Monday, December 27, 2010

103rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Wow!

We donated 13,299 lbs. of food in 2010.

In other words, at 1.3 lbs. per meal,
· We donated 10,230 meals
                      or
· We fed 3,410 people three meals in one day.

Either way, we helped each other make a big difference. And just to compare, in 2009 we donated 9,203.5 lbs. That’s a 44.5% increase this year. Our cash contribution was impressive, too. The $2,654.70 amounted to $23,892.30 in Community Food Bank food and services based on their $1.00 = $9.00 ratio. In 2009 our cash donated was $1,953.38.

Thanks everyone, I am so proud to be your neighbor.




Basket No. 52
This is the last donation basket for 2010 … but it is much like the previous 51 … filled to the brim.

We collected a total of 216 lbs. of food, including 16 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $96.50 … $75.00 in checks and $21.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,

Peter





Monday, December 20, 2010

102nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Michael’s Christmas Community Service

There are two Jacuzzi-sized boxes near the loading dock door at the Community Food Bank. This is where a great deal of food is warehoused until it is needed to fill food boxes that are handed out monthly to clients. On this particular Monday morning a young man, maybe 17 or 18-years-old was sorting through a couple of shopping carts parked next to the boxes. The moment he saw me he offered to help find an empty shopping cart or two so I could unload my car.

When I explained how I had to keep the food separated until after weighing, he understood immediately. In fact, he followed directions easily and paid attention to everything I was doing. When I tried to hand him several envelopes containing our cash and check donations he quickly replied, “Oh, no, I am on community service.”

I surmised that meant he was under a court order to spend some time thinking about others and less time about trying to awe his peers with the plugs he forced through his ear lobes.

What impressed me most about Michael is his lack of attitude. He was politely interested in One Can A Week and what our neighborhood is trying to accomplish. I gave him a business card and told him to check us out on the web. He may or may not but what I am hoping for is a little Christmas miracle.

I got a feeling that deep down inside, Michael is sensitive to the needs of others but he currently is more concerned with modifying his body instead of his brain. Of course, it is easy, albeit, painful, to hang a ring here or there on one’s face or torso but when you’re done …well, it’s done. If Michael decides to concentrate on hanging knowledge, the ornaments of the mind, instead, he could help himself, his family and thousands of others he will encounter in life. I could see in his eyes that he was surprised people took to him immediately and expected him to join in the task at hand … feeding thousands of hungry Tucsonans just because it is the right thing to do.

My hope is that this Christmas Michael will see that true personal strength is doing some good on your own without any prompting from others, and not “fitting in” with a group that expects conformity and dissuades individual courage.

That’s what I want for Christmas.

It’s Winter in Tucson
Kristen, my next door neighbor handed me a can of beans and two knitted wool hats this Sunday. The hats are on the upper right keeping two canisters of oatmeal cereal warm. She said a lady visits her library every day and knits hats for the needy every day. That’s pretty cool, I think.

We collected a total of 355 lbs. of food, including 40 lbs. of produce and 106 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $39.50 … a $25.00 check and $14.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, December 13, 2010

101st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

ROI Makes One Can A Week
Even More Appealing











Return On Investment (ROI) is the phrase I hear a lot when presenting One Can A Week to food stores. My argument is that One Can A Week encourages customers to buy a little more for the needy and the Community Food Bank which in turn means that there’s a little more profit at the end of the day.

Ron Abbott, owner of the Rincon Market was the first to let me set up a table every Saturday for 3 hours in the front of his store. He sold some cans and cereal every week but most of his customers donated cash. I asked him a number of times if he would like to buy food instead of donating the cash. Ron thought he’d stick with the cash donation for the present.

Last Wednesday I set up my display table for the first time at the Sunflower Market on Speedway and Swan and encountered a little activity. Many people saw me for the first time as they left the checkout line and mentioned they would catch me next week. This is a good sign. Also, a number of folks dropped off a dollar or two in my collection plate as they hurried home to make dinner.

The deal I made with Richard Rodriguez, the Sunflower Market manager was the same I offer to all food stores. Any cash that I collect can be used to buy food before I leave for the evening. I do the purchasing so they don’t have to get involved. It’s the same concept as picking up my neighbor’s donated food on Sunday. Easy makes more folks want to participate.

Potatoes were 47 cents a five pound bag so I took the max … 4 bags. I also got some very large cans of diced tomatoes. And Mary Fimbres is right. Thinking about what others may want to eat when shopping sure makes buying food a whole lot of fun.

I told Ron what I had done on Wednesday and offered to do the shopping for him after my stint on Saturday. He warmed to the idea because he’s in business to make a profit and at the same time he has a very strong desire to help folks. “If you purchase the food, he said, “everybody wins. That’ a good thing.”

Everybody does wins with One Can A Week. The folks who give, the folks who receive and the folks like Ron and Richard who make it possible for me to get the word out every week about all of our hungry kids. I win, too, because I get to do some really fun and easy community service.

Before and After Lunch for Once
Usually while I eat lunch on Sunday, Kym stops by and puts her 13th Street collection in front of the Ford. This Sunday, the food was there when I drove up for lunch. There was no check, however, so I guessed it was probably forgotten this week.

After lunch there was more food and the check in front of the Ford. Then who made that extra drop? Not sure but I always like food surprises.

