Northampton Press

Saturday, January 20, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY JAMES BUNTINGStanding in front of his 21st Street, Northampton, home, Hunter Kunkel, a freshman at Northampton Area High School, collects donations for Northampton Area Food Bank. PRESS PHOTO BY JAMES BUNTINGStanding in front of his 21st Street, Northampton, home, Hunter Kunkel, a freshman at Northampton Area High School, collects donations for Northampton Area Food Bank.

Making spirits bright

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 by JAMES BUNTING Special to The Press in Local News

14-year-old Santa collects donations for food bank

For most Lehigh Valley residents, rush hour traffic in December is a frightening endeavor.

But one family in Northampton is looking to brighten the Route 329 commute, in addition to helping the less fortunate, this holiday season.

For the past five years, the Kunkel family, 220 E. 21st St., has collected donations for the Northampton Area Food Bank in front of their home. On almost every night of the week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can find 14-year-old Hunter Kunkel dressed as Santa waving to commuters.

Hunter’s mother, Michelle, found the Santa costume five years ago and gave it to Hunter’s older brother, Josh Rumble. Josh carried on the Kris Kringle tradition for three years before passing it to Hunter in 2016.

As long as the weather is tolerable, Hunter grabs his red suit after school and goes out to wave to commuters and thank those who leave a donation.

“We just ended up starting it one year, and I called (the food bank) and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a donation,’” Michelle said.

As the amount of food collected grows every year, the number of holiday decorations climbs, too. The Kunkels’ property features hundreds of lights and a plethora of lawn ornaments, which continue to multiply.

Hunter is also collecting an impressive list of stories. From people jumping out of their cars to take pictures with him, to milk-and-cookie deliveries, the Northampton Area High School freshman is enjoying his role of bringing neighborhood cheer.

The Kunkels keep all of the food that is collected in their basement, then make one large drop-off at the food bank in January. A donation box is also placed at the front of their home.