About 175 families will be fed this holiday season thanks to one teenager’s determination.
Monday, the Opelousas Food Bank received 2,629 pounds of food because of 14-year-old Cortland Reed’s fifth annual food drive.
Reed surpassed his goal of 2,000 pounds of food at last weekend’s food drive, held at Son’s Automotive Exchange in Opelousas, owned by Allen and Michael Reed.
“I feel overjoyed,” said the eighth grader at Westminster Christian Academy. “I reached last year’s goal of 1,000 (pounds) so I wanted to up it another 1,000.”
It was five years ago that Reed said he found the inspiration to organize a food drive.
“I saw a need and I wanted to fill it,” he said. “I saw a commercial about people starving and that affected me, so I wanted to help feed kids like me.”
Dana Reed, the food bank’s director, said the food bank feeds approximately 250 families a month and Reed’s donation has fed over half of their quota for the month. She said it was needed because the shelves were bare.
“It’s exciting because last year I think he (Cortland Reed) realized how many people he affected,” Dana Reed said. “That recharged his batteries. Starting out as young as he did and to worry about so many hungry people… you don’t see that in kids.”
The young student said he received help from Northeast Elementary, the beta clubs at South Street and Grolee Elementary Schools as well as the 4-H Club at Southwest Elementary.
“Even with the inclement weather, he stood out there,” said Beth Reed, Cortland Reed’s mother, as volunteers continued to sort through the donations at the food bank. “It doesn’t stop him. He’s determined to reach his goal. We’re very proud of Cortland.
“He is an exceptional kid, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my son, but because there are so many kids who don’t have the fortitude to go out and start these projects.”
Dana Reed has run the food bank for 14 years and said there are dry spells for them throughout the year, when the shelves are nearly empty, but she said the youngster’s energy is contagious during the holiday season.
“Growing up with him (Cortland Reed), which is what I feel like we’re doing, has been awesome,” she said. “He has a heart of gold and energy from the energizer bunny. He’s so positive and well-rounded as a person his age. You just don’t see that that much.”
Immediately after the donation totals were counted, the teenager set a goal of 3,500 pounds for next year’s drive.
To donate, volunteer or simply learn more, call the food bank at 337-594-8845 or Dana Reed at 351-2591.
ICONS Food Bank
1411 N. Market St., Opelousas
9 a.m.-noon, every Monday and Thursday
Call 337-594-8845 for more information