Monday, August 26, 2013

242nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

                                                                                   … UPDATE …
John Gallow has helped in many, many ways over the years to keep me and One Can A Week going. Now all his efforts have come home to roost. On Wednesday, the 14th he sent me an email telling me to:

“Check this out, small world. See below.

The mayor is speaking to our office next Tues. morning.”

Although I’m only the pickup guy for the Mayor’s One Can A Meeting program, I got involved in this particular Coldwell Banker meeting early because John is a realtor for the firm. He gave me a heads up when he received the meeting notice.

It all started when Patty Erickson, the Branch Manager at Coldwell Banker, talked to Karla Avalos-Soto in the Mayor’s office about the Mayor’s One Can A Meeting program and she really liked the idea. Patty then told everyone who was coming to the meeting to “surprise the Mayor with a large donation.” They did, too, a total of 86 lbs. and a $5.00 cash donation.

Days after the meeting when I was helping John with a project he told me that “The Mayor did a great job and everyone was impressed.” Well, that was no surprise. He’s a good speaker.

It all started when Patty Erickson, the Branch Manager at Coldwell Banker, talked to Karla Avalos-Soto in the Mayor’s office about the Mayor’s One Can A Meeting program and she really liked the idea. Patty then told everyone who was coming to the meeting to “surprise the Mayor with a large donation.” They did, too, a total of 86 lbs. and a $5.00 cash donation.

At the tail end of the Mayor’s meeting schedule email is the line, “You can join the Mayor's "One Can a Meeting" program. Just bring a non-perishable food item to your meeting. There's a Food Bank collection box right in the conference room.”

This worked well, indeed, especially when Karla engaged in a follow up conversation before the meeting.

I emailed the Community Food Bank donation results to Patty Erickson and included a breakdown on how many folks 86 lbs. can feed. The answer is three meals in one day for 28 people. Even the $5.00 cash donation they had can provide for 6 more people.

Patty thought the agents would enjoy learning about what their donations can actually produce. She ended her email by telling me she is considering her own One Can A Week program.

That would be such a good thing if everyone in offices around Tucson could follow in the Mayor’s footsteps. Lots of hungry kids wouldn’t be hungry any more.

What does it take
to make folks reach out just a little?

The Community Food Bank is sponsoring a SNAP challenge September 3 – 6 where participants try to live 4 days spending only $1.33 per meal. (Go online to to register.)

The idea is you may achieve some insight into what it is like living in abject poverty and then get involved in some kind of food related community service. Myself, I talk about TUSD and how 71% of the nearly 50,000 student population receives partial or fully paid for meals. Like the food bank I am trying to awaken a sense of concern that is often dormant in many folks

For some reason I was awaken as a kid sitting in a pew listening to another parable. As I remember it, some people were given 30 Talents and those who invested the gold to help others were the good guys and those who just buried it weren’t. That made perfect sense to me.

I also liked the double entendre for the word talent. Kids are easy to amuse.

Now as the pearly gates are getting closer and closer for many of us I imagine those who buried their talents in banks and investments will be surprised when they are at the head of the line.

“So what did you do with your talents?”

“Invested them, made lots of money and built a big business.”

“Did you feed the poor?”


“Go to the back of the line.”

When appearing at the head of the line again those resourceful ones when asked, “So what did you do with your talents?” will probably answer “I left all of my money to my kids with strict instructions to feed the poor and do lots of other important things.”

“Good answer, you may enter now and please take the path on the right to our Public Housing Complex.”

So what I got out of that fascinating parable and my irony laden imagination was pay the dues now or you’ll definitely pay them later.

Now that should do it!

This is a case of the negative quickly accentuating the positive.

Sprout customers with trash to pitch still found the food bin irresistible so the management decided to catch their eye before the bin caught their stuff.

And one yellow sign with black lettering was not enough to do the job. It took two because many of the customers shot from the side.

Now the bin is fresh and clean, ready for cans and other food stuffs. And the best part is all of the customers with trash to discard learn about One Can A Week … just before they move on.

Truckload Number Nine

Of the 378 lbs. we took to the food bank today, 262 of those pounds belonged to the Mile Neighborhood which included 78 lbs. from Maen’s Axis Food Mart. In addition, Sprouts donated 60 lbs. and Shiva Vista, 56 lbs. of the total poundage.

If they just knew who to call
While picking up a printing job for Maen, a young lady in a Burger King uniform approached and asked me who she could call when her Burger King has bread and things like that to donate. I gave her my card and said I will pick up the donation whenever she is ready.

