Monday, January 31, 2011

108th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

It Takes a Neighborhood to Raise a Child

Two young sisters, maybe 8- and 11-years-old were buying candy at the Axis Food Mart. I was on the cash register behind the counter.

After ringing up the sale I stepped from behind the register for a moment but caught some movement out of the corner of my eye in front of the counter. The girls slowly walked out of the store and I raced back to Maen’s office. “Check the video,” I said. “I think somebody just dipped into the Food Bank canister.”

In a second, Maen had an image up on the monitor of the youngest girl messing with the donation canister. He raced outside and found the girls still in the parking lot. He gently confronted the young girl and convinced her to reach into her pocket and give up the crinkled dollar she just took. Maen has three young children of his own, two daughters and a boy and he’s a bit of an expert when it comes to explaining the right way to behave.

The Axis Food Mart is a family store so it wasn’t long before the father of the two girls stopped by to pick up some beer. Maen quietly discussed the taking of the dollar from the Food Bank donation canister. The father appreciated the information and said he would handle it.

This Sunday the sisters showed up again and the 8-year-old, in a hurry to hit the candy aisle, dropped her two dollars on the counter in front of Maen who was working the register. Maen moved the money behind the Food Bank canister and waited for her to return.

When the 8-year-old was ready to check out she stepped up to the counter and noticed her money was gone. ”Where’s my money,” she said. “I just put it here on the counter.”

Maen asked her, “What money?” and suggested someone probably took it. The little girl’s face dropped to the floor. Maen could see she was very upset. “How does that make you feel?” he asked.

“Terrible. I feel terrible. Who took my money?”

Maen kept up the questioning until he was sure she understood what it feels like to have someone take your property. He quickly changed course when he thought she might begin to cry.

Maen asked her if she remembered taking the dollar from the Food Bank canister. She did. “Well, how you feel now, he said, “is exactly how the people at the Food Bank felt when you took their money.” Everybody feels terrible when their money is stolen … just like you feel now.

Maen reached behind the canister. “Oh, here’s your money, it was here all the time.”

Maen scanned her candy, took the two dollars and started to hand her the change.

She held up her hand to stop him. “Give it to the Food Bank,” the young girl said as she scooped up her candy and walked toward the door with her sister. Maen thought, maybe, just maybe, she now understands that other people have feeling, too.

The morale of this story is simple. We all have to help each other whenever help is needed so our kids can grow up and tell their kids that "in the old days" everybody in the neighborhood taught them how to treat people with respect.

Faster Then Maaco
Photo by Rebecca Lipson
In less than a week the Miles middle school classes painted and tricked out the ordinary orange shopping cart given to them by the Community Food Bank. Especially impressive was the Mustang hubcap mounted on the front. It says Miles Mustangs—their school mascot—loud and clear.

This week amid all of the other school activities they collected 156 lbs. of food. This means in two weeks the nearly 400 lbs. of food they donated fed over 300 people one meal.

Go Mustangs!


A Neighbor in Need
Kim on Highland Avenue, along with her mother and sister were just told they have to move or get rid of their two dogs Moose (pictured here) and Happy. Even though the landlady owns two dogs herself, she decided she no longer wants pets at her triplex. Kim only has a month-to-month contract so she must look for a residence elsewhere. She wants to stay in Miles and I sure want to keep her as a neighbor. If you know of a one bedroom apartment or home for $520 a months that allows pets, please call Kim at (520) 873-8566. Thanks for the help.

Cereal Sunday
Pauline Hechler, VP of Development at the Community Food Bank always encourages people to donate healthy cereal for kids. It makes a quick and nutritious breakfast, something hungry kids don’t always get. Well, this week the folks at DKA Associates on the corner of Broadway and Vine took the suggestion to heart. We got so much cereal you can’t even see the cans.

We collected a total of 318 lbs. of food, including 40 lbs. of produce, and 102 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $64.00 … a $50.00 check and $14.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, January 24, 2011

107th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
One Can A Week Goes to School

Rebecca Lipson spent a significant amount of time and energy over the holidays setting up her One Can A Week program at the Miles School. It all came together Friday and everything worked perfectly. So perfectly in fact, the Miles School’s first One Can A Week donation amounted to 242 lbs. Amazing!

