All Maria Herrera was looking for was a few tips for how to help a struggling family she knew. So she posted a message on Gig Harbor Town Talk, a Facebook group based in Gig Harbor.
What she got was a morning full of perfect strangers dropping off food for the family of five, which is struggling to spread out their food bank allowance.
“When I wrote the post I had no plans of having a food drive or anything,” Herrera said.
But what Herrera posted hit home with many people on the group, and before long a food drive for Friday morning in the Artondale Elementary parking lot was planned.
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Herrera recently learned what it takes to feed a family of five on a budget. She only buys groceries for her and her husband. One day, after making sandwiches to share with the family she is helping, she realized she’d gone through almost a whole loaf of bread.
And that was just lunch.
It was an eye-opening experience for Herrera, who never realized how grocery bills can rack up with larger families. That’s why she turned to the Gig Harbor Facebook group for help. She received many tips about other food banks, programs and agencies, but the ball began rolling to organize a donation drive.
Those who dropped off boxes and bags of provisions hugged Herrera and shared a bit of their own experiences. As the boxes came in, so did stories of other hard times. Those who donated talked about raising their own families in rough times.
Herrera never imagined so many boxes would fill the back of her car. She felt like crying.
Eggs, boxed food, fresh fruit and even cupcakes created a Tetris game of food in Herrera’s SUV. Some people dropped off gift cards and cash to help the family buy groceries.
“I think I’m going to run out of room,” she said. “I never, ever expected this.”
Herrera moved to Gig Harbor eight years ago from Tacoma; before that she lived in the Midwest. She wasn’t so sure about a move across the bridge, but she’s learned that the Gig Harbor community is tight-knit and supportive.
After Friday’s outpouring, she can’t imagine living anywhere else.