Jack and Jonathan’s food drive raises a thousand items for the hungry

Madison Heights Bishop Foley students Jonathan Nordstrom (maroon shirt) and Jack Decker (blue shirt with a cross) organized a food drive in their neighborhood, resulting in 160 bags containing a thousand food items for the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. At left, Bishop Foley senior Lizzy Uhlarik, senior Anya Pelshaw, freshman Luke Decker, senior Kyle Kaczmar, senior Jack Decker, and senior Jonathan Nordstrom delivered the food to the Solanus Casey Center on Sunday, Aug. 18. (Photos courtesy of Jack Decker)

Bishop Foley students' drive inspired by Catholic faith, uncle's example; 160 bags donated to Solanus Center

MADISON HEIGHTS — Jack Decker is 17 now, but he remembers eight or nine years ago when his Uncle Bob conducted a food drive in his Royal Oak-Berkley neighborhood.

It all came to mind one cold day in February when he and his friend, Jonathan Nordstrom, were pondering the notion of helping people who might not have enough to eat.

“We knew we wanted to do something,” Jonathan said.

“What about my Uncle Bob’s idea?” Jack piped up. “We’ll copy his format. We’ll ask our neighbors.”

And, that’s exactly what they did. 

Jack and Jonathan, who’s also 17, are seniors at Bishop Foley High School. They both are alumni of Guardian Angels grade school in Clawson.

It took six months to implement their action plan. Originally, they thought they’d do it in April or May, but “school stuff got in the way.”

“Stuff” like track. Jack runs the 800- and 1600-meter races. He placed fourth in the 1600 in the CHSL Division C-D championship, and fifth in the 800.

Jonathan placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles.

In the Division 3 state meet, Jack wound up 15th in the 1600, but vows he’ll finish in the top 8 next spring, which will put him in the All State category.

Jonathan’s “stuff” happened on the stage. He’s had the lead role in the school’s last two musical productions, “Once Upon a Mattress” and “42nd Street.”

“He’s a pretty good singer,” said Jack, spoken like a true friend.

Jack is a “Cathlete,” the identity of members of Foley’s chapter of Catholic Athletes for Christ who meet every other Wednesday during the school year to share the Gospel and practice their faith through a variety of community service projects.

And, of course, the academic “stuff.” Both are A students.

This summer, Jack caddied at Oakland Hills Country Club (“I don’t care for golf. It’s too slow for me,” he said), and Jonathan was a scooper at Oberweis Ice Cream parlor in Troy.

Against this background, they built the foundation for Jack and Jonathan’s First Annual Food Drive to take place on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11, for the benefit of the Solanus Casey Center and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

It turned out to be a hectic 48 hours.

As late as a couple of weeks earlier, Jack had assurances from about 50 volunteers to help.

“Only about a dozen showed,” he said. “Some said they were on vacation or had jobs. Most just forgot.”

On Saturday, the crew roamed the 17 Mile-Coolidge neighborhood in Troy where Jack lives. “We must have knocked on about 500 doors,” he said.

They shared their message with those who answered, or left a note inviting them “to join us in doing our part in meeting the needs of our hungry neighbors ... crucial for the cold months ahead even if it is currently warm.”

They also left a plastic bag with instructions for non-perishable food items and to leave it on the porch before 10 the next morning, Sunday, for pickup.

Mission was accomplished early Sunday afternoon. Jack, Jonathan and friends delivered 160 bags containing about a thousand food items to the Solanus Center.

“We had called ahead to let them know we were coming,” Jack said, “but the receptionist was thrilled. She couldn’t speak. I’ll always remember that.”

“It was a fulfilling experience,” Jonathan said.

As for the future, Jack is contemplating an engineering degree at Hope College (and hoping to keep on running), while Jonathan’s college plans are undetermined except that they include theater arts.

Will there be a second annual food drive?

Jack’s brother, Luke, an incoming freshman at Foley, sat in on the interview.
“Yes,” he said.

He’ll have the benefit of Uncle Bob’s and Jack and Jonathan’s examples to draw from.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].