Oct 01, 2018

Holmdel Teen Brings Community Together

By Lori Draz and Brendan Crowley

Welcome to Teen Scene.

Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact the Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry – let’s just get to sharing.

Intro for Brendan

This month’s author is Holmdel’s Brendan Crowley, a 17-year-old senior at Holmdel High School. October is a month of harvest and bounty, a time when pantries are full of the fruits of the season for some people, but not all. Brendan Crowley comes from a neighborhood where there is plenty, but he took the time to consider those with less. He began organizing food drives as a way to express his gratitude for his good fortune, and to give his neighbors a chance to make a difference. Through the process, he met many neighbors and harvested a deep understanding of generosity, fellowship and the joy that comes from helping others. Here is Brendan’s story.

Ever since I was young, I have always been told to help those who were less fortunate than I was. Whether it was through my church St. Catharine’s, or starting a food drive and donating to Fulfill, l I have tried to live up to this obligation of helping those in need.

Growing up in Holmdel, I never really had to worry about where my next meal would come from, or how I would find a way to get enough money to put myself through college. To be honest, there was never any reason for me to worry, because I always knew there would be a hot meal on my plate, or a college that would accept me.

But for people who are less fortunate than me, this is not the case at all. In many nearby towns and even some families in Holmdel, people need any donations you are willing to give.

Trust me, as a high schooler I get how busy people’s lives get – even the parents – with sports, studying for SATs and ACTs, or just regular homework. But I urge you to be grateful that you are privileged enough to only have to worry about those annoying standardized tests; some people never even get the opportunity to prove themselves. That is part of the reason why we have to take it upon ourselves to give back to the people who may be less fortunate than we are.

I started this Food Drive when I was in seventh grade after my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Bell, gave us an assignment to obtain 10 hours of community service. After procrastinating until the last two weeks, my mom came up with the idea to organize a food drive in my neighborhood and give the proceeds to my church.

Although skeptical at first, the more and more I thought about the idea, the more I came to realize how much good it could do. We could help those in real need and work to improve the stereotype of Holmdel as the preppy rich kid’s town, which, like it or not, is what many think.

So I started my first food drive. I created and organized flyers and delivered them around our neighborhood. I told my neighbors they could choose to bring donations to my house or leave it by their mailbox on the day of the collection and I would pick it up. I wanted it to be as easy as possible for everyone.

I toured the food bank and was amazed to see how large the facility is. They spoke about the ongoing need for donations. I was glad to continue having food drives, but I was worried that my neighborhood’s continued support would come to an end. I am very happy to report that they have continued their unwavering support for my food drives, and continue to generously donate food to what I believe is a truly good cause.

This past spring, I conducted the fifth annual Brendan Crowley food drive. Over the past three food drives alone, I collected and donated over 700 pounds of food.

I have been playing team sports my whole life, ranging from roller hockey at summer camp to high school baseball. Playing on a team has taught me that if one part of a team doesn’t pull their weight, there is no real team. I am saying this because I want to give the credit of helping people in need to the people who actually took time out of their day to donate food. Thanks to their kindness, I was able to make large donations to the Fulfill food bank.

My whole neighborhood has been extremely supportive of this whole process – from people who gave only one item to those who gave bags and bags. One of my neighbors made a comment that really stuck with me. She said, “I like this food drive you do, not only because we are giving food to less fortunate people, but I also think that this is something that helps bring our entire neighborhood together like we are one big family. It makes it feel more like a neighborhood.” To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it like that, but she was right.

I truly believe we should treat less fortunate people better. The appreciation I received was great, but this starts with something simple, like just helping. And knowing you did something to make a difference for someone else, even if you don’t know them, feels good. You never know, it could be you in that position in the future.