How is started: It was back in 1998 when Preston Elliot, Steve Morrison, and Marilyn Russell started a charitable endeavor called the Camp Out for Hunger. None of them could have imagined what they started over 20 years ago would grow to what it is today. The goal of the first COH was to raise 1 ton of food, now it is the largest single site food drive in the country.
Since year one, hosts Preston and Steve literally park themselves in a parking lot for a week straight. They sleep in an RV all week long, broadcast their show every morning, and invite people to come by to donate food for Philabundance.
The event has evolved dramatically in the last 22+ years, but the mission of the COH has always remained the same: Feed the food insecure of the Delaware Valley. The very first of these week-long food drive was held in the parking lot of the now closed Adams Mark Hotel on City Ave. The live broadcasts became a spectacle that people needed to see. Local and national celebrities began to make their way on the air. The operation outgrew the hotel parking lot and moved to the Metro Plex Shopping Center in Plymouth Meeting. Eventually, THAT operation got too big and moved to the current home, the parking lot of Xfinity Live! inside The Wells Fargo Center Complex.
Each and every year, the people of the Delaware Valley donated more food and money than the previous year. Sponsors of the event got more and more involved and their donations grew as well. From early on The Preston & Steve Show offered a live broadcast to the business that donated the largest amount of food in weight. Companies like Half.com, TH Properties and CheapCarribean.com were the first to rise to the occasion; but over a decade ago, Subaru of America claimed that top spot. They continuously outdo themselves every year, their 2019 donation for instance was 763,290lbs, almost 200,000 more than the previous year. Not to dissuade other companies from competition, Subaru initiated the Camp Out for Hunger Business Challenge which added prizes for 2nd and 3rd place plus shared ideas and incentives for hosting successful food drives. It is a true community effort.
The growth of Camp Out has been amazing over the past 2 decades. What began as an initiative to raise 1 ton of food in 1998 became this juggernaut that yielded 2,679,860 pounds of food and $200,000 in 2019.