To help families feeling the economic effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Bexley High School senior Will Feldman enlisted 18 classmates to organize an ongoing fundraiser to benefit the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
The Bexley Virtual Festival accepts donations at bexleyfestival.com. The money is then donated to the foodbank's COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
"The event was originally planned to be an in-person event titled the Bexley Festival, with a different (beneficiary) and mission," Feldman said.
"When that event was canceled, I decided to carry the theme over to the Bexley Virtual Festival. Festivals often promote community togetherness. Although the community cannot physically come together, it's important we all work to end hunger."
Organizing fundraisers is part of his duties as president of the BHS Key Club, a service club in which members contribute to the community.
"We've been doing fundraising events each year," Feldman said. "With the school closing, we decided to set up this online fundraiser. I got together with some other friends and we formed it."
Feldman said he and his classmates chose to raise money for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank because the organization provides food to families in need.
The foodbank partners with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, grocers, food companies, Ohio farmers and other community organizations to gather and distribute food to pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs and senior-housing sites throughout central and eastern Ohio, according to midohiofoodbank.org.
Mid-Ohio Foodbank president and CEO Matt Habash described how the organization is responding to the pandemic in a video posted on the organization's website.
"We're connecting to the homeless community that needs more meals as they separate and spread out," Habash said. "We're connecting to kids that are getting food from the schools, by having fresh produce there. And we're delivering food to seniors that are home and isolated.
"This is all about how we as a community stay connected."
Feldman said the Bexley Virtual Festival will continue for the foreseeable future.
The coronavirus has had an impact on Feldman and his classmates' senior year, as prom, graduation and other traditional rites of passage have been postponed or canceled.
Working on the fundraiser helps keep the classmates connected.
Feldman said he plans to major in computer science and business at Northeastern University and is doing his best to complete his high school studies online.
"It's been an adjustment," he said. "It hasn't been too bad.
"I'm trying to make the best of the situation."