While serving dinner to those in need as a volunteer at his local soup kitchen in 1967, John Van Hengel met the woman who would spark the idea for the nation's first food bank. She fed her 10 children using soup kitchens and the cast-offs she found in grocery-store dumpsters, according to the Washington Post, but she suggested that a place where people could "deposit" and "withdraw" food—like a bank—would be ideal. With help from St. Mary's Basilica, Van Hengel created St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, which accepted donations from individuals and companies with surplus food. A centralized food bank was able to serve a larger number of people by distributing donated food to member food pantries, soup kitchens, and other charities, and the concept spread across the country and the world.
Today, St. Mary’s annually distributes nearly 70 million pounds of food to its partner agencies across an 81,000-square-mile service area. These meals go to people of all ages, ranging from homebound seniors to children in more than 80 after-school programs. In addition to its food network, St. Mary’s also prepares emergency food boxes to keep families fed during a temporary crisis and, through its Community Kitchen program, trains people to succeed at jobs in the culinary industry while providing meals to hungry individuals.
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West Valley Child Crisis Center (WVCCC) rose from the need for shelter housing. A group of women's service organizations and the John F. Long Foundation formed opened residential homes in 1986 and 1988 for children who were victims of domestic violence or neglect. Today WVCCC helps to find foster care and adoptive homes for children who were removed from their homes by Child Protective Services. In addition, the organization's birth-parent program teaches pregnant women about their options and ability to place their children with loving families, and the community-outreach program raises awareness about child-welfare issues.
A plug-and-play wine-tasting service, Raising Glasses LLC helps local nonprofit organizations, sports teams, and individuals navigate the choppy waters of today's economy with professional wine-tasting fundraisers. The Raising Glasses staff handles all aspects of each event, including securing a venue, providing the wines, and developing a marketing campaign to get the word out. In addition to its fundraisers, the company draws from a deep barrel of knowledge to pour wine education into open ears at in-home tastings and informative series. Customers can also use Raising Glasses for party-planning assistance, during which an expert will help chefs pair wines with meal courses and explain regional differences in tastes so hosts know what language to speak when asking a bottle to attend the party.
Packages From Home drafts a list of items requested by individual military members, ranging from necessities such as body wash, eye drops, and razors to comfort and entertainment items including popcorn, granola bars, and DVDs. Volunteers bundle the items at "packing parties," then ship each custom box to its corresponding serviceperson. Care packages are available to every soldier who requests one, and since 2004, the organization has shipped more than 130,000 boxes overseas. During 2011, Packages From Home is aiming to mail 1,000 care packages each month, which will require more than $100,000 in shipping costs alone.
Every year, more than 100 amateur and professional cooks prepare fresh salsas for My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge. Proceeds from the daylong salsa competition and festival benefit the Arizona Hemophilia Association, which aims to enhance the life of sufferers and advocate for bleeding disorders. Now in its 30th year, the fest brings in more than 20,000 people annually. In addition to the salsa challenge, the Patron Margarita Mix-Off, which takes place from 12:30?3:30 p.m., challenges local bartenders to compete for the title of Best Margarita and a $500 cash prize. Outside of competitions, margaritas and cold beers wash down unlimited chips and salsa, and the rhythms of live bands keep crowds chewing in unison. Parents can accompany their children into a fun zone with multiple bounce houses, interactive games, and a bungee run.
Sponsored by Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair, the Community Tire Salsa Garden aims to revitalize the neighborhood in which the auto company does business. The garden will blossom throughout two vacant lots across from the company’s store. It is designed to reflect both the tire industry from which it takes its name and the green space the community needs in order to thrive. Community members will be able to help tend to vegetables and bring home produce from the garden. Additionally, artists will create items out of repurposed tires as creative focal points that represent the garden's sponsor and its belief in recycling and repurposing. Local families will also have access to classes on cooking and gardening to help encourage healthy eating.