Colonial Ridge neighbors in Gilbertsville have joined together for the past 26 years organizing an annual food drive in October.

They recently delivered this year’s collection, donating 1,751 pounds of food and $425 to Boyertown Area Multi-Service for Preston’s Pantry.

“An amazing story of the impact of one woman's passion for helping those in need. Carol Royce, knowing how blessed she and her neighbors of the Colonial Ridge community were, took it upon herself to organize a food drive. Carol would take her tiny car and drive door to door to collect her neighbor's donation,” posted the Boyertown Area Multi-Service on its Facebook page. “What started as 70 homes has now grown to over 150 homes. Carol has since moved away from Colonial Ridge, but the legacy of Carol's vision is still going strong… Thank you Colonial Ridge for your continued support! Your community is a great example of how neighbors can come together and help those who are facing difficult times.”

This year Evelyn and David Liptak, the Arnold Family, Cheryl Goodwin, and Mary Anstett, carried on the Colonial Ridge neighborhood tradition, collecting 1,751 pounds of food and raising $425 for Preston's Pantry. The donation was delivered on Oct. 24. 

“We are so grateful for the support of the Colonial Ridge community! Their organized collections have totaled 5,778.5 pounds since 2017!” said Olivia Merry, food pantry coordinator for Boyertown Area Multi-Service Inc. “Our food pantry is serving more people than ever and we rely on generous community donations to meet the need of our clients.”

In September, the pantry distributed 27,529 pounds of food.

“During COVID-19, our community has experienced unprecedented challenges including food insecurities. With the resurgence of COVID-19 this fall and winter, families will continue to struggle with these challenges making these food drives that much more important,” said Merry. “Food insecurities can be magnified during the holiday season specifically and we feel that every family deserves a nice Thanksgiving and Christmas meal.”

The pantry served 1,094 individuals in September 2020 compared to 324 individuals in September of 2019.

“The support of our community has been what allows us to keep serving those in need. We are humbled by the community response to food insecurities and supporting the legacy of Preston’s Pantry,” said Merry. “Without the community and these food drives, we would not be able to offer pantry services at this high of a level. Our humility and our inspiration drawn from the community has made us even more focused on what our mission is and it has filled our hearts to continue servicing Boyertown and the surrounding area.”

Colonial Ridge neighborhood food drive founder Carol Royce said that about 20 years ago, she read about Make a Difference Day in the USA Weekend magazine that came with her Sunday paper.

“MADD is the single largest day of volunteering or at least it was at that time. I wondered what I could do to make a difference and I came up with a food drive in my development to benefit the Boyertown Area Multi-Service,” said Royce. 

At the time, the development was under construction so there were not that many houses. Royce placed flyers in all of the mail boxes and on Make a Difference Day that year, she collected the grocery bags and delivered them to the Multi-Service, she said.

“As the development grew, the numbers of donations grew. Several years into the project, a lovely neighbor by the name of Evelyn Liptak offered to assist me. For many years I could depend on her help along with her children,” said Royce.

Around 2012, Royce moved out of the development.

“Evelyn continued the tradition of making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate,” Royce said. “Evelyn has done a tremendous job keeping the program alive and due to the generosity of many community members, it has really blossomed into what it is today. I may have founded the program but Evelyn and other members of the Colonial Ridge development carried the torch!”

Merry hopes that this food drive inspires others.

“We hope that this example can show that anyone, whether in our community or in another, that they too can help others in need,” said Merry. “Food insecurities are at an all-time high, and the smallest collection can have a profound effect on a family. You may never know the impact that your donation has made on a struggling neighbor.”

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