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11-year-old Santa Maria girl helping families in need this Thanksgiving

The American Farm Bureau Federations’ annual survey finds the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast for ten people is $48.90. That comes out to less than $5 dollars per person.

Even though the price of Thanksgiving dinner this year is the lowest we’ve seen since 2010, the festive feast still puts a strain on many families in our region.

Utilizing the power of social media and with a little help from friends, family, donations and sponsors, a Santa Maria girl has taken it upon herself to help ease that burden.

Thanks to Serena Hernandez, a woman who asked us to call her Vanity, says now, she’ll have something to eat for Thanksgiving.

“Puts faith back in the human race for somebody that young to be able to do something this amazing,” said Vanity.

It’s all fueled by the goodness of her heart.

“It just feels amazing. There’s no way to describe it, it just feels awesome,” says Serena Hernandez.

At just 11-years-old, Serena already understands how hard it can be to ask for help.

“It takes a lot of courage for them to say, I need Thanksgiving dinner,” said Serena.

The Santa Maria 6th grader embodies the true meaning of the season, blessing 16 families in need with a full Thanksgiving meal.

“It takes a village and sometimes people just need help and I think she’s learned that just from experience, just some of the things that we’ve been going through as a family,” said Serena’s Mother, Amanda Hernandez.

Amanda says Serena’s dad has been sick for along time and unable to work and that struggle has been in the back of her mind.

It all started last year, when Serena was trying to raise money for softball equipment.

“She came up with the full menu, name of the business, what she wanted to sell,” said Amanda. And just like that, Serena’s Sweet Treats was born.

“If anybody was willing to donate, she’d give them a dozen baked goods, whatever they contributed she would give them a dozen,” said Amanda.

The 11 year-old’s business model quickly evolved and now every holiday she picks a cause and gives back, donating 50% of her proceeds to local charities.

“I just thought it would be an amazing experience for me to try something new and to see if I can help families out,” said Serena.

Amanda says as long as its feasible and she has the passion, they’ll follow her lead.

“At her age, they see a lot of things that we didn’t have to see when we were growing up and for her to still be able to be kind hearted and still see good, that there’s good, that’s something that’s just in somebody,” said Amanda.

As far as Serena is concerned, she can always do more. She has already set a goal to help at least 20 families next year.

“You don’t need a lot to give them joy, they appreciate anything you can give them for a Thanksgiving dinner, it just feels amazing,” said Serena.

There’s no slowing down for this 11-year-old, Serena now has her sights set on a Christmas Toy Drive.

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