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Tenth Annual County Cares Food Fight

Originally posted in the Vacaville Reporter: The Solano County Board of Supervisors recently challenged the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to “bring it on” for the tenth annual County Cares Food Fight. This friendly competition between employees of both counties is a way of sharing the holiday spirit with the people in need the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano serves. County employees volunteer their time in creative ways raising funds for the Food Bank so help can be there during the holiday season and beyond.

Bake sales, gently-used jewelry sales, and donations for a dress-down day all help the Food Bank’s work. County staff members have fun with the “competition” that exists between departments in each county so they can get bragging rights with their fellow employees. The energy and creativity people put into this drive shows that people truly care about those in need in their community. It also shows they know how to have a fun time as they make a difference.

The County Cup Food Fight benefits the Food Bank several ways. Obviously, the money makes a real difference. This drive has raised over one million dollars in the past nine years, and provides the Food Bank more than $120,000 each year to help our work. But this drive is as important in the sense of community it brings. It is a significant act when people work together to make a difference in the lives of those in need. Through their actions, county employees are saying that it is not acceptable for hungry people to exist in our communities. The money and energy they give are a statement that hunger is not acceptable in our community.

Contra Costa and Solano County Employees Feel Like a Million Bucks!

Contra Costa and Solano County employees are approaching the 2012 Counties Care Holiday Food Fight with a new mission – to hit the $1 million dollar mark in fundraising for the Food Bank. The annual County Food Fight began in 2004 as an innocent little competition to do good in our communities when Contra Costa County employees decided to challenge Solano County employees to raise funds for the Food Bank.  Solano County accepted the challenge immediately and the Food Fight was born.  Employees in both counties wanted to help their community and dove into the Food Fight with gusto, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Each year, the county bringing in the highest dollar amount per employee wins possession of the  “Big Apple” trophy. In the past eight years, possession of the Big Apple trophy has bounced back and forth from Contra Costa County to Solano County many times.

This year the Food Fight will hit a milestone.  At the end of Holiday Food Fight 2011, during its eight year history, the counties had raised a grand total of $927,804.82!  County employees will need to collectively raise just over $72,000 this year to hit the unbelievable $1 million dollar fundraising mark.  Can they do it in this poor economy?  The Food Bank thinks they can, and is asking you to donate online in honor of your county through December 31st.

County employees can visit the Donate page of the Food Bank website and select “CC County Employee” or “Solano County Employee” from the drop down list.

If you would like to donate in honor of your favorite county, visit the Donate page of the Food Bank website and select “Friend of CC County” or “Friend of Solano County“.

Thank you Solano County and Contra Costa County employees.  What an incredible milestone to reach!

Help Your Community, Help Your Food Bank!

Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek have upcoming Community Service Days where residents come together for one day to make a difference. We are fortunate to be a part of both of these days with a neighborhood food drive as one of their community projects. Pleasant Hill is hosting its 7th annual Community Service Day on Saturday September 24th and Walnut Creek is hosting its 1st annual Community Service Day on Saturday October 1st.

The Neighborhood Food Drive Project is fun and will help provide food at a slow time for us. You can do this as an individual or as a group. We provide new paper bags, you create a flyer (we have some samples), you attach your flyers to the bags, and you place the bag/flyer on your neighbors’ doorsteps 3 to 7 days in advance. Then on Community Service Day (9/24 or 10/1), you go back to the houses where you left bags and see all of the bags of food waiting for you. Gather up the bags of food and bring them back to the park where Food Bank staff will be waiting for you. It is as easy as that and very rewarding as you know you are helping others receive the food they need. We will weigh your food at the Food Bank and then send you a thank you letter stating how much you collected. Everything you collect will be more food than we had before and add smiles to many people in our community (and will especially add a smile to you).

This is a great project for youth groups, scouts, and church groups; in fact it is a great project for everyone! To sign up or for more information, visit www.foodbankccs.org/events.

2011 Food From The Bar – Walk-A-Thon

Guest post by Kerstin Firmin and Theresa Hurley at Contra Costa County Bar Association: On Friday, May 13th, the 2011 Food from the Bar Drive culminated in a flurry of fun activities organized by the Walnut Creek law firm Archer Norris. Kicking off the day in downtown Walnut Creek, dozens of walkers in matching blue shirts completed a 3-mile Walk-A-Thon, co-sponsored by Archer Norris, the Law Offices of Hinton Alfert, Sumner & Kaufmann; Shapiro, Buchman, Provine, Brothers, Smith LLP; Timken, Johnson, Hwang LLP; McNamara, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Borges & Brothers LLP, and Sports Basement.

