Has Bob Head come up with a way to tap the sleeping altruism in our communities?
Maybe. He's borrowed a concept the pizza-delivery guys have been using to their advantage for some time: Go to the customers.
And boy, are they responding.
Two weeks ago, Head made the rounds of his Broadview neighborhood in Abingdon, leaving fliers at eachhouse announcing a "challenge."
He asked each household to donatecanned goods for the Harford Food Bank, which provides low-cost foodto area organizations and churches assisting the needy.
An officemanager for O'Connor, Piper & Flynn Realtors
in Abingdon, Head wanted to make it easy as possible for people to take part in the drive.
In the past, during the annual food drive by Harford Realtors, residents were asked to stop by area real estate offices to drop off their canned goods.
While many residents did that, Head wondered how many simply could not find time in their hectic schedules to stop by a real estate office.
He took one look at his minivan and knew he had an answer: go to the customers.
Last weekend, he found out just how successful that tactic can be.
Head parked his minivan forthe entire day last Saturday at a designated spot in the Broadview neighborhood and left the doors unlocked. The flier alerted residents to the van's location.
Head expected a decent turnout. What he gotblew him away.
The van was packed when he returned that evening.
The next day he delivered almost 1,000 pounds of food to the food bank, heading into its busiest season for requests for food from agencies and churches it supplies.
"Everybody in the community jumped in. We had neighbors calling other neighbors to remind them where thevan would be Saturday. The turnout was amazing."
Yesterday, Head and a group of volunteers from his office and other real estate offices planned to park vans in 10 other communities around the county in an effort to collect 3,000 pounds of canned goods for the food bank.
Head's idea is nothing short of a stroke of genius.
It makes iteasy for everyday people to participate in helping other everyday people.
Says Larry Adam, the Fallston resident who is founder of Harvest of Hungry, a statewide effort to stock food banks, "You gotta make it easy for people to help others. If they only got to go down thestreet to do that, they'll do it."
Adam says that when he mentioned what Head was doing to a group of Prince George's County Realtors pulling together a food drive last week, it turned a lot of heads.
"They said it was the best idea they'd ever heard of. What that kindof reaction says to me is we gotta create a new way of doing things to get people involved in helping others."
The Rev. William McNally, a Methodist minister who operates the Edgewood-based Harford Food Bank, says that 3,000 pounds of food Head and his volunteers hope to collect over this weekend will go a long way toward helping the food bank meet its average monthly need of about 10,000 pounds.
On Saturday, Dec. 7, Head plans another effort to get minivans into communities to collect food for the food bank.
"All we're doing is trying to make it easier to help," says Head.
Says McNally, "The most important thing that is happening here is more and more people are getting involved."