For many years Hal Ornstein, a podiatrist here in Howell and his wife Anna have been involved in helping the community in many ways.
Recently Ornstein found a way to use his passion for photography to provide a much appreciated service for a local lacrosse league while also benefitting the local food bank.
The doctor said his wife is a volunteer at the food bank and recently told him that their supplies were at "an all time low." He said this inspired him to find ways to not only help the pantry but also take on another personal challenge. He said he calls this initiative an effort to "de-feet childhood hunger."
In the past Ornstein said he had taken pictures of the Howell Pride Lacrosse team and given the pictures to the teams and parents. This year that amounted to 180 players. "I said why don't we ask each parent to give a couple of cans of food," he said.
Working with Coach Bob Brown the two came up with a plan where the pictures would be exchanged for the food. Not only that, but the Ornsteins decided to double that effort by making a matching donation of $5 worth of food for every donation.
In a letter sent home to the league's parents Ornstein said the pantry serves over 150 Howell residents on a monthly basis. He said across the country there are more than 16 million children at risk of being hungry and more than 15 million children who live in poverty.
For those reasons and more he said it was important for him to do something. "How said is it that one in five kids goes hungry," he said.
In one night Ornstein said he estimated the players in the league had donated over 500 canned items plus hundreds of other items to help restock the pantry's shelves.
Seeing the response from the community in making the food collection a success has meant a lot to the Ornsteins. "The message here is you have a group of kids who really care and coaches and parents who really came and really came together to fill a void."
Over the next few weeks Ornstein said he expects to have three more drives like the one this week which will hopefully further help their efforts. "Hopefully in the long term we're going to have an ongoing project," he said.
He said he hopes to expand his efforts to more than 100 doctors offices across the country.
On the local level Ornstein said the pantry is always looking for volunteers and is always in need of donations. Some of the items include canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, tomato sauce and granola bars.
For more information on what you can do to help call 732-938-2368. The food pantry is located in the old PAL building at 450 Adelphia Rd.