LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There is still so much good out there, no matter how hard times may be.

A little boy used his birthday as a chance to do some good and rally his community behind him.

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Emilio Flores was preparing to celebrate his eighth birthday in quarantine. That’s not an ideal celebration for any child, but the Lyndhurst boy took the hand he was dealt, and decided to pay it forward.

“A few days ago before my birthday, I heard my mom and dad talking about donating to a food bank. So I thought why couldn’t I make one?” Emilio said.

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So he wrote a letter to his parents and neighbors, explaining that instead of receiving gifts he wanted to spend his birthday, April 21, on his driveway collecting food donations.

“When he gave us the letter, we made photocopies and went up and down the block with my husband and my daughter and Emilio hand-delivering all the letters,” Mayra Flores said.

Between word of mouth and social media, the donations, plus a couple of balloons and birthday cards, started pouring in.

“The mayor came. The police came,” Emilio said. “I feel great knowing that I helped so many people.”

Emilio collected more than 4,000 food items in one day. The donations will go to local food banks in Lyndhurst and Harrison.

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“We’re doing good, so it’s amazing he thought of others, and he’s willing to help others in a time of need,” Mayra said.

No birthday spent in quarantine is a typical one, but Emilio’s big heart made his big day even more unique.

“How did you plan on spending your birthday?” asked CBS2’s Nina Kapur.

“I planned on going to Six Flags, either Six Flags or Busch Gardens, just to have a fun day,” Emilio said.

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“And how did this compare?” Kapur asked.

“Way better!” Emilio said.

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You can’t quite put the goodness of child’s heart into words, but you can definitely feel it.