On any given Saturday, the showroom of Reedman Toll Autoworld in Langhorne, Pa., is filled with new and used cars and plenty of customers ready to buy them. It was a much different scene April 6, as more than 100 volunteers came together to help pack 10,000 meals for children in need in the local area.
As the volunteers arrived Saturday morning, they were greeted by tables stacked with boxes filled with rice, beans and various seasonings for the pre-prepared meals. Working in groups that formed their own conveyer belts, the volunteers filled dozens of boxes with meals that will help feed the children. Within half an hour, the volunteers packed 1,000 meals. As the workers hit their stride, they hit the halfway point of 5,000 meals as Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” blared over the speakers.
By the time they were done, a structure that one of the organizers called a “monument to food” had been erected. It may have only been two hours on a sunny Spring day on the outskirts of Philadelphia, but the smiles on the faces of volunteers ranging from young children to grandparents spoke volumes about what being involved meant to everyone who took part in the event.
The dealership, which has been around for more than half a century, is no stranger to helping the local community. But dealership president Bill O'Flanagan said it was a special experience to see the room stacked with the dozens of fully loaded boxes. O'Flanagan said the two hours spent was about “trying to do a small part to make the community a little stronger.”
The Reedman Toll Auto Group employs around 400 people, which O'Flanagan said equates to around 400 families in the community, making the opportunity to give back that much more special.
“For me, it’s just showing that you can get people to help with the community rather than just waiting for government or somebody else to help,” O'Flanagan said. “Most problems are really fixable if everyone just jumps in.”
Once all the boxes were packed, it fell to Generosity Feeds, a national nonprofit, to get the food to the children in need. Mike De Selm, who has been with the organization for more than two years, said Generosity Feeds has provided more than two million meals for 155,000 children in 25 states with the help of 28,000 volunteers in less than a decade.
“Hunger is something that children don’t choose, but it’s something that has chosen them,” De Selm said. “We believe that we can empower communities and activate communities to go relationally out and engage their folks in their neighborhoods to provide a meal that fits into a child’s backpack so there’s no shame.”
Saturday’s event was held in conjunction with employees of Zurich Insurance and their families. National Business Development Manager Kingston Bowen said Saturday was a special event for everyone involved. Bowen said the 10,000 meals packed were a “small drop in a huge bucket,” and that it reinforced that there’s “a lot of need out there.”
Members of the local 215 Mopar Club also contributed to Saturday’s success.
“We know that the less fortunate than us in our communities are more important than the stuff that we can do with our cars, or the track days, or the car shows. Stuff like this means so much to everybody in our club,” Michael Gamble, the founder and president of the club, said. “These cars are great and they bring us together, but the longer you’re in our club and the longer you do the stuff that we do the less and less it’s about the cars. It’s about the people and the people we help.”
When the last box was packed, De Selm said the event was another successful day for his organization that will go a long way in helping other people in need.
“I think the beauty of organizations like Reedman Toll and Zurich coming together in one space to do these events is they don’t have to do this,” he said. “They’re missing out on business theoretically. They’re missing out on work that can be done. There are people that are giving up their day off to come in for two hours to help create meals. That speaks to the value of generosity. It speaks to the value of being invested in your community. It’s about concerned people who live in the community who want to do something bigger than themselves.”
Information about organizing similar events can be found on the Generosity Feeds website.