When Lisa Cullen asked representatives at Foodbank of Santa Barbara County what they needed most this holiday, she got an answer she didn’t expect.
Foodbank workers told her they needed trucks and someone to help coordinate runs to pick up food and bring it back to the foodbank’s storage facility.
That’s when Cullen, who runs Montecito Landscape with her husband, Chris, knew she could help.
“They said, ‘We have all these people who donate food, but can’t get it to the foodbank,’” Cullen said.
That got her thinking that their business had a host of trucks traversing town at any given moment that could fit in food pickups between jobs.
She even got other businesses her company works with on board to donate their truck time.
Now, the foodbank gets a call about donated goods and it calls Cullen, who dispatches the available trucks.
There’s no load too small, either, Cullen said. One woman called with two bags of groceries to donate, and Cullen dispatched her office manager to pick them up in her car.
Another trip involved filling her car with about 500 jars of donated peanut butter from Montecito Bank & Trust to be taken to the foodbank.
Eight companies are involved at this point, and although they welcome more, Cullen said donations are also needed.
The group started before Thanksgiving and will be going until the end of the year, and Cullen said the hauls have been going great so far.
Diane Hadighi, community relations manager for the foodbank, estimated the Holiday Haulers had brought in more than 3,000 pounds of food.
“Because we’re a nonprofit, it so helped us because we just don’t have that many staff,” she said. “They’re so helpful, and we’re blessed to have them.”
The foodbank supplies food to all of the nonprofit organiztions within Santa Barbara County, which means it’s providing for everyone from Transition House to the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, Cullen said.
Of those on the receiving end of the foodbank’s goods, 75 percent are seniors and children.
“These folks cannot help themselves and are the people in our community who need our help the most,” Cullen said.
And it’s not only the foodbank that’s excited about the help.
“It’s something that people like us can do even in an economy that isn’t the most booming for every business,” Cullen said. “These guys are thrilled to death to do something like this.”
Those interested in donating food for pickup to the foodbank can call Steve Gonzales at the foodbank at 805.967.5741 x103 or Cullen at 805.969.3984.
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at email@example.com.