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Tag ‘ community service ’

We Couldn’t Do it Without Our Volunteers

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: Because of support from a generous community, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has been able to increase the amount of food we distribute to people at risk of hunger.

We receive financial support from individuals and corporations, which helps us fuel our trucks and keep the lights on. We also have an outpouring of support with community food drives that add variety to the bulk items we purchase.

One of the most essential pieces of the support puzzle is the volunteer force that has answered the call to serve.

More than 50,000 volunteer hours are given to us each year — the equivalent of 25 additional staff members. Volunteers serve on our Board of Directors, help with office and fund development tasks, and help sort food. They help with food distributions and touch every program we run.

We have volunteers who hold doctoral degrees and volunteers who are developmentally disabled. Volunteers come with their Scout groups, their faith communities, their service clubs and their fellow workers. Some volunteers come once a year, some are here every week (or more).

Volunteers are important to us because they become our best advocates in the community. Volunteers have hands-on experience with our work, so they can speak with authority about what we do. They see us gather food, they see how effectively the Food Bank operates, and they see the people we serve.

Volunteers do hands-on work and know the commitment we have, as an organization, to our mission.

The Food Bank could not survive without the time and energy volunteers give.

The Little Pink Bike That Could

Although we only request donations of food or funds, sometimes non-food donations make their way into our warehouse.  A nice, pink bike cruised into our Concord warehouse this year and left to find a happy home.

Saturday 9/22 was Pleasant Hill’s Community Service Day. For 8 years, the Pleasant Hill Police, Boy Scouts and local bicycle repair shops have joined together to repair/refurbish bicycles to go to children/youth in the foster care system in conjunction with the nonprofit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). On Saturday, we delivered a tricycle, a bike in a box needing to be built and the pink bicycle. It turns out that all the pink bicycle needed was a technician to adjust the brakes. Sport Chalet staff had the bike ready to go in less than 10 minutes. Once the repaired bikes were ready they stood on one side of the park waiting for the children/youth to stop by.

From a distance, I saw a tall girl checking out the pink bike. The girl who is 13 and stands at least 5 foot 7 inches tall, goes to Carquinez Middle School. Her foster mother said she is growing so fast that her old bike doesn’t fit her and it is quite old and beat up. The girl rode the bike for a few seconds and thought it might be the one. I told her I was from the Food Bank and the bike came from Target and had never been owned by anyone else. She would be the original owner. All it needed was a quick fixing of the brakes but Target chose to give it to us instead. You could see the girl’s face light up when she found out she was the first owner of this bike. She then rode the bike around the park wearing the biggest smile you could imagine. The CASA representative told me this young girl rarely smiles and rarely has received anything new, so this pink bicycle was going to be very special to her and she would never forget the Food Bank for bringing it to the park for her. The foster mother had tears in her eyes as she watched the girl ride around and around never wanting to get off her new pink bike.

Adding Community to Service

The cities of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek rally the community to get involved at their annual Community Service Days. Pleasant Hill is hosting their 8th annual Community Service Day on 9/22 and Walnut Creek is hosting their 2nd annual Community Service Day on 10/6. There are many projects benefitting the nonprofits and schools in these cities.

We invite you to join the Food Bank team in conducting a neighborhood food drive. We supply the bags and flyers, you engage your neighbors/friends, you pick up and deliver their food donations to our Food Bank truck at the park. This is a great project for youth of all ages, groups, individuals and families.

Sign up on the City of Pleasant Hill’s website.
Sign up on the City of Walnut Creek’s Website.

Benicia High School Holiday Food Drive 2011

Guest post by Vincent Lee: I’m Vincent Lee, a senior at Benicia High School, and got approval to organize and coordinate the Holiday Food Drive at our school.  I was thrilled to be able to make a difference in my community and help collect over 2,000 pounds for the Food Bank.

Food drives should run for at least 2 weeks, with enough time to advertise at the beginning of the drive as well as time at the end to collect the cans and make prepare for the scheduled pick up.  Be sure to have a committee to help you find empty boxes and have them delivered to each classroom and you’ll need their help to pick up the canned food items throughout the food drive.  Don’t wait till the last minute to collect all the cans.  I created a spreadsheet for us to keep track of the cans we collected from each of the classrooms.

Here are some suggestions to advertise your food drive at school: display the barrels at a place where students will notice them, find funding (possibly the PTA or PTSA) for a pizza party for the class that collects the most cans and announce this incentive at the beginning of the food drive, have the food drive announced each day on the PA system, write a blurb in the school newsletter that goes out to parents and students, have a teacher or administrator e-mail all the teachers about the food drive and the incentive.  If your school has the automatic telephone announcement service to parents – use it to announce the food drive.  I think involving parents is important.

The Food Bank people are friendly, great to work with and try so hard to help our community.  Hopefully, students out there like me will join in and make a difference in our community as well.  I’m proud of our school and the spirit our teachers and students have in making this Holiday Food Drive a success!  Congratulations to Coach Tuiolosega’s 4th period class who won the pizza party by collecting over 400 cans! Special thanks to Mrs. Aragon’s classes who brought in over 760 cans, Mr. Alverez’s class who brought in 225 cans, my Link Crew teacher Mr. Nelson, and my awesome Link Crew committee: Michaela, Colby, Sierra, Matt, and Kailee!!

Happy Holidays and hope 2012 will be an even brighter year for you!