BOISE, Idaho — A Boise family is helping those in need in their neighborhood, with a novel idea. They built a small free food pantry near their home for those in need. So far, the project has been a big success! It was inspired by their young son Miles. 

Miles Herndon recently celebrated his third birthday, but he didn't have a traditional birthday party. Instead of gifts, his guests were asked to bring canned food for the food pantry.

Miles' mom, Macy Miller, says her kids' birthday parties are all about giving back. 

"Birthdays are a time of giving, and we don't need that much stuff. We don't need the amount of gifts that we get, so we were trying to find ways to direct the kindness to where it was more needed," Miller said. "This year Miles wanted to build something. So that's what we did for his third birthday."

Miles Herndon, 3 celebrated his birthday by asking for donations for his Little Free Pantry project.
Miles Herndon, 3 celebrated his birthday by asking for donations for his Little Free Pantry project.
Macy Miller

The family built a Little Free Pantry for their neighborhood with a $40 budget and using recycled materials. After picking up an old cabinet, some wood, and paint, the family went to work. Miles enjoyed building the pantry with his mom, dad and big sister Hazel. 

The pantry stands next to a community garden at 30th and Jordan streets, two blocks south of State Street in Boise, for anyone in need. 

"Take what you need, leave what you can. It's just giving. Everyone's got their times of need," Miller said.

The family keeps it stocked with canned food, baby items, and other necessities. Their neighbors also pitch in for supplies whenever they can. 

Miles Herndon, 3 helps paint his Little Free Pantry project for his birthday.
Miles Herndon, 3 helps paint his Little Free Pantry project for his birthday.
Macy Miller

"When I go grocery shopping I take 20 bucks and fill the pantry and we just do as we can. We have two other ladies that come by and fill it," she said.

The family's dentist is helping out too.

"The kids' dentist Blair Pediatrics donated hundreds of toothbrushes. So, it's not just us doing it, it's the whole community. We always try to put something fun in it, like I put water guns and color crayons in it," Miller said.

It turns out, there a was a need in their community for a free food pantry like this.

"We find near the end of the month, it's nearly always empty. It's helping people and that's great, we've never once had it taken advantage of. We just choose to trust people," she said.

Miles and his sister Hazel love the idea of giving back for their birthdays. Miller says they think it's fun, and their mom hopes they are soaking it all in.

"I hope it grows, and as they get older they will see what an impact they've made. To be kind to others and do what you can with what you have right now, whatever that is,"  Miller said.

She also hopes her family's Little Free Pantry will inspire other families to build a pantry in their own neighborhoods.  

Watch more '7's Hero'

See them all in our YouTube playlist here: