'Preston's Pantry Project' collects 32,000+ pounds of food


The Boyertown community rallied together over the weekend to help families in need and to keep another family's legacy alive.

A little more than a year ago, then-8-year-old Preston Dray started a food drive for Boyertown Area Multi-Service as a school project. Boyertown's staff said it made an immediate impact.

"All he (Preston) wanted was for people to be loved and taken care of," said Lindsey Mason.

But tragically, Preston, his mom Pamela Vera, and her unborn daughter Evelynn's lives were cut short by a flash flood five weeks ago.

"There's nothing that can bring them back, but we're devastated. We wish that they were with us," said Emma Snyder, Preston's aunt.

Seeing the family's grief mixed with Preston's previous efforts led folks like Mason to launch the first "Preston's Pantry Project."

"I've done a lot of projects," Mason said. "I've never seen something of this caliber. This is pretty amazing."

More than 600 volunteers spent the day Sunday sorting boxes of non-perishable foods and supplies as thousands like Boyertown's Sara Drissel took time to donate.

"It's the only thing that the community can do for the family that's still here, and I think everybody's coming together in a really great way," said Drissel.

Outside, Snyder and her sister, Debbie, spent time with kids who got their faces painted while others painted rocks and made rainbows.

"It's overwhelming, but amazing. Ya know, we're here just to experience it all. It's truly keeping us going through this devastating time," said Emma.

Last year, Preston brought in 45 pounds of food to Boyertown Area Multi-Service. This year, Boyertown collected 32,897 pounds of food.

"Just knowing that a 9-year-old started all of this is...He did all of it! He did it himself! He truly did. The best that we can do is just keep giving the love that Preston gave," Emma and Debbie said.

Because that's what his aunts said he would have wanted.

"This is something that gives us hope and helps us continue carrying on their legacy, and that way, the community won't forget them as much as we won't forget them," said Debbie.