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Nextdoor neighbors collect food for Memphis families in need

“It felt as festive as ever and even more special that we had started a new tradition with the food donation that will continue,” said Brad Boucher.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — At ABC 24 Memphis, we meet so many people who touch our lives and make huge impacts in the community.

One of those families is the Bouchers.

We were introduced to the Bouchers through our Nextdoor neighbors. They have a family tradition which took a slight but rewarding turn during the pandemic.

The Bouchers were once strangers to the Mid-South.

“We are both from Minnesota. We would make a pilgrimage there,” said Brad Boucher.

Brad and Barb Boucher now welcome Memphis as home even during the holidays.

“We always wanted to spend Christmas here in a very festive way. Our open house sort of became that opportunity,” said Brad.

The family has been inviting friends and family over for holiday dinner for the past 27 years, until the pandemic happened.

“We obviously could not have our home open to our friends and family. That was when we said, ‘Geez, we still would like to have something,’” said Brad.

“When the pandemic hit, I received a phone call. They said, ‘We need some help. Our neighbors are saying they’re hungry.’ So many of the people who were doing food services, their volunteers were people who weren’t or didn’t feel comfortable or safe because of COVID, coming to volunteer, so they had to shut down,” said Barb.

Instead of an open house, the Bouchers closed their home to reach a much larger community.

Brad said, “How about we have a drive-by?”

That’s what they decided to do. The family started an open house parade where people donate food to help families in need and receive a home cooked meal themselves.

“We weren’t sure how many were going to show up and we had prepared food to make 100 to-go bags. We ran out of to-go bags,” said Barb. “We also collected over 800 items to give to the food pantries.”

It was so successful that the Bouchers did another this year.

“It felt as festive as ever and even more special that we had started a new tradition with the food donation that will continue,” said Brad.

On the receiving end, food banks such as Sunshine & Daisy are grateful.

“Last year, it filled our pantry completely full. We have just recently run out of the food they donated to us last year,” said Andrea Denette and Gretchen Gintz, Sunshine & Daisy co-founders. “It’s just amazing. It’s amazing. It really makes us hopeful and encourages us to continue to fill those bags every Saturday.”

“All of sudden that gives them a really easy way for them to give back themselves in a substantive way to those in need. It’s a giving sort of season and 12 months a year, there are needs, but in particular people want to give sort of when they’re focused on their own blessings,” said Brad.

“I think the message is that the people receiving that they are loved, and that people are giving this without recognition just because they want people to not be hungry and to meet those needs,” said Barb.

These are needs that are now traditionally met from those with a heart for giving.