Monday, June 28, 2010

77th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

As with everything in life, consistency is the key to success. We learned that lesson as children when we read the story about the Tortoise and the Hare. We’re proving it again as adults with our One Can A Week neighborhood food donation program. Last year we collected over 9,200 lbs. of food. We are only half way through 2010 and our total so far is 7,452.5 lbs. In addition, we are influencing others to get involved in helping the Community Food Bank like the kids at the Los Amigos Elementary School who gave us 122 lbs. of food this week.

We are very proud of our neighbors because you are really keeping up the good work.

Barbara, Kym, Lenny and Peter

Miles Neighborhood 2010 Second Quarter
Food Donations to
The Community Food Bank

Because We Care
On June 8th, I was invited by our neighbor Zaida Meraz—a resource teacher for the Gifted and Talented at the Los Amigos Elementary School—to speak to the kids in the summer school program about One Can A Week. They were studying Service, Learning and Kindness with a special emphasis on helping the folks at the Community Food Bank. The end result of the three week program was a bunch of very excited kids (see photo above) and 122 lbs. of donated food.

They used two large boxes to collect the food which were
“really ugly” the kids thought so they decorated them with lots of cutout art to hide the fact that the boxes were just boxes. During the process, Mrs. Merza asked the students why they were getting so involved in the project and they said, without prompting, “Because we care.”

One Can A Week was such a positive experience for both the teachers and their students that they are considering getting the whole school involved with the Community Food Bank and its community outreach programs. That, I can tell you, will be good for everyone.

Powerful End to the Quarter
With a lot of help from the students at the Los Amigos Elementary School (basket on the left), we finished our second quarter with 274 lbs. of food. This gave us a grand total of 7,452.5 lbs. since the first of the year. When you calculate 1.3 lbs. for a single meal that translates into 1,910 folks we fed 3 meals in one day. Amazing!
See you Sunday,


Monday, June 21, 2010

76th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

1000% Return
Not someone who is remotely superstitious, I walk on cracks, never knock on wood, and relish hanging out with black cats. However, my friend Mark who sells handcrafted jewelry at the Rincon Market every Saturday is. He also believes in tithing 10% and sharing a part of his first Rincon Market sale with the Community Food Bank. He once told me that when one gives he or she can expect a ten-fold reward. I smile and thank him each week for his donation and wish there were more folks like him…right there in the Rincon Market.

About 11 o’clock, Mark approached my table and tossed a $2 bill on the paper plate I use for donations and said a man who just gave him the bill called it lucky and encouraged him to pass it on. He wanted to make sure I, too, would pass it on. “Right to the Community Food Bank,” I assured him.

After Mark left a handyman fellow I know who occasionally has breakfast at the Rincon Market called my name as he approached the table. “Hey, Peter, I just fixed a lady’s door and she gave me too much money for the job, so I am going to give some of it to you. She gave me too much money,” he said again.

I thought maybe the lady was so grateful for the renewed security she paid him what it was worth to her instead of his normal fee. “How about if I take these two $1 bills and this $2 bill,” he suggested, “and give you a $10.

That was fine with me...$6 more for the Community Food Bank. Within a couple of minutes an older couple stopped by to talk. As the woman spoke, her husband started fumbling and digging into his wallet. They were visiting from South Africa and she volunteered that their community service involved helping folks with Aids. Finally, the gentleman dropped a colorful bill on the paper plate and his wife immediately said, “What are you doing? That’s Swaziland money.”

He leap right into excuse mode and defended his apparent poor eyesight. “Well it looks like American money—kind of green. But you are right; it is only worth about $1.50.” He then chuckled.

The next bill he pulled out of his wallet was a $20. “I’ll give you this and take the $10.”

By now it was 11:15 and I had just witnessed three transactions—starting with the “lucky” $2 bill—that turned in a ten-fold profit. Mind you, I think there is something called luck but none of it ever happens around me. Be that as it may, I still think the concept is worth investigating so today I went to my bank and got a $2 bill. This coming Saturday instead of “priming the paper plate” with a couple of my bucks and some change, I’m going to feature a $2 bill. Superstition is not in my genes, but I can tell you this, I’ll put a stack of $2 bills on that paper plate if it helps feed more hungry folks here in Tucson.

Variety is the Spice of Giving
It’s very easy to fall into a pattern especially when an activity is once a week about the time. But here at Miles, folks keep the idea of donating to the Community Food Bank fresh by giving different items each week. It is as if they go shopping and wait for an idea to hit them. “Oh, this would be good for my Sunday donation.” This week Barbara, Lenny, Kym and I picked up baby formula, dog food, toiletries, lots of different kinds of breakfast cereals and lunch packs which kids love. The variety we see every Sunday keeps us from getting bored, too.

