Philly Proud: Familiar face behind charity supporting businesses and first responders

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A face that's familiar to Philadelphia sports fans is behind a charity that is giving back to those on the front lines of this pandemic while also supporting local businesses.

You could say that Leslie Gudel wears many hats.

For 25 years she worked as a sports broadcaster, transitioned to real estate, and since COVID-19 has put the world on hold, she started a charity dedicated to raising money for local businesses.

"I thought, 'Wow we can put together a campaign to support the local restaurants and buy gift cards from them to keep money running through the system, and take those gift cards and turn around and donate them to first responders and people on the front lines and food banks.'"

She's appropriately named it "Food it Forward" and it's basically like a mini-factory for charity, run by 13 women volunteers.

They raised more than $10,000 in the first two days, bringing the total today to over $60,000.

"We started with two local food banks, we're up to six now," Gudel said. "We've already given a little over $3,000 to Paoli Hospital to try to touch as many people as possible."

"And also three firehouses in Radnor, Berwyn and Paoli. We've given each of them $100," she added.

Of course it's about giving back to our front lines, but also finding purpose during tough times.

"I gave one to our mail carrier and she cried and she said I wish I could hug you but I can't."

For now, Leslie, we'll have to send a big virtual hug right to you.

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