Bunker Hill Elementary School first-grader Lindsey McDonald recently completed her third-annual charity drive by donating nearly 250 canned goods and non-perishable items to Our Daily Bread food pantry in Middletown.

Lindsey McDonald often prays for the homeless.

But at just 6 years old, the first grader at Bunker Hill Elementary already knows that prayer alone is not going to help those in need.

That’s why, each spring, she’s taken it upon herself to collect canned goods and other non-perishable goods for donation to local charities.

Last week, Lindsey completed her first collection drive in Middletown, which turned out to be her most successful to date.

“I’ve got cans of fruits and vegetables, cups and napkins, pasta, crackers, stuffing and other stuff my friends, family and neighbors helped me out with,” Lindsey said as she dropped off nearly 250 items to Our Daily Bread Food Pantry on Thursday.

Lindsey, her parents and her two brothers recently moved to the St. Anne’s neighborhood from Chester County, Pa., where she started her annual food drive at the tender age of 4, according to her mother Elisa.

“My parents give her money when they see her and she puts it into her little piggybank,” Elisa said. “One day she was sitting at the table while I was washing dishes and she said, “Mom, I know what I want to do with my money. I want to buy cans of food for the homeless.’ I just had tears in my eyes, because you can tell your children about helping those in need, but she actually understood.”

It was in that moment Lindsey’s now annual donation drive, called Give A Helping Hand With A Can, was born.

In the past, Lindsey donated items to a local food bank. But after relocating to Middletown this year, Elisa began volunteering with Our Daily Bread, a nearly 2-year-old food pantry that serves hot lunches twice a month at Dale United Methodist Church on East Lake Street.

“We decided to give our donations to the food pantry before she started collecting items in March, but we weren’t sure whether she was going to get a much because we didn’t really know a lot of people in the area,” Elisa said. “But what we discovered is that Middletown has the most giving people you can imagine. We were really surprised by how much support we got.”

Lindsey said she quickly surpassed her goal of hundred items simply by going door-to-door in her neighborhood and enlisting the help of her friends at M.O.T. All-Stars Cheerleading and Tumbling.

“It just feels good,” the aspiring teacher said when asked why she’s so generous with her time and efforts. “And people in need, they need our help, so I do it.”

Most of the food served by Our Daily Bread is donated and then prepared on site by volunteers, said Jan Faust, one of four board members who help oversee the nonprofit. “Donations like this from the community are essential for our organization to fulfill its mission of feeding nutritious meals to those in need,” she said. “I think Lindsey’s mother has set a great example and she’s following that. Her sense of community and empathy are really an inspiration to us all.”