We collected a total of 252 lbs. of food, including 8 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $59.50 … $35.00 in checks and $24.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, December 6, 2010

100th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

One Can A Week Off on Two New Adventures


Last Tuesday, the 30th I met with Rebecca Lipson, the Miles middle school science teacher, to talk about starting One Can A Week as the school’s community service program. The next day, Wednesday, Rebecca made a presentation to her fellow teachers. In that meeting, she and the Miles staff created a very strong and impressive community service program. Rodney Glassman read Rebecca’s email once then an hour or so later read it again. He commented both times. You’ll probably do what Rodney did and read it a couple of times yourself…it’s really that good.

"Peter and Rodney,

"I got very positive responses from the other teachers today about implementing the One Can a Week program at Miles. It will fit in nicely with the work we've been doing with the Ben's Bells' Kind Kids Program (http://www.bensbells.org/KindKids/) this school year. It actually ended up being a funny coincidence that the December Kind Kids activities included starting a community service project within the school. When things like that coincide it's usually a very good sign that we're doing the right thing!

"Here's how we see the program being implemented at Miles:
Each classroom will have a collection box (not a big one, just one made by the students) for students in that class. Items will be collected Monday-Friday. It is up to the individual classroom teachers if they want to tally their own classroom results. 

"Thank you slips will be given to students bringing in items. Students will write their names on the slips and add them to a "kindness tree" on a bulletin board near the front office. This way, everyone will be able to see the donations adding up. We will also have weekly tallies posted here (possibly as increments measured out along the tree trunk, starting at the roots and working its way up to the top branches)

"A class of middle school students (my environmental design class) will be responsible for collecting the donations from each classroom on Friday afternoons. When these students pick up the donations they will also be resupplying the teacher with thank you slips.

"All collected items will be tallied by the middle school students, who will be keeping track of the weekly reports and posting them on the bulletin board by the office.

"Peter has kindly offered to pick up the donated items on Friday afternoon. We will get the weight total from the Community Food Bank to be added into our weekly reports.

"Since it is almost the end of the semester, we will be implementing this program after the winter break. The first week back (January 3rd) will be spent sending out information to parents and introducing the program to the students. Collections will begin the second week after break. The question was brought up of how some of this food could go directly to families here at school. I will be meeting with our social worker to identify which of our school families need this type of support and how we can best help them.

"Over the break, I will also be contacting some people that may want to further support our efforts. This includes my friend Beverly who is a film professor at the UofA. She may have students or colleagues who are interested in taking on this topic. I can also contact a friend of mine who is a deejay at The Mountain and other friends who do radio shows on KXCI involving social issues. Any coverage might inspire someone else to start up a program in their school or neighborhood.

"I am sure that we'll have to troubleshoot some things as we go, but it feels like we have a pretty good start to things. Let me know if you have any feedback.

"Rebecca"

We have neighbors helping neighbors help. And now we have kids helping kids end their hunger. I just love this world we are creating.



Capitalism Really Is the Way to Feed Our Hungry Children
A few months back I made a presentation to Richard Rodriguez, the manager of the Sunflower Farmers Market on Speedway and Swan. This past Thursday we met to set up his store’s One Can A Week program. Every Wednesday, which is their double coupon day, Richard suggested I set up my display table from 3 pm to 6 pm near the front door along side the large Community Food Bank donation box. In addition, over the next few weeks we will place shelf talkers around the store to help his customers get into the habit of placing one can a week in the Food Bank box.

Richard turned the project over to Michelle Krzyzanwski his Special Events Coordinator. Right away Michelle suggested I create a tall thermometer-type display so her customers could see their donations add up week after week. This is such a terrific idea. I plan on having the display built by next week.

The Sunflower Farmers Market already has 148 lbs. to start their program off which I picked up the day of our meeting. Just think, a well-respected supermarket makes it very easy for its customers to perform a little community service each week and in turn those customers help feed hungry families in Tucson. And all it takes is a can of tuna or a can of beans dropped in a box once a week as the customers head out the door to their cars in the parking lot. My thinking is we soon will be talking tons, not pounds.

A Heart-shaped Watermelon
The moment I pushed the cart up on the scale, Keith, my weekly Food Bank helper, reached into the basket an plucked the watermelon out. “Look,” he said with a bit of surprise in his voice, “a watermelon in the sharp of a heart.”

Juan who was sitting behind the counter stopped counting the money and slowly looked up. “So?”

Maybe that comment would have worked better in February.

We collected a total of 216 lbs. of food including 31 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $47.82 … a $25.00 check and $12.00 in cash plus $10.82 from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, November 29, 2010

99th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Meeting of the Minds at Miles ELC School

Miles School ELC Entrance
Rebecca Lipson is one of those rare individuals who has ideas … lots of solid, practical ideas and knows how to bring them into reality. She’s the middle school science teacher at Miles who took her students to tour the Community Food Bank’s Marana gardens and then helped her classes set up their own vegetable gardens on the lands surrounding the school. We met today for an hour and a half and in that time we moved a little closer to ending hunger here in Tucson.

On Wednesday, Rebecca will meet with the other teachers in her school to establish One Can A Week in most grades. Interestingly enough, they already have a One Can A Week like program in place where one class picks up all of the recycling materials from each classroom on a specific day and time each week. To help Rebecca out I am going to get her one of those huge box containers from the Community Food Bank and place it in the corner of her classroom. I will pick up their donations each Friday. The next thing Rebecca needs is a few color printers, paper and ink. As you know or probably could have guessed, schools have major budget constraints and therefore have no color printers at all. One Can A Week collateral materials stand out and definitely work better in color. With good, HP and Cannon printers on the market for $30, this will not be an issue.

