Camp Out for Hunger

Camp Out For Hunger organizer David Smith shows some of the first day’s donations at Deep River Friends Meeting. The drive collected more than 20,000 pounds of food in just under a week.

HIGH POINT — David Smith is quick to point out that he’s never faced food insecurity, but he knows there are people all around him who have.

That’s why the 36-year-old Jamestown man spent six days and five nights last week camping out at Deep River Friends Meeting in High Point, raising awareness and collecting food donations for the church’s annual Camp Out For Hunger food drive.

The drive, which ended Saturday, collected more than 20,000 pounds of food to be donated to a couple of local food programs, the Hand To Hand Food Pantry and BackPack Beginnings.

“I’ve been very blessed in my life — I’ve never had to go without food,” Smith said.

“But I’ve come to realize what a serious issue this is. We talk about how great this country is, but we’ve got one in five kids suffering from food insecurity. We’ve got families who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or they have to decide whether to pay their mortgage this month or have something for dinner tonight. Just as a human being, that’s wrong to me — that screams to me that something has to be done.”

Smith initiated the Camp Out For Hunger food drive five years ago, after learning High Point and Greensboro led the nation in food insecurity. He remembered seeing a similar campaign in his native Philadelphia and decided to see if it could be replicated here. The drive raised about 7,500 pounds of food in its inaugural year.

Since then, every year during the week before Thanksgiving, Smith camps out for a week at his church — he even takes a week of vacation from his job at R.R. Donnelley in Greensboro — and solicits donations of non-perishable canned goods, toiletry items, and pet items such as dog food and cat litter. Donations are brought to Smith at the church.

While Smith camps out every day and night during the week, he is sometimes joined for part of the week by his wife, Kat, and their two children, Orion and Autumn. The church’s pastor, Don Durham, also joined Smith for a couple of nights last week.

Since the Camp Out For Hunger was launched in 2017, the drive has collected more than 62,000 pounds of food.

“This is my call as a Quaker and as a Christian,” Smith said. “We’re supposed to look out for the poor, the hungry and the orphans — all of that is our call as Christians.”

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