Tuesday, May 26, 2009

20th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Important and Clever Conversations
Last Thursday I got a call from Laura Burge, Council Administrative Assistant, at the Ward Six Council Office. She had heard my brief presentation at the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association on Tuesday and wanted to introduce One Can A Week to other neighborhoods she assists in Ward Six. I sent her and Christal Ferree all of my collateral materials plus an instruction sheet. Maybe Laura’s and Christal’s gesture will help encourage more donations for the Community Food Bank.

At lunch the same day with Bill Roach my business partner I told him about a woman at the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association meeting who jumped into the conversation on One Can A Week and said, “What a great idea, we can have people drop off their donations at the Himmel Library.”

I told her that won’t work as gently as possible. You have to go to their homes and pick up the One Can A Week. Bill who is a very astute marketer jumped into the story himself. “Of course you have to go pick up the donations,” he said. “Most Americans just want to stay home and sit on their cans.”

Good thing I wasn’t drinking my soda at the time. He would have been wearing it.

Safeway is a Good Thing That’s Getting Better
A few weeks ago a young woman asked me, “When the people come out do they give you the can then?” I told her yes that’s true because they don’t have any cans going into Safeway. Well, this past Saturday they had a lot of cans coming out…three stuffed shopping bags plus a full box. Generally we just fill up the One Can A Week box to the brim. We also collected $32.26 in cash donations.

Later in the evening as I was shopping I ran into Dan Buchanan, the manager and I told him about our good fortune. He said Safeway would support us all the way. I jokingly replied that at least we pay for our weekly spot with increased food sales. I think that’s the part of our conversation Dan liked the best.

First Holiday Away from Home
Sunday was rather quiet as I drove the neighborhood picking up the donations. Lots of people were away from home but most of our participants left their donations on the porch. We collected 214 lbs. of food and some money bringing our total cash donations to $35.26.

We have four more weeks to go in this quarter and I can tell you now that our donations to the Community Food Bank will more than double the first quarter’s 1,411 lbs. This is such great news and speaks well of the whole Miles Neighborhood.

Cabriolet Now Signing Community Food Bank Donations in a Big Way
People had to get up very close to read the 8 ½ x 11 sign hanging from the red umbrella. Now their piqued curiosity can be satisfied at 40 feet. There are two large door signs and an even larger umbrella sign. Notice the Quaker Oats products on either side of the umbrella sign? That’s our display of appreciation for the Go Grant which paid for the new look.

One Must Always Talk About Great Customer Service
If you or your company is in the market for signage I suggest you at least get a quote from Signs Now at 3955 E. Speedway – 325-7446. They have considerate pricing but their customer service is even better. I have a background in graphic design but I’m a little light when it comes to signage. Ben Orr, their Sales Consultant, took a lot of care to explain all aspects of my order and even produced a high res file of my One Can A Week logo for me.

How a problem is resolved whether you caused the situation or not is always a terrific way to judge a person or a business. I told them to position the door signs up against the door trim which was a mistake. I called to redo the door signs and they were most accommodating. They quickly applied new signage and at a reduced rate. That means they took a hit too. Of course I’m going back to Signs Now and I’m going to take as many people as I can with me.

See you next Sunday.


Monday, May 18, 2009

19th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Not An Early Bird
Corina Baca contacted me Thursday and said she was going to present One Can A Week to her Kino Rotary South Tucson Club the next morning at their weekly 7 AM breakfast. I’m not too good in the early hours because my circadian rhythm only starts to rev up as the sun goes down, but I was on time and a bit impassioned. At the end of a few minutes of explanation of our One Can A Week program, Lawrence Linson, the president of the Kino Rotary, invited me back on May 29th so I can make a full presentation. Corina is going to invite the president of the 20 Tucson Rotary Clubs also.

Before the meeting broke up I asked to shoot a couple of photos for our One Can A Week blog and right after I took the first shot I noticed in the view screen in this somewhat light-challenged room that the image with all of the bright colors in the background looked a little like the Last Supper. When I told everyone what I saw laughter scurried around the table. In the photo above which was the next shot, I caught Corina on the left in a delightful chuckle.

Mrs. Green Donates Her Winnings
Since I was a surprise guest, I was chosen to pick the winning 50-50 ticket which was won by the guest speaker Gina Murphy-Darling, otherwise know as Mrs. Green. She has a Saturday 12:05 PM talk show on Newstalk 790 KNST where she discusses ways and means of cleaning up the environment. I would say more but the $8.00 donation just buys so many words in our blog.

