Who Started Giving First?
it was a Sunday morning and my husband (Francois Daoust) and I were sitting at our local Starbucks at English Bay in Vancouver, BC when I overheard the new manager saying that the person picking up charity donations seemed to have stopped coming by.
As the manager was new and we had only introduced ourselves a couple of weeks before, I was not sure if I could say anything. But me, being me, had to get into that conversation! I casually asked how the store was handling their donations. I also wanted to know more about what donations there were. I was assuming, a group comes in, then asks for free coffees or merchandise. I could never have been so wrong!
All it Takes is One Store Manager
The manager, his name is Michael, explained to me that all the left-over pastries from their pastry cabinet, plus any food item that has a best before sell-date (in other words, they were not permitted to sell the next day even though it was fresh enough) were given to a charity each day for pickup. The biggest issue he faced was the fact that not one charity was reliable enough with their promises of pickup!
Now that intrigued me! I have belonged to Rotary for 30 years plus and helping others is exactly what I love to do! I gently probed him with more questions about what kind of charity he preferred and he responded with, “I love working with charities that are local”.
Now was my chance! I mentioned that we (Francois and I) had done the pickup at Cobbs Bread for 6 months and donated the picked up bread to an inner-city school. I also let him know that we supported our local West End Seniors Network with donations and I would love to be a part of his program. He agreed!
Michael really did not want to see food go to waste when there were so many hungry people around. Even though there have been a few hiccups along the way, the program with us has been such a joy! I pick up every weekday morning around 7:30 am, feed a few homeless in the area, then take the remainder to the West End Seniors Network around 10 am.
We were astonished to see how many older folks grabbed egg sandwiches even cold. They must have been hungrier than we realized! Our club (mainly Karen McDiarmid) donated a microwave oven to the centre so they can now be heated. They were sure appreciative of the donation. As a result, we have been able to get to know those who volunteer and work at the centre.
Making the donations to a needy organization is the best feeling of all! We all have a philanthropic part of ourselves and ours is to help those in need in our community. Both Francois and I love giving back and the West End Seniors Network is only one small part of what we do as Rotarians.
The small office for the network is located in a mall. The front part of the office is a place where seniors can grab a snack or coffee without paying. The donations from Starbucks has enabled the association to help so many others in need.
Building the Network
Well, it all started with just the one Starbucks store, in the meantime, I was able to add a weekend pick up at another store just up the hill (thanks to Michael’s introduction) and I am looking at adding a 3rd store in the next week or two (also a Michael introduction).
Even though my life is extremely busy with my blog, taking time to give back to the community is of prime importance! Those that are hungry truly appreciate any extra help and those who pay 90 to 95% of their pension to rent, truly need the food.
This program will often take a conversation or two to get started. It’s best to build a relationship first. Not all store managers are open to giving! Some would rather throw the food out for whatever reason. This logic never works for me. There is always a way to help your neighbour!
Who Will YOU Help Today?
Today, I am looking for other Rotarians to help me build the network of stores and associations who can use the donated food. There is a need and I know we can always find the time to do good in the world, starting right here in our own locale.
Who is on board with this amazing program? I know you will be absolutely over the moon with emotion when you see how much you are appreciated.
Until Next Time