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Samantha gives her birthday presents to IAM

Samantha Tollitson shows off box of food she donated to IAM. Samantha Tollitson shows off box of food she donated to IAM.

Samantha Tillotson’s fourth birthday came on Feb. 18, less than two months after Christmas.

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“She still had a lot of Christmas presents, a lot of them brand new,” said her mother, Victoria Tillotson.
So mother and daughter decided that Samantha would ask her friends to bring food for the needy instead of presents to her birthday party. When the day came, the family held a party at the Edneyville fire station — where Victoria is a volunteer firefighter. About 10 of Samantha’s friends arrived with rice, canned soup, pinto beans and other goods — including a bottle of ketchup.
“Her really good friend Kenzie said Samantha was getting a very special gift because Kenzie was giving up ketchup,” Victoria said. “I guess this child eats ketchup at every meal.”
“She’s a ketchup girl!” Samantha exulted.
SamanthaVictoriaSamantha and Victoria Tollitson.Victoria drove Samantha from their home in Edneyville on Saturday morning to deliver the box of food to David Cook, the executive director of the Interfaith Assistance Ministry. Cook set the box on a scale and announced the total: 49 pounds.
“We will give it to people who are hungry and they will feel your love,” he told Samantha.
The need has been growing, Cook said. So far this year, IAM has fed 1,600 people 30,400 meals. Last year, the agency gave away the equivalent of 174,000 meals and fed 9,167 people.
“The client gets to pick what they want,” he said. “That eliminates waste. The problem with food boxes is a lot of it gets pitched because the food does not fit the dietary needs of the family.”
Victoria, a grant manager for the N.C. Forest Service, and her husband, Stephen, a ranger at Chimney Rock State Park, attend Edneyville United Methodist Church. Samantha goes to Sunday school.
Samantha was shy about describing her act of generosity.
“Tell about the prayer that you said last night at supper,” her mom coaxed.
Samantha whispered something in Victoria’s ear.
“Exactly, that one,” she says. “Take care of all the people. That’s the most important thing for Samantha. She has a lot of love. That’s her special gift from God is love. She shares it with everyone.”