The Silicon Valley Voice

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Beachcombers and Sunnyvale Community Services, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The Beachcombers —friends from Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church—assembled in the Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) warehouse at 1160 Kern Ave. on April 9. They had volunteered for a service project.

The first thing to figure out was how to put on the neon-yellow safety vests and choose the right-sized work gloves. One Beachcomber, who declined to give her name, put her vest on upside down and inside out at first try.

SCS Volunteer Engagement Specialist Victoria Pham explained the task of the afternoon: Unbox and individually bag 1,400 two-pound packages of frozen Alaska pollock fillet portions—in two hours. That’s 70, 40-pound boxes, 20 packages per box—a total of 2,800 pounds of fish.


Ready, set, go!

“I’m happy because we’re helping people,” said Beachcomber Judy Munnerlyn, bagging alongside Charlie Conklin. “This is a great thing to do.”

Conklin recalled his days scraping by as a college student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I would have loved to have food this good when I was a broke college student at MIT,” said Conklin. “I couldn’t afford food this good, and they didn’t have food banks for college students.”

The SCS volunteer activity was geared towards its weekly Wednesday food distribution. On April 3, pre-registered SCS clients from Sunnyvale and Alviso lined up outside the warehouse to pick up bags holding 35 – 45 pounds of groceries. Food to feed 3,700 individuals was distributed. Of those clients, about 500 were kids and 400 were seniors. So far this year, 3,880 were the most clients provided for on one Wednesday.

But what about all those boxes the Beachcombers emptied?

“Half the job is breaking down and recycling boxes,” said SCS Senior Warehouse Coordinator Christian Gonzalez. “We’ve got a lot of boxes around here!”

“This team was great!” said Beachcomber Beth Robb, co-planner of the service project, which was preceded by lunch at a nearby restaurant. “We like volunteering at SCS because we’re doing something useful for someone else. It gives us a nice sense of accomplishment.”

“Unfortunately, my back kind of hurts,” said Jeff Harp, one of the 14 volunteers. Uh-oh!

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a column where we casually interview people we meet in Silicon Valley. The Won’t You Be My Neighbor column hopes to highlight what makes Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and the rest of the South Bay special — the people who live, work and play here.


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