‘A Christmas miracle’: Benefactor donates $800K to fund food bank relocation
Nov 24, 2023, 4:44 PM
(Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images)
A local businessman recently provided an $800,000 donation to fully cover the costs of the Auburn Food Bank’s relocation to its new home in the remodeled former Sports Page Tavern, according to the Auburn Reporter.
The donation lifted a giant problem that had been affecting the Food Bank and its staff: the agency’s inability to move in to the facility until the money it owed the contractor was paid.
“I am going to be able pay my debt, and I am going to be able to shake the hand of the contractor, and say thank you very much for your wonderful work,” Debbie Christian, who has been executive director of the Auburn Food Bank since 2006, said to the Reporter.
“I have a Christmas miracle at Thanksgiving,” Christian added.
The Auburn Food Bank has been at 920 8th Pl. NE Auburn for over two decades, but it’s relocating because it’s in a small space without room to grow in a growing community.
The food bank has been maxed out of capacity for many years, Christian said, and the move will give it about five times as much space. That means they will have the capacity to receive larger donations of food and added room to serve more people.
“Thankfully, the family that owns the Sports Page Tavern mall was very receptive to the idea of this one-stop shop coming into the area, and gave us the go-ahead to lease it,” Christian said.
Donation came together quickly after a fundraiser
A few days after the food bank’s annual fundraiser earlier this month, one of the attendees came forward with the offer to help. He just wanted to remain anonymous.
“He said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do this for you,'” Christian recalled, according to the Reporter. “‘I’m going to take care of all of it. I want to lift this from the food bank, and make sure you guys are able to move forward, and you don’t have to think about this any more.'”
Now that they have secured funding, when will the food bank move to its new location?
“I’m trying not even to think about what day well be in there,” Christian said to the Reporter. “There is still stuff to figure out, and a punch-list walk through, I really doubt that can be before the end off the year. We’ll see what January looks like.”
They will have room to expand and it is necessary as the need for food in the community has about doubled over the past year.
“(Nov. 17) was a record-setting day. We had 180 families today. Last January we had 80 families, so it’s a huge jump,” Christian said. “We’re seeing 165-to-170 families consistently. Prices are up everywhere. It’s something the entire community is feeling.”
Contributing: Lisa Brooks, KIRO Newsradio