Howard boy asks for food donations instead of birthday gifts, donates double his weight to ‘The Giving Tree’

He donated twice is own weight in food after asking for donations instead of gifts for his birthday.
Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 6:17 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Russell Kanzleiter celebrated turning eight-years-old Monday by asking for food donations instead of gifts for his birthday this year.

“I just like helping others,” explained Russell. “Just because it’s nice and it makes me feel good inside.”

Russell celebrated turning eight over the weekend with a birthday party at Commando Paintball Sports & Zombie Shoot in Little Suamico. He invited 14 of his friends to come out for some fun outside and in lieu of presents bring food donations. The children helped collect 114 lbs of food, which is double Russell’s weight.

“So proud. He’s so selfless. We’re so proud of what he’s doing and just his selfless acts can help a lot of people,” said Elizabeth Kanzleiter, Russell’s mom.

During a food donation drop off on Monday, Russell’s mother said she loves how Russell giving to others has also set a good example for his sisters, Penny, Lucy and Eleanor who helped out with the drop off of food.

“We’re finding that donations like what Russell’s doing is not just a great example for his younger siblings, but some of his friends are also choosing To do donations to other organizations for their birthdays as well,” explained Elizabeth.

The donation was made to The Giving Tree which is a student assistance program and food pantry in the Howard-Suamico School District. Leaders with the The Giving Tree said its grateful for the donation just in time for its first year taking part in Give Big Green Bay fundraiser.

“It is so overwhelming and totally like winning the lottery,” said Kourtney Feldhausen, the Student and Family Engagement Coordinator for the Howard-Suamico School District. “We work with everything from families that are experiencing homelessness, to families that are struggling, to families that are going through a crisis of some sort. Every family situation is different and I think that’s what we really pride ourselves in, is we really want to know what our families stories are what our children’s stories are and how can we best meet their needs.”

Feldhausen said more than 20 percent of students in the Howard-Suamico School District qualify for free or reduced lunch. She adds that many families miss the mark by as little as a dollar, so reaching out to them for support with groceries or gas can help families pay for other necessities such as heat or rent.

“They can just learn, do what they need to do, focus on their academics, focus on their social and emotional needs and just be kids,” said Feldhausen.

To learn more about The Giving Tree, click HERE. To donate to them for Give Big Green Bay, Click HERE.