Pay It Forward - How I Helped My Local Food Bank (and got some good publicity too!)

Services for Real Estate Pros

I did a real neat service project last year and I thought that a few of you might want to try it during the holidays. I've noticed that some RE agents seem to "close up shop" during the holidays, or think that nobody is buying and selling during November thru mid January. I think that this little project might help you "jump-start" your new years resolutions, and get the ball rolling, and maybe get you some free publicity. :-)

Here's the scoop:

Last year, I contacted our local Food Bank, that provides food for needy people in our area. They were MORE than open to me doing a service project that would help fill the food bank shelves. I proposed farming out a brown paper grocery bag, with a 2 sided flyer on it. One side explained what I was doing, the other side was the "shopping list" that the food bank would give to someone to take to the store with them. The list was a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner list of items.

Next I went down to Sam's Club, (or any local big box store) and purchased 2,500 large grocery bags. They come in a big bundle of 500 bags and cost me a little over $32 bucks a bundle. I took my 2 sided flyer to my local printer and got them to crank out 2,500 copies on bright paper real quick. I grabbed the flyers and started to stapled them to the bags. Soon the front room was being taken over by bags, and my wife was wondering if I was crazy (as usual)!

I talked to my son's Scout troop to see if they would like to help pass out the bag/flyers one weekend and pick up the food the next weekend. Most of the boys needed service hours and said, "sure". I jumped on Google maps and blocked out some areas for them to farm the bags. We met early on Saturday, and with a bribe of juice and donuts, we were off! We spread out and after a few hours we were done. I gathered up the maps, so we knew where we had passed out the bags, for our collection phase next weekend.

Well, we were blown away with our communities response! We gathered over 5,000 pounds (2 1/2 tons) of food that day! We gathered food from 8 am to about 1 pm, and took car load after car load of canned items. The food bank was grateful for the service project, and said they were wondering what they were going to do this year, (2009) as the need was so great. As a result of all this good stuff happening, the scout troop and myself got our name and picture in the local paper! Later on, we were invited to the food bank annual awards ceremony and given our 15 seconds of fame.

Nice huh?

So I just thought I would pass this along to everyone at ActiveRain that could use an excuse to:
1. Get out there and have a good excuse to farm your name
2. Do a real good service project for the holiday season
3. Support your favorite local charity
4. Maybe get some free publicity (that is always good)
5. Meet some new people that you can add to your "list"

So this year, I am redoubling the efforts. I have the same scout troop helping me, and we are farming 5,000 of the brown paper bag & flyer. I was able to get a local store to donate the grocery bags. We are also including a "toy drive" flyer that the food bank wanted me to staple on at the same time. Last year they had to come out of pocket $30,000 to buy toys for needy families, so anything we could do would help.

I have had agents use this idea year-round, helping out the charity of their choice. For example, your local food bank or charity could have a drive for coats in the winter, food for Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas and juice in the summer. You could also do something around the start of school for "school supplies" for kids and/or supplies for teachers.

Just one of my crazy "out of the box" marketing ideas that I pass along to my real estate agents that I coach.




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As a Real Estate Agent, my main focus is helping others learn how to market themselves and their properties using online and offline methods, thus increasing sales.

Comments (4)

Heather Embrey
Better Homes & Gardens Premier - Falls Church, VA
Your :) Real Estate Source

You are an inspiration!  I love that idea.  We all need to give back to our community but it is hard to come up with ideas like yours.  The food bank folks are lucky to have you:)

Nov 08, 2010 10:25 AM
Robert Amato
Bob Amato of Empire Home Mortgage Inc - East Meadow, NY

I like it Jeffery. It is a great way to pay it forward. Thanks for the idea.

Nov 08, 2010 11:43 AM
Mary Jo Quay
EXP Realty - Minneapolis, MN
I Move You Home

What a great investment of time, and energy into your community.  Getting scouts involved is a brilliant way to give them an opportunity to develop into leaders too.


Nov 08, 2010 03:00 PM
Jeffery Newton
Redlands, CA

Thanks for the comments!  Most people in our communities want to help, they just don't know how, or need a little nudge.

@Mary Jo - Yes, scouting does help to develop good leadership skills and it gives them the opportunity to give service to the community.

Nov 08, 2010 03:07 PM