My first holiday season with SFBFS

Hello again! What a busy time of year it has been! I started working at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) in June and it has been non-stop work ever since. As a newbie to the non-profit world, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I have learned so much in the past 6 months at this wonderful organization and would like to share some of my recent experiences with all of you.

8th annual Turkey Drive

What an event! Our entire organization’s staff, along with several volunteers, pulled off this huge event together. What began months in advance with social media promotions and speaking engagements across Sacramento County became our very largest donation of turkeys to date; 11,082!

It was incredible to see the amount of support SFBFS has from the Sacramento community. It truly felt like neighbors, loved ones and friends coming together for the common good of others. Men, women and children all stopped by to donate a turkey, or two, or a dozen for the cause! I saw tiny Miata’s packed full with turkeys in the front seat, several motorcyclists who had strapped a turkey to the back of their ride, big trucks, jeeps, vans and even some fancy corvettes! No matter who rolled up to our drop-off location, they were in a great mood. As I’m responsible for all the social media for the organization, I tried to take as many pictures as I could. I was surprised by the numbers of responses from donors who simply replied, “No, no. No picture for me. I’m no hero. Just doing the right thing and helping others,” when asked for a quick snapshot. It was a wonderful thing to see, especially this time of year. I couldn’t believe the generosity! I, myself, donated two turkeys with my pup in tow of course. To be honest, I’ve never actually purchased a turkey before as I typically go to my families for Thanksgiving. It was definitely an eye-opener to see just how much a turkey costs and it made me understand the struggle many families must go through this time of year. It certainly made me thankful for the blessings I have in my life.

After 15 hours of collecting turkeys, we were done! Knowing that we would be providing more than 11,000 Sacramento families in need with a Thanksgiving meal was mind-blowing. I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt such a sense of “Wow. I helped do that!” Next up? The Turkey Distribution!

Turkey Distribution 2015

The morning of the big distribution was here…and I was on hot cocoa duty! Word had spread that the cocoa crew was highly regarded in past years and that it was a big job. I took it upon myself to make sure the cocoa this year was the best yet! Believe it or not, myself and a few other colleagues spent the evening prior doing math. How many ounces of cocoa do we have? What will be the best water to cocoa ratio for our guests? The plan was set. One canister of hot cocoa for the small dispenser, and two canisters for the large dispenser. We were ready to go. We arrived at 4:15 a.m. to start the camp stoves because with the Arata Building under construction, we did not have access to a kitchen this year and needed a solution for heating our water. At about 5 a.m., we had our first batch of hot cocoa ready for distribution and so I headed out to the streets with a few Junior League volunteers. The feedback? “This is the best hot cocoa I’ve ever had!” Success! I was so pleased to provide a little bit of warmth for those waiting in line to receive a Thanksgiving meal. What a great feeling to be able to be giving back to so many families in need. I think my biggest surprise came when I continued to see children in line. The thought struck me that this might be their Thanksgiving memory. Had they come to this before? As a small child, was their memory of Thanksgiving waiting in line amongst hundreds of people to receive a Thanksgiving meal? While this idea made me sad, I remembered SFBFS’ mission statement:

“Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is dedicated to assisting those in need by alleviating their immediate pain and problems and moving them towards self-sufficiency and financial independence.”

This is why we do what we do. To help people so that maybe next year, we won’t see them in line shivering waiting for a meal. Maybe by next year they will have used some of SFBFS’ 14 diverse services to better their lives. Maybe next year they will be able to provide for themselves and their families. That is my hope. And that is the hope of every single individual who works for SFBFS. I feel very lucky to work for an organization with a hope and a means of achieving the goals we set forward for our community.

Run to Feed the Hungry

On my very first day of work, I was working on Run to Feed the Hungry. I was designing graphics, I was putting together social media calendars, I was coordinating with vendors. I can’t believe Thanksgiving came so fast. After months of hard work, our biggest event of the year was here. The SFBFS staff met at 5:45 a.m. to begin prepping for the big day. Little did we know, we would be preparing for our largest Run to Feed the Hungry to date! At a chilly 35 degrees at race time, a total of 28,644 Sacramentans came out to support SFBFS. Now, mind you. I’ve been to the Sierras. This was a different kind of cold. I’m not sure I’ve experienced such a cold in all my years living in Sacramento. I couldn’t feel my toes and the tips of my fingers and my nose were frozen. But, enough about me. How about those 28,644 people who came to run!? I did not hear a single complaint all morning. I was posted up in the team tent area where our amazing volunteers were prepared with hot coffee, snacks and most importantly…heaters! It was really fun to see all of the different teams. Some young, some old, some family, some friends. I saw people dressed up as corn on the cob, a woman with a huge turkey hat, matching outfits, crazy color combos and more. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced something so big before in my life. When KCRA3 blew the horn and the runners began to take off, it was quite a sight. Just a mass sea of people. And they were all here for the same cause; to help end hunger. By the end of the morning, we’d raised $950,000 for families in need. It was a wonderful start to my Thanksgiving, but after we had cleaned-up, I was ready to head home to be with my family and give thanks for everything I have. And, to eat a ton of turkey and fall asleep from all the tryptophan!

I hope you enjoyed some of my memories from my first holiday season with SFBFS. More to come!

Submitted by: Elise Hawkins, SFBFS' Communications Officer