In this photo taken on Thursday, April 10, 2014, Pine Forest Middle School sixth grader Michael Simpson and his mother Darlene Simpson pose for a photo at their home in Fayetteville, N.C.. They organized a local food drive going on Saturday to benefit the school and the families with children who are hungry. (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Dillon Deaton) MANDATORY CREDIT. MAGS OUT

Dillon Deaton

In this photo taken on Thursday, April 10, 2014, Pine Forest Middle School sixth grader Michael Simpson and his mother Darlene Simpson pose for a photo at their home in Fayetteville, N.C.. They organized a local food drive going on Saturday to benefit the school and the families with children who are hungry. (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Dillon Deaton) MANDATORY CREDIT. MAGS OUT

Fayetteville mom, son to launch food drive

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FAYETTEVILLE — A Fayetteville sixth-grader and his mother will spend part of their weekend working to ensure that his classmates don’t go hungry.

A collection drive for Saturday at a local Wal-Mart. It begins at 10 a.m.

Darlene Simpson, a single mother of four, calls the drive Knapsackz 4 Kidz, and she and her son will be accepting both nonperishable foods and school book bags that will be given to needy students and their families. She hopes to collect enough food to give to needy school families over the week of spring break, which starts April 21, and over the summer.

The idea began when a classmate told Michael Simpson that he wasn’t looking forward to spring break or summer because he didn’t have any food at his house. He went home and told his mother.

Darlene Simpson said that when her son told her about his friend in late March, she called the school to see if the story could be true. She said school officials told her it was.

They told her the school hopes to revive a dormant program to provide food to needy students when they’re at home, but it probably would not happen until the next school year when a parent-teacher volunteer group gets back on its feet.

Simpson decided to ask the community for help. She wrote a letter explaining her plan, made copies and, after work and on weekends, started visiting nearby businesses. And she started getting responses.

Donations include eight large containers of food from a convenience store, $500 from a pizzeria and 285 haircuts from SportsCuts.

She said if the families don’t mind and if she has collected enough food, she is willing to deliver food to them each week over the summer. Amounts would be determined based on the number of people in the household, she said.

Simpson said she knows adults need food, too, but she’s particularly concerned about the children in these households.

“I really don’t want to see a child go hungry,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem natural to me or right. It made me cry to think about it.”

Michael said he has learned to count his blessings, including meals that aren’t always his favorite.

“I have to be grateful because sometimes I might not like it, but then I have to think about my friend,” he said. “Because he doesn’t have anything to eat.”