Newsome High School freshman Ben Phelps collected more than 1,000 cans of green beans for Seeds of Hope’s annual Thanksgiving food drive.

FishHawk resident Ben Phelps saw a need and filled it last month with help from his generous community. Ben, a freshman at Newsome High School, collected more than 1,000 cans of green beans for local food bank Seeds of Hope to help with the group’s annual Thanksgiving food distribution.

According to Ben’s mom, Kristie Phelps, who is an active volunteer for Seeds of Hope, the charity usually asks its student volunteers to collect donations outside of Publix in the lead-up to Thanksgiving.

“Since COVID is here, Publix is not allowing the students, so we had to get creative,” said Kristie. “Ben thought if we can get groups or neighborhoods to take on the task of being responsible for just one item for the boxes, it would make it easier.”

Ben was able to collect more than 1,000 cans of green beans in about 10 days.

“I always like to challenge myself and since this year has changed so much, doing a regular collection wasn’t going to be that easy,” said Ben, who has worked with Seeds of Hope as a volunteer for about three years. “With the help of my parents we spread the word on social media sites and the community came together and helped out.”

The mission of Seeds of Hope is to provide help to local people in need and meaningful community service hours for students. Before the pandemic, the charity was serving about 100 residents a week, but it is now providing items to around 500 at its weekly food bank as well as running a school backpack program and a mobile food pantry.

Groups and neighborhoods throughout the area participated in the Thanksgiving drive, collecting items like cornbread mix and cranberry sauce, in addition to Ben’s green beans.

“It’s all a community effort to spread holiday cheer as the numbers are record-breaking at the food pantry,” said Kristie.

Ben is thankful for the generosity of his community and credits them for the ability to meet his goal so quickly.

“Starting a food collection isn’t hard, the hard part is finding the right people to donate,” he said. “Luckily for me, I live in the generous community of FishHawk West and they reached our goal faster than we could have ever expected.”

To learn more about Seeds of Hope, visit www.sohopefl.org.