Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County has been distributing almost twice as much food to local families than usual.
As such, the organization’s parking lot is now full of distribution and refrigeration trucks, forklifts and storage containers. Staff, volunteers and visitors had to start parking in an adjacent lot near Moreno Petroleum Company.
But the lot was full of dirt, weeds, rocks and litter. Ruts in the ground were growing. After precipitation, muddy puddles would develop. Then one day, a staff member’s small car got stuck in a large pit that had formed. They had to be forklifted out.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Chief Development Officer Suzanne Willis. “We had to do something. Nobody wants their car swallowed by a pit.”
The organization reached out to companies to see if they could get the lot cleared out and graded. The numbers were high—one quote was close to $15,000.
“We always turn amounts into meals … so that was about 60,000 meals,” Willis said. “And we’re already stretched thin right now.”
Enter Ed Kuerzel, owner of E&S Trucking and longtime donor to Second Harvest. At first the organization asked Kuerzel for a discount. But Kuerzel took things a step further, calling a friend at Granite Construction and seeing if they could make a donation.
Granite Construction agreed, donating $5,000 worth of recycled blacktop. Then E&S Trucking did the grading of the lot—completely free of charge.
“They needed help, and [grading] is something I do for a living. It just made sense to do this and help them out,” Kuerzel said. “And [Granite Construction] has always been community-driven. They value being able to help others.”
The project was also beneficial to the owner of Moreno Petroleum Company, who owns the lot and has been letting Second Harvest use it.
“It was a combined effort between four groups,” Willis said. “Moreno helped us out, and now that property is improved, too.”
Kuerzel said that he hopes more businesses feel compelled to support nonprofits during Covid-19.
“The need across the board is so huge, and will continue to be for a while,” he said. “This is the perfect time to help out.”