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Tampa Bay area 8th grader fills backpacks with food for kids in need

Posted at 10:58 AM, Feb 17, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Zachary Hashemian does a lot of heavy lifting. Every couple of weeks he is delivering up to 70 backpacks of food to area elementary schools.

The 8th grader’s most recent deliver was to Alexander Elementary, where 91 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunch.

“I felt that it was unfair because I come from such a good family where I can afford these basic necessities, it wasn’t fair that other kids five feet away from me weren’t able to do the same,” said Hashemian.

Hashemian wanted to make sure these kids weren’t going hungry after school or on the weekends, which led to the creation of the Zach Packs Foundation.

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Alexander Elementary said the children receiving these packs look forward to every delivery.

“Them being able to open the bag and have such a variety of different things that they themselves independently can usually go ahead and open or go ahead and eat by themselves they are just very eager for that,” said school social worker Kim Messina.

Hashemian’s other inspiration is his own mom and dad.

“Both of my parents, when they immigrated to America, neither of them had enough money for a pack of bologna at the supermarket so they really had to work to get where we are today,” said Hashemian.

He is looking for donations of non-perishable items from the community so he can expand. There are a lot more schools with students in need.

“They say that they will not know when their next meal is coming or where it is coming from and it is really heartbreaking,” said Hashemian.

Right now, the foundation is being primarily funded through Zach’s saved up birthday and Christmas money.

“And I started a small dog walking thing in my neighborhood to try and raise as much money as possible,” said Hashemian.

He said he hopes he’s an inspiration to others. One small backpack can make a huge impact.

“Although I don’t get to meet these kids, I know that it is making a difference and I am happy that I am contributing a part to it,” said Hashemian.

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