Monday, February 28, 2011
There are a number of congregations and groups that do annual food drives for EECM. There's the Catholic Diocese's LoveWalk for the Poor. And Calvary Episcopla's Lenten Food Drive.
One of my favorite annual events is a local Girl Scout troop's "Feed the Brain Challenge."
Their leader is one of EECM's super-volunteers who thrives on finding creative ways to engage people with our mission. The Feed the Brain Challenge collects "brain foods" like canned tuna and peanut butter. They also collect books to "feed the brain" of EECM's clients. We put the books out at our Food Pantry and Homeless Programs where they are enthusiastically received by clients and their families.
Much like the First Unitarian food drive, the Feed the Brain Challenge includes catchy fliers stapled to paper grocery bags and then distributed to families through the girls' school. It's a huge success every year and just another example of how young people can Make a Difference in their community!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Sometimes the idea of hosting a food drive can be overwhelming. You want to help out, but where to begin? What food is needed? How will you get people to participate?
Happily, it really isn't too hard. To get you started, here's an overview of how the 3rd - 5th grade Sunday school class from First Unitarian Church (a member of EECM's Council of Congregations) organized their Have a Heart for Hunger Food Drive.
Step 1 -- Pick a time frame
Will your food drive be an ongoing project or limited to a specific time frame? My experience has been that having a limited amount of time helps people stay focused. The First Unitarian youth group organized their Food Drive to coincide with the dates of EECM's Have a Heart for Hunger campaign -- February 14th through the end of March. Another congregation does an annual Lenten food drive. Any dates will work!
Step 2 -- Pick a food theme
What do you want people to collect? EECM accepts donations of all non-perishable food items, but there are some that we particularly need. The First Unitarian kids focused on EECM's Food of the Month items, including canned tuna, dry pasta, and peanut butter.
Step 3 -- Pick a collection method
How will people bring in their food? Will you have a basket on your front porch? A box at the back of your congregation? A table set up in the narthex? First Unitarian had a great idea. They printed up a bright pink flier explaining the drive and stapled them to paper grocery bags (donated by a local grocery store - they're often willing to help out. Just ask!). There were instructions printed right on the flier as to where the bags could be dropped off.
Step 4-- Publicize
Spread the word. The First Unitarian Church distributed the bags to congregation members.
Step 5 -- Deliver!
Food can be brought to the EECM Food Pantry (inside East Liberty Presbyterian Church) Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. If you have a LOT of food, we can also come and pick it up! Just give us a call: 412.361.5549.
And there you have it. A food drive! You can find more Family Friendly Food Drive Favorites on the EECM website.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Thumbprint cookies with sprinkles
Monday, February 21, 2011
Well, the Steelers may have lost the Superbowl, but the day wasn't a complete failure. Across the country, churches were participating in the Souperbowl of Caring. It's a national movement to collect donations for local food pantries on Superbowl Sunday. Pretty cool, huh?
The Youth Group of Shadyside Presbyterian Church was one such church doing their part to tackle hunger on game day. Their donation recipient? EECM, of course! The Souperbowl collection raised $482.86 for our Hunger Programs.
Which is awesome.
What's even more awesome is that these funds will be included in our Have a Heart for Hunger campaign and will be matched by our anonymous donor. The youth group's efforts will result in $965 being donated to our Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Meals on Wheels.
There's just one word for it: SOUPER!!!
Friday, February 18, 2011
On Sunday morning, I went to Mass and brunch as usual. Afterwards, though, I headed to work at EECM. I'm not usually on duty over the weekends (the food pantry's closed) but it was the day of the LoveWalk and I was excited to take part. Between being a parishioner at Sacred Heart and the Food Services intern at EECM, I had been hearing about the LoveWalk for weeks.
The LoveWalk is an annual charity walk organized by the youth of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Each year, hundreds of young people participate. They gather for a worship service at Sacred Heart Parish and then walk approximately one mile to the EECM Food Pantry, carrying bags of food to donate to the Pantry. The walk is meant to simulate the experience of the homeless, who must carry their belonging with them at all times.
We set up receiving and sorting tables in the dining room. LoveWalk participants would be following a specific route into the building, winding through the dining room and eventually into ELPC's Social Hall where 2,400 cookies and enough hot chocolate (24 gallons!) to wash them all down waited. I waited with the other staff and volunteers as Mass at Sacred Heart ended and word came that the Walkers were on their way.
All of a sudden, the deluge began. I ran back and forth behind the receiving table with the volunteers from the Newman Center, trying not to bump into anyone, sorting the donations. It was so heartening to see wave after wave of people laden with food. Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, rice, pasta of many varieties- really good stuff! For an hour they came, young people and adults both, overloading the table with their gifts. I barely had time to smile at a group before they would have passed by.
In the three hours I was at EECM on February 13, we saw nine hundred young people and received enough canned food to fill 27 plastic storage bins and enough boxed food to fill 81 cardboard boxes. Altogether, the walk collected more than 1,200 pounds of food!
The generous donations had an immediate impact on the food pantry. Much of this good food was packed up for distribution this week and is already on the tables of our clients. Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of the youth groups and their supporters, the 21st Annual LoveWalk for the Poor was a great success and a huge benefit to EECM's hunger programs.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Joy Ike. She's soulful. She's beautiful. She's been voted Pittsburgh's Best Singer/Songwriter by Pittsburgh City Paper.
And yesterday, she performed live at the EECM Soup Kitchen as part of our Have a Heart for Hunger campaign!
It was pretty awesome. Joy set up with her keyboard in a corner of the dining room and played for nearly an hour. I had fun standing in the back and watching people arrive for lunch -- the looks of surprise and enjoyment were great. It's not every day we have live music at the Soup Kitchen!
