While most 13-year-old boys are worried about their screen time, playing sports or improving their score on Fortnight, Robert Wealer has quite literally spent half of his young life focused on joining The Salvation Army in their mission of  "Doing The Most Good".

Since the age of 6, Robert has been collecting canned goods and monetary donations for the Hannibal Salvation Army Food Pantry. Over the last six years, Robert has collected more than 30,000 food items and raised $6,100 for the food pantry.

"They seemed like they were helping people, and I liked that the Salvation Army serves such a wide area, which is why I chose to help them," Robert said.

"Robert is an amazing young man," said Salvation Army Area Commander Major Andrew Miller. "Usually, individuals who start fundraising at as early of an age as Robert lose their interest in fundraising after a year or two but Robert and his family have kept their passion for helping others even as he is now a teenager."

As time has passed, people have become more familiar with Robert and his cause. He uses his Facebook page, Robert's Canned Food Drive, to ask for donations and to thank his generous donors for their contributions. Many of those who give are repeat donors who contribute to Robert's campaigns with food items, checks, or donations via PayPal.When asked why he thought his donors continued to give, Robert said, "I think the main reason is that they want to help people get food, and they trust me to do the right thing with their donations."

"What's truly inspirational about Robert is that the food drive was a self-initiated project. He saw a need as a young boy and wanted to do his part to help. But it wasn't just a one-and-done effort. He has made it an annual mission to collect more food and money each year," said Quincy Area Command Assistant Development Director Matt Schmidt. "He has the ability to bring an entire community together to support his efforts, and he
should be proud to know he has helped put food on the table for hundreds of families in his community over the years. With such a charitable heart, I look forward to what he will accomplish in the years to come."

When Robert asked for help in raising money for the Hannibal Salvation Army Food Pantry during the COVID-19 crisis, the community came through again.  After several weeks of fundraising, Robert presented the Family Services with a check for $2122.97 to help stock the food pantry. 

"Some people think that if people only donate a little, then it isn't worth giving, but if everybody gave a little, then it would be plenty," Robert said. "For example, if everybody in Hannibal donated one dollar, that would be a lot of money. Start somewhere and, no matter what you collect or make, it is better than what you would have if you would not have done it. From there, build up support and raise your goals."  

Donations for the Quincy Salvation Army can be sent to PO Box 75, Quincy, IL 62306. Donations for the Hannibal Salvation Army can be sent to PO Box 1203, Hannibal, MO 63401. You can also text your donation to DONATEQUINCY or DONATEHANNIBAL to 24365.