Monday, March 28, 2011

116th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
We’re Feeding Some Families Now!
Our quarterly food donation numbers always look impressive; however, they are just numbers. This quarter I’ve decided to state our quarterly results as we have in the past (see chart below) but this time, take an additional look at all of our numbers over the past 116 weeks and put a face on them, so to speak.

Based on 1.3 lbs. per meal, the total amount of the food we collected could feed 6,506 people three meals in one day. That breaks down to about 56 people each week. Since approximately 130 Miles families participate in One Can A Week each and every Sunday, two of our neighborhood families are helping feed one needy person each week.

Considering the Community Food Bank’s buying power of $9 to $1, the amount of money donated by the Miles Neighborhood is the equivalent of $48,344.04 in food and services.

It only takes one coordinator and three volunteers to collect the food. The total time spent weekly collecting and delivering the food to the Community Food Bank is approximately 7 hours.

These numbers say a lot about our neighborhood. Mostly that Miles is a bit of a paradise where caring for the needs of other is just part of our weekly routine.

Miles Neighborhood 2011 First Quarter Food Collection Results
Click on Chart to Enlarge
So many Pinto Beans
A Miles Street neighbor asked his friend on the way to Costco to pick up “some” Pinto Beans for he and his son. Either he forgot what it means to go to Costco or his friend wants them to become Vegan.

Twenty-five pounds of Pinto Beans for two people is a lot of Pinto Beans and since the Food Bank only takes unopened packages, our Miles neighbor decided others could benefit more from his bean bonanza.

We collected a total of 206 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $38.50, $8.50 in cash and a $30.00 check.

See you Sunday.


Monday, March 21, 2011

115th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
One Can A Week
Now in the Great State of Virginia

On the 16th I received an email from Bill Carnegie, the Community Food Bank CEO talking about one motivating aspect of One Can A Week.

He wrote, “Your concept is simple, yet dramatic. Often times people feel discouraged when they hear how many men, women and children are in need.

“They don't feel they can make a difference. Your concept allows them to make a difference for a local family in need. Every can and every dollar makes a difference.”

Bill must be clairvoyant. The next day, Thursday, I heard from Sandra Sullivan, Chair Food Pantry Transition Committee in Stanardsville, Virginia. She is charged with increasing the size for the community food bank in her area because there is such an increased need.

“We have been running a food pantry since 1995,” Sandra wrote, “and suddenly in May of 2008, two local plants shut down without notice, and the requests for food skyrocketed and hasn't stopped since.

“Our donations have kept pace with the need, but we have outgrown the church facilities where we have operated free all of these years, and suddenly must raise money in addition to food.

“Last night I was invited to make a presentation on our several food programs to the "Domestic Divas", a local social club that I knew nothing about until they invited me. As a group they are supporting another charity on a monthly basis, but if they each went back to their neighborhoods and started your program, that would be really exciting.

“This morning I was looking for ideas for flyers and ran across your "one can a week program". It sounds perfect! I believe that will "catch on" in our county!”

Our One Can A Week program is in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and now Virginia. Can’t wait to list all fifty states.

Surprising Sunday
The great thing about my Miles neighbors is they are very consistent. And then they are not. For no special reason we doubled what we normally contribute which is about 168 lbs. a week. This week we donated lots of fruit, spuds and even some garden grown onions besides a basket brimming with cans and jars and boxes.

We collected a total of 356 lbs. of food, including 42 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $32.50, $12.50 in cash and a $30.00 check.

See you Sunday,


Monday, March 14, 2011

114th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Off To A Great Start
Emy Sladek’s little boy Teak just helped his family deliver their
One Can A Week neighborhood food donation to the
Desert Mission Food Bank in Phoenix.
Teaching Kids To Be Grateful
Remember Phoebe Fox? She lives in Phoenix and started a One Can A Week program in her neighborhood some time ago. Recently she added to her success by encouraging her friend Emy to help feed hungry folks also.

Today I got an email from Emy who began One Can A Week five weeks ago. She is collecting food from her neighbors and educating them at the same time on the many programs and aspects of the Desert Mission Food Bank. It sounds so fresh, too, because she is just reporting back on what she just learned.

“Hi all!
We had a really awesome first trip to the Desert Mission Food Bank yesterday! After 4 weeks collecting "One Can A Week" I'm proud to announce that our little 13th Pl contributed 41 lbs of canned goods!

“After weighing our donation the director took us on a tour and explained how things work there. I was so impressed! It's really a nice set up, very clean and orderly. They have a small staff and over 75 volunteers. It was such an upbeat and cheery atmosphere! They have different programs all centered around feeding

those in need with respect and dignity. I encourage you to go check out the Desert Mission Food Bank 4th Street Market.

“I also learned that they not only take canned goods, plastic bags, and citrus... but will also take any extra fresh grown garden produce and dog, cat, and bird food!”

