Christina Oyola can count on one hand the number of hours she slept during the week of March 16. But for her, the extreme fatigue felt after days of running on pure adrenaline was worth it.
The Rotary Club of Bensalem secretary, in partnership with Trifecta Sporting Club owner Cindy Proll, launched Feed the Kids – an initiative to provide meals to local students in need during the COVID-19 school closure.
Over the span of five days, Feed the Kids provided bags of food to about 3,800 area children and families at a handful of locations: Colonial Points, Bucks Meadow, Cedar Court Group, Country Commons and Top of the Ridge. Additionally, 14 boxes of groceries were hand-delivered to other residences.
“It wasn’t even supposed to be this, that’s the amazing part about it,” Oyola said.
Initially, Oyola wanted to conduct a small program on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 – the two days before the Bensalem Township School District commenced its grab-and-go breakfast and lunch offerings at each school site.
Within minutes of posting a message on Facebook to gauge people’s interest, Proll reached out to Oyola, explaining how Trifecta, located at 4668 E. Bristol Road, Feasterville-Trevose, had more than enough space to accommodate her needs.
After driving around the township for seven hours that weekend, asking businesses for donations, Oyola received an unprecedented amount of support. Countless food items were organized at Trifecta by a slew of volunteers on Sunday, March 15, and delivered to the designated locations the following day.
According to Oyola, most of the developments were chosen because of the young residents’ reliance on school lunches. Many of their parents/guardians don’t own a car, so they’d have to walk along major roads to reach one of the schools for a free meal.
By the end of Tuesday, Feed the Kids served nearly 2,000 children, all of whom Oyola said were extremely grateful.
“We were realizing that these kids really have a need,” she said. “And not one person was rude, greedy or disrespectful.”
In fact, it was quite the opposite. A number of parents cried tears of joy over being able to give their kids nourishment, while a teen attempted to return a bag to Oyola when she noticed her family was given one too many. Of course, Oyola declined the return.
“If you have a need, that’s all we care about,” she said.
All involved in Feed the Kids thought Tuesday was the final day of the project, so leftover donations were distributed to churches and homeless outreach opportunities.
However, thanks to continued food donations from area restaurants, and monetary donations from individuals through PayPal, the group’s efforts continued through Friday, March 20.
“I’m still in awe of what we were able to accomplish,” Oyola said. “It wasn’t about anything but making sure people had food in their belly.”
Oyola praised the Bensalem community for coming together for a cause with such little notice.
“The people that signed up and the people that volunteered were so amazing and so kind,” she said. “There were enough Indians and enough chiefs in this whole week of the Feed the Kids project, that it ran almost seamlessly.”
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com