Fort Myers teen gives up birthday, Christmas to help others

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Andelino Calderon

FORT MYERS, Fla. December should be a month full of presents for Andelino Calderon.

But the Fort Myers teen, who turns 15 on Tuesday, is continuing his tradition of forgoing gifts and giving to charity instead. He received a thank-you on Thursday from Harry Chapin Food Bank CEO Richard Lebor as they stood beside pallets full of donations.

“Giving people this food is worth the time it takes,” Calderon said. “It’s not a struggle for me to have to go through every year.”

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It’s the fourth straight year he’s dedicating his birthday and Christmas to feeding the hungry. He collected 500 pounds of food the first year. Word has spread since then, thanks in large measure to social media.

Last year, he brought in over 1,000 pounds as even strangers sent in financial and food donations. His goal this year is 2,000 pounds.

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“When somebody young like that goes out of their way to give up their birthday money to go to the food bank, that just touches you in the heart, doesn’t it?” Lebor said.

Calderon is intent on bucking what he sees as a generational trend away from charity.

“When you look at millennials, they take for granted everything,” he said. “They don’t respect what other people have had to go through.”

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