Last fall Alice Robertson and I decided to launch a fundraiser for the San Diego Food Bank's Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. In a scant three weeks, we raised just over $6,000 and about 1,100 pounds of food. The fundraiser included the participation of two restaurants, Urban Solace and Zenbu. They both picked a popular dish and donated $1 for each order made during the fundraiser.
This year, we moved the fundraiser to the summer and thought we'd expand this "Dollar-a-Dish" component to include perhaps a dozen restaurants. If we were lucky.
Well, San Diego (and beyond), you overwhelmed us with your generosity. We raised $10,205 in cash on our firstgiving.com page and through other direct contributions. And 35 restaurants (including a caterer and farmers market vendor) signed up for Dollar-a-Dish with almost 50 locations raising money during August on our behalf. In total, they raised $12,954.
I want to thank every restaurant that participated and give them three cheers for helping feed our region's chronically hungry kids. The list of restaurants and their dishes is here. Please continue to patronize these generous eateries. Every contribution they made will be a huge help, but special shout outs are due to Diane Powers and her three restaurants, Casa de Pico, Casa de Bandini, and Casa Guadalajara! Together, they raised $2,670 with their fish tacos! And to O'Brothers for raising $1,500! And to Wine Steals for raising $748! And to George's California Modern for their $719 contribution! Cowboy Star donated $664, which represented both the amount raised through their filet of beef and the restaurant owners' matching contribution. Pizza Fusion's Barry Braden also personally matched the donations to give $450! And, big thanks to Urban Solace not only for their $510 contribution but for having the Dollar-a-Dish idea in the first place back in November of last year! All of you who participated give us reason to celebrate!
Our actual fundraising total wouldn't be as high if not for the generosity of NBC San Diego. Committee member and NBC San Diego anchor Catherine Garcia asked the station if they'd cover the 7 percent cut that firstgiving.com takes from donations so all of the money raised could go to the program. They said yes and are donating close to $500.
And a huge shout out to my friend Bob Harrington at Specialty Produce. When I went in to see him for a meeting in late July and told him that I was in panic mode trying to figure out how to find and pay for a printer for our flyers and posters, he brushed it off as though it were nothing. "That's not a melodrama," he told me. "We'll take care of it." And he did. And Kelly Orange at Specialty Produce organized the whole process with their printer. What a gift! Thank you!
Speaking of flyers and posters, a huge thank you to the oh, so talented architect and designer Paul de Bartelo, whom Diane Stopford brought in to design a logo and the layout for the collaterals. We fell in love with his work. So did the San Diego Food Bank, and Paul generously donated the logo to the Food Bank. And, Paul, we so appreciate your patience through the many changes and additions we put you through!
Once again, Catt White offered us a home at the Little Italy Mercato for our backpack and food collection event. She provided us with a primo space at the corner of India and Date, a tent, and a table. We collected about $500 that day. But we also got the attention of several of her vendors and what was supposed to be a one-day opportunity blossomed. I did additional collections at the Adams Ave. and North Park farmers markets and then vendors Mark Lane of Poppa's Fish and Kosta Houdalakis of Lisko Imports decided to raise more money for us the following Saturday back in Little Italy -- and personally match what customers donated. Together they gave $400 and Catt kicked in another $200!
At our August 21st collection day, pastry chef Tina Luu of the Art Institute of San Diego showed up with some of her culinary students and about 40 filled backpacks. Throughout our fundraiser they worked hard to collect what we needed for the kids and we were stunned by their generosity!
Tina Luu and Amiko Gubbins
At our collection day, we held a drawing for prizes for our donors. Alice organized a long list of businesses and individuals who contributed gift certificates, books, and other marvelous treats. All of them are listed on Alice Q. Foodie. Thank you to each of them for making the act of giving that much more enjoyable!
This was nothing if not a community effort, as you can see. But it gets better ... Sessions Public held a tweat-up, The Red Door held a backpack event, Lotsa Pasta had a timpano night, and Casa Artelexia had an event called La Cosa Blanca in the summer and donated half of all wine and beer sales to the fundraiser.
We had tons of support from local "mommy bloggers," led by Beth Avant and Katie Dillon, including their August Twitter Power Hour that raised about $500. SDIRL (San Diego in Real Life -- run by Stacey Ross) held an event in which attendees were asked to bring filled backpacks and they donated a little money to the fundraiser, too. Romi Perri of Locurious raised money for us at their CityFest booth. And, of course, Chevy jumpstarted the whole thing last spring with a $500 donation thanks to Susan Russo.
This brings me to the committee that got all this to happen. Thank you to Alice Robertson, Amiko Gubbins, Diane Stopford, Peyton Robertson, and Susan Russo. Thank you to Catherine Garcia whom I didn't even know before this. She sent me a note on Twitter asking if she could get involved and made huge contributions both on air and off! PR wizard Peyton and Ashley Netzband, her colleague at Bay Bird Inc., blitzed San Diego media. Amiko worked her magic via Sysco and brought us over a thousand pounds of food from vendors she works with. Alice organized the drawing and managed our firstgiving.com page. Susan brought us $500 from Chevy, and helped with blogging and social media. Diane brought us Paul and his designs, and she did several early morning television appearances to promote the fundraiser. Everyone reached out to restaurants and others to get support. It was stunning and yielded unanticipated results!
Alice Robertson, moi, Michelle Danks of the SD Food Bank, Amiko Gubbins, and Catherine Garcia
So, drumroll, please for the totals:
$23,642.70, which includes the $426 value of 1,637 pounds of food donated
According to Trisha Gooch of the San Diego Food Bank, it all means our fundraiser will be helping to feed 95 children this school year. And, she tells us that as a result of the huge social media and conventional media blitz, she's received several calls from schools who want to sign up for the program. And, it turns out that our fundraiser is the fifth largest for the program, after companies like Qualcomm!
Essentially, thanks to your generosity, we quadrupled our effort this summer from last fall. Next year? We expect to enroll more restaurants in Dollar-a-Dish and engage more community members to participate. And -- very important -- we need to come up with an official name for our fundraiser. If you have some clever ideas, please leave them in the comments section.
But right now it's all about saying thank you to everyone who gave of themselves, helped spread the message via social media, and worked so hard to feed our region's hungry children. It feels good to be a part of such a caring community!
(And, if in my exhaustion I failed to thank someone, I'll be mortified and will absolutely correct that. Let me know!)