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Carleton Place, Ont. girl using 13th birthday to donate to Lanark County Food Bank

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Lila Graham turns 13 on March 1 and she only wants one thing for her birthday.

"I want food for my birthday," she said.

Since turning four, the soon to be teenager from Carleton Place, Ont. has been using her birthday to collect donations for the Lanark County Food Bank, also known as, The Hunger Stop.

"For the food bank, we want to donate instead of getting gifts for myself," Lila tells CTV News.

The reason she started donating on her birthday is one you will likely not hear from many other kids – she thought she was getting too many presents.

"Just from things I don't need, and some people need other stuff," she said. "So we thought that it was important to give back."

"We have a huge family and her birthday is so close to Christmas," explains Lila's mother Christie Graham.

"She was getting clothes she didn't have time to wear before she outgrew them and toys she didn't play with, and so we wanted to use her powers for good."

And do good, she has.

"In total, I think it's 1,704 pounds of food and $1,015 donated," Lila said.

Now coming up on her 13th birthday and tenth year donating, Lila is looking to double her lifetime contributions in this year alone.

At the Lanark County Food Bank, 1,700 pounds of food can go a long way.

"That's enough food for about 1,400 meals," said Karen Lomas, chair of the board at the food bank.

"It's wonderful," she said of Lila's yearly donation. "She's become an influencer (within the community) and she's just a lovely person."

Lomas says last month, The Hunger Stop saw 1,400 users come through its doors, double a regular month's total.

"With the number of people that are coming now, it'll go fairly quickly," Lomas said of Lila's donations. "But it's helped so much."

Lila plans to collect donations at her birthday party on March 2 at 219 Blair Street in Carleton Place.

"I didn't think we'd get this much," said Lila. "But it's so exciting to think about how many people we've helped just by this little thing that we do every year."

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