Orlando girl sparking hope for homeless, one sandwich at a time
8-year-old's initiative provides food, other necessities to people in need
ORLANDO, Fla. – Most 8-year-old girls spend much of their weekends having fun outside with friends, but a young girl in Orlando has made it her mission to spark hope -- one sandwich at a time.
With the support of her family and community, she's making a difference through care packages that include something to eat and basic necessities that many people take for granted.
Lucy DiCocco is getting results for the homeless through her Spark Hope initiative, which began two years ago after a visit to a pet store.
The second grader fills a wagon with about 80 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hands them out to strangers who are in need of a meal.
But it's not just sandwiches. A few other things are bringing smiles and hope to the homeless community.
"Brownies, we have toothpaste and then toothbrushes, and we have waters down here," Lucy said as she showed what was in her wagon.
She's been pulling that wagon around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando for about two years now.
"It makes me feel really happy that I'm helping people and, like, to see their smile," Lucy said.
Her gesture of solidarity began in 2017 after her mom made a donation at a pet store.
"They asked if we wanted to donate one of their little stuffed animals to a child in need," Lucy's mom, Bonnie DiCocco, said.
She said it was that moment that sparked her daughter's curiosity.
"When we got to the car, she wanted to know, 'Mommy, what's a child in need?' and I said, 'There's some children that don't have things like we do,'" Lucy's mom said. "She said, 'Well, what do you mean?' and I said, 'Well, some children are foster children and they may need our help getting stuff.'"
She said it was a realization that broke Lucy's heart.
"That made her very sad. So she started asking more questions and she was crying by the end, and I was crying, so in that moment, I just asked her -- I said, 'Lucy, do you want to do something good?'" DiCocco said.
Right away, Lucy got to work and started the Spark Hope initiative.
"She makes stuff. She makes dog biscuits, she sells them at our store. She also makes some handmade earrings that she sells and all the money that she makes from all of that, she goes and she purchases the items that we give out," her mom said.
Those items include shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries people need.
"We have found out that they really want toothbrushes. They really want toothpaste, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, " DiCocco said.
Lucy, her sister and mom said it's been a heartwarming experience for the family to serve the less fortunate together.
"You can always be the good in the world. It doesn't matter how small the initiative is. Doing something good for somebody else, putting a smile on somebody's else's face, it can make a world of difference to them," DiCocco said.
DiCocco said she's proud of her daughter's passion for helping others.
"She is incredibly caring. She has a gigantic heart. It means the world to us to be able to create caring humans that are gonna take care of our next generations," DiCocco said.
Lucy said she hopes to continue the initiative as long as possible.
"I get to help a lot of people and it makes me really happy." Lucy said.
Lucy and her family visit Lake Eola once a month but said they hope to eventually make it down there more often.
To contact Lucy's family about making a donation, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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