Tag Archives: Heidi Stoermer

4th Annual ThanksGIVING Food Drive Wrap Up

A couple weeks ago, I had Heidi Stoermer for 5 Question Friday telling us about her annual food drive for Tacoma Rescue Mission. Heidi and a small group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers along donations from countless others made this year’s feed drive a rousing success. I asked Heidi if I could share her write up of the event and she graciously accepted. Here’s Heidi:

I’ve been pondering this wrap up for a few of days now, wondering how I can even begin to summarize this year’s drive. Let me start with a little history, and then we’ll get to the counts.

Our ThanksGIVING Food Drive began 4 years ago. I was working for a large company in downtown Tacoma, who decided to move operations elsewhere. My team had volunteered several times at the Rescue Mission, so we were all familiar with the great work that the mission does every day. The ThanksGIVING Food Drive was an extension of that volunteer work, and a way for the team to refocus our priorities in the face of a layoff.

That first year, we raised about $150.  A small group of coworkers took a shopping trip, and we filled the trunk of our car with turkeys, canned goods, stuffing, and potatoes. We dropped it all off at the Rescue Mission, and drove away feeling buoyant, thankful. There were high fives and hugs all around.

Karin Losk (my ThanksGIVING counterpart/partner in couponing) and I decided that we’d make our little food drive a yearly tradition. We nearly doubled our donations the second year, and filled my VW bus – Pickle – to the rafters. Last year, our 3rd, we had a very slow start. But friends came together, we wheeled and dealed, and once again, we were able to pack Pickle full of turkeys, pies, and all the fixings.

That brings us up to this year – our 4th Annual ThanksGIVING Food Drive!

This is the first year that we opened our food drive up to the community, not just our friends, family, and coworkers. We had high hopes for mobile donation stations and personal pick-ups for folks who couldn’t get to us on donation day. A good friend, Jack Cameron, interviewed us for TacomaStories.com, and we got a little more help from TacomaMama.com. Folks shared our event far and wide, committing to help us help the Rescue Mission.

As these things go, some of those commitments fell through. I had a pretty discouraging week or so prior to donation day, trying to nail down store discounts and our donation pick-up schedule. In the end, though, an amazing thing happened (again!) – friends started coming out of the woodwork, offering their time and energy to help make this drive successful. By donation day, we had so many volunteers that our usual all-day shopping trip could be whittled down to a 2 hour block. We split up into 3 teams – 2 shopping teams, and a mobile donation station.

The only store that agreed to help us this year was Top Foods, so we made that our base of operations. In our first hour of shopping, we’d secured 17 turkeys. The cashier asked us what was going on with all the birds, so we talked to her about the Rescue Mission and our ThanksGIVING food drive. Across town, team #2 was at Saar’s Market, also making out like bandits. Both teams made second stops at Albertsons stores, where another interested cashier tried to find us more coupons to use on boxes of stuffing.

In the meantime, our first mobile donation station of the day was having a pretty rough time out at the Krispy Kreme by the Tacoma Mall. Not a single person met us at that station, which we’ll definitely keep in mind for next year’s drive. We all met back up at Top Foods at noon, where things picked up again. We received a few last minute donations that allowed us to purchase 5 additional turkeys. The same cashier helped us the second time around, and let us know that she’d looked for us about an hour before, while we were at Albertsons. Someone had bought $1000 worth of groceries, which made them elligible for 6 free turkeys. The shopper didn’t want them, but the cashier made sure they got rung up anyway. Since we were away when the freebies came through, they weren’t part of our count, but those turkeys did make it to the Salvation Army. I’m so glad we told that cashier about ThanksGIVING – she said she wouldn’t have thought twice about it if we hadn’t come through her line that morning.

With all the donation funds spent, Karin and I made a run out to the Lakewood Walmart for our final donation station and a personal pick-up. For the second year in a row, our buddy Mark Manning and his partner Annie met us with a huge food donation – pies, butter, cereal, boxed meals – all sorts of great stuff that we hadn’t had the funds to purchase. Karin’s cousin, Kirtsen, also met us and offloaded apples staight off her trees and farm fresh eggs.

By the time all was said and done, we had 2 vehicles absolutely overflowing with donations. We caravanned down to the mission, where we unloaded our haul with the help of several mission volunteers.

