Worth Your Weight in Food drive a huge success
November 4, 2008
In this time of economic hardship, many families have had to make the tough choice of paying a mortgage nor buying groceries.
Spirit of Peace United Church of Christ members recognized that there was a desperate need in the community, and held a food drive to collect nonperishable items for the Issaquah Food Bank.
The drive, Worth Your Weight in Food, was designed by Paula Harper-Christensen, a member of Spirit of Peace. She had seen an article in The Press about how food banks are struggling to keep their shelves stocked, and knew she wanted to help.
“There are 12 new families a day that come to the food bank,” she said. “They are victims of foreclosure or job loss.”
She added that, in the past, there were only about five new families a week.
“I saw that the supply is low and the demand is high,” she said.
Getting the children of the church involved was an important aspect of Harper-Christensen’s idea.
“I want to help the children think beyond themselves,” she said. “We wanted them to collect food as a gift for someone in need. The Worth Your Weight in Food drive is based on the weight of the 11 smallest children, which totaled 659.5 pounds. The goal was to collect that many pounds of food to give to the food bank.
“I was worried about collecting enough,” she said.
But Suzi Mohn, another church member, felt optimistic.
“Our church is really committed to doing community service,” she said.
To get the ball rolling, the drive was announced at church, and members started talking, Mohn said.
Harper-Christensen also sent out a mass e-mail to all of her friends, and from these outlets, the food started pouring in.
“I was getting bags of food dropped off on my doorstep,” she said. “People are generous at heart, and want to give, but sometimes, they don’t know how or where to give.”
On Nov. 2, the Spirit of Peace congregation weighed all the food that had been donated. The total came to 1,673 pounds, more than 1,000 pounds over the goal.
In the beginning of the drive, Harper-Christensen hadn’t thought about how much food would actually be donated, or how they would get it to the food bank on the ending day. One member, Wally Prestbo, has been a volunteer for the food bank for about 10 years, and had a key to the building.
He said he was amazed by how much food his church was able to donate.
“The amount was significant. I thought I’d fill up part of my truck. But instead, we needed three,” he said.
Prestbo picks up out-of-date products twice a week from Costco, QFC, PCC and Fred Meyer and delivers them to the food bank.
The Rev. Dave Shull said he was excited to see his congregation of about 40 members work together.
“Churches think that if they don’t have a lot of people, they’re not faithful,” he said.
But after hearing that they collected almost three times the original goal, it only reaffirmed how committed the church was.
“It is utterly miraculous,” he said. “This shows that people care and that things are possible.”
Shull said he believes it just takes one person to have a dream that can be shared, and others will catch on, like they did with the food drive.
“It just takes a little bit of effort for a huge result,” Harper-Christensen said.
Alison Ingham is a student in the University Of Washington Department Of Communication News Laboratory.
On the Web
More about the church and the food drive can be found at www.spiritofpeaceucc.org.