More Than One Can A Week
We spent a lot of conversation time on two other very important subjects: How to make it real for the students and How to reposition the schools as the center of community life again.

Making It Real
Most of us know there are children and families in deep trouble here in Tucson but we have no actual exposure to the dilemma because we do not work in the field. I wished for a documentary that would follow a Tucson family or two in their daily lives and show us what it’s like to raise a family where the food and money are in short supply. Rebecca immediately told me she knows a documentarian at the U of A she will approach with the idea.

Putting Community Back in Our Community Schools
Rebecca is already making headway in this area with her vegetable gardens. She is teaching her students who in turn will teach their neighbors how to grow really fresh and organic vegetables and fruits in their backyards.

She also believes One Can A Week is another terrific community outreach program where the students can take what they have done and what they have learned about feeding needy folks back to their neighborhoods and inspire their families and neighbors.

In an email last week, Bill Carnegie, President and CEO of the Community Food Bank called me an inspirational leader. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I met Rebecca Lipson today. She understands what has to be done to teach her students and what it takes to take care of the needy. And she does it just because it has to be done.

Oh, No, Not Again …
The cashier behind the counter at the Rincon Market looked at me and then at the empty space where the Food Bank Styrofoam cup used to sit next to the credit card key pad. “Do you know where the Food Bank cup is?” I asked. “I hope it wasn’t stolen again.”

The cashier said he would check with someone in the back. I know he was surprised that the cup was missing because he left his post rather hurriedly without telling the other two staff members working with him.

In about a half hour Ron Abbott, the owner came up to me smiling. “The accountant threw the cup away,” he said.. We have it on tape. It’s really funny. I can’t wait to tell her what she did.”

This Is What Happened
On Wednesday, one of the cashiers noticed the Food Bank cup was full and took it back to the office to be emptied. The money was poured from the Styrofoam cup into the gray money pouch and then the cup was pitched into the waste paper basket beside the desk. Apparently, the beat up cup looked too beat up but that was half its charm. There is a new Food Bank cup now. Let’s hope it is as special as it’s discarded Styrofoam mate.

The Rincon Market was closed on Thanksgivings so we only missed Friday’s donations. The total amount collected at the Rincon Market this week was 20 lbs. of food and $109.10. Not bad at all considering the Styrofoam cup took a two-day holiday.

A Three-pound Pie Takes the Cake
There was a lot of competition this week for the most unusual food donation. At the top of the basket is a case of beans. At the foot of the basket are a whole bunch of bananas and two bags of potatoes. But my favorite is the 48 oz. pumpkin pie which required special handling. It was so big I could not carry anything else for fear of loosing control of the slippery package. The pie arrived safely at the food bank, mostly because no one donated any whip cream.

We collected a total of 229.5 lbs. of food including 50.5 of produce and 1 lb. of cat food. The money we donated amounted to $54.00 … $30.00 in checks, $11.00 in cash plus $13.00 and 4 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, November 22, 2010

98th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Kids Helping Feed Kids

They came from all corners of Tucson yet they showed up at the Swan and Grant Starbucks on time. Although there was a chill in the air and it was late in the day Monday, everyone was eager to discuss various ways to incorporate One Can A Week into the Vail School District. (Seated left, Jacob Coldsmith, Logistics, Community Food Bank, Bobby Rich, MIXfm, Rodney Glassman, Glassman Foundation, Calvin Baker, Superintendent, and Krista Gypton, CTE Connections Coordinator, Vail School District and Bill Carnegie, president/CEO, Community Food Bank.)

Instead of overwhelming Calvin and Krista with One Can A Week facts and accomplishments each of us talked about the personal aspects of One Can A Week that impressed us most. Rodney started off telling us about his dinner a week ago with Richard Fimbres our Ward Five councilman and his wife.

Mary Fimbres said that after participating in One Can A Week for over a year, she now shops specifically for the Food Bank. While buying food for her family, she picks up special items for her donation instead of just grabbing something off her pantry shelf each Sunday. Rodney’s point was the mindset One Can A Week creates and it is something he would like to see instilled into all kids.

Bobby Rich spoke about the small gesture of giving one can and the huge effect it has when it becomes a consistent habit. Then Bill Carnegie mentioned a number of programs the Food Bank has that can address many of the special needs facing hungry kids in Vail. This prompted Calvin Baker to ask if the Food Bank served Vail because it would be easier to encourage people to participate if their donations came back to those in need in their community. There are lots, Bill assured Calvin and he will gladly send him the statistics.

Near the end of the conversation, Calvin summed up the discussion as he saw it. The Vail School District could:

1. Have the children donate one can a week
2. Focus on collecting healthy foods for the Food Bank’s Back Pak program
3. Open a pantry in the school once a week and help the needy in Vail
4. Adopt a school in another district and donate enough food to eliminate hunger in that district

Calvin also saw that they have to find an impassioned personality to run their One Can A Week program just like I’ve done in the Miles Neighborhood. They have already begun the process to find that person even before attending this meeting.

My ‘take away” as the corporate folks like to say, is not one negative point was made in this meeting. Not one “yes, but” was uttered. We did talk about the teachers’ workload and no budgets to speak of but only in reference to things we have to work around.

We were all of one mind. We must feed the children and we must find a way to get everyone involved because it really does take a village to raise a child.


