The Puyallup Food Bank can make monetary donations go a long way. With just a $10 donation, it can provide 12 meals for a family of four.
The food bank depends in part on the annual CenturyLink Backpack Buddies Food Drive for these monetary donations, where food banks across Washington state raise as much money as they can. At the end of the two weeks, the CenturyLink Clark M. Williams Foundation matches each food bank’s online funds by 75 percent.
This year, 24 food banks from all over Washington received more than $640,000 from CenturyLink.
Puyallup Food Bank executive director Shanna Peterson was a little nervous about how much money the organization would be able to collect in comparison to previous years the bank has worked with the Backpack Buddies Food Drive.
“Monetary donations have been down,” she said, especially if donors have to go through the process online.
The food bank holds its annual fundraising breakfast every second Tuesday of June. This year, the organization’s breakfast was scheduled during the Backpack Buddies Food Drive, which lasted from June 6 to 7.
The goal for the drive was $50,000, said Peterson, but she wasn’t sure if the nonprofit would make it.
At the end of the breakfast, the bank had reeled in around $35,000. There was still the matched CenturyLink donation to take into account, but Peterson was only expecting around $4,500 in online donations.
As it turned out, the matched CenturyLink donation was around $15,000 — enough for the Puyallup Food Bank to reach its goal.
“We were able to hit our goal,” Peterson said. “To think it’s not going to be there, and then it was … It was one of those things where you just weep with joy.”
The 2016 CenturyLink matching fund wasn’t as large as previous years—the food bank received $24,571 in 2015 and $27,120 in 2014 — but Peterson said she was happy to reach the goal, and that every dollar donated was appreciated.
Monetary donations are especially important for the food bank because they help pay not only for supplies and food, but they keep the building operating and to pay the few staff members that work there. The Puyallup Food Bank has one full-time staff member and three part-time staff members. The rest of the helpers are volunteers — all 120 of them.
“Everyone here is so dedicated to the mission,” Peterson said. “We have a great community of donors.”
The CenturyLink donations were statewide, but local groups are doing what they can to support their local food banks.
The Demonos Car Club in Tacoma, which has upward of 65 members, has been helping raise money for the Puyallup Food Bank for more than a decade. The connection began because Peterson has a family member in the club.
This year, the club raised roughly $2,500 for the nonprofit at its annual car show in at Thun Field in South Hill the weekend prior to Fourth of July.
The food bank sets up a booth at the car show, sells candy and accepts donations, said Peterson.
Loren Bonholzer, president of the Demonos Car Club, said that the booth coincided with the club’s fireworks tent.
“It was local, and donating seemed like a good thing to do,” he said.
The club gives back to multiple organizations, including the Tacoma Rescue Mission.
For Peterson, any type of donation is great for the food bank and for the people it supports. While monetary donations are harder to come by, she’s realizing that people are “stepping up.”
“I have the luxury to see people who are giving and the luxury of seeing people who are receiving,” Peterson said. “The people who come here are trying so hard. We have to make sure that they have a good experience and that they know they’re not alone.”