The congregation of Twin Lakes Church in Aptos has raised over 1.2 million pounds of food for Second Harvest’s 2011 Holiday Food Drive!
Just ten weeks ago, Pastor Rene Schlaepfer issued a challenge to his congregation to donate one million pounds of food by Thanksgiving. He asked every person in the church to set aside $1.40 a day for ten weeks. “For our church, that adds up to over $330,000,” explains Pastor Rene. “Since Second Harvest Food Bank equates three pounds of food per dollar during the holiday food drive, that’s a million pounds worth of food.”
“I told everyone I was praying for total participation, 100%. I even asked the little kids to help out and they had some amazingly creative ideas,” said Pastor Rene. “One six-year old boy sold his hand-made paper kites door-to-door for two dollars each. A junior high kid did chores for neighbors. Two martial arts students held a board break-a-thon. One of my favorites: Four little brothers, aged 2 to 7, sold toy caterpillars they made themselves. They raised over $300 that way!”
Adults, equally inspired by Pastor Rene, sold furniture and books online, held garage sales, and more. One couple sold their old coin collection. Another family decided they would all forgo Christmas presents and give to the food drive instead. The owners of Yogurtland of Capitola donated a portion of one day’s proceeds to the cause, raising over $1500.
An estimated 3,000 people raised 1,229,916 pounds of food, which is the largest contribution by a single organization that Second Harvest has ever received, and almost half of the 2011 goal of 2.5 million pounds.
“Twin Lakes’ total this year is more than their combined total from the previous three years,” said Willy Elliott-McCrea, Chief Executive Officer of Second Harvest Food Bank. “It is an incredible leap and accomplishment and we are truly amazed at what they have done. Thank you to everyone that participated.”
The need for food aid in Santa Cruz County is up 38% since 2008. Second Harvest Food Bank provides food for over 55,000 people in Santa Cruz County every month, more than half are kids. For every dollar donated, Second Harvest can provide four meals.
“It’s mostly families and the working poor,” Mayor Ryan Coonerty, co-chair of the Holiday Food Drive
said of the 55,000 beneficiaries. “People who have a job but just don’t have enough to get them through the entire month. It’s not just about getting food for them to eat, it’s also relieving parents of the concern that their children are hungry—that to me is the biggest reason to do this,” Coonerty said.
He continued, “Its not just about getting any kind of food, it’s about getting nutritious food. There’s a whole nutrition education component to this that’s really important. That’s what makes Santa Cruz a little different than a lot of places and I’m really proud of it.”
“Many people in Santa Cruz County have been unable to escape the negative impacts of job loss, health benefits and homes,” Elliott-McCrea explained. “Second Harvest is committed to assuring that our families are able to obtain healthy, nourishing food through these trying times. We can only do it with support from community leaders like those that make up Twin Lakes Church.”