BETHESDA — With the Super Bowl set to kick off Sunday, Bethesda resident Tom McCormack and his 12-year-old son Colin McCormack, are bearing near-freezing temperatures on Saturday afternoon to collect donations.
Standing outside the Giant supermarket on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, they’ve taken advantage of the NFL matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots to entice shoppers to donate certain items based on the team they support.
“We’re both very pleased with the way things are going,” McCormack said.
“I think people are being very generous,” Colin added as he handed fliers to shoppers entering the store.
Their effort, which McCormack said was his son's idea, was coordinated with Giant in advance and organized on behalf of Bethesda Cares, a local charity for the homeless based in downtown Bethesda.
With two carts, each representing one of the NFL teams, they encouraged shoppers to purchase toiletries, like toothpaste or soap, if they support the Philadelphia Eagles or non-perishable items, like canned or boxed food, if they support the New England Patriots and drop the purchases into one of the carts as they exit the store.
A steady stream of shoppers made donations after completing their shopping and by 4 p.m., midway through their four-hour time slot, both carts approached capacity. Tom McCormack added they needed to use a few backup boxes to relieve the carts of overflow items.
By 6 p.m., McCormack said he and his son collected a total of 10 large boxes of donations and four cases of bottled water.
Colin, a seventh grader at North Bethesda Middle School who will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah later this year, explained the project was part of the community service requirement with his rabbi.
“This could evidently lead to the start of something big,” Colin said. “I don’t know but that would be cool to do.”
Shoppers reacted with positive feelings and encouragement.
“I think it’s a wonderful effort and I think we should all be more involved in helping others,” said Marsha Wolfe, a Rockville resident who was not supporting either team but donated some canned goods. “There’s so many without food.”
“We’re all in this together and I’m happy to help,” said Bethesda resident Spencer Case who dropped several cans into the Patriots cart.
Friends and neighbors of the McCormacks stopped by to drop off donations, delighted at the endeavor.
Lynn Koenig and her son Parker Koenig are neighbors of the McCormacks; they plan to support the Eagles and dropped some toothbrushes into the Eagles cart.
“I think it’s great, I think Colin is doing something for the community,” she said speaking about the effort.
“It’s good for all the people the food is going to and I think it’s cool he’s doing it for the Super Bowl,” added Parker, who is also a friend of Colin’s.
Nick Vasilopoulos, a neighbor and a family friend of the McCormacks, expressed encouragement.
“There’s lots of things Colin could have done for his Mitzvah but this is one of those things that hits home for a lot of people and could have a big impact right away,” he said.
Robert Gray, one of the store’s managers, said Giant encourages community service.
“A lot of the times we do it at a corporate level where every store in the county would participate in a food drive with Manna Foods but this particular case is a student doing a community service project,” Gray said. “We had space available for them so we were more than willing to accommodate.”