Tacoma is throwing a new kind of food drive for Thanksgiving. It's a city-wide collaboration aimed at feeding hungry school kids and their families, and, in doing so, letting them know that this whole city cares for them.
It started with barbers.
At the start of the past eight school years, Hasani Frederick of Legends has corralled his pals in the hair business to fill backpacks and food baskets for Lincoln High School's “Rock The Rim” back-to-school festival. Each year, more than 50 barbers, participate. This September, the drive brought a basketball tournament to Lincoln High School, plus 1,000 stuffed backpacks.
Now they're out to stuff turkeys.
To do that, Timothy Dillon, owner of Tacoma's Finest Clippers, founded Planting Seeds.
“I wanted to find a way to continually give back to the community,” Dillon said. “Yes, there are resources available for people to take advantage of, but the ultimate goal of Planting Seed is to give education outside of the classroom such as mentoring programs, summer lunch programs, food drives, toy drives, clothes drives, job fairs, and apprenticeships. Why? Because we perish from the lack of knowledge and the seeds we sow today are the fruit we bear tomorrow.”
It may seem odd that business competitors would work so closely together but, on Tacoma's East Side, it's as natural as growing up, said community activist Marlene Carrillo. A proud Eastsider, a lifelong volunteer and one of Tacoma Weekly's advertising sales people, Carrillo explained.
“The barbershops are a community within themselves,” she said. “They are like family. They don't see barriers or competitiveness. They see brotherhood and family. No wonder we love them all. Some are so good-hearted by their religious beliefs, some by love of community and incredible fun. Some are past gangsters who have awakened to the enlightenment of all of the above. They are admired and loved no matter what their inspiration or drive.”
They are the right guys to unite a city in this new drive.
Shontee Moorehead was an early recruit.
“I heard the compassion of Timothy Dillon's voice to help out the families in need in Tacoma. I wanted to lend a helping hand any way I could with his dream to reach out and touch as many Tacomans as he could,” Moorehead said.
Food is the practical commonality, and the metaphor that brings everyone to the table. Planting Seeds will fill baskets with the makings of a Thanksgiving dinner. It has collection sites (listed with this story) where it will gather non-perishables. It also welcomes money and gift cards to buy turkeys.
Planting Seeds founders are working with Tacoma Schools to get the baskets to some of the neediest families. School administrators will choose the recipients.
With a first-time drive, Planting Seeds is thinking big but planning realistically. They would like to have five baskets for each school, which works out to about 250. On the low side, they have set a 50-basket minimum goal.
To aim for the 250, they are inviting people outside the community of barbers.
ConStellation Art Gallery owners Nick Fediay and Stella Maris Vera were among the first, and the most eager, to join. They are loaning the space for the storage and staging.
Fediay also is the Sixth Avenue Business District president, and they are using the district's communications to invite merchants to join the drive.
“We want to see businesses embracing this event, putting their efforts in making this happen and putting all other issues aside,” Vera said. “I strongly feel that we all have the power to make a difference in this world no matter what our past experiences were. Our actions can impact someone’s life in a very positive way and from there create a movement of compassion and caring for those that for whatever reason have fallen into hard times and need our help.”
Organizers have set up a Planting Seeds Facebook page and an account at Wells Fargo banks. They are working with grocers to get good deals on turkeys. They also have invited major employers to join the drive.
MetroParks Tacoma accepted.
Roxanne Miles explained: “Metro Parks staff do employee-driven campaigns throughout the year. We contribute to the Communities In Schools city-wide back-to-school supply drive and collect shoes for Goodwill. When we received the invite to get involved, it provided staff with a new opportunity to support our community and it seemed like a natural fit – a way for us to do our part with others in order to make the biggest possible difference. We are doing an employee drive for food in order to add to that collected by Planting Seed members so the greatest number of baskets can be filled and distributed this year as possible.”
Jennifer Zaskorski, owner of Proctor's Soul restaurant, also was delighted to join early, hosting planning meetings and watching the effort evolve.
“As a social worker by trade, I'm very familiar with the youth and how the holidays can affect one's emotions and stability. It can be life-ruining,” she said.
Now, with the direction of volunteer groups like Planting Seeds, Tacomans can be life-saving.
“Tacoma is a powerful city. The support level is awesome,” Zaskorski said. “It's like a large diverse family.”
In this case, it is a city led by a large, diverse family of barbers, cutting away at despair and hunger.
THANKSGIVING CITY-WIDE FOOD DRIVE
DROP OFF LOCATIONS FOR FOOD:
2717 N. Proctor St.
Gateway To India
2603 6th Ave.
2714 6th Ave.
2710 6th Ave.
Tacoma Custom Jewelers
2610 6th Ave.
ConStellation Art Gallery
3013 6th Ave.
2805 6th Ave.
2803 6th Ave.
1011 S. 11th St.
Sam & Terry’s Barbershop
1212 MLK Way
Fish House Café
1814 S. ‘K’ St.
Tacoma’s Finest Clippers
6317 E. Portland Ave.
Tacoma City Grocer IGA
1250 Pacific Ave.
Josefina’s Mexican Restaurant
4816 Pacific Ave.
Legend’s Da’ Shop
5508 Pacific Ave.
10505 Steele St.
32040 23rd Ave. S.
4324 Bridgeport Way W.
Razor Sharp Barbershop
10612 Bridgeport Way
Stay Fresh Tattoo
10620 Bridgeport Way
2588 Pacific Hwy.