Sometimes in my role as vice president of the board for the Alameda Food Bank, it is easy to get caught up in the tremendous challenges faced by our nonprofit organization.
High unemployment and the rising cost of groceries have meant more Alamedans than ever are turning to us for help.
Then this month, out of the blue, we learned of an offer of generosity from a woman we didn't even know.
Here is her story, illustrating the power of one individual to make a difference:
Nancy Crosby has always been a believer in “passing things forward” and Friday the 80-year-old Alameda woman will be doing just that when she presents the Alameda Food Bank with a check for $10,000.
Keenly aware that people are suffering in this economy, Crosby said she decided not to wait and leave her enormous stash of quilting fabric and notions to her heirs. Instead she decided to liquidate her over 100 boxes of quilting supplies last month and contribute the money now.
Her daughter, Rebecca Reynolds, also of Alameda, said her mother always intended to leave her very extensive stash of fabric to her family to sell one day and donate the proceeds to charity. “When she moved out of her large home and into Water’s Edge Nursing Home a few months ago, she decided it was time they be sold,” said Reynolds.
Long-time South Bay friends, Kathleen and Kevin Crittenden and Jenny Michaels recruited a crew of volunteers to help them sort and organize the massive fabric collection into 40 categories. They publicized the sale widely in quilting newsletters. Additional friends volunteered to staff the all-day event held in a church hall in San Jose. Over 200 shoppers attended the sale and thousands of dollars were raised.
“The sale itself was really so touching,” said Reynolds, “All of these shoppers approached my mother and told her what a good idea she had to donate the money to charity. They shared what they planned to make with her beautiful fabric. The fact the money was going to the food bank inspired them. Some people who didn’t even buy anything wrote us a check or left a little cash.”
The money will indeed go to a good cause. The Alameda Food bank has seen a significant rise in the number of clients it serves over the past couple years and has a continual need for donations from the business community and general public. Last year over 5,600 Alamedans were served by the food bank – about one in 13 residents. The food bank operates with just two paid staff and over 150 volunteers. It provides food, at no cost, to Alameda residents in need.
“I’ve always been supportive of food banks,” said Crosby, “but I only realized we had one here in town when I was driving back from Oakland through the tube one day and saw the Alameda Food Bank office sign.”
Prior to retirement, Crosby worked at an educational diagnostic center in Cupertino. She has been an active member of Democratic Clubs and has quilted for 30 years.
She said she is absolutely delighted to be able to make the donation this week, “It’s wonderful to be able to give a surprise gift when people aren’t expecting it!”
Crosby hopes others will perhaps be motivated by her example to do something similar and pass forward their own good fortune to those in need.