BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — A 9-year-old birthday boy planned his own party, but it involved giving gifts of food and necessities to the Pettengill House, not accepting presents and eating cake.
Donovan Landry, a third-grader at the Bresnahan School, was looking forward to his birthday; but weeks ago he started telling his parents, Nicole and Sean Landry of 30 Oakland St., that he didn’t want gifts for himself.
“He said he had enough,” said Nicole Landry. “He wanted to be able to give to those served by the Pettengill House, which he knew from food drives at school.”
Donovan did have a birthday observance Sunday, but what family members mostly saw was a dining-room table filled with cans and boxes waiting to be delivered.
“We had more than 200 items,” said Landry. “About half were canned fruits and veggies, and we had boxes of pasta and cereal.
“Most of the donations came from family and friends, and it really added up. Donovan got a few special gifts from us, but this was really a case of him asking for items that he could contribute to others.”
His great-grandfather, Jim McGuire, took note of the child’s generosity and encouraged family members to give Donovan what he wanted — items that others could use.
“He didn’t want anything for himself, he just wanted to help other people,” said McGuire, who lives around the corner from the Landrys.
“It’s rare that a youngster does this, and we’re very proud of him,” said Marjorie McGuire, his great-grandmother. They contributed soup, toothpaste and toilet tissue to the cause.
The Pettengill House, Inc. was founded about two decades ago by residents and agency representatives to address the needs of at-risk children and families.
Organization officials say they provide a system of care to support at-risk individuals, children and families through education and therapeutic interventions.
One of its key concerns is the attention to human needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health and safety.
Donovan helped in this regard yesterday.
Reached while playing in his yard, Donovan explained, “One night I was in the house and I saw some food being dumped out, and my mother said it was too bad because some people don’t have enough to eat.
“I decided to donate food so there is enough food for people. I was very happy with the amount of things we collected and were able to give.”