Box by box donations added up to quite a haul for Good Samaritan Shelter on Tuesday.
“It was very impressive,” said Good Samaritan executive director Sylvia Barnard. “I was completely surprised. I heard about the donation and the work that they had done. I was very impressed. It’s a lot of food to have donated, especially this time of year, so it’s a complete blessing for us.”
The generous donations came through a food drive held during September at the Santa Maria Valley YMCA.
It was a part of the YMCA’s participation in “National Hunger Action” month.
“Part of the YMCA core value is social responsibility, so what more than social responsibility than giving back to our community by helping those who don’t have homes or food,” said YMCA membership services representative Becky Avila, who came up with the idea.
Avila said once the fundraiser began, it quickly gained momentum.
“People were bringing six, seven or eight cans and it’s something that people don’t realize that one or two cans can help a lot,” Avila said.
The food drive collected non-perishable food, as well as toiletries, from both new and current members.
“Some of our members would see other members bring in food and they just wanted to join in,” YMCA membership services director Gabriela Mendoza. “We had one box at the very beginning. It grew and there wasn’t enough room and we had to add another box.”
Those boxes were sorted and distributed on Tuesday afternoon, giving employees at both local non-profits were given quite a workout.
“It was probably at least 15-to-20 pounds for each one because there was at least 45 cans in each box that we carried out.” Avila said.
Added together, the collection entirely filled the back of a Good Samaritan collection truck.
“For us it’s really important because we serve people 365 days a year and many times people don’t remember that, they thing of us during the holiday, but during the year, we are constantly serving,” Barnard said. “To be able to get additional food contributions just helps us stretch it that much further and feed that many more people.”
According to Barnard, Good Samaritan provides services to around 3,000 people annually. Currently, there are 500-700 people living at various Good Samaritan housing in Northern Santa Barbara County.
Barnard added this is the first time the Santa Maria Valley YMCA has collected food specifically for Good Samaritan. She said it’s a great example of two important local non-profit organizations working together to help many people in need.
“The YMCA has partnered with a number of projects over the years and this is just one more really one more testimony with their partnership with other agencies in the community,” Barnard said. “Good Samaritan could not do what we do without partnerships like this, so we are so incredibly grateful that they are helping us to help those that are most in need in the community.”
Avila added the food drive was such a big success, the YMCA is already planning to hold it again next year.