Great Turkey returns in Marin

The Great Turkey has been a Marin holiday institution since 1992, sitting pretty on its hay bales at the Town Center Corte Madera, while accepting donations of food, cash, and hugs from children and the young at heart.

“I am really surprised the ‘World’s Largest Turkey’ is still going strong!” says Lead Turkey Architect John “Lucky” Lister. “Sometimes I meet young mothers who filled the turkey as kids, coming back with their children to donate.”

Twenty years ago, John had been working at Industrial Light and Magic on major films such as Peggy Sue Got Married, Howard the Duck, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when the Food Bank approached him about an idea for an interactive Thanksgiving display for the Town Center Corte Madera. “It turned out to be quite a challenge to design a turkey that was not as repulsive as the real bird.” Eventually, John was able to make an adorable turkey that Marin residents have loved for years.

Originally having been built to withstand the November weather, the Turkey was so popular that the mall displayed it until New Year’s every year.  A few years ago, on what was almost the Turkey’s 18th birthday, it was decided that a new bird needed to be built.

It took three years to redesign and recreate the Great Turkey.  Thanks to Ken Sly of Dimensional Graphics, the new Turkey is more waterproof than the previous sculpture, which will hopefully help her last through fowl weather.

Special thanks to:  Josh Koral at Acme Scenery in Brisbane, who kindly let John use their shop to construct the bird.  David Fiend of Parts and Templates in San Carlos, who cut out more than 300 feathers and curved structure pieces. Ed Raymond of the stagehands union IATSE #16, who helped get the word out for volunteers. And of course, to John Lister, who put in the bulk of the work, logging over 200 hours to make our feathered friend.

SF legal community provides over $3,000,000 worth of much-needed food, thanks to Food from the Bar

Food from the Bar Chairs Jonathan Storper and Jim Donato

The San Francisco legal community really raised the bar in 2011, breaking all their previous records by bringing in $513,783 and 13,386 pounds of food to help end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. Since the San Francisco Food Bank can turn every dollar donated into $6 worth of food, that adds up to well over $3,000,000 worth of much-needed groceries for hungry families. Firms also completed 700 volunteer shifts, sorting and packing tons of food in our warehouse.

Now in its 20th year, Food from the Bar is a month-long campaign, in partnership with The Bar Association of San Francisco, that challenges law firms and legal departments throughout the city to fight hunger. It results in creative fundraising projects – including a miniature golf course that materialized in one law office, and attention-getting costumes, like the hotdog and peapod outfits sported by this year’s event chairs, Jim Donato (Partner, Shearman & Sterling) and Jonathan Storper (Partner, Hanson Bridgett) to support the cause.

Everyone at the food bank appreciates the dedication and hard work that goes into Food from the Bar. This year’s record is particularly meaningful because the San Francisco Food Bank has seen a 32 percent increase in demand for food assistance.

Here are the winning firms, along with our Platinum partners and number of meals their generous contributions will provide:

Per Capita Awards

Grand Prize: Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
First Place: Fremont Group
Second Place : Bechtel Legal & Risk Management
Third Place Miller Law Group
Top Food Raiser:  Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Top Volunteer Recruiter: Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Top Fundraising Achievement: Fremont Group
Rookie of the Year: Bechtel Legal & Risk Management

Platinum Partners

  • Stein & Lubin LLP- 42,867 meals
  • O’Melveny & Myers LLP- 53,868 meals
  • Farella Braun + Martel LLP- 55,448 meals
  • Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP- 56, 969 meals
  • Keker & Van Nest LLP- 63,300 meals
  • Shartsis Friese LLP- 67,755 meals
  • Bechtel Legal & Risk Management- 77,578 meals
  • PG&E Law Department – 84,975 meals
  • Kirkland & Ellis, LLP – 91,666 meals
  • Hanson Bridgett – 93,370 meals
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP – 131,323 meals
  • Fremont Group – 247,080 meals

“We’re really grateful.”

Rose Chang is 85. She lives at a senior citizens’ residence in the Tenderloin, and shared her story with us recently.

