JoAnna's joy donation

JoAnna Terry holds the check from the 2016 JoAnna’s Joy Food Drive she presented to the St. Thomas Center in Angleton. This year’s collection will be from noon to 2 p.m. at Bates Park in Angleton.

ANGLETON — For the fifth year in a row, JoAnna Terry is turning her birthday party into a gift for others.

The Angleton 9-year-old again is asking guests to drop by from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Dickey Park, 813 W. Mulberry St., with nonperishable food items or monetary donations to support her cause.

The idea developed in 2014 when JoAnna, then 4 years old, watched her parents load a large bundle of her birthday presents into their car, mother Leslie Terry said. Overwhelmed by the number of gifts, JoAnna asked if all kids received so much for their birthday, Terry said.

When her parents explained not all families are fortunate enough to afford a lot of birthday presents, the young girl decided to use her birthday to help others, her mother said.

“That’s exactly how it started,” she said. “She was sad that kids didn’t have food.”

Now, JoAnna’s Joy Food Drive is an annual tradition and it keeps growing, with the Angleton Police Department and other local organizations helping out, Terry said.

“They are all involved this year,” she said. “They are really trying to outdo each other.”

Each year, it ends up being so rewarding to witness both JoAnna and the support from those in the county, sister Amanda Holifield said.

“Year after year she sets a goal and surpasses it,” she said. “We brainstorm ideas, ask her what she wants to do and we put in a little effort and she runs with it and completely blows us all away.”

Her sister has a mission to be a blessing, answer prayers and be a helping hand to those who need it most, Holifield said.

“She truly has a heart of gold after the Lord, to serve and help others,” she said.

The food drive will continue each year as long as it remains a passion for JoAnna, Terry said.

“She’s quite a kid,” she said. “Every year she’s called us to a higher standard.”

For information about the drive, find JoAnna’s Joy Food Drive on Facebook.

Connor Behrens is a reporter at The Facts. You can contact him at 979-237-0150.

Features Writer/Reporter for The Facts in Clute, Texas. I'm a communications graduate from the University of Houston. I have written for publications such as the Washington Post and the Galveston County Daily News.

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