KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A teenager in Knoxville is spending his summer giving back to those suffering from food insecurity.
14-year-old William Cabaniss said he’s always had a passion for helping others.
“It’s always bothered me that someone can be truly hungry. As a young kid there would be kids in my class who just didn’t have food and it bothered me. From a young age, I would donate fresh fruit to a local food pantry, I would volunteer at a soup kitchen at grandma’s church, I would volunteer at food banks. And I just wanted to help people that don’t have food.”
Cabaniss said food banks across the country need our support now more than ever. One afternoon he was making brownies and added vanilla extract to the recipe. That’s when Cabaniss came up with an idea to help The Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.
“It hit me that I could sell vanilla extract, and donate the profits to a local food bank to help them out, and it just snowballed from there. I started researching things. I designed a website to sell product, I designed labels to put on bottles, I researched recipes, how to make labels, how to make websites, how to ship and how I should ship it. Bit by bit it all just came together and it turned into Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow, my nonprofit.”
So far, Cabaniss has raised more than $9,000 dollars in profits and received orders from 17 different states. He said that money will go a long way.
“They’re able to support my hometown of Crossville and my current residents of Knoxville. And they can structure donations farther than most people can. For every dollar you donate, they can provide three meals for people in need.”
Cabaniss said this summer would have looked different without the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would not have been able to put all this together if there was a normal summer filled with sports and activities, camps, summer homework. This would not have been possible without the quarantine and COVID-19 but also COVID-19 has raised, or grown the need for this exponentially. This is why it’s such a great support right now. ”
And he couldn’t have done this without a little help from his family.
“My mom’s the designated driver, my little sister helps with boxes and my brother helps with neighborhood deliveries. I’ve been able to get so much farther than I thought would be at this time. And I’m so thankful for all the people that have helped me get here.”
Cabaniss said you don’t have to buy a bottle of his vanilla extract to help Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow. You can just click on his website and donate. He said anything you can give will help.
If you would like to donate or learn more about William’s nonprofit, click here.