An overwhelming amount of kindness has been put into action across the country and around the world in response to the coronavirus. We wanted to take a moment to spotlight one story in particular: a group of New Jersey teens that have taken kindness into their own hands by integrating it into their business plan. With unemployment at an all-time high and food insecurity skyrocketing as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, these kids made it their personal mission to help feed the most vulnerable in their communities by donating a percentage of profits to their local food pantry.
According to ABC7, “14-year-old Matthew Sullivan had three goals in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic: stay busy, make money, and help others,” a pretty impressive to-do list for a boy his age. With these objectives in mind, Sullivan reached out to his friends Christian Vandergroef, Eric Ottaiano, and CJ Piccola to help him start his landscaping business, Leaf-it to-Us.
Sullivan and his friends created Leaf-it to-Us with service in mind, committing 10% of all proceeds to charity. Last year, the money was donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. However, in response to the coronavirus, the teens decided that this year they would benefit Help MorrisNow, a fundraising campaign in their hometown of Morristown, NJ, that’s working to feed families in need.
Explaining his decision, Sullivan told ABC7, “You turn on the news and you see all these negative things, so we just wanted to do something positive, and we decided to go local.”
Since the Help MorrisNow gofundme campaign began, they have been able to afford almost 35,000 lbs of food for the county. Distributions have included dinners served at homeless shelters and care packages filled with groceries for struggling families within the community.
Organizers of the Help MorrisNow food drive were grateful for the support and inspired by the Leaf-it to-Us crew’s kindness and motivation. Nestor Bedoya, one of the initiative’s coordinators elaborated to ABC7, stating, “Seeing kids go out in the morning, working hard to raise funds and giving it back to the community, to me that was the most touching thing we could’ve had.”
Sullivan and his friends began this year’s Leaf-it to-Us project in early April. After working almost daily, they were gratefully able to donate $500 to Help MorrisNow on June 27th, 2020. They expressed many thanks to everyone that hired them making it all possible, and to the Help MorrisNow organizers for all the kind work they do for their local community.