Brynn Carnesecca | Lehi Free Press
Nick and Deborah Greer, founders of the Five.12 Foundation began their foundation 16 years ago with a simple act of service. At the time, the Greer family had a neighbor diagnosed with leukemia. To help the neighbor, the Greers helped raise over $64,000 in two days.
“On the second day, our six-year-old daughter came up and handed me something. It was a crumpled five-dollar bill and twelve cents. She looked at me and said, ‘Daddy, is this enough to save our neighbor’s life?’ It truly was an experience where the widow’s mite came to life. It was real,” said Nick Greer. That five-dollar bill and twelve cents inspired the Greer family to give their all to serving the community.
“We created the Five.12 Foundation because at times we feel like once we have money or enough means, we’ll be able to help others, but even five dollars and twelve cents can inspire others and help lift our neighbors,” said Nick. From this experience, the Greer family began looking for opportunities to serve and help in the community.
The Greers decided to focus their effort on hungry students in need. According to the Five.12 Foundation’s website, “43% of elementary students in the United States go hungry when they aren’t at school.” Five.12 seeks to fight at-home hunger on weekends. Often, elementary school students will eat school lunch on Friday afternoon, go home for the weekend and not have their next meal until school breakfast on Monday morning. “If we go without food for a day, how do we feel? Can you imagine going without food for an entire weekend on an ongoing basis?” Nick asked.
When children don’t receive necessary nourishment, they have difficulties learning, interacting with peers and paying attention in class. “Hungry children can start falling behind and become rambunctious. It affects their self-esteem, friends, self-confidence and self-assurance,” Nick explained. “It’s this domino effect. Kids and people need to be nourished. That’s what we try to do is provide that on the weekends.”
Every Wednesday evening during the school year, around 120 volunteers of all ages come together in Alpine to pack over 10,000 weekend meals. Volunteers are the heartbeat of Five.12. They purchase the food, come together to fill the kits and deliver the food to local schools. “We’ve been so blessed throughout the years,” said Nick. “We are almost out of volunteer spots for the entire school year.” The meal packs, provided by families, businesses and individual volunteers, consist of foods children can easily prepare. Mac and Cheese, oatmeal and fruit cups are among the items provided.
The food is placed in large bins to form an assembly line. “It’s a lot of chaos and complete fun,” Nick remarked. Volunteers walk down the line grabbing items and placing them into grocery sacks. At the end of the line, bags are tied and sorted into each school’s bin. Once the 45-minute packing process is complete, an “army of volunteer drivers” delivers the food to over 60 schools (including schools in Lehi) on Thursdays. Teachers and counselors work together to distribute food to students in need. These groceries will provide meals for the whole weekend. The following week, the process starts over again.
In the future, Five.12 hopes to reach many more students throughout Utah. “We want to expand and grow beyond what we are doing right now,” said Nick. “We want to feed twice as many kids this year, so we are always looking for new volunteers to help us pack food and especially to drive and deliver.”
For those looking to volunteer time, money or food, email Rhonda at Rhonda@five12.org or visit five12.org for more information.