I took a moment to ask about the typical donation that the Rescue Mission receives at this time of year, and one of the volunteers noted, “This is the biggest donation I’ve seen by far.” All of the planning, all of the stress, getting soaking wet and freezing in the rain, loading 500 lbs of turkeys from one car to another – it was all worth it the moment we heard that.

Without further ado, here are this year’s totals:

29 turkeys (average weight: 18 lbs)

10 hams

252 lbs potatoes

20 lbs apples

17 lbs carrots

10 lbs celery

7 lbs sweet potatoes

5 lbs onions

95 boxes of stuffing

86 cans green beans

86 cans corn

27 cans cranberry

14 large cans yams

12 cans olives

11 cans pineapple

24 cans gravy

12 gravy mix

72 frozen rolls

13 boxes pastaroni

8 boxes scalloped potatoes

5 boxes macaroni and cheese

3 lbs spaghetti

5 dozen eggs

4 large boxes stock

4 pumpkin pies

3 boxes butter

2 boxes Cheerios

2 tubs of cool whip

…and a single 2 liter of Dr. Pepper that we got for free since we spent so much at one of the grocery stores. 🙂

We were able to do this because cash donations this year were the most we’ve ever received. They came from all over the South Sound, as well as from friends in Nevada and California. Our friend Chris came the farthest to donate and lend a hand, joining us for the day from Salvador, Brazil. To everyone that donated this year – be it time, funds, or food – THANK YOU! We’ll see you next year, on Nov. 16th. Mark your calendars!

One footnote:

As we were about to leave the Rescue Mission, one of the volunteers came out of the walk-in freezer, and updated their turkey count to include our donation: 200 turkeys

That seems like a lot, until you learn that the Rescue Mission needs 2000 turkeys to meet the needs of our community this Thanksgiving.

Today, the mission hit 483 turkeys, with only 2 days to go. If you’re out shopping tomorrow and hit that $50 or $100 level several stores have right now, please grab that free or discounted turkey and get it to the mission. If it’s easier for you to make a direct donation, you can do so here: http://www.rescue-mission.org/donate

Please also remember that while our ThanksGIVING drive comes but once a year, the Rescue Mission feeds hundreds of people every day, more than 23,000 meals a month. Your donations are always welcome, no matter the season.

Happy ThanksGIVING!

5 Question Friday With ThanksGIVING Food Drive’s Heidi Stoermer

As the holidays approach, it’s natural to think of those less fortunate and imagine what we can do to help. It’s not just about feeling good by helping people. It’s about helping build a stronger community.

Heidi Stoermer is a good friend I’ve known for many years. She’s one of the most driven and generous people I know. During a recent outing to a local pub, Heidi told me about her work with Tacoma Rescue Mission. As I listened to Heidi, I realized that this was something that needed to be shared. Heidi agreed to join me for 5 Question Friday this week and let you all know what she’s doing and how you can easily help those most in need this holiday season. Here’s Heidi:
1. What is the ThanksGIVING Food Drive?

The ThanksGIVING Food Drive is actually 2 things, which both benefit the Rescue Mission here in Tacoma.

1. We’re expert Thanksgiving shoppers! We accept cash donations, which we use to purchase holiday food items such as turkeys, fresh veggies, stuffing, and pies. We’re able to maximize cash donations by working with store and meat department managers at the grocery stores we shop at. Stadium Thriftway, Top Foods, QFC, Safeway, and the Tacoma City Grocer have all given us a hand in previous years.

2. We’re a mobile donation station! This means that we set up meeting times in central locations where folks can drop off their donations, like the Krispy Kreme parking lot at the Tacoma Mall and the Walmart on Bridgeport Way in Lakewood. We’ll also come directly to you to pick up your order if you’re within a reasonable radius of downtown Tacoma.

2. How did you first get involved in the ThanksGIVING Food Drive?

This is our 4th Annual ThanksGIVING Food Drive! I was working for a large company in downtown Tacoma, who decided to move operations elsewhere. I had previously spearheaded a volunteer effort for my team, so we were all familiar with the great work that the Rescue Mission does every day. The ThanksGIVING Food Drive was an extension of that volunteer work, and a way for the team to refocus our priorities in the face of a layoff.

