There has long been a connection between the holiday season and the time to give back to your community, to help your neighbor or someone in need — But with a year unlike any in recent memory thankfully in America’s rearview mirror, we at St. Mary’s Food Bank know first-hand Arizonans will step up when called to give back at any time of year.
The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic forced St. Mary’s into distribution overdrive, pumping out more than 10 million pounds of food a month to lines that never seemed to end. In 54 years of operation, the World’s First Food Bank had never been asked to feed so many in so many places across our state.
We went from food pantries to sports stadiums, from dozens of volunteers to squads of National Guardsmen. We were delivering food to those in remote and quarantined towns – even airlifting food to the base of the Grand Canyon for a small community in need.
To even attempt that type of effort, we needed so many Arizonans to step up with their hearts and dollars. To say: “Do what is necessary. Help these people.”
One year and more than 125 million pounds of food later, the amount of those in need have “normalized.” But even those normal numbers — one in five Arizona children, one in seven families and one in eight of our seniors dealing with food insecurity — have grown due to inflation that has sent rent, gasoline and food prices soaring.
That leaves many, including those with jobs that just do not cover life’s necessities, turning to St. Mary’s for help. The lines at our food bank distributions are again stretching longer, the number of families in need growing.
We expect 12,000 families to visit St. Mary’s annual Holiday Food Distribution in the three days leading up to Thanksgiving.
It is our goal to send each of them home with all the comfort and warmth of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with a turkey as the centerpiece.
To pull this off, we ask for your help once again.
Donating a turkey or turkeys, from your family to another, is a great gift. We are accepting turkey donations at our Phoenix (2831 N. 31st Ave.) and Surprise (13050 W. Elm St.) locations through Thanksgiving Eve.
Or you can visit one of 19 Albertsons and Safeway stores during our 16th annual Super Saturday Turkey Drive 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20. Visit www.stmarysfoodbank.org for a complete list of Super Saturday drop-off locations and look for our giant inflatable birds!
This is also a busy time of year for all. With that in mind, the easiest way to help might be visiting our site to make a safe and secure cash donation. Every $13 will put a turkey on the table for a family and make all the difference.
Just as importantly: If you or your family need assistance or know a family that does, St. Mary’s Food Bank is here for you.
Visit our website or call 602-242-FOOD and find the closest Food Bank agency partner to help near you.
Thank you for allowing St. Mary’s say yes every time. And Happy Holidays to all!
Jerry Brown is director of public relations for St. Mary’s Food Bank. Visit www.stmarysfoodbank.org.
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