from Cathy Avery:

I would like to invite you to join a growing number of individuals and organization in the City-Wide Food Drive and volunteer two hours of your time over Martin Luther King weekend, January 17th and 18th.

In 1994, Congress transformed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday into a National Day of Service, to further commemorate a man who lived his life in the service of others. As citizens, we are  encouraged by President-elect Obama to come together on this day, January 19th, or the week-end before, to volunteer for the betterment of our communities.

In South Dakota, as well as across the nation, there is a tremendous need to restock the shelves of our food pantries. In Sioux Falls alone, there has been an increase of 40% in the number of people seeking assistance from food pantries. According to Matt Gassen, Executive Director of the Community Food Bank of South Dakota, although the community of Sioux Falls has a strong tradition of generous contributions, the demand for food is outpacing donations.

Thus, as part of the National Day of Service, we have created a city-wide food drive. We will be working in partnership with the Community Food Bank of South Dakota, a nonprofit agency that supplies food and other personal care items to food pantries across this community and across the state. We are asking local supermarkets and larger department stores to allow us to set up a table on their premises over the week-end of January 17th and 18th, and to hand out a list of needed nonperishable supplies to each of their customers. Those customers who wish to participate can purchase an item at the store and drop it off at our table before they leave the store. Our goal is to collect two tons of donated nonperishable food items and supplies to be delivered to the Community Food Bank on January 19th.

We will be reaching out to the widest spectrum of groups and organizations for volunteers – church groups, environmental groups, schools, civic groups, etc., so that we are all working together as a team. The problems that we face in this country require the combined efforts of all citizens, and this day of service will represent what can be done when we all work together.

Mayor Munson will be issuing a proclamation on January 12th, citing the week-end of January 17th and 18th as a “City-Wide Food Drive”. To date, the following stores and community organizations are on board or have offered their support:

  • Sunshine Foods (all 4 locations in SF)
  • Churches of various denominations
  • Hy-Vee (all 5 locations in SF) AFL-CIO
  • Walmart West
  • Rep. Stephanie Herseth
  • Lewis Drugs (all 6 locations in SF)
  • President of Lion’s Club
  • Franklin Food Market
  • South Dakota Democratic Party
  • Andy’s Affiliated Foods
  • Senator George McGovern
  • Co-op Natural Foods
  • Senator Tim Johnson
  • Sioux Falls Ford (will provide trucks for hauling)
  • Augustana College (will have internal food drive)
  • VA Medical Center (will have internal food drive)
  • Novak Sanitary Services (will provide 60 recycling containers for collecting food)
  • Walmart East (donated gift card)
  • Midwest Continental Transport (will provide paper for fliers)
  • Kinkos (95% sure that they can cover all of our printing costs)
  • ACL-CIO has offered the Labor Union to serve as our central hub

Today, Richard Reedy, co-chair of the City-Wide Food Drive, spoke personally to Senator McGovern, who is more than willing to call over to the Labor Temple on Sunday evening, January 18th, where volunteers will be congregating for a celebratory party, and to thank volunteers for coming together to address the problem of hunger in our community. Today, Senator Tim Johnson also offered his support for this city-wide food drive.

We will need about 400 volunteers, as well as 13 store captains. If you are available for a two hour shift, or know of friends or family members who may want to volunteer, please email me or call me at 929-8270. In addition, if any of you would be willing to take on the role of store captain, please contact me as soon as possible. The duty of store a captain will be to remind volunteers of their scheduled time slot before the event, as well as making sure that all goes smoothly at their particular location.

At Hy-Vee and Sunshine stores we will have two hour shifts of volunteers from 9:00am to 5:00pm (9-11am, 11am-1pm, 1-3pm, 3-5pm). We will only have a drop-off container and pamphlets at the other stores. We also will need a crew of volunteers who will meet at 7:00am to deliver tables and containers to each location. We need people who are willing to pick up full food containers and transport the food back to the Labor Temple throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, and then to close down each store at night. As you can see, this will be labor intensive. But with careful planning and attention to detail, we anticipate that this will go smoothly.

Please let me know if you have a preferred time or store location (i.e., Hy-Vee on Minnesota, Saturday from 3-5).

According to the Washington D.C. Presidential Inauguration Committee, the Sioux Falls City-Wide food drive has become one of the largest National Day of Service events in the country, and exemplifies the spirit of Martin Luther King’s Day of Service.

According to the MLK website,

The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past, leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships, and is an opportunity to recruit new volunteers for your ongoing work.”

It’s been a pleasure to co-chair this event with Richard Reedy, and I am humbled by the tremendous generosity that I am witnessing from our community. I also want to thank our planning committee, Norma Knigge, Kerry Von Holtum, and Clara and Jon Hart, for their tireless efforts over the past four weeks.

With much appreciation,

Cathy Avery
State lead for National Day of Service

Volunteers: please leave a comment and we will put you in touch with Cathy