Canaan Community Academy first-grader Damon Hardon grabs a box of food from sixth-grade teacher Patric Morrison as students prepared to deliver food they collected to the Clearinghouse of Jefferson County food pantry. Students donated 2,073 items. Parian Hull, executive administrative assistant at the school, who organized the food drive for the school, said Clearinghouse employees told her it was the most food donated to the food pantry at one time. “They told us we took the first-place prize,” Hull said. First- and sixth-grade students tied for the most cans donated during the food drive. (Staff photo by Steve Dickerson/sdickerson@madisoncourier.com
Canaan Community Academy first-grader Damon Hardon grabs a box of food from sixth-grade teacher Patric Morrison as students prepared to deliver food they collected to the Clearinghouse of Jefferson County food pantry. Students donated 2,073 items. Parian Hull, executive administrative assistant at the school, who organized the food drive for the school, said Clearinghouse employees told her it was the most food donated to the food pantry at one time. “They told us we took the first-place prize,” Hull said. First- and sixth-grade students tied for the most cans donated during the food drive. (Staff photo by Steve Dickerson/sdickerson@madisoncourier.com
Jaylin Lee, 9, and her family received a national award Friday at E.O. Muncie Elementary School for their local annual canned food drive.

Jaylin, who had the idea for the program, accepted the Daily Point of Light Award with her two sisters, Jayme, 8, and Jayda, 6, and parents, Lindsy and James Lee.

The Daily Point of Light, which is sponsored by Disney, has been awarded to more than 5,000 people. President George H. W. Bush helped launch the program more than 20 years ago.

Jaylin's fourth-grade classmates were in the audience as the family was presented with the recognition. Jaylin told her peers when she was 5 - she'll soon turn 10 - she had the idea for the program but didn't think she was old enough to help.

"I thought I was too small, and my mom said I wasn't too small, and that you can do anything if you put your mind to it," she said.

To lend a hand, the family developed the One Can Make a Difference canned food drive five years ago in coordination with the local Salvation Army.

"So, every can that you give goes to a family that needs food. So, it's very helpful to give your time and effort," Jaylin said.

The Lees started the program by asking their neighbors for donations after hearing about a need in the community. They gathered more than 300 items just from posting notices on doors and in mailboxes.

Now several area schools, businesses and countless residents support the food drive. At E.O. Muncie, the school collected more than 1,400 cans this year, which doubles last year's contribution.

Jaylin and her family will be the nation's designated Daily Point of Light recipients for Wednesday, Nov. 27.

E.O. Muncie Principal Leslie May nominated Jaylin and the family for the award. This year, May said the school is focusing on service learning and community involvement, adding that Jaylin's efforts help drive home that message.

"We encourage all of you," May told her students. "Fourth grade is such a wonderful age to start thinking about ways that you can do things for your own community."