We collected 154 lbs. of food that includes a stuffed 2 lb. shopping bag of Maruchan Instant Lunch packs from the Axis Food
Mart and $6 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, June 14, 2010

75th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Baby Teeth
For a week after Zaida Meraz, my neighbor and Resource Teacher for the Gifted and Talented, invited me to talk about One Can A Week to her students at the Los Amigos Elementary School, I had been thinking about all kinds of approaches to take. Since I knew the summer school program centered around Service, Learning and Kindness, I thought I should cover all three topics beginning with my decision at their age to always endeavor to take the high road.

Forty some students filed into the cafeteria, sat on the floor in 4 neat rows and quietly smiled up at me. I saw—especially those directly in front of me—were quite young. Each had his or her baby teeth…all of them.

I stuck to my planned presentation even though this cute boy right in front kept on interrupting me. His questions began with 3 or 4 intelligible words and then trailed off into a mumble. I acknowledged him, smiled and said yes even though I had no idea what I had just agreed to. After the 5th or 6th interruption, I decided to amuse myself and as I panned across the faces of the students before me I asked, “Does anyone have any duct tape?”

A reply came back immediately from a number of the students almost in unison, “What’s duct tape?”

After a short, awkward pause I showed them the photo of my two Westies, Adam and Molly. They perked up and I seized the moment to ask for questions—which thankfully there were none—and ended with a “thank you for helping me with One Can A Week.”

Sunday I saw Zaida and she said her kids were really into One Can A Week. So far they have donated over 68 cans and will present their total donation to me in two weeks. Actions do speak louder than words and it appears that these kids are teaching us a thing or two about Service, Learning and Kindness.

Easy, Breezy Sunday
Most Sundays there is very little, late morning traffic in the Miles neighborhood. This Sunday was no different. Kristen, my next door neighbor, was out watering her plants and asked if I had a power drill because she wanted to poke some holes in a plastic container and turn it into a compost bin. I did and said I would drop it off after my rounds which I did not do because I forgot but eventually handed the drill over to Andrew when he stopped by after dinner.

Mr. Aguilar was not ready again this Sunday. He always says he thought about putting the cans out earlier but he did not “follow through.” His wife who was sitting in a very comfortable chair on the far side of the living room replied, “Follow through…that’s the important part.” We all laughed.

Every Sunday Ed Altamirano and I stand just outside his front door in the sunshine and visit while Kailua, his Min Pin yaps now and again inside the house.

Some how we got on the subject of socializing kids and Ed told me how he took his daughter to a Nursery every weekday because both he and his wife worked. “It always smelled of Clorox, which is a good thing,” Ed recalled, “and my daughter got to be around a lot of interesting kids.”

“And with that smell,” I added, “when they got into high school probably a lot of them where drawn to the swimming program,” Another good laugh.

After lunch I was invited in to see Emily’s new baby boy who was awake and rocking away in his swing. He is some happy and handsome baby and I get to watch him grow up.

At 2 pm I was finished and packed the food away for the night. By 10 am on Monday it would be in the hands of the Community Food Bank. What a great way to perform some community service, get your neighbors involved and feed lots of very needy families. I look at the news every night and it makes me even more grateful that I have created my own world that is quite removed from those folks who have not figures out yet that helping your brothers and your sisters is just delightful… and far more precious than gold.

We collected 164 lbs. of food that includes 22 lbs of food from the Axis Food Mart in addition to 3.5 lbs. of non-food and $9 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, June 7, 2010

74th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Eva Guthrie who lived on 12th Street, died quietly June 1, 2010. She was 94-years-old. Link to Arizona Daily Star / Tucson Citizen obituary at

Great Job, Eva
Two homeless guys walking behind my Cabriolet on 12th Street were making some loud comments about the large burgundy umbrella. “What are you selling, mister?” one shouted. By the time they caught up to me I was out of the car and lifting a can in a plastic bag off my neighbor’s fence. They both read the sign on the side of the car and simultaneously gave me the “thumbs up” gesture as they continued on their journey.

Generally, there is very little activity around the homes across from the Red Cross bus entrance. Besides the curious drinking buddies, a young man from next door walked up to me and he too, liked my tricked out Cabriolet. I told him about our mission in the neighborhood and he said he was just there for a day clearing out his grandmother’s home who recently died. He asked me if I could take all of the food his grandmother left.

