A Close Call For Foodbank

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - May 19, 2010
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HomeStreet Bank employees Iris Uyeno, Wendy Ledesma and Denise Jamora with the bounty from last year’s drive

Whew. It was close.

The Hawaii Foodbank has racked up another annual fundraiser, and with food and money still coming in, initial indications are that the food bank has met its goal for another year. But it was a lot more difficult than it has been in the past.

Food drive chairwoman Sheri Rolf says this year it was pretty obvious that Hawaii people have less to give and are being very careful with their budgets.

“What we’re experiencing this year is that people are donating, but they’re able to donate less. In past food drives, we’d get the occasional $100 bill and some larger checks. This year they’re giving more ones and fives and 20s instead of the larger checks. There were quite a few people who gave smaller amounts.”

She doesn’t blame them at all. The important thing is: They gave. And Rolf is pleased and grateful because she knows how hard it is in this economy. She also knows competition among charities is tough with everyone going after a dwindling number of dollars.


“We’re fortunate, because people understand clearly what our mission is and we have a good reputation. People trust that when they give us funds and food, they’ll go to where they’re needed.”

That’s why the Hawaii Foodbank, like many charitable and nonprofit organizations today, is experimenting with new ways to raise money. They are well aware that times have changed and so has the donor pool. Technology is going to have to play a larger role if these organizations are to survive, and the use of social media tools and texting would probably appeal more to younger donors.

“We need to take a look and see what to do with that,” says Rolf. “If we want to reach that younger demographic, we kind of have to walk into their turf.”

That doesn’t mean nonprofits would give up valuable and successful fundraisers such as the food drive, only that they’d incorporate the Internet and social media into the mix and give them a more prominent role.

But that’s the future - and money is needed now. Rolf points out a cruel new reality: Many who used to be donors to the Hawaii Foodbank are now recipients. Even so, the amazing truth is people who can scarcely afford it are still giving.

By the way, there’s still time to donate even if you missed food drive day, thanks to the Hawaii Bankers Association. This is the Bankers Association’s third year partnering with the Hawaii Foodbank, so it is fairly new to the food drive effort. But Rolf says it has really stepped up to the plate.

“It really just takes one person who gets excited about it to make a difference.”

You have until May 29 to donate food or money at any of these participating banks: American Savings Bank, Bank of Hawaii, Bank of the Orient, Central Pacific Bank, Finance Factors, First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaii National Bank, HomeStreet Bank, Pacific Rim Bank and Territorial Savings Bank.


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