Braden. We had to stop home and unload before continuing the other way down the street,” said Rickley. 

Braden amongst his collected donation. Photo courtesy of Jenna Rickley

As the family dropped off their donations to the Reading Food Pantry, they found themselves thinking about their little adventure. 

“We left with the thought that during a year that has felt a bit off, Braden helped remind us of one of the best ways to find happiness. Braden’s food drive was completely his doing, and I’m still not sure he understands the magnitude of how kind it was of him to create and follow through with the activity,” said Rickley.

Donations to The Reading Food Pantry can be made through their PayPal or mailing a check to 6 Salem Street, Reading, MA. 

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