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Brayden Wilson

Brayden Wilson poses for a photo in his room at home.

Marilyn Halstead, The Southern

MURPHYSBORO — Ten-year-old Brayden Wilson needed a community service project for 4-H. Brayden is a member of Lads and Lassies 4-H Club and has citizenship as one of his projects. The requirements for the project include a community service component.

Brayden and his mom, Odessa, brainstormed ideas. They decided to a birthday party drive for Murphysboro Food Pantry.

“Besides collecting non-perishable food like green beans, I'm collecting birthday party items,” Brayden said.

When a family is strugging to put food on the table, they may not have money for things like birthday plates and napkins, cake mixes or frosting.

“Every child should have a neat birthday,” Brayden said.

Brayden's favorite birthday was a party at Pirate Pete's when he turned 9 or 10. It is easy to see how much he likes birthdays when he talks about his party. While Brayden is a fan of birthdays, scheduling his own party has been difficult.

“Brayden's birthday is in December, so he has a big party in July, and a regular birthday in December,” his dad, Jack, explained.

To help other children celebrate their special days, Brayden started by creating a Go Fund Me account. He and his mom did some research and found they could get a discount by from Dollar General online because Jack Wilson is a veteran.

They were able to put together 100 birthday party kits that include cake mix, frosting, plates, candles and Kool-Aid.

“We are still waiting for one shipment to come in from Dollar General,” Jack Wilson said.

Brayden also has 4-H projects in bee keeping, BB guns, archery, film making, woodworking, leadership and first aid, along with a club project in cake decorating.

The fourth grader is a Cub Scout, plays violin and is on the honor roll. Jack Wilson said his son also helps take care of his older sister, who had Down's Syndrome, and entertains his 3-year-old sister. 

Murphysboro Food Pantry is located at 906 N. 14th St. To make a donation to the pantry, call 618-684-8258 or visit



Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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