Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a registered 501(C)3 charity, is hosting an online poker tournament with all the proceeds benefiting the St. Mary’s Food Bank Thursday, April 30.
Food banks across the country have been devastated by the influx of need so efforts are underway for the organization to work with St. Mary’s to raise $50,000 to provide 350,000 meals.
All of the funds raised in the poker tournament will go to St. Mary’s Food Bank, as it is experiencing a surge due to incidents surrounding the global pandemic.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors President Darren Tosetto says the idea for the online fundraiser was born out of looking for a way to help, while adhering to safety guidelines.
“Fundraising is not our focus, but we have been successful in raising money while making it fun for our donors,” Mr. Tosetto said. “Doing a virtual fundraiser via an online poker tournament seemed to fit perfectly. We could make it fun and raise awareness and money.”
St. Mary’s Food Bank was chosen by the Scottsdale-based organization after “connecting the dots” on how the virus was impacting the community and food availability, Mr. Tosetto said.
“It became clear that their normal ability to secure food donations via grocery store excess would take a hit [hoarding and overstocking issues],” he said.
“Moreover, this would happen at the exact time when their services would be needed by more families than ever as unemployment increased, income dropped, and meals typically provided to vulnerable children in the community by schools would no longer be available.”
The deadline for tournament entry is April 25. No poker experience necessary and no cash prizes awarded. There will be “non-cash prizes” to top finishers in the tournament.
St. Mary’s is the second largest food bank in the country and the largest Feeding America food bank in Arizona, covering two-thirds of the state.
Since COVID-19, the local food bank is seeing less food donated from grocery stores, with nearly all of its upcoming food drives having been canceled. St. Mary’s is also seeing a record-number of clients and first-time clients who normally have enough money to get by.
St. Mary’s cites an increase of families from 600-800 prior to COVID-19, to 1,500 families per day at some locations.
“Our goal is $50,000, which St. Mary’s tell us will provide 350,000 meals,” Mr. Tosetto said. “We hope to get there.”
Instructions and details for the online poker tournament will be sent after donations are confirmed.