Florida Teen Fighting Hunger Gets a Cereal Surprise

By Hanna Johnson
Jul 20, 2020 11:45 AM ET
Blog

Kennedy McCormick asks for the same thing for her birthday every year.  

Boxes of cereal.  

She was motivated to start collecting cereal at the age of seven after seeing a commercial about childhood hunger.  

“I wanted to help in some type of way,” says McCormick. “So, I asked my parents if instead of getting presents for my birthday, I could help the children.” 

And every year since, she’s donated that cereal to Feeding Tampa Bay’s Cereal for Summer food program, which focuses on feeding children while they’re not in school. 

“Kennedy has been an inspiration to all of us,” says Kelley Sims, chief development officer at Feeding Tampa Bay. “We’ve been able to share her story with many others who then use that as inspiration to think about what they might be able to do with their own skills and talents to give back.” 

This year, for her 14th birthday, McCormick had to get creative with her fundraising efforts due to the challenges of COVID-19. 

Instead of hosting her cereal drive at school, McCormick put on a virtual food drive complete with her own piano recital, asking for monetary donations for Feeding Tampa Bay. 

“I knew I had to find a different way, so I wanted to put my talents together with the food drive because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it at my school this year,” says McCormick. “It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of rehearsing.” 

McCormick’s virtual drive raised more than $3,000, which equates to approximately 30,000 meals. 

“During our COVID-19 response, we’ve seen a very dramatic increase. There’s a lot of need,” says Sims. “And there’s a lot of things we’re trying to do that stretch our capability, but to have someone like Kennedy really helps fill our tank and keep us moving forward. And it helps us inspire the community around us to think the same way.” 

When Cheerios heard about McCormick’s efforts, they were inspired to take action.

So, the brand surprised her with two truckloads full of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios – about 48,000 boxes for Feeding Tampa Bay (approximately 500,000 meals). 

“I was really surprised,” says McCormick. “I didn’t expect to get so much cereal. They had the cereal back in the warehouse, and I thought that was it, but then another truck drove by with a lot more cereal.”

Katie Fialkoff, assistant manager, Brand Experience, in our local Tampa Bay office, presented the donation to McCormick.

“I was really honored to be able to be here on behalf of General Mills and Cheerios to donate 48,000 boxes of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios,” says Fialkoff. “I feel really lucky to work for a company that’s able to give back in such a big way and that I’m able to be here today as part of it.”

Fialkhoff says McKormick’s reaction was priceless.

“She was so excited. The look on her face was just like, ‘Ah!’”

“I was overwhelmed. It means a lot because I know that I am helping a lot of other people,” says McCormick.

When asked what she would say to those looking to give back in their own communities, she says don’t be afraid to get involved.

“A small act of kindness can make a big difference.”