When Krista London-Verticchio asked her son Avery what he wanted for his 10th birthday coming up on Feb. 7, she was surprised at his response.
“I want to give to the food bank,” he told her.
The thing is, this conversation happened during the recording of one of London-
Verticchio’s TikTok videos. And she’s not just your average TikTok user.
The mother of three has over 561,000 followers on the social media app. On a daily basis, she shares humorous and informative posts about life in her busy family via her account, thekristalondon. To date, her posts have collected nine million likes.
She and Frank got busy collaborating on an Amazon wish list for what they are calling Frank’s Birthday Fundraiser for Newark Neighbours, Frank being Avery’s nickname. They shared it via Krista’s TikTok account, and by day four of his fundraiser this Tuesday more than 50 boxes had arrived at their Virgil home.
As the pair speaks to The Local, yet another box sits at their front door waiting to be added to what Krista calls ‘a grocery store’ that is taking shape in their home. Items include peanut butter, diapers, cookies, cereal, soups, detergent, and Pringles.
“Lots and lots of Pringles,” says Avery.
Each day since Frank’s Birthday Fundraiser began, Krista’s TikTok has featured unboxing videos. In them an excited Avery reveals the donations hidden inside the many boxes with the familiar Amazon symbol that have been arriving at their door.
He has begun Frank’s Wall of Fame, a collection of gift notes that have been included in the boxes, most of which wish him a happy birthday and commend him for his generosity to others. These notes have found a prominent spot on the wall in their home.
And the donations have been coming from around the world, from people who don’t know what Newark Neighbours is, and maybe some who wonder where that letter “u” came from.
“Avery discovered the whole food bank situation this fall,” says Krista. “His school was making a collection for the food bank because there were a lot of people in need. Since then, Avery has wanted to donate money out of his own savings account to Newark Neighbours.”
“I want to make people happy, I want everyone to get food,” says the selfless Crossroads Public School student. “Families don’t make a lot of money from their jobs.”
“And a lot of people lost their jobs because of COVID,” his mother reminds him.
London-Verticchio contacted Cindy Grant of Newark Neighbours to get a list of the most needed items at this time of year.
“Donations typically drop off after Christmas,” says Grant, Newark Neighbours board chair. “When Krista contacted me, I thought ‘oh my goodness, how awesome!’ I wrote that back to her, in fact, and said how generous, thoughtful and awesome her son is to do this.”
At the time, Grant had no real concept of the magnitude of London-Verticchio’s following on social media. When she’s told that already more than 50 boxes of donations have been sent, she is gobsmacked.
“That just sends chills up my spine,” a flabbergasted Grant tells The Local. “Oh my goodness. It’s so, so wonderful.”
“Our wish list has been emptied already so many times,” Krista says. “And it’s only the fourth day of deliveries. We’re doing this for 21 days.”
“Your mind will be blown if you see how much we already have,” Avery adds.
The plan is to visit Newark Neighbours either on or around Avery’s birthday to drop off all of the donations. But the fact that the big day is a school day presents a slight complication.
Avery is on the autism spectrum. Even though his teacher at Crossroads would surely understand and even encourage the young philanthropist to miss a day for such a noble cause, he wants to be at school.
“Avery is a rule follower to a ‘T’,” Krista says. “He needs to go to school. And that’s fine. We’ll make arrangements for maybe after school hours, or on the Sunday before his birthday. We’ll sort that out with Cindy soon.”
In the meantime, the Amazon deliveries keep on coming. Krista says there are so many boxes that arrive at the door that the delivery truck usually saves their house as the final stop on their daily rounds.
Avery’s wish list can be found at www.amazon.ca/hz/wishlist/ls/O19FFS71C33?ef_=wl_share.
“And if people don’t want to order off the wish list,” says Krista, “we encourage them to purchase an item or two at the local grocery store and drop it off directly at Newark Neighbours.”