Special Note: “Because the Vail/SE Tucson region of Southern Arizona has experienced immense residential and commercial growth over the past decade, the Vail School District is now one of the fastest growing districts in Arizona. At present, the Vail School District has seven elementary schools, four middle schools, two comprehensive high schools, an alternative high school, and two charter schools. 10,259 students are currently enrolled in grades K-12.” Quoted from About the Vail School District on the Vail School District web site. http://www.vail.k12.az.us/about/about-the-vail-school-district/

There Should Have Been Two
Seham, Maen Mdanat’s wife saw a terrific bargain at Fry’s and bought two 20 lb. turkeys. I took them out of the freezer at the Axis Food Mart, put them in the back seat of my car and returned to the store to thank Maen and his family for their generosity. When I returned to the car, Adam, my Energizer Bunny Westie was in the back seat with the rock hard frozen turkeys and I thought nothing of it.
When I arrived home I took the turkey’s out of the car and just before popping them into my freeze I noticed the drumstick ends were exposed on one of the turkeys. Upon closer inspection, I saw that something like an aggressive Westie had yanked the plastic wrap open and tried to gnaw the bones. Also, the gravy pack was shredded.

Instead of trying to think of a story to tell Howard at the Community Food Bank on Monday, I decided to give the turkey to a neighbor who could use a little help now and again. She thinks Adam is cute. She also thinks what her family doesn’t know won’t hurt them.

We collected a total of 220 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $63.00 … $30.00 in checks, $17.00 in cash plus $16.00 and 52 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,

Peter


Monday, November 15, 2010

97th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Under "Serious Consideration"


Twenty-six minutes after I sent a brief email to Rodney Glassman describing and explaining our Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week food donation program, Rodney sent an email to Calvin Baker, the superintendent of the Vail School System. It was 11:27 pm.

“Calvin,

Can you check out this program below. Do you think this is something Vail would be willing to explore on a trial basis? It is a great program and could be REALLY great for the community and area. Very similar concept to reading one book a week but with a charitable twist. thoughts?

Rodney”

By 7:21 am the next morning, Mr. Baker replied to Rodney.

Good Morning,

“Great concept. Thank you for thinking of us.

“I've had some initial discussions with Krista Gypton, an outstanding teacher working in our CTE (Career and Technical Education) office who is passionate about service learning projects. We are exploring possible ways of implementing the concept in Vail. We are a bit distracted with the loss of our override and we have an administrative retreat the next two days . . . so be a bit patient with us. We are giving this serious consideration and will get back to you soon.

“Cal”

Rodney also copied a number of people who are or will be important to the implementation of One Can A Week in the Vail School System. Bill Carnegie, President and C.E.O. of the Community Food Bank then sent me an email.

“Rodney, Peter and Bobby (Rich),

“I want to thank each of you for working on this. Rodney what a wonderful idea and I hope Calvin is able to consider a pilot program for us.

“We could do regular Friday pick ups of food and keep track of the pounds by school. I'm sure you are all aware that we are facing the most difficult time since the Great Depression with both the economy and the numbers of people out of work. Peter's "One Can A Week" program is beginning to gain momentum across the nation and we would love to add a school model.

“I would enjoy the opportunity to discuss the viability of a pilot project in Vail.

“Bill”

I was amazed at the immediate and positive response from for all of these very influential folks. Then I received the best email of all from Rodney.

“Everyone hold tight. We will wait to hear if this District is the right fit, and will coordinate from there. Plan to hear from me next once I hear from Calvin Baker. We spoke yesterday. No need for any investment of time or resources quite yet. This could be something great!

“I promised Peter I would help put this together because I believe in him and what he's doing. Thanks everyone.

“Rodney”

With Rodney on our side, now we can really succeed and feed even thousands more Tucsonans.

More School Community Service
Petra, (right) Rayah and Michael (background), Maen Mdnant’s three children spent three productive hours in front of their father’s store collecting donations for the Community Food Bank. Rayah even made up a song she sang to each passing customer. “You can’t go into the store unless you donate to the food bank.” The verse didn’t rhyme but it sure brought smiles to the faces of Maen’s customers. At the end of their tour, Petra, Rayah and Michael collected $55.00. Now that’s something to sing about.

The Meek Shall Fix the Earth
Kristen, my next door neighbor had a few minutes to talk Sunday and eventually we got around to hungry kids here in Tucson. She works for the Tucson-Pima Public Library and part of her responsibility is the after-school reading program for children. Many of those kids, around 25 most days, stay until they close at 8 pm. I asked if she feeds them because it is way past suppertime. Kristen said no, they can’t prepare meals in the library.

Good heavens, they have lunch at school and then nothing until 8 pm and … maybe not even then? I then thought of my friend Maen Mdnant and men and women like him who are generous, community minded and own stores in the neighborhood. “Why not ask them for help,” I said. “A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a pint of milk is not much of an expense … even five days a week”

I asked Kristen to put together a fact sheet on the situation at the library and I will help her go to the local business community and get some help to feed those 25 hungry kids.

We all see things and know the situation is wrong but have no idea how to implement a solution. That’s where I can help. Just tell me what you see that needs fixing and I’ll try to come up with an answer. If we all stand up and do something, this world will be worth our kids inheriting.

Rodney Was Right
In our first meeting Rodney Glassman kept on pushing the schools saying that was the way to go for One Can A Week. I wasn’t completely sold until I got the emails regarding the Vail School System and now this one from Sarah in Atlanta, GA.

“Hi Peter-

“I've attached a photo of my One Can a Week crew. Kind of a funny one, but the best we can seem to come up with!

