• White Pony Express - December 19, 2017


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    For today's #TinaTuesday, I had the amazing opportunity to learn more about White Pony Express from Executive Director, Gary Conner.  I continue to be amazed by all of the wonderful organizations in our community that were expressly started to help those in need.  From the old to the young, low income and homeless, the spirit of making a difference is alive and thriving in our community.  White Pony Express is one of those amazing organizations.  Basically, White Pony Express is a Food Rescue program and it rescues high-quality surplus food, and delivers it directly (generally within 2 hours) to organizations serving those in need, seven days a week. There is no charge or fee of any kind to anyone in any of White Pony Express’ programs.  White Pony Express (WPE) was founded by Murshida Carol Weyland Conner, Ph.D., as a food rescue organization in Contra Costa County.  Her vision was to create a link between abundance and need.  So, they seek out businesses or individuals with excess food that might otherwise go to waste, then they bring that food to service organizations that serve those who are temporarily unable to help themselves.  Have you ever wondered what happens to the food that has a "sell by" date on them, and it wasn't sold by that date? (I know you have 😉) Well, hello White Pony Express!  Stores such as Nob Hill, Whole Foods, Sprouts and even Costco, set aside this perfectly good food for White Pony Express to pick up and deliver to organizations (84 organizations to be exact) all over the County.  Many in our community cannot afford to feed themselves properly for temporary periods. Children, seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families often do not get enough nutritious food. For some, donated food can free people to pay rent and avoid becoming homeless. 

    In the beginning WPE had 100 volunteers (which is amazing), now they have 400+ volunteers joyfully giving their time to helping those in need. On top of the food that they deliver to those in need, WPE started a Free General Store (I bet you didn't know that).  The Free General Store program (FGS) distributes new and like new clothing, toys & books to those in need. They do this by bringing a unique “Mobile Boutique” to impoverished neighborhoods. FGS also makes direct distributions several times a week to shelters and occupational training programs.  Their standards for donations are pretty high.  Everything they give out comes from the heart, and it has to be to the standard as if you were giving it to a loved one or friend (so basically, new or almost new).  The clothing that doesn't quite meet up to that standard, gets donated to an organization that provides clothing to people in Africa (even that's amazing).  Currently, FGS is doing its Cold Weather Clothing Program for this winter. The program’s ambitious goal is to acquire at least 3,000 items of new or like-new clothing—coats, pants, shirts, socks, hats, gloves, scarves, underwear, and boots—to be given to the homeless and others in great need.

    Did you know that Contra Costa County is the 4th richest county in California and that there are over 115,000 living on or below the poverty line.  So, as you can see there are a lot of people in Contra Costa County that can’t afford to feed or clothe themselves properly, and nonprofit organizations and shelters here often don’t have enough resources to serve them.  This is why organizations like White Pony Express are desperately needed in our community.  They are the connecting link between those with surplus and those in need.
    Here are some other facts about WPE...
    • They now have a fleet of vans and a refrigerated truck for deliveries and pickup
    • To date, they have delivered about 5.8 million pounds of food (approximately 5,000 lbs of food/day)
    • They are starting a school pantry program (for some kids, their only meal is at school)
    • The Free General Store gives out sleeping bags and backpacks filled with basic necessities (gloves, blanket, etc) to the homeless.
    Again, I feel like I barely scratched the surface on everything that White Pony Express does in our community.  As Executive Director, Gary Conner says... “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.  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!” 
    Thank you, Reid Edwards, for requesting that White Pony Express be my next #TinaTuesday.  And, thank you Gary Conner for taking the time to educate me about the amazing impact that White Pony Express is creating in our community.

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