It’s Not too Late to Give



Today I realized that I still had a Christmas gift for someone that works at our house. I feel badly that I had not seen him in the last few weeks to give him his gift so he would have it before Christmas. I texted him as much to make sure that he knows I have not forgotten about him, but I wish I had realized this the day before Christmas and not the day after. There are some people I give gifts to who really don’t need another thing, but others for whom Christmas giving is vital. Those are the ones I hate to mess up with.


Now that Christmas is over I have just a few days to start thinking about making our year end charitable giving. Russ, as a small business owner also has to close out his yearend books and do all his yearend distributions. I wish that the government could pick a date other than December 31 to be the financial yearend. It really ruins taking time off during the holidays.


Not that we have any time off since Carter has a basketball tournament that started today and goes through Monday. I do like watching her team play and they had a great first game today. My only issue is that sitting in the bleachers is no exercise for me, not as long as cheering does not count as an aerobic activity, and I am not able to do finical work in the gym.


I make it sound like I am giving away a lot of money; sadly I am not. I wish that I had more to share. What I do have is a lot of requests. All year whenever I get a phone call from an organization asking me for a donation I tell them all the same thing, “Please send me something in the mail and I will consider you in our year end giving.” Some think it is just a ploy for me to hang up on them and they don’t bother sending me a request, but others follow through. Now I have a giant pile to sift through and decide if I can help them.


There are others in line in front of new donations, our schools, church and The Food Bank. I use Charity Navigator to help me determine if an organization is a good steward of money to begin with. The hardest part is that the Food Bank gets such a high rating with 97% of all the money it collects going right back out in food and support of feeding programs that I have a hard time giving money to another organization that only puts say 65% of the money donated into support of the programs that further their mission. Charities that have staff that are too highly paid don’t need my little bit of money.


So it takes much more time that just the moments it takes to write a check or donate online, which is my new favorite way to give because it also saves me a stamp and helps the organization keep processing costs down. Researching non-profits could be a full time job and one I should have done right when the requests came in and not waited until the last few days of the year.


Giving to non-profits makes me happier than giving money to the government so I will happily get the job done before the bell tolls midnight on the 31st. For most non-profits this last month of the year is the make it or break it time in donations. If you have anything extra this year please consider sharing it with an organization that does good work to help others in your community. I can only speak about the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, but I tell you they work tirelessly to feed over 650,000 people all year. For those people the Food Bank is better than Santa, but the Food Bank needs lots of elves to help them out.


If you want to see how easy it is to give online to the Food Bank just click here Food It’s never too late to give, but if you wait until 2015 you will have to wait another whole year to take it off your taxes.

Hunger is Hurtful



Today I spent the whole day at the Food Bank board retreat. Even though I am just the past chair I still had a number of responsibilities at the meeting. All I can say is that it was a good thing I had my session in the morning. After a full morning of activities and a nice lunch we had a learning session rotating through different departments’ tables learning what is going on in the Food Bank.


One of my favorite groups is the social media and online department. They always are up for some fun so when the events group let me put on the big carrot outfit, the online Manager Jen was happy to take a picture with me dressed in my worst color orange. I will say that I was the only board member who dressed up, but then again no one asked any board members to do it.


By the last session of the day my energy was waning. I had not drunk my usual 60 ounces of iced tea and I don’t think I ate enough protein at lunch, but I had eaten both breakfast and lunch. The last person to present to us was a nice woman who was doing a study for us as a consultant and she was only half way through her work, but she was asked to present her progress to date.


Poor thing. I went immediately into my questioning personality and was probably tougher on her than I should have been. After it was over I realized that I would have been a lot nicer if I had at least eaten some grapes before she started. She probably wishes I had eaten two or three of the big cookies instead. I also realize that I had been stuck sitting in one place all day. Without getting my usual steps in the middle of the day I think my body was looking for endorphins.


On my drive home, after I had a giant iced tea to revive me, I got to thinking about what life is like for the people who are dependent on the Food Bank for food. If I turn into a raving bitch just a couple of hours after eating an actual meal I can only imagine what life is like for people who are truly hungry. Imagine what a single mother with two small children are like at four in the afternoon on a day when none of them have had enough to eat.


I’m sorry if I was short to the nice presenter, but it has given me a good reminder why fighting hunger is so important and has given me a kick to continue the fight, just not literally fighting with people who are doing good work.

Small Adds Up to Big



It’s the last day of summer vacation, but I got up at six AM for a really big reason. Today the very generous folks at Bayer Crop Science came out to the Durham Branch of the Food Bank to pack 2,000 Weekend Power Packs for kids who are at risk of hunger since school is starting. Oh yeah, while they were there they made a $300,000 donation.