More Thursday Good News
John O’Dowd, the president of the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association and I spoke just after lunch. He said he will put me on the June meeting agenda. I ask him if he needed more information and he said no somewhat definitively. He read the collateral materials and the news articles I sent to him and even visited our One Can A Week blog. I actually thought I heard the word effusive (excessive enthusiasm) tucked away in one of his sentences. That’s really a compliment for a person like me who has authored a score or so of consumer reference books. I just love information.

Another Successful Safeway Saturday
A somewhat disheveled gentleman with a nicely trimmed red speckled beard pushed his shopping cart laden with his personal belongings passed where I was setting up my One Can A Week table near the Safeway west entrance. He stopped, bent down and rummaged through his belonging. When he stood up he walked over to the front of the table and handed me a can of tuna. “Is this okay?” he asked. I was a bit surprised. Should I take it, I thought. He’s homeless, what should I do? Give him a bigger can of tuna or money? I took the can because he was so sincere.

As he walked back to his cart, I did a “boneheaded thing” as our president sometimes says. I was thinking about what a great picture that would make for the blog and so I asked him if I could take his picture. He looked at me with some concern and began mumbling something about the FBI. He said FBI a number of times but it made no sense. I told him to forget it, it was a bad idea. I knew and know better. Photos have another reality when it comes to homeless people.

Cele Peterson, the grand lady of Tucson once told me a story that in her early days, an old woman in well worn clothes entered her shop and none of the sales people wanted to wait on her. Cele greeted the woman and after a time sold this very wealthy stranger, as it turned out, an extensive wardrobe. “Judging people by their appearance is never a good idea,” Cele warned. I thought of Cele and her heiress in disguise when the homeless stranger left me with a can of tuna and the words…”giving to me is giving to somebody else.”

Maybe It Was the Musical Cabriolet
Barry James, a friend of mine and a well know and liked local musician created a CD to play on my new boom box, courtesy of the Go Grant from Quaker Oats. I gave him some suggested tunes, three of his included, that say as much about helping and getting involved in community service as donating food for the needy. For instance, there’s the Eagles’ “Do Something,” Barry James’ “Mother and Child,” and “Food, Glorious Food” from Oliver.

The tuneful Cabriolet was parked in the second space so only those in the first space didn’t walk by the car. But you can believe they saw the red umbrella with the dangling food containers and they heard the music. One gentleman walked up to me and asked if I took donations. “Sure we do,” I replied. He opened his bi-fold wallet and removed a bunch of folded bills from a small brass rod that held them in place. A $20 bill was on top but I didn’t pause for a second look. I didn’t want to embarrass the man or me by counting the money. I quickly put the folded bills in a make shift envelope I had created out of an 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper when I got the first cash donation an hour earlier. That folded piece of paper was getting pretty stuffed.

After he finished his shopping and I saw him drive out of the parking lot, I took a quick look. Holly cow, there were 7 $20 bills. I walked over to the Cabriolet and turned the music up louder.

Making A Real Difference
Even as the temperature hovers around 100 degrees, the generosity of the Miles neighbors is not deterred. We collected 228 lbs. of food which is our second best Sunday thus far. Also, when we add the Safeway cash donations to our own cash donations we ended up with $205.00. So you keep putting out those cans each Sunday—100 degrees or not—and then count on Lenny, Barbara, Kym and me to pick them up as promised. It’s the least we can do to repay you for your commitment to the Community Food Bank.

See you next Sunday.


Monday, May 11, 2009

18th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

The Power of the Community Food Bank Name
When I first introduced One Can A Week to the Miles Neighborhood, the one comment that got the most response in my presentation was’ “I’m collecting food for the Community Food Bank.” Doors popped open and people had lots of positive things to say about the organization. The Community Food Bank has built an incredible reputation in our community where just saying their name gets people’s undivided attention.

So when Pauline Hechler, Vice President of Development at the Community Food Bank sent me an email saying I could use the Community Food Bank logo in our literature and on our blog, I was a bit speechless. And it takes something profound to do that to me. I’m a little like Joe Biden…lots of thing to say…but without the gaffes, of course.

Check out our One Can A Week blog to see how we proudly display the Community Food Bank logo.

Going with the Flow at Safeway
Normally I create best case marketing strategies when planning an event so on Saturday when I drove up to Safeway I was hoping that one of the front parking spaces near the West Entrance would be open. My patio umbrella Cabriolet attracts a lot of attention and comments.

