My birthday food drive 

click to enlarge ED MUTSCHLER
  • Ed Mutschler

Now, for anyone who knows me, or has just even seen a picture of me, this will be very hard to believe. I recently hit the big double nickel: 55-years-old. Yes, I have the boyish good looks, delicate skin and maturity level of a much, much younger man, but the fact is I'm AARP bait. I may soon consider buying a nice pair of tan slacks.

The point is, your 55th birthday isn't like your 5th birthday or your 15th birthday. Having a party and expecting guests - your friends - to bring presents seems a bit childish.

But, people WANT to bring presents. It's a tradition. So I decided that this year I'd throw myself a kick-ass birthday party, but instead of having people bring me gifts (which I so richly deserve), I'd ask them to bring a canned or boxed food item for Second Helpings, a local food charity and culinary training organization.

It worked out great! Some people brought a can or two; others brought bags or boxes of food. One friend of mine who knew she wouldn't be able to attend gave me a bag of food a couple of days before the party. I wound up with more than 100 pounds of food, which I then schlepped over to Nora and the nice folks at Second Helpings.

I'm not the first person who's come up with the idea for this kind of party. But it'd be great if I could get other folks to think about doing the same thing. It's super easy and people are happy to contribute. Second Helpings and Gleaners Food Bank are two groups in Indy that would be happy to accept food donations.

You could also hold a party and collect pet food and supplies for The Humane Society of Indianapolis, or new socks, underwear and clothing for a homeless center, or whatever group you'd like to help.

Do your homework - contact the organization you want to support first and ask them what items they need. (Mike Eline of Second Helpings shared with me a nice little mantra regarding specific food items they're looking for: pasta, rice, spice.)

Thanks to all the party-goers who made my birthday mini-food drive such a success. I hope that you folks reading this will consider doing the same thing and, happy birthday in advance!

Harry Cheese's Birthday Bounty

19 canned hams (1½ lb.-6 oz.)

15 cans soup

14 cans pasta/tomato product

11 boxes pasta

10 cans fruit

7 cans/boxes veggies

5 large cans tomatoes

4 boxes cereal

4 boxes rice products

3 boxes macaroni and cheese

3 jars jelly/jam

2 boxes corn muffin mix

2 boxes Jello pudding/pie filler

2 cans tuna

1 can wild sardines

1 box au gratin potatoes

1 box Ritz crackers

1 bag no-cal. noodles

1 jar peanut butter

1 jar tomato and meat sauce

1 jar cranberry-honey mustard

1 can salmon

1 large can black olives

1 pack chocolate cookies

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