Since the press conference and packing event was being held in the “Dana Lange Volunteer Center,” the Food Bank asked if they could roll this ‘ole past board chair out to welcome everyone and kick the event off. I was happy to lose my last free morning for a really big check.


Some things are just way better big and checks are at the top of my ‘it’s better bigger” list. But then some things are better small, like hips or stomachs. What I really wish I had on the “It’s better small” list are the number of people who are at risk for hunger, especially kids in school.


An amazing woman named Louella Rutledge who runs the Weekend Power Pack program out of an Orange County Church spoke about the impact the food she gets from the Food Bank makes on the lives of the 74 children she feeds every week. She read a bit from a note that a teacher sent her. “I had a new student who when she started was unable to keep up with her work and was listless and tired in school. When she started getting her Backpack with food things changed. After a few months of continuous improvement in school I asked her what was different. The child said that she felt special because of getting food for the weekends and that made her not only less hungry, but wanting to try because she knew people cared about her.”


The backpack she gets on Friday is small. It usually has things like a few cans of beans and franks, or chili, some cereal, fruit and milk. But that very small thing makes a big difference in one life.


I am thankful for all the people who do small and big things to help their neighbors. We never know what impact we are going to have in the world, but if we all try and do one or two little things they will add up to one big better world. Thanks so much to all the volunteers who make people feel special. I hope someone made you feel special today too.


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When Christy Simmons, the communications director at the Food Bank, asked me to walk the red carpet at the screening of the documentary “Farmland” I thought it was a figure of speech. BASF was sponsoring the film presentation with the film’s producer and director, Academy award winner James Moll at the Carolina Theater tonight with the Food Bank of CENC being the beneficiary of the proceeds of the ticket sales.


When I first was asked if I could be there to accept the donation from BASF the check amount was about $2,500. Then their employees started a virtual food drive to raise more money for the Food Bank so by the time tonight came the donation grew.


After enjoying a belated birthday afternoon tea celebration at the Washington Duke with my friends Christy Barnes and Mary Lloyd I casually made my way to downtown Durham for the movie. Little did I know that I was actually going to be “walking the red carpet” and being interviewed.


The movie was a bigger draw than first imagined and my job to accept a small check turned into a big check for $17,000. I had the privilege of sitting with the filmmaker and one of the young farmers documented in the movie. It is a compelling story that follows six young farmers from planting to harvesting as well as the raising of chickens, hogs and cattle.


After yesterday’s punishing rain turned my squash plants sideways I had a particular respect for what farmers go through to risk everything to bring in a crop. There were a large number of farmers in the audience tonight, many of whom donate their excess yield to the Food Bank. I did not get a chance to thank each of them personally for what they donate, but I wish I could. I really wish I could thank each farmer just for farming because we all would not get to enjoy the food we have if it were not for farmers.


I think about the lovely tea I had with my friends today and the number of different farmers it took to grow or raise all the different things we enjoyed from the wheat used to make the flour for the scones, the strawberries to make the jam, the cream from cows to make the clotted cream and so on and so on. Most food is raised on family farms, not on factory farms, so at your next meal take a moment and say thanks for those farmers.

Hero Worship



Today was one of my favorite days.  Not the whole day, since we had a second snow day, but the evening.  It was the Food Bank’s Hunt Morgridge Award and night of Appreciation.  Every year the Food Bank thanks our top donors and volunteers and honors one individual who has exemplary service over many years to the organization.


I got to be the master of ceremonies, a job I love to do and this year it meant even more to me because the Hunt Morgridge winner was Haywood Holderness, a person I hold dear in my heart.  See Haywood was my pastor for ten years until he retired and it was Haywood who first got me involved in the Food Bank.

I was not part of the committee who picked the award winner, but when I heard they had chosen Haywood it was one of those moments that made my heart happy.  Haywood not only was the board chair for three years, created the Breaking Bread capital campaign that raised $6 million dollars, opened both the Durham and Greenville branches, but he spread the feeling that we can and should do something to help people in need of the most basic thing in life, food.


It was thrilling to see so many wonderful people come out to the new Durham Branch to honor Haywood.  We had a standing room only crowd and as I looked out over the sea of faces listening to the stories we told about how Haywood would ask people to donate to help those in need I saw many nodding heads and smiling faces of those people he helped “see the light” that people could get much joy from giving generously.  Haywood is the one who taught me that and I try to work everyday to spread the message that hoarding brings heartache and giving euphoria.


