How I Give: Diamonds at the Soles of My Shoes

James is a long-time supporter of the SF Food BankJames is a longtime supporter of the Food Bank. He’s also an avid runner, a hobby that led him to an unusual way of collecting money to support his favorite nonprofits.

I live on Russian Hill, and I run about two miles every day. One morning, I slipped on some wet leaves. After that, I was determined not to slip again, so I started looking at my feet and where I was placing them. And I started seeing money! It was pennies, nickels and dimes. I picked them up, started collecting them in one of those old-timey milk jars, and at the end of the year, I sent them off to one of my favorite public service organizations.

The first year, I collected about $35. This was some years ago, and the amounts are different each year. One year, I collected $27, another year $97, and this past year, because of some broken jewelry I found, it was a whopper.

It’s all over the place and you see it if you look at your feet. The funny thing is, I’ve found money everywhere: in Italy, in New Zealand, all over the place. It always goes into my left pocket, and then it always goes into the milk bottle.

I share my apartment with somebody, and we both participate now. The custom of our house is not to keep anything we find. So if it comes our way, it’s kind of a pass-through. If I find MUNI tokens, I use those and put the fare into the jar. With foreign money, if it’s a place I might possibly travel to, then I put it in at the current exchange rate. It’s become almost a household joke now, a ritual.

But in all seriousness, we’re quite aware of how many people go wanting, and we want to do our part. In my family, we never wasted food. My mother and father were both young during the Depression, and so food was never, ever, thrown out. It was respected. So organizations like the Food Bank, organizations that avail themselves of all the excess food, appeal to me. There’s a huge need on the one hand, and on the other hand, an incredible amount of waste.

I’m pleased to have been a supporter of the Food Bank for many years. I follow the Food Bank’s work, and I know it’s involved in distributing to other food programs. So it was easy to pick the Food Bank as the recipient of this year’s findings.


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