BROOKINGS – An addition to the Brookings County Food Pantry is making both accepting and dropping off donations a little easier for the organization and its benefactors.

Brookings native and University of Minnesota biology student Hossam Halaweish constructed a drop-off box for the Brookings County Food Pantry for his Eagle Scout project, allowing for after-hours donations.

When Halaweish was still in high school and working to achieve his Eagle Scout as part of Troop 14, he was trying to come up with ideas on what to do and who to help.

He had been doing volunteer work for the food pantry in the years prior to his Eagle Scout project, and the simple answer was to continue his work on behalf of the organization.

Deb Brandwein, assistant director of the Brookings County Food Pantry, asked Halaweish if he would be willing to construct some form of a drop-off mechanism so that the community could more easily donate food items throughout the day, instead of only during the food pantry’s business hours.

Halaweish built a large gray box, roughly 3 feet long, 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall, with wheels and topped with two doors. It’s located at the east entrance of the pantry. 

Brandwein said there’s always a donation inside each morning.

Besides creating a safe and secure area for donating food items when the staff is not there, the box assists staff members in moving large donations that can sometimes be over 100 pounds (often whole crates of canned items are donated at once).

“What (the Brookings County Food Pantry) does is often overlooked by the community. What they do day-in and day-out, especially the people that work there, you know they’re committing their lives to social work,” Halaweish said. “They’re a blessing to the community, so I thought ‘What’s the best way to help?’”

Halaweish finds much of his drive and inspiration from his parents, who immigrated from Egypt to Brookings so that his father could teach at South Dakota State University.

“That was kind of like an inspiration for me, doing Boy Scouts, doing all of the volunteer work for the food pantry. I mean, my parents left everything behind in Egypt, they came to America for our family. That selflessness stuck with me,” Halaweish said. “My dad was telling me that community and the people within it is one of the most important things to have in life.”

Halaweish hopes to go to medical school when he is done with his undergraduate studies and wants to work as a pediatric surgeon. He is also on the University of Minnesota men’s soccer team.

“Growing up in Brookings, I was really blessed with a community that taught me so much and welcomed me from the start.”

For more information about how to volunteer and donate to the Brookings County Food Pantry, visit or visit the pantry at 217 Fourth St.

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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