Skaneateles Teen Using Wish to Provide Hunger Relief: Make-A-Wish Central New York & Food Bank of Central New York Team Up to Make 18-year-old Caden’s Wish Come True

Thursday, May 21, 2020

How YOU can help:

  • What: Food donation drive in support of Caden’s Wish Break Boxes
  • When: Saturday, May 30, 2020 (12:00 pm – 3:00 pm)
  • Who: Make-A-Wish Central New York and Food Bank of Central New York
  • Where: Destiny USA, Syracuse (Silver Parking Lot – across from Embassy Suites). Please look for signs directing drivers to exact drop off location.
  • What to expect: Donors are asked to bag or box their donations. Volunteers will remove donations from vehicles and place them inside a mobile food pantry truck provided by Food Bank of Central New York. Syracuse Police Department will help with traffic control.

Items Needed for Caden’s Wish Break Boxes:

  • Cereal
  • Canned fruit
  • 100% juice drink boxes
  • Mac & cheese
  • Canned meals such as canned ravioli, canned spaghetti
  • Tuna fish/canned chicken/pork & beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Jam/Jelly
  • Graham crackers
  • Pretzels/tortilla/popcorn – individual size bags
  • Raisins
  • Crackers

Syracuse, NY (May 21, 2020)―Like high school seniors across the country, 18-year-old Caden Custer of Skaneateles is finishing up his school year in an uneventful way thanks to COVID-19 and related precautions. However, there’s something extraordinary unfolding for Caden that will make this year perhaps even more memorable than graduation.

The teen is using his wish opportunity through Make-A-Wish Central New York to give to local youth and families in need, and make a positive, lasting difference.

Living with cystic fibrosis (CF), a life-threatening genetic condition, Caden has been eligible for a wish for years. However, the athletic, entrepreneurial young man has done well with CF treatments and felt there was nothing he needed.

But when Caden discovered he could use his wish to give, ideas began to flow. To help Caden determine how to use his wish, Make-A-Wish Central New York gathered together local nonprofit organizations in early March. The organizations specialized in areas of interest to Caden, including academics, athletics, promoting good health, and hunger relief. Pitching proposals a la “Shark Tank,” the organizations identified how they would use Caden’s wish to make an impact.

As Caden considered the proposals, the spread of COVID-19 led to the shutdown of local communities. The impact on families inspired Caden to think about food insecurity and kids whose primary access to meals were through school. He knew he could have a significant impact on local children who rely on school breakfast and lunch programs and decided to use his wish to make a difference for those struggling with hunger.

To make Caden’s wish come true, Make-A-Wish Central New York has partnered with Food Bank of Central New York to enhance its school break box program. A food drive on May 30 will collect needed items for the boxes, which have been renamed “Caden’s Wish Break Boxes.” The boxes will be packed in mid-June and mid-July, then distributed by the Food Bank to various youth service sites over the course of 10 weeks. A total of 2,125 boxes will be distributed this summer to locations throughout Cayuga and Onondaga counties through Caden’s wish.

As sustainability of the program is important to Caden, Make-A-Wish Central New York and Food Bank of Central New York are working to ensure the program continues long into the future.

“During a time when wishes had to be postponed due to COVID-19, both the ability to grant Caden’s wish and the very nature of his wish are both so meaningful,” said Make-A-Wish Central New York President and CEO Diane Kuppermann. “Caden is an extraordinary young man making an extraordinary difference to kids and families in our community.”

“Food Bank is thrilled to partner with Make-A-Wish Central New York to grant Caden’s wish,” said Karen Belcher, Interim Executive Director at Food Bank of Central New York. “He is an extraordinary young man who has chosen to use his wish to help children struggling with hunger. During this difficult time, Caden is a true inspiration to us. His wish has reminded us everyone has the power to make a positive difference in someone else’s life. Caden has made an impact on all of us at the Food Bank and our intention is to continue Caden’s wish for years to come to help others in his honor.”

For those unable to donate to or participate in the drive, monetary donations in support of Caden’s wish may be made to either the Food Bank or Make-A-Wish Central New York.

For more information, please contact Lynn Hy at 315-437-1899 ext. 247 or by email at lhy@foodbankcny.org.

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