Obviously, my next big challenge is to figure our how everyone with food to donate knows to call One Can A Week. Maybe I’ll talk to Bobby Rich at MIXfm. He’s good at getting the word out.

We collected a total of 262 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, August 19, 2013

241st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Getting Better By the Minute

As Saturday morning progressed, Sprouts customers remembered to buy cans while shopping and then drop off their donations at the display table as they left the store.

With the vision of last week’s mauled cherry pits covering the bottom of the Sprouts bin still in my mind, I slowly peeked into the black abyss to see if there were any donations. Surprise! Sparkling cans and a box of noodles. (The puffed up Sprouts bag seeds the bin.) 

It seemed unreal. This was only the fourth Saturday at Sprouts on Speedway yet there was an air of familiarity everywhere. The moment I stepped out of my truck someone called my name.

“Are you Peter Norback?” the woman said as she approached her right hand extended to greet me.


“I’m Nina Straw from Blessings in a Backpack,” she replied.

We’ve sent emails back and forth but this was our first meeting. Nina is the coordinator of the Bloom Elementary Backpack Program which feeds scores of kids during the summer months. Bloom is near Pantano and E. Pima.

Nina said she just wanted to meet and hurried into the supermarket.

The normal Saturday morning setup routine began with yanking the display table over the side of the pickup and walking into the supermarket. As I approached my spot in the center aisle in front of the cash register lanes, each cashier I passed looked up and cheerfully said, “Good Morning.” 

That was the first time that happened. For the past three weeks I was greeted by all of the friendly Sprouts folks but it was in good time. It took maybe half the morning to get nods from everyone. Today, it was right at the top of the morning. How pleasant. 

Once the table was up and the Sprouts bin moved into position I returned the truck to install the trademark umbrella and then carry in the display box with all of the One Can A Week paraphernalia. It took another few minutes to position the yellow tablecloth, large sign and collateral material.  Now I was ready.

The only time I sat down to rest was when the seven register lanes were nearly empty. This didn’t happen very often in my four-hour stint nor were they empty long … maybe twenty five seconds. So it was a quick break. More like, “Ahhh, that feels good … wait, stand up.”

It was important to be alert for the Spouts customers. It was important to show Richard Rodriguez, the store manager, a sense of urgency and professionalism. When he was on the floor he was ever watchful and constantly on the move directing his staff or jumping in to quickly bag a customer’s groceries. The energy just kept flowing.

Around 11 am Richard stopped by to chat a moment. He said now customers were coming up to him to talk about One Can A Week. They love the idea and were happy that Sprouts was involved in community service in their neighborhood. Richard knew this would happen. That was why he let me set up One Can A Week. But I did see some delight in his eyes as he moved on.

Just wondering – Every week DKA donates a variety of food to One Can A Week yet for the past two weeks the total weight was exactly the same … 24 lbs. When I sent Dot Kret the report I asked her how she did that. 

Being the consummate business woman she is Dot replied, “Planning!!!  J

It’s not nice to kid a kidder … especially when the response is funnier than the question.

We collected a total of 150 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, August 12, 2013

240th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Kids … Community Service … One Can A Week
They Work Great Together!

Ari Kaplan who lives in New Jersey, decided in October, 2011 he and his 6-year-old daughter Hannah would start their own One Can A Week program for a local Red Cross pantry. The first photo Ari sent to me captured that exhilarating moment when Hannah sees the can her neighbor left out for her to collect. This is the thrill of One Can A Week. In this unpredictable world where forgetting is as common as breathing in and breathing out, having someone help you meet a commitment you’ve made to help others is a very special feeling indeed. Every time you see a neighbor’s donation waiting for you, it gives you hope that the world is really okay. It gives you the drive to press on. And it instills in your soul the thought that always doing the right thing is really the right thing to do.

In a Human Resources survey, LinkedIn learned that 41% of the hiring authorities they spoke to considered volunteer experience as important as paid experience. Apparently a lot of parents of young children already are aware of this “fact of life” and are looking for ways to help prepare their kids for a brighter future.

In the past three weeks at Sprouts, the one question I heard the most was, “I’m looking for a community service project for my child. Can kids get into One Can A Week?” I tell them it’s easy, fun and the whole family can get involved if they like.
The most important part is the kids own the project and they enhance their people skills every time they go out and collect their donations.

Late in July, Ari sent me another update on Hannah’s One Can A Week project. She is nearly 8-years-old now and gets more involved in discussions.

"Hannah and I made another delivery this weekend of about 50 cans. Before we got to the food pantry at the church, where the Red Cross stores its food, I asked her how many other deliveries she thought would be there. She paused and tentatively said, "none?" "That's right," I said because very few people would sacrifice their Sunday afternoon in the summer to deliver cans of food that they had just picked up from neighborhood porches to help feed the less fortunate. We both smiled. She asked me how long we have been collecting - when I told her that in October it will be two years, I think we were both surprised."

