Guest post from Michael Altfest of the Alameda County Community Food Bank: One of the Bay Area’s most remarkable fundraising efforts to support local Food Banks has achieved a significant milestone. This season, the Holiday Dinner Drive – an effort among congregants at local synagogues and churches – raised its millionth dollar to help families in need. As of December 22, 2014, the drive has raised more than $1,042,000 in 17 years to support Alameda County Community Food Bank, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, and San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.
The milestone will be commemorated in a ceremony at Alameda County Community Food Bank on December 23 – the day leading up to the eighth and final night of Chanukah.
The Holiday Dinner Drive was started in 1998 by Dan McClosky, a congregant at Oakland’s Temple Sanai synagogue, after reading a report that Alameda County Community Food Bank did not have enough turkeys for the upcoming holiday season. That year, McClosky raised $550 among family and friends. Temple Sanai congregants joined in the efforts the following year, raising $13,000 for the Food Bank. The drive has continued to grow every year since – in the number of congregations as well as faiths; in the number of Food Banks supported; and the amount raised.
The Holiday Dinner Drive personifies the importance of community to hunger-relief causes. This started as a simple idea resulting from one man’s passion and dedication to ending hunger – passion and dedication that proved to be contagious. The enthusiasm for this drive is palpable – and it has resulted in one of the most outstanding efforts to help those struggling with the burden of hunger.
The drive raises funds that help food banks purchase and provide holiday-specific food to families in need, including chickens and turkeys, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and fresh and canned vegetables.
In 2014, 22 synagogues and churches participated in the Holiday Dinner Drive to support the three food banks. Fundraising for the drive continues through December 31.