Spearfish lad takes giving seriously

A 12-year-old Spearfish boy trudged through the snow last weekend (2/6/10), assisted by his mother, hauling eight bags of groceries to the Spearfish Community Food Pantry. The bags were full of food that will be distributed to individuals and families in need.

Young Sterling McMichael had been looking forward to donating the food ever since he won a radio contest in December on 97.9 “The Point.” Station personality Brant Hanson had invited youngsters to participate in a contest focused on helping people. Hanson said he wanted kids to contact him with ideas of something they’d like to give as a meaningful Christmas present.

McMichael wrote to Hanson, “I want to help our local food pantry by giving them 50 canned food items. Every one in six Americans are barely getting by with enough food every week. Please help me get this food to present to the local food pantry.”

McMichael didn’t win the food items – but he did win a $50 cash card from the station. After the holidays, young McMichael – who is the son of Cody and Valerie McMichael of Spearfish – visited the food pantry. With unusual insight that even many adults don’t possess, he asked if there were any particular item that the pantry needed more than another.

“Salt,” was the answer.

So when the donated food bags were donated last weekend, pantry workers found vegetables, fruits, cereals, and – plenty of salt! Food pantry board members Karen Miller (left) and Evonne Welsh (far right) were on hand to accept Sterling's donation. That's Sterling and his mother, Valerie,in the center of the photo.

Sterling’s mom and dad are rightfully proud of his good deed. But it’s not the first time the lanky student at Spearfish Middle School has been involved in donating to worthy causes. A few years ago, he raised $108.00 to help buy food for the cats at the Wildlife Sanctuary near Spearfish.

Sterling says he got the idea of helping the food pantry after watching winners of the television show “The Biggest Losers” donate food to local pantries.

“We didn’t even know he had entered this radio contest until he told us that he had won!” exclaimed his mother, Valerie, who is employed at Walmart in Spearfish. Sterling’s dad, Cody, is Assistant Director of Student Support Services at Black Hills State University.

Food pantry president Evonne Welsh was moved by Sterling’s thoughtfulness.

“It’s truly remarkable to see just how caring many of our young people are today.”