Community Responds with a Big Heart

Donations for AJ Food Bank truck repair top $6,000 as community “gives back;” excess encumbered for truck replacement campaign

By Jo Hurns

In just 48 hours time, regional residents, businesses and civic groups valley wide donated over $3,500 to the Apache Junction Food Bank to repair its 16-foot, refrigerated truck. By Friday, that total surged to just over $6,000. The vehicle’s drive shaft dropped out on University Drive in Mesa with food in it on Tuesday morning.

The repair, towing and rental of a temporary truck was estimated to cost just over $3,500, more than the food bank could pay. Through a plea to local radio and TV news broadcasters, social media (which resulted in tens of thousands of shares), local papers and electronic news feeds in the valley, the dollars were raised by midday Thursday. To the board of directors, staff and volunteers, the response was “remarkable.”

The truck serves the largest food bank in the East Valley, running about 60 miles a day, six days a week. It collects over 900,000 lbs of food a year from over a dozen stores throughout Apache Junction and Mesa. United Food Bank stepped up immediately and offered the use of one of their refrigerated trucks for the interim. The AJ Food Bank truck is at a local shop in AJ and should be back on the road late next week.

Executive Director Jo Hurns said that the 35-year-old nonprofit will earmark any funds left over from the effort to the capital campaign to replace the truck, which has 220,000 miles on it. That effort begins in the spring.

“The response is stunning: people gave $5, $20, $50 and $500,” Hurns said. “The way that people responded and the stories that people in the East Valley shared on social media was a coming together for a cause that I haven’t seen before…and I have done this kind of work for a long time. We are grateful and simply blown away.

“What is enthralling are the stories from people we helped at some point in their lives or are helping now. There are so many threads on the AJ Discussion and Chat’s site that you can’t read them through your tears. Really honest stuff people are putting out there. We want to thank all of you who rallied around us the past 3 days.”

The Food Bank relies on individual donations, some grants, food drives and, most notably, its 150 volunteers who give 14,000 hours a year to provide for the hungry.

For more information, go to 575 N. Idaho Rd, Suite #701, Apache Junction, AZ 85119.

Photo above: Staff and volunteers decorated the AJ Food Bank’s refrigerated truck for last year’s AJ Holiday Parade, but the spirit of giving is alive and well within the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon community, even in October.

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