3. What is something everyone should know about this project?

We facilitate the ThanksGIVING Food Drive once a year, but the Rescue Mission serves more than 23,000 meals every month. Last year, we donated 18 turkeys out of the 2000 that the mission needs to ensure that everyone who asks for a hot meal over Thanksgiving week gets one. We’re just a drop in the bucket. Our goal is to make our drop the biggest and most effective.

4. How can people help if they want to get involved?

Folks can join our event on Facebook here, where we’ll be posting meeting times and locations: http://www.facebook.com/events/456365267738121

Donators can send me a direct message on Facebook or at heidistoermer@gmail.com with any questions, or to scheduled a personal meeting time for food or cash donation pick-up for Nov. 16th or 17th.

We’d also love to hear from you if you have a trailer we might borrow for the drive. 🙂

5. What do you see for the future of the ThanksGIVING Food Drive?

This is the first year that we’ve opened this food drive up to the community – previously, we’d collected only from friends, family, and co-workers. We’re expecting this to be the biggest ThanksGIVING Food Drive to date, and hope to continue the tradition for years to come. It will always be held the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, to ensure that fresh veggies stay fresh and frozen turkeys have time to thaw. 🙂

I’d like to thank Heidi for taking the time to join me for 5 Question Friday and I’m hoping those reading this will take the time to join in this great cause.

Update: Heidi wants to add a couple of things:

1. I say “we” a lot in this interview. The other half of the “we” is Karin Jenette Dhaese Losk. She deserves a high five (or 50) for keeping track of every single can and box and turkey and pie.

2. If you would rather donate directly to the Mission, that is A-OKAY with us! Our goal is to get the Mission as much help as possible over the Thanksgiving holiday, so if our drive doesn’t work for you but you’d still like to chip in, no worries – you can donate directly here: http://www.rescue-mission.org/donate

As always if you or anyone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Tamara Clammer From Brown Paper Tickets

Just a couple of blocks down from the Tacoma Dome, you’ll find a gigantic building with interesting shops. It’s like a mall, if malls had people in them that cared about working there. Freighthouse Square has always been a place for artistic or creative sorts to sell their stuff. It has gone through many changes over the years. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that there are people passionate about the place. Tamara Clammer is one of those people. She’s put together something called the I CAN! Celebration and I think it’s something readers will be interested in.

1. What is the I CAN! Celebration?

I CAN ! is a free, family-oriented, interactive arts event on Saturday, March 31st in the Rainier Room and some of the currently available spaces at Freighthouse Square. This event is being created by the community, for the community, by combining resources that are already available within the community.

My primary goal is to help revitalize Freighthouse Square while simultaneously creating a way to interact with artists and crafters that focuses on inspiration and the creative process rather than just admiring and purchasing a finished product.

My secondary goal is to test the theory that an exciting event can be created with little or no budget simply by gathering together and each of us providing a bit of what we have to offer.

Many of Freighthouse Square’s merchants and local artists are joining together, and we are hoping you will join us, too.

City Blocks will be setting up a large LEGO sculpture and an interactive LEGO and DUPLO building area as the centerpiece for this event. Lucy Schwartz from the Freighthouse Art Gallery will be teaching watercolor painting demos. Just Sage will Emcee and perform a set of comedic magic. Heidi Stoermer will be singing and playing acoustic music. Ryan Henry Ward will be storytelling and painting. Dayton Knipher will share her artistic photography with us and explain how to get the best results from a digital camera. Sharon McBride will be reading Tarot. Suni Cook Boucher will share her talents for creating beautiful artwork from items that might otherwise be recycled or, worse, thrown away. Brown Paper Tickets will be sponsoring a Scavenger Hunt that will explore all of the merchants’ shops at Freighthouse Square. There will also be games of Giant Checkers, using the permanently installed dance floor and traffic cones. Boxcar Grill will be catering the green room for our participants. And, www.NorthwestAuthors.org  will be joining us at Freighthouse Square for their Spring Book Fair. They will share the stage with us to read excerpts from their works. Other artists may be joining us for live painting during the event.

