Category Archives: Personal Experience

Giving With Gumballs…


St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance CEO Terry Shannon and Bob Mahoney, ON Semiconductor Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing and the gumball machine plaque.

St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance CEO Terry Shannon and Bob Mahoney, ON Semiconductor Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing and the gumball machine plaque.

by Kara Fort, Communications Specialist at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance


People often wonder how they can make a difference for our food bank. Here’s a perfect example of how ON Semiconductor decided to get creative about giving.



At ON Semiconductor in Phoenix…there is a 7-foot tall green gumball machine designed to look like a vintage filling station gas pump standing in the main hallway at ON Semiconductor’s headquarters. Not your typical corporate hallway décor to be sure. This kitschy looking vending machine was originally purchased on eBay for use at a company automotive electronics tradeshow booth. At the conference, the gumball machine was a big hit – dispensing green gumballs akin to the ON Semiconductor logo. Several of the automotive enthusiasts who visited the ON Semiconductor booth offered to buy the gumball machine outright. No go! The odd amenity was shipped back to Arizona. Rather than store it away, it found a new home in the main hallway near a display promoting the company’s automotive products.


“When we put it in the hallway I figured the gumballs would get hard enough to break someone’s tooth long before we would ever have to refill the machine,” said Anne Spitza, the corporate communications manager who’d enlisted the machine for the tradeshow. “Yet every couple weeks I noticed the gumballs were dwindling. I got a call one day from the facilities department saying the gumball machine was jammed. We opened it up and discovered it was backed up with quarters. A lot of quarters. That was when we realized the machine would annually generate enough money to donate to a good cause.

DoDie Hernandez from ON Semiconductor’s Sales and Marketing team had been coordinating employee volunteer groups for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance so we were well aware of the organizations contribution to the community. Donating the ‘gumball money’ – as we’d come to call it – to the food bank made good sense. Certainly, the machine’s become an example that every little bit not only counts… but adds up.”


How much does it add up? ON Semiconductor was able to give St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance a check of$778.87 which will go towards delivering 5,446 meals into the community.

THANK YOU………..ON Semiconductor!


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Filed under Food Banking, Local Business, Partner Agencies, Personal Experience

Art for all Generational Hearts!

elizab1brought to you by Elizabeth Wunsch, Volunteerwoman

A beautiful night for an auction. A spanning of generations. A gift for old and young. Art from the Heart!

The Madison Retirement Community in Sun City West wanted to help children in need. Hungry children. How does one do that in an exciting way? What organization has a program to feed hungry children? St. Mary’s Food Bank Kid’s Cafe Program was there answer. The program provides after school meals to children across the Valley who are in need. The meals are prepared each day by senior volunteers at St. Mary’s Food Alliance’s Westside facility.

Older generation extending their hearts to the youngest.

How could one help Kid’s cafe and get the message of “Heart” across? The Madison decided to hold an auction.

An auction of artwork provided by the children who are receiving Kid’s Cafe meals. The artwork depicts their hopes and dreams of the future.

pretty-ladiesMy heart was taken when I felt the joy of one of the seniors when she purchased on of the pictures. Carolyn, a vibrant soul, was ecstatic because she had won the bid on a picture of a veterinary hospital that one young girl had created. Carolyn’s daughter owns five veterinary clinics in New York City and will be receiving this picture as a gift from Carolyn. Hope and joy for three generations! Many fine pieces of hope from aspiring children helped raise money for the Kid’s Cafe Program!

A special shout out to The Madison for an inspiring idea, especially Crystal McRae, the sales/marketing director who helped coordinate the event and Jim and Brigitta Augustine, Managers of The Madison who hosted the unique benefit. Thank you to Peter Piper Pizza who donated pizza prize packs for the students. Kid’s Cafe Queens Laura Brill and Jessica Herrera coordinated the art projects from all the different sites. Hats off to VP of Development Jack Marks and his wife Lois attended and spoke at the event and Business Development Officer Christina Calio championed this event with her enthusiasm to spread the word and get the community rallied behind local businesses for St. Mary’s Food Bank.

How can helping others inspire you? What can you do to bring the generations together and help others in need? The ideas are endless and putting them in action is a community effort worth the sweat equity. If you have an idea you want to put into action, contact us today.

