Valley Community Pantry holds first restaurant-based fundraiser at Panera Bread in Hemet
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
So many of us take food for granted. It’s not always easy to come by, considering money is tight around here. Thankfully, Valley Community Pantry understands and has worked for years to help feed those in need here in the San Jacinto Valley.
To help boost its resources, the Pantry held its first ever restaurants-based community fundraiser at Panera Bread in Hemet, Tuesday, Feb. 20. Those visiting Panera during dinner simply presented a flyer (or the digital version), and Panera gave the Pantry 20 percent of the proceeds.
“Tonight’s fundraising event was put on by [board member Liz Du Bruille], who contacted Panera,” Pantry Director Jim Lineberger said. “And Panera Bread has been a supporter of ours, actually for the last seven years.”
According to Bobbie Neff, who serves as the secretary of the Pantry Board of Directors, this fundraiser at Panera is a venture the Pantry has never seen before. “This is the first time we’ve done a restaurant fundraiser, so we’re excited to find out [how much it brings in]!”
When asked why she chose Panera for the fundraiser, Du Bruille said, “we all [chose it], but I signed us up. They offered it, and plus they have pretty good food!”
One particular need the Pantry has had as of late is moving expenses after their former landlord made them pack up and go. As of Jan. 1, the Pantry has been relocated to the Trinity Lutheran Church preschool in Hemet. “We reopened up on Jan. 16,” according to Lineberger. “We have a brand new building we’re in. It’s used, but it’s a new building for us.” Lineberger also thanks Pastor Erin at Trinity for going above and beyond to put the Pantry up at her meetinghouse. “That was a big blessing.”
While having a new home is nice, Lineberger says it could use some work. “We’ve spent about $13,000 in expenses to move, and there’s still things to do.” The to-do list includes repairing the air conditioner, piping in hot water and other related needs. Lineberger cites a need of $4,000 for those tasks alone. “We’re operating out of it now, but we still need those funds.”
In addition to those whose purchases benefit the Pantry, Lineberger thanks the Blue Thong Society of Hemet for their contribution to this fundraising effort and for their eight years of support, as well as Hemet City Councilman Russ Brown.
This past Tuesday, the Pantry held another fundraising event at Chipotle in Hemet. But whether it be soups, salads, sandwiches or burritos, the need for food in our valley is real and urgent. “We always need funds. We’ve been here 53 years and we always go month to month,” says Lineberger.
To find out how you can donate, the Pantry can be found on Facebook, @ValleyCommunityPantry, online at hemetcommunitypantry.org or by calling 951-929-1101.