Emy then closed her email thanking her neighbors for helping her raise her two young children, Teak and Payson.

“As parents we strive so hard to teach our kids to be grateful. To appreciate what they have and to give to others in need. Thank you for helping me instill that in my kids. And helping our community food bank! It really does mean so much!”

Once in a while I get a little discourage because One Can A Week is not growing as fast as I think it should. Then I get these terrific little emails and realize I just have to wait for those One Can A Week little guys to grow up to make things really happen.

And thumbs up to you too, Teak!

Inedible Good Stuff
Squash, bananas and lots of cans ended up in the cart this week. But we also donated Q-Tips, a bunch of dog food, shower gel and deodorant (top left). These personal items are need also so if you’re thinking of regifting something you don’t want or need, why not regift it to the food bank.

We collected a total of 172 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.50, $8.50 in cash and a $25.00 check.

See you Sunday,

Monday, March 7, 2011

113th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Maen Mdanat, owner of the Axis Food Mart and his three
children, Petra (left) Rayah and Michael enjoy an In and Out
Burger lunch at Axis.
I was almost finished with my rounds on Sunday when I stopped to talk to a neighbor on 12th Street. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned I worked mornings at the Axis Food Mart.

“Tell me something,” he asked, “why should they get a liquor license. Circle K and Safeway sell liquor. Why do we need another liquor store in the neighborhood?”

Even if there is a license involved, I don’t think competition in business should ever be restricted. If competition is restrictions, the consumer always pays higher prices. But I could tell my neighbor was not looking for a lesson in capitalism. He lived right behind the Axis Food Mart and has dealt with homeless folks drinking and messing up the alley for years.

The former owner of Axis allowed all kinds of unneighborly activities around his store. But 15 months ago a new owner, Maen Mdanat took control of Axis and the homeless problem abated, mostly because Maen, in his twenties, was a special forces soldier in the Jordanian Army before coming to America. Although his nature is to be kind and giving, confrontation is not something Maen finds distasteful. The homeless had to behave and not trespass and drink in the alley or they would face arrest. Recently, a number of neighbors told me they are surprised by the very small number of homeless in the neighborhood lately. “It’s all Maen’s doing,” I’d say.

Chatting in the Parking Lot
Sunday night, Maen and I were standing in the front of his store talking about my conversation with our neighbor earlier in the day when a patrol car drove across the Axis parking lot and Cherry Street and parked in the Circle K lot facing Broadway. A minute or two later a patrol car drove slowly east on Broadway in front of the Circle K and the parked patrol car shining a spotlight on a fenced off home on the far side of the street.

As soon at the patrol car’s spotlight passed the fenced off home, a young man inside the fence jumped up and scurried over the fence. He darted across Broadway and headed straight for the parked patrol car.

Maen sprang into action because he saw the office was going to be slow exiting the patrol car and wouldn’t catch the runner.

Like a defensive back Maen adjusted his speed and angle as he shot across Cherry arriving just in time to grab the runner’s hooded jersey which the runner abandoned immediately. The officer, who had long legs was by now in pursuit of the runner behind Maen. But those long legs gained no ground on Maen’s piston-action sprint. The runner was the first to reach 12th Street and turn left into the darkness with Maen hot on his tail.

I picked up the hoodie and headed down Cherry toward 12th Street. Before I reached the corner, Maen appeared, not breathless at all which surprised me because it was such an adrenalin-filled sprint. He took the hoodie back around the corner and gave it to the officer.

When he joined me again on Cherry, I asked Maen what happened and he said it got really dark as soon as they turned the corner so he moved in on the runner and pushed him to the ground, holding the guy down with his knee in the guy’s back. Two or three seconds later the officer ran up with gun in hand. “That was the scary part,” Maen said, “considering how dark it was.”

We walked back to the store. Maen stooped to pick up several pieces of his cell phone off the street. It had popped out of its holder on his hip during the chase. The pieces all went back together and the phone worked fine.

So tell Me Again Why We Need Another Liquor License?
Although the process of things often distracts us—stores, homeless, drinking, and broken bottles in an alley—we forget that none of that really matters. It’s always the people and the character of those people.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that the fates allowed Maen to move into our neighborhood. With his special talents and unique experience he makes me feel safe and every one of my neighbors protected.

Now it’s our turn to protect Maen and his business so he can compete in the marketplace. I am going to do everything I can to make him feel welcome in Miles. And if I am ever again asked why we need another liquor license in our neighborhood I will say, “Actually, we need Maen and if he comes with a liquor license, so be it.”

Still Showing Our Appreciation
Remember when Quaker Oats awarded us that $500 grant way back when to pay for signage on the car and our display table? Well, every time I see an opportunity to promote them I do. I know it’s nice…but they were nice, first.

We collected a total of 146 lbs. of food, including 10 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $36.50, $11.50 in cash and a $25.00 check.

See you Sunday,