By Jadon Khor
As COVID-19 sweeps across the nation, local communities have been doing their best to help and support others in need; from businesses to residents, local drives are softening the impact of the pandemic on families. Yet it comes as a pleasant surprise that the latest local drive doesn’t just come from a few helpful residents; it also comes from young ones.
Asher Leslie and Grayson Zurlage, elementary school students, recruited and assembled their friends to start a food drive for Seeds of Hope in order to ease difficulties for families. Asher, who instigated the effort, first was inspired by a previous drive mission by Seeds of Hope, where he and his mother, Sabrina Leslie, volunteered before.
“I just wanted to help,” said Asher.
Freshly motivated, Asher got to work on making a business plan. After recruiting Grayson and his other friends, the group began counting potential donating houses, crafting flyers, building wagons to carry the canned goods and networking the drive online.
With eight boys, the group counted 110 houses in Kestrel Ridge, and designed advertising flyers themed after the Old West. Together, they distributed the flyers around the neighborhood and got help posting the forms to Facebook. But perhaps the most unique thing about their drive was the wagons they hooked to their bikes.
“We had a fort, and to get supplies there, we used boxes attached to our bike,” said Grayson. Taking from this, the boys—along with their neighbors—built and outfitted enough space to ferry their donations to and from the neighborhood.
Finally, after a one-week response period, the group went from house to house collecting the much-needed supplies with a 50 percent response rate.
When approached by her son about the drive, Molly Zurlage said it came as a great surprise. “I thought it was so creative and unique,” she said. “When they started offering deliveries, that was really smart.”
Molly explained that all the parents were, of course, fully supportive of the project, and that she was thrilled so many residents came out in support of their community.
Moving forward, Asher hopes to re-engage his friends with additional food drives, this time changing up the theme for a diversity of food product donations.
“We looked at each other and said ‘we have to do another one,’” noted Sabrina.
To learn more about Seeds of Hope and how to help or organize a drive, visit www.sohopefl.org.