MANASQUAN — When Xander Bossone wanted to celebrate his 11th birthday in 2010 he wanted to do something different and help others, so he decided to organize a food drive.
Now for his 16th birthday Xander, a sophomore at Manasquan High School, collected more than 2,000 pounds of food to benefit the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and Move For Hunger during the sixth annual fill a truck food drive held in the parking lot of the Acme Manasquan on Dec. 13.
Donna Bossone said her son originally planned on having a party for his Dec. 22 birthday but asked his friends to bring a donation in lieu of a birthday present.
“He started when he was 11, and he just completed his sixth year this year,” she said. “He said he wanted to do something for his birthday different and he was actually going to have a pizza party and collect cans and ask everyone to bring canned food.”
According to Bossone, a lot of work goes into the weeks leading up to the annual food drive.
“It is word of mouth but we do a lot of logistical work as well, we have a printer in town that donates upwards of 3,000 flyers, we stuff mailboxes and hang posters in all the local businesses in town,” she said. “We go to all the local schools and hand out flyers there.
“That whole two weeks prior we get all of that done so people definitely come out for it.”
For the 2015 drive Xander collected 2,143 pounds of food to bring the total to 24,427 pounds over the course of six years.
Along with the food, Xander also accepts cash donations and raised $850 in 2015 for the food bank.
Bossone said the 2015 drive was the lowest output yet, largely due to unseasonably warm weather.
“This was the lowest year, we thought with the nice weather it would bring everybody out, and it was completely the opposite,” Bossone said. “It was very slow this year.
“We’ve worked in snow and rain and 15 degree weather and had tons of people come out, and this year with nice weather everybody was out with their families and no one grocery shopped.”
She said Xander’s goal for this year was 25,000 pounds of food, which he fell about 600 pounds shy of.
“He was just a little bit shy but it’s okay; he’s ready for next year,” Bossone said.
While Xander organizes the drive on his own, he does have help from friends and other volunteers.
“He has the same set of friends who come, and we also have kids who do Key Club and Honors Society who need hours and come and volunteer,” Bossone said. “But it is primarily the same six to eight friends who come every year.”
Move For Hunger is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes the relocation industry to fight hunger and reduce food waste, working with companies across North America to collect unwanted, unopened food from people who are relocating and deliver it to local food banks.
To date, their network of relocation professionals has delivered over 5 million pounds of food to local food banks across North America. For more information or to find out how you can help support Move For Hunger, visit www.MoveForHunger.org.
Today, the FoodBank distributes more than 10 million meals annually through a network of over 300 feeding programs.
For more information visit http://www.foodbankmoc.org/.