Diminutive 10-year-old girl inspires others to give and serve in a big way

West Point girl to receive Catholic Community Services of Utah's 'Unsung Hero' award

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 23 2013 6:10 p.m. MDT

While it’s fun to rub elbows with people who can readily contribute financially to her drives or fundraising efforts, she relishes the personal contacts with people she serves, her mother said.

After an effort to raise funds and in-kind contributions for more than 600 school-supply backpacks, she received the added gift of being able to distribute them to children in need.

“I just like to see the smile on people’s faces,” Armani said.

The reaction of one little girl has stuck with her, she said. “When I gave her the backpack, she had a big smile on her face and she put it on her back and she danced around. It was like Christmas morning for her.”

Armani finds small ways to give, too. She’s made small bags to give to people she sees on the street. Each bag has a bottle of water, a pair of socks, gloves, a miniature Bible and a few Bible passages.

She keeps the bags in her mother’s car and when she sees someone whom she believes needs a pick-me-up, she’ll tell her mother, “Let’s stop and give them a bag.”

Most people are grateful, “or at least they act that way,” McFarland said.

And Armani? “She’s beaming. She’s on cloud nine.”

Through giving and serving, Armani has learned a lot about needs near and far. Instead of Christmas gifts, she asks her parents to make contributions in her name to World Vision, which aids children and families worldwide.

"I have everything I need or want. Some people don't have a house or food on the table or a bed to sleep in," she said.

Valdez said Armani is wise beyond her years when it comes to understanding the power of service.

“It doesn’t take a million-dollar check. It takes moments of caring and recognizing there’s a need and knowing we can make a difference,” she said.

At Catholic Community Services' food bank, the needs are ongoing and growing. Prior to the economic downturn, needy people viewed food pantries as a source of emergency food, Valdez said.

“Any more, our families living in poverty look to us as part of their monthly food budget. They wouldn’t get to the end of the month without the additional support they received from us.”

Catholic Community Services is able to help because of the generosity of the people in northern Utah, she said.

“It’s amazing to me we serve 2,300 households every month and they receive a full shopping cart of food. We give away 200,000 pounds of food every month and we never run out of food. That’s because of people like Armani who care and continue to support our mission."

Other honorees

Catholic Community Services of Utah's annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner recognizes people who work to make a difference in the lives of people in need. This year’s honorees also include:

• Frank and Barbara Layden

• The presiding bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

• The University of Utah’s Lowell Bennion Community Service Center

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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