Posted by Joy Horne-Jones
The Kiwanis Club of Siesta Key supports Sarasota’s All Faiths Food Bank in several ways.  One of them is our just ended annual food drive.  I asked  Co-Chair Carolyn Kofler for some story background.  She told me the drive was started in 2009 at the suggestion of then President Cindi Jackson.  Cindi asked Carolyn to chair the drive.  Carolyn hand delivered letters to condos on Siesta Key.  She got three  responses and collected just over 100 pounds of food for the food bank.  The drive did much better in 2010 with 647 pounds.  President Gary McDonald recognized the drive’s progress when he awarded Carolyn “Kiwanian of the year.”
 
The food drive pretty much went sideways with small increases for a couple of years.  One thing did change, in addition to solicitation from Condos, members were urged to bring food donations to our Café Baci luncheon meetings.  Then in 2015 Marianna Ehmke became Co-Chair.  Until then our food drive ended in the spring when the tourist season ended and Siesta Key condos went dark.  However, in a memorable moment during her food drive report, Marianna told us … “remember there are children who go hungry during the summer, our food drive is important and should continue.”  Then, she who must be obeyed, told us we would continue the drive through the summer until September 30 and that our goal was a ton of food.  Of course we continued but with some misgivings that 2,000 pounds was impossible.  However, in the end, the total for that drive was just over 2,000 pounds!  Looking back on that year we could see Marianna’s impact – reminding us at every meeting of the drive’s importance and identifying appropriate items in Publix’s BOGO list for the coming week.  Not unexpectedly, Marianna was recognized as the Club’s “Chair of the Year” for her leadership in the 2015-2016 food drive.
 
The Operations Manager at All Faiths Food Bank told us the 2,000 pounds of donated food translates into 2,600 meals.  Wow!  And what did our co-chairs do with that success?  Did they stay the course?  Nope, not these two - they doubled down and set the goal for the 2016-2017 drive at a seemingly impossible two tons – 4,000 pounds.  We were told it was simple – “If we can do one ton, we can surely do two tons.”
 
So how did the impossible 2016-2017 Club & Condo food drive work out? 
 
Well, Carolyn focused on Siesta Key condos.  John Masters and Joy Jones energized collections in the condos where they live.  A member donated money challenging Carolyn to purchase over a pound of appropriate food for every dollar he’d donated.  (In the end she turned the donation into two pounds for every dollar, and in the process set an example for member support.)  Co-chair Marianna focused on member donations and reminded us to contribute at every meeting.  The Club’s newsletter mentioned the drive in every issue and kept “score” with a graphic - the drive’s “Food-O-Meter.”  The end result – 4,116 pounds delivered to All Faiths’ warehouse during the year. 
 
Denise Cotler, All Faiths’ Chief Development Officer, commented on the result:
“All Faiths Food Bank is thrilled by the support it receives from the Kiwanis Club of Siesta Key, not just this year but over the long term.  Your continued donations of food are important anytime of course, but especially now when we are focused on hurricane Irma recovery in our area.”
 
When I asked Marianna how she thought the food drive went this year and if she thought there was anything different she could do, she said, “I thought all of our Mighty Siesta Key Kiwanians did their very best this year.  Some weeks were what I call light and other weeks made up for the light ones.  What I would do different, I’m not sure.  You know they say.  ‘If it’s not broke don’t fix it.’  I believe just asking every week and reminding everyone about the BOGO deals, was a big help, along with show and tell with what they can buy for $2.00 or less. All in all, I think we should just keep doing what we have been doing and we will reach our goal of 2.5 tons next year.  Thanks to everyone and the children thank you!”  ...... Two and a half tons?  Really,  two and a half tons?  Another impossible goal. 
 
OK, the October 3rd meeting is the beginning of the 2017-2018 drive.  Don’t just stand there, come, donate something.
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