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He asked Santa to help people in need. Now he’s collected more than 400 pounds of food for his Christmas wish.
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David Waldrip, a second grader at Black’s Mill Elementary School, donates canned food items to the Ric Rack food bank in Dawsonville as part of his Christmas wish this year. Waldrip has already collected more than 400 pounds of food that will help provide food for over 200 families in Dawson County. - photo by Jessica Taylor
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David Waldrip, 8, poses with Ric Rack Food Bank Manager Candy Nonnemacher with the food he has collected as part of his Christmas wish to help people in need. - photo by Jessica Taylor

While other boys and girls were asking Santa Claus for the latest toys, one little boy surprised his family and friends. 

Perched on top of Santa’s lap, eight-year-old David Waldrip told Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick “I would love to help people in need.”

David decided that during the month of December, he wanted to collect food items to donate to the Ric Rack food bank to help people in Dawson County have food for Christmas. 

“This was totally independent of anything of us. He told Santa,” David’s mother Jennifer Watson, said. “David’s a really special kid.”

After learning of David’s special Christmas wish, Watson worked to spread the word in the family’s neighborhood, Chestatee, as well as with family and friends who wanted to help fulfill David’s wish.

“We put in an announcement out to our neighbors and we put a bin outside beside our mailbox, and every day we’d come and there’d be new donations,” Watson said. 

The second grader at Black’s Mill Elementary School also received support from his school’s administration to collect items from his peers. 

By Friday, Dec. 13, it was time to load up the family minivan and donate what David had collected so far to Ric Rack, a local food bank that serves between 250 and 260 families, nearly 600 individuals, every month. 

The minivan weighed down with food felt like they were pulling “Santa’s sleigh,” David said. 

Bag after bag and box after box, David and Watson brought in what seemed to be a never-ending supply of donations ranging from canned vegetables and meats to pastas to baby foods.

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David Waldrip, 8, and his mother, Jennifer Watson, donate food items to the Ric Rack food bank in downtown Dawsonville on Dec. 13. It was Waldrip’s Christmas wish to help people in his community by collecting food items in his neighborhood and school. - photo by Jessica Taylor

“I’m very proud of David,” Watson said. “David has always had a very kind heart and he’s exceptional. He thinks about others more than himself so when he told me that that was his Christmas wish I was very proud of him.”

It’s the first time David has collected donations, but as he helped arrange items on the table he said he wants to do it again next year. 

Candy Nonnemacher, manager of the food bank, happily began weighing the bags of food to see just how many pounds of food David collected in just a few short weeks. 

“414 (pounds)! Wow!” David exclaimed. “Man, this is a lot for a boy that had this Christmas wish.”

“We’re always looking for donations. Lately our shelves have been running pretty low,” Nonnemacher said. “It’s going to be a big help to the people out there that need food.”

It was the largest donation Nonnemacher can recall coming from a single individual.

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Ric Rack food bank manager Candy Nonnemacher begins weighing donated food items on Dec. 13. Over 400 pounds of food were donated by local 8-year-old David Waldrip who told Santa Claus his Christmas wish this year was to help people in need by collecting food for the food bank. - photo by Jessica Taylor

“It means a lot to us because our shelves are actually kind of bear again,” Nonnemacher said. “Without these donations we really can’t serve like we would like to.”

But David isn’t done yet. His family plans to collect donations until Dec. 20 with bins inside Chestatee and Black’s Mill Elementary. Anyone who wants to donate to Ric Rack directly to help can donate to the food bank under the codename “David’s Christmas Wish.”

The Ric Rack food bank is located at 829 Hwy. 9 N in Dawsonville and is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information on how and what to donate, call the food bank at (706) 265-1045. 

The food bank is also always looking for volunteers to help lend a hand, something David plans to do in his spare time. 

“I’ll volunteer… I’d love to volunteer here, but I do want to be an art teacher,” David said.

“You can still be an art teacher and volunteer here,” Watson said, smiling.

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David Waldrip, a second grader at Black’s Mill Elementary School, donates canned food items to the Ric Rack food bank in Dawsonville on Dec. 13 as part of his Christmas wish this year. He is collecting donations until Dec. 20. - photo by Jessica Taylor