PERKASIE — It's not unusual for members of St. Andrew's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Perkasie to make food donations to the Pennridge FISH food pantry. 

"We have a shopping cart out front and they donate every week," Associate Pastor Joshua Sullivan said.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, also known as Kellers Church, in Bedminster and Trinity Lutheran Church in Perkasie are also among the list of local churches the FISH website lists as supporters.

"We're pretty much collecting for Pennridge FISH all year round," Trinity's Pastor Jennifer Phelps Ollikainen said.

This month, though, there's a special reason to bring in food for the pantry. What started last year as a challenge between Trinity and St. Matthew's to see which one could bring in the most food during July — and the friendly side bet that the pastor of the congregation who brought in the lesser amount would dye their hair purple — has been expanded to include St. Andrew's and this year it will be blue hair instead of purple. 

"Pennridge FISH distributes on average 30,000 lbs. of food each month to over 850 individuals in need. While many people think of FISH during the holidays, in the summer months the shelves start to get bare. By August, many are empty," according to Trinity information about what is now called "Feed the Need" and has become an annual July collection.

Last year's drive brought in a combined 8,889 pounds from St. Matthew's and Trinity, with Trinity slightly ahead in the totals, but in a show of unity, both Ollikainen and St. Matthew's Pastor Heidi Rodrick-Schnaath dyed their hair purple.

"It took a good three weeks for it to wash out," Ollikainen said.

During that time, she also had to do a funeral, she said. 

"Thank goodness the woman who passed away had a good sense of humor," she said. 

This year, though, Ollikainen said, she's particularly looking forward to having St. Andrews Pastor Philip Krey, who was one of Ollikainen's professors in seminary, have to dye his hair blue.

If Sullivan has to dye his hair as a result of the contest, he said, it won't be all that consequential.

"I don't have that much hair left," Sullivan said.

If he does have to do the dye, though, it will also include his beard, he said.

While Trinity holds food drives for FISH year-round, special challenges such as this bring in much more food, Ollikainen said. 

"The competition seems to get people fired up and really motivated to give," she said.

Adding another church also adds to the competition, she said.

"The more people we get involved, the more we feed the need," she said.

Information about Pennridge FISH, including a current needs list, is available at pennridgefish.org

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