(August 2011) With local food banks facing severe shortages of nonperishable items, federal employees nationwide were challenged to step up and meet this need by gathering 2 million pounds of food for hungry families. Johnson Space Center (JSC) challenged its employees to donate enough food to match Space Shuttle Endeavour’s payload of 28,951 lbs. JSC’s White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) joined the Feds Feed Families Program with a food drive campaign that Sandy Ruttle, Hardware Processing Office Chief, officially kicked off June 1st. According to Ruttle, “Our program will help local food banks and shelters such as Casa de Peregrinos, Jardin de los Niños, La Casa, Roadrunner Food Bank, and the Children’s Crisis Center.”
Kathleen Franklin, the Hardware Processing Office’s administrative assistant, organized the food drive at WSTF and delivered the collected food each evening to local recipient agencies. After each food delivery, Franklin requested a new list of foods the organizations needed and asked for these items or quantities from her coworkers.
“If we had enough food for 26 children when there are 55 children in need, then I would be disappointed,” Franklin said.
Contractor employees in WSTF’s Construction Maintenance and Operations (CM&O) section stood in total agreement with Franklin. With 54 employees, the CM&O section donated 26.5 lbs of food per person.
“I feel strongly about helping others,” says Eddie Rodriguez, a general maintenance mechanic in the CM&O section at the test facility. “We have good jobs and good health, and we should share with those who don’t.”
Franklin attributed her success to simply asking. “I have requested donations from every one of my coworkers,” she said, “and the CM&O group has proven to be the heart and soul of the test facility, not only of this campaign, but also of our site’s daily operations.”
Franklin’s strategy of “asking” paid off. When the food drive ended August 26th, WSTF employees had donated a total of 16,087 lbs of food, which pushed the joint amount raised by JSC and WSTF far past the 28,951-lb goal for the 2011 Feds Feed Families program. In August alone, 10,851 lbs of food was donated by WSTF employees.
“Everyone’s donation is appreciated, but mention should be given to the eight Oxygen Group members, who averaged 223 lbs per person,” Franklin says.
“White Sands Test Facility, thank you for your amazing effort! We are grateful for your diligence in this project,” said Lorenzo Alba, Jr., Executive Director for the Casa de Peregrinos Emergency Food Program. “We are just speechless in what you have accomplished for the people we reach out to every day. Casa de Peregrinos has been serving the Las Cruces area for more than 30 years with the same goal and the same mission. It is quite simple: feed anyone who might be at risk for experiencing hunger, regardless of circumstances. We rely on the community for support and White Sands Test Facility has gone above and beyond to aid in our mission."
In addition to Las Cruces, Alba’s organization serves the rural communities of Rincon, Radium Springs, Organ, Doña Ana, Del Cerro, Anthony, and Sunland Park. Recently, 700 additional families were added to his client list. The organization provided food for 2817 people in July.
“With the national and local economies suffering, more and more people need our services. Your timing was impeccable," said Alba. “We depend on generosity and kindness of donors such as White Sands Test Facility. We are truly blessed with your food drive efforts.”
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NASA White Sands Test Facility Construction Maintenance and Operations employees are proud of their generous contributions to Feds Feed Families 2011 Food Drive for local food banks and shelters.