Good Cheer Food Bank a little fuller
December 19, 2009 · Updated 8:01 AM
BAYVIEW — By the time Damien Cortez’ five-minute shopping spree at the Goose was done, the aisles and shelves were littered with jars of spices, a few soup cans, a busted bag of flour and a tattered sign that read, “Shop Here.”
Over the loudspeaker came the words: “Clean-up on Aisle 2.”
But when the spree was over, the Good Cheer Food Bank’s shelves were $3,199.59 worth of food richer.
Food bank manager Damien Cortez was a man on a mission Friday. He had five minutes to race through the Goose Community Grocer at Bayview Center, grabbing everything he could to benefit local families in need during the holidays.
“I’ve been casing the place for a week,” Cortez said, wearing a black-and-white track suit and running shoes. “My strategy is to start with the things that are hardest for us to stock because of the prices.”
As he stood waiting for the start, holding a basket while grasping a shopping cart, Cortez basked in his 15 minutes of fame.
“Most people wait their whole lives to do something like this,” he said. “We’re gonna help a lot of people.”
First in the shopping cart went gluten-free flour and pasta. He began by plucking boxes two at a time off the shelf, then stretched out his arms like a giant squeegee and cleaned off the shelf completely. Four minutes and 50 seconds later, Cortez finished with dozens of tiny jars of spices.
Along the way, he added cans of coffee, bottles of olive oil, tins of soup — many, many cans — plus more pasta and packages of gluten-free cake mix.
When a bag of flour broke, he ignored it and kept on grabbing. “You break it, you buy it,” joked grocery manager Michael Royds.
Large crowds gathered at the ends of the aisles to cheer him on. “Run like the wind, Damien,” yelled Kay Stanley.
As a timekeeper counted out the final minutes, Cortez crossed the finish line at the cashier stands with about two seconds to spare.
This past summer, the Goose donated the five-minute spree to a fundraiser held by the Freeland Chamber of Commerce. The winners, Bayview neighbors Ed and Chris Halloran, decided to donate their spree to Good Cheer.
“We support Good Cheer and the Goose and thought it would be a fun thing to do, as well as highlight the need that the food bank has this time of year,” said Chris Halloran. “We have food, but there are those that don’t, and this is our chance to help spread the word.”
The Goose decided to chip in another $50 worth of items each from the fresh meat and produce department, to be added separately.
After Cortez rolled his booty to the check-out stand, checker Ashley Koska got to work, shouting out the totals, $100 at a time. Cortez’s haul filled four carts to the brim, and he raised his hands over his head like a winning prizefighter. He then wiped the sweat from his brow, and asked if he could keep the food he was wearing from the bags and boxes that were broken along the way.
Good Cheer workers said they couldn’t wait to get back to the food bank and put the 37 bags of food on a scale, then the shelves.
“This gives our clients a real choice. We can’t afford to buy these items, so it means a lot,” said Good Cheer director Kathy McLaughlin. “This is a huge, huge gift for us.”