Student aims to make a difference at soup kitchen

Most motorists breeze past the people who stand with signs asking for help at the Interstate 77 Exit 33 northbound ramp onto Williamson Road each day.

Stephen Daspit, a 10th-grader at Mount Mourne IB Candidate School, felt compelled to find out more about the plight of the less fortunate in his community.

Stephen, 15, has visited the Mooresville Soup Kitchen seven times in recent months. He's worked beside volunteers sorting food donations and talked with people receiving meals.

Now he has launched a project called "One Can ... One Person ... Big Difference," an effort to collect 10,000 cans of food for the kitchen.

He's created a website for financial donations ( and a special e-mail address for people to contact him (

Mooresville-based Lowe's Companies Inc. gave him four 4-foot-wide Rubbermaid bins. He plans to place them at local businesses a week at a time to collect canned foods.

Mayor Chris Montgomery and the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce are helping him spread the word.

The chamber, at 149 E. Iredell Ave., also will be a collection site for the drive, said Sylvia Spury, the chamber's community development manager.

Explaining how he came up with the idea, Stephen said, "I saw the people at Exit 33 and wanted to go to the soup kitchen to help the community."

Stephen lives in the Harbor Cove community off Williamson Road with his parents, Paul and Kelley Daspit, and his sister, Jordan, 14, a Mount Mourne IB ninth-grader.

Stephen also started an American Cancer Society Relay for Life team at the school in honor of his grandmother who died of cancer three years ago. He and his sister led the team in the annual benefit at Mooresville High School's stadium.

He also plays recreational baseball and hopes to play centerfield or third base at South Iredell High in 11th grade.

Right now, however, his focus is the canned goods drive, which he hopes to complete by April.

"During these bad economic times, many people are desperate for a hot, tasty meal," Stephen says on his website. "By donating to One Can ...One Person ... Big Difference, the people of Mooresville who come through the line at the Mooresville Soup Kitchen are served a delicious meal!"