Local News

16-year-old girl organizes hot meals, toiletry kits for families recovering after deadly tornado, Hurricane Isaias

Posted August 12, 2020 5:35 p.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2020 6:04 p.m. EDT

— A week after a deadly EF-3 tornado ravaged the rural community of Windsor in Bertie County, people have responded with healing hands and creature comforts. That tornado, spawned by Hurricane Isaias, killed two people and injured many others.

On Wednesday, a special delivery came from a food pantry in Mount Olive -- an act of kindness that showed making an impact has no age requirements. Home-schooled, 16-year-old Mackenzie Hinson is the visionary behind this life-changing social impact.

"Since the pandemic started, we've done over 33,000 hot meals and over 200,000 pounds of food have come out of here," said Hinson.

When she was only 10 years old, she founded this non-profit called "Making a Difference" because it bothered her that people in Wayne County were going hungry.

It bothers her, too, when bad things happen to innocent people – like a tornado.

"It felt like a gut punch, if that makes any sense, 'cause I know what it feels like to be on the other side when it feels like your whole life has been destroyed. We completely understand," she said.

Hinson herself felt the same pain and struggle when Hurricane Florence flooded her old building.

Team Rubicon, a disaster relief group, helped her recover, just as the team is now helping the people in Bertie County.

Hinson is sending them toiletry bags for their seniors, and turning plastic bags into cornucopias full of peppers, eggplant, onion, potatoes, blackberries, apples and oranges.

Stopping hunger – one meal at a time, one family at a time: This is her motto.

When she was only 12, the governor dropped in on her first and much-smaller site outside Goldsboro.

She's grown her operation and now works out of a warehouse more than 10,000 square feet in size.

"We never, ever, ever imagined it would be this big when she started," she said.

But that's how change happens and grows – one small act at a time.

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