The ShopRite of Morrell Plaza last week celebrated its efforts during National Hunger Action Month.
Last September, ShopRite employees in six states participated in a friendly competition to support the company’s Partners in Caring hunger-fighting initiative.
Largely through the collection of donations at checkout, the stores raised almost $1.51 million to support community food banks.
The ShopRite of Morrell Plaza, 9910 Frankford Ave., was named among the top 20 percent of stores in fundraising for 2018. ShopRite awarded the local store with $500 to donate to an organization, and the Holy Redeemer Food Cupboard, 12265 Townsend Road, was the lucky recipient.
Josh Jenkins, Holy Redeemer’s director of mission integration and pastoral care, said the food cupboard serves 400 families a month.
“The need is so great,” he said.
There are 278 ShopRites, and customers are asked to round up their purchase price to the nearest dollar to raise money during National Hunger Action Month.
ShopRite is selling special-edition Cheerios boxes featuring pictures of store employees who spearheaded fundraising efforts.
At the ShopRite of Morrell Plaza, the featured employees are front-end supervisor Michelina Hellyer and popular cashier Loretta Connelly. They helped raise $7,212.24.
“Every single penny counts,” said Steven Hildner, administrator of Partners in Caring.
Store manager Alex Novak said some of the money came from people who barely have two nickels to rub together.
Sean McMenamin, president of the store, also thanked customers.
“This is their hard-earned funds,” he said.
McMenamin thanked his 240 employees, too.
“This is truly a team effort,” he said.
McMenamin described Hellyer, an employee since she was 16, as “the face of ShopRite.” He called Connelly, an employee since the store opened in 2008, a “true ray of sunshine” who helps draw customers to the store.
“They go to her lane even when it’s backed up three deep,” he said.
ShopRite established Partners in Caring in 1999. Since then, the initiative has donated more than $44 million to some 2,200 food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior citizens centers and other organizations, such as Philabundance.
“We have Sean and many other grocery stores in the area to thank for that,” said Scott Smith, director of business development at Philabundance, adding that hunger affects one in five Philadelphians, including many children and senior citizens.
The April 3 celebration featured cake.
Also attending the event were firefighters from Engine 46; Danielle McDermond, of City Councilman Brian O’Neill’s office; and representatives of General Mills. ••