Response to food drive leaves organizer speechlessFor years, Jack Haskins has focused on making his homeless sleep-out for the Gordon Area Food Shelf “bigger and better.” In 2011, the Solon Springs man left food shelf coordinator Joan Connors speechless with a gift of $4,624 and 592 pounds of food.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
For years, Jack Haskins has focused on making his homeless sleep-out for the Gordon Area Food Shelf “bigger and better.” In 2011, the Solon Springs man left food shelf coordinator Joan Connors speechless with a gift of $4,624 and 592 pounds of food.
In 2012, Haskins was the one at a loss for words when local donations and a more-than-matching grant from his employer Ferrellgas raised $8,671 for southern Douglas County residents in need.
“It was unbelievable,” Haskins said. Along with the money, community members donated 830 pounds of food and many stopped by to share the warmth of the fire, cookies and homemade chili with Haskins and his son, Austin.
One couple who doesn’t give out Christmas presents anymore donated $250 to the event. Extra money from a United HealthCare employee fundraiser was dropped in Haskins’ bucket. Businesses and individuals reached out with monetary donations. And Ferrellgas continued its tradition of giving with a $5,000 check.
“They all have to be thanked,” Connors said. “‘Thank you all very much’ to everybody who contributed and everybody who showed up to support Jack.”
Haskins said it was hard to put into words, but he thanked everyone for coming together to ensure rural residents have the food they need.
Wood ran low and rain caused the event to end early, Connors said, but donations were at the highest level ever. She attributed the success of the annual sleep-out to Haskins.
“I think they all know Jack, and they trust him,” Connors said.
The donations will be put to good use, Haskins said. The Gordon Area Food Shelf serves about 120 families per month from Gordon, Wascott and Solon Springs. They receive boxes and bags of food as well as store vouchers for milk, eggs, bread and butter. And once a month, they can pick up fresh fruits and vegetables from a Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank truck.
The continued support of Ferrellgas has prompted a change at the site. Connors said the food shelf switched energy providers and is now a Ferrellgas customer.
This year’s success has left the food shelf coordinator with a question.
“Every year Jack wants to make it bigger and bigger,” Connors said. “How big is it going to get?”
It is the season of thanks for local food shelves, including Faith United Methodist Church food pantry. Community members supported the ministry with both funds and donated food.
About 3,000 pounds of food came from students at Northern Lights Elementary School, Superior Middle School and members of the Superior High School National Honor Society. More came from the annual postal carriers food drive. Monetary donations from businesses, churches and individuals — including money raised through a dinner theater partnership with Superior Community Theater and a concert featuring the Downbeats and Harbor Masters — helped keep the food pantry open.
“We haven’t had to turn anyone away,” Johnson said. In total, the food shelf distributed about 34 tons of food in 2012. Need rose steadily through the year, with an average of 50 families a week stopping by the pantry.
While monetary donations yield more bang for the buck through Second Harvest, Johnson said, donated food items provide variety on the shelves. Each form of giving serves a purpose.
“It’s an ongoing commitment on everybody’s part to keep this an effective ministry for the community,” Johnson said. “We appreciate the support.”