When Helping Hands Food Bank needed a new truck to transport food, they didn't let a little thing like money stand in their way! Read on for a first-hand account of how one of our agency partners was able to pool resources from their community in order to purchase a new truck for their food bank.
By Becky Larsen, Executive Director, Helping Hands Food Bank
It all started when the Helping Hands Food Bank truck broke down and we found ourselves without a means for transporting food. The grant writer and I sat down and asked, "what kind of truck do we need and how much will it cost?" Fast forward a year and a half and we are finally celebrating the arrival of our beautiful new truck. Here's the story of how we made our vision a reality!
We had recently gone to Northwest Harvest to pick up a load of food when we noticed that all of their trucks had the Boeing Employees Community Fund logo on them. So, we thought we would try our luck in reaching out to them to see if they could help. Our initial ask was for $19,000 with a goal of buying a used truck for $30K. The Helping Hands Board of Directors had committed the rest of that total in our budget for 2017.
Our grant writer took the next step and asked, "Why dont we ask the Skagit Community Foundation for $10,000? Maybe then we would only need to pay $15,000." They are great partners of ours and so we decided to give it a shot. I will never forget the call I received from their Executive Director saying, "Becky, an amazing donor is going to call you and he has a few questions about the truck you need. I told him that Helping Hands is an amazing partner and you are trusted and hardworking." After thanking her, I eagerly waited for this mysterious donor to call.
During our conversation, the donor asked me all kinds of questions about what Helping Hands Food Bank does, how hard the trucks work, what the impact of getting a new truck would be, and so on. However, the most important thing he asked me was, "Why would you buy a used truck instead of a new one?" I told him it was all about money. Buying new is better, but who can afford $70,000 for a brand new truck? Well, that was it for him. He told us to get quotes on new trucks - not used trucks - and said he wanted to partner with us!
From start to finish, the donor was present. From choosing the right truck and haggling over prices, to waiting an additional three months for the truck to get built followed by the final ribbon-cutting celebration - he was with us every step of the way. It's amazing how a small idea (or a big need) can manifest as far more than you ever could have hoped for.
I did the math and our truck will be picking up over 15 million pounds of food over the next 10 years. So, the price of the truck is equal to .004 cents per pound. What an amazing investment! What I learned is that donors are very generous and it truly helps to be honest about what you need, not what you think you deserve. Shine a spotlight on the impact of their donation - we have 15,000 clients that rely on our trucks to pick up 70% of the food we hand out. The most important tool we have at the food bank are those trucks.
I want to say thank you to the Boeing Employees Community Fund, the Skagit Community Foundation, and our donor for believing in us!