Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cheers & Thanks: Food 4 Kids Backpack Program Fundraiser a Huge Success!

For days I've been trying to figure out the most eloquent way to thank everyone who had a part in the inaugural San Diego Food Bank Food 4 Kids Backpack Program food blogger fundraiser. I'm not sure what I was really hoping for when we first started planning it. But, I truly didn't expect the outpouring of support we--and by "we" I mean Alice Robertson (aliceqfoodie) and I--received.

We got the full social media avalanche--bloggers wrote posts about the project, friends on Twitter tweeted our activities and incremental successes, and many people we didn't know retweeted them. It went on Facebook. And, before we knew it, we had money and backpacks and food coming in.

Alice had set our fundraising goal on at $5,000. We've raised over $6,000--in the course of just three weeks. That was through a combination of individual checks sent to the Food Bank, donations you made (that page is open through May, by the way), and the generosity of two restaurants. Matt and Jacqueline Rimel, who own Rimels and Zenbu, offered to give us a dollar for every "hot rock" dish on their menu they sold through Dec. 12. They're sending the Food Bank a check for $75. They also contributed gift cards for our raffle. Thank you very much, Matt and Jacqueline!

Then there was Urban Solace. Owners Matt Gordon and Scott Watkins adopted this project early on and made it their own. They offered to give us a dollar for every mac 'n cheese or duckaroni entree they sold, they gave us gift cards for the raffle, and they encouraged customers to bring in non-perishable food. On Saturday, they came out to our booth at the Little Italy Mercato with a check for $300. I said on Twitter that they're the greatest. They are. Simple as that. Thank you!

That brings me to our Dec. 12 collection day at the Little Italy Mercato, which Mercato manager Catt Fields White orchestrated for us. She provided a tent, tables, and chairs--already set up for us that morning. In the rain. ("In the rain" is a big theme for what happened that day.) And, she promoted the hell out of it. Plus, she and husband Jerome made a financial donation. We are so grateful to you, Catt!

And, in the rain, despite the rain, several volunteers came out to help Alice, Trisha Gooch of the Food Bank, and me. Thank you to Barbara Metz, Amanda Simpson, Rachel Going, Angie Vorhies, and Quinn Farrar Wilson for so enthusiastically enduring such miserable weather!

They weren't the only ones who made a point of joining us that day. The amazing Lori Lange (Recipe Girl) not only made a donation, her young son Brooks contributed. And the two rounded up the neighborhood and Brooks' school. The Gustinis, Coopers, and Haynes families collected and contributed baskets and bags of food for the kids.

See those full barrels? We had seven of them, plus tables, overflowing with nonperishable food--in the rain! It ended up totalling 628 pounds of food. We had a brownie troop from Scripps Ranch show up with their collection and a number of individuals all contributing food and cash. Thank you very much, and especially Lori and her friend Robin Gustini!

There was also a behind-the-scenes solicitation that will make a huge difference. My friend Amiko Gubbins, now a chef at Sysco, contributed a whopping $250 on her own and started collecting backpacks and food from her neighbors and co-workers. Then she approached her boss about making a contribution. Well, it turns out he's on the Food Bank's board. The result is that Sysco trucks will be delivering food to fill the 1,000 backpacks donated independently by skateboard marvel Tony Hawk. Thank you Amiko and Sysco! Your generosity is simply stunning.

Something that helped make this fundraiser such a success was the wide range of contributions we received for our raffle. We had foodies, chefs, restaurateurs, photographers... all sorts of people who love food and care about children... participating. Thank you very much for sharing your goods, services, time, and heart to encourage people to give. A complete list of those donations is on Alice's blog. We truly appreciate you!

And, finally, I want to thank the magnificent Alice Robertson for being such a wonderful partner in this effort. She worked incredibly hard in so many ways to make this a success. I'm looking forward to our next event. We'll be doing this again in the summer to launch the new school year. We'll have more time to plan and hope to bring you on board again to help us feed hungry kids.

Until then, however you helped, your help was appreciated and will make a big difference!

Thank you!

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