Everyday Hero: Teenager focuses efforts on helping others

By Bill Murphy, Everyday Hero Host
Last Updated: Monday, December 19, 2016, 9:16 AM EST

For 15-year-old Jared Thayer, it began with a New Year resolution -- made when he was 12.

  • Jared Thayer created Project Sunshine
  • Effort focuses on the hungry in Riverview area

"Instead of losing five pounds and then gaining it right back after, I decided I wanted to do something different," Thayer said. "I wanted to do something for the community."

And with that pledge he created Project Sunshine focusing on the plight of the hungry in the Riverview area.

"I go to schools and local businesses around the area.  I ask them, 'Hey, can you have a food drive for us?' And then they collect the food. We pick it up, we count it, we sort it and we give it to a local food pantry," Thayer said.

With the help of mom and dad, Jared has made a difference starting from the get-go.

"My very first year my goal was 520 items. By the end of the year, I had 10,000 items," Thayer said.

Last year that number rose to 11,000 cans and other food items and this year he will pass the 12,000 mark.

And some have taken time to recognize his efforts.

"So is this a fan latter? I guess you could call it that," Thayer said. "President Barack Obama has a volunteer service award that he does every year.  He just sent it to me for doing Project Sunshine."

In his garage, Jared keeps another stash of food: emergency food for families who suffer a fire or need food as quickly as possible.

All the work of a remarkable and compassionate young man who made that New Year resolution remembering the words of his hero Walt Disney, who said, "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

Jared Thayer has definitely begun.