Monday, October 8, 2012

Neighborhood Food Drive Thanks - Entry #20

Three years ago the economy was going nowhere.   Part of the fallout affected community food pantries even in well-to-do areas.  In September 2009, while walking my dog around the block, I was thinking about an article in our local newspaper on the urgent need for non-perishable groceries to be donated to the town's food pantry.   Over the years, our family had sporadically deposited items at their door, but not on a consistent basis.  As our lab-hound mix tugged and pulled me down the sidewalk I started to formulate a plan for a weekly neighborhood food drive.  The idea was KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).  I would seek out families on the street via a flyer dropped off at their homes.  On the recruitment flyer I touted three goals:  1) to help make a difference in the community  2) to get to know the neighbors on the street 3) to begin to instill the value of community service with our children.  From that group a delivery schedule would be developed.  Volunteers would then receive a weekly email designating which house would be the point for collecting and depositing bags of non-perishable goods for a Friday drop-off date.  There would be no pressure to donate each week.  People could decide whether they could deposit goods or not.   

The last component was coming with a name for the weekly project.  My street name is Griswold so I came up with the alliteration of Griswold Grocers.  It just rolled off the tongue.

This October 19th we will celebrate our three year anniversary.  We will have delivered approximately 1,300 bags of non-perishable goods by then.  I believe people on the street have become a little closer because of their involvement.  The town's food pantry has greatly benefited and it is gratifying to see small children lug a bag of groceries to drop-off at a neighbor's house. 

While I organized the weekly effort the food drive would not be a success without the participation of the 26 households on our street.  I wanted these neighbors and friends to know how much I appreciated their volunteerism and dedication.  I have mentioned my thanks here and there over the years, but I thought a handwritten note would mean so much more.  Now I will admit there was an ulterior motive to my correspondence.  In addition to acknowledging their involvement I am hoping my notecard will prod families to drop off groceries on a more regular basis. But that is a by-product of my sincere thanks for making the Griswold Grocers a successful neighborhood endeavor.

A sidebar to the success of the Griswold Grocers is how the concept and structure has spread to other neighborhoods in town.  The set-up may differ slightly (bi-monthly or monthly deliveries), but the basic configuration is the same.  I have even developed a short  "how-to" document for individuals that want to replicate our drive.  Anyone that would like a copy, send me an email.