‘She is one of our most valuable assets’: YMCA’s Bigger recognized as an Anti-Hunger All Star

Due to a multi-pronged effort last year to feed as many people as possible across the county, Kelley Bigger was recently recognized as a YMCA Anti-Hunger All Star.

“On behalf of the YMCA of the USA, I want to thank you for the work you’ve done to combat hunger in your community,” Suzanne McCormick, president and CEO of the YMCA of the USA, wrote in a letter to Bigger. “Your efforts are essential to ensuring the Y delivers on our promise to help all people reach their full potential.”

The recognition is significant as only 37 YMCA officials from across the country were recognized, including two others in North Carolina.

Bigger, who has worked at the Stanly County Family YMCA for almost 30 years and is currently director of missions, has been the “brainchild” behind many of the feeding programs the organization has created, YMCA CEO George Crooker said.

In 2022, according to the organization’s annual report, the YMCA:

  • Served 3,579 households through its monthly mobile food pantry drives in Albemarle and Locust, which began in April. Bigger, Crooker and volunteers distributed 184,309 pounds of food to households. Last month, 231 households in Albemarle and 222 households in Locust received a 20-pound box of shelf-stable food and a 20-pound box of fresh produce.
  • Served 5,063 meals each Sunday at the Community Table. Since the ministry was created 15 years ago, the Y has served more than 55,000 meals.
  • Distributed 1,922 backpacks filled with food to 62 pre-K children each week. With each backpack containing seven meals, that accounts for more than 13,400 meals children and their families had access to.

“It’s an honor to be able to serve in that capacity,” Bigger said.

While she appreciates the recognition, Bigger said there is still so much more she and the Y can do to help families.

“I really feel like we’re just scratching the surface,” she said. “I don’t feel at all like, ‘Oh, we’re good and we’re done.’ It just makes me want to do more.”

Bigger noted that many individuals, churches and organizations, including Stanly Community College, Stanly County Schools, Uwharrie Bank, Pinnacle Bank and Atrium Health Stanly, among others, have helped to fund the programs and distribute food.

The Y will soon provide daily meals to after-school children and distribute 40-pound boxes of food each month to seniors 65 and older.

“I just want to be where God wants me to be and this seems to be it,” Bigger said.

“It is amazing what she can accomplish if given the tools to do so,” Crooker said, adding that feeding people, especially young children, has always been a passion of Bigger’s. “She is one of our most valuable assets.”

While the Stanly County Family YMCA is much smaller than many of the other 2,700 organizations across the country, it more than holds its own in giving back to the community. In addition to the feeding programs, the Y, which served almost 8,500 young people last year, taught 623 second grade students how to swim and provided roughly $120,000 in scholarships.

“I think this Y is the little engine that could,” Crooker said.

As for Bigger, she plans to continue helping people in her community for as long as she can.

“As long as there’s a need, we will be there to continue serving,” she said.