Reading, MA — What did you enjoy eating as a kid? Mac and cheese, anything cut into fun shapes, and probably sugar in one form or another. For families who find themselves needing the assistance of a food pantry, however, the offerings of these kinds of foods might be slim. It was out of this desire to serve kids in need that the Food for Kids food drive was born.
For Reading residents Amy and Rajay Sane, the idea came out of a conversation with their own children.
“It came together spontaneously. Two weekends ago, my husband, Rajay, saw a Facebook request on the Reading Community Network page collecting donations for a women’s shelter. We happened to have some leftover wipes, so we told the kids we were going to go donate them. My daughter, Layla, is five, and she didn’t quite get why we were donating. I asked her how she would feel if she didn’t have something she needed, like food. Then I told her that there were kids out there who don’t have enough food, and if we’re able to, we should donate to help them. Her response was, ‘Well, we should get them more food then!’ So we decided to start a Food for Kids food drive,” said Amy Sane.
The Sanes made a sign, put out a collection bin, and published a post on Facebook advertising the drive. They decided they would focus their drive on kid-friendly food, snacks, and personal care items: mac and cheese, pasta, pudding and fruit cups, canned vegetables, crackers, and kids’ toothbrushes. Within a few hours of putting out the donation bin, they already had a few donations.
“Our kids (Layla and Aiden (3 yrs old) ) were over the top excited. We wrote notes to our neighbors, as well as our kids’ preschool classmates, and the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.”
So overwhelming, in fact, that the family had to use their local preschool as a donation site. The family began collecting food for the drive on January 10, and they have received over 800 food donations so far and even gave her kids new ideas for food they should try out at home.
“The donations have given our kids all kinds of ideas for new snacks they’d like to try someday. So far, we’ve gotten enough donations to fill 11 moving boxes and 13 big grocery bags full. We actually counted, and we’ve gotten over 800 food donations, including 174 toothbrushes, 105 tubes of toothpaste, 141 boxes of pasta and mac & cheese, and 125 snack products. Each day, donations are continuing to trickle in, so we’ll need to go get more boxes soon. Such a great problem to have,” said Sane.
The Sanes plan to continue accepting donations until January 31 and plan to drop off all the donations to the Reading Food Pantry on February 3rd.
“If people would like to donate, they can drop off unexpired, unopened kid-friendly food or personal care items (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.) at 84 Cross St, Reading now until January 31. We have a collection bin on our front steps that they can leave it in, and we will make sure it gets to the Reading Food Pantry the first week of February,” said Sane.
Throughout the whole process, the Sanes have found themselves overwhelmed by their neighbors’ generosity and residents they have never met.
“We’ve received tons of donations from neighbors and Reading residents we don’t even know. Friends have driven from neighboring towns to drop off, and we’ve even had some monetary donations mailed to us from other states that we are buying Market Basket gift cards with,” said Sane.
As for the youngest Sanes, they have proven to be invaluable helpers.
“To keep the kids really involved with it, we have them help sort the donations for us. Both are excellent helpers and particularly like finding the kids’ toothbrushes in the donations,” said Sane.
If residents are interested in donating directly to the Reading Food Pantry, they can do so through their PayPal or mailing a check to 6 Salem Street, Reading, MA.