By Caitlin Custer, Donor Outreach Coordinator
When Donna Whiting and her family moved to Wood Creek several years ago, they had no idea that their new neighborhood would come with a new family tradition. Shortly after they settled in, a newsletter arrived at their home. It contained articles and information about their new community – including a story about graduating high school student Mike Klabe and his annual Thanksgiving food drive. Each year Mike would host a community food drive and donate the items to the Food Bank. After several years of participation, he was about to graduate and move on to college and hoped that a neighbor would continue the drive. Donna reached out to the boy’s mother, thinking that the food drive would be a perfect opportunity for her son Michael, who was just entering high school at St. Elizabeth’s. “I wanted something that was good to get the kids involved in, so they could participate within our own community,” she said.
Donna and Michael worked together to start the food drive that fall and were able to secure donations of bags for each household to make it easy for their neighbors to donate. They included a letter explaining their food drive and why Michael was holding it and gave instructions on what food to donate as well as when to leave the bags outside for collection. Michael recruited his friends to help retrieve the donation bags and then the Food Bank came and picked up the entire donation.
It was a relatively easy process for Donna and her family and they have continued it ever since. “It’s been a great learning experience and is something the whole family can do together,” she said. As a project for his leadership group, Michael put together resources for others who were interested in holding food drives in their communities but were having trouble getting started. When Michael went off to college at University of Delaware, his sister, Maria, a current St. Elizabeth’s student, took over food drive duties. The whole family continues to participate; however, they have expanded the drive each year.
In 2013, Donna’s daughter Nicole and her husband Dave decided to hold their own drive in their nearby neighborhood of Meadowood. With increased participation, it became harder to get enough donation bags to deliver to all 850 households. Luckily, Hobart, the company that Dave works for, stepped in and saved the day. Their drive wrapped up in October and the communities together collected 2,162 pounds!
“It is a really great cause,” Donna explains, “I really wanted to be able to give back to the community. Over the years, seeing articles about the need for food and how you could be one paycheck away from that being you.”
Since Donna and her family took over the food drive, they’ve collected over 12,000 pounds of food. That is enough to provide over 10,000 meals to friends and neighbors experiencing hardship.
We really appreciate our donors, and are lucky to have such great partners like Donna and her family. Committed community members make it possible month after month and year after year for the Food Bank to meet the needs of those struggling to put food on the table. Hosting a food drive is simple and impacts so many lives. Visit http://www.fbd.org/food-drives/ for more information about how you can help.