Rebecca Lipson with 242 lbs. of food
When I arrived Friday afternoon, Rebecca’s classroom felt like an opening scene of a Broadway play…kids weighing food on the side of the room, kids checking “Best By’ dates at the tables and Rebecca quietly choreographing all of her minions' giggling, chattering and scurrying about.

Rebecca’s two afternoon middle school classes are responsible for the physical collection of the food throughout the school. They visit each classroom with the bright orange shopping cart provided by the Community Food Bank. The kids are planning to trick out the cart with a new paint job and a Mustang hubcap ornament to cover the front. The Mustang is their school mascot so why not.

A couple of teachers stopped by to thank me for introducing the program to the Miles School. I assured them that that is all I did. Rebecca made it happen.

A classroom filled with boxes filled with food.

Basket loaded and ready to roll

More Schools on the Horizon
It’s probably a good time to apologize again to Rodney Glassman for doubting his suggestion of a One Can A Week school program. I now know that all we need is a Rebecca Lipson in each school in town and a huge amount of food can be collected for the Community Food Bank each week.

Tomorrow afternoon I am meeting with Krista Gypton and her team at the Cienega High School in Vail. This is another Rodney introduction. We are discussing the next steps to implement the Vail School District One Can A Week program. How great is that, Rodney? I know, you told me so.

Something for the kittens, too.
Something for the Kittens, Too
This week there was a lot of variety including big boxes of cereal, potatoes, oranges by the score and one 14 lb. container of kitty litter. With food in short supply I know a hungry family will really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the cat person who provided the Tidy Cat Litter.

We collected a total of 290 lbs. of food, including 80 lbs. of produce, 14 lbs. of non food items and 6 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $107.50 … $80.00 in checks and $27.50 in cash. These figures included the donations I forgot to turn in last week.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

106th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
The Miles School
One Can A Week Program
Launches Friday

It’s not fair that only I get to see the planning stages and launch of the Miles School One Can A Week program. So this week I’d like to share two recent emails I received from Rebecca Lipson, the teacher coordinating everything … I mean everything. After reading her emails below, you will understand what I mean by everything. The program Rebecca created is incredibly robust and includes all teachers, students and parents.

First Update
“Hi, Peter. Plans are coming along nicely to get One Can a Week up and running at Miles. Information sheets were sent home to families on Thursday and I'll follow up with an e-mail on Tuesday. This upcoming week will be our first week of collecting donations, so I hope you'll be able to stop by on Friday afternoon.

“The middle school students have been working hard on preparing supplies for their adopted elementary classrooms--hand decorated boxes for collecting and supplying teachers with information sheets. Another student group is creating the bulletin board in the front hallway.“The theme of Pac Man was chosen by the students. We discussed how to show the idea of abundance, so they incorporated a scoreboard that will show our "point totals". They will also be displaying the thank you notes on the board.

“One of the students is my administrative assistant who is helping me with taking all the student photos for the nametags so we can print those up. He will also be very helpful in keeping a spreadsheet updated with weekly totals. So, groups of 2-3 students keep information for the individual classrooms they service and my assistant will keep information for the school as a whole so we can send out weekly reports.

Second Update
“I've told the students that their nametags will serve as their hall pass in order for them to go to the other classrooms. What they may not realize is that it also creates buy-in as the leaders of this program. In my experience, most kids live up to expectations when given responsibility. It would be great to get 30 nametags so all the students and my staff assistants (two aides for students with disabilities) can also have them. It would be best to get the clip on kind or even ones on lanyards, rather than anything with a pin.

“I know the kids in both classes want to meet you (6th period is 1:20-2:12 and 7th period is 2:15-3:05). You are welcome to come anytime during those two classes. I'm not sure how long the collections will take, but I'm expecting to have all the donations gathered for you by 2:50.

“I also forgot to mention that one classroom already has a full box!”

