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Local program aims to combat hunger

By Staff | Jan 25, 2018

Vanessa McGuigan/Chronicle The Sweet Shop, along with teacher Suzanne Frund, started a program called “Buy One, Save One.”?The program allows Shepherdstown residents to leave a gift card behind when making a purchase for those who can’t afford a meal.

The means of charitable giving have evolved in recent years. In this millennial age, it’s become easy to round up the sales amount on a grocery purchase, text a donation to a rescue group or, in the case of the “Buy One, Save One” project, simply put a few dollars on a gift card for someone in need while purchasing a meal.

Suzanne Frund, owner and head teacher at The Light of the Child Montessori School in Shepherdstown quickly took action after seeing a Facebook post asking where people in need could obtain a meal. The next day, she began the “Buy One, Save One” program in town.

“There were comments saying to go to Jefferson County Community Ministries (in Charles Town), or Martinsburg, but people who are homeless or hungry might not have a car or a way to get there,” Frund said. “I thought it was ridiculous that in Shepherdstown we don’t have some way of feeding hungry people.”

Other cities and companies have adopted similar programs, modeled after the TOMS shoe company. When Frund discussed the idea at school, the kids were eager to get involved. Together, they enlisted the help of the Sweet Shop on German Street and purchased gift cards to be used by anyone in need.

“Anyone that is in need of a meal can go to the Sweet Shop and say ‘free meal,'” Frund said. “They can then get something like soup or sandwich, or a hot cup of coffee.”

Shepherdstown is often thought of as a wealthy community – the median income in 2012 was $81,029 according to the Corporation of Shepherdstown’s comprehensive plan data. However, closer to the town limits, income rates drop significantly. At Shepherdstown Elementary, 32 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, as do 39 percent at Shepherdstown Middle. In order to meet the qualifications, a family of four has to have a household income of less than $46,000 per year.

The school originally put money on a gift card, but of course, the idea is for other people to give as well.

“Everyone can pay it forward,” Frund said. “Anyone can go in and say, ‘I want a meal, but I want to share a meal also,’ and put whatever amount they want on a card. Little kids can even get involved.”

A few people have donated at the Sweet Shop, and some others have requested a free meal. Frund says she hopes more people will hear about it and that the idea will spread. She also hopes that other businesses will be willing to participate in the future.

“If everybody contributes just a little, imagine how much we can change the hunger situation,” Frund said. “Nobody should be hungry in Shepherdstown.”