CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A 14-year-old girl completed a marathon over spring break while she supported a good cause.
Josie Smith is an eighth grader at Community House Middle School in the Ballantyne area. She’s part of her school’s track team.
On Tuesday, she ran and walked 26.2 miles with the help and support of family members and friends.
“I just wanted to do something fun,” Josie said.
Josie raised $400 for the Ballantyne Families Helping Neighbors in Need group.
Josie’s dad Scott is proud of her accomplishment and kind heart.
“We feel it’s great to give back and this was a great opportunity,” Scott said.
Ballantyne Families Helping Neighbors in Need founder Heather McAfee is grateful for her fundraising efforts.
“She did an amazing job. She totally did that on her own. The fact that an eighth grader can run and walk a marathon to raise money for her community is amazing,” McAfee said.
Ballantyne Families Helping Neighbors in Need initially started its efforts last fall. People in the Ballantyne area worked with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools counselors to provide a Thanksgiving meal to families in need in eight CMS schools.
When schools closed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group came back together to provide groceries to support families in need every two weeks.
McAfee said the community effort has helped 100 families on average every time.
“We found out that the kids will not be able to have breakfast and lunch at schools, and they were used to having that and depended on that. We started a food drive on a Sunday and within 24-hours we were able to collect food and distribute,” McAfee said.
CMS staff distribute the donations to the families to protect their privacy.
For the fourth round of giving on April 27th, families will receive grocery store gift cards, handmade cloth masks, and sheets with information about other food distribution resources.
Mcafee said this community effort has been possible thanks to the generosity of hundreds of families in Ballantyne.
“Hopefully the families not only get a little bit of financial relief but they feel the love from our community and that we care for them and that we want to help them as much as we can,” McAfee said.
With Josie’s donation, the group has already raised $15,000.
“It’s always nice to give back to your community,” Josie said.
If you would like to donate, click here.