Ahwatukee Foothills residents will be seeing red on Thursday.

About 60 employees from Keller Williams Realty will be spread out around the community collecting non-perishable food items and sporting red shirts as a part of a service day the company puts on, said real estate agent Richie Laser, better known in Ahwatukee Foothills as "Richie the Realtor."

May 13 is the second RED Day for Keller Williams Realty International, a time when all local offices are required to close and perform a service project of their choice for the community, Laser said.

The Ahwatukee Foothills office opted for a food drive to help Ahwatukee residents in need. They plan to collect enough food to create boxes that will feed 100 Ahwatukee families for five days, Laser said.

"We wanted to have a big impact, especially because of the economy," Laser said. "People in Ahwatukee I think believe we're in an Ahwatukee bubble. We as Realtors know better, because people are losing their homes."

For instance, there have been 268 homes that have completed short sale or foreclosure proceedings in Ahwatukee ZIP codes since the beginning of 2010, Laser said. Another 487 are currently listed for short sales or in some stage of foreclosure.

After volunteers put together 100 food boxes, they will be distributed to the YMCA, the Kyrene Elementary School District and local churches to give to residents in need.

The Kyrene School District has a great need, with 450 homeless students and 2,000 qualifying for free and reduced lunch programs, said Amanda Hamm, prevention manager for the district.

"Because the Kyrene schools are such high quality and excelling schools, people think we don't have need. That just isn't true," Hamm said. "A lot of homeless families are good at covering it up, because there's such a stigma."

Four of Kyrene's 25 schools currently qualify as Title I, which means at least 35 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch programs.

Ahwatukee's Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary is one of those four, and Kyrene del Milenio Elementary was also a Title I school until a few years ago, Hamm said.

Thursday's food drive will help the district's Family Resource Center stock its pantry. The center opens to families in need on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to let them get different items they need, Hamm said.

It also offers community outreach classes and works with the non-profit Kyrene Schools Community Foundation, which helps students with items like scholarships to participate in extracurricular activities and gift cards to grocery stores, Hamm said. Information about both groups is available at kyrenefoundation.org.

Laser and his colleagues are asking the community for donations of non-perishable items, including pasta, pasta sauce, rice, peanut butter and jelly, canned foods and pancake mix.

A few food collection boxes are already around the community, including at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA and the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce.

Employees sporting red shirts will be at plenty of other locations Thursday, collecting food and waving at motorists to encourage donations. A few locations will include the Burger King and CVS at Chandler Boulevard and 48th Street, and the Bashas' at 48th Street and Warner Road.

For more information, contact the Keller Williams Sonoran Living office at (480)759-4300 and ask for Shanda.

Contact Writer: (480) 898-4903 or akeim@ahwatukee.com.


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