So goes the mantra of Good Neighbors Group (GNG), a nonprofit organization in Severna Park that wrapped up its S(o)uper Bowl food drive in February with 15,907 items collected.
“This event is an opportunity for people to have fun while doing good,” said GNG founder and executive director Julie Shay. “The competition is meant to be light, though folks often do take it quite seriously, which only means more items for the pantries.”
Fifty-one neighborhoods in the greater Severna Park and Broadneck areas participated this year. The per-house winning neighborhood was Erin Garth, a street in Severna Park with 15 houses participating and contributing approximately 10.67 items per household for a total of 160 items donated. West Severna Park holds the honor of the winning neighborhood by sheer volume with 935 items.
This was the fifth S(o)uper Bowl food drive held by the Good Neighbors Group. Continuing with tradition, collection began on the Thursday before the Super Bowl, ending with the delivery to food pantries on Super Bowl Sunday, held on February 13.
This year, the event helped to restock four pantries and draw the community’s attention to the need for donations. The pantries included SPAN, ACAN, My Brother’s Pantry and the Anne Arundel County Food Bank.
“Several of these pantries also support other pantries, so the donations help beyond our own community,” Shay explained.
Additionally, Shay shared helpful stats from over the years, including how since its inception, the S(o)uper Bowl food drive has collected approximately 53,900 items.
“Last year when people were stuck at home and eager to get involved in something, we collected an astounding 20,500 items,” she said. “This year with people more active, we weren’t sure how to gauge what the level of participation would be. We are so excited that this year is our second best at just under 16,000 items. Absolutely amazing!”
When it comes to food pantries, there are typically big donations around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then a lot of essentials are handed out. After the new year, there is a gap in donations, which is why GNG started the S(o)uper Bowl event. GNG asks each pantry for a list of its most needed items to let the community know the most useful items to collect. Some of the most coveted items needed this year were box potatoes, canned fruit, pancake mix, pasta sauce, snacks in individual packages, toiletries and yes, even soup.
“Several big collection events have been canceled due to the pandemic, and that impacts donations to the pantries,” Shay said. “In addition, there are caps on how much pantries can buy, so having the community make these purchases — say for diapers, wipes, etc. — is really helpful.”
GNG strengthens communities by sharing opportunities that have a positive social and environmental impact. It connects people through grassroots, charitable activities to strengthen the community and improve the environment. GNG researches opportunities for individuals and groups to volunteer.
In addition to the S(o)uper Bowl event, GNG does blood drives every 56 days, an annual Earth Day festival in April, and Ecotober events where it highlights environmental issues and offers projects to address them in the local area, to name a few.