Summers are always tough for F.O.R. Maricopa, but this summer has been particularly so.
As with most food banks, the nonprofit gains attention mostly around the holidays. Director Wendy Webb, staff and volunteers eke out the hot months when donations dry up and many contributors head for cooler climes.
Added to the stress this year is the near certain necessity of finding a new location within the next six months. The construction of an overpass, as now planned, will force the razing of the former county sheriff’s substation that F.O.R. Maricopa uses to store and distribute goods.
“Summer is usually our lean season, so we reached out to our big supporters and they understood the implications,” Webb said. “They really came up with some creative ways to support us.”
Sponsoring organizations like ACE Hardware, Orbitel Communications, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center and Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino are thanked by having their logos placed on the side of the F.O.R. Maricopa delivery truck and having their pictures taken with the truck.
According to F.O.R., the truck allows FOR Maricopa the ability to pick-up fresh food and produce from local grocery stores such as Fry’s, Bashas and Wal-Mart and from a few locations such as Costco, Wal-Mart and Target in Chandler. The ability to offer fresh food (not just canned goods) is an important factor.
“Without the consistent sponsors, we just can’t do it,” Webb said. “Without regular money coming in, providing free is challenging.”
Sponsors have not only donated to the food bank but their employees have also hosted food drives to help stock the shelves.
“Business has a local responsibility to aid everyone in our community, and certainly … give back and help those in need,” UltraStar General Manager Adam Saks said.
Outreach by F.O.R. has also rounded up ideas for bringing in more money. That has included grants, fund-raisers and new ways to help. Maricopa ACE Hardware’s “Roundup” in June, rounding up customer purchase totals and donating the difference, brought in more than $2,400.
“What we found was the community still really cares and still wants this nonprofit providing what if feels is an essential service,” Webb said.
While F.O.R. Maricopa is “still trying to figure out what the options are” for a new location, Webb is also planning new ways to raise funds.
That includes a program called “1,000 Heroes,” an effort to draw $100 per person, and a nonprofit tax credit that allows individuals to apply up to $200 of their tax bill to a donation to F.O.R. Maricopa.
“We are really focusing on the tax credit,” Webb said. “If 250 people in town donated their tax credit, that’s $50,000. That’s huge.”