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Albemarle freshman donates more than 2,000 pounds of food to SCCM

While most teenagers are taking classes on Zoom, communicating with friends through Snapchat and watching or creating endless TikTok videos, Albemarle High School freshman Graylin Olivieri recently organized a community service project to help those in the community struggling with food insecurity.

Knowing that the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, orchestrated by the United States Postal Service each year in May, had been postponed due to COVID-19 and that the Stanly Community Christian Ministry needed as much donations as possible for its food pantry, Olivieri, 15, decided to take matters into her own hands.

She created a flier on Facebook for a “Cans Against COVID-19” food drive, which got reposted numerous times, with many people offering to help.

“I really just wanted to step up and help the community and people that have a less fortunate life at the moment, especially with the virus,” Olivieri said.

Olivieri, with the help of her mom Beth, conducted a contactless food drive in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Albemarle. On May 13, she went to eight streets and dropped off grocery bags (along fliers describing the food drive) at the front doors of the homes for people to donate any non-perishable items. A week later, she picked up 2,027 pounds of food from 178 homes. She also received about $300 in donations from people in the community who were inspired by her efforts.

Olivieri said the final amount far exceeded her original expectations, which was to donate at least 500 pounds of food.

SCCM Executive Director Heather Kilde said the amount was the most any individual has delivered during the coronavirus pandemic and will be able to feed up to 80 people.

“She really conducted herself in away that was very community-minded and professional about this food drive,” said Kilde, who lives in Graylin’s neighborhood and has known her most of her life.

Olivieri and her mother made numerous trips to SCCM’s food pantry to donate all of the goods, which filled up three cars. Her family also donated three cases of food.

A small portion of the many bags of food Albemarle freshman Graylin Olivieri collected in her neighborhood as part of the food drive she created to help those in need. Photo courtesy of Beth Olivieri.

“It was honestly just one of the most incredible feelings I’ve ever felt,”Olivieri said. “I’m the type of person where I love to give back to other people and put other people first.”

She plans to conduct more food drives in the future.

“I’m extraordinarily proud of my daughter,” said Beth Olivieri. “It’s a win-win for everybody and certainly we felt like anything that she was going to collect was certainly going to benefit less fortunate people that are right here in our own backyard.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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