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Rush Sheppard is on a mission to save good food from the landfill and instead get it in the hands of those who need it.

The 13-year-old Charles Townes Center seventh grader lives in the North Main area of Greenville. He often sees local residents who are homeless. Now, he is doing something to help.

“We had a project this year for English and social studies,” Rush said. “It was an activism project. We had to find a need that we thought we could make an impact on.”

Rush got involved with Loaves & Fishes, a nonprofit organization that reduces hunger in Greenville County. The organization rescues food that would otherwise be wasted and delivers it to close to 100 partner organizations that then distribute it to people in need. Food is rescued and delivered at no charge to those served. Volunteers do much of that leg work. Rush, along with his mother, Amy Sheppard, and his sister, Libby, spending part of each weekend doing their part in the process.

“Loaves & Fishes works with grocery stores,” Rush said. “You pick up any excess food that they haven’t used.”

Rush and his family often deliver to Safe Harbor and the Salvation Army.

“We usually do one route once a week,” he said.

Amy Sheppard said it takes about an hour and a half to complete the mission each weekend. Much of that time is spent in the car.

“From a flexibility standpoint, it allowed us to do something that was age appropriate and let us be together,” she said. “We’re always going in different directions and this is a time for us to just be together.”

Amy credits the project assignment with encouraging the type of learning that could spark something critical in students.

“I think it’s a profound thought to find something that’s local and allows them to engage in something they are passionate about,” she said.

Rush stays busy playing three sports and participating with his youth group at church, where he also volunteers with Project Host. Volunteering with Loaves & Fishes has helped him see his homeless neighbors differently.

Now, he knows them and sees many of them each week.

“It gave me a different point of view,” he said. “I’ve just seen it affect people but being able to see people personally has given me a different thought track.”

Learn more

About Loaves & Fishes

and how to volunteer at www.loavesandfishesgreenville.org.

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