Tomorrow I get another fun opportunity to accept a big check on the ice at half time of the Hurricanes game.  So if you are going to the hockey game Friday night look for me in the middle of the ice, no skates, just a big smile and a word of thanks for the generosity of the Kids and Community Foundation of the Carolina Hurricanes for the $150,000 they are giving us.


These kinds of events make my job as the chair of the Food Bank board exciting, but nothing like the feeling I get when a child who we feed writes a note on a paper plate thanking us for the “real pear.”  I know Haywood would agree that is what all the work is really all about.

Don’t Watch Me On TV Tomorrow

Since everyone I know has something more fun, entertaining or exciting to do tomorrow morning, or you have a child in a swim meet, horse show, basket ball or lacrosse tournament you will not be watching TV at nine in the morning.  That being the case I want to tell you now what you are going to be missing.  The Streets at Southpoint is hosting the Stop Summer Hunger day at the mall.


I will be appearing on ABC-11 between nine and ten to encourage people coming to the mall to bring non-perishable food and drop it off at The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s truck parked by Champs.  You do not even have to get out of your car because there will be nice volunteers who will take the food from you.


Summer is a hard time for many families whose children get fed at school.  That regular meal at school is greatly missed by many children.  Please help the Food Bank feed those kids during this campaign.


If you don’t have food in your pantry you would like to give away don’t go to the store and buy it for us.  Just drive through and donate money.  One dollar given to the Food Bank can be turned into five meals.  If that swim meet is really long you can go online to and donate online.


If you happen to be free and want to come donate food and photo bomb me on TV please do.  I would love to see your smiling face while I am talking to Anthony Wilson with the camera rolling on live TV.  Come early because I can’t hang out since my child has a horse show too.  So miss me on TV because now you have heard the message about helping feed kids this summer.

Champions for Kids

For all you followers who live in the Triangle I want to invite you to the Streets at Southpoint this Saturday for the Food Bank of CENC’s Champions for Kids day.

Summer is a particularly hard time for kids who are at risk for hunger.  51% of all kids in public schools in our 34 county service area get free or reduced price lunches at school.  That is over 300,000 kids.

In order to help feed them during the summer the Food Bank works with agencies to set up summer feeding programs and helps make more food available to families.

If you come out to the mall think about bringing food to donate that you can spare, of course money is always welcome.   There is a Kids Feeding Kids walk in the Mall from 8:30- 10:00.  A Food Bank truck will be parked on the road that passes between Magiannos and Firebirds between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM so you can just drive by and pass your donations out the window.

If you are up at 9:00 watching Saturday morning cartoons on ABC-11 I will be live on TV.  So if you can’t come to the mall you can see me on TV.

I know that so many of you have made generous pledges to the Food Bank through the Less Dana, More Good Campaign, and thank you for that.  It takes many events and messages to educate the public on the problem of hunger and help get the support we need to help our neighbors.

The weight loss challenge

This fat lady plans to eat less so many hungry people can eat more.

Welcome to my new campaign!!  I need to lose weight, again! Seven years ago I created a weight loss challenge for myself which worked better than anything else I had ever done.  I lost 130 pounds and raised $47,000 for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina by asking friends and family to pledge money for every pound I lost.

Unfortunately I am really bad at maintaining weight loss. I am not motivated to do this just for me.   So here I am, having gained 75 pounds back.  And no, I did not gain it back just to have another campaign for the Food Bank.  I have tried to lose weight in every traditional way but have failed.   I need the push of loosing weight for the greater good, for people I will never even meet.  That and knowing that other people are supporting me.

There are over 500,000 hungry people in central and Eastern North Carolina who need food!!  You are the key to helping all 500,000 and 1 of us.

So, if you are still reading and are interested in helping me and hungry people please go to the Pledge page of this website and make a pledge.  No credit card, cash or checks are needed today!  You are just going to promise that at the end of this campaign you will donate a certain amount to the Food Bank of CENC for every pound I can lose before November 1.  The motivation for me is great.  Imagine that there is $500 riding on each pound I loose.  I wouldn’t dare eat a piece of coconut cake for that.

What do you get out of this besides the great feeling of helping so many?  I am going to post not just my weight loss progress, but also my recipes with photos of what I am eating, if it is any good.  If you are interested in eating a more heathy diet or just want some inspiration about what to cook for dinner tonight you can visit this blog to see what I am cooking.

Thanks for going on this journey with me.  Feel free to share it with your friends.