WHITE PONY EXPRESS DUNCAN KNOWL E S & S T E V E S P RAI TZAR White Pony Express (WPE), a nonprofit group dedicated to ending hunger and poverty in Contra Costa County, is calling for volunteers to aid in responding to increased calls for help. WPE Food Rescue delivers close to 5,000 pounds of fresh, top-quality food every day to organizations that feed the hungry. WPE's Free General Store gives away high-quality clothing, shoes, toys, and children's books in low income communities. WPE serves about 60,000 county residents, all free of charge, working out of its Pleasant Hill distribution centers. HowWPE Rescues Food Seven days a week, WPE Food Rescue volunteers take trucks to supermarkets, restaurants, and farmers markets where they pick up donations of surplus food—good, nourishing food—that would ordinarily be thrown away. There are many generous donors to this vibrant food rescue program, including those in Antioch, Concord, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek. After WPE volunteers sort the food, they deliver it to Contra Costa nonprofit groups that feed the hungry. All this is done free of charge. In just under three years, WPE has delivered more than 3,000,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, milk, eggs, cheese, deli, and baked goods (equivalent to 2,500,000 meals) that would otherwise have gone to waste and that the hungry would have done without. WPE Stages Innovative “Mobile Boutiques” WPE’s Free General Store has hosted 40 unique “Mobile Boutiques,” at which residents in need can “shop” at these Boutiques for new or like-new clothing, shoes, toys, games, and books and then take them home—all free of charge. In addition, FGS’s Direct Distributions Program partners with service providers A L I V E E A S T B A 20 Y s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 6 around the county who let Store volunteers know what kind of clothing their recipients need. Then the Store sends high-quality clothing to help dress and protect those people. Through its Boutiques and the Direct Distribution program, the Free General Store has given away more than 250,000 items to people in underserved parts of the county. Founded Solely to Serve Others Carol Weyland Conner, PhD, spiritual director of Sufism Reoriented, founded WPE in September 2013 when she was troubled that in a county of such abundance, scores of thousands were going hungry, while at the same time food retailers were throwing out huge quantities of healthy, fresh food. Dr. Conner developed WPE’s Food Rescue and Free General Store as free programs to enable those who have more than they need easily give to those who have less, so that all could share in the happiness and abundance of life. In 2014, WPE became a separate public benefit nonprofit group. Dr. Conner wished service for WPE to spring from the heart, so today WPE is staffed entirely by volunteers who want to help, purely in the spirit of service. Volunteers Needed "Our success has only been possible because of the selfless service of 400 volunteers who find great satisfaction and joy in being so helpful to others,"says Gary Conner, Executive Coordinator. "Going forward, our ability to help our neighbors is limited only by the number of people who join with us. We very much need and welcome more volunteers! We have many roles available with flexible schedules. Please just give us a call!" Interested volunteers should contact Mandy Nakaya at 925-818-6361 or email her at email@example.com. For more on WPE, visit whiteponyexpress.org.
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