Anneliese Ballou donated her birthday money to Hungry Hearts, which provides students meals to take home for weekends and holidays. She has been named the first student ambassador for Hungry Hearts at Highland Elementary. With the foods kids get in bags on Friday on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Anneliese Ballou donated her birthday money to Hungry Hearts, which provides students meals to take home for weekends and holidays. She has been named the first student ambassador for Hungry Hearts at Highland Elementary. With the foods kids get in bags on Friday on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Lake Stevens girl wants to make sure her peers are well fed

Anneliese Ballou, 9, was named the first student ambassador by the Hungry Hearts Foundation.

LAKE STEVENS — A fourth grader at Highland Elementary wants to make certain her classmates have enough to eat.

Anneliese Ballou, 9, was named the first student ambassador by the Hungry Hearts Foundation. The nonprofit serves children in the national school lunch program. Volunteers package meals in discreet bags that students can take home over weekends and holidays.

As an ambassador, Anneliese plans to form a committee and coordinate a school-wide fundraiser in support of the foundation.

“Kids should be healthy, not hungry,” she said.

She heard about the foundation from a flier at school in 2016. That winter, she asked for donations instead of holiday gifts. She collected $900.

More recently, she participated in the nonprofit’s Hungry Hearts Bowl in August. Anneliese spent three weeks raising money and collecting food. She and her mother, Melissa Ballou, manned a table in front of a grocery store. They made posters and stickers to spread the word.

Anneliese collected more than $3,000 and 100 food donations in those weeks.

She grew up watching her mother help others. Ballou, 39, is the director of programs at the Corvias Foundation, a nonprofit that awards scholarships to family members of those who have served in the United States military.

The Ballou family believes in giving back.

They have delivered toys to Seattle Children’s Hospital every year since Anneliese was born.

The fourth grader once offered up her Barbies and dress-up clothes for a holiday bazaar. She helped families pick out gifts from her belongings.

For her seventh birthday, Anneliese asked for something that others could enjoy. The family planted a “little free library” and a bench at the end of their driveway.

Anneliese contributed Nancy Drew stories and books about horses. She has seen people peruse the collection and share books of their own.

Every year, Anneliese invites her classmates to write letters to patients at the Seattle VA hospital. She delivers the 650 cards.

She once returned to the hospital on Valentine’s Day to hand out carnations. She remembers one of the patients promising he would share the favor.

“Then we saw him pass it on to a lady who looked like she was having a bad day,” Anneliese said.

When Mother’s Day came around, the fourth grader wondered who celebrated single mothers without a home. She delivered bouquets of flowers to a house in Arlington where teen mothers can stay.

The home is owned by Cocoon House, a nonprofit that provides young people with a safe place to live.

Anneliese one day hopes to run her own nonprofit. She wants to offer a spa day to girls who are homeless.

“Sometimes you get busy and you forget to do things that are important,” Ballou said. “We’re proud parents of this girl with a giving heart.”

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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