For the first time this year, because he’s 5, Jacob Chapman got to choose his family’s Lent project. Jacob’s family both gives something up and gives something out to help others to mark those 40 pre-Easter days, according to Jacob’s mother, Meghan.
With help from his mother, Jacob narrowed down his “gives out” idea to food for people right in his hometown. He narrowed the scope of the project from food, clothing or shelter for people far away or nearby, explained his mother.
The kindergartner, accompanied by his mother and sister, Catherine, 2, dropped his letter explaining the project in 50 neighbors’ mailboxes. He decided which neighbors would receive the letter, his mother said; he did not know all of them personally. They avoided houses with dogs.
“Dear Neighbors—My name is Jacob. For Lent I am collecting food for the hungry. 40 pounds! Can you help? Thank you, Jacob.”
Jacob printed his original letter in purple, with “Thank you, Jacob” in green.
“He was so excited,” his mother said.
Jacob set his goal at 40 pounds because there are 40 days in Lent, his mother explained.
“I want people to eat like us,” Jacob explained Tuesday afternoon, sitting in his own dining room.
One night at home, when dinner was late, Jacob said he felt hunger pains.
“Blaaght!” he said, describing that feeling.
The response to his letter? More than four times his goal. Jacob brought 165 pounds of non-perishables to the .
Neighbors on Bartlett Drive, Kendal Drive and Pearl Street between them donated 147 pounds of food. Jacob’s grandparents and great-grandmother added 12 more pounds. Jacob asked his mother to buy five more pounds of food, she wrote, and he bought one pound more—a box of pasta—with $1 of his own money.
Some people dropped foodstuffs off at Jacob’s house. He made house calls with his mother to pick some up.
Jacob wrote and delivered a thank you note to the donors.
“He’s so grateful, he sat me down to help him write a thank you note right away,” Meghan Chapman said.
The Council of Social Concern was “very happy” to receive the food, Jacob printed. “It will feed a lot of hungrey people. Thank you!”
People told Jacob that he was doing a nice project, he said.
“Our family believes that you don’t do good works for recognition,” according to Chapman, “but our little guy is awfully proud” and people suggested that the Chapmans share his good deed.
“If you give people the opportunity to give, they will,” said Meghan Chapman, and that’s good for Jacob to see.