ABILENE, Texas - More than 1,000 canned goods have been collected as a result of an effort led by an 8-year-old Abilene boy who gave up birthday presents to help those less fortunate.
Brady Villanueva spearheaded the effort to help Love and Care Ministries line its shelves with 1,068 canned goods as of Monday morning.
According to a Love and Care Ministries' official, the organization won't have to dip into its warehouse this week because of the Brady Villanueva-led donations.
A story on KTXS last week told of the child's canned food drive:
It's not something you hear every day: a 7-year-old giving up birthday presents to help those less fortunate.
"He's normal to me. He's my picture of perfect," said his mother, Crystal Lane.
At age three, Brady Villanueva was diagnosed with a bleeding disorder that prevents his blood from clotting.
"When he has surgeries, he has to get special medications to make sure he doesn't bleed too much," said Lane.
In an effort to calm him down before his last surgery, Brady's parents inadvertently helped him do something no one would expect.
"We thought what better way to get his mind off of everything than to talk about his birthday?" said Lane. "We asked him what he wanted."
What he said next, surprised everyone.
"I said I wanted canned goods to donate to the homeless," said Brady.
He's been collecting cans ever since, to help fill the shelves at Love and Care Ministries.
"I just feel like they could use a little help," said Brady.
"He's not thinking of himself. He's thinking of other people," said Founder and Executive Director of Love and Care, Mark Hewitt.
"There's always those special kids, and I think he's one of them," said Hewitt. "I look forward to the day he brings the canned goods and I'll give him a hug and tell him thank you."
He is also collecting can openers. He was worried people wouldn't be able to open the goods. He has almost 40 of those.
Brady's parents said he has always had a selfless nature.
"Not very many 7-year-olds want to give to the community and to the homeless," said his father, Eugene Villanueva.
"He's got a huge heart and he's always willing to help somebody else out," said Lane.
They're his biggest fans.
"Honestly, he's my hero," said Lane.
"You could only wish for a kid like that. They don't come around too often," said Villanueva.
Brady's birthday party is tomorrow and he's hoping to reach his goal of 500 cans. His actual birthday falls on Easter Sunday, when he will turn eight.
If you want to help him out on his mission, you can drop canned food off at the First Baptist Church in Buffalo Gap, or you can stop by Love and Care Ministries on Monday to donate.
Brady will be there dropping off his can collection.
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