Four years ago, 14-year-old Devin Cornell founded a non-profit which he named “Friends.Giving” in the hopes that kids and families could come together during seasons of giving.
Cornell, along with the help of some of his friends and family, help cook up a large Thanksgiving feast for 25 Fresno families in need.
“Our goal is to help as many families as we can,” said Cornell. “One of our main mottos is, you don’t have to be big to make a big impact.”
Teens Cook and Deliver Dinners
Cornell says many of his friends attend other schools across Fresno, and help recruit other students from their campus by offering school credit for volunteer hours to help donate food and help cook Thanksgiving meals.
Every year, the young team of teen organizers signs up 25 interested families. All of this year’s slots are filled, but Cornell says donations have been harder to come by because of COVID related issues.
Among the 25 families, Cornell says they will have a total of 160 people to feed this year.
The students all help cook up some of their favorite Thanksgiving recipes including turkey and favored sides including mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, veggies, and even desserts.
Cornell says the families are always thankful because, often times, they just don’t have the resources for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“So a week before Thanksgiving, we’ll notify the families if everything is still good and if they still like the meals,” said Cornell. “And if they say yes, we’ll cook it on November 24th and then on the 25th we give out all the food.”
Hopes to Inspire Other Kids to Volunteer
In tune with the organization’s motto, Cornell hopes that volunteer events can inspire other kids his age to want give back to others.
Cornell has always had a giving nature and recalls being involved in volunteer events since he was a little boy. However, he says many of the volunteer events he joined in the past were restrictive for teens and he couldn’t be as involved as he is now.
“So we used to do a lot of like canned food, we would go help and pack canned foods, but we weren’t able to do much there because we were younger,” said Cornell. “And that’s also one of the main reasons why we let kids any age volunteer.”
While at a Christmas volunteer event, Cornell realized he wanted to do something that allowed for more hands-on opportunities for kids his age and founded “Friends.Giving” in 2017.
“All of them(friends) said that they would help and they would be there along the way,” said Cornell.
Since then, Cornell an his friends also host events like back to school drives, and collecting donated toys to fill up Christmas stockings for kids.
“Just me seeing being privileged when I was younger and seeing how other people lived, I wanted to give back to them so that they could have these privileges as well,” said Cornell.
Local Business Partnerships
As the holidays near, Cornell says his group will be hosting some of their largest events and are seeking all the help they can get.
So far, Cornell and his team of teens have partnered with local grocery chains. Costco is giving them a discounted price on turkeys and FoodMax has donated cans of corn, peas and green beans.
Other businesses have also stepped up to help. “More than Pizza” restaurants in Fresno and Clovis are hosting donation boxes where people can drop off donated goods.
“We’re trying to go to other local grocery stores, see if they would help or any other local restaurants,” said Cornell.