WEST OCEAN CITY – A local family’s effort to collect food and baby supplies for those in need gained the attention and support of community members this week.
Since Monday, Justin and Brittney Acita – proprietors of Pickles Pub and Sello’s Italian Oven & Bar – have been busy collecting donations for local families in need.
After learning that four families with young children and babies had fallen on hard times, the Acitas said they had to do something to help.
“We are doing carryout at Sello’s and one of our employees brought them to our attention on Saturday night, so we made her food to take home to them,” Brittney said. “But we were lying in bed that night and we said, ‘We are closed Monday through Thursday afternoon, who’s going to feed them then?’”
Brittney explained that the families were not getting the help they needed. On Monday, she posted a Facebook message seeking donations of canned, frozen and baby foods, diapers, formula, dry goods and more.
Within hours, she said, community members, lifelong friends, out-of-state residents and even complete strangers responded. On Monday alone, the Acitas collected several food products and baby supplies and roughly $2,000 on Venmo – a digital wallet app – to purchase more.
“I did not expect to get nearly the amount we have gotten,” she said. “We are blown away.”
Brittney noted that people continue to donate each day. Justin is also making trips to Walmart to purchase additional supplies using the monetary donations.
As of Wednesday, the Acitas have collected enough donations to help 10 local families in need.
“It really gives you hope,” she said. “Everyone is down on their luck right now, us included, but it’s touching to see the number of people who have donated.”
Brittney said the community’s generosity has also taught their children the importance of giving back.
“It’s cool because my kids get excited each day when they see these donations,” she said. “My five-year-old and four-year-old are really pumped up about it and want to keep doing it because they know where it’s going.”
Brittney said she and her husband will continue to collect supplies and monetary contributions for as long as people are willing to donate. The Acitas will also distribute some of the donations to the food bank, as well as local food pantries.
“I always say we live in the best community in the world …,” she said. “It never ceases to amaze me when people, time and time again, give what they have to help others.”
Brittney encouraged people to visit her Facebook page for more information and updates.
Needed items include formula, baby food and cereal, diapers (sizes 2-6), baby wipes, canned and dry goods, frozen foods, and Tylenol or Motrin for children and babies. Donations can be dropped off at the front porch of Sello’s during business hours Thursday through Sunday.
“These families are so appreciative,” Brittney said. “We have had someone in contact with them and they are delivering these donations for us. This is just something positive happening in the community right now.”