West Fargo Birthday Girl Asking for Gifts for the Great Plains Food Bank

this is the fifth year in a row 9-year-old Gowri Pillai has held a food drive to donate food to Great Plains Food Bank

WEST FARGO, ND — Most kids don’t ask their parents to hold a food drive for their birthday.

That is, unless they’re 9-year-old Gowri Pillai.

The only thing this West Fargo girl wants is help in donating more than 600 pounds of food to Great Plains Food Bank.

The Pillai family Christmas tree isn’t surrounded by your traditional presents.

Instead, you’ll find a mountain of food.

All of it is then donated to Great Plains Food Bank, but it’s not the parents who came up with the idea.

Instead, it was 9-year-old Gowri.

Her birthday is December 23 and instead of toys, she says she only gets food for her birthday.

Five years ago, she and her mother Rajani were driving around when a homeless woman caught the four-year-old’s eye.

“She didn’t have a house or anything. She was just sitting there on a bucket,” Gowri said.

That’s when Gowri decided to start making a difference.

“She said ‘how about I give her my food’ and I said ‘yeah, maybe we can do that,'” Rajani said.

Gowri asked her parents to help her start a food drive, which continues to grow each year.

“It just exploded from 100-200 pounds. It just got to 650 pounds last year,” said Ganesh, Gowri’s father.

“My dad just takes the whole family and then they put all the food in the trunk and we drive there and we just drop it off,” Gowri said.

Gowri’s neighbors were the first ones to start helping out, but now her classmates at Independence Elementary are getting involved.

“It’s really exciting to see her motivate her peers to do great things for our community,” said Michael Shea, Independence Elementary’s principal.

“No matter how young, no matter how old you are, it really doesn’t matter in terms of helping people out,” said Jared Slinde with Great Plains Food Bank.

That’s why age has never affected what Gowri does.

“If one kid makes a difference then imagine what more can do,” she said.

You can drop off food for Gowri’s Annual Birthday Food Drive at Great Plains Food Bank or Independence Elementary in West Fargo from December 12-15.

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