BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — Hunter Spioch learned some valuable lessons about life and humanity during his Eagle Scout project last December, when he led a group of volunteers in a massive fundraising effort to provide 30 Christmas dinners for local families in need.
The warmth and sense of gratitude emanating from that effort left a lasting impression not only on those families, but on Hunter himself.
This spirit of giving has fostered itself once again this holiday season after the Maumee teen asked his father to help him raise enough funds to produce yet another 30 Christmas dinners for those in need.
As a culmination of their efforts, two large boxes packed with various food items were distributed to these families by Hunter and a small group of friends and volunteers on Saturday afternoon at Maumee United Methodist Church in Maumee.
Inside the boxes were enough food items to last a family for several days, including a frozen turkey, gravy, two packages of link sausages, two packages of bacon, a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, two boxes of cereal, a pumpkin pie, cake mix, muffins, pancake mix, syrup, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, butter, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, cookie mix, chips, candy, marshmallows and soft drinks.
What prompted the 18-year-old young man to take on this project once again?
“I did it last year for my Eagle Scout project. I just thought it was a really nice thing to do and that it was helpful, so I thought I would do it again this year,” Hunter explained. “I do plan on doing it again next year.” He added that he was motivated “to make other people happy.”
Although last year’s efforts capped off Hunter’s 12-year Scouting career, culminating with him earning Scouting’s highest achievement, he said that he felt an increasing yearning this year to continue his efforts to help those in need.
In October, that feeling was still with Hunter, and he decided at that point that he would undertake the Christmas dinner project once again this year. He enlisted the help of his father, Glenn, who for the past 13 years has been involved in various leadership roles in both the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts Troop 199, which is based at Maumee United Methodist Church.
This was not to be a Scouting project this year, however. It was more of a family undertaking.
Together, the father-and-son team started making a flurry of phone calls. They started a GoFundMe page in early November and utilized Facebook and the Venmo app to raise funds. The GoFundMe page produced $695 in donations. Glenn’s family and friends back on the East Coast were also generous with donations, which increased the cash balance further.
With their funding secured, it was time to do some bargain hunting at the local grocery stores. “We came across some lucky times and good deals while shopping,” said Glenn. As an example, he found a great sale on bacon at Monnette’s Market and another excellent deal on sausage links at Meijer.
Others in the community also stepped up to help with the project.
Maumee United Metho-dist Church picked up most of the cost of the 30 turkeys, which weigh between 17 and 22 pounds each.
Welch’s Packaging donated all the cardboard boxes used to package the food items. Hometown Foods Inc. provided the pancake mix, muffin mix and cake mix.
Deanah Moore and her Maumee family contributed the marshmallows, dinner rolls, butter and paper towels.
Glenn calculated that the total project generated between $2,800 to $3,000 in cash contributions and in-kind donations, which resulted in approximately $100 worth of food items per family.
The list of families receiving the Christmas dinners was obtained from the Maumee City Schools Board of Education, said Glenn. These are the same families that benefited from the Secret Santa toys program associated with the Maumee City Schools last week, so it was easy to match them up with the dinners as well.
Hunter and Glenn were also able to provide dinners for a few families in need from Summit Academy in Toledo, where Hunter had graduated. Volunteers from the school helped Hunter with his Christmas project last year, and Hunter felt it was appropriate to help a few families in need from Summit Academy as a sign of his appreciation for their assistance.
Hunter and Glenn found they still had three extra dinners to give away, so they reached out to the Maumee Police Division, which had just conducted its Shopping With Heroes event last Wednesday night, and they were able to find three other local families who could benefit from the dinners.
When asked if he was proud of his son, Glenn quickly responded: “I am.”
“I just wish he had decided to do it a little earlier this year instead of waiting until the end of October,” Glenn added with a smile. “We were still able to put it together,” he laughed.
Hunter said he felt good about the project last year and he valued the notion that he and his father were able to work as a team and continue it on their own this year.
“This is something that some families can’t really afford,” said Hunter. “With these times right now and how everything is more expensive, and things keep rising, I think it’s better for us to help out a little bit, even though it’s hard for people to ask for help.”
Hunter added that he could relate to those feelings of independence. “I’m the same way,” he stated. “I don’t like to ask for help, either.”
“You’d be amazed at how many families out there need help,” Glenn added. “I was talking to somebody at St. Paul’s, and they did 60 of these.”
Why does Hunter feel so passionately about this project?
“I don’t mind it being time-consuming and expensive. That’s not why I do it,” Hunter clarified.
With emotion evident in his eyes, and with a slight quiver in his voice, he added, “I do this because I like making sure that other people have food to eat, and to help put a smile on someone’s face at dinner.”
Thanks to the efforts of a young man with a solid work ethic and a big heart, 30 area families will now have such an opportunity.