2. What is your first memory of Freighthouse Square?

I first came to Washington in 1987, when I was stationed at Fort Lewis. Growing up in a town of 300 in the cornfields of Illinois, Freighthouse Square was my first real exposure to diversity, arts, culture and the first real sense of community. This is where I tried my first Indian, Greek, Vietnamese, German and Filipino foods, where I saw stiltwalkers in real life at a Mardi Gras event in the food court, where I first discovered the artwork of Jody Bergsma, metaphysical concepts and tools, artwork that was created by adults for the purpose of making art rather than students simply as a high school elective, and where I saw an entire room full of antiques that, along with the whistle and rumble of a train passing by, made me feel at home. I recognized plates that my grandma had, glasses from the 50’s that were my mom’s favorites, strange things, beautiful things, so many interesting things in one place that it was as if I’d entered a completely new and yet somehow familiar world.

3. Why did you start the I CAN! Celebration?

In early January, I wandered through Freighthouse Square for the first time in several years and was initially disappointed to see that so many of the spaces were empty and that part of the building was closed off for repairs. After meeting Lucy Schwartz at the Freighthouse Art Gallery and talking a bit about what could be done to help, she provided me with the contact information for the new property manager, Lonee Peschon. While meeting with Lonee, we decided that a free community event would help bring new life and energy to the building. Not wanting to compete with the merchants by selling things, and not having a budget to work with, I began asking people if they would like to participate, pro bono, in an interactive community art day. I am able to put time, energy and passion into this project because I am a part of Brown Paper Ticket’s community service outreach program, called “the Doers.”  My specialization is to do things to help the arts and the Maker community to grow and thrive. Through my job, I am free to be a force of positive change.  While typing out a preliminary plan for the Freighthouse Square event, I abbreviated this as ICAD. My partner, Just Sage, said, “It’s too bad you can’t think of something that starts with N, because then it would be I CAN!” And so, the word Day was replaced with Network and the 1st Annual Interactive Community Arts Network (I CAN!) began to take shape. But what is the network, you ask?

All of us, together!

4. What can people do to help?

We still have room for more artists, crafters, and performers who are interested in providing hands-on experiences, whether it’s showing someone how to sculpt with clay, knit or crochet a scarf, weave a rug, spin yarn, needlefelt, turn an iPhone into a tabletop robot, entertain by breaking the 4th wall, or in whatever way someone might feel compelled to share what they make or do with the community. If you’d like to participate, please e-mail me at Tamara@BrownPaperTickets.com.

People can also help us advertise I CAN by telling their friends and bringing their families. We’ll be open from 10am-4pm, and the schedule will be posted at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/231586 .

They can also follow Freighthouse Square (Official) on Facebook for updates, and return to Freighthouse Square often to shop for gifts, eat lunch, or just relax and stroll through the Art Gallery.

5. What do you see for the future of Freighthouse Square?

I see a lot of potential. I walk past the vacant storefronts but in my imagination I see a fruits and vegetables stand on the south end near Boxcar Grill. In the rooms along the way towards the food court I see a small fabric store that carries colorful bolts in fun patterns, yarn, knitting and crochet needles, notions, patterns, and classes to help get you started. I see a bookstore that specializes in the works of local authors with periodic readings and signings, and that offers workshops on how to get your own works published.

Past the food court I see an antique shop full of dishes, jewelry, small furniture, and home décor that I recall from my childhood. I see a clothing consignment store where you can support your neighbors while selecting a new spring wardrobe. I see a joke and magic shop that entertains shoppers as they browse. I see a crystal shop with an intuitive healer. I see that there is a new German restaurant, and that they have marzipan in the display case. And further down the hall, I see Freighthouse Handmade, a Co-Op full of puppets, doll houses, scarves, masks, handbags, wooden train sets, upcycled cans that are now lighting fixtures, flowers and candle holders, cards, journals, candies, yard art, and jewelry made from watch parts.

What do YOU see?

If you can see it in your imagination, you can make it into a reality. Just think:



… make art!

… make friends!

… make a difference!

See you on March 31st!

Tamara Clammer is a Doer at Brown Paper Tickets. Brown Paper Tickets believes in giving back to the communities where we live, work and do business, being a good neighbor and operating Not Just For Profit.  Tamera’s mission is to help Makers share their knowledge with the world. She also helps people become Makers by facilitating workshops, collaborative projects, and art installations.  Write to her at Tamara@BrownPaperTickets.com

I’d like to thank Tamara for participating in 5 Question Friday. I hope everyone reading this can make it to the I CAN! Celebration. The more people that show up, the more fun it will be.  As always, if you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

Update: I’ve been informed that Tacoma’s mayor, Marilyn Strickland is planning on putting in appearance at the I CAN! Celebration.