Rose participates and volunteers at an SF Food Bank pantry every week.I’ve lived here for 11 years, and I participate and volunteer at the pantry every week. There are usually five or six of us, and we really like to do the work. It gives us a way to contribute to our community. And our fellow tenants, neighbors and friends are really appreciative of it. We make sure that everyone gets the same as anyone else, and it’s a really good feeling. It makes me feel like I’m contributing.

Typically, we hand out fruits, vegetables and canned food. This was originally a hotel, so we can’t have stoves. We all cook with rice cookers and hot plates. And that’s fine. Because we’re all elderly here, we can’t eat fried stuff or stir-fry anyway. We need to keep it simple. We’re really grateful for having the food and don’t really feel entitled about it.

Maybe because I’ve experienced a lot in my life, including wars, leading a simple life is a huge value for me. I graduated from primary school around when World War II happened. That was 1937, and the Japanese were bombing China. My grandma, my dad, my mom and I all fled from the city to our ancestral village near the border between Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. We brought nothing with us but ourselves.

Rose points to the location of her ancestral village on a map of China

Rose points to the location of her ancestral village on a map of China

After that, I grew up in a typical way, nothing special. My father owned a rice shop, and that shop sustained us quite adequately. We were able to feed ourselves with two meals a day. We were commoners. So my dietary needs and preferences when I was growing up were that, if it’s simple and good, then it’s good. Food is food. My mom did the cooking, and she made really good food. I wasn’t picky.

Now, I like to keep it simple. I don’t have any strong preferences about anything. Though I will tell you that I don’t eat whole oranges – instead, I squeeze them into juice. That’s because once, I got my dentures caught in a piece of orange and then accidentally threw them out. I swept the rinds off my table, with the dentures (unbeknownst to me) and tossed that down the garbage chute. When I came back to brush my teeth, I realized, “Oh my god! Where are my dentures?? They’re in the trash!” I called the building manager, and luckily, I was able to recover them. And so that’s why I drink orange juice.

I just take pleasure in the small tasks I have. In the morning, I cook some oatmeal and add in whatever I have – usually, some cereal, apples, sesame flour and milk. Then I go for an hour’s walk. I like to talk with other people, I like to play mahjongg, and I can spend meaningful, quality time with others doing those things.

My heart is very still and my mind is very still. I feel like I lead a very happy life, a simple life. I don’t worry or ruminate on anything. And if I can help people, then why not? It helps me to let go of everything and maintain a sense of stillness.

Stories that inspired us in 2010

5-year olds Ethan, Emily and Sophia taught us that you don't have to be big to make a big difference.

This past year, the need for food was staggering. We constantly broke our all-time monthly record for the most food delivered to hungry families in San Francisco and Marin, distributing millions of pounds of food every month.

How did we do it? With the help of amazing volunteers, donors and clients who constantly inspire us. Here are the people – and the stories – that will continue to inspire us to work even harder in 2011, not stopping until hunger in our community is truly a thing of the past:

Inspiration #1

There were a few tears shed in our office when this letter arrived…

Tamar and Ginger, thank you – and we’re so glad things are looking up for you!

Inspiration #2

Toan Lam, of GoInspireGo made this video about Herman Travis, who noticed that homebound seniors in his public housing community needed food and took it upon himself to see that they received it…

Read more about Herman and his good deeds here.

Inspiration #3

The pre-schoolers at With Care Child Care reminded us that, no matter how small you are, you can make a huge difference. See how they did it in this GoInspireGo video…

Read more about these amazing With Care kids and their teacher, Kathleen, here.

Inspiration #4

The story of pantry client “Ginny” and her teenage son reminded us of how important every single vegetable is…

“Ma, you got anything to eat?” And sad to say, a lot of times it’s like, “Mom, there’s nothing to eat.” That’s the worst thing, when your child is hungry and he can’t just get something to eat when he wants it. A lot of times, I eat less and sometimes don’t even eat so he can have something.

