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Utah Seniors Dig Deeper to Help Food Bank

PHOTO: The $38,000 raised by AARP Utah members will stock a lot of food boxes for needy Utahns.
PHOTO: The $38,000 raised by AARP Utah members will stock a lot of food boxes for needy Utahns.
November 23, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - AARP Utah, planning to make an $8,000 donation to the Utah Food Bank, decided to ask its members to match that amount. Donations poured in from across the state, averaging $50 apiece. Danny Harris, advocacy director with AARP Utah, says they far exceeded the goal, raising a whopping $38,000.

"We couldn't believe the response from our members here in this state. We were so impressed with their generosity and their willingness to give. We had no idea they would respond like they did, and we're very pleased with the results."

Ginette Bott, chief marketing officer for the Utah Food Bank, says their outreach to AARP members was not focused on food for seniors. It covered everything from kids' programs to how the Food Bank's procurement and delivery system works. She reminds people that while giving ramps up during the holidays, food bank locations try to make it stretch all year long.

"We really go our of our way to focus on making Thanksgiving special, but our concern here is that we're able to feed them the other 364 days of the year, as well. That's why we ask for nonperishable food. We ask for food we can give out, if need be, around Christmastime, to make that as special, too. But really, we're looking for everyday things: the things that your family would eat."

AARP Utah has been part of a national campaign, called the Drive to End Hunger, to prompt seniors on fixed incomes to accept a little help. Harris says it is important for friends and family members to be on the lookout for needs that are not always evident.

"A lot of people in our state would rather try and figure it out on their own and try to be self-sufficient, and that's an admirable quality. However, if you do know folks who are in need of that additional help, the Food Bank would have great resources in terms of how to broach that subject and address the issue."

Harris says they kept a few statistics about the windfall. A major gift from the Layton area means that city gets the honors for the largest donation per capita, at $290.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - UT