“Last week we collected 34 pounds of food - a record high for our little route! And beginning this past week, my son's 3rd grade class at Cliff Valley School has decided to join in our food collection efforts, too. Last week they filled a whole bin with cans for us to take to the food bank. They're very excited about the project!

“I'll keep you up to date with future news!

“Sarah”

Ok, I’m convinced.

Looks Are Deceiving
Not shown is 20 lbs. of produce because it was delivered to the Food Bank late last week, not on Monday. Then there is the 38 lbs. donated by DKA Associates. They are stepping up their food contributions and want an official record. I can do that for them especially taking into consideration the “stepping up the donations” part.

We collected a total of 196 lbs. of food, including 20 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $171.00 … $60.00 in checks, $56.00 in cash plus $55.00 and 2 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, November 8, 2010

96th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

“Let’s teach kids to give, first.”

Rodney Glassman on to the Future
Although Rodney Glassman needed to take a dozen steps to get to where I was sitting in the corner of his Starbuck’s in the Crossroads Mall, the trek took him nearly 3 minutes to make. There were lots of hugs, handshakes and friendly greeting. When he finally sat down his phone got his attention now and again but he only looked at it briefly and placed it back on the table.

Rodney knew about One Can A Week from his days on the Tucson City Council and said he liked the concept. Today he wanted to hear about my new approaches. In a minute or two I talked about the presentation to the Sunflower Market and the idea of maximizing food donations to two or three schools to determine the effects of a full nutrition program for needy kids.

He listened intently and then said he would like to see One Can A Week introduced to one or two schools and at the end of the Spring session, throw a pizza party for the kids at the zoo or some other fun place like that. He would help introduce me to some school administrators and help procure the pizzas.

My first reaction should have been, “That’s wonderful; how do we get started?” Instead, I tried to say politely how huge this hunger problem is and that we have to think about all of the medical ramifications involved in poor diets and obesity. Rodney politely hit the ball back to me and asked if I knew how unsettling or abrasive or something like that, my approach was?

I thought, “Good, my New York was coming back. It hadn’t melted in the sunshine.” Of course I don’t mean to be difficult to deal with, but this problem is so huge I get a little impassioned.

We reached an agreement mostly because Rodney was not going to give up on me. I will send him a brief email proposal explaining One Can A Week and how our successful program might be introduced into schools to teach children how to give to needy children on a consistent basis. Rodney in turn will contact school administrators and set up meetings.

This approach is a terrific compromise…I’m happy, Rodney’s happy and I’m glad I voted for him.

Hungry Children Like Candy, Too
A couple of days after Halloween, Rayah, Maen Mdanat’s 11-year-old-daughter, suddenly packed up what was left of her Trick or Treat stash and handed it to her dad. She wanted him is take it to the store and donated to the food bank. “She did it on her own,” Maen proudly told me. “She loves candy but she is thinking of others instead of herself. This is a good thing.”

We collected a total of 196 lbs. of food, including 24 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $58.50 … $30.00 in checks, $8.50 in cash plus $20.00 and 2 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, November 1, 2010

95th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Looking for a Little Adventure


Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and The Can Guy

On the drive over to the Rincon Market Saturday morning, I thought about the relative calm that now surrounds One Can A Week. No phone calls from the press or potential volunteers. Just pleasant greetings from neighbors and lots of donations. To me this is unsettling. If I do not feel a little uncomfortable about things, I feel complacency is setting in and complacency is what marks the end of projects or companies or relationships. I actually said aloud to my steering wheel, “I need a little adventure.”

 About 45 minutes into counting Rincon’s weekly cash donations—which eventually totaled a very impressive $172.36—two beautiful women entered through the automatic doors and headed for the breakfast buffet.

(As an aside, I am still able to count money or do just about anything and not miss attractive women walking by.)

One of the women looked familiar to me and then I heard several of the gentlemen having breakfast in the overstuffed leather chairs behind me say she was Congresswoman Giffords. The two women gathered their breakfast and eventually ended up at the small table directly in front of me just on the other side of the automatic doors. I finished counting twenty or so minutes later and then walked by their table and the bakery counter to the cash register where I noted the weekly total on the Styrofoam cup.

On the way back to my display table, Congresswoman Giffords stood up and extended her hand to me. I hesitated a moment and being the semi-germaphobe I am, I told her that I was counting money all morning and I did not want to infect her as she ate her breakfast. I could see she appreciated the gesture.

I had met Congresswoman Giffords years earlier when she owned Cooper Tire and I was helping a business consultant market his services. As an introduction, I sent her an electric clock with a 13-hour face which I created. My pitch was that the clock was one way to get more hours in a day but my client’s service may be more practical.

Turns out Congresswoman Giffords still has the clock but didn’t remember my name until I told her. She invited me to sit a moment and we talked about how difficult an election season it has been. It pained me to hear that this very dignified woman had to go through such awful personal encroachment just to represent me in Washington. Actually, it pains me that anyone has to suffer such incivility.

On her way out, Congresswoman Giffords stopped by my table and wanted a picture. As her Marketing Director Anne Hilby set up to take the picture with her iPhone, Congresswoman Giffords moved behind the table and put her arm around my back. I was in the process of gingerly holding her back, when a single voice came from the direction of the leather chairs. “How’s that…” the words trailed off but I got the gist of it … something to do with hope and change. Congresswoman Giffords looked beyond me at the gentleman and took a breath as if she were going to speak but said nothing. He said it again.

