MMI senior Kevin McNulty, the son of Tim and Kim McNulty of Forty Fort, has been selected to receive both the President's Volunteer Service Award and a Distinguished State Finalist medallion in The 2021 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for his volunteer work at the Al Beech/West Side Food Pantry in Kingston.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the program honors middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level. The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country. Distinguished Finalists are chosen by the organization's state-level judges as being one of the top runners-up in their state.
What began as an in-school service project in kindergarten at Wyoming Valley Montessori School, led to a volunteer commitment the continued through the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in March of 2020, McNulty logged more than 250 service hours during his time at the food pantry and was feeding as many as 1,500 people per week by the middle of the summer.
McNulty's work with the food pantry involved a lot of physical labor and support. Every Monday, the pantry received a shipment of more than 8,000 pounds of food on two to four pallets and his job was to break down pallets and pass the food off to an assembly line of volunteers to transport it into the food pantry, which is located inside of a church. He also stowed dairy and eggs and reorganized the walk-in refrigerator each week.
On distribution day, McNulty set up canopies in the parking lot, moved tables, helped bring the food outside to the four or five areas that were set up for the drive-thru distribution, loaded food into the clients' trunks during the four-hour distribution, ran food from station to station as needed, and helped clean up at the end of the distribution time.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry served about 150 people per week. However, by mid-July, the pantry had served its 500,000th meal since the middle of March and was averaging service to more than 1,500 people per week with just a small group of volunteers.
During his time working at the food pantry amidst the pandemic, McNulty realized that people from all different walks of life could face food insecurities and said the biggest lesson he learned from the food pantry leaders was to smile, offer an encouraging word, welcome people to the pantry, and ask them to return.
At MMI, McNulty is the President of the National Chinese Honor Society, the stage manager for the Prepper Playhouse fall production, a member of the varsity baseball team, and a member of the National Honor Society, the National Science Honor Society, and National Mathematics Honor Society.