ROCHESTER, N.Y. — More than half of Rochester school kids live in poverty. The problem is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. One local woman is hoping to feed as many needy families as she can this Thanksgiving. It’s a story of how a simple request posted on social media has grown into something much bigger.
Karen Iglesia knows the power of social media. Between various social media platforms, she has about 9,000 followers. Most are young athletes, coaches, and referees who are now helping to create what’s nothing short of a Thanksgiving miracle.
It started with a single post — a tweet challenging followers to help her feed a small number of needy families this holiday season.
“If a kid is hungry, they can’t learn,” said Iglesia. “Think about it. You're watching football, you get a snack to eat. You get up in the morning, you get breakfast. We take all of this stuff for granted.”
Iglesia says within hours, the challenge was accepted. Coaches and athletes from Victor to Aquinas to Franklin, and all across Section V, began raising money for a Thanksgiving feast.
“I was just trying to feed 20 people,” she said. “This became an entire operation.”
It is an operation that’s growing. Iglesia says she can now feed over 1,000 people, and she’s prepared to help more. There are stacks of donated food in their garage, a pile which barely scratches the surface. Businesses have stepped up, donating food, even a freezer truck, to keep the Thanksgiving feast fresh.
“Poverty does not equate to just settling,” said Iglesia. “Whatever I would eat at Thanksgiving with my family at this table, they're going to eat the same thing.”
The Iglesias are a sports family. Husband Gerard is a longtime basketball coach. Son Anthony is a homegrown basketball star. Karen built her social media following through her PrimeTime 585 platform, which showcases young local athletes.
The Thanksgiving drive is about more than just food. Iglesia also hopes to assemble 500 essentials kits, with deodorant, toothpaste, and other necessities for transient city school students. Donations are still being accepted. Food will be delivered by volunteers to families this Saturday. If you'd like to donate, you can call 585-230-0771.
Needs she hopes to fill, not just through the power of social media, but the power, of people.