Family collects nearly 20,000 pounds of food for needy

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
Nicole, left, and Mady, right, unpack one of two car loads of food for the West Chester Food Cupboard Tuesday. (Candice Monhollan)

Nicole, left, and Mady, right, unpack one of two car loads of food for the West Chester Food Cupboard Tuesday. (Candice Monhollan)

WEST CHESTER — Surrounded by a barrage of television cameras from the major Philadelphia news networks, Mady Wiley, nicknamed Motor Mouth by her parents, was as bashful and quiet as could be.

But sometimes, actions speak louder than words and in Wiley’s case, her actions do just that as she nears her goal set a year ago of collecting 20,000 pounds of food to distribute across the Delaware Valley.

“It’s important to help others,” said Nicole Wiley, Mady’s mother. “We want to help others who might not have as much as we do and we think it’s important. I hope she realizes even kids can do a lot to help other people.”

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Mady Wiley, 6, has always felt the need to be charitable. When she outgrows clothes, she donates them. When she is done with her toys, she donates them.

So it came as no surprise that for a New Year’s Resolution set heading into 2014 also dealt with charitable actions.

“We decided to have a big food drive and set a goal of collecting 20,000 pounds of food to distribute to local food pantries,” Nicole Wiley said. “We’ve been to pantries all over the Delaware Valley, including south Jersey.”

But at that time, it was hard to believe the mother-daughter duo would be able to succeed fulfilling the goal in just a year’s time.

“I thought it was a nice goal to set,” Nicole Wiley said. “I never thought in a million years we’d get here. I thought maybe we’d get 5,000 pounds last year and I wasn’t going to tell (Mady) we didn’t hit the goal.”

Though the Wileys didn’t attain the goal in 12 months, they were at about 13,000 by the end of 2014 and decided, since they had done that much, why stop?

“No one was really keeping score,” Nicole Wiley said. “It’s neat to come to the cupboards and we kept on going.”

Now, in just 15 months, the Wileys have collected over 15,000 pounds of food and added another 1,400 Tuesday when they dropped off two car-fulls to the West Chester Food Cupboard.

“We’ve had help from neighbors, classmates, coworkers and strangers,” Nicole Wiley said. “Sometimes we get donations left on our doorstep and sometimes people give us cash and we’ll go to the supermarket and buy what the pantries need and deliver it.”

It may sound like a lot of work, but to the Wileys, not only is it enjoyable, but it also turned out to be a bonding experience for the mother and daughter.

“It’s fun — we enjoy it,” Nicole Wiley said. “It’s something we can do together. I want her to have a sense of civic purpose and she has been volunteering since she was 4.”

To top it off, they get to help others along the way.

“People tend to be very generous around the holidays, but once you get into the spring, donations tend to slow up,” Nicole Wiley said. “It feels good to do our little part.”

The Wileys, who still want to reach their goal, are looking for more contributions from the community.

What the pantries need most, Nicole Wiley said, are lean proteins — peanut butter, tuna fish, canned chicken — and also things such as baby food, fruits, vegetables and even some things which could be considered a treat, like juice boxes.

Even when the 20,000 mark is eventually hit, the duo don’t plan on slowing down.

“It was meant to be a one-year event which has continued on,” Nicole Wiley said. “We’re enjoying it, so I don’t think we’ll be stopping anytime soon. Our house will always look like a food distribution center. As long as it keeps on being fun — and I think it will be — we’ll keep on doing it.”

The parents of the Westtown School first grader couldn’t be more over-the-moon with their daughter and everything she has done.

“I am so wildly proud of this little girl,” Nicole Wiley said. “I don’t even have words for how proud I am of her.”

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Categories: Community, Food

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