Engineering slugs rally against hunger

Second Harvest Logo
James McGirk

Not all of the UC Santa Cruz Baskin School of Engineering’s impact is in the realm of technology. Each year faculty, staff, and students donate time, food, gifts, and cash to the Second Harvest Food Bank, which provides meals to over 55,000 hungry Santa Cruzians each month. 

This year’s drive was led by Network Administrator Lynne Sheehan, and raised $14,709, which will provide more than 57,000 meals to the community. The total includes a generous $2,000 matching gift from Baskin Engineering Professor Emeritus Charlie McDowell and Adjunct Professor Linda Werner and is the second highest ever raised. 

“We started very small, and over time, the event really took off,” Sheehan said. “Scott Brandt was the original faculty member to offer up a $1,000 match. Scott took a position as the Vice Chancellor for Research for UC Santa Cruz, so Charlie and Linda stepped in with a $2,000 match, and it has continued to grow.”

Sheehan has been organizing the drive since 2007 (with her colleague former MEP Director Virginia Carrillo until 2010). 

Some of the funds were raised by a silent auction at the Baskin School of Engineering Annual Holiday Party. On the block were hand-made gifts created by engineering faculty and staff, which included handmade purses, jewelry, wood craft, knitted items, food and wine, and the ever-popular mystery boxes. Assisting Sheehan with the auction were engineering staff Heidi Sitton, Sandy Ashley, Cynthia McCarly, Lisa Slater, and Leah Kahn. 

“The silent auction is organic, meaning faculty and staff donate mostly handmade items to show off their many talents,” Sheehan said. “Although the auction is a small percentage of the yearly donations, it allows all staff, regardless of salary, to participate and give smaller amounts back to the community. Five dollars means 20 meals, so no matter what you earn, you can still contribute.”

Sheehan is especially proud of the number of new donors this year. “Seventeen new people contributed this year, including a couple of folks who are just beginning their careers.”

She also thanked John Steele, Charlie McDowell, and Linda Werner. “This effort would not be possible without Charlie and Linda from the Baskin School of Engineering. Nor would it be possible without the energy that John Steele has given to me with his support, encouragement, and commitment to making a difference in our campus and local community.”

Food insecurity remains a major issue in Santa Cruz County, where an estimated 1:5 adults and 1:4 children experience hunger. The Second Harvest Food Bank provides nourishing meals. For each dollar donated, the Food Bank can provide four meals. Second Harvest Food Bank is still accepting donations. For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank, please click: