After opening its doors for an extended amount of hours on Tuesday, Nov. 12, the volunteers at the Maple Valley Food Bank watched supplies vanish from shelves.
Over 180 families came out to pick up their weekly food along with holiday meals, which was a success for volunteers but left the food bank without many supplies for families who came to pick up food on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We are giving out more food and serving more clients than we used to,” Volunteer and Program Coordinator Sigurros Welborn said. “Last Tuesday we served 181 families. That’s probably the highest number we’ve ever done in a day. That’s emptying our shelves. While food drives are happening, and we are getting donations, we are not meeting our current need.”
The increase in clients is because the food bank recently extended its pick-up hours on Tuesdays to accommodate working families.
That’s when Welborn posted on the food bank’s Facebook page asking for urgent help.
“We know this community can rally behind a cause when it matters,” the Facebook post states. “Will you please help us stock our shelves?”
The Facebook posted garnered over 100 comments and was shared 494 times.
Welborn said the response to the post was incredible. Donations have come in throughout Wednesday and Thursday in the forms of packaged food and goods, and over 100 people donated $6,520 on Facebook, which Welborn said will help purchase turkeys for families this holiday season.
By Wednesday, Nov. 20, the post raised $8,501 and was shared nearly 600 times.
Other community members hosted food drives on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Maple Valley Safeway, QFC and Fred Meyer stores. Because of this there is enough food for clients coming in this week.
The plea for more supplies and donations grabbed the attention of local former Seahawk, now San Francisco 49er, Richard Sherman.
“I’d like to challenge the community of Maple Valley to help your fellow man and woman,” Sherman said. “Whether that’s donating clothes, backpacks, coats, shoes, regardless if it’s your time. I think this holiday season we can make a tremendous impact.”
Sherman is the founder of the Blanket Coverage, The Richard Sherman Family Foundation, which helps families with children have clothes and school supplies.
The Maple Valley Food Bank was founded as a nonprofit in March, 1965, and serves families in a grocery store-style setting three days a week. This style of food bank allows clients to come in and “shop” for the food they need, instead of just being handed a box of pre-organized goods.
During the holidays every family gets a turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Local stores such as Costco donate a large amount of turkeys but many more have to be bought with monetary donations. Welborn said in 2018 the food bank gave away around 800 turkeys.
The food bank also helps families provide toys and gifts for their children by hosting a children’s gift program during the winter months.
“We create a gift center in the lodge connected to the food bank so parents can come in and shop for their kids,” Welborn said. “We serve about 1,000 kids with gifts for Christmas.”
An easy way for residents to help stock shelves with toys and clothes for kids is by visiting the nonprofit’s Amazon wish list. Visit https://amzn.to/2QBsHoV to donate.
Anyone who wishes to donate can drop off food or money donations during regular weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Families who are in need can visit the food bank on Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Wednesday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Welborn said the nonprofit still has a need for more holiday food donations for its clients such as;
•Canned pumpkin •Olives •Mushrooms
•Packets of gravy mix
•One-pound boxes of sugar
•Pie crust mix.
Welborn said the money donated through Facebook will go into buying more food, and that volunteers have been happily shocked by the outreach from the local community.
“We have never had this much response of a response and received so much so fast,” Welborn said