The Mesa United Way on Thursday launched a drive to raise 465,000 pounds of food by June 21 to help fill empty shelves this summer at the United Food Bank. The idea is to collect 1 pound of food for every resident in Mesa, explained United Way President Carol McCormack at a luncheon where leading contributors were recognized.
Pointing to escalating food prices, McCormack said, “If you are a low-income person, you can’t make it.”
She said the “super challenge” food drive was inspired by the experience of a group of employees at Boeing Co., which historically has been a leading contributor to Mesa community causes.
The employees volunteered their time to sort food at the United Food Bank, she said, but were sent home because there was not enough food to work with at the facility near Baseline Road and Country Club Drive.
“Summer is the worst time of the year for food donations. The cupboards are bare,” McCormack said.
United Food Bank director Bob Evans expressed his appreciation for the United Way food drive, calling it “a shot in the arm.”
“This is as ugly as I’ve seen it,” Evans said, referring to area food and gas prices. “People who live on the edge are being forced over the edge.”
McCormack encouraged businesses and organizations that want to participate to call the United Food Bank and arrange for a box to be dropped at their location.
At the luncheon, Mesa lawyer and former City Councilman John Giles announced that the Mesa United Way has had the “best year ever” in the current campaign, raising $5,442,672.
Even so, Giles said the “community care” portion of the campaign is “a little down” and asked contributors and the community to reach deeper into their pockets. The Community Care contributions are invested in programs that address such needs as helping kids in troubled circumstances succeed, caring for the elderly and helping disabled children.
At the luncheon, the United Way toasted a number of individuals, businesses and organizations for their support.
Among several awards presented, the Mesa accounting firm of Schmidt Westergard & Co. received the Heart of Mesa Award.
The Agency Partner of the Year Award went to East Valley Senior Services.
Employee Campaign Coordinator of the Year Award was presented to Peg Evans-Smith and Theresa Foster of AT&T.