I’m amazed by and very proud of Rebecca Lipson. She has done all of the critical thinking and planning on One Can A Week in addition to her full time responsibilities as the middle school science teacher. If you get a chance, please pop her an email just to say thanks for all of her hard work.

Word From on High
When I dropped off our donation at the Food Bank this week I stopped by Pauline Hechler’s office to say hello. As I was leaving, Bill Carnegie, the Community Food Bank CEO walked by and stopped to chat.

He mentioned that he is often asked about One Can A Week so he thinks that the program is beginning to pique a lot of interest around town. This is more than a good thing

We collected a total of 248 lbs. of food, including 56 lbs of produce and 16 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we collected amounted to $68.50 … $50.00 in checks and $18.50 in cash. Unfortunately, I left the envelope on my desk at home so this amount will be added to next week’s donation. Oooops!

PS. This is a cell phone photo. Also forgot my camera.

See you Sunday,


Monday, January 10, 2011

105th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Pick Up Gabby’s Gauntlet

Hi Folks,

For days now I have been walking around in a numbing state of disbelief. In our beautiful country where the majority rules, how come we allow a very tiny segment of known, deranged individuals to dictate whose lives will be devastated?

Are we only smart enough to create laws where someone has to be injured or killed before we can take action? If we are smart enough to curb an element of free speech and outlaw yelling “Fire” in a public form, why can’t we stop know disturbed individuals from buying guns just down the street from our supermarkets?

I have so many more rhetorical questions but it is not healthy just to keep posing them. I have to do something positive for myself and Gabrielle Giffords.

One of Gabby’s favorite charities is the Community Food Bank. As a young girl she worked as a volunteer there and recently in her capacity as our congresswoman, she helped procure funding for a food bank solar project.

For the foreseeable future, Gabby, one of the most delightful people I have ever met, needs our help to continue her essential community service work. I am going to redouble my One Can A Week efforts to feed even more hungry families. Maybe you can join me by talking to others about One Can A Week to encourage their support of the Community Food Bank.

One thing for sure, if we were in trouble, Gabby would be the first one to reach out to us as she has done for so many thousands of families in our community. Let’s pick up Gabby’s community service gauntlet and carry on for her. We will all be the better for it.

‘Tis the Gleaning Season
Our neighbors are beginning to harvest the fruit trees in their backyards and to our delight we are getting to share in their bounty. Some of the oranges in the box in the bottom of the cart were as big as softballs.

We collected a total of 228 lbs. of food, including 16 lbs of produce and 6 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $70.00 … $55.00 in checks and $15.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

104th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Week One of Year Three
One Can A Week
Hi Folks,

Great Way to Start a New Year
On Sunday, January 2, the Arizona Daily Star featured One Can A Week in its Tucson & Region section. Bobby Rich saw the article and sent me an email Sunday night. “…I was so tickled to see how much space they gave the story. Fantastic!”

Me, too. That’s how I felt. I even learned a few things from Bill Carnegie, President and CEO of the Community Food Bank.

When I take our Miles Neighborhood donation to the food bank on Mondays it is, according to Bill, “…probably going to be served the next day or week, perhaps on a neighbor's table. You may not even know they are in need.”

I had no idea the food we donate is utilized so quickly. This makes me happy and sad at the same time.

Bill also talked candidly about the success of One Can A Week. "I have been surprised it took off and was accepted so much. A lot of it is due to Peter - he's been willing to drive around the neighborhood and bring everything to us each Monday.

“Wouldn't it be a wonderful New Year's resolution," Bill added, "if more people in our community stepped up and made similar commitments? If every one of us gave one can a week, that would be a significant resource in the fight against hunger in this community."

I couldn’t agree more, Bill.

Please visit the Arizona Daily Star web site and read Stephanie Innes’ artile entitled One Can a Week’ program is catching on.

Not One Fruitcake
However, we did receive an Italian dessert cake called Panettone that is filled with raisins and glazed orange peels. We also got a huge cookie tin. Both of these items would never end up on anyone’s regifting list so a couple of our neighbors made a real sacrifice donating these tasty treats.

We collected a total of 186 lbs. of food, including 14 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $47.00 … a $25.00 check and $22.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,