This time of year, as children across the land take out a clean sheet of paper and dust off their best handwriting to write down their biggest holiday wishes, it’s not often that a frozen turkey makes the list. Much less 100 frozen turkeys.
But that’s exactly what 9-year-old Reese Grandelli of Mooresville asked of her friends and neighbors this year.
Since we have COVID-19, the FeedNC food pantry in Mooresville “needs our help more than ever,” she wrote.
The FeedNC food pantry at 275 Broad St. in Mooresville serves hundreds of families in the Lake Norman region.
This is not the first time the Mooresville girl put her effort behind helping her community. Two years ago, she donated 35 turkeys and a few hams, which started a family conversation about why we give, explained her mother, Nicole Grandelli.
Last year, her donations rose to 68 turkeys, along with some side dishes, like gravy and stuffing.
“After her donation, our neighbor said that we need to keep him in the loop as his company has a match program,” Grandelli said.
“Reese this year started reading about Feed NC and really understanding the need of our area and what COVID was doing to people,” her mother said. “We went into the city to meet family friends, and she saw a tent city. We started talking about the need of people and what Feed NC was about, which drove her to ask more people this year.”
With the increased need brought on by the coronavirus pandemic in mind, Reese upped her goal of collecting enough money to buy 100 turkeys, which would then be doubled by her neighbor’s generous offer of matching her efforts. She raised $1,250 and then went shopping, lugging into grocery carts 107 turkeys, 35 hams, 48 cans of cranberries and 48 boxes of stuffing.
“The Food Lion on Shearers Road waived their limit and the neighborhood Walmart allowed for her to buy at the sale price and to clear out their stock. It truly takes a village,” Grandelli said.
Her neighbor matched her work with a $1,000 donation to the food pantry.
“She is just a different soul,” her mother said. “As we were collecting, people would give looks, ask where the party was, or ‘are you going to buy the place out?’ Every time her answer was, ‘It’s for the soup kitchen. They need turkeys. Are you giving?’ As we were checking out, there were a lot of people looking at us, and she said, ‘It’s OK mom, the more people we tell the more people will give.’ She is already planning for next year, and her giving has inspired her little brothers to start collecting for blessing bags,” she said.
“I hope that her story will encourage others to give,” Grandelli said.
In North Carolina, about 14 percent of residents were considered food insecure in 2018, according to data compiled by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. Due to the pandemic, however, that number is expected to climb to 19.3 percent by the end of 2020.
The FeedNC Pantry Program in Mooresville helps families stretch their food dollars.
“According to the USDA, it costs between $140 and $280 to feed a family of four each week. The pantry at FeedNC provides its members with $150 to $200 in supplemental groceries and essentials every week,” the organization said.
© Provided by Patch Courtesy of Nicole Grandelli Between Nov. 16 and Nov. 20, the pantry served 261 children, 430 adults, and 129 seniors. The pantry is set up like a small grocery store, which allows its guests to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods, and packaged, frozen and dairy items.
The pantry said it has approved more than 900 applications for families in need. “Many of our pantry members’ report that the money they save weekly allows them to afford other essential expenses such as child care costs, rent, utilities, medical bills, medications and transportation costs,” FeedNC said.
Melanie Dunston, a mediator with Mecklenburg County courts, said she recently found herself in need of food.
“It seems simple but that was a staple, that was a big thing lacking in my home and I couldn’t get around it,” she said. “Not only could I not get around it, I couldn’t get food stamps,” she said.