March Madness scores big for Honey Brook Food Pantry

The Honey Brook Food Pantry sponsored a spirited March Madness Food/Money Drive. Pictured, the winner was Honey Brook Elementary Center with Captain Principal Chasity Cooper and the entire staff with 18.26 pounds of food donated per employee in the final week.
The Honey Brook Food Pantry sponsored a spirited March Madness Food/Money Drive. Pictured, the winner was Honey Brook Elementary Center with Captain Principal Chasity Cooper and the entire staff with 18.26 pounds of food donated per employee in the final week. Submitted photo - Peter Horvath
Volunteers Becky Zeeger and Glenn Moyer sorting food delivered after week two of March Madness for Honey Brook Food Pantry.
Volunteers Becky Zeeger and Glenn Moyer sorting food delivered after week two of March Madness for Honey Brook Food Pantry. Submitted photo

The Honey Brook Food Pantry sponsored a spirited March Madness Food/Money Drive, drafting the “Elite 8” made up of Honey Brook businesses to compete over a three-week duration.

The Honey Brook Food Pantry’s coffers swelled with thousands of pounds of food and thousands of dollars collected by the “Elite 8” and their hundreds of employee team mates.

The teams were Kemper Equipment, Captain Greg Donecker; Honey Brook Elementary Center, Captain Principal Chasity Cooper; SH Truck Bodies, Captain Levi Stoltzfus; Benco Technology, Captains Taylor Millisock and Alexis Moser; RV Industries, Captain Dave Larson; BJ Baldwin, Captain Delana Swisher; Bakery Feeds, Captain Ellen Freese; Good Food Inc.; Captain Jodi Sensenig.

And the winner was Honey Brook Elementary Center with Captain Principal Chasity Cooper and the entire staff with 18.26 pounds of food donated per employee in the final week.

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“On each of the three Fridays, the collections were weighed. Total pounds were divided by the number of employees at each business. The winners of each bracket advanced while the losers moved into a consolation bracket. The winning team received a plaque and team picture. All participants received our utmost thanks for pulling together to help our neighbors in need,” said committee member Donna Horvath, of Honey Brook Golf Club.

Horvath said committee members also included Honey Brook Food Pantry Board Chairman Kenneth Ross, Amanda Blank Hertzler and Dave Larson (RV Industries).

“We were excited to offer this novel idea to collect donations by tapping into the competitive spirit of March Madness. Our goals were to collect donations, to raise community hunger awareness, and to create an opportunity for fun team-building at the participating businesses. Once drafted they competed to see which team could collect the most food with an end of week weigh-in, simulating the NCAA bracket competition. They achieved all three goals while having a lot of fun,” she said.

Dave Larson of RV Industries, dubbed the March Madness guru by the team, designer of the flyers and brackets, said, “The event was a success in my mind. As previously mentioned, Amanda, Donna, and I wanted to capitalize on the increase in conversation around College Basketball and March Madness to get co-publicity for the Food/Money Drive. The idea was two-fold: capitalize on people’s competitive nature, pitting local companies against each other to bring the best out of each and every company as no one likes to lose; create a co-branding opportunity so that as employees of the “Elite 8” companies watch and consume a lot of March Madness NCAA Basketball during these three-weeks, they would be reminded of the Food Drive and hopefully remember to bring food.”

Larson said internally at R-V, there were a number of people that collected food and money for the various departments (skilled labor, office, etc.).

“A lot of effort by numerous people helped by posting flyers throughout our large company to get the word out to everyone, along with multiple company-wide emails and notifications,” said Larson.

Becky Zeeger, volunteer coordinator, said her challenge was to coordinate the Honey Brook Food Pantry volunteers to pick-up donations at two different locations and have the other participants drop off their donations.

“Once the items were gathered pantry volunteers weighed the food and put it into bins designated for each company, then they were sorted. It was a creative and fun challenge within the community to support the food pantry. We are hoping that more companies will participate next year,” said Zeeger.

Winner Honey Brook Elementary Center, Captain Principal Chasity Cooper said, “We were very excited to support our Honey Brook families.”

Each week, starting March 12 and running to March 30, they had a theme. The 1st week was Spring Cleaning, the 2nd week Auction time, Cooper said was so much fun.

“Mr. Clemson’s class made three huge finger paintings and auctioned them off to the highest bidders of the seven teams. The money went to the food pantry and Mr. Clemson added 10 pounds of food to all three winners. The 3rd week was Bring Ten Cans - Dress Down Day before Spring Break.”

Cooper’s Secretary Suzanne Horan said they also received donations from independent small businesses.

“We were excited to help; it filled our hearts! We will be back,” the two agreed.

Honey Brook Food Pantry Board Chairman Kenneth Ross said, “The March Madness community competition was a terrific idea by Donna Horvath from our board and two individuals from RV Industries, Dave Larson and Amanda Blank Hertzler jumped on it with both feet. The coordination of the food collections was managed brilliantly by Becky Zeeger from the pantry.”

“Most importantly though was the tremendous spirit of giving spurred by the competition. The eight participating organizations produced thousands of dollars and thousands of pounds of food at a time when donations are generally slow. The 700 plus local individuals we serve each month are greatly appreciative of their efforts and generosity,” said Ross, planning to make it an annual event.

Amanda Hertzler (RV Industries) said, “I would say that this challenge illustrates how much can be accomplished when a community comes together. With only 8 companies involved we pulled off impressive results, a great representation of the generosity in our area. Many people jumped in to help. We had no idea what to expect, but it exceeded anything we could have imagined. We gave a general list of things that the food pantry usually needs. Food pantry volunteers were excited to see so many toiletry products since those these are needed items most people don’t usually think to donate.”

For more information, visit www.honeybrookfoodpantry.org or call 610-273-6102.