Twelve-year-old Margo and fifteen-year-old Katherine Sultenfuss are excellent students who are always seeking additional learning opportunities and genuinely desire to help people in their community. In the fall of 2001 they heard information about the RCS Food Pantry at church, during their Sunday service. After the service, the girls and their family approached and offered to help.
During the sermon Margo and Katherine had already started to plan a way to supplement the RCS Food Pantry’s donations, which had dropped dramatically after September 11th. They wanted to approach their father’s business contacts and encourage them to donate to the Food Pantry rather than send a gift basket to clients during the holidays. Together they developed a flyer and, with the help of their mother, mailed an appeal to more than 1,000 doctors and other business people in Pinellas County.
The response was overwhelming. The letters brought in more than $3,000 during the first few weeks, but the sisters wanted to do more. They then wrote a press release and contacted area news media. After reports in the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune more people signed up and the response from the original appeal continued to grow. By the beginning of December they raised more than $14,000 for the purchase of food. During that same time donations continued while the Food Pantry was experiencing a 400% increase in need as more people lost their jobs in the lagging economy. Money brought in by Katherine and Margo insured that no one was turned away during the holiday season.
Through the summer months they worked on the program for the next year, recruiting three more teens to help. Their goal is to add new recruits, of all ages, each year so this program will continue even after they graduate and leave for college. The group applied for and received a grant to cover printing and mailing expenses so that all money raised would go directly for the purchase of food. They increased the number of letters sent and appeared on local television and in local and national print publications. This year the group raised more $22,500, once again filling the gap created by the still growing need for emergency food in their community.
Margo and Katherine are amazing young ladies and true credits to their family and their community. The sisters saw a need and worked to fill it and they continue to look for more resources and outlets to raise money and help more people in their community.