Lately, 8-year-old Conall Lane of Burlingame has been asking a lot of questions.
“Because they have no home,” his mother, Olga Lane, told him.A few months ago he saw transients living on the streets of San Francisco with their tattered sleeping bags and shopping carts and wanted to know why they couldn’t go home.
Probably what disturbed Conall the most was that he saw a homeless mother with two daughters about his age, Lane said.
That’s why Conall decided to do something about it. Last month he set up a lemonade stand and donated the proceeds, $130, to the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.
“I felt pretty good about it,” he said. “For one, I love helping people and earning money for the community.”
Food banks feed thousands of hungry Bay Area residents down on their luck. The San Francisco and Marin Food Bank alone feeds 225,000 people a year, said spokeswoman Blain Johnson.
One of the largest donations comes from The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, which gives 15 percent of the money it raises each year to food banks serving the Bay Area’s nine counties. Last year the fund distributed $1 million, providing more than 2.1 million meals to those who might otherwise go without.
“It’s strong community partnerships like The Chronicle’s Season of Sharing Fund that allow us to continue to provide food to low-income households, even as we see the need increasing and other funding sources subside,” said Paul Ash, executive director of the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks. “Last fiscal year, the Food Bank was able to provide 670,000 meals in San Francisco and Marin as a direct result of the funding we received from Season of Sharing. The Chronicle and its readers are one of our top supporters and we could not do the work that we do without their generous donations.”
But, it takes an entire community.
“Every donation makes a difference to the Food Bank, and we are especially inspired by young fundraisers like Conall Lane, who spent his Saturday morning selling lemonade to support those who might not have enough to eat,” Ash said. “From the more than 700 food drives conducted on our behalf during the holidays, to the encouraging handwritten notes we receive with donation checks, we know that San Francisco is a community committed to making sure our neighbors have enough to eat.”
Holiday dinner drive
This year Temple Emanu-El and 22 other San Francisco and Marin Jewish congregations are trying to beat last year’s donation of $18,600 with a holiday dinner drive. Emanu-El and six other Jewish agencies have already collected 3,226 pounds of food during their High Holy Days in September.
On Nov. 22, the American Medical Response and the United Emergency Medical Service Workers Local 4911 organized a mobile food drive, using an off-duty ambulance to transport three 50-gallon food bank donation barrels. Paramedics collected food in front of Rainbow Grocery on Folsom Street and delivered it to the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.
Andrew Christopherson, who oversaw the drive, said this is the first year they opened the drive to the public. In years past, they had only asked employees to bring a donation.
“This allows us to engage with the public,” Christopherson said. “We think it’s important to be part of our community. We got into this profession to help people and to save lives. But there are other ways to do it besides responding to 911 calls.”
In addition to the support it gives food banks, the Season of Sharing Fund helps Bay Area families that have experienced hard times. Assistance is in the form of grants paid directly to the supplier of services, such as a landlord.
‘It gets pretty scary’
For the Lane family, giving a helping hand was especially poignant. In 2008 they moved from Las Vegas to the Bay Area to find work after their Nevada cafe was on the verge of bankruptcy.
“We knew what living paycheck to paycheck was like,” Olga Lane said. “It gets pretty scary. To see people get to the point where they don’t have enough food is heartbreaking.”
The original article can be found here.