I heard it very clearly this time and I instantly confronted him. “Excuse me, but could you have a little more class? To say I was stern really does not capture the disdain I felt and most definitely exhibited. Quickly the guy gave an embarrassed laugh and said he has no class. That was the end of it. Not even his friends said a word.

Today we vote. I already voted for Congresswoman Giffords and stood up for her in more ways than I ever imagined. We all have to stand up and we all have to vote if we really believe that our children should grow up in a civil society. I believe they should … what do you think?

A Little Nostalgia
The first think I thought about when I saw the Quaker cereal boxes was the grant we won from the Quaker Oats Company lo those many months ago. That money we got in Week 18 bought our signage and the umbrella for the Cabriolet Time really does fly when you are having fun.

We collected a total of 251 lbs. of food, including 47 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $61.50 … $30.00 in checks, $13.50 in cash plus $18.00 and 30 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, October 25, 2010

94th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project


Hi Folks,


More Families Fed
PJ on Miles Street set our first collection record at a championship Roller Derby tournament on November 16, 2009 where the fans donating 189.5 lbs. (342 lbs. weekly total) to the Community Food Bank. His record will always stand in our record books because it was the very first humongous food donation initiated by one person. Maen Mdnant at the Axis Food Mart has broken PJ’s record a number of times but he out did himself this week with a 394 lb. forklift-sized donation.



















Over the past 8 months, Maen asked his wholesalers a number of times to give him their slightly outdated merchandise and he will donate it to the Community Food Bank. They stop by his store every week, so they could just drop it off instead of throwing it away. Maen’s message is getting through because his wholesalers see he is very serious about taking care of folks. He cleaned up the Miles Neighborhood by strongly encouraging the homeless to vacate the alleys and bus benches where they used to drink and fall asleep. The homeless are gone now from the Miles Neighborhood so his next project is to boost the donations to the Food Bank. Just give him a little time; he will do that, too.

We collected a total of 576 lbs. of food, including 394 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $79.00 … a $50.00 check and $29.00 in cash.

Perhaps Too Much Routine
Last week I nearly forgot Al’s donation. Well, I did forget it until he called me. This week I decided to energize my route a bit and call on some new neighbors who recently moved into the neighborhood. These folks are totally new to the program, meaning the former neighbors who moved out never participated. Generally I call on the “replacements” right away because I have a story to tell the new neighbors. I found they are more easily convinced to participate when they are made aware of “the tradition,” at their address.


On the other hand, new folks remind me of the old days when I had to be extra charming in hopes that they would help The Community Food Bank. For me, extra charming can be tiring, you know.

The first new neighbor I met was backing out of her driveway and saw the Cabriolet. Of course, I was dawdling a bit hopeful she would be curious about my mission. We made eye contact and she invited me over to her SUV. Within seconds of my explanation, she said she would participate starting this coming Sunday.

This success encouraged me to make another stop as I headed for lunch. These neighbors were outside their front door building a large doghouse for their two pups. Adam, Molly and I had already met their pups on a recent walk. When I mentioned this fact, one of the young ladies said, “Oh, I know who you are, I’ve seen you with your dogs.” See, just like when I started. They open up the moment they learn I’m the guy the Westies lead as they sniff their way around the neighborhood.

The new neighbors gave me two cans and promised to have more waiting for me next week. Great, a new routine. Thanks, Al.

See you Sunday,

Peter

Monday, October 18, 2010

93rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Nice as They Say
In separate conversations, both Pauline Hechler, VP of Development, The Community Food Bank and Bobby Rich, 94.9 FM Morning Mix, mentioned how pleasant it was to work with the folks at the Sunflower Market. I was asking Pauline and Bobby about feeding kids at schools and the Sunflower Market worked its way into both discussions.

Thirty stores in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico,
Texas and Utah.

It took me a few months to figure out how to write a proposal I could present to the management of the Sunflower Market. I’m looking for a way to grow the One Can A Week neighborhood food collection program by going directly to the food source…the supermarkets.

Pauline and Bobby were right. The moment I met Richard Rodriguez, the Speedway store director, I liked him. He was in a conversation with two of his staff near a bin in the vegetable department and turned to me as I walked up. He stopped talking to his staff and asked if he could help me. It was one of those rare moments in cold calling where the person you want to speak to is ending a conversation and is willing to begin another with you.


The Sunflower Market was founded in 2002 by Mike Gilliland—who earlier in his career—co-founded the Wild Oats Markets. As stated on the Sunflower Market’s web site, “…since its inception...”Mike and his “…employees recognized the connection between community and business.”

When I mentioned One Can A Week is a unique, capitalistic charity idea that benefits the supermarket, the consumer and The Community Food Bank, Richard’s interest was piqued. He also liked the fact that One Can A Week is in the public domain—meaning free—and it can fit into his normal marketing plans at no additional cost.

Richard made sure he had my contact information before I left. He said he would talk it over with his management team and get back to me.

And he will do both. That is for sure.

It’s a Philosophy
Last Friday I got an email from Tina Gillette. “… I have three kids, ages 15, 13 and 11. I found out about your wonderful program on MixFM a while back, and would like to start my kids up in our neighborhood in Oro Valley.

Picking up Otto’s Weekly Donation – This Sunday Otto
Sanchez on E. 12th Street was home so he got to meet
the entire Gillette Family. Mom and Dad (Tina and Darrell)
are in the background. In front (left) are Carlie, Chandler
and Cameron holding the can.
‘However before doing so, I would very much like to speak with you briefly about the program regarding time commitment on the part of the kids, etc. “

On Sunday the whole Gillette Family showed up to help me collect the food here in Miles and the first thing I noticed was the strength and character of their children’s names. It is obvious these folks want to fortify their children for the rigors of adulthood. And a good name is always the best place to start.

