A one-to-two hour commitment on a Saturday morning can go a long way to reducing hunger on the Palouse, said Palouse Cares Board of Directors President Rick Minard.
“The more doors we can knock on, the more people will open their doors and give us food,” Minard said.
Palouse Cares will hold its 10th food drive and fundraising auction this Saturday, first at 9 a.m. and again at 11 a.m.
Community members from 13 different areas on the Palouse will be given maps and assigned neighborhoods to visit and collect food donations from.
“Because this is our 10th year, I”d say 90 percent of people are expecting us because we come every year,” Minard said. “Last year we raised over 20,000 pounds of donations in Moscow alone.”
All food donations go to the local food bank while monetary donations are given to food banks and other non-profits that focus specifically on children, Minard said.
Palouse Cares provides the maps and bags, and volunteers simply show up willing to drive around the town and collect food.
Minard is expecting about 600-700 volunteers in Moscow this year and said students turn out in the hundreds to volunteer.
He said he usually gets about 100 University of Idaho student-athlete volunteers and about 200 volunteers from UI sorority houses. He said about 100 students from Moscow High School also show up to volunteer.
“A huge shout out to U of I students who come and help us out,” Minard said. “Without the students this event wouldn”t be near as successful of an event as it has been over the last 10 years.”
When volunteers are done, they return to their site and turn in donations.
“That”s when the magic happens and we see all the food that was raised over that couple-hour window,” Minard said. “It”s just amazing.”
After the food drive, a fundraising auction will begin. In Pullman at Zeppoz, and in Moscow at Real Life at Eastside Marketplace, crowds will gather to enjoy baroque, baked goods, music, games and live and silent auctions. All profits will go to local nonprofits.
Linda Nickels, director of the Moscow Food Bank, said their shelves start to run low on donations close to the holidays. And when it doesn”t seem like they can pull through, the food bank receives the huge donation from Palouse Cares.
“All of a sudden this miraculous thing happens and we are always blessed with all these donations from Palouse Cares and the Moscow community,” Nickels said. “It”s been really nice.”
The food bank creates Christmas baskets for families to receive, and Nickels said there would not be a holiday for many families if they didn”t have the food bank.
“What seems to happen is families are trying to get a few things for the kids for Christmas and so this really helps their budget,” Nickels said.
She said this is a great way to provide the community with holiday spirit.
Nickels said the Moscow Food Bank does not hold its own food drives and does not get funding from any government agency. So she said the donations make a tremendous impact.
“The biggest reward is that we are allowing no child to go hungry on the Palouse,” Minard said. “It”s pretty special to me that through our magical team of PC, we are able to fill the food banks with so much food and just make a child smile because he”s not hungry.”
Those who would still like to volunteer can show up at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Real Life in Moscow.
Diamond Koloski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @diamond_uidaho