Friday, December 4, 2009

Ways We Can Help - plus, a giveaway!

Certainly you’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it, year after year, around the holidays. Non-profit organizations need your help. Volunteers stand out in front of retail establishments, companies steer food drives, and commercials from various charity organizations appear more regularly, interrupting your television programs. This is the busiest time of year for many of these organizations. More importantly, it’s also one of the most crucial. Many times, the contributions these organizations receive during this time of year are expected to be enough to largely sustain the organization throughout the remainder of the year. But with a slower economy, there is a larger population in need, and a smaller population that is able to contribute. Many more of our neighbors just cannot make ends meet. For example, amongst the clients served by North Texas Food Bank’s partner agencies, 51% must choose between food and paying utilities. Forty-six percent must choose between food and paying for housing, and 39% must choose between food, medications, or medical care.
And yet, so many of us that are able to contribute turn a deaf ear to the requests for assistance. Perhaps we’re too busy? Perhaps we are unsure of how to help, or perhaps we feel that the little we do have to contribute won’t make a difference. “It’s just not worth the effort,” we tell ourselves. Personally, I know that I have all-too-often “meant” to get around to it, and allowed time to slip by, and I haven’t contributed, even though I had the means to do so.
Whatever the reasons were before, this year will be different. Even if I don’t have much to give, every bit counts. Remember the discussion about $1 Feeds 4 Hungry North Texans? Even if I can only spare $5, I’m still making a difference in the lives of 20 people. I cannot recall the last time I had that much impact. The North Texas Food Bank makes that possible, and so I am choosing to contribute through this organization. The North Texas Food Bank is local – so I know I’m helping a neighbor. They’re efficient – 94% of the contribution funds are given back to the community. They also make it so easy to help, giving me little excuse not to do so.
How can we help? First and foremost – we can share the message. (That’s why Feeding North Texas was created!) If you enjoy blogging, you can even opt to take the Food Stamp Challenge. We can share our talents to further the North Texas Food Bank’s ability to help through volunteering. There are distribution sites that need volunteers, as well as various events. We can sponsor a food drive at our office, our place of worship, or any other group. Or we can donate canned goods or money.
This holiday season, the North Texas Food Bank has created Holiday cards and calendars. They are available for purchase on their website. Proceeds benefit the North Texas Food Bank. Both are lovely – my order arrived in the mail last week. But most importantly, the proceeds will in turn assist my neighbors in feeding their families.
This holiday season, make sure you don’t get in your own way when it comes to making a contribution. With the ability to contribute online, it will only take a moment of your time. And remember – every dollar counts.
Help me spread the word, and be entered to win one of the North Texas Food Bank calendars! I have decided to start the ball rolling on making contributions, so I have purchased a calendar to give to one lucky reader. These are gorgeous calendars, complete with recipe cards. They would make an excellent gift, or would look lovely in your office or home. Here’s how to enter:

1. Post a message, linking to this blog post, about the North Texas Food Bank (and the giveaway).
2. Post a Facebook and/or Twitter message about the North Texas Food Bank (and the giveaway).
3. Leave a comment below telling me how you shared this information.

The contest ends on December 18. A winner will be chosen at random – so please leave me your email address so I can get in touch with you!

$1 Feeds 4

What can you buy with a single dollar? A candy bar? A soft drink? One might be able to purchase a song to play on an MP3 player, if it’s on sale. For many of us, a single dollar doesn’t amount to much.

A commercial aired recently furthers this concept. In the commercial, a man strolls around town, a single dollar in hand. He wanders into a hotel, and asks what he can get for one dollar. The attendant gives him a tiny plastic palm tree. He then climbs into a cab, asking how far he can go on one dollar. He is asked to leave. During his adventure, he also visits a tanning salon with the same question, and receives a silver-dollar-sized spray tan on his cheek.

Obviously, popular opinion states that a single dollar doesn’t mean much this day in age.

So, when I stumbled across a statement made by the North Texas Food Bank, I was impressed. Okay, not just impressed; I was shocked. Amazed. What was the statement?

$1 Feeds 4 Hungry North Texans.


I’ll admit: I had to take a moment to digest the true impact of that statement. Although I strive to feed my family on a budget, there’s no way I can provide a complete meal on a single dollar. Feeding four people on a dollar – that same dollar that doesn’t amount to much – is truly an accomplishment.

The North Texas Food Bank does amazing things. They obtain large quantities of donated food from food wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers which is then distributed to more than 1,100 feeding programs. To round out the food pyramid, they purchase large volumes of food, and do so at a rate that is far below what the food would cost at retail price. What truly amazes me? They manage to distribute this food out to local area food pantries with such efficiency that their overhead costs are as low as possible. Ninety-four percent of every dollar donated goes directly to the hungry. Ninety-four percent. Now that’s efficiency!

That efficiency is much-needed this holiday season. As the economy struggles to rebound, many North Texans, who last year were buying toys for their children for the holidays, are now wondering how they will survive with an empty table this year. This holiday season, the North Texas Food Bank is working to provide 20 million meals to North Texans. We can all help to reach this goal.

The North Texas Food Bank makes it easy to contribute. You can make donations online or by mail, or you can participate in any of the many events occurring throughout the metroplex. You can even make a donation in someone’s honor or in memory of a loved one. Check out their site for more details. Just $20 provides 80 meals. A single dollar does mean something after all – for four hungry North Texans, it brings a nutritious meal. I can’t think of a better way to spend my dollar!