Virtual Food Drive: A brilliant twist on the birthday gift

Nancy, right, asked her friends to honor her 70th birthday by making a gift to our Food Bank!

Nancy, right, asked her friends to honor her 70th birthday by making a gift to our Food Bank!

Nancy Lenvin stood halfway up the stairs of her home, overlooking a living room packed wall-to-wall with her closest friends.

Touched by the outpouring of love – each guest there to celebrate her 70th birthday – Nancy was understandably emotional as she began to speak. But what came from her mouth, or rather, her heart, was not the typical “thank you” address.

“Alameda County Community Food Bank serves 1 in 5 county residents,” she began.
Nancy proceeded to inform her friends about the Food Bank's work to help our community. Rather than thanking the guests for birthday gifts, she thanked them for making a gift to our Food Bank.

Nancy had the idea to fundraise for charity, in lieu of gifts, after years of being confronted with the ‘No Gifts, Please’ dilemma. She – like her friends – felt uncomfortable coming empty handed to birthday or anniversary parties. So Nancy solved the problem: “Come to my party with a card – the worst one you can find – along with a donation in my honor.”

Nancy has a “longstanding interest in getting food to people who need it.” She realized early on through past work in Union City that Alameda County wasn’t as well-resourced as its surrounding areas. “I saw people having a tough time getting the services they needed, so I felt it was important to give to the Food Bank.”

Having been a longtime Food Bank financial contributor and advocate, Nancy decided to name the Food Bank as the beneficiary of her 70th birthday! When looking for an easy way for her friends to donate, she came across our Virtual Food Drive.

Through the Virtual Food Drive (VFD), financial contributors help us purchase our most-needed items. In doing so, they see first-hand the power of their dollar. For instance, a case of peanut butter for $90 at a store would only require a $30.76 gift through our VFD!

“It was a wonderful way for my friends to give,” said Nancy. “They see the return on their investment. Even a small donation has a huge impact.”

Her friends received the message. “Everyone complied and felt really good about being able to honor me while supporting a wonderful cause,” she added. Together, Nancy’s friends donated enough in her honor to provide 35,200 meals to our neighbors struggling with hunger.

"There’s something special about the Food Bank – not just what it does, but how it does it,” she said. Believe us, the feeling is mutual, Nancy! Thank you for all you do to help us end hunger.

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