On a grey Saturday morning in Stanwood, a Food Bank volunteer ran into Atlas Lecoq and his mom outside the Food Bank building. Mom asked if they could borrow one of the blue carts to move donated food from their car to the Food Bank. There was a lot of donated food. The volunteer inquired where the food had come from and the mom told this wonderful story of Atlas having a birthday party and asking his friends who were coming to the celebration to bring some food items for the Food Bank. Well! Atlas raised 70 pounds of food and the picture shows a proud Atlas and the food he collected. What a wonderful young man and a big thank you to Atlas, Mom and friends!
A Little Atlas, A Big Heart
The Jones Family
The Jones Family came in to the Food Bank to pick up their Summer Meals for Kids packs for their two teens and preteen. The mother expressed her thanks for the packs this summer and wanted to know if we would continue during the school year. She said that having the extra food for her growing boys makes the difference between getting enough to eat and choosing how to spend their limited income. The single serving meals allow the boys to fix their own food and mix and match to their preferences. Favorite items: beef jerky, beef stew, beef ravioli and the potato that can be microwaved and then adding the chili to the top. Least favorite item: shelf stable milk since they get real milk from the Food Bank during regular food service. They really appreciate the opportunity to participate in this program and are so grateful to have it in their lives.
The Foster Family
The Foster Family, a grandma, a mom and a daughter living in a trailer on the back of a property in Stanwood after a house fire left them homeless. Their only source of heat and light was stolen (generator and propane tank). The Foster Family was exhausted and concerned for their futures but also hopeful yet. They were discouraged and needed some warm running water so they could all shower. They were cooking over an open fire and melted their pots and pans. They were thankful and embarrassed that they needed to use the services of the Food Bank & Thrift Store as well as get referrals to other agencies for help.
Being able to eat a hot meal via the Heater3 Meals Grant brought smiles to their faces. They came back to get some more and were so excited about the quality of the food, how hot it really was, and how filling the meals were. They discovered that the heater unit in the meals works as a great foot warmer in the bottom of their sleeping bags too. We were able to give them two cast iron pans from the Thrift Store so they could cook over the open flame. We had a $20 Haggen Gift Card that they used to purchase a new empty propane tank canister. The resource center also helped them with the fuel. We were the bright spot in their situation, for which we were honored to assist and provide the needed help.
The Customer Difference
Lisa is one of our regular customers, she recently shared with us why she loves coming into our Thrift Store. First and foremost, she loves that by purchasing items here she is actually donating to the Food Bank. However, it’s the volunteers and staff that have her coming back. She told me that not only do we keep the store ever changing, making it extremely enjoyable to go on her treasure hunts, but that we are also very informative. She has learned more about Stanwood and Camano Island from us than anywhere else! She only moved here about 6 months ago and our Thrift Store has become her happy place. She gets to engage in many conversations with customers as well as staff and is always treated with respect and a sense of nurturing. She also conveyed that we have great sales and bargains that simply beat out the other surrounding thrift stores.
Sometimes All We Need is Hope
On November day of this past year we had a family of four arrive at our Food Bank. A mother, a father and two teenage girls ages 13 & 15. They were homeless. As if that struggle wasn’t difficult enough, someone had stolen every last belonging they owned. The mother was so embarrassed that she couldn’t even tell our volunteer at client check of what her family might need from next door. That didn’t deter our seasoned volunteer, she told her to ask for Wendy or Caryl when she felt comfortable going over to the Thrift Store and we would help her from there.
The family didn’t come into the Thrift Store until almost closing. The mom was so anxious at first, so we just started going through the racks. Will your daughter like this? Will that fit? Within a couple of minutes, she relaxed and became comfortable. We were able to outfit everyone with warm clothes. They will be going over to the Coat Drive for their kids. We made sure they had plenty of blankets, pillows and suitcases on wheels to store everything they needed within. This is why we love our job at The Stanwood Camano Food Bank. By the time the family left, we could see the hope in their eyes and smiles on their faces.
Our Backpack Program
When you are a single parent, low income, and new to an area, it can be confusing and scary, to say the least. I moved to Camano Island over the summer and had no idea of where to go for resources. When I signed my daughter up for school they asked if I would like to participate in the Backpack Program through the Stanwood Camano Food Bank. I’d never heard of such a program and was happy to receive any help I could get. I was on unemployment and struggling to pay the bills. My daughter’s school even offered to provide school supplies. I have lived all across the United States and never have I been to an area that was so community oriented. Everyone comes together for the good of helping others, especially the children.
I have never wanted a hand-out, only a hand-up and that’s exactly what this community has done for me. They have given me that hand-up and now I am proud to say that I am the new Children’s Program Coordinator for the Stanwood Camano Food Bank. Every day I am able to give that same hand-up to other families in need. I make sure that families, like myself, are able to have nutritious food and that no child goes hungry. As a parent, the worst feeling is feeling hopeless and helpless when life takes a turn and you must choose where your money goes…Do you pay the bills to provide a roof over your child’s head, or do you choose food? Programs like the H.O.P.E. Backpack Program are truly invaluable and without it, well, way too many children would go hungry. It takes a village to raise a child, and Stanwood/Camano is my village. To all of the donors who make this program possible, from my family to yours, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
A Community Like No Other…
Jasmine, a recent food bank client, recently stopped in so excited she could barely contain it. She had just been hired for a full-time position. Jasmine came to us on December 1st. She and her family had escaped a dangerous situation. They had left everything they owned, as well as their jobs behind. In just 3 short months, her husband found a full-time job, and now Jasmine is employed too! She said that the food bank was her saving grace. She only came in for food 3 times in those 3 months. The Thrift Store filled a voucher on her first visit for clothes, furniture, and housewares. We filled only one more voucher for interview clothes. Jasmine was so grateful for everything we did to help her family. She didn’t know there were organizations & communities like ours that would empower a person instead of tearing them down.
The Magic of Christmas
The day after Christmas we had a grandma come into the Thrift Store. Her 2 year old granddaughter had not had a Christmas. We went into high gear! We were able to find some toddler clothes that were brand new, we found a few toys, a hat, and coat. To say the least, grandma was thrilled. We encouraged her to come to the Food Bank on Wednesday the 27th of December to get food. We also let her know we were going to contact Mardi, who of course is all about making sure she gets some great presents for that little one. No child should ever lose the magic of Christmas, especially at such a young age.
Every Step of the Way
We had a family of four that came in this past November. They were homeless and sleeping in a tent. We made sure they had warm blankets, and layers of clothes to keep warm. This past week the mom came by the Food Bank. They now had a place to live, her husband had found a job, and we did a second voucher. Now that they have a home they didn’t have anything to put in their home. We made sure they had all the housewares necessary for a functional kitchen and cooking environment. She was so grateful that she gave our staff member a huge hug with tears in her eyes.