Elizabeth Wunsch, Volunteer (Super) Woman


p.s. For more information on Kid’s Cafe, click this link.


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Filed under Events, Local Business, Personal Experience, Volunteer

Do I Eat or Buy Medication?

brought to you by Ernie Ortiz, Food Resource Developer

This past weekend I was invited to a health fair geared at people with cancer. I attended the fair from an invitation from an old friend who works for a large cancer related non-profit. St. Mary’s Food Bank was what I thought the only non-cancer related booth.  As the day went on I realized how wrong I was. 

A number of people from different agencies were extremely interested in how the food bank worked. I heard a number of stories of patients who were in need of food. One story stuck out in my mind.

One young lady was undergoing treatment for Lymphoma (a type of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system). Treatment for her cancer required a lot of medication. I was informed by her friend that she did not have enough to pay for her co-payments and eat at the same time. She had to make a decision to either eat or buy her medication. This broke my heart. I quickly gave her my information and asked her to contact our offices for more information.

This was a perfect example of someone who needed our help. It was also a great example of how a meal can be a life or death situation. 

I was reminded how important my job at the food bank is. I was also reminded how important it is to get involved by volunteering and holding a food drive. Every day we hear of similar stories. Have you come across anyone who may need help?  Have you ever though of holding a food drive?

I coordinate food drives. If you are interested in helping people like the young lady I mentioned, call me at (602) 343-3168 or email me at Thanks!

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Filed under Food Banking, Food Drives, Personal Experience

Will it Be Enough?

Dear Friends of the Food Bank,

I’ve been asked how things are going at the Food Bank – and I can tell you, the current economic trends dramatically affecting our community – are having a serious impact on the Food Bank. This is not a year like any other we have seen before.

Although we have seen a modest increase in food donations compared to the same time last year, I can tell you it is not enough. And, while financial donations are tracking about the same as last year, I can tell you – it will not be enough.

We are being challenged in ways we could not have anticipated. Food is going out the door much faster than it is coming in. And the food is going to families that have never relied on charity before.

We’ve all seen the news; businesses are closing, banks are not lending, the price of food and gas have hit everyone’s pocketbook – and I know – many of us are running our household budgets lean and mean.

Just the other day, I was discussing these challenges with a colleague – a woman who spends her days providing for families in need. Her husband had lost his job a number of months ago. Suddenly, a family, who is not necessarily in dire need, is taking steps to cut expenses. No more dry cleaning, no more dinners out, the frivolities are over. While out of work her husband finds he has time to do many things. He can do the landscaping, the housecleaning, the shopping, and the laundry. Their family is cutting back – just so they can get by. It makes sense.

But the housekeeper just lost a client. So did the landscaper. So did the dry cleaner. So did the waitress, the chef, the manicurist, the shopkeeper. As more and more of us cut back – it affects more and more of our neighbors.

As business after business closes… more and more of our neighbors are finding themselves out of work.

Our neighbors are losing their jobs. Our neighbors are losing their homes. Many of our neighbors are losing hope.

We usually think of having a home, a job, a car and some spending money as a right – but today, we’re the lucky ones.

We must work together – as a nation, as a state – as a community – to provide for our neighbors in need. This year is different. It’s not just those who live in poverty we must help – it’s not just children and the elderly – this year, it’s our neighbor. We have to do this together. It is for the good of our neighborhoods and our communities.

I ask you to do one thing. Take a moment now to consider what our community would look like if St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance could not provide the food that hundreds of Arizona agencies rely on.

Especially if the cities, churches and shelters we serve could not deliver meals for our hungry neighbors.

If our neighbors truly were out of hope.

We will do the best we can. We will do ALL we can – and we hope it will be enough. But we can’t do it—without your help. Please go to our web site and make a donation.

Thank you,

Terry Shannon
President & CEO
St. Mary’s Food Bank

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Filed under Food Banking, Personal Experience

Media Coverage for Food Bank Crisis Continues…

brought to you by Kara Ritter, Communications Specialist, St. Mary’s Food Bank

Arizona Food Banks are in “A Crisis”
ABC Channel 15 reported 9/29/08
by Nicole Beyer

Thank you to Reporter Nicole Beyer and Cameraman Jeff Cochran for their time, effort and commitment to interviewing St. Mary’s Food Bank CEO and President Terry Shannon and report on balanced urgent community issues.

