Leslie Patterson was doing some year-end self-evaluation and decided she wanted to be more generous in 2013.
She’s convinced her entire neighborhood to join in her New Year’s resolution and now the hungry in the Pikes Peak region are benefiting.
On July 13, Patterson’s resolution came to life with the first Patty Jewett Neighborhood Food Project food drive. Led by Patterson, the project collected 500 pounds of food and $70 for donation to the Care and Share Food Bank.
This was not a one-time event. Patterson envisions it as a new year-round project to keep the shelves of the non-profit stocked.
“Food banks typically get tremendous amounts of food during the holidays and not so much during the rest of the year,” she told me. “But there’s a need year-round.”
That’s been especially true the past two summers after the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires left hundreds of families homeless.
“I heard a podcast about a food project in Ashland, Ore., and I started thinking about what I could do,” Patterson said.
A year-end email from the Patty Jewett Neighborhood Association inspired her to see if the organization would be interested in her idea of regular food drives — every other month — to feed the region’s hungry.
It was a no-brainer for the neighborhood, which is one of the most active in the city with its community-building efforts.
“The association board overwhelmingly loved the idea,” said Amy Triandiflou, neighborhood president. “We know the need is great. So we decided to see what we can do.”
Triandiflou was confident her neighbors would embrace the idea.
“The neighbors in our community are really thoughtful and community-oriented,” she said. “There’s a real sense of community here and of taking care of each other.”
So they put the idea on the neighborhood website and soon several dozen neighbors had signed up.
Patterson went online and found a website selling reusable grocery bags, bought 25 and had them printed with the “Patty Jewett Neighborhood Food Project.” Soon she had to double her order because of the strong neighborhood response.
A couple mass emails to the neighborhood and a round of phone calls to families that signed up resulted in a boutiful collection on July 13. Patterson and a couple other volunteers went door-to-door picking up food in the branded grocery bags. Then they delivered it to Care and Share.
“We are really excited about their effort,” said Shannon Coker, Care and Share spokeswoman. “We get so much attention during the holidays, but hunger never takes a vacation.”
Coker said it was impressive the group was able to collect 500 pounds of nonperishable canned and boxed food on its first effort.
“Every single can or boxed item makes a difference,” Coker said. “When she told me it was 500 pounds, I was elated. They should be really proud.”
Coker said many groups hold a food drive during the year. But Patty Jewett’s program is different.
“Those are typically one-day events,” she said. “Having a neighborhood giving for general hunger relief on an ongoing, consistent basis is unique and really important.”
Patterson said she hopes the next Patty Jewett food collection scheduled Sept. 14 will produce even more food as word spreads of the effort.
“It’s so simple and that’s what I love about it,” Patterson said. “It can keep spreading and spreading and spreading.”
Now that’s one New Year’s resolution that even I think I could keep.
To learn more about the Patty Jewett Neighborhood Food Project, follow this link.