Home Team Harvest, which raises meals for Northwest Harvest, will look a lot different this year, but the need is arguably greater than ever.
Three longtime volunteers shared their stories on why they volunteer, their favorite experiences and what they’re hoping to see in 2020.
Why I volunteer with Home Team Harvest
“I have been doing Home Team Harvest for 19 years at Redmond Town Center. My first year, in 1981, I was a recipient of the services from Northwest Harvest. And that was such a good experience for me, because when you have to go to a food bank – something that no one really ever wants to do – to be treated nicely and not have to give your entire life story to someone really made a huge difference for me. And after that, then I became involved with my son and his Cub Scout troop. And so we started in the early '80s. And we started making Thanksgiving baskets with all the kids. And it just kind of morphed from there. So, it's near and dear to my heart."
“I started around 2006. It was wrong that the people in this country didn't have enough food on the table. And so I started volunteering at the food bank on Cherry Street. And I quickly learned what a great organization Northwest Harvest is. I still volunteer at the SODO Community Market. I see the food going out (at SODO) and at Home Team Harvest. It's great to see the community giving us food and money so that we can get food out to people who really need food on the table."
“I got involved almost 18 years ago through my son's school volunteer program. I showed up at their Magnolia food warehouse underneath the bridge. And I was just overwhelmed by the staff and by the volunteers’ commitment. And (ever since), I've been just so impressed with the staff, the volunteers and the way that they connect with people in our community and adjust to the people's needs."
My favorite story from cold, December mornings of years past
"Seeing Jay Buhner, the former Mariner! He used to come with his wife, and they would have their Hummer completely packed out full of food. And he was always a big hit, because he would get out and was so friendly and kind to everyone. Another gentleman (required) guests at a dinner party to bring food. And he had this old pickup truck, and he would come with his sons. And they, it was filled to the brim. And he always had an envelope that was so thick, full of cash, that his neighbors had all donated this. And he came literally every single year."
"It’s something that happened at the SODO Community Food Bank, where I was helping a young couple pack their food. And they turned around to me and said, 'Our three kids are going to be so excited when we get home, because they've got food.' When I've been out with HTH, and I see the young families, where the kids are excited to pass over their money or pass over some food or the youth groups who are out, so enthusiastically collecting money. I just think that is wonderful: kids are collecting food, and other kids are going to be excited to have food on the table. And I love that whole thing of community support."
"For me, it's been the roundtable opportunities – one-time events, going out to the different communities and participating with everybody, telling them what's going on with Northwest Harvest, and then also preparing them for Home Team Harvest. One of the events that sticks out the most was in 2010 when we were entered into the Guinness World Records for the number of pounds collected by a charitable organization over a 24-hour period!"
Why Home Team Harvest is so important in 2020
"This has been a rough year for everybody and financially for many, many people. There are a lot more people at the food bank now. So, people who have given every year, maybe this year is the time instead of going to Costco and filling up your pickup truck, to take those funds and give them to Northwest Harvest, because they can purchase a lot more food than you and I can with cash because of the volume that they purchase food. And now's the time when we really need to come together."
"I would say please think of your friends, your neighbors, your four people who live in your neighborhood who have been really hurt by this horrible year. Working at (the) food bank, I see so many parents…the queues at the food bank. And it breaks my heart every time I think of a family that's not able to put adequate food on the table. So just give what you can. We really need it. And it will be spent really well. I see what's going out of the food bank. And it's really well worth giving money to Northwest Harvest."
"With Northwest Harvest, this is a program that has demonstrated that when money is donated, it's going to the right cause for the right reasons. And that they are able to use the funds in a very charitable way and a very humanitarian way. And in this time, of unprecedented complications, it's really great to see an organization like Northwest Harvest stretch the boundaries of being able to reach out to so many people in the state of Washington and to meet this need of food insecurity by providing food security."
How to support Home Team Harvest
There are four ways you can help support KING 5's efforts to raise 20 million meals through Home Team Harvest.
Donate online: Give online to Northwest Harvest.
Text to donate: Text HOMETEAM to 41444 to give.
Buy a virtual hunger bag: Visit your local Safeway or Albertsons store and buy a virtual hunger bag for $5, $10 or $15.
Watch the broadcast special: On Saturday, Dec. 5 at 10 a.m., tune in to KING 5 for a one-hour special as we celebrate 20 years of Home Team Harvest.