Seven-year-old Rowan Walroth (right) donated just shy of $3,000 to a Vernon food bank in March 2021. (Contributed)

Seven-year-old Rowan Walroth (right) donated just shy of $3,000 to a Vernon food bank in March 2021. (Contributed)

Okanagan 7-year-old discovers locals are struggling, raises $3K for food bank

Rowan Walroth read a book about boys who dared to make a difference, and decided to become one

A young Vernon boy’s early discovery of the power of helping others has led to thousands of dollars raised for locals in need.

Fawn Ross is feeling like a spoiled parent, having been privy to an inspiring development in her son Rowan Walroth, who went from learning about the struggles locals are going through to donating nearly $,3000 in cash and provisions to the Vernon Salvation Army House of Hope food bank Friday, March 31.

Ross chalks it up as one of those special insights into human kindness that only parenthood can provide.

“It was fun watching that excitement grow for him,” she told the Morning Star.

It started with a book the family read together called Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks.

“The whole premise of the book is it’s different boys all through history who saw a problem or chose to change it or tried to fix something that they saw in the world, and so he was curious about that and asking questions,” Ross said.

From there she watched as Rowan quickly learned that there are people in need locally, and made the leap to seeing himself as an agent of change.

READ MORE: Penticton’s Discovery House raised over $14,000 and dished out over 1,800 bowls of soup

The total amount Rowan raised was $2,927.58, to be exact; he did the math himself.

In fact, Rowan’s parents made a point to give him the space to lead the project from start to finish once he got the idea.

“The real take-home for us was that we often assume that our kids are too young to understand big problems when the reality is they can both understand them and be the ones to take the initiative to do something about it,” Ross said.

Rowan started out by figuring out how much it costs to support a single family, creating a goal to buy one of every item on the food bank’s ‘wish list’ per family.

He then asked the next logical question, one that children his age don’t often ask: how much do groceries cost?

“So that was a big shocker for him, since his personal equity was about 10 bucks,” his mother said, laughing.

Adversity struck the way it often does for teenagers who get their first job; it turns out making money isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“First he started trying to earn money and he realized that that was hard,” Ross said.

“Then he started talking about the project with other people, and people started getting interested in what he was doing.”

Rowan collected donations from kids his age — change given readily from their piggy banks — and secured donations from several Vernon businesses. Another individual agreed to donate $1 for every child that relies on the food bank in Vernon, which Rowan found out was about $350 worth.

He even convinced someone to pledge $10 for every goal scored at a local hockey game.

“It was really neat to see how people got involved in their own way,” his mother said.

In the end, he raised enough to supply dozens of families with one of every item on the wish list.

Ross said her son was thrilled when he’d raised enough for the first family, as well as for the many that followed.

“By the end, he was at 62 sets.”

Granted, 62 gallons of milk and the other wish list items were a lot to drop off all at once, so they decided to drop off 10 of everything and donate the rest in cash to the food bank.

Beyond discovering the good feeling that comes with helping others, Rowan also struck upon a key insight when it comes to rallying support for a cause.

“He figured out really quickly that people want to be part of the excitement,” Ross said. “For people, it’s not so much about the money, it’s being a part of it.”

It was a lot to take on for a shy seven-year-old, but learning to share his ideas with others was an added bonus.

“The skills he learned along the way and the knowledge he’s gained from those who assisted has been incredible.”

For Rowan, the most fun parts of the campaign were the excitement he’d created and shared in the community, and “seeing just how many groceries we raised for the food bank.”

He added anyone reading his story can follow suit and dare to get involved with the food bank or their cause of choice.

READ MORE: Service to others part of Lake Country teen’s world


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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