In the cold early hours of a Thursday morning in Santa Cruz County, a large group of community members make the trek from all over the area to the Grey Bears facility on Chanticleer in Santa Cruz. They come with smiles, laughter, and a determination to sort, pack, load, and deliver thousands of food bags to area residents who are 55 and older, some of whom are home bound. This happens every Thursday and Friday morning, rain or shine. The volunteers here are building relationships, having fun, and feeding hope…all at the same time.
As a Partner Agency of Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County, Grey Bears picks up food at the food bank warehouse in bulk. That food is then taken to their facility, sorted, bagged, and delivered. It’s a process that takes place at Grey Bears and many other Second Harvest Partner Agencies throughout the county. Grey Bears happens to be one of Second Harvest’s largest Partner Agencies delivering approximately 2 million meals each year.
Grace Mora, Operations Manager of Grey Bears, introduced us to several of the volunteers this morning during Second Harvest’s Facebook Live. We got a first hand look at Second Harvest produce and food staples being readied for delivery to clients. The video is located here on Facebook.
More about Grey Bears:
From a simple act of sharing garden produce with senior neighbors in 1973, Grey Bears has grown into one of the most resourceful food distribution and recycling nonprofits in the country. Local, vital and multifaceted, their mission is to improve the health and well being of seniors through volunteerism and food distribution.
Grey Bears promotes good nutrition, activity and social connection as the perfect recipe for healthy aging. The brown bag program delivers a weekly bag of fresh produce and healthy staples to 3,800 seniors – including 1,000 that are homebound. That adds up to two million meals each year.
A generous community makes it possible. Your donations of household items such as furniture, clothing, TVs, e-waste, and old appliances stock the Grey Bears thrift store, computer electronics store and bookstore, and keep our Chanticleer, Buena Vista and Ben Lomond recycling centers humming.
Volunteer opportunities abound – from gleaning produce in orchards, filling bags, and driving a route, to testing electronics, running a thrift store register and composting. More than 500 amazing volunteers donate 80,000 hours of service to Grey Bears each year, helping connect and sustain seniors, our community and our environment.
“I am so grateful for the food in my weekly brown bag and my delivery driver, Paula, who I adore. I am disabled and my husband passed away four years ago. Grey Bears is a lifesaver.”
— Victoria, age 92 of Santa Cruz
“I see the brown bag line as a dance, it’s like choreographed movement, it’s my yoga.”
— Alan B, volunteer, Aptos
To find out more about all the services Grey Bears offers visit their website at www.greybears.org
Grey Bears is located at 2710 Chanticleer Avenue, Santa Cruz, California. 831-479-1055
“I am so grateful for the food in my weekly brown bag and my delivery driver, Paula, who I adore. I am disabled and my husband passed away four years ago. Grey Bears is a lifesaver.” Victoria – Age 92 Santa Cruz