I want to wish all of our Southwest Initiative Foundation donors, partners and friends a very happy Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for in southwest Minnesota. I hope you enjoy wonderful time with family this holiday weekend!
I also hope we can take time to remember that unfortunately, there are many families who struggle to make ends meet right here in our communities and the holidays can be an especially difficult time of year.
In 2008, a few Southwest Initiative Foundation staff members brought up an idea for us to do more to help families in our region. We had just learned that a major employer in our region was closing and leaving many people without jobs. As a foundation, we can assist through grants and loans but as individuals, we felt helpless. So, we started a food shelf drive in our office for staff to personally give to food shelves in our southwest Minnesota region. Our first donation was just one box of food to the food shelf in that community where the business closed.
In 2010, we started collecting change to include with the food and gave to a different food shelf in our 18 counties each month. Since then, we have done fun things as staff to raise food and funds and even challenged our board to match our giving. We’ve given almost $2,000 and almost 3,000 pounds of food. We’ve gone through the list of 18 county food shelves almost 3 times—usually sending about $50-$100 and at least 200 pounds of food each month.
And, we are able to leverage our giving through holiday match and March food share month opportunities through our regional food shelf organizations. It’s just one small way that we’re trying to help individuals and families in our region.
If you’re not already participating in your community, I encourage you to find something to do this holiday season with family, friends or co-workers. It really is a rewarding experience to help those in need—even just in a small way!