FORT BRAGG — This year, the Fort Bragg Food Bank, like most businesses and organizations, is dealing with new challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donations are needed year-round, and even more so this year during a worldwide pandemic. That’s why the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and The Mendocino Beacon are continuing their annual Season of Sharing fund drive, that began in 1996. The drive was initiated by Sharon DiMauro, who was publisher of the newspapers for more than 20 years before she retired in January 2017.
This year’s Season of Sharing drive runs through Dec. 31, 2020, and as in past years, every penny donated goes to the Food Bank.
“I don’t know where my family would be without the Food Bank. It’s a great resource,” said an appreciative client who asked not to be identified.
They are you, they are me, they are us!
There’s Ashley, Jacob, Theresa, Lynn, Tom, William — who are they? Perhaps your friend or neighbor or a family member. They are mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers – they are you, they are me, they are us!
The recurring theme among Food Bank clients is gratefulness — to the Food Bank and to the community for helping them with their basic needs and giving them a sense of belonging.
Throughout Season of Sharing articles series in the next few weeks we’ll talk a little about the collaborations with other organizations, the volunteers, the staff and board members, the donations of food from others in the business community, what foods are needed and much more.
Volunteers adapt to change
How has the pandemic forced the Food Bank to reshape its deployment of volunteers? Lisi Martinez, who is the Volunteer Coordinator/Operations Coordinator at the Fort Bragg Food Bank answered:
“We have had to encourage volunteers who are immune-compromised and over 60 to stay home. This has led to less people in the warehouse. We are now doing curbside-only distribution so the individual volunteers work to pre-bag all the groceries.
“We’ve seen an increase in teen volunteers looking for positivity during this crisis, and honestly just wanting to see some good from all the negativity. The teen volunteers bring an optimistic spirit to the Food Bank that the whole community has benefited from.
“Teen volunteer Brody Brians said, ‘I think you guys (the Food Bank) are following all of the safety requirements, to the proper response.’”
Although 75 percent of our long-time volunteers are benched, some have been able to remain. They are continually adapting to the constant changes. They have volunteers who are packing boxes, making home deliveries, answering phones, preparing food, building pallets, working their distribution line, checking in clients, working curbside, and changing tasks at a moment’s notice.
COVID-19 is definitely on people’s minds. Even if it’s for a minute, while their Food Bank clients get a bag of groceries, hope and appreciation abounds.
The food supply chain has changed a bit. According to Lisi Martinez, “Many times when we order food we are shorted due to supply demands. Some donors have dried up, but we have found relief in other places — other agencies and local businesses. All in all the pandemic has really brought our community together.” Just this past Monday, through their annual Food Bank drive, the Fort Bragg Volunteer Fire Department delivered 700 pounds of food.
Fort Bragg Food Bank Donation Barrels can be found at Harvest Market, Savings Bank, Community First, Mendosas, and in front of the Food Bank.
Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, the Fort Bragg Food Bank is offering Curbside Distribution ONLY at this time. Inside food distribution is closed. Masks are required for service. All food will be pre-bagged. They remain open throughout this crisis.
They care deeply about the health and safety of their staff, volunteers and clients. Curbside is available Monday through Friday, 10 to 11:15 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday evening 4 to 5:30 p.m., Curbside only.
The Fort Bragg Food Bank is located at 910 N. Franklin St., Fort Bragg. For questions, call 707-964-9404.
Each week through the end of the year, the newspapers will cover various aspects of the Food Bank’s operations, and provide an opportunity for people to lend a hand through donations to the Season of Sharing fund, 100 percent of which goes to Food Bank operations.
Make a Season of Sharing donation
No donation is too small. Every penny goes to the Food Bank, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, in person donations are not recommended. Please donate by one of the following: mail, credit card (via phone) or PayPal. See below for more information.
By mail: The Food Bank, P. O. Box 70, Fort Bragg, CA 95437. Note “Season of Sharing” on your check and indicate whether you want your name published.
Credit card: Call the Food Bank, 707-964-9404, to donate using a MasterCard or Visa. Ask the staff member to note that your donation is for the Season of Sharing.
PayPal: Go to fortbraggfoodbank.org and click the Donate button. Type “Season of Sharing” in the comment line below the amount of your donation.
Donors’ names are printed in the newspapers as we receive them from the Food Bank. Only donations specifically earmarked “Season of Sharing” are published in the newspapers. If you prefer that your donation be anonymous, please clearly note that on your check, PayPal payment or when contacting the Food Bank.
Donations may be made in memory or in honor of special people in your life. Just be sure that information accompanies your donation.
The 2020 drive ends Dec. 31. Thank you to this past week’s generous donors: Anonymous cash donation, Orah I. Young Trustee For The Orah I. Young Living Trust, Meg Courtney, Deborah Holmer, Deborah Smith, David Hayes and Bonnie Neugebauer. The Season of Sharing donation total through Dec. 6 is $1,125.00.
Let’s all share the Food Bank’s vision of “people coming together to create hope for a dignified and abundant life for everyone.”