Chase Smith has never met a goal he could not beat.
For the past four years, Chase has been holding a pop can drive to fundraise for Kids’ Food Basket.
The 14-year-old from Muskegon has raised thousands of dollars to purchase hundreds of pounds of food to help nourish children in his community.
And it all started with the hopes of raising just $100.
The Smith family is no stranger to the mission of Kids’ Food Basket.
Chase’s mom Sarah is an elementary school teacher, and his dad is a police officer whose department regularly decorates bags and donates wish list items for the March Community Partner Challenge.
In 2017, their whole family started volunteering together packing Sack Suppers at the Muskegon location.
It was there that Chase saw a map of the schools in the area that were still waiting to be served by KFB.
Seeing schools from his own district compelled him.
“It was hard seeing schools from my own area on the waiting list,” he said. “I really wanted to help those kids.”
Chase asked his parents if they could donate $100 to support Kids’ Food Basket.
Instead of writing a check, Chase’s parents motivated him to offer to do odds and ends jobs for friends and family to raise the money.
Chase eagerly agreed.
It did not matter if he had to put some work in – helping feed kids was more important.
“We put the word out and that first summer Chase did odd jobs, was given cash, food donations and ultimately it transpired into people donating their pop cans,” Sarah said.
Chase raised $703, far exceeding his original $100 goal.
Using the money, his family then went and purchased the most needed food items from the KFB wish list and donated it.
The next summer – wanting to donate again – Chase decided to only concentrate on collecting pop cans.
His strategy paid off.
He tallied $1,030 and purchased 992 pounds of food for Kids’ Food Basket.
The pop can drive became an annual event.
In 2019, he raised $1,332 – enough to fill his dad’s entire truck so full of food that Chase and his mom could barely fit inside to drop it off.
However, this year when the pandemic hit and the stay-at-home mandate was issued, Chase knew his fundraiser would look different, but be more important than ever.
Not only would more children and families be struggling with food insecurity in his community, but with bottle return services suspended, people’s cans were piling up.
“We had so many people reach out asking if Chase could do his pop can drive for KFB early,” his mom said. “One friend had $120 worth of bottles and wanted to give them to a good cause.”
Chase collected cans for two weeks straight.
“People saved their cans for us – every little bit helps,” Sarah said.
In June, when bottle return opened up again, the whole Smith family collectively spent over 120 hours making trips to return what their community had donated.
They raised $2,340.
Since COVID-19 raised food costs by 66%, the Smith family knew that donating money would go a lot further than if they had purchased the food themselves.
Monetary donations have been the pillar of Kids’ Food Basket being able to feed healthy meals to children and families in need during this crisis.
Over 400,000 meals have been distributed to Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan counties – ensuring that more children have access to nutritious food no matter what.
“Food insecurity is something no child should have to experience,” Sarah said.
And generosity to combat that can be shown at any age, such is the case with Chase Smith – kids helping kids to better the community.
“He has a very big heart. If he sees someone struggling, he does whatever he can,” Sarah said. “That is totally him”
For information on how to start your own fundraiser or learn how to donate to Kids’ Food Basket, please visit the Get Involved page here.