Buddhist temple

Buddhist Temple Musical Fundraiser for Auburn Food Bank Raises $9,360 for Backpacking Program

When the White River Temple fundraising musical revue for Auburn’s food bank backpacking program for underprivileged students debuted online Nov. 20, food bank manager Debbie Christian was watching.

If you ask her about it, you’re sure to get a smile.

And Christian is right. Between the $5,360 raised and the $4,000 the Temple Community Fund and Friends of the Temple contributed in matching funds, the net amount was $9,360.

These are not baby potatoes.

“It’s a life-saving program,” said Christian.

The “Food to Go – Backpack” program provides backpacks full of single-serving, high-protein, kid-friendly foods on weekends and holidays so children in the Auburn School District don’t have to not hungry when they cannot access school meals. .

Because these types of foods are more expensive for a person than when purchased in bulk, Christian explained, the backpacking program costs $700 to $800 a week to make it happen. For the food bank, that’s a lot of money.

While Christian maintained the vital program using mostly money in the bank from an estate sale gift more than 10 years ago, the fund has now dwindled to its final $2,000 to $3,000. So she wrote grants — United Way has a grant of about $5,000 that specifically focuses on backpack programs. Monetary donations keep pouring in to fill the gaps, and every July and August she asks local businesses to focus their aid solely on food for the backpacks.

“We’re trying to pull in whatever donations we can get, meaning free food that can fit in there,” Christian said. “But if we have to buy, I have to shoot the account. That $9,360, though, probably gives us another three years or so.

Vivian Alexander, a member of White River Buddhist Temple, first saw the need to support the program in peril in the spring of 2021. She approached Temple Sensei Jim Warrick with an idea: a fundraising event to support the program. of food to take in a backpack. He liked what she had to say.

“We discovered this need for these children, and we found that to be an additional way to help,” Warrick said. “Our Buddhist teaching is that if you serve yourself you will be unhappy, but if you serve others it brings you the greatest happiness.”

Temple members Don Gardner, Kendall Kosai and others began hosting the event in May 2021, with Gardner — former owner of Green River Music in downtown Auburn and an all-around musician in his own right — recruiting all talents.

“We had a discussion and decided there were a few different ways to approach it,” Gardner said. “One of them was doing a live stream and having an auction with it. But we decided because of the COVID thing that making the livestream, a real live show, was out of the question. So we reduced it to a pre-recorded video, and stupid me, I volunteered to recruit the musical animation.

It would feature guitarist, singer and songwriter Bronson Bragg; Voices 4, a vocal quartet from Kent, Washington, consisting of Linda Fahlgen-Moe, soprano, Kailey Mutter, alto, Jill Lawrence, alto, and Rae Colburnem, bass; Kareem Kandi, saxophonist; and the Take 7 Little Big Band with Stan Hernacki, trumpet, Dave Knecht, trombone, Craig Schwendemen, saxophone, Don Gardner, trombone, Dave Hoskin, drums, John Giuliani, bass, Henry Nielson, piano, Jenny Goebel, trombone, Debbie Jaap , piano, Dan Hendrick, trumpet and Ron Appel, trumpet.

Gardner said all of the musicians above offered their services for free.

At the end of August and through September and October, musicians either contributed their video content or Gardner arranged to record their material. Another important player in the exercise was their technical contact, Kosai, who did some of the video work and then assembled the final video. Gardner provided all audio for remote recordings and voiceovers.

Finding a place to record proved to be a difficult task.

“The original plan was to try to do some of the recording outdoors because of the neutral acoustic properties,” Gardner said. “We had a session in late August and early September, but the weather sort of got worse on us and being outdoors was no longer a viable option.

“So we struggled to find indoor facilities but again due to COVID there wasn’t much available. We ended up using the temple for one of the recording sessions and then the owners of Soos Creek Botanical Gardens graciously donated their barn. We did a lot of the recording in that barn one day with a few different artists,” Gardner said.

The video is still online, Gardner said, and as of two weeks ago today had 143 views.

“Don and others put this music thing together, and I’m so grateful that as a temple we were able to come together and be a conduit,” Warrick said.

“Asking for donations through the temple’s online portal was a sweet way to ask, and people responded very well,” Christian said.

Debbie Christian, Auburn Food Bank Manager