Fall is just around the corner, and that means new school supplies, more morning traffic and some bittersweet goodbyes.
Alameda teenager Brian Wong is heading to Princeton.
Brian has been a Hunger Hero since age 11, when he first volunteered with his family at the Alameda County Community Food Bank during the holidays.
Those early days were an education – and the lessons stuck with him.
“As a teenager who can fill my growling stomach when I’m hungry, I recognize the responsibility of doing my best to help those in need,” Brian said.
As Brian has grown, the problem of hunger has, too. Since the recession hit in 2008, we’ve more than doubled the number of households referred to emergency food each year. Meanwhile, Brian continued to impress.
He continued his service to the community by playing piano for seniors at Waters Edge Lodge in Alameda each Sunday, with tunes from their era. Though he didn’t know the songs at first, he said if they could hum it, he could play it.
His family and friends offered to sponsor the Hum-N-Play Project, as he called it, and Brian decided to contribute that funding to the Food Bank.
And in just the last three years, he raised enough money for the Food Bank to distribute 55 tons of food.
“Discovering that I could raise over $20,000 made an impact on me, too,” Brian said. “Community service is something that can really enrich your own life.”
Brian’s accolades from his work have been almost countless. He was profiled on “Nick News” with Linda Ellerbee, and won a Jefferson Award for Public Service, among others.
But much of what he’s earned is also passed on to the causes he cares about. Recently, Brian was awarded the Sodexo STOP Hunger Award, which included $1,000 awarded to a charity of his choice. He chose the Food Bank.
As he heads to Princeton, he isn’t forgetting about people who struggle with hunger and intends to continue his advocacy work on campus. “Just letting people know what’s going on out there is so powerful.”
Princeton will soon learn just how lucky they are to have Brian. We at the Alameda County Community Food Bank wish him luck – and we’ll miss him!
Read more about Brian’s great work: www.youthconnectingall.org.