A 7-year-old collected $131, but gave it all away

Megan Maguire, 7, pulls herself up to get food to box for families in need at Religious Community Services Food Bank in Clearwater. Megan recently brought in her piggy bank filled with $131 and donated it to the food bank. Megan’s sister, Molly Maguire, 5, donated $28 that she saved.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

Megan Maguire, 7, pulls herself up to get food to box for families in need at Religious Community Services Food Bank in Clearwater. Megan recently brought in her piggy bank filled with $131 and donated it to the food bank. Megan’s sister, Molly Maguire, 5, donated $28 that she saved.

CLEARWATER — Like many 7-year-olds, Megan Maguire has a piggy bank.

Only hers is pink, plastic and shaped like a bowling ball.

About a year ago, she set out to fill it up by working around her family's Belleair home.

Every time she folded clothes or cleaned the kitchen, she earned a quarter.

Every time she pulled a weed in the yard, she earned a nickle.

Each coin was carefully deposited into the clear pink plastic bowling ball in her room.

One night recently, when she and her 5-year-old sister, Molly, were being cared for by a babysitter, she opened the bank and counted her savings. It came to $131, a fortune for a kid.

But did she ask to go to the mall to get the latest Jonas Brothers CD?

No way.

"Once I saved it, I didn't know what to do with it,'' Megan said. "So this place is the only place I could think about donating it to.''

This place is the Religious Community Services Food Bank and this week, Megan, Molly and their mother, Amy Maguire, brought the bowling ball bank heavy with money to Kathi Trautwein, director of the food bank.

"I thought it was just so neat,'' Trautwein said. "Amy's done a good job training them early that people are less fortunate than they are.''

Trautwein said the food bank serves nearly 16,000 people a month. And in the last year, the need has grown drastically.

"In November 2007, we served 98 families a day,'' Trautwein said. "In November 2008, we served 142 families a day.''

Amy Maguire, 40, is a communications and business development specialist with Southern Strategy Group, and her husband of 15 years, Sean Maguire, also 40, works in banking.

Megan is a second-grader and Molly is a kindergartener at St. Paul's School in Clearwater.

Everyone in the family is passionate about helping those in need.

They donate bedding to Grace House, Religious Community Services' emergency shelter for at-risk families, and serve Thanksgiving meals to homeless people at Pinellas Hope.

But their hearts are with the food bank.

"The first time I came I gave an apple to a little boy and he wasn't sure what it was and that just broke my heart,'' Amy Maguire said.

Maguire and her two daughters volunteer at the food bank every other Thursday, filling boxes with cans of vegetables, fruit cocktail, meat and beans.

On Thursday, the girls also had gifts to hand out. They gave a soccer ball and a finger puppet to a little blond girl who was sitting in her mother's lap waiting for something to eat. A smile formed on the tot's lips and her eyes grew wide as she looked at her early Christmas presents and began to play with them.

Driving home from the food bank to Belleair with its graceful waterfront homes, Megan thought about what she had seen.

"We are so blessed,'' she told her mom.

Both she and her sister still believe in Santa, their mom said, and each has requested three gifts from him. But they also believe he needs help to make wishes come true.

Molly, who is learning from her sister, wanted to help him.

As the holidays approached, she took her pink and purple bike to give to a little kid who quite possibly had never owned one before in her life.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

A 7-year-old collected $131, but gave it all away 12/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 22, 2008 1:59pm]

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