Purple & White10/9/23
Ashley Hall Raises Over $1,400 for the Lowcountry Food Bank and Celebrates Decades of Partnership
On Sunday, September 10, nearly 40 Ashley Hall students, faculty, and family members braved the heat and traffic to Wannamaker Park to participate in the Walk to Fight Hunger hosted by the Lowcountry Food Bank, an organization based in Charleston which donates food to agencies up and down the coast of South Carolina. Team Ashley Hall raised over $1,400, the most of all fundraising teams, and the sum will help provide more than 8,000 meals to feed families throughout the Lowcountry.
Just days before this year’s annual Walk to Fight Hunger, Ashley Hall hosted Brenda Shaw, Chief Development Officer at Lowcountry Food Bank, for an Upper School assembly to speak with students about her organization and what food insecurity looks like in our community.
“People who are food insecure look just like you and me,” says Kelly Sumner, Director of Counseling and Upper School Student Life, who helped organize Shaw’s visit. “They’re your neighbors, they’re your friends; there isn’t a certain look to being in need or a certain community that’s in need. I think students were able to really connect with that [during Shaw’s visit], then connect what the food bank does, who they serve, and take the opportunity to go out and help bring awareness to this issue right here in their community with their friends.”
Both the assembly and walk event were a part of Ashley Hall’s annual global education initiative in which students and educators are exploring ways they can help contribute to creating a world free of hunger by 2030 this year. But the School’s contributions to fighting food insecurity in Charleston is far from new.
“We’ve supported the Lowcountry Food Bank consistently for decades,” Sumner says. “We’ve had so many interesting ways we’ve been connected to them and other organizations over the years, and we’re just so very appreciative to them that they are able to host and support our students in return.”
While initiatives have shifted through the years, Ashley Hall’s dedication to playing a part in ending hunger in its very own community has remained consistent. Here’s a look at how the School’s partnerships with the Lowcountry Food Bank and other local organizations fighting hunger have evolved over the years:
Every year near the Thanksgiving holiday, Ashley Hall began hosting a school-wide food drive in support of the Lowcountry Food Bank during which Upper School students would designate different food items to different grade levels depending on the needs of the food bank at that time.
September is Hunger Action Month, and in 2001, all Non-Uniform Days in September were dedicated to supporting the Lowcountry Food Bank, and everyone on campus wore orange, the official color of Hunger Action Month, to show their support!
Ashley Hall began the year with a “Day of Service” on the first day of school, and the Class of 2010 went to the Lowcountry Food Bank to volunteer their time to help pack and organize food donations. “This would be the first time we had a whole grade level volunteer at once,” Sumner says. “It paved the way for future events.”
In 2010, the School formalized its Community Action Initiative which requires students 20 hours of community service to graduate. Every year since, the senior class has spent time during a dedicated week at the end of the year volunteering together at the Lowcountry Food Bank‘s warehouse to give back.
As a part of a local nonprofit initiative entitled I Heart Hungry Kids, Ashley Hall students spent their Saturdays throughout the year volunteering to fill backpacks belonging to kids in under-resourced areas with donated food for them to eat over the weekend. “It would be enough food to sustain these children who were getting most of their nutritious meals at school,” Sumner says.
In 2015, the Lowcountry Food Bank created a program for students in local schools to help carry out their work as Hunger Advocates. After being elected by a School committee and passing an application process with the food bank, alumna Tiffany Dye ’15 became Ashley Hall’s first ever Hunger Advocate. During her senior year, she increased the number of school-wide food drives and more people than ever volunteered, Sumner says. Her sister, Marissa Dye ’21, would then follow in her footsteps as a Hunger Advocate. “These girls were so dynamic in so many ways, and they truly cared about the community and wanted to serve,” Sumner says.
The Lowcountry Blessing Box Project stocks containers in neighborhoods around Charleston with non-perishable food items, basic toiletries, baby supplies, and anything else that might be considered a blessing to people who find themselves in need. In 2021, Intermediate Program faculty members Katie Perez-Phillips ’07 and Kiki Sweigart partnered with the organization so Ashley Hall students could maintain their very own box with regular food donations. Students and families are still stocking our Ashley Hall Blessing box at FUEL restaurant week in and week out!