Berks

Food bank readies for event to honor boy lost to flash flood

BOYERTOWN, Pa. - Food drives and volunteers toting boxes of non-perishables around the Boyertown Area Multi-Service building are not uncommon scenes, but this is different.

"I hear people drop off donations, and they are eight months pregnant," said Olivia Merry, food pantry coordinator. "I have people that have kids in Preston's class."

People shuffle past signs that say "Preston" and a picture that, for one employee, brings up strong emotions.

"He was so proud of thinking of doing this project and wanting to help kids in need that may not have enough food to eat," Merry said.

Like mother, like son.

"You could tell that Pam raised Preston, because Pam was the same way," said Merry.

A little more than a year after nine-year-old Preston Dray started a food drive as a school project and made an immediate impact, Preston, his mom Pamela, and his unborn sister, Evelynn, were killed in a flash flood in Douglass Township. Their deaths led to the launch of the first "Preston's Pantry Project," which will culminate this weekend, when donations will be sorted.

"I'm happy that we can take the initial vision that he had and really grow it into this," said Brandon Foose, an organizer of Preston's Pantry Project. "I think it's a great way to memorialize and honor what he was looking to do."

Initial plans involved a handful of helpers and a day of sorting. It has now expanded to three days, and donations have come from as far away as Ocean City, Maryland. Organizers said the emotional impact of Preston and his family's story is touching countless people.

"It could have been any of us, and a lot of us knew Pam and Preston and baby Evelynn, and it's such a terrible tragedy, we wanted to do something to help," said Lindsey Mason, an organizer with Preston's Pantry Project.

Donations can be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m Saturday and Sunday at the multi-service building. There will be food and activities for kids.


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