When I walked through the front door I saw people and stuff everywhere. Kids, grand kids and great, great grand kids were busy looking at something and then placing it in a box. I stayed by the door and a couple of the young gentlemen started emptying the cabinets in the kitchen. I had to make many trips to the car to empty my satchel. “What’s the most food you ever got from one person in the Miles neighborhood?” Steve Eppley asked. (Click on the link to Eva’s obituary to discern all of the family names.). I thought a moment qualifying one person and one home, not an event collection. “This is it,” I replied.

A broad grin took over Steven’s face. And if Eva were looking down on this scene, she’d most definitely be smiling, too. She raised three generations of some very caring folks.

The Official Launch of Bobby’s Buddies
The first meeting was more of a meet and greet that lasted over an hour and a half. Bobby made the point that he started Bobby’s Buddies to encourage neighbors around Tucson to help their neighbors help with community service. He does not want to tell anyone what to do but once people decide on a course of action, he will help get and keep the ball rolling, including collateral material design and incentive rewards for volunteers.

Bobby then opened up the floor for discussion and the ideas flowed like water. Ronni thought graffiti abatement was needed and offered to help other neighborhoods attack the problem as her Palo Verde Neighborhood has. Colleen is thinking about creating a cat food collection program for the Hermitage which is always in need of sustenance for the many kitties it shelters.

Dennis and Nancee want to create a program that brings more attention to eating right and weight control. With over 600 volunteers to manage, Diane and Sandi are considering ways to provide incentives and encouragement to their people through the Bobby’s Buddies program.

Bobby closed the meeting with a promise to get back together in a few weeks to begin implementation of the many ideas discussed and then he took folks on a much appreciated tour of the MIXfm studios.

Bobby Rich (center), in the large Journal Broadcasting conference room, listens to Kristen Grabo (right), Executive Director of the Southern Arizona Diaper Bank. Also seated at the conference table are: Diane Luber (right), Development Manager, Interfaith Community Services (ICS); Ronni Kotwica (left near Bobby) President, Palo Verde Neighborhood Association; and Dennis Melin (left) and his wife Nancee. Not show but also in attendance: Colleen McHugh, Ferinl Malaika; Sandi Brickley, Volunteer Resources Manager, Interfaith Community Services (ICS) and yours truly who took this average photo.

A Good Foundation
After Eva Guthrie’s family donation went into the basket, (see photo on right) the rest of the Miles collection followed on top nearly over flowing the sides. The combined donations totaled 186 lbs. plus $16 in cash. When we add the 4 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart we reached the 190 lb. mark.

A Personal Best
Eva Guthrie and her family on 12th Street donated more than 40 lbs. of food Sunday. This is the most food one household has personally given to One Can A Week since we began collecting food for the Community Food Bank nearly a year and a half ago.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

73rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

No Plan B
The other day a neighbor asked me, “When are you going to start to make money with One Can A Week”. The question surprised me and I curtly replied, “Never.”

One Can A Week is a low cost idea involving ink for a printer, a little shoe leather and some gas. The truth is I would feel awful if I were paid and kids were going hungry. I feel awful as it is when I think about those hungry kids.

My plan is to just keep collecting food from my neighbors and when possible, talk to folks in other neighborhoods to see if I can encourage them to think about those hungry kids, too.

And based on a phone call I got today, my plan seems to be working.

Zaida is one of our neighbors and a teacher at the Los Amigos Elementary school this summer. In her class of 60 some students she is going to focus on Service, Learning and Kindness. Her follow up email explained more. “As a resident of the Miles neighborhood I have seen your dedication towards making a difference in our community. I would like my students to learn that one person can make a difference. Our students at Los Amigos Elementary come from low income neighborhoods in the south side of Tucson. They are often the ones receiving aid. I want to empower them by giving them the opportunity to be the ones helping rather than receiving the help.”

This Is So Great…For Three Reasons
When there is a problem that exists for generations like hunger in America, kids are the solution. The more kids hear about the workings of the Community Food Bank and how they can really get involved right now to help the situation, the more empowered they will feel.

Also, when kids hear that one simple idea—backed up with commitment and resolve—is what really makes the world go round, the more empowered they will feel.

Lastly, the more I can reach out to teach kids a better way of life that includes helping their neighbors feed their hungry kids, the more empowered I'm going to feel.

Speaking of Talking to Folks
If you are in a group or know of an organization that is looking for speakers, I will be happy to talk to them about One Can A Week. And as you read last week, I even have a pretty good opening joke.

A Little Bit of Everything
Some bread, fruit, dog food and hand soap ended up in our Memorial Day holiday weekend collection for a grand total of 169 lbs. of food, which included 12 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart, 3 lbs. of non-food and $26 in cash. That’s a pretty impressive amount of food considering a bunch of folks were away for the long weekend.

See you Sunday,