(FOX 2) - Nearly 20 percent of Michigan children live in poverty, but one 4-year-old girl is doing her part to make sure others in her community don't go hungry -- and she's encouraging all of us to do the same.
Hazel Nicosia collected boxes and boxes of food, enough to fill two trucks, to donate to Lighthouse -- the Pontiac-based nonprofit tackling poverty. This little 4-year-old is tackling it, too, with a little help from her friends.
Her mother Holly says Hazel had seen a homeless person with a sign asking for help, which led to an important discussion.
"She was like - how do we help? How do we do that?" she said. "First she went to our cupboards looking to see if we had anything. Then it snowballed into calling and any family thing she was asking, do you want to help?"
And they did.
"Lots of macaroni and cheese, lots of cereal, lots of good stuff for everybody to eat," said her father Jacob.
There's never a shortage of need, even here in Oakland County -- one of the wealthiest counties in the state.
"Throughout the year we were servicing about 700 to 750 families a month. Right now we're at about 900 the last report that I did. So we are definitely seeing an increase," said James McQueen, pantry manager at Lighthouse.
Clients often lack affordable housing and transportation. They are sometimes working and need the food pantry to make ends meet, she's grateful for Hazel's donation.
What Hazel may not know but what should be alarming to us is that there are more than 2,200 children that are homeless in Oakland County. Lighthouse is kicking off its Shine Your Light campaign, seeking donations to help feed 1,500 families this Thanksgiving and adopt one thousand families for Christmas.
"The need is real. They're good people that are working families trying to make ends meet. But with 2, 243 children that are homeless in this county I know that people in this county if they knew would help. So I'm counting on them this year to make that happen," said Russ Russell, chief development officer of Lighthouse.
Because if a four-year-old found it in her heart to do it - shouldn't we all?
"We want to blame people but Hazel wanted to help them and she did," Russell said.
Because, as Hazel has been taught and is teaching others, it's the right thing to do.
"You have to help people," she said.
For more information on how to help lighthouse help people, click here.