Brothers build mini food pantry to help neighboring tent city

Charlotte eighth grade students unsung heroes during crisis

Brothers build mini food pantry to help neighboring tent city

In the shadow of the housing crisis and the ramifications of the coronavirus, communities across the country are facing a complex convergence of inequity and financial struggles.

In Charlotte, unsung heroes rise up — those who do good deeds out of a pure heart like brothers Rafael and Vaughn Reed.

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The eighth grade Piedmont Middle School students chose a very special community project to help feed their neighbors in need, many of whom are homeless and living in a “tent city,” which is within walking distance to the school.

“I saw all the tent cities and all these people who really need food. Because of the pandemic, people are losing their jobs, and they really need food,” Rafael said. “There’s a lot going on right now.”

Along with help from their father, the Reed brothers built a mini food pantry.

The mini food pantry is a twist on little free libraries that pop up in neighborhoods.

This free food pantry is a well-built, wooden box containing nonperishable food and personal care items available to everyone all the time. No questions asked.

“We wanted to make something that would protect the food from the weather, and so people can look in and see what food is there,” Vaughn said.

From the corrugated metal roof, the cabinet and the wood, the entire pantry was built using repurposed materials.

“One of the goals was to build it without buying any new materials,” Albert Reed, the brothers’ father, said. “These were all sort of laying around.”

The pantry was topped with a shiny coat of red and black paint to hail Piedmont’s school colors.

“We decided this would be good for the community, and it would just be good for everybody, especially for people that are struggling during the time,” Vaugh said.

The pantry is located right in front of the school, and the Reeds said that anyone can stop by and put nonperishable food items in the pantry to help out those who are less fortunate.

“I just want to spread this to as many people as I can,” Rafael said. “Because I know some people don’t have the resources I do.”

A parent from the school stopped by when the brothers were installing the pantry. And along with other donations, the pantry is stocked and ready to serve.

“You need to give back to your community,” Vaughn said. “My community has given me the school and everything else, so I just want to give back to everyone.”

As needs in the city continue to grow, the coronavirus has complicated reaching those people most in need.

Life for a lot of people isn’t easy, but these brothers are focused on doing their part for the common good of everyone.

With all the challenges facing the community, it is obvious that Vaughn and Rafael are committed to making life better for people who are less fortunate.

You can donate nonperishable food items and hygiene products at the pantry at Piedmont Middle School, 1241 East 10th St., Charlotte, NC 28204.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, public affairs manager at WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.