Living in Beaver all of my 26 years of life, if there is one thing I know, it’s that we like to help each other. There are raffles and charities, fundraisers and giveaways, all in the name of bettering the County and the people within. When tragedy strikes, our BC family always joins forces and rallies together to help.

But what about the day-to-day needs of the residents? One woman that actually just moved back “home” to Beaver County after 17 ½ years of being away has put together an amazing program that does just that!

Big Hearts, Happy Bellies

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Emily O’Leary, the woman who created the Big Hearts, Happy Bellies program in Beaver. She is originally from Patterson, moved to Forsyth County in Georgia, and then moved back to Beaver in 2014. She modeled this program after one there called “Food for Thought.”

The program was brought to Georgia from another family, originally from Paradise, California. And that program was formed in California by a family originally from Ashland, Oregon. This is a perfect example of how a good deed can travel!

The basic premise for all of these programs, here in Beaver and the one all the way in Oregon, is to make participation simple and to support a local need. With some investigating, Emily created Big Hearts, Happy Bellies in Beaver and chose to benefit The Women’s Center of Beaver County.   

The Women’s Center of Beaver County

First, let’s talk facts. The Women’s Center has been in Beaver County since 1976. It was originally located in Beaver Falls, moved to Rochester in 1978, and then finally moved again to Beaver in 1981 and has been located there ever since. Each year, more than 2,000 survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and the homeless utilize their services. They can take up to 24 women and children at one time. Once in the shelter, they are able to stay for up to 30 days. You can read more on their history and what they can do on their website.

Big Hearts, Happy Bellies is a bi-monthly, community based, on-going picked up food drive organized and run by Emily. The program was designed to be incredibly easy for the participants and it really is. On the last pickup, February 20, there were 29 families participating and she collected 336 lbs of food. Last year she collected a total of 988 lbs. That means Emily is on track already with just the one pickup to blow away last year’s numbers! 

Do you want to participate??  Here is how!

All you need to do is sign up on the Big Hearts, Happy Bellies website. After you enter all of your information, a reusable grocery bag along with a list of pickup dates and accepted donation items will be delivered to your door. This bag is what you will use every other month for your donation! 

One week before the pickup, Emily will send you an email reminding you of the collection and of new items on the Women’s Center wish list. The day before the pickup, she will send another quick email reminder. The day of the collection (the next one is April 16), place your bag on your porch and it will be picked up and replaced with an empty bag for the next pickup. Easy peasy!  

After the collection, and once all of the food has been gathered, one final email will come from Emily letting you know the total collection amount that was donated. It really couldn’t be much easier than that!!

Since this is a one-woman operation so far, the pickups are limited to the towns of Beaver and Brighton Township. Now, since the goal of this article is to GROW the collection, there are people offering to volunteer with the pickups. So if you are outside of those areas and want to help, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch! It will be on a case-by-case basis depending on where you live.

We hope you can participate in this amazing program! Even just picking up one extra item each time you are at the store will help. There are no commitments and you can certainly stop participation at any time. The next pickup is April 16. Won’t you join us?!

As Emily likes to say, “Your big heart will make happy bellies!”

Sign Up to Help Big Hearts, Full Bellies!

If you would like more information about participating in this awesome local program, just send Emily your contact info and she will be in touch with all the details!

Anastasia Beaverhausen is a married, stay-at-home mom of three kids. She was born, raised and still lives in downtown Beaver. Her main goals in life are making sure everyone lives through the week, the house doesn’t end up condemned, and teaching two (so far) small people how to “people” properly. In her free time, Ana enjoys running, knitting and gardening, although free time is a pretty tough thing to come by these days. Follow her on twiter @bcBeaverhausen!