Karinya Glackler-Riquelme recently led a team in making a practice food sculpture at Feeding our Community Partners. She is spearheading a new fundraiser with the goal of helping feed children.

MANKATO — A Mankato 11-year-old is getting an even earlier start than her big sister organizing events helping people in need.

Karinya Glackler-Riquelme is planning a food sculpture competition in November to support Feeding Our Community Partners’ BackPack Food Program and Weekend Summer Feeding Program.

The Bridges Community School fifth-grader is challenging teams to build a work of art using the same types of food that are sent home with 1,200 students.

Karinya is asking each team to donate $450 — the cost for Feeding Our Community Partners to feed one child each weekend and school break for a year.

Spectators also will raise funds by paying to cast votes for their favorite sculptures.

Karinya said she decided to fundraise for Feeding Our Community Partners because she has witnessed benefiting from its programs and realized that “hunger is an issue in our community.”

Feeding Our Community Partners Executive Director Sheri Sander-Silva said she had been very impressed by Karinya’s leadership skills and her drive to help people.

“She really wants to engage in creating some positive social change,” Sander-Silva said. “Her passion is very evident and authentic.”

Karinya said her family taught her “girls can do anything” and she was inspired by her big sister to start a charitable event.

Sister Sesamae Glackler-Riquelme started Santa’s Little Helpers when she was 13 years old.

For six years the annual holiday event allowed children to pick out donated gifts for their adult loved ones. Community members donated gifts, and children were invited to come select gifts at no cost.

The event grew so large that Sesamae turned over organizing duties to Open Door Health Center in 2017.

Open Door will not host the event this year. No other organization has come forward to take it over, and the Glackler-Riquelme clan has decided to concentrate on Karinya’s new fundraiser.

Sesamae, now 19, little sister Isaluna, 9, mom, Marisel, and other family members and Feeding Our Community Partners are helping plan the event, but they emphasize that Karinya is in charge.

The young philanthropist is calling her event Sculptures Helping A lot of Pupils Eat, or SHAPE.

There is enough room for up to 12 teams of six to compete on Nov. 23 in the Feeding Our Community Partners warehouse in North Mankato. She’s requiring the teams to include at least two youths because she likes multigenerational activities in which adults and youths “get to learn from each other.”

Team members can raise money, find a sponsor or themselves donate the $450 entry fee.

Teams will get a matching assortment of fruit cups, cans of soup and other nonperishable food items that Feeding Our Community Partners sends home with students from 28 area elementary and middle schools.

Teams have three hours to transform the food into a work of art. Then the community will be invited in to judge the creations. Admission is $1 and includes one vote. Guests can purchase more votes for $1 each with no limit.

Karinya is aiming to raise $10,000 next month and make SHAPE an annual event.

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