Max Molinari is her son Tripp’s best friend. The Eagle Pointe Elementary student has taken 11-year-old Tripp, who has autism, under his wing.
“Max has been in his class since first grade,” Wood said. The two boys have playdates, drawing smiley faces together and playing Angry Birds and Minecraft.
Wood said Max also looks out for Tripp at school and was concerned when, for the first time this year, they weren’t in the same class together. “He was so concerned about it that the day before school started, he made his mom call me and make sure Tripp was going to be OK."
So when Tripp found out about his friend’s unique birthday wish, he sprang into action. For Max’s 11th birthday, he decided he didn’t want gifts for himself, but food to help feed others.
“Tripp made him a little card and put together a little bag of groceries, and then he goes, ‘Not enough,’” Wood said. She agreed — and took to Facebook to try to collect more donations, which Max decided to donate to District 202’s Creekside Cares program
Launched by PE teacher Jeff Peterson, Creekside Cares provides District 202 students in need with a backpack filled with nutritious foods. Each Friday, the backpack is refilled, to ensure that students will have healthy food to eat when they are not in school.
Late Sunday night, Wood put a message on Facebook asking friends and family to help.
“It blew up, in a good way,” she said. “By the time I woke up, I had messages with donations over $500.”
That continued to grow, and by the time Tripp and his 7 siblings delivered the donations Wednesday night, the tally included 14 bags of groceries.
Fifth-grader Max, who turned 11 on Sept. 10, was surprised to see Tripp, his family and a news crew show up at his house Wednesday night.
“This is so cool,” Max said, opening the card Tripp had made for him. Enclosed was a check for more than $1,500, which will go directly to Creekside Cares.
Max’s mom, Jayme Molinari, said her son’s generosity isn’t out of character.
“He’s always been a kind, caring kid,” she said. “I am just so proud of him. Just the little act of kindness, and it’s now doubled.”
Click on the video to see what Max and Tripp have to say about their friendship — and giving back to others