Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Over the month of July, the Quakes have partnered with local allies Martha’s Kitchen and the African American Community Service Agency (AACSA) for the kickoff of the Pledge 74 initiative. The Quakes and the Quakes community were able to donate $3,774 and give over 245 hours of service between the two organizations.
Martha’s Kitchen usually serves roughly 600,000 meals annually. Since COVID-19, there has been a 70% increase in meal demand. Martha’s Kitchen has been serving roughly 100,000 meals a month since April.
Bill Lee, Executive Director of Martha’s Kitchen says, “I have a couple guys in the kitchen that are beside themselves because they are major soccer fans. It means a lot that a highly visible organization like [the Quakes] would back our cause. It’s huge.”
Lee said the support from the Quakes and San Jose community has given great exposure to the large issue of local food insecurity. “If people don’t know what the problem is, it will never get solved,” he says.
Typically, almost 100% of Martha’s Kitchen volunteers are older retirees. Since the pandemic has hindered many regular volunteers from being able to help, Martha’s Kitchen has experienced a recent outpouring of young people wanting to help.
“Together we can make an impact. We can all make a big dent in hunger. Every one additional person that gets taken care of, is one less person struggling,” Lee said.
As a thank you, the Quakes gifted Martha’s Kitchen staff with a ticket package for a 2021 regular season home game.
The African American Community Service Agency (AACSA) Cares Program addresses the immediate needs facing the community during COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, the Cares program provided emergency food baskets for families and individuals in need. Since March, the program has been able to serve over 5,000 individuals and families.
The basket contents include a variety of foods, diapers, baby formula, hygiene products and toiletries. On Fridays, the agency distributes boxes to over 200 individuals and families in need.
Milan Balinton, Executive Director at the AACSA, expressed that the recent push for volunteerism has brought many community members together for a great purpose. “We’ve seen how our community is very intertwined with one another,” Balinton said.
At two viewing parties at Avaya Stadium in July, the Quakes welcomed in-kind donations from fans for the Cares program. The donations gathered by the Quakes community at the two events equaled a $350 value.
The Quakes and the AACSA also collaborated on a scarf fundraiser, with the proceeds benefiting the agency. The scarves featured Black Lives Matter phrasing on one side, and Pledge 74 phrasing on the other, with both the AACSA and Quakes logos.
At the last volunteer event, the Quakes catered lunches for all AACSA volunteers and staff from local restaurant Hobee’s. Additionally, the Quakes gifted the agency with a customized jersey as a token of gratitude.
“When you add in people to get involved and engaged, it shows our motto: Strength in Unity. Having strength in unity allows us to do more together and alleviate the pressure on those who need us,” Balinton says.