10-year-old knows how important it is to volunteer

By: Carol Feineman, editor
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How to Help The Salt Mine’s Food Bank is open two hours Tuesdays through Fridays on the corner of G and 6th streets. “We’re looking for any nonperishable food, such as soups, canned meats, canned fruit, canned vegetables, beans. Anything in a can,” said The Salt Mine staff member Scott Foster. Donations can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, call 645-3778. The more you volunteer, the more the community will benefit. Those wise and compassionate words come from Brian Furrer. “My advice to help others is to volunteer a little more,” Brian said. “I made a difference. You can too.” While many Lincoln residents regularly volunteer for scores of nonprofit organizations aiding area residents, most of the volunteers are not 10-years-old. In fact, I’ve never heard about a 10-year-old going out of his or her way every week to assist strangers. But then I met Brian, 10 and a fifth-grader at First Street School, last week. His mother, Terri Furrer, calls him a tender heart, regarding his efforts to lead two school-wide canned-food drives benefiting The Salt Mine’s food bank. After listening to his mother, his principal and Brian, I agree. The first food drive last year resulted in 1,356 cans for the local food bank.  Last Friday’s food drive resulted in 1,872 cans. In both drives, Brian dropped boxes off to the 19 kindergarden to fifth-grade classrooms and then brought the cans to The Salt Mine a week later. His inspiration for the food drive evolved from his experience volunteering the past two summers at The Salt Mine. “I saw they were running low on cans but more and more people kept coming in for food,” Brian explained. “Right now (this time of the year) is when the food bank runs out of cans. The reason I’m doing this food drive is The Salt Mine doesn’t get much donations and they have to use church money to buy cans.” Brian never expected to see students he knew on the receiving line. But he did. “Brian was surprised to see children his age in line to get food,” his mother said. “That impacted him. He’d walk back to where we were bagging beans and  he said, ‘we really can make a difference.’ His eyes lit up. This is how we can help them. When we go shopping, he asks me did I pickup this list of items for the food bank?” Canned donations “are needed all the time,” according to The Salt Mine staff member Scott Foster. “Our food closet is just about empty. It’s almost deleted,” Foster said Friday. Since his first days bagging goods at the food bank, it was never a question of if Brian should help by volunteering at The Salt Mine but what else Brian could do to make daily life easier for these residents. “If we don’t help, these people are going to die from starvation,” Brian explained, “or have other problems.”  First Street School Principal Ruben Ayala is impressed with what Brian is doing. “I think it’s very thoughtful that he is willing to spend time to organize the canned-food drive,” Ayala said. “For a 10-year-old to do that, that’s fantastic.” With a successful drive behind him, Brian approached Ayala soon after school started to see if another canned-food drive could be held again. “It’s fairly unusual for a kid to come up with the idea,” Ayala added. Brian, though, thinks what he’s doing isn’t unusual. “I like to help others mainly because I’m more fortunate and I want to give back,” Brian said. “I like to see at the end, what I’ve done. It feels really good to see how I’ve helped.” Carol Feineman can be reached at 774-7972 or at