Second grader Melissa Mendoza loves soccer, playing with friends and most things a typical 8-year old enjoys, but this little one’s spirit of giving is not so typical.
“In one sense, Melissa is a typical kid, she plays soccer, with dolls, but in a sense also likes to help people,” said Enrique Mendoza, Melissa’s father.
Melissa figured the holidays were the perfect time to tap into people’s giving spirit so she decided that her December birthday, so close to Christmas, would be the perfect time to launch “Mission Melissa.”
“Instead of getting presents for me, I requested in my invitation for my birthday party to bring canned food and clothing so I can donate,” said Mendoza.
The day before her party, she took the microphone during a Chicago Mustang’s soccer game in front of a huge audience at the grand sports arena in Hoffman Estates, to make her plea.
“I want canned food and clothing for the poor this year so they can survive this winter,” said Mendoza.
Melissa’s mother is the Director of Marketing for the Mustangs. During halftime, the two worked the crowd for donations.
“I feel so proud, the most important part here is that she can inspire other kids to do something similar,” said Margarita Mendoza.
Her drive to help others inspired the Mustangs to get on the bandwagon. The team is offering free tickets to anyone who donated to “Mission Melissa”.
“To hear an 8-year old wants to do something like that for other people is extremely heartwarming, especially during the holiday season,” said Ray Kincaid, Mustangs VP of Operations.
At Melissa’s school, St. Thomas more in Elgin, the theme has been “to be a blessing to others.” It really sunk in for her.
This isn’t Melissa’s first mission to help. Over Thanksgiving, she served dinner to the homeless and entertained with her piano. She says her inspiration to give comes from home.
“My mom and dad always inspire me because they help others in need no matter what,” said Mendoza.
“We kind of feel proud that she takes us as a role model, but it’s definitely her. We have been blessed with this little kid, as much as we want to take credit, it’s her,” said Mendoza’s father.
Melissa says the reason for her mission is simple.
“Because it’s better to give than to receive, that’s the Christmas spirit,” said Mendoza.