We Walk for the Food Bank

Family members, friends and vendors joined the law firms in their efforts to raise much-needed funds for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. “My family gets together to volunteer at least one day every month,” one walker shared, adding “Next month, we’ll go to the Food Bank to help sort food supplies.”
After the walk, a casual dress fundraiser, raffle, wine auction, and potluck lunch at the Archer Norris office rounded out the day. The day’s events marked the conclusion of the two-week long annual food drive which has raised more than $800,000 and 54 tons of food for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano since its inception 16 years ago.

Did Contra Costa law firms reach their 2011 goal of collecting $100,000 and 10,000 pounds of food? The tallying begins…

Emily Newton of Archer Norris with her mother

Karin Wiborn, Archer Norris Executive Director; Tim Sweeney of One Risk Group, and Praggay Chaturvedi of Archer Norris

Fashionistas to Help Feed Families

Guest post by Barbara Glass – Publicity Coordinator, GFWC Clayton Valley Woman’s Club: On April 2nd, the GFWC Clayton Valley Woman’s Club (CVWC) hosted their Sixth Annual Festival of Tables and Fashion Show. The event benefiting the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano was a huge success. Over 184 women attended the sold-out event coordinated by chairperson Merle Whitburn and her committee. They enjoyed lunch catered by Rick’s on Second of Antioch and were waited on by husbands, sons and friends of club members outfitted handsomely in black slacks, white shirts and black bow ties.

Club members individually decorated 23 tables for the “festival of tables” that included different festive and whimsical themes such as Spring has Sprung, It’s a Froggy, Froggy World, A Day at the Beach, and Hearts and Flowers.

Coldwater Creek of Walnut Creek presented the fashion show. Models were CVWC members and Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano staff/volunteers. There was a mix of casual and dressy fashions from the popular Broadway Plaza store that were perfect for Bay Area living and traveling.

Attendees purchased tickets for wonderful silent auction and raffle prizes. There were over 34 baskets filled with goodies donated by club members and local businesses and assembled by club members plus many silent auction items donated from local organizations. Proceeds from the event totaled over $6,000 and benefited the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano which distributes food through various nonprofit programs that serve low income communities.

Models at Clayton Valley Woman's Club Benefit Fashion Show

Pictured Here (Left to right):  Alice Jordan – CVWC charter member, Donna Sullivan – daughter of CVWC member, Carmen Williams – CVWC member, Joyce Attkinson – CVWC member, Marilyn Fitzgerald – former CVWC member, Susan Stillings – Food Bank volunteer, Linda Waxman – Food Bank ambassador, Judy Bradford – Food Bank board member, and Veronica Wimer – Food Bank staff member.

Res Ipsa Jokuitor – Kickoff for Food from the Bar

Guest post by Kerstin Firmin, Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Communications Coordinator: Res Ipsa Jokuitor, the Comedy Night kickoff event for Food from the Bar, was a rib-splitting success.

The mood in the Back Forty BBQ banquet room was festive as more than 130 guests mingled, ready to be entertained by comedians Rocky LaPorte and Andrew Norelli. Food from the Bar Planning Committee Chair Ed Shaffer of Archer Norris and Lisa Reep, Executive Director of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, along with other committee members were on hand to greet guests and sponsors, including Archer Norris, Gilardi & Co., Nevin, Ramos & Steele, and U.S. Legal Support.

A delicious dinner of BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken and all the appropriate fixings, provided by Back Forty BBQ, quieted the crowd long enough for MC Justice James Marchiano to kick off the program.

Larry Sly, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, thanked those in attendance for their efforts over the past 16 years to provide much needed food and funds to Contra Costa and Solano residents. Sly shared statistics on hunger that surprised many of those assembled, noting that nearly 1/3 of all children in Contra Costa and Solano experience hunger on a daily basis.

Sly was followed by comedian Andrew Norelli. Norelli, a Danville resident and Northern California native soon had the crowd laughing at their own expense. Norelli drew heavily on his local knowledge and family life to keep the crowd smiling. Showing no fear of the legal system, he quickly made Justice Marchiano the target of many lighthearted barbs.

