Grandma Harriet came for a weekend visit to St Louis, arriving on an overnight flight from California. Despite the rigors of a red-eye flight, she was fresh from accomplishing a good deed in Redlands, namely enlisting her entire neighborhood to help with Thanksgiving giving. Upon her return to Redlands, the local newspaper took her photograph and put it on the front page.
From the Redlands Daily Facts
Woman enlists neighbors to help
Joy Juedes, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/08/2009 02:02:07 PM PST
By JOY JUEDES
REDLANDS - When Harriet Blume heard Family Service Association of Redlands needed donations for Thanksgiving baskets, she did not just go to the grocery store. She asked her neighbors to go, too.
"I was going to ask a religious organization (to help), then I thought, I could just ask my neighbors," said Blume, who has lived on East Fern Avenue for more than 40 years.
Living in the same house for so long, Blume said she saw a lot of people come and go.
"I thought (Thanksgiving baskets) would be a good way to meet my neighbors, so I typed out a list of items," she said.
She multiplied each item by five, thinking there would be enough for five baskets if each person bought five of one item, like stuffing or sugar.
"I left a blank next to each item, went around to my neighbors and asked if they wanted to sign up and I think just about everybody signed up for something," she said.
"I told them to just leave it on my front porch," she said.
Marilyn Sanders, who has lived near Blume for more than 30 years, went to Gerrard's Market for cooking oil. She decided to buy cookie mix, which was not on the list.
"I saw these Betty Crocker mixes, I thought, oh, I think I'll get cookies, so I got five extra bags so (the families) could make sugar cookies for the holidays," Sanders said.
Family Service board member Diana McLaughlin heard about Blume's project from a
friend in her painting group and later ran into her at Art, For Heaven's Sake.
"She said, `Every day I come home and there's a surprise on my front porch because someone left what they were assigned,' " McLaughlin said.
Blume took two carloads of items to Family Service recently. Some of her neighbors and friends pitched in money for turkeys.
"She was so shy about it, which made it even sweeter," McLaughlin said.
Sanders said Blume had a lot of names on her contribution list.
"It's wonderful she took the time to do this, especially with the economy the way it is now," Sanders said. "It was a really sweet gesture."
"It was the first time in my life I'd ever done it - it's a very new idea for me - a great idea," Blume said.
And it could not have come at a better time. McLaughlin said Family Service's pantry is low, revenue is down and clientele has increased 20 percent.
"Most (new) clients have never had to seek help before, so we're seeing a whole new population of working poor," McLaughlin said.
She said an important element of Family Service's aid is families get a caseworker to help them get back on their feet, not just food and clothing. But for people who donate food, she said most of the charity's clients shop at Stater Bros., and Gerrard's has pre-bagged groceries for purchase to donate.
"I just think if 40 people in Redlands did that, there would be enough for 200 dinners," Blume said.
Sanders said she hopes Blume's initiative inspires other neighborhoods to help.
"Redlands is such a generous community - when we ask for help they always come through - they've never failed us in more than 110 years - and Harriet Blume is a perfect example," McLaughlin said.
How to help
Family Service Association of Redlands is still accepting donations for Thanksgiving Day meals.
Donations of one or two items toward the meals, or complete meals, are being accepted. Other food and candles, dishtowels, and decorations are also welcome. For a complete list, see Page A3.
Family Service volunteers will start receiving and packing baskets for Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 20, 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon. Distribution to clients will begin Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Family Service is at 612 Lawton St. between Texas and Eureka streets. Information: (909) 793-2673;www.redlandsfamilyservice.org