During my orientation last week at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, I could not stop thinking about what I learned that day.
I’ve always been one to donate gluten-free food to my local food bank, but I never stopped to wonder if the food I was donating could be accepted and used or even opened by anyone of the recipients.
After volunteering at Kathleen’s Closet (100% of the proceeds go to supplying food to the food bank) this past Friday, I learned about many existing groups of people living in tent communities throughout the woods in my area. These communities are not uncommon, as my friend Erin from Healthy Home Magazine shared with me: “We have a community of families living in tents that moves from church to church in our area. Right now, it is just down the street and breaks my heart every time I drive by.”
These communities as well as many other homeless communities including those who live in motels depend heavily on the food bank.
The number of homeless people in our country is overwhelming, and to make matters worse, the number of people left homeless in New Jersey has skyrocketed since Superstorm Sandy.
Perspective is an amazing thing and has driven me to create Open Your Heart: Can Openers to Feed the Homeless!
When learning that most of those whom are homeless are unable to accept canned food because they do not have access to or the money to buy a can opener and that even those living in motels are limited and rely on flip-top microwaveable meals over canned items because they do not have access to a tool that I used to take for granted, I decided to take action. Nevertheless, I have decided that this huge problem has a simple solution — a solution that I could solve.
My efforts will in turn impact those living in 18 counties throughout New Jersey. All of the can openers that I collect will be personally delivered to the Southern branch of Community Food Bank of New Jersey and then will be spread to other counties throughout the state, and if I am so lucky to receive overwhelming support, I will continue to open my heart while supplying other homeless families and communities in other states with can openers as well. However, to achieve this goal, I desperately need YOUR help!
I have started scouring thrift stores searching for gently-used and/or new can openers, asking friends and family if they have an extra can opener sitting in their drawer, and asking the many amazing women in my blogging community for some guidance and direction. They suggested that I create a button for them to place on their blogs (I learned how to make a button today!). They also started mailing can openers to me already! I am truly grateful and look forward to achieving my goal as people continue to open their hearts to feed the homeless.
My plans thus far (feel free to make suggestions and to give me guidance):
- Use cash donations to buy can openers at the Dollar Tree and/or buy P-38 can openers (designed by the military and costing approximately 48 cents a piece)
- Shop around for gently-used can openers at thrift stores and yard sales
- Post a can opener request on Freecycle and Craigslist
- Ask for donations from others along my journey including you
- Post flyers with drop-off locations
- Provide buttons for other blogs to help me get the word out (see button codes below if you would like to spread the word too)
If you would like to open your heart to provide a can opener to the homeless, please send you donations to the following address:
If you would like your donation to be recognized here on my blog, please include your name, town, state and business/website with link if applicable written on a slip of paper with your donation.
Why I am falling in love with Community Food Bank of New Jersey
Ultimately, I am honored to be a part of an extremely well-run nonprofit over at Community Food Bank of New Jersey. This nonprofit allows nothing to go to waste. The stained clothes that are donated to Kathleen’s Closet are then donated to a sustainable rags program that spans worldwide. The spoiled food that gets donated to the food bank either gets composted or feeds pigs and chickens at a local farm. There is no end to this sustainable nonprofit organization that finds use for everything while allowing all branches to earn and fund money back to supplying food to others.
Before I sign off for the night, I would like to send a HUGE thank you to the following women for their overwhelming help, guidance and support this weekend as they inspired me to take the first steps to help solve this problem in my community:
- Janice Roodsari from MommaWords for coming up with the name “Open Your Heart: Can Openers to Feed the Homeless” and for sending out my first can opener to start my donation drive! Janice also provided me with resources to help me create the above buttons.
- Jen Eyers-McLaughlin from Jen and Joey Go Green for asking me to create a button that she can put on her blog, for explaining to me how to create the button after realizing I was clueless and for sharing her success with me of how she helped raise money for an orphan in Russia.
- Erin Naumowicz from Healthy Home Magazine for her empathetic heart and for providing me with the help I needed in this endeavor.
- Michelle from Everything’s Abuzz for sending me her two extra can openers and for assuring me that she is there for whatever I need.
- Jenn Savedge from The Green Parent for giving me the idea to approach Walmart and like stores and for wanting to write a post to spread the word.
- Danielle Richardet from It Starts With Me for reminding me to utilize Freecycle and Craigslist.
- Kristina Fashjian Greene from The Greening of Westford for suggesting that I ask local companies for cash donations to purchase can openers and/or for their help with spreading the word.
- Kimberly Danek Pinkson from Eco Mom Alliance for her name suggestion “Cut Out Hunger” that I also loved so much and for her enthusiastic support!
The above women are just a few in my amazing blogging community. I am grateful daily for the relationships I’ve made, the support I receive, and for knowing that these incredible and inspiring women are all always a click away and free of judgement and/or criticism – they are always there with hearts full of love while ready to help anyone at anytime, and for that I will forever be grateful!
Much Love! Priscilla
If you would like to post a Open Your Heart button on your webpage, please use the codes below:
150 x 150 button
<a href=”http://www.glutenfreeveganmom.com/2013/02/11/open-your-heart-can-openers-drive-feed-homeless-cutting-out-hunger/”><img src=”http://www.glutenfreeveganmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Open-Your-Heart-150.jpg”></a>
<a href=”http://www.glutenfreeveganmom.com/2013/02/11/open-your-heart-can-openers-drive-feed-homeless-cutting-out-hunger/”><img src=”http://www.glutenfreeveganmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Open-Your-Heart-125.jpg”></a>