October 15, 2009
This week's hero, Nicole Muller, does not see herself as one. In fact, Nicole did not want to be recognized at all for the work she is doing. However, as Jennifer Black found out from Nicole's mother, it's her modesty that really makes a difference.
After reading an article about how depleted our food banks have been in recent months, Muller, an 11th-grader from Western Albemarle High School, wasted no time in eliminating the deficit.
"She brainstormed and she sent out an email to our neighbors and the response was tremendous. There were bags the morning that she collected them at every driveway. She ended up with 192 items and 220 pounds of food. I think she's been bitten by the bug of how high you get just by helping other people," said Nicole's mother, Terry Muller.
Nicole started challenging other neighborhoods to join in the movement. She wrote to friends and families across the country rallying support for her Neighbors-4-Neighbors program. Currently, several area counties and people in 16 states have committed to donating food on USA Today's Make A Difference Day on October 24.
"We have friends in Bermuda who don't have food banks but have Meals on Wheels and also want to be part of her program," said Terry.
In early October, Nicole's program was awarded one of only 50 (one per state) donations from Paul Newman's organization, Newman's Own Foundation. In other words, Nicole's Neighbors-4-Neighbors was the only program selected from the state of Virginia. She received 75 boxes of cereal that she donated to the local Harris Street Food Bank.
And Nicole's family is feeding off her desire to help others. Nicole's sister is a student at James Madison University, and she is looking at getting her dorm to challenge other dorms. Nicole and her mother hope others will see how easy it is to help and join the movement.
With the Blue Ridge Area Food Band serving some 30,000 people a month, Nicole's deeds are about more than donations.
"She also brought in awareness in the city of Charlottesville, and now moving beyond to other states. She has taken a step that many people are afraid to take, and with that step she's able to help us fulfill our goals," said Anthony Tracy, of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
Nicole's ultimate goal is to collect 10,000 pounds of food, which really goes to show what a difference a day can make. If you would like to donate to Neighbors-4-Neighbors, you can email Nicole Muller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, if you know a hero in your community, shoot Jennifer an email at Jennifer.Black@newsplex.com and you could see your hero featured on CBS19.