Monday, September 28, 2009

38th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Third Quarter and We Are Way Out in Front
Last week Marisol Bello, a reporter for USA Today called and said she was doing a story on the recent 9/11 community service activities Michelle and President Obama were engaged in to encourage folks to participation in local community service programs. She wanted to know if they had an effect on me. I said they sure did but way back in January.

This startled her a bit but I knew that was the right answer because Sandy Scott of the Corporation of National and Community Service in Washington gave her my name. Sandy knows all about us. For the next 40 minutes I told her our Miles Neighborhood story and that our third quarterly report was due out this week. (She gave me her email address so she is getting this email, too.)

One question Marisol asked that I did not have a ready answer for was, what other neighborhoods have taken up One Can A Week? It took me about 20 minutes of research to compile the list after we hung up. In Tucson there’s Ironwood Ridge and Catalina Vista. The others around the country include Phoenix, Ashley, Tennessee and North Carolina. The next day after I sent the list to Marisol, I got a call from Alaska—and no, it wasn’t Sarah—because they were starting their own One Can A Week neighborhood program.

The reason all of this is happening is right there in our most recent quarterly report. We haven’t missed one single week in the past 9 months and your generosity really shows. We have collected enough food to feed 2,173 folks 3 meals in one day. That would be some huge dining hall wouldn’t it?

Because of the summer vacations, the volume of food donated diminished a bit, but notice the cash and check donations. July 27th was the only week we were penniless. We are really making a difference because we think about and care for the needy every week.

A rather big surprise in this quarterly report is our year-to-date $1,262.38 cash donation. This translates to $11,361.42 in food the Community Food Bank can distribute. In other words, “For every $1 donated,” as stated in the Community Food Bank Annual Report, “the food bank can distribute $9 of food.” (There is a special thanks we have to give to Wes Baker—Borderlands Outlet Furniture on 7th Street—who as one of our Proxy Neighbors donated $500 this past quarter. I know I thanked him in the 32nd Week Update but I just wanted to do it again.)

I’m very proud of my Miles neighbors because we are making a difference together. We are way out in front but I sure hope lots of neighborhoods around the country catch up to us and even pass us. If that happens hunger in America will become a thing of the past.

Food and Helping Mother Earth, Too
Ruben Vejar, a member of the Kino Rotary Club called me Thursday morning and said he had a lot of food to donate. He is also the manager of the RISE Retail Store on 22nd and Park Avenue. I wasn’t familiar with the store name but I knew the location. It was the Pima Computer Recycling Service where I had dropped off a number of outmoded computers, monitors and printers; even a stereo.

When I arrived about 45 minutes later I saw the large sign that read RISE Equipment Recycling Center and a small sign on the front door that stated “Formerly the Pima Computer Recycling Service.” I soon learned that COPE Community Services, Inc., a non-profit here in Tucson that is “dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of individuals in need and our community” has a number of irons in the fire. (Click on the link to learn more about COPE. Years ago I helped folks with brain injuries reenter the work force and many of them were COPE clients. I visited a couple of their offices and was always impressed with the friendly d├ęcor and considerate staff. Interesting how life often circles back.

One of Ruben’s electronic recycling clients also had a huge stock of restaurant No.10 cans and many large bags of black beans that totaled 328 lbs. He accepted the food and then decided to call me because he had heard my One Can A Week presentation a few months ago. We loaded my car or more accurately, stuffed my trunk and then talked a few minutes about business. As with most companies here in Tucson, things were slow. On the one hand, many people are not familiar with the recycling center or the store for that matter where $100.00 can buy a Pentium 4 Dell computer with a licensed XP operating system installed. Making things worse folks are moving very slowly when it comes to replacing worn out computers.

On my way back from the Community Food Bank I realized that Ruben could follow the same model of One Can A Week, but instead of picking up in neighborhoods, he could pick up at businesses. The next day I sent Ruben a letter explaining the idea. Then about two days later I realized that this is something we could also do here in the Miles Neighborhood.

Cans and Computer Sunday
This coming Sunday I will be happy to pick up your food donation and any electronic gizmo you want to recycle … for free. Just put the old printer, monitor, computer or record player on the porch next to your food donation. (TVs require a $15 fee because they are especially toxic inside.) On Monday morning I will take the food to the Community Food Bank and the computer stuff to RISE. If it turns out that there is a whole bunch of recycle equipment for RISE, I’ll make a couple of trips or call RISE to help.

Like the Community Food Bank, COPE is a well managed Tucson non-profit and I don’t know about you, but after listening to months of so called debate on health care, I want to help any non-profit that looks out for needy folks and our beautiful planet.

Some of This and Some of That
If you look real close you can see an onion popping out of its bag on the left in the back of the cart and a tube of toothpaste in front of a green squash. There are some bars of hand soap also. We collected 162 lbs. of food, 5 lbs. of produce, 3 lbs. of non food items and $7.00 in cash. It’s a visual feast for the eyes, so to speak.

See you next Sunday.


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