OAKLAND (KPIX 5) This week’s Jefferson Award winner always enjoyed Thanksgiving with his family even when there wasn’t a lot to go around. So when he learned there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving for many of his neighbors, he did something about it.

It’s a busy time of year for Dan McClosky. When he’s not at work,  this East Bay electronics rep is making special deliveries: bringing box after box to Bay Area synagogues and churches, all full of supplies that make it easy for anyone to support their local food bank.

It all started 17 years ago when McClosky read a small article in his local paper that said the Alameda County Food Bank didn’t have enough donations for Thanksgiving.

“I read the article and got really mad,” he remembered. “And said, ‘Something has got to be done!”

McClosky went to his family and friends,  and together they raised enough money that year to buy 55 turkeys. The next year, he went to a bigger family — his congregation, and Rabbi Steven Chester of Temple Sinai in Oakland.

“Dan came to see me and he told me he had this idea,” Chester said, “It really was a wonderful idea on how we could help others.”

With the Rabbi’s support, McClosky sent fliers in eye-catching envelopes to the congregation, informing them of the holiday needs at their local food bank, even supplying return envelopes to make giving easy.

“We raised $13,000,” he said.

Today, his holiday dinner drive has expanded to include more than 20 synagogues and churches throughout the Bay Area. By the end of this year, the money they’ve raised is expected to reach $1,000,000 — all of it going directly to local food banks, like the one in Alameda where Suzan Bateson is Executive Director.

“If we had more Dan McClosky’s helping us end hunger, we would end hunger in Alameda County and throughout the Bay Area,” Bateson said confidently.

And though McClosky never thought responding to one article would lead to so many years of volunteering, he is still clearly moved by the very reason he got involved.

“A lot of people have a lot of needs. There but for the grace of God go I,” he said thoughtfully. “If I can help people, I want to help them.”

So for starting a movement to feed Bay Area families in need, this week’s Jefferson Awards in the Bay Area goes to Dan McClosky.

Find your local Bay Area food bank using this link.

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