When gastronomy and philanthropy collide


The staff at Muscatine Center for Social Action today will put some fun into a fundraising effort.

We’ve been busy working on the third annual Adopt-A-Day at MCSA campaign, which will take place in August and September. It costs about $1,500 a day to operate MCSA’s overnight and emergency housing programs, so we are asking businesses, churches and other organizations if they would help adopt MCSA for a day by making a donation of up to $1,500.

An exciting new twist this year is the $25,000 matching grant pledged by the family foundation established by Stan and Helen Howe of Muscatine. He is a retired chief executive of Muscatine-based HNI Inc., which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of office furniture. The Howe foundation has agreed to match, dollar for dollar, any Adopt-A-Day donation that is new this year or that represents an increase over what the donor gave last year. So far, donors have utilized about half of the matching-grant funds.

The staff at MCSA hopes to be one of the groups that qualifies for a $1,500 matching grant from the Howe foundation — a big commitment for the nine full-time and 11 part-time employees at our nonprofit organization. With some help from an anonymous supporter, the staff has raised about $900 as of today and should raise the rest by Aug. 1. To do it, we borrowed an idea from Gary Rowe, a veteran fundraiser I’ve come to know through the Association of Fundraising Professionals — Quad Cities IL Chapter. He suggested holding a series of staff lunches and asking for a goodwill donation of at least $5.

PastaAt our first fundraising staff lunch last month, we served walking tacos. Today, we’ll have a macaroni and cheese bar, an idea borrowed from Geneva Golf & Country Club in Muscatine. The idea is to make macaroni and cheese and garnish with bacon crumbles, strips of grilled chicken, tomatoes, corn, olives, onion, cheese, etc.

I’ve eaten the Geneva version of this upscale pasta before at the annual New Beginnings fundraiser for the MCSA Domestic Violence Shelter. I had never helped make it before — at least not until this week, so we’ll see how it goes.

But I’m optimistic. A practice run went well Tuesday night at  home. And things got off to a great start when I walked into the local Hy-Vee supermarket and discovered a deal: 10 16-ounce boxes of pasta on sale for $10. (If you’re reading this in Muscatine, you should rush to the store, help clean out the pasta shelves and make a donation to the Muscatine Community Food Pantry.)

With help from my co-workers, we’ll move closer today to raising $1,500 and being the first group to kick off the Adopt-A-Day campaign later this summer. It’s an exciting idea that shows how much the staff at MCSA believes in the organization’s mission to provide emergency and temporary shelter, basic health care, educational and vocational support services for those in need in Muscatine County.

If you also believe in that mission and would like to participate in this year’s Adopt-A-Day program, please go here for more information. We’d love to have your business, church or organization adopt MCSA for a day. Or, the staff would welcome help with its efforts to raise $1,500 if you have $5 or $10 or $20 you’d like to contribute. If so, maybe we could even work out a deal where we’d come and make macaroni and cheese for you.