Tribune-Review – Aubrey Kuhn saw news reports in the early stages of the pandemic last May and how many families were going hungry as a result.
“It made me really sad, so I wanted to do a food drive for my eighth birthday,” said the Bethel Park elementary student. “It made me so happy to help people that I wanted to do it again for my ninth.”
The family collected about $800 and 413 pounds of food last year with online donations and a bin outside their home along Grand Ridge Road.
The money went toward the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the food donations went to South Hills Interfaith Movement, a nonprofit that helps families in the Bethel Park, Baldwin-Whitehall, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair school districts and surrounding areas.
Aubrey’s mother, Kelly Kuhn, said she was not surprised when her young learner set out to help those in need.
“She’s always been such an empathetic kid,” Kuhn said. “She’s just always had a big heart. She sees something that makes her sad, she feels for other people. When I saw her reaction to the news story it was a typical Aubrey reaction, feeling bad and wanting to make it better. That’s how she’s always been.”
Aubrey turned 9 today. The support has also grown with her age.
They have collected more than $1,000 so far and stocked a basement full of food.
“It feels even better than last year because I have more food and every dollar provides five meals,” Aubrey said. “I grew really happy.”
Kelly Kuhn said the family recently had a huge collection weekend event at their home and will continue the food drive during Food Truck Fridays.
At least one food truck sets up shop outside George Washington Elementary at 515 Clifton Road from 5-8 p.m. Fridays throughout May. It is organized by the school’s parent/teacher organization.
Aubrey said the school has been very supportive of getting the word out through daily announcements and Facebook posts.
Kuhn said they learned about SHIM through the Spencer Family YMCA’s Guides and Princess program, an initiative that helps fathers and daughters make lasting memories. Aubrey and her older sister, Colleen, 10, are in the program.
“We’ve been involved with a clothing drive with SHIM, so we had known of the organization and know that it’s a really good organization here in our neighborhood,” Kuhn said.
SHIM executive director Jim Guffey said there has been an increased need for the charity’s services due to covid. Efforts such as Aubrey’s food drive provide a much-needed boost, as well as reinforce SHIM’s tagline of neighbors helping neighbors.
“People have a heart,” Guffey said. “They understand families are still struggling with the pandemic, and we’re blessed that they have a heart. What you’ve seen and what we’ve seen and experienced since the pandemic began is just the heartwarming generosity of folks really living the idea of neighbors helping neighbors.
“Everyone around this world is feeling this impact, but you can do something right here in your own neighborhoods to help those families that, for no reason of their own, have suffered significantly with the pandemic.”
Guffey said SHIM has not received its normal support due to various shutdowns and people not getting out.
“All of the places that we’ve counted on for those types of food drives – the churches, schools – those have not had in-person attendance as frequently as years gone by,” Guffey said. “Our in-kind donations of food items have certainly been affected.
“We are purchasing a far more abundance of food, and fortunately we have other supporters and neighbors in the South Hills who have supported us financially. It all works together. We’ll help anybody who needs help.”
Some of the most needed items include soup, sauce in jars, pasta, canned proteins, beans, lentils, cereal, oatmeal, spinach, diapers, personal care items, shampoo and feminine products.
More information about SHIM and how to help is available at shimcares.org.