By JOHN McCALLUM
For the fifth year in a row staff and faculty at Eastern Washington University have exceeded their goals in the annual community food drive, an effort that includes collecting school supplies for area K-12 students.
Six teams of university personnel from various departments raised a total of $18,241.22, along with 6,236 pounds of food in the drive running May 11 through Aug. 17. Last year the drive netted just over $14,000 and 5,352 pounds of food.
Making the award presentations in the shaded backyard at University House last Thursday, drive chair Nadine Arévalo said the effort is an illustration of a quote from President Harry S. Truman a colleague once relayed to her: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
“Every time, these teams come together and act as one,” Arévalo, wife of EWU president Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo said. “There is no one person on these teams. Eastern people always come together.”
The Cheney Food Bank was the largest recipient of the drive's efforts. Besides food, the charity received $8,178.22 to help its efforts in meeting the needs of people in an area running south of I-90 from Hallett Road, west and southwest to the Lincoln County line, south to the Whitman County line and east to Sherman Road.
“It's the southwest quarter of the county,” food bank director John Matthews said. “We have a big area.”
Communities in Schools' Spokane chapter received $5,184 from the drive. The amount is enough to provide 32 students with backpacks full of food each Friday, up from 28 last year.
CIS Spokane executive director Sherry Barrett also told those assembled that the organization served 525 area high-risk students last year, including in the Cheney and Medical Lake school districts. The organization is also behind establishing a health clinic at Airway Heights' Sunset Elementary School as well as after school programs to help students stay in school.
This year Cheney Outreach received $2,163 and 75 backpacks full of supplies for area students from the university's drive. That coupled with other fundraising efforts and community support from the university's Greek system and others is why Outreach volunteer Sally Shamp said she believes things are changing in the relationship between Eastern and Cheney.
“The division between town and gown no longer exists, thanks to you people,” she said.
The drive also raised $1,000 for Feed Cheney and $1,716 for Spokane's Second Harvest. In its five years of existence, Arévalo said the university drive has raised $57,083.06 mostly for the Cheney community.
“That's just money,” she added on Monday. “That's not even the total amount of tons we've raised.”
That amounts exceeds 14 tons of food.
Besides the team efforts the drive also employed several other events to raise money. A bake sale kicked off the drive in May by raising $994 with the College of Arts, Letter and Education raising the most of any group at $234.55. In June a garage sale of items left by departing college students in university dumpsters raised $2,700, with any clothing not sold going to the Cheney Clothing Bank.
The largest amount of food was collected by a team called Helping Hands, 2,666 pounds. The overall competition winner was the team from the university's Facilities Department, the Facility Food Finders. The team raised 25,469 pounds, an amount calculated via a formula of total food and backpack poundage plus cash amount times three, Arévalo said. Second was Helping Hands at 18,848 pounds. Team winners in the various categories receive a variety of prizes for their efforts.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.