CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "Back in 2020, when the pandemic was starting up, me and my mom, we were at the supermarket and the mom ahead of us couldn't pay for all the food in their cart," said 14-year-old Ruhan Shah. "And even though others around her offered to help, she refused."
The eye-opening moment made the then-8th grader from Lumberton Township, New Jersey, think about how he could make a difference.
"It really actually got me kind of emotional that people that are just like me can't have the same, you know, experience or the same life that they would want to live," he said.
By the year 2021, Shah was able to start his own community food drive. "Ruhan's Rally" started as a call-to-action for local businesses to create donation boxes in their stores. It also corralled Shah's family, Lumberton Township officials, Rancocas Valley Regional High School and its school district to contribute to the cause.
The food drive returned in 2022 yielding roughly the same result. Around 250 bags worth of food were presented to local families at a pickup event. However, at the end of the day, a considerable amount of bags were left over. That inspired Shah to donate them to the Children's Home in Mt. Holly and the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey.
On a recent visit to the Ronald McDonald House to see his impact in person, Shah had the chance to meet the Seepaul family, who has been coming to Philadelphia since 2016 to receive treatment for their son with neurofibromatosis.
"We worry about food, but when we're here it's like not much of a worry because we know we always get fed," said Neila Seepaul. "I feel so proud to meet him because there's not much people with a heart like his in this world today."
At the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey, families like the Seepauls can receive three free meals per day and shop for free at the in-house pantry. Donations like Shah's help to keep the shelves stocked.
"My goal was to always keep this going until I go to college," said Shah. "But you know, even if I come back to the community every now and then, it's definitely something I'd like to continue."
Ruhan's Rally has concluded for the year 2022 and is expected to return towards the end of the 2023 school year. Still, donations are always accepted at the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey. For more information, visit their websites. You can also find Ruhan's Rally on Instagram @ruhansrally for updates.