Union County sisters collect over 6,000 pounds of food for local pantries
For some, Super Bowl weekend was a time to shop for party refreshments and sports paraphernalia, but for Kelli and Micah Fagala, it was an opportunity to feed the hungry.
Kelli, 12, and Micah, 11, partnered with Move For Hunger on Saturday for a SOUPer Bowl Food Drive. The kids collected more than 6,080 pounds of nonperishable food items at the Harris Teeter in the Monroe Union Square shopping center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This amount exceeded the goal of 5,400 pounds and set a new national record for Move For Hunger.
Inspiration for the food drive came from a Move For Hunger clip the sisters saw on television. Kelli e-mailed founder Adam Levine shortly after learning about Move For Hunger. The two agreed that a food drive would serve the needs of the community and reflect the views of Move For Hunger.
The Fagalas, along with the food pantry at their church, Benton Heights Presbyterian, entered into a quadruple partnership with the Union County Community Shelter, the Lee Park Baptist Church pantry and the Hopewell Baptist Church pantry. The food was distributed among the four organizations and will serve the needs of their clients.
The Union Square Harris Teeter was chosen as the venue for the food drive due to its central location in a high-traffic area. Because the store actively seeks ways to help the community, officials quickly agreed to help.
“Harris Teeter’s number one priority is always hunger relief,” Danna Jones, communication specialist for Harris Teeter, said. “We’re happy to lend our facilities.”
Kelli and Micah, along with volunteers from the other organizations, stood at the entrances to the store, passing out flyers with a list of items needed and collecting donations as people exited. The items, which included canned vegetables, soup, pasta and rice, were placed in boxes, and once the boxes were full, they were taken across the parking lot and loaded onto a truck, lent by Berger Transfer & Storage. Part of the goal for the SOUPer Bowl food drive was to “fill a truck” full of food.
The project is part of an ongoing effort led by the Fagala sisters to reach out to the community. In November 2010, Kelli volunteered at a homeless shelter as part of a 5th grade service project her father, John, required. Upon visiting the shelter and seeing the need in the community, Kelli developed a desire to reach out to this particular population.
“I just remember going to the shelter and learning about everyone’s stories there,” Kelli said. “It was just figuring out that life’s not all about money. It’s about people around you and helping the less fortunate.”
Kelli has since then made it her goal to eventually raise enough money to open the first family shelter in Union County.
Following in her sister’s footsteps, Micah decided to gear her own service project toward the hungry in the community. She opened a food pantry at the family’s church, Benton Heights Presbyterian, in September. The pantry began by serving 14 people and now brings food to over 50 families.
Micah was surprised to discover such a need in the Unionville area, which is the main community her food pantry serves. “At first, my goal was 35 (people), but we exceeded that goal really fast,” Micah said. “There are families coming back each month, so we know there’s a need for it.”
Kelli and Micah hope to make the food drive an annual event held the Saturday before the Super Bowl. In the meantime, the sisters continue to look for new ways to better serve the community through their endeavors. “Times are hard,” Kelli said. “(We hope) that we will see less people on the streets and that they can get back on their feet.”