Bridging the Opportunity Divide

This Second Grader Saved for a Pet Snake, But Decided to Feed the Poor Instead

December 24, 2014
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This Second Grader Saved for a Pet Snake, But Decided to Feed the Poor Instead
Eight-year-old Keaton Snell motivated his classmates to donate 3,000 cans of food. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
His enthusiasm and generosity rubbed off on his classmates.

Eight-year-old Keaton Snell of Winter Haven, Fla., assiduously saved his allowance and birthday money for months, trying to accumulate enough to buy himself a snake. Once he’d saved $114, he approached his mom about getting the pet, but she said he needed to wait until he was 10-years-old.

Keaton wanted to spend the money this year, however, so he decided to buy food for those less fortunate.

He got the idea from his second grade class, which has been talking about ways the kids can help the community and holding a food drive. His teacher, Lori Davis, tells the News Chief, “We’ve been having conversations about the less fortunate, and Keaton is particularly sympathetic about it. He came to me and said, ‘I want to spend $114 on food for the poor,’ and I thought that’s a lot of money, but it was totally his idea and it shows how deep in his heart he feels about this.”

Keaton started by raiding his pantry to give to others. His mom, Shannon Snell, says “I kept telling him he can’t give all of our food away. We need some, too. So it came to the point where he was like, ‘Mom, just take me to the grocery store, and I’ll buy the food.”

Shannon made a deal with her son that she would match his contributions. Keaton ended up donating 72 cans, which will stock the food pantry at The Mission, a Winter Haven, Fla., church organization that feeds the hungry and helps the homeless.

Keaton’s classmates were donating an average of about two cans per person, but when they saw all the cans he brought, it inspired them to give more.

Davis says, “He came into school with two bags overflowing with cans. The other kids saw it, we talked about Keaton using his own money and they all got really excited about it. They started bringing in more cans and we saw the school count rise a lot.”

So far, the school has collected 3,000 cans of food. As for Keaton, he may not yet have a pet snake, but his teacher rewarded him with one week during which he doesn’t have to wear his school uniform. “He went above and beyond,” Davis says.

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