If we didn’t have the food bank, it would be a lot worse for my son. He’s a growing kid, he’s always hungry! And I’m always like, look, you gotta save something for another day. At our food bank here, we get vegetables and rice and a couple of things of juice. I appreciate it all, but you have to make it last. What I’ll do with certain kinds of vegetables we get – like onions, celery and bell pepper – is wash it off, soak it, cut it all up and freeze it. That way, it can stretch…

Read more of Ginny’s story here.

Inspiration #5

When we put out a call for people to write letters of hope and support that would go to our clients along with Thanksgiving groceries, thousands of letters flooded in, including one from San Francisco 49er Kevin Jurovich and a stack of letters and drawings from school children, some even in Spanish and Chinese… 

Read more about the Thanksgiving notes here.


Inspiration #6

Behind every one of our 200+ neighborhood grocery pantries are the volunteer pantry coordinators who take on the tremendous job of getting the food distributed every week. Here’s how a coordinator at one of our newest Healthy Children pantries sees the impact it’s making on a school in Marin…

A lot of people would probably be surprised to see the hunger and homelessness we encounter. It’s a wake-up call, especially here in Marin County. We discovered that we had between 100 and 110 homeless students at our school at any given time, and the only meals they ate were from our cafeteria. So not only were the students not getting a meal before or after school, the rest of their family wasn’t, either. That kind of instability, of constantly moving, of never living under your own roof or having enough to eat – that creates a tough environment for a child. These are some serious obstacles to learning. But I think our market is helping. It’s a small act with a big impact.

Read more about this wonderful new pantry here.  These are just a few of the people who inspired us this year. (There are a lot more stories here.) To all our many volunteers, donors, staff and clients, we give our sincere thanks – and our promise that we’ll work even harder in 2011, to make sure every family in our community has the food they need to thrive. If you’d like to help inspire us, please visit our website to learn more, donate and volunteer.

Want to be inspired this holiday season? See what these 5-year olds did to help feed the hungry

A few months ago, we reported to you about Emily, Ethan and Sophia and their goal to rais money for the San Francisco Food Bank. Now we’d like to share a wonderful video of these 5-year old fundraising champs. Thanks to the video, produced by GoInspireGo, you can see them at work  – and hear why fighting hunger is so important to them.

Want to help add to the total raised by these little fundraisers with big hearts? Donate here, and we’ll make sure Ethan, Sophia and Emily receive credit for inspiring your gift. Want to help in other ways? Here are some ideas.

Our 5-Year Old Fundraisers Top $1,600!

Our young fundraisers smash cans to recycle for cash (Photo by M. Pfeiffer)

For their pre-school graduation project, Emily, Ethan and Sophia are recycling cans and collecting donations for the San Francisco Food Bank. So far, they’ve managed to raise an amazing $1,6.17.85 – and have a lot of fun!

Here’s the letter they wrote to our Executive Director, Paul Ash, with the exciting news:

If you’d like to help Emily, Ethan and Sophia fill their “big money jar” or add to the stash of cans they’re recycling for 5 cents apiece, please contact their teacher, Kathleen, at 415-550-7527. Or, you can make a donation on our website, using this special link. We’ll be sure that Emily, Ethan and Sophia get credit for your generous support of their cause!

Our Youngest Fundraisers Are At It Again!

Emily, Ethan & Sophia are determined to help feed the hungry (Photo by M. Pfeiffer)

Every year, the graduating pre-school students at With Care Child Care have to complete a public service project. Last year, 5-year old Phoebe decided to recycle soda cans and donate the money to the San Francisco Food Bank. Not only did she beat her goal of raising $1,000 – the story of her “really, really big” goal spread over the internet, and Phoebe ended up raising $20,000!

This year’s graduating class is at it again, writing letters and smashing cans. Emily, Ethan and Sophia haven’t set a monetary goal, but they do have a personal goal: to learn to work together. Here’s the letter they sent out asking for help:

If you’d like to help Emily, Ethan and Sophia fill their “big money jar” or add to the stash of cans they’re recycling for 5 cents apiece, please contact their teacher, Kathleen, at 415-550-7527. Or, you can make a donation on our website, using this special link. We’ll be sure that Emily, Ethan and Sophia get credit for your generous support of their cause!

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