As a receptionist and the Donation Drive Coordinator for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS), I’ve had a unique perspective to the hustle and bustle of our organization. For nearly four years, I have been fortunate to see the hard work, dedication and amazing generosity of local businesses and individual donors in Sacramento, as well as the lives which they’ve touched. While encouraging schools, churches, clubs, businesses and other organizations to collect financial and in-kind donations to support any of our seven programs and services, I am answering calls from families with empty cupboards, parents who’ve run out of formula or need school clothing for their children, men and women who need professional attire for interviews and adults who need to improve their education and computer skills to compete in the workforce and make a better life for themselves and their families. Being in the middle of it all, it’s phenomenal to think that we are now in a position to help more people than ever, thanks to our donors.
When staff and volunteers at SFBFS tell donors we wouldn’t be able to serve the thousands of struggling families and individuals that come to us for help during hard times without their support, we are not exaggerating. Donation drives are an important aspect of our organization. In-kind collections help supply our programs with the basic tangible items that are used and distributed to families in need year-round. Financial collections help us to purchase fresh produce for our Food program, keep the lights and heat on, power the computers in our technology lab, keep toilets flushing, purchase text books and even fund new ventures, like our Demonstration Garden.
Many businesses that host donation drives entice public participation by extending special discounts on their goods and services, offering premier deals, or raffling off exclusive prizes in exchange for donations. One such example was in 2010 when Sacramento Harley Davidson offered donors a chance to “crack the safe” and win a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle, an incredible opportunity that brought 1,564 pounds of food, 1,200 articles of clothing and 219 toys to SFBFS’ programs. Year after year, I have been consistently astonished at the often overwhelming kindness of our donors, whose compassion is evident when they go above and beyond their goals to collect more food, gently used clothing, baby diapers and formula, children’s books, financial contributions and more. Case in point was Happy Bodies/Creativity in Motion, a small yoga studio that hoped to collect 300 pounds of food during the 2011 Holiday Spirit of Giving drive, but collected more than five times that much: 1, 620 pounds!
The most rewarding part of my position here at SFBFS is seeing the connection of our donors and the families that we serve. For instance, a man came in one morning, the clothes on his back badly worn. He had been looking for work for a long time and scored an interview for that afternoon, but didn’t have the proper attire. Volunteers and staff in our Clothing program were able to fit him from head to toe with a nice suit, dress shoes, button-up shirt and tie, all of which came in through donations. He looked like a million bucks and returned later that day excited to tell us that he got the job! I’ve also seen the tears in parents’ eyes when they walk out of our facility with a bag full of baby clothes, diapers and formula; and the pride in a woman’s face when she practices the English she learned in one of our ESL class. All of our programs and services are offered for free – no need to scrounge up couch change, put off paying the light bill or delay the rent – which wouldn’t be possible without mounds of donations.
Though many of our donors only hear about our organization through our quarterly e-newsletter or commercials for our major fundraisers, such as the Run to Feed the Hungry (our most important annual event), many have yet to step foot in one of our facilities to see for themselves how their hard work affects our community. I always encourage donors to come down for a tour so they can see firsthand how donations are being put to good use. Donors who come for a tour of either our Oak Park campus or our Saca Community Learning Center in North Sacramento are often astonished at the plethora of services which we offer and are impressed at the high quality of service, respect and integrity with which our volunteers and staff treat our clients. If you haven’t had a chance to come by and see the exciting growth of our services, please join us for a public tour of our Oak Park Campus, including our new, two-story Education & Technology Center on March 23 at 11am, April 3 at 1pm or April 16 at 5pm.
If you would like to host a donation drive to benefit our services, please contact check out the Host a Donation Drive page on our Web site. We’re about to launch a spring donation drive to benefit our Parent Education program, so keep your eyes peeled for our announcement.
Submitted by Tarah Frost, Donation Drive Coordinator