The goal of the event was twofold. The most obvious was to provide a special treat to the patrons of our noontime Soup Kitchen. But we were also hoping to draw in people who might not ordinarily eat at the Soup Kitchen, to give them a chance to learn firsthand about one of our important Hunger Programs.
And it worked! The Soup Kitchen was jumping and faces in the crowd included families from the community, EECM staff and Board Members, Council of Congregations members, and a host of Soup Kitchen regulars, all enjoying the tunes together.
One EECM volunteer was even moved to dance...
Check out more video and pictures from the event by clicking here.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
And for dessert? Donuts. Yup, donuts. They were a big hit. (Thanks to our friends at Prantl's Bakery in Shadyside for this greatly-appreciated donation!)
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Nowhere is this more true than at EECM's Men's Emergency Shelter. The Shelter is open 365 nights a year, and every night, a group from the community prepares and serves the evening meal to the men staying at the Shelter. Many groups -- especially those organized by our Council of Congregations -- serve in a regular rotation. So, if it's the fourth Friday of the month, you can expect a team from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Second Thursday? That'll be Temple Sinai.
It's a great system. And as if bringing dinner weren't enough, sometimes these groups go above and beyond to provide "extras" for the men in the Shelter. Donations of socks. Themed meals and activities for special occasions. That sort of thing.
Last night, the volunteers from the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting showed up armed with a supply of Steelers' hats and scarves! One of the volunteers in the group had purchased the gear from Yinzers in the Strip to bring as a gift for the men. When the store realized why she was buying the apparel, they gave her an additional box of kids hats, gloves, and scarves which will be distributed via our Food Pantry today.
Here we go, Pittsburgh, here we go!
Monday, February 14, 2011
I'm going to steal/borrow shamelessly from my favorite radio station and introduce a feature on the blog called "Make a Difference Monday." Periodically on Mondays I will feature an individual, group, or entity who is Making a Difference in the East End through their involvement with East End Cooperative Ministry.
Today's difference-makers are the students of Community Day School in Squirrel Hill. A group of middle school students from Community Day School participates in a program called the Mitzvah Corps. These students brainstorm and implement projects to improve their community through drives and volunteer efforts.
Their most recent endeavor was a "Boots and Backpacks" drive for EECM. The students and their teacher, Amy, appeared at EECM yesterday laden with bags of backpacks (many of them brand-new!) and gently-used kids winter boots. What a haul!
The boots will be distributed through EECM's Children & Youth Programs. The backpacks were a particularly hot commodity, with both our Youth Programs and our Homeless Programs expressing an interest (the guys in our Shelter are always grateful to have good quality backpacks to carry their belongings). Happily, there were plenty to go around!
Thanks to the students of Community Day School for this terrific donation.
Make a Difference Monday?
Shoot me an email at kates(at)eecm.org.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
There's a new face in our Children & Youth Department! Meet Brian Yoder, the new ExtraOrdinary Tutoring Assistant Program Manager. We asked Brian to answer a few "get to know you" questions.
How long have you been at EECM? In what capacities?
A couple weeks before Christmas I helped out at ET by doing some volunteer tutoring. I officially began my assistant position in January.
If you could be any superhero, who would it be and why?
Superman, because he can fly!
What do you do when you're not at EECM?
I enjoy being outdoors and playing sports. I also like to explore the City and go to new restaurants with Teresa, my wife.
What is your favorite Pittsburgh restaurant?
List three adjectives that best describe your personality.
Easy-going, caring, adventurous
What do you like best about working for EECM?
I like the sense of community and seeing so many people volunteer their time and talents to help others.
Who is the best TV/movie villain of all time?
The Joker, as played by Heath Ledger
List four previous jobs you've had:
Landscape Laborer, Soccer Coach, Youth Pastor, Summer Camp Expedition Guide
What is your favorite book?
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
What is your favorite (and least favorite) thing about Pittsburgh?
I really enjoy all the bridges and tunnels in the City. I dislike the huge crowds and traffic jams.
Friday, February 4, 2011
We've introduced a new feature on the EECM Facebook page called "What would you do with...?" We'll feature items that we've received and invite discussion of what you'd do with those ingredients. We may include your suggestions on recipe cards we're hoping to provide to Food Pantry clients or pass along tasty-looking recipes to our Soup Kitchen chef.
Our first ingredient is: dried cranberries. We have a bunch on hand right now. What would you do with them?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
EECM Soup Kitchen
116 S. Whitfield Street
(thanks to Market District for the sweets!)
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Written by: Kate Snyder, Development and Donor Communications Coordinator
EECM supporter and friend, Jim Lockard,* loves a good deal. I like a good deal myself, but not like this guy.
He scours the paper for ads from grocery stores and will hit as many as five different stores in a single food run to make sure he's getting the best price available on milk or steak or clementines. He collects Groupons (those discount coupons that are all the rage) with wild enthusiasm. Half off kayaking on the Allegheny? Yes! Twenty-five bucks for a $100 gift certificate to a photo-book merchant? Absolutely! And with the rise of Restaurants.com, I don't think he'll ever pay full price for a meal again.
There's a corollary to this Olympic-level bargain hunting. I truly believe that it causes Jim physical pain to let a good deal escape. If he doesn't need that particular item, he looks for someone who does. That's the beauty of a big heart.
And so, a few weeks ago, he happened upon a sale on men's winter parkas in a favorite catalog of his. He didn't need another coat... But it was such a good deal...
What to do?
Answer: buy it for EECM's Homeless Programs! Which he did. And not just one coat. He bought and shipped three brand new winter coats to EECM to be distributed to the men staying in our homeless shelter.
Hats off to you, Bargain Hunter!
*Full disclosure: This particular EECM superstar also happens to be my father. He's awesome.