Westwood Tradition of Supporting Food Pantry Continues with 2024 Eddie's Food Drive


Photos courtesy of Jessica Thomson. Eddie Thomson (left) inspired his mother, Jessica, and sister, Fiona, (right) to launch the annual Eddie's Food Drive, honoring his belief that everyone should have access to nutritious food and a treat.

Eddie Thomson was just five years old when he learned that food insecurity existed. It hit him hard.

He had a lot of questions about the new information that "not everyone can walk into their kitchen and have a choice of food available for them,” says his mother, Westwood resident Jessica Thomson.  

Even at that young age, Eddie felt deeply about the issue. Instead of asking for presents for his birthday, he decided to collect food. Along with healthy food choices, Eddie made sure his collection included treats. “Everyone deserves a treat,” Eddie told his mother.

When Eddie passed away at the age of six on November 21, 2017, Ms. Thomson wanted to find a way to honor his memory. She remembered the conversation about food insecurity that she shared with Eddie. She discussed it with Fiona, her daughter and Eddie’s younger sister. Both of them really liked the idea of a food drive.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Thomson. Community donations for Westwood Food Pantry are collected at the Westwood Public Library as part of Eddie's Food Drive.

In 2019, they launched the first Eddie’s Food Drive.  Aiding them were members of Westwood Young Women’s Club, of which Ms. Thomson was also a member. The women’s organization had already helped with bringing the Thomson family meals during the earlier, difficult time, and after noticing the Thomson family’s frequent traveling back and forth to the hospital, had presented them with an Uber gift card.

“They wanted to support us and asked, how did we want to honor Eddie? It was so overwhelming trying to do this [food drive], and this amazing group of women gathered around to help kick this off,” remembers Ms. Thomson.

The next year was 2020, the time that COVID-19 disrupted the world. They persevered, although their effort was more muted, with no publicity, and collections were limited to monetary donations.

In 2021, Eddie’s Food Drive was back. The family has continued the tradition each year since then. By 2024, it has started to become what some might call a Westwood tradition.

Eddie's Food Drive typically begins around the start of spring. This year, it begins on March 25th and runs through April 13th. The end date is particularly special this year, as it falls exactly on Eddie's thirteenth birthday.

Last year, in 2023, Eddie’s Food Drive resulted in collecting over 2000 food items and over $3,000 in donations to benefit Westwood Food Pantry, says Ms. Thomson. The annual event provides one of the largest annual donations to the food pantry, she says, and the amount it collects helps to sustain the pantry over the summer months when donations fall off.

The Girl Scouts have played a big part as well. Fiona is a Girl Scout, and her efforts with the organization have helped to make the food drive what it is today, notes her mother.

One added task that the Girl Scouts will have this year is picking up donations from the doorsteps of some Westwood residences for about a week. They will also help collect and sort the donated food. To leave the sorting to Westwood Food Pantry would be burdensome, notes Ms. Thomson. The scouts typically spend an entire Saturday afternoon going through thousands of donations.

Ms. Thomson remarks of the effort, “It’s definitely a lift, but definitely a labor of love.”

Image courtesy of Jessica Thomson. Pictured is the Girl Scouts patch which scouts will earn this year for assisting with the 2024 Eddie's Food Drive, an effort which honors a six year old's desire to help feed others.

The Girl Scouts will help kick-off this year’s food drive with a tour of the food pantry and by making a donation of their own. It’s a special donation and one that honors 5 year-old Eddie’s belief that “everyone deserves a treat.” The Girl Scouts will earmark a portion of Girl Scout cookies to Eddie's Food Drive which buyers and supporters of the Girl Scout cookie sale have designated as donations for the enjoyment of others.

“Girl Scout cookies are the treat that everyone needs. You don’t really need a Girl Scout cookie, but then, you really do need one!” says Ms. Thomson.

Explaining what she would like the community to take from Eddie’s Food Drive, Ms. Thomson says, “We want folks to think of the community and ways to support others." Ms. Thomson remembers the support that she and her family has received when they needed it.

“In the days, months, and years following the crash that took Eddie from us, the community really rallied around to support us. They brought food when it seemed impossible to cook meals, emotional support, helping Fiona by making sure she was still able to have happy childhood times during dark days. We’ve got a beautiful memorial down at Buckmaster Pond. There’s so many ways folks have helped out and held us when we didn’t how we could do it on our own,” she says.

"Taking the time to think about those who may be in need and may need some support – that was something that meant a lot for Eddie. For being so young, he understood that we were in a good position, but that people’s lives and circumstances change. Helping others when you’re able to help others was simple to do. Make sure they’re having healthy food to nourish themselves. And everyone gets treats.”

Thanks to Jessica Thomson for sharing her story with Westwood Minute.

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Photo courtesy of Jessica Thomson. Pictured is the 2023 Girl Scout patch which scouts earned last year by participating in Eddie's Food Drive.
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