Meet the Young Leaders Behind the Chapel Hill High PORCH Club

Notable Neighbors
A few of the Chapel Hill High club leaders during a Brandwein’s Bagels fundraiser for PORCH. From left to right: Abby Weber, Amelia Solum, Sydney Runkle, and Chloe Elbogen.

PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro proudly sees volunteers of all ages pitching in to help us reach our goals – and that includes busy students who are willing to carve out time to make a difference in their community. 

Chapel Hill High School has operated a PORCH club for several years. Last year, close to 100 students joined! The club takes part in a wide variety of events to assist PORCH, including making uplifting cards for food recipients, writing postcards to government representatives to promote hunger relief, organizing food drives and benefit nights, and volunteering for PORCH events like snack sorts. 

The club is currently led by Abby Weber, Mia Oliaro, and Emily Kilgallen. Abby is a senior who is an avid runner and very interested in science. Mia, a junior, is a competitive soccer player who likes to paint, travel, and spend time with friends. Fellow junior Emily is a member of the CHHS swim and field hockey teams and is the junior class representative in the student government. 

Get to know these young, generous, and gifted leaders through this Q&A, follow the club on Instagram – and look for their PORCH benefits at businesses like Brandwein’s Bagels around town! 

How did you get involved with PORCH? 

Abby: I first got involved in PORCH as a freshman in high school. Out of all of the clubs offered at Chapel Hill High, PORCH club struck me as a great opportunity to give back to the community in a direct and meaningful way. 

Mia: I got involved with PORCH when I was in elementary school; my family served as the PORCH coordinator for our neighborhood. I would collect food bags off front porches and take them to the distribution center. When I entered high school, the past club president, Sydney Runkle, reached out to me and told me it was a great club to join. I saw it as a great opportunity, and I have been a part of the club ever since. 

Emily: I first got involved with PORCH as an elementary school student, as my family would help with food sorts. Then, as a freshman in high school, I decided to sign up for the PORCH club at my school. I knew what PORCH stood for and wanted to join the club to get more involved with the organization. Once COVID hit, I began making and selling face masks to members of our community. For each mask I sold, I donated a dollar to PORCH, and to this point, I have donated probably about $400 to PORCH. 

What would you say to someone thinking about getting involved with PORCH? 

Abby: I would highly encourage getting involved. Helping PORCH is such a great way to meet so many inspiring, service-oriented leaders and make your own contribution to the community. It’s as easy as signing up for an afternoon snack sort, yet you can always get more involved because PORCH offers so many fantastic volunteer opportunities.

Mia: I would definitely suggest becoming involved in PORCH, as it is a great way to support a grassroots organization that is touching so many lives in our community. Not only are we making an impact in our community, but it is a great group of students and leaders that are hardworking and fun to be around. 

Emily: I would say definitely do it! Helping PORCH is so rewarding because you know you are making a big difference in your community, and it is something that is so easy to get involved with. Before getting more involved with PORCH, I did not realize how much went on behind the scenes of the PORCH organization. Being a small part of something so much larger is part of what makes volunteering with PORCH so special. 

Why do you think PORCH’s mission is so critical? 

Abby: PORCH’s mission is critical because it is providing food to over 100 neighborhoods in our community! This is an amazing accomplishment that meets a crucial community need. Additionally, PORCH has worked incredibly hard to face the challenges of the pandemic by adapting with safe practices so the organization can continue to fulfill its mission.

Mia: PORCH’s mission is very important because hunger is a bigger problem in our local community than many realize, and PORCH makes it easier for families in need to have access to food. PORCH’s efforts to reach people, not only through food but also through uplifting and inspirational messages throughout the year, help families recognize that there are people in the community who care about them. 

Emily: PORCH’s mission is so critical because it is providing food and resources to community members in need and creating easier access to nutritious food. This is super important because PORCH is helping to reduce the amount of hunger in our community!

What is your favorite part of the work you do with PORCH? 

Abby: Taking part in snack sorts for local schools has been one of my favorite parts of the work I do with PORCH. Seeing all of the generous contributions as well as the hard work of PORCH leaders and school social workers to organize and distribute all of this food is very inspiring. In particular, as a high schooler, it means a lot to me to be directly involved in helping other students!

Emily: I would have to agree with Abby on this; my favorite part of the work I do with PORCH is taking part in the snack sorts for our local schools. Not only is it rewarding to know that the people benefiting from our efforts are some of the people I see at school every day, but it also makes me really happy seeing all of the donations that I know will make a huge difference at the local schools. 

Mia: In agreement with Emily and Abby, the snack sorts are definitely one of my favorite parts. I would have to say that creating local fundraisers in coordination with business to raise money for PORCH is one of my favorite parts as well. These fundraisers provide an opportunity to raise awareness about PORCH’s mission as well as gaining community support.

Cards the club made to give to families receiving food from PORCH.