RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The food is constantly coming and going at the Feeding America warehouse in the Inland Empire. During the height of the pandemic, demand surged and so did donations, including from an unlikely source. Ava Van Grouw used money she raised selling candles to help provide thousands of meals for families in her community.
"During the quarantine, I saw people needed food, so I decided to donate because since my D.C. trip was canceled, then I had the funds to donate," Ava said.
The 13-year-old was selling candles for a trip to Washington D.C. with her eighth grade class. The pandemic canceled the trip and left Ava wondering what to do with the money she raised.
"She saw on the news all the long lines, people needing food and she decided to donate money from her candle making to our food bank," said Stephanie Otero/CEO Feeding America.
Ava's donation provided funding for close to 5,000 meals at Feeding America Riverside and San Bernardino. Like other food banks, they have seen a huge demand for help over the last year.
"People have always been in need, and have always been hungry even before the pandemic. I think what the pandemic did was highlight the unprecedented numbers with people being out of jobs, and food shortages in grocery stores. So we're always going to be feeding people, and that's still the case today," said Otero.
Food banks are finally starting to see things get better, but they are still busy and people like Ava are making a difference.
"I learned that no matter what we go through we can still donate money and help people," Ava said.
She may just be 13, but already Ava is learning some important lessons. And now that the pandemic is finally winding down, she can start making candles for that trip to Washington D.C.