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Gala raises funds for Marysville Food Bank

 The Fultons lead the line to dish up at the Marysville Community Food Bank for its Dec. 16 fundraising dinner. - KIRK BOXLEITNER The Marysville Globe
The Fultons lead the line to dish up at the Marysville Community Food Bank for its Dec. 16 fundraising dinner.
— image credit: KIRK BOXLEITNER The Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Community Food Bank hosted a fundraising dinner at its new location Dec. 16 that drew a veritable Who’s Who of the community and put food bank members and volunteers in a mood to reflect on their past and plan for their future.

Christmas trees and lights decorated the interior of the Food Bank’s new building, at 4150 88th St. NE just behind St. Mary’s Catholic Church, as a crowd including Soroptimists, Rotarians, police officers, city officials and too many others to mention enjoyed their meals.

Event organizer Steve Fulton could barely sit still as attendees descended on the 5,600-square-foot facility, and he grinned and greeted community members while making sure they all had tables to sit at.

“We’ve had a lot of fun putting this together,” said Fulton, who was echoed by other food bank volunteers and members when he credited the joint efforts of many people throughout the community with making this event, and the food bank’s services, a reality. “It’s by the grace of God that I’m on this side of the giving end, as opposed to the other side on the receiving end. Sometime in my life, I might find myself in need.”

Fulton deemed the outpouring of donated time, effort, money and supplies on the food bank’s behalf to be “a blessing from God” and “a consummation” of years’ worth of work.

“It’s been a long journey,” Fulton said. “It’s also kind of a kickoff to a lot of hard work that’s ahead for the food bank. A lot of people are volunteering their time to sort food daily.”

Mike Mulligan, whose family founded the food bank close to three decades ago, serves as the president of its board of directors and, like Fulton, he looked back on the progress that the food bank has made.

“It’s been a long struggle,” said Mulligan, who joined Fulton in thanking St. Mary’s for donating the property for the food bank’s new location. “There’s been a lot of hurdles we’ve had to overcome. It’s been around five years since we first decided this was the direction we were going to go in.”

Like Fulton, Mulligan credited the involvement of “just a huge amount of people,” who provided “a huge amount of money,” with helping to make the food bank’s move happen.

“It’s been a community effort,” Mulligan said. “It wasn’t a single person, but a whole bunch of people who made this possible. We have a pretty unique facility here. We’re state-of-the-art now. Honestly, it’s a big relief, is what it really is for me. I’m glad to see it done.”

Food Bank Director Joyce Ziegen cited the improved features of the food bank’s new facility, including its increase in size compared to its former 3,400-square-foot building.

“This allows us a lot more flexibility, to be able to provide our clients with more choices, so they don’t just automatically get handed bags of food,” Ziegen said. “This way, they actually get to choose what they want. We’re able to have volunteers go along with them, with shopping carts, helping them get their items.”

Ziegen noted that the food bank’s new facility has much more room for sorting and organizing items, which she believes will help make their operations more efficient.

“They won’t have to stand out in the rain for two hours, like they did before,” Ziegen said. “We have covered areas, we have more parking and we’re able to serve people who live nearby, who normally can’t make it to the food bank, so to me, this just opens up a whole new frontier of possibilities.”

Ziegen heaped praise onto her volunteers, as well as the Mulligan family, for all their hard work over the years, and emphasized that “this is a community food bank, supported by the community, paid for by the community, and with volunteers from the community.”

One of those volunteers is Joel French, who will celebrate his eight-year anniversary of working at the food bank in March of 2009.

“I retired in 1999 and was looking for something to fill in the time I had left in my schedule,” French said. “I spent a lot of time at the YMCA, which is right next to the old food bank, so I noticed people going in and out of that building.”

French was personally signed up as a food bank volunteer by JoAnn Mulligan, founder of the food bank, and he named the “top-notch” Mulligan family, as well as all the other wonderful volunteers he’s met, as among the reasons that he’s stayed involved since.

“What’s made me stay is a feeling of accomplishment, of really belonging and being part of a group of people who are really dedicated to what they’re doing,” French said. “I never would have imagined that we’d move into this building when I first started. It says a lot about the community, its leaders and the people who have donated their money and skills, that we’ve been able to put this together. It’s the start of a new beginning.”

The Marysville Community Food Bank is inviting the community to its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 5 at 1 p.m., at 4150 88th St. NE just behind St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

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