Tina and Darrell want to teach their children that helping others is the best way to help themselves succeed in life. Universities are looking for young leaders who took on the responsibility of helping others early and performed consistently throughout their secondary schooling.

Cameron is the lead on One Can A Week so he rode with me in the Cabriolet while his folks and siblings followed us in the SUV. We had a chance to talk about accepting responsibility as a kid and what it means to help people in trouble. I told him One Can a Week is a philosophy not a program. He said he knew and that is why he wanted to start his own initiative in his neighborhood. He was even thinking ahead to those friends who he might be able to convince to join him. I suggested he just do the work and they will follow in time…some sooner than others but they will join him.

Yes, our country is in trouble and Cameron knows what he is up against, but he does not find an uncertain future daunting because his folks know what it takes to fight the good fight. And they are not shy about letting their kids in on the strategy.

The Recession of the Heart is Over
At least that’s what it felt like at the Rincon Market on Saturday. Moments after setting up the table, Ron Abbott, the owner of the Rincon Market handed me a very large and pudgy bank pouch. He said he had to empty the magic Styrofoam cup three times during the week. The donation amount was so large that it took me nearly the whole time I was there on Saturday to count the money and wrap the coins.

As we thought, it turned out to be a record. We collected $233.97 in cash donations and 18 lbs. in food. The highest total donation amount prior to last Saturday was $180.04 on September 27th.

Missed One
For some reason I walked right by my friend Al Shoemaker’s home and forgot to pick up his donation that he hides in a small, unplugged refrigerator near his front door. After some thought I still have no idea why I forgot. But a few hours later Al called me to find out if I were “sick or something.” I walked right over to his home and picked up his donation thinking along the way that everybody needs a friend like Al … just in case something really does go wrong.

We collected a total of 390 lbs. of food, including 222 pounds of produce. The money we donated amounted to $83.55 … $55.00 in checks and $28.55 in cash. The Axis Food Mart was responsible for 204 lbs. of that produce figure above.

See you Sunday.

Peter

Monday, October 11, 2010

92nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

WATCH: Bill Cosby Interviews Deborah Kenny On Revolutionary Schools


Dr. Deborah Kenny encircled by some of her admiring students.

The headline got my attention. I know Bill Cosby but I have no idea who Deborah Kenny is. Of course, the headline was written as if I should though. Every time my brain draws an absolute blank on a person’s name I try to resist the urge to learn about another “flash in the pop culture pan.” But like CODIS, the law enforcement DNA search program, my brain keeps at it until I gave in and click on the link.

No matter how small the world is getting, it’s still amazing how someone’s feats can be prominently displayed in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Esquire and on Nightly News with Brian Williams and still you never heard anything about her. Guess that’s why my brain knows better and forces me to look.

Dr. Deborah Kenny has had some life so far. According to Thomas Kelly’s Esquire article Deborah Kenny: Radical Education Reformer “She had earned a Ph.D. in comparative international education from Columbia and taught public school in three states. Disillusioned by the systemic failures she encountered, she left for the corporate world, where she became vice-president of marketing for the parenting group at Time Warner and then head of Sesame Street Publishing. When she decided to start Village Academies, she knew she would utilize the business side of her background as much as the teaching side. She developed a business plan devoid of bureaucracy and heavily influenced by Jack Welch's notions of leadership analysis and accountability.”

I watched the video and was moved by one statement she made. Bill asked Deborah to talk about her frustration with motivating others to take up and follow her highly successful educational program. Her three Village Academies in Harlem educate thousands of kids to think and participate in American’s Dream.

In answer to Bill’s question, Deborah said she was highly perplexed and she thought about it every day. I think about our One Can A Week program the same way. I know, a lot of you have heard me consternate on why we can’t find others to follow our lead in their neighborhoods. Deborah has no answer in sight for her concerns, but I take solace in the fact that there is another deeply caring person who faces the same issue of change we do. Like Deborah, we’re ahead of our time when it comes to helping others on a consistent and disciplined basis. We just have to keep going and others, in time, will see that we have an effective program and will follow the path we have laid out before them. Right now Deborah’s is doing the same thing.

Special Note: If you are a teacher or a school administrator, I think you will enjoy meeting Deborah as much as I did. (Just click on the links.) You may also get an idea or two. I did.

Hesitant Friend
The first thing Michael asked as he jumped into the Cabriolet was “Do we get to see the dogs today?” He was not along on that part of the trip last week where Rayah (center) and Petra met Adam and Molly.

Michael, Rayah, Petra and Molly getting
to know each other.
As promised, right after unloaded our morning collection at my home we entered the lair of the barking Westies. They mostly meet people on their walks and are very friendly…if they are not too busy sniffing the turf. But in their home they are a little protective and wary. Molly calmed down somewhat (notice the flopped ears) but Adam (barking a safe distance away) kept sounding the alarm all the while we were there.

Not helping the situation is the fact that the kids are a little hesitant themselves, pulling their hands away at the slightest move. It’s going to take many more Sundays for everyone to become the best of friends.

Busy Morning at CFB
Generally Howard and I handle weighing the food and counting the money together. But this morning there were three semi trucks to unload and forklifts were beeping and zooming everywhere.