One was open and I did not have to out jockey a Safeway customer to get it. Perfect. As I entered the store there were several pallets of bottled water where I usually set up. A local girls’ choir had a table on the other side of the automatic doors and they were selling chocolates. I thought they should be offering something like lemon drops or tea with honey. Those products are more appropriate for voice things.

Dan, my normal manager contact was off and the fellow running the show was also running a cash register. The young lady behind the customer service counter called him on the phone even though he was maybe 30 feet in front of her. He had no idea where I should go so she said I should use the East Entrance.

My car was maybe 30 yards away from the East Entrance, but more important, the East Entrance doesn’t get the traffic the West Entrance does. Then there are the homeless folks who like to sit at the cafĂ© tables because it’s shady and Safeway is a very friendly supermarket.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I’m handling myself differently when it comes to One Can A Week. I said, “Oh, well,” or something like that and then moved my car to the other end of this very large parking lot. You could still see my car but it was in the very last row and four parking slots in from the drive in front of the store. Not great!

As I thought I might, I did have an extended conversation with a gentleman who said he was homeless but vigorously defended his cell phone on his hip and the gold and silver looking chains around his neck. He asked for two of my business cards which I gave him but suggested he not get in trouble because he was carrying my cards. He promised he wouldn’t.

Not Such a Bad Spot After All
Nothing much happened in the first hour but then Corian showed up. She is a member of the Kino Rotary Club and after a 5 minute conversation she decided that One Can A Week would be a great program to introduce to the 20 or so Rotary Clubs around Tucson. They meet every week and each member could bring at least one can a week. She said she would get back to me and set up a time for me to speak to her club.

Then I met a gentleman who will begin collecting food in his neighborhood. He’s from Montana and used to go to the supermarkets in his town to collect food for the local food bank. He liked the idea of approaching his neighbors because he said the best way to collect food for hungry folks is to go get it.

The Post Office Stole Some of Our Thunder
We collected 190 lbs of food Sunday which is 57 lbs. short of our average but I’m not at all disappointed. Most Miles neighbors gave to both food drives which is very commendable. People are in need and my Miles neighbors are really digging deep to help.

The Check Was in The Mail
On Tuesday I received a letter from Quaker Oats asking me to sign a release form and telling me at the same time that the $500 grant check was in the mail. It arrived Saturday and what a unique experience. I was coming back from Safeway and had my camera in the car. Some of the money will go for signage for the Cabriolet and volunteer carts so I decided to photograph it right there. In my New York publishing career I have gotten lots of big and important checks, but this little check is really different. Its purpose is to help others and I’m just a conduit. I like that!

See you Sunday.


Monday, May 4, 2009

17th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Last Thursday Ernesto Portillo of the Arizona Star wrote a terrific update to his March column titled "'One Can A Week' food collection keeps growing." It was all about how the Miles Neighborhood is growing in its generosity and commitment to the Community Food Bank. It you missed Neto's column, here is a link: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/290907.php

To help Neto get a sense how things were expanding I calculated the average weekly donation of food in our first quarter to the first 4 weeks in this, our second quarter. You will be surprised to learn that we donated on average 117 lbs. per week in the first quarter and 247 lbs per week so far in the second quarter. This is incredible! No wonder Barbara, Lenny, Kym and I are so motivated. We sensed there was a lot of energy going on but now we know for sure.

Planning Ahead
One of our neighbors on 12th street was about to go on vacation for a month so they decided to give us a whole box of canned vegetable soup. (Check out the bottom of the cart.) “That should cover them for the time they are away,” they said. It’s really great that folks are thinking about the needs of the Community Food Bank even when they are away having fun.

Really Making A Difference
This week we donated 264 lbs. of food and $13.75 in cash to the Community Food Bank. This is just 2 lbs. shy of our best week so our averages are going up. I couldn't be more proud of you.

Getting Other Neighborhoods To Join Us
I spoke to John O'Dowd's office late Monday. Mr. O'Dowd is president of the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association. I was told to send a letter requesting a spot on the agenda for the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association meeting in June. That letter will go out Wednesday. They are having a meeting on May 19th at 7 PM at the Himmel Park Library. I will attend just to introduce myself. Also, I will keep you posted as to my progress so you can tell you friends in Sam Hughes what to expect.

A Perfect Match
A good friend of my business partner has decided to collect donations for the Community Food Bank in his rather large development near Speedway and Pantano. He got the concept of our One Can A Week door to door pickup service right away. And why shouldn't he? He's energetic and a just retired UPS driver. He especially likes the part about leaving Thanks You cards and future pick up notices. He said he's really good at that. I laughed, of course.

See you next Sunday.