Thursday, June 04, 2009
Thanksgiving In June
"We (the players) sometimes don’t realize how fortunate we are," said Wil Nieves, catcher for Our Washington Nationals. "There are so many kids that have nothing to eat and that is real sad. And if we can just give a little bit of our time to help the food get into the hands of those most needy—it is a blessing to help out—and we are more than happy to be here.”
Nieves along with his wife, Yormarie Ortiz, and front office staff of Our Washington Nationals were at The Capital Area Food Bank in Northeast DC on Wednesday June 3rd, preparing meal bags for children in advance of National Park's Promotion "Thanksgiving In June" Food Drive collection to take place this weekend when The New York Mets visit The South Capitol Street Ballpark.
“It’s efforts like this today with The Nationals that make our work possible," believes Lynn Brantley, President, CEO & Founder of The Capital Area Food Bank. "Without volunteers and The Nationals in particular—who are coming today—we would not be able to reach out to the community as much as we do. It saves us over $500,000 per year when these volunteers come in. We have over 12,000 volunteers that help us throughout the year. They are essential to what we do. They are the very meat of the organization.”
The Capital Area Food Bank provides meals to over 700 tax-exempt agencies that serve the homeless, children, seniors, battered women and the unemployed. 380,000 total in The District, Northern Virginia, Prince Georges & Montgomery Counties in 2008. In any given year, the CAFB distributes over 20 Millions Pounds of food. Washington's Major League Baseball Team has raised over 15,000 Pounds in three previous food drives.
Lynn Brantley: “I think a lot of people don’t recognize the depth of hunger in our community because we are a very wealthy community. I think this economy has made people more aware, but the issues are very deep. And when you consider that 50% of the children in The District of Columbia—our Nation’s Capital—don’t get an adequate meal throughout the period of a month’s time—that’s not good. We need to change that dynamic.”
On Wednesday June 3rd, Wil & Yormarie along with six Nationals Front Office Staff Members joined together to produce 300 meal bags for hungry children scheduled for delivery this Saturday in The District of Columbia. Included was a snack pack, macaroni & cheese, tuna fish, carrots and fruit cocktail. All non-perishable products generously donated by individuals, but also local grocery stores.
“The local grocers--Giant, Safeway and Whole Foods are all heavily involved with us," said Ms. Brantley. "Harris Teeter is coming on board. US Air is also coming on board with us. Marriott has been a strong and long time supporter as well. The Washington Post. We have had wonderful supporters through the years. We’ve been in existence since 1980.”
The Grocery Stores and Corporations provide non-perishable foods in bulk. High quality unsold or unused groceries that would otherwise end up in a landfill or garbage bin. Volunteers sort through all donations, pick out any item deemed unworthy or unsafe--repackage them in meals for The Capital Area Food Bank distribution to agencies. Ms. Brantley says The Capital Area Food Bank has earned the trust of the grocers and donors to do things right.
As each meal was bagged by Nationals Staff, a CAFB Volunteer boxed them up-preparing the food for this weekend's delivery. Depending on the size of each agency served--the meals will be picked up by a benefactors own vehicle or The Capital Area Food Bank will deliver the meals to the agency.
"This has always been a dream for myself," stated Wil Nieves after thanking some of the youth volunteers on site this day. "When I established myself in The Big Leagues--and I can do something for others--I have always wanted to assist in drives like this to help kids and others who are in need.”
Not only is The Capital Area Food Bank involved in getting meals out to the hungry, but educating on nutrition and food stamp awareness also important tools to their cause. CAFB feeds over 2000 kids every day, 1800 Seniors through a Brown Bag Program once per month and are involved with The Chesapeake Bay Foundation producing organic vegetables and a Ward 8 Farmers Market in The District.
“The job is never done," concedes Ms. Brantley. "What we have tried to do is reach out in different ways so that not only is it the distribution of food, but how do we build capacity? How do we create sustainability? Not that we can eliminate poverty, but maybe we can put a big dent into hunger.”
This weekend at Nationals Park--Capital Area Food Bank Volunteers and Our Washington Nationals Staff will be standing by at Centerfield Gate before each upcoming game from Friday June 5th through Sunday June 7th to take your generous donations when The New York Mets come to town for a three game series.
Wil Nieves: "This is just an hour and one half out of our lives that we can give back to help bless other people not as fortunate. It’s always about more than just baseball.”
Please Help--If You Can.
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