Following Norelli on stage was Rocky LaPorte. LaPorte whose credits include the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Comedy Central Specials, hit the crowd hard with his Chicago style humor. Like Norelli, La Porte seemed especially taken by Justice Marchiano, seeking reassurance frequently – “Isn’t that right, Judge?”

The event marked the beginning of the two-week long competitive food drive which has raised more than $800,000 and 54 tons of food for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano since its inception 16 years ago. Eager to hit this year’s goal of $100,000 and 10,000 pounds of food, the food drive began at the door: Comedy Night attendees were asked to bring canned goods for the chance to win great door prices. Almost 180 pounds of beef stew were collected that night – a great start!

Food From the Bar Comedy NightFood From the Bar Comedy Night

To see more photos, visit the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Facebook album: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.206303136068208.55826.156293777735811.

Bingo Volunteers Needed

The Food Bank is trying a new fund raising opportunity with Blue Devils Bingo which is just down the street from us at 4065 Nelson Avenue in Concord. Every Monday morning we need to provide volunteers who work for several hours helping the bingo hall staff. The volunteers help set up the bingo, welcome guests, and sell the bingo cards. The Food Bank receives a donation for collaborating in this effort. One of our volunteers said it is her Monday morning exercise because she spends the whole time moving around the room “working the crowd”.

If you are interested in learning more about this bingo volunteer opportunity, please let us know.

Bingo Volunteers

Jason Katz and Food Bank Volunteers Going Bingo

Take a look at our latest quarterly Volunteer E-news and stay in touch with us by simply joining our online community of caring citizens who receive occasional e-news related to their area(s) of interest. Additionally, we hope you will read about the many community events (www.foodbankccs.org/events) taking place which offer a variety of ways to get involved and help support the Food Bank.

A Day in the Life of an Agency Relations Manager

Guest Post by Cory Sylvester, Food Bank staff member: I am the Agency Relations Manager at the Food Bank. A big part of my job is being a liaison to our many agencies. In order to partner with the Food Bank, agencies must go through both an application process and an on-site inspection.

On Saturday,  Feb.  12th I had arranged to visit the Church of Good Shepherd in Pittsburg while their weekly  pantry  was in operation from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon. You have to understand I never know what quite to expect when I show up to something like this, consequently the staff of volunteers isn’t really sure what to expect from me either.

It was a nice day and chairs had been set up for the crowd of about 40 people. It was a very social atmosphere with the staff offering coffee and pastries while people talked and waited.

The crowd had become aware that the “Guy from the Food Bank” was here for an inspection.  There was now a lull in conversations and a look of concern on most of the faces, because they could see me poking around and asking a lot of questions.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised by the organization of this new pantry site. I complimented the staff on their efforts and enthusiasm. This certainly lightened the mood after all of my questions about logistics, food safety, volunteers, pest control, refrigeration temperatures, etc… I told the staff what a great partnership this pantry would make with the Food Bank.

What happened next was a little unusual. The Pantry Manager announced to the crowd that they had passed the inspection.  The grateful crowd cheered, people stood up and started clapping. A few came over and patted me on the back to thank me. I think I was blushing.

Calpine Corporation donates $10,000 to Food Bank

Even though I have been with the Food Bank forever, I still get amazed at how people’s willingness to make a difference gets channeled into the reality of food going to a hungry person.

Calpine Corporation is a company that wants to make a difference in the East County community where they do business.  Through their connection with Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover they see that a donation to the Food Bank can help the low-income people in Supervisor Glover’s district.  And because we are able to get coverage of this generous donation from Dave Padilla at KCBS Radio, hopefully we can motivate other people who want to make a difference to step forward.  The connections that come from a generous impulse are fantastic.

Calpine donates $10,000

Calpine Corporation’s Business Manager Karri Campbell presents $10,000 to Larry Sly, Executive Director of the Food Bank in response to County Supervisor Federal Glover’s appeal for donations.

Last week for Counties Care Food Fight!

In the final week of the Counties Care Holiday Food Fight Solano County employees have pulled ahead of Contra Costa County employees!

Solano County employees have raised $17,440.11 or $7.10 per employee compared to Contra Costa County employees $44,523.64 or $6.82 per employee.  The Food Fight officially ends December 31st.  Go to www.foodbankccs.org/donate to donate as a “friend” of the Food Fight in your county.  DONATE ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 31 FOR A 2010 TAX DEDUCTION!