Each sticker on the car represents a $100 donation. "I've got twice this many yet to get," said Jim Allen, right, shown with one of two specially marked cars and Chuck Wimberley, a car dealer here for 24 years. (Leader photo/JOHN EBY)

Archived Story

Feed the hungry campaign in drive

Published 6:45pm Sunday, December 2, 2012

C. Wimberley turned the key on its third annual feed the hungry blitz with churches and other local businesses Nov. 26 and, by Friday, had traveled halfway to its $10,000 goal.

The Ford dealership got an early start this year. A goal last year was to get a car stickered in time for the Christmas parade scheduled this year for 7 p.m. Friday.

Jim Allen said the first of two distributions is scheduled for Dec. 12.

He will be assisted by Keeler pastor, Boyd Saylor, and former sales manager, Dale Dandurand, an auto sales consultant “who’s helping out by phone.”

They buy staples, such as peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables and pallets of bagged rice from the food bank in Benton Harbor for 25 cents on the dollars, leveraging $10,000 to fill baskets with $40,000 worth of food.

“There’s no administration cost,” Allen said. “Chuck is furnishing the cars and paying the gas, and I’m doing it on my time, so not one penny goes to anything but food.  Chuck put up $500 of his own money. We’re salesmen, we’re not afraid to ask.”

Allen parked one of the billboard vehicles outside Family Fare Nov. 24 and quickly collected $600 asking for a dollar contribution, which they went inside and turned into Spartan gift cards.

The same will be done at Harding’s Friendly Markets in Dowagiac and Cassopolis so “everything stays local.”

“Salvation Army was (outside Family Fare), too, and they weren’t taking in as much,” said Allen, who is a bundle of nervous energy, “so if I got more than a dollar, I gave them half. If someone gave me two ones, I gave them one. I couldn’t (be a bell ringer with a red kettle) because I can’t stand still that long. I’d be carrying that thing all over the parking lot. I was up at 4:30 Wednesday putting stuff on the car. I’m excited! By the end of the day, I’m worn out. I eat my dinner, watch the news and doze off,” since he’s also selling ads for his 40-year class reunion in Battle Creek.

“I’m spinning,” he said. “I’ve got to make notes to check my notes.”

“The kid owns R&D Sewer Rodding and Drain saw the car, came in, said, ‘I want to be part of that’ and gave us a $100 bill,” Allen said.

Not everyone shares their generosity, but even a Grinch’s heart can grow.

Allen remembers the “ornery” woman who refused to donate even a dime, but apparently changed her mind by the time she reached her car.

After he reassured her it’s not a “scam,” she presented him with $20 before pulling away. Another woman peeled off a $50 bill.

Allen understands the skepticism after news accounts of Hurricane Sandy aid not reaching victims.

“The Keeler church feeds people year-’round,” Allen said. “We’re also working with ACTION (Area Churches Together in One Network).”

As Dandurand said in 2011, “It’s about bringing a bunch of people together with a little bit each, like if you could sell a million products at a dollar each. If you’re not one of the people who need help, you should help. If everybody in the business community pitches in a little, we’ve got a big pie. That’s the whole idea of the real visible stickers.”

 

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