BRIDGEPORT — Jeremy Rosa likes to set goals.
When he was 7 and tackling his first food drive, he decided collecting 100 canned goods would be a reachable target.
“I whispered to husband, ‘We can buy 100 things ourselves if he falls short,’” Christina Correa said.
Jeremy’s first drive netted 1,053 food items.
That was five years and some 7,750 pounds of food ago, according to records kept by the Connecticut Food Bank, recipient of the bounty.
Now 12, Jeremy is prepping for his sixth annual food drive to be held from 12 to 4 p.m., Saturday, October 14 in front of Blackham School, 425 Thorme Street, where he is now a seventh grader.
“I didn’t know I was going to be able to raise this much food,” Jeremy said from his living room, where a small stack of canned goods is already amassing.
“My grandmother’s co-workers sent us money to go shopping,” Jeremy said, who is conscious about picking out food items that go together, like peanut butter and jelly.
Jeremy remembers how it all began, but only because the story has been told so often. His mom was telling his dad at dinner one night about a food drive at work. At age 7 he wasn’t sure what a food drive was.
“She explained it to me and I said ‘I think I can do that,’” Jeremy said.
The first year, he simply rode his bike around his North End neighborhood putting up signs, and asked friends and neighbors for donations.
That first year’s success led to a proclamation declaring it Jeremy Rosa Day, issued in 2012 by then-mayor Bill Finch.
The past two years, the drive has moved to his school and Connecticut Food Bank sets up a truck at the collection site.
“Jeremy is probably the most dedicated young donor we have,” Paul Shipman, a food bank spokesman said. “Jeremy comes back year after year and that really stands out. He inspires others.”
His mom said it’s amazing to see how big the drive has become.
His parents helped Jeremy create a Facebook page as a way to spread the word and chronicle the effort, but Correa said that is not what keeps people coming back every year.
“It’s him, his personality,’ Correa said. “People come out and see the passion when he speaks about it. It makes them keep coming back. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Jeremy said he keeps doing the drive because “you don’t know if one day you are going to run out of money and food.”
“You might be helping yourself without knowing it,” he said. “I see myself doing this almost forever.”
Or until he goes off to college.
“Then I will be taking over,” Adrian Correa, 8, Jeremy’s younger brother, said.
Adrian has actually been involved from the beginning but this year is starting a pet food drive of his own to run along side his brother’s.Read Full Article
“It’s hard for people to feed pets if they don’t have enough money,” Adrian, a third-grader, said.
The Connecticut Food bank also distributes food for dogs and cats.
The type of kid that gets good grades and always does his homework, Jeremy notes the drive has helped him overcome shyness. It involves a lot of handshaking.
He wishes other kids would do what he does.
“Instead of just sitting around, you could be changing lives,” he said.
Shipman said the need for donations is constant and is expected to remain so, especially as Hurricane refugees relocate to the state.