The United Way of Bucks County was about $24,000 short of its $85,000 goal, which will allow it to package 150,000 meals for local food pantries and senior centers. On June 21, hundreds of volunteers will pack those meals for delivery.
When local nonprofit United Way of Bucks County established Bucks Knocks Out Hunger seven years ago, it was with the intent of raising over $35,000 to provide food assistance to those in need.
The most cost-effective way of providing healthy, shelf-stable meals was to engage volunteers to pack them.
This year, Bucks Knocks Out Hunger aims to raise at least $85,000 — and will engage 700 volunteers in the fight against hunger. Beginning Friday, volunteers will make over 150,000 meals to be distributed through local food pantries and senior centers.
Organizers say that what started as an efficient and inexpensive way to make meals has evolved into a volunteer event that engenders incredible loyalty and community support.
Among those loyal supporters are many area businesses, who not only support the program financially, but who also send volunteers to pack meals at the event.
Todd Hurley, executive vice president and chief relationship officer of Penn Community bank said, “Penn Community Bank team members understand the importance of a nutritious meal. Participating in Bucks County Knocks Out Hunger is a tangible way to provide needed nutrition to members of our community.”
Mary Love, of Newtown, has volunteered for many years. Initially she participated as a community member, but she has since joined Penn Community Bank, where she now serves as the insurance controller.
Beyond the business community, faith-based groups and nonprofit organizations have been mainstays of Bucks Knocks Out Hunger.
Hundreds of individuals and families participate as well. Maureen Russell, of Levittown, a retired trust officer, has been volunteering since the very first BKO Hunger and has even recruited family members to participate.
“It’s such a fun event. You sing along with the DJ while you’re packaging meals for people in need in your own backyard. It’s such a fulfilling experience — you’ll want to come back again.”
“We are so grateful to all of our supporters,” said Marissa Christie, president and CEO of United Way of Bucks County. “Businesses and groups are such a big part of BKO Hunger, but believe it or not, more than two-thirds of the money we raise comes from individuals in our community. The average gift is about $105. I think that’s one of the things that makes this project so special. It’s businesses, faith-based groups, parents, grandparents, kids — it’s everyone coming together to make a difference.”
Bucks Knocks Out Hunger still needs to raise $24,000 to meet the goal of $85,000. Donations are accepted online at www.uwbucks.org/bkohunger and through coin canisters in businesses throughout the county (a list of locations is available at the website). Contributions also may be made at branches of Penn Community Bank or by mailing a check (note BKO Hunger on the memo line) to United Way, 413 Hood Blvd., Fairless Hills, PA 19030.