Recap: Free-Market Food Drive

Saturday’s food drive in Haltom City for Union Gospel Mission was a great time. We did better than even Katy or I thought possible for just two and a half hours of work.

For anyone not familiar, Union Gospel Mission is a private charity in Tarrant County that has helped feed homeless families and adults for the past 130 years. The remarkable thing about this charity is it proudly operates without any government funding.

In all, Katy, Lee and I collected approximately 175 individual non-perishable cans and boxes of food. Conservatively, Katy and I estimate that would be equivalent to about $250 in donations.

We had a tough go of it for the first dozen houses. I think we had one or two donations, and we were both beginning to doubt how effective we would be. I think the turning point came after about 30 minutes. A lady who had initially declined to make a donation changed her mind and met us outside with a sack of canned goods. We were successful at another string of houses, and then a gentleman we had visited more than a block earlier delivered a sack of groceries. He had walked all the way down just to meet us.

Katy met a lady who had once donated her furniture to Union Gospel Mission. As it happened, it was the exact furniture a needy family had requested just the day before. She told Katy that she believed Gospel Mission was the best charity in the Metroplex and that she appreciated our help.

Many we talked with regularly volunteered or gave to the charity. One volunteer told us about a book, Same Kind of Different from Me, that tells the story of just one of the many people who have been saved, literally and figuratively, at the mission. It sounds like an interesting read.

Lee, as always, kept us super motivated. He was not nervous in the least and even wanted to get back to it after lunch. If the heat had not been so overbearing, we might have.

Lessons Learned

We did learn some things. All the food donated, except for four sacks, was collected on our initial door visit. The others were left on porches for us to pick up later in the afternoon. We are going to think about holding the next food drive at a local supermarket. Saturday morning was good timing, as we met a lot of people still at home.

One process we really refined was our presentation. We found we got the best response by asking for the non-perishable goods right away and not leave the impression that we were looking for money. It might also be helpful to leaflet our designated neighborhood a week prior so residents are aware that we will be visiting in the near future.

Overall, Katy and I would rate this as one of our favorite events, which not only enriched us personally, but will enrich the lives of donors and families facing hard times.

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