by Len Lear
Chris Carlino, a La Salle University student, is one young person who is not wasting any time playing video games, partying and sending a zillion text messages and Tweets every day. He doesn’t have the time. Chris, 23, has two jobs in addition to being a full-time student (“I like being busy,” he says), and this month, which is Hunger Action Month, Chris also started a food drive that will help feed many of the estimated 50,000 children in South Jersey affected by “food insecurity.”
“It’s time consuming, for sure,” Chris told us last week, “but I’ll survive… As a student I would want young adults my age to know that it’s easy and fun to be a part of something like this, and I encourage anyone to try it!”
Thanks to Chris’ efforts, supported by Anchor Moving & Storage, many non-perishable food items have been donated to the Food Bank of South Jersey throughout September after being dropped off at Virtua Hospital: 100 Bowman Drive, Voorhees Township, and The Mt. Laurel Community Center: 100 Mt. Laurel Rd., Mt. Laurel.
Chris is also collaborating with Move For Hunger, a non-profit organization that works with companies across North America to collect unwanted, unopened food from people who are relocating and deliver it to local food banks, “More than one in 10 people in the South Jersey area are affected by food insecurity, including more than 50,000 children,” said Erika Oman, Communications & Events Manager of Move For Hunger. “To date, their network of relocation professionals has delivered over five million pounds of food to local food banks across North America.”
Carlino, a native of Moorestown, NJ, and graduate of Moorestown High School in 2010, just started his second year in La Salle’s Clinical Counseling program. He says he has a job lined up as a Licensed Professional Counselor at a private practice after graduation. He hopes to also be in a doctorate program pursuing his “dream job” as a clinical neuropsychologist.
This is not the first time Chris has started such a food drive. In 2009 he and a friend started a food drive to raise goods for children in Zimbabwe. “We were only juniors in high school at the time,” he said, “but we found it very easy and rewarding to organize enough support to make the drive worth it, and when the food finally reached Africa, the children of the town were so grateful that they sent us gifts and thanks! It didn’t take much to help those in need, so when I reflected back on this in August, I made a conscious decision to do it again.”
In the current case, Chris went online to look for information on how to help those in his local community, and he found moveforhunger.org. “They seemed too good to be true,” he said, “and when I gave them a call, I was met with excitement at my ambition and support in my endeavor. They provided boxes, flyers, a radio advertisement and lots of information about those in South Jersey who need food assistance. I really wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.
“The person who has been the most helpful is Erika Oman (quoted earlier). She’s been a great support throughout this process, and she deserves a lot of credit! Their whole team really is committed to making these things as successful as possible, so I’m very grateful.”
So far the project has been a success. As of last week, the main box was filled completely with more goods alongside it as well. Another box was half-full. “I have to say my expectations have been fulfilled so far,” said Chris last week, “but it’s not over yet!”
Both of Chris’ parents work in hospitals. His father works in human resources and his mother in administration after being a registered nurse for many years. “Health care is in our blood,” he said. “Even my sister is pursuing a career in kinesiology. I’m lucky to come from a family that genuinely cares about others and has the work ethic to make a difference. Ultimately, helping others provides a meaningful purpose to those who make the sacrifice to give.”
Chris was asked if he could meet and spend time with anyone on earth, who would it be? His reply: “Alive or dead, it would have to be Charlie Chaplin. He really is a great influence on my life, and on my off days I just recite his Great Dictator speech in my head to remind me of what I stand for: ‘More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities life would be violent, and all will be lost.’ Those really are profound words … There is so much good that people do every day that to be distracted by the bad really is sad. That’s why I don’t watch the news. I even missed my own interview on NBC.”