Oh, and one more point about getting involved in a One Can A Week community service project with your child ... both of you will end up on the same page when it comes to dong the right thing.

Turning Trash Into Cans
The tall security guard at Sprouts, clipboard in hand, moved with a sense of urgency in the front aisle that provides the spillway for the seven checkout lanes and access to the automatic doors on either side of the store. He was always looking and always moving not unlike Richard the store manager when he was on the floor.

Around 1 a.m. I began to pack up the display table. The guard walked up to me and said, “During the week folks throw trash in your bin.” He continued to look around in different directions while he stood still next to me. “I tell them it is for food donations not trash. Guess they don’t see or read the sign.”

I thanked him and said, “Here’s an idea, tell them if they throw trash in the bin they have to go back into the store and buy a can to donate here.”

“I’m going to do that,” he said with a big grin.

I smiled, too. “Humor always works when you are trying to motivate folks.”

"Yes it does," he said as he moved off to continue his prowl.

Sprouts is starting to add up quickly
We began our Saturday One Can A Week program just three weeks ago and so far we have collected a total of 238 lbs. of food. In other words, Sprouts fed 61 folks three meals in one day. Imagine what the figures will be like in a year.

We collected a total of 174 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, August 5, 2013

239th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,

Karla Avalos-Soto was already in the conference room with a guest but she invited me in anyway to empty the food bank box. “There’s a lot of food in there this time,” she said.

As I dove into the deep box Mayor Rothschild walked into the room. I stood up and apologized for delaying the start of his meeting but he assured me it was okay.

In my attempt too hurry, I fumbled and dropped many of the can on the floor while trying to stuff them into those flimsy, long handled shopping bags. Eventually I lifted the three bulging bags and squeezed by the Mayor’s chair at the head of the table.

“Keep up the good work,” he said as I quickly moved out into the reception area. 

“You, too, Mayor” I thought but was not composed enough to utter those words aloud then … so I’ll say them here now.

Mayor Rothschild’s One Can A Meeting Program donated 48 lbs. of food to the food bank this week. 

More than Cans and Cash ...
There's Opportunity at Sprouts

With the routine, regularity and stream of familiar customers at the Rincon Market for the past three years, I completely forgot about a very important element in the marketing of One Can A Week. New customers means new and exciting opportunities.

My M.O. is to stand behind the display table so as not to physically confront those walking by. I watch their eyes and if they slow a bit to read the large sign on the front of the table I wait a moment until they almost push their shopping carts passed the table and then ask, "Have you heard of this program?

They can turn their head, smile, nod and keep on walking which many do. The question stops the truly curious and intrigued.

After a brief explanation of the Miles Neighborhood program I mention that I am bringing One Can A Week to the folks at Sprouts because I believe “business can solve most of our social ills.” Then I quickly delve in the capitalist approach to One Can A Week.

One young lady was quite delighted to hear these words and said “I totally agree with you” a couple of times as if she did not say that phrase very often. I just had to tell her I was a “serious liberal” but I, too, think business and community service, not government, will move our country forward.   

She then told me she was a conservative and that her husband was a liberal so they do not talk much about politics. The fun part in our conversation was that she had not thought about solving social problems without a political filter. As she left to do her shopping she said she would stop by with a can on the way. And that happened.

A short time later, Nicole and her young son were stopped by my trolling question. Her motivation to talk was her son. She wanted to get him involved with some sort of community service program even though he was just 6 or 7.

After I told Nicole about the many avenues one can take with One Can A Week she excitedly told me she worked for Dun & Bradstreet as a Senior Sales Trainer and thought it was a program her company would be interested in. We exchanged business cards and Nicole said she would check out our blog and video.
The theory “business will solve many of our social ills” may be just that, a theory, but there are now so many anecdotal indications—like Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines fame funding social/business startups—that someday soon it may prove to be a fact. I, for one, will not stop experimenting until I hit upon the right formula.

Everybody Out
Tom told me as I pushed the cart up on the scales at the food bank that they were about to hold a fire drill. He was right. The bell sounded and we all walked out of the warehouse door and around the east side of the building heading for the front entrance.

My dad who was into time study told me once that some engineers timed people leaving the building in just such a fire drill. The building was emptied in 15 minutes. Those same engineers hung around until the end of the day and clocked the folks when the quitting bell rung. The building was vacated in less than a minute. Now that makes perfect sense.

We collected a total of 136 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,