The Kuczarski Family Fill the Pantry Challenge
In the years after their youngest daughter Sophia lost her life to cancer, the Kuczarski family has remained a part of the Why Me family, both through their participation in bereavement programming offered at the house and through an active role as fundraisers and volunteers.
Rebecca Kuczarski explains “The support that Sherry’s House provided our family during Sophia’s illness and after her death has been a great source of comfort to our family. It is important for us to remain involved and show our kids that we are now in a place where we can give back to the house and help other families.”
The family started a Kickball tournament in Sophia’s name, Kickin’ it for The Sophia FUNd, the proceeds of which have supported various Why Me families and programs. They have donated gas cards, hospital care packages, helped with funeral costs, and funded memory making activities for Why Me families. A few times a year they like to stock the Sherry’s House food pantry. “We know what a relief that pantry can be to families who have been forced down to one income or who just can’t get to the grocery store after long days at the hospital.” Rebecca shares.
This year the Kuczarski’s decided to take their giving up a notch and created the first annual Food Pantry Challenge. “We challenged our kids, Ethan and Hannah, to each assemble a team of friends to shop with. We gave them each a budget and set some ground rules.” The Kuczarski’s wanted to create an opportunity for their children to include their friends in the giving. “Many of the kids from school participate in the kickball tournament and we wanted to give them an opportunity to experience the house and see where their donations are going.” Eric Kuczarski adds.
The teams gathered and were given 30 mins to prepare for their shopping trip. The Tweens (Hannah’s team) prepared by collecting reusable bags, saving them .05 per bag, coupons and a detailed list. The Teen Team (Ethan’s team) took a more laid back approach working off of sales in the store. Both teams were driven to their respective Price Chopper Markets, the clock was set and the shopping began!
The teams chose items from the Sherry’s House pantry WISH LIST and were awarded extra points for high need items. They had 1 hour to shop and were deducted points if they were not in line by the buzzer. With a gentle reminder over the grocery store loudspeaker “Attention Sophia Fund Shoppers this is your 5 min warning.” both teams made it to the checkout in time!
Both groups reconvened at Sherry’s House where they lay out their bounty for the judges. “The kids really enjoyed showing their friends the house. They could show them that it is a fun and happy place.”
The Kuczarski’s invited the kids living in the house to participate in the judging process.
The Tweens won, 101 to 80, thanks to their careful planning and secret cost saving strategies. The first place winning was a day at Sky Zone. The runners up walked away with a pizza party. Both teams were prized with new friends and lasting memories.
“It was great to fill the pantry, but this time was different. Having all of the kids, my kids, their friends and the kids at the house, working together and having fun together made a lasting impact on them.” Rebecca goes on to explain that this experience also helped to normalize cancer and Sherry’s House for Ethan and Hannah’s friends, which is important to them as a family as they continue to navigate life without Sophia.
The Kuczarski’s say they look forward to the next Food Pantry Challenge where they will invite new friends to participate and continue to spread awareness of the needs of the house.
For more information on donating to the Sherry’s House Food Pantry visit Sherry’s House Wish List or call (508) 757-7734