Peggy Benzin (left) is a Food Bank volunteer extraordinaire that has been part of our volunteer family since 2005. Last year her team, Team M&Ms, raised over $1,500 for the Foodie 5K at Cantigny Park, and she is doing it again this year.
How long have you been a supporter of the Food Bank?
I started volunteering at the St. Charles location after Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. Felt at home with the Monday morning group and decided to make that my regular weekly day to volunteer. We Monday morning regulars are usually assigned to run the “room,” evaluating and packing up boxes of donated food for the food pantries in the Food Bank’s processing room.
What about the Foodie 5K appealed to you that made you want to participate?
I love to walk and be outside – and need the exercise – so a 5K was a good fit for me, and I feel it’s a very worthy cause to raise funds for.
What was your process in getting a team together? Any advice for first-time team builders?
The first year of the Foodie 5K I talked to the Monday morning volunteers during a break, encouraging them to join the team, and if they did not wish to walk, to donate! I also invited my quilt group, and several members joined in. I encouraged each person who signed up to invite their friends. So the obvious place to look to start a team would be family, work, clubs or groups you belong to.
What does Team M&M stand for?
Team M&Ms stands for Monday Morning regular volunteers (but all are welcome).
What are some tips you can share with those looking to raise funds for this year?
I can’t remember what Team M&Ms raised last year – but I think it was over $1500 – I raised the $605. Personally, I feel that when you are asking someone to donate and they go to the team fundraising page to check it out, when they see you are supporting the cause yourself, they are more inclined to also give. There is no magic formula for fundraising – in my personal case, it’s due to generous family and friends! As a Food Bank staff member wrote in the sample fund raising letters – it’s good to remember you are not asking people to donate for YOU, but for the hungry neighbors that are in need.
What was your favorite part of the actual day of the event?
I love the excitement of waiting for the 5K to begin. You see all these enthusiastic people in matching t-shirts, smiling and talking. You’re at Cantigny (Wheaton race), which while not at it’s prettiest in April, is still a lovely place for a run/walk.
Of all the charities you could support, why Northern Illinois Food Bank?
Many years ago, I got a degree in Home Economics Education and taught high school for three years. Food is near and dear to my heart. I cannot imagine someone not being able to feed themselves or their family. From volunteering for so many years at the Food Bank, I know a lot of the staff here – fantastic people. The cherry on the sundae is the fact that Food Bank has such a fantastic rating for percent of funds donated going where it’s intended to go.