Monday, June 15, 2009

23rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

PJ’s Roller Derby Idea Scores Big
Some weeks ago Barbara Trujillo on Miles Street called to tell me her eleven-year-old son PJ (Parker James) had been studying the One Can A Week food donation program for the Community Food Bank and he came up with an idea of his own. He suggested that everyone, team members and fans, bring a can of food to the champion Tucson Roller Derby bout that was going to be held June 13th. His mom—Barbicide, a member of the defending Roller Derby championship team VICE Squad—loved the idea and by the final results so did everyone else.

PJ, Barbara and the whole gang collected 344 lbs of food plus $1.00 from a fan who just forgot. (To see a great Arizona Daily Star article by Ernesto Portillo, Jr. and a charming color photo of Mom and PJ, follow this link.

Adding in Sunday’s total of 132 lbs. of food and $36 in donations, Miles Neighborhood ended up with a total contribution of 476 lbs. of food and $37 in donations. The food donation bests our past record of 240 lbs. by 236 lbs. Way to go PJ!

PJ Opens the Door to Food Drive Events
There are two aspects to PJ’s idea: Kids are never too young to get involved in the real world and there are scores of championship events throughout the city every year.

Kids of all ages see hungry kids—some of them their classmates—and they say to themselves, why can’t we just feed them? Food is everywhere. How hard can that be? When they bring up the subject of hunger to their parents and teachers it’s often dismissed as cute or charming and maybe even naïve.

In Barbara’s case, she always listens to PJ and his idea was simple, clear and quite doable. The adult thing she had to do was talk to the other adults to make this simple yet important idea happen. With PJ involved every step of the way, Barb talked to the powers to be, got their buy in and made an announcement that PJ wanted everyone to help him with his community service project for the Community Food Bank by bring a can of food to the Championship Bout.

A week or so before the event, PJ stopped me on the street while I was walking my dogs just to make sure I knew what was going on so I could be there to collect the donations. Smart kid just following through.

One young lady at the event placed her stack of cans on the table and said, “I don’t shop at Wal-Mart but I had this gift card and I went to Wal-Mart.” Guess she wanted to get the most for her money. She was smiling and quite pleased with how things turned out.

Making the Community Food Bank Part of the Games
The other aspect of PJ’s idea—playing and doing something serious at the same time—is a great teaching tool for all of the kids involved in competitive activities in the city. The adults in the room should spread PJ’s idea and help kids help the Community Food Bank eliminate hunger here in Tucson. The kids would do it in a second but we are the ones with the driver’s license, the money and the control.

Two-Cart Fill Up
If one night at the Roller Derby championship can generate 344 lbs. of food for the Community Food Bank, imagine how much food could be donated if every championship sporting event in the city adopted PJ’s idea? You can bet it would be much more than lots.

What a Bout
Most of the time during the championship bout between Barbara’s team, the VICE Squad, and the Copper Queens, I was toting food from the ticket desk at the front door to the Once Can A Week table inside the arena. The other reason I wasn’t paying much attention was Barb’s team was behind from the opening buzzer up to 2 minutes left on the clock which accounted for 58 minutes of play. Then things got really exciting. The score was 94 to 94 then suddenly 107 to 98 in favor of the VICE Squad but there was still a chance for the Copper Queens to win. It all came down to the VICE Squad blocking the challengers, not making any penalties and eating up the clock. Barbara’s team held them off while everyone in the arena held their respective breaths. What a thrilling finish and PJ and the Miles Neighborhood got a lot of food to show for it.

Summertime Haul
Vacations appear to be cutting into the amount of food collected on Sundays, but 132 lbs. is not too shabby. We will be able to really see the trends once people start returning to the neighborhood when the temperatures moderate a bit.

Great Beginnings for the Sam Hughes Neighborhood
A Sam Hughes neighbor who attended last month’s association meeting came up to me at the Roller Derby event and told me she introduced One Can A Week to her neighbors on her block. Also, she is involved with the Tucson Community Services Department which provides meeting rooms for free to community organizations. The meeting rooms are always free but she has implements a program where meeting participants can bring donations for the Community Food Bank to their meetings. She now has three large boxes of food which she said she will drop off at Jimmy’s Broadway Garage on Tucson and Broadway this week.

On Tuesday evening I am officially presenting One Can A Week to the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association in the Himmel Library at 7 pm. This should be the start of a lot more food for the Community Food Bank.

See you next Sunday.


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