Teenagers Lead One-Ton+ Food Drive

Front Porch Leaders, a non-profit organization founded by a local student, will deliver more than 2,500 pounds of food that will be delivered to Western Wake Crisis Ministry.

The donation, the largest from the student-driven non-profit, will help feed hundreds of Apex residents going through a crisis situation this holiday season.

“This food will impact hundreds of individuals, families with children, elderly adults living on a fixed income, and others who need a little help to get by. In my career, I’ve never seen a young person with the kind of energy and passion for helping others as what I see in Emily Kustak and her student team with Front Porch Leaders. Emily’s vision is for helping but also for creating leadership among other students. Together they are changing the world by seeing a need, caring enough, and then doing something about it. Don’t let anyone tell her she’s too young to run a business or make a difference!” says Beth Bordeaux, the Executive Director of Western Wake Crisis Ministry.

A group of 10 students through Front Porch Leaders conducted the food drive in three neighborhoods in Cary – Highcroft, The Reserve, and Cary Park – over a period of two weeks. To gather awareness, the group wrote a letter describing the effort and delivered the letter to each home in the three communities. They also secured paper bag donations from Harris Teeter, which they distributed throughout the participating neighborhoods the week before Thanksgiving.

At 10 years old, frustrated by the lack of leadership roles and high impact-making opportunities for children volunteers, Emily Kustka created, organized and took charge of her first annual community food drive back in 2010.

Now 17 and a student at Panther Creek High School, Emily acts as executive director for Front Porch Leaders. The organization became an official non-profit in 2016 to help feed the homeless in Cary and surrounding areas and to give other children the opportunity to make an impact.

“Over the last eight years we’ve collected over 8,200 pounds of food, proving that you’re never too young to make a difference,” Emily explained about her successful drives. She said that the collected food has helped provide more than 8,300 meals since its inception eight years ago.

Emily credits her parents with fueling her giving spirit and encouraging her to do what she loves independently of the reward. “They taught me not to look for recognition, money or praise, but rather to see the impact that I am capable of making,” she said.

This particular effort was conducted by two additional neighborhood drive leaders: Katherine Cody (17) and Charlie Alexander (17), and their siblings Rebecca Cody (14), Steven Cody (12), Matthew Cody (8), Will Alexander (11), and Molly Valentine (10). Emily’s siblings, Payton Kustka (15) and Adam Kustka (12), also assisted.

(For more information about Front Porch Leaders, please visit FrontPorchLeaders.org.