12 Days of Giving Helps Nourish a Community

Shared efforts yield large benefits

12 Days of Giving, a community-driven fundraising campaign that provides critical support to four local nonprofit agencies offering essential services, sometimes appears on dinner plates.

The support provided through 12 Days of Giving to Community FoodBank funds operation of a food sharing network that reached nearly one in six San Benito County residents last year.  Shut-ins, retired people with limited fixed incomes, children and families rely on a weekly stream of groceries to make ends meet, to ensure sound nutrition and to find assurance in a community that cares for all.

Community FoodBank of San Benito is joined by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates of San Benito), Chamberlain’s Children Center and Emmaus House in the campaign, which this year takes place Dec. 1-12.  With a generous matching fund from local businesses and organizations, every contribution made to the campaign during that window qualifies for a match.  Checks and online contributions need only indicate “12 Days” for the match.  Last year’s campaign produced more than $130,000 in support.

And it’s all support that builds a stronger community.  CASA advocates for children in the foster care system who would otherwise have no voice; Chamberlain’s offers a nurturing home, family environment and school; Emmaus House gives sanctuary to mothers and children experiencing domestic crises. 

Community FoodBank shares groceries with some 5,000 San Benito County residents each month.

Most recently, a major renovation project gave birth to The Marketplace, a retail-style shopping area that replaces the traditional food pantry model.  Starting last month, shoppers are invited to leave lines behind, and to shop for fresh groceries in an airy, bright space.  Signs offer guidance about how much it is appropriate to take at each grocery island, but shoppers now have the power of choice in their decision-making.

“At first blush, that may not seem too significant,” said Maria Lynn Thomas, FoodBank CEO.  “But thinking about it for a moment, having the power of choice is tremendously powerful.  It’s no longer a ‘me to you’ transaction, and that’s just so positively empowering.  Moreover, choice shopping offers better opportunities for nutrition education.”

While Community FoodBank relies heavily on volunteers from San Benito County, the operational support that comes through 12 Days of Giving keeps the trucks running and the lights on.  More than 1 million pounds of groceries pours through the doors of FoodBank each year, and that takes the dedication of a small staff.

If you’re interested in participating, just get in touch with any staff member at CASA, Chamberlain’s, Community FoodBank or Emmaus House.

Thanks to matching funds from United Way of San Benito County, sponsors Tiffany Motor Company, Brent Redmond Transportation, Community Foundation for San Benito County, Intero Foundation, Pierce Real Estate, Recology South County, RJR Recycling, Rotary Club of Hollister, Teknova, True Leaf Farms, Women's Club of Hollister and additional funds provided by City of Hollister Employees, Corbin, and Heritage Bank of Commerce, every contribution has great impact.  Donations may be designated to one or more agencies in the campaign, or to be shared across all four. In-kind media support also is being donated by BenitoLink and CMAP for their in-kind support.

Mark Paxton

I've been at this most of my life, and it still fascinates and challenges me. San Benito County can be a cruel mistress at times, but we can share in our love for her, even with all her quirks.