Food Bank Reports 100 Percent Increase in Requests
Reported 9/30/08
by Jon Zimney

Thank you to FM News/Talk 92.3 KTAR News Director Jon Zimney for taking the time to listen and understand the issues facing the community and delivering them to KTAR’s audience. Zimney’s compassion goes a long way on these issues, and many many others.


Early this morning at 8 a.m. Flagstaff’s St. Mary’s General Manager Eric Wolverton was interviewed on Arizona Public Radio KNAU to discuss the increase need from the working poor for emergency food boxes. Thank you KNAU!


NBC’s Telemundo’s Patricia Batres along with Cameraman Jose Castillo and WunderIntern Jesus Ledezma joined us this morning to interview St. Mary’s Food Resourcing Queen Hortencia Garcia to understand and translate the issue into Spanish for our community. Patricia took extra time and exquisite detail to interview agencies and clients to understand and produce this issue. This, despite a very hot warehouse…She even called herself St. Mary’s Interview Queen! Look for Telemundo’s piece 5 p.m. tonight and tomorrow morning between 7 and 8 a.m.


Finally, our CEO and President Terry Shannon will be a guest on AZTV’s Pat McMahon Show tomorrow at 9 a.m. Laura Holka is making this segment happen with Pat McMahon, and being a Valley legend, we couldn’t be happier for a personality like him to help talk about such a pressing issue. Thanks Laura & Pat! Tune in tomorrow at 9 a.m.!

Journalists have a choice in what they cover every day. We thank the distinguished reporters, producers, cameramen, writers and staff who make stories and coverage happen.


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Filed under Media, Personal Experience

How may we help you?

Brought to you by: Elizabeth.  The Volunteerwoman.         

A woman walks into the reception area. She is nicely dressed. She approaches hesitantly. In her hand is a white referral form received from a nearby agency. The volunteer at the front counter asks, “How may we help you?”  The woman breaks down in tears. The volunteer gently guides her to a seat and begins to talk to and comfort her. In the meantime, another volunteer processes the referral form and brings it to the pantry. As the woman calms down, a cart full of food (an emergency food box) is wheeled through the door by a third volunteer.

The woman, who has lost her job and her house, thanks the people who helped her. As she wheels the cart through the door, a couple with two small children walk up to the counter and a new episode begins.  

These volunteers responded to a call to service. Today, in the USA, there is a renewed call to service. This service will look different to each individual who chooses to answer. And no matter how grand or minute the appearance of this service, it will always have an impact. Below is a portion of a letter written to the volunteers at the Food Bank’s Westside location 

You astounded me with your compassion and generosity

              on the day I came in to ask for food. Never have I been in

              a situation, so poor that I needed help. I have been humbled

             and I am so thankful that you treated me with dignity

             and concern.

The world is calling! How will you answer?

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Filed under Personal Experience, Volunteer, Westside

Think Before You Throw

Brought to you by: Hazel, Food Bank web site and design guru


I recently visited a large self-serve, all-you-can-eat soup and salad restaurant. I really enjoy going there because not only do they offer the best salad bar, but they also carry a variety of other foods and yummy treats. I met up with a friend and we sat down and enjoyed a great dinner and conversation while enjoying the night’s breeze on the patio.


Toward the end of our meal, a very sweet and polite waitress came over carrying a basket of sweets. She asked us if we would like to enjoy their freshly baked goodies.  Normally I would have passed on this tempting offer, but I thought maybe I could take one and save it for later. After accepting her offer, she proceeded to empty the rest of her basket on an empty plate while explaining how happy she was I was taking the rest of the treats.


Apparently the restaurant is very proud to offer fresh food and is the employees are required to throw away any and all food that is over 25 minutes or older! I suddenly felt punched in the gut! Working for a Food Bank this is obviously a very sour subject for me and I was floored to learn how easily food was disposed of by this company.


My nice relaxing evening suddenly turned into a massive brainstorming mission of how do we encourage and motivate companies to think before they throw? What steps are needed to inform not only this company but across the nation, across the world, that waste is not acceptable while people in our backyards are living day to day wondering where their next meal will come from.

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Filed under Personal Experience