Howard counting all of the cash donations.
So Howard took care of counting the donations and I got the food ready to photograph and weigh. This gave me an opportunity to shoot both the cart and Howard working at the same time. Now he can show a photo to his co-workers and say, “See, I do work when you are not around.” They kid him a lot because he is such a kidder himself.

We collected a total of 218 lbs. of food, including 50 pounds of produce. The money we donated amounted to $47.50 … one $25.00 check, $9.50 in cash plus 2 lbs. of food and $13.00 from The Axis Food Mart.



See you Sunday,

Peter





Tuesday, October 5, 2010

91st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,


Maen, my friend and owner of the Axis Food Mart has been talking to his three beautiful children, Petra, 13, Rayah, 11 and Michael, 7 about community service, The Community Food Bank and One Can A Week. However, based on their response, he could have also been talking to a brick wall. Then something magical happened. Their school, the St Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School is requiring their students to participate in 6 hours of community service. “Sign this,’ Maen said sliding a pen and piece of paper across the counter to me. “This Sunday and next Sunday you have two helpers, Petra, Rayah and Michale.” I just love the way my friend and I decide things together.

His plan was always to get his children involved in community service but now the school requires it so they go along willingly. (Amazing how the words require and willingly in the same sentence work for a school and not a parent.) The kids, and their mother, Seham, are already planning to continue the One Can A Week experience in their gated community of 160 homes. This will happen as soon as I can get the collateral materials to them.

In the meantime, they are meeting their Miles neighbors and learning that community service can be helpful and a whole lot of fun, too.

This Is Not Disneyland?
Since Rayah saw the funny car with the funny umbrella, she decided she could drive just like in Disneyland. That bit of cleverness gave me a clue that this short road trip would really be a trip.

Their Very First Customer
Although Andrew, my next door neighbor, is nearly twice as tall at Rayah, neither she nor her sister had a problem speaking right up…in kind of a shy spunky way. They both thanked him a couple of time for his donation.

"I Got Spooked"
You can see Rayah in her pink top in the door’s reflection looking on cautiously. One second ago she was standing next to Petra putting the “Thank You Card” on the door handle. That was when the cat’s tail brushed against her leg and she bolted.

The First Man to Say Yes to One Can A Week
Before we arrived at Ed’s home, I told Petra and Rayah the story of how I met him and that he was the first neighbor I talked to about starting One Can A Week. They found him just as easy to talk to as I did that day back in late 2008.

Thirteenth Street Collector
Lenny, along with Barbara who lives across the street and was at church by then, collect the food on their block. I told Petra and Rayah that if they worked week after week collecting food, neighbors would eventually step up to help.

Stand-in Photographer
I asked who likes photography and Rayah spoke up. My idea was to have her take a picture of Lenny and me and the person who doesn’t like photography. She did a great job until I said that.

Give Me That Camera
Lenny hasn’t seen this yet but he will and I will hear about it next Sunday. But fortunately Rayah will be with me again and Lenny is such a gentleman.

Petting the Pups
There’s another Westie who is off to the side barking because he does that with strangers in his home. But only the first time he meets you. Petra and Rayha are like that, too. They are cautions about meeting pets but Molly proved to be the exception. They gave her quite a few pets and later asked when they could see her again.

Not So Hard Being Charitable
We started at 11:30 am and it is now about 12:20 pm. Time for lunch at their dad’s store. Their little brother, Michael joined in the face-stuffing. The hamburgers were In and Out, Maen’s favorite.

Instructing a New Photographer
I wanted a photo with the guys and the photographer couldn’t wait until I finished my directions. Not using him again either.

That Much Fun Has to be Shared
Michael who is only seven has as much animation as a 50-year-old Bugs Bunny cartoon. And it was on display most of the time. He amuses me because he talks like Bugs with one clever remark after another but his words come out sounding like Elmer Fudd. How funny…and how could I not say yes when he asked to come along for the ride.

You’d Think They Were Related to the Barrymores
“Hold it,” I said. “Turn around and look at me.” I shot the photo so fast I did not see the results until I uploaded the files from the flash drive. They were really into what they were doing and posing, too, for sure.

Meeting the Ward V Councilman
As we approached Richard and Mary Frimbres’ home, they drove up into their driveway and got out of their SUV. What luck! I had time to tell my crew who he is and what he does. They were perfect kids standing there quietly while I told Richard how their dad eliminated much of the homeless problem around his store, Circle K and drunks sleeping in the alleys. I then suggested a photo and by the looks of Michael, he’s still promoting his dad’s good works in happy song and dance. “He did it. Yeah, Yeah, He did it.”

Caught in the Act
Michael arrived first at the dollar on the marble slab next to the pumpkin. This gave him time to think while his sisters focused on placing the quarterly report and “Thank You Card’ on the bench. But they were wise to his antics. Immediately they figures out what he was doing and brought it to my attention. “He’ stuffing that dollar in his pocket,” warned Rahah.

His huge grin told me otherwise. What a funny 7-year-old jokester!

Enough is Enough
They were getting a little tired when a bit of family dynamics came to the surface. Apparently, Rayah talks a lot and Petra, armed with a little extra scotch tape caught her sister off guard and taped here mouth shut. Everybody really liked that joke but the best part is I get to ride with them again next Sunday.

Feeling Our Oats
We collected a total of 228 lbs. of food, including 70 pounds of produce. The money we donated amounted to $59.15 … one $25.00 check, $14.15 in cash plus $20.00 from The Axis Food Mart.

See you next Sunday.

Peter