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Westfield, N.J. Teen Takes Initiative To Feed As Many People As He Can During Coronavirus Pandemic

SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Jersey teenager reached out dozens and dozens of people in his neighborhood in an effort to help out those in need.

"It hurts to see people struggling like that, at least for me," 17-year-old Paul Harris said.

Harris, a high school student in Westfield, had a hunger to help people in need during the coronavirus pandemic. So, he decided to feed that need in a most unusual way.

"The idea struck me, so that's why I'm doing it," Harris told CBS2's Scott Rapoport on Monday.

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He wrote a letter, urging folks in his community to donate food to local pantries and churches, where food is in short supply, saying, "I have been made aware that people in our own backyards, acquaintances we see as we walk down the street, are in desperate need."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

And then he went around his community on foot, putting the letter in as many mailboxes as possible -- 200 in all.

"I guess I'm sympathetic, I guess. I just wanted help 'em out and make a difference, you know," Harris said.

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The letter contained a list of the foods most in demand. Paul told donors they could just drop the food off in a big wicker box in his front yard, which they have done, along with poignant handwritten notes.

And he would take it all over to the St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church, which has a food pantry and distributes to other food providers to help needy families.

"I just wish I could do more. That's why I'm trying to help out like this," Harris said.


Thus far, Paul says he has collected 10 big bags of food and he hopes to double that in the next few days.

His mother, Debbie, is proud beyond belief.

"He has a huge heart and I think this kind of signifies how much he cares," she said.

Of this fine young man, who followed his instincts and need to feed... to the letter.

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