MISSION — The International Museum of Art & Science kicked off its Empty Barrels campaign, which will help collect donations for the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, with a small ceremony here at the 5×5 Brewing Co. on Tuesday.
The campaign consists of empty barrels donated by 5×5 Brewing Company in Mission and Hilmy Cellars out of Fredericksburg being decorated by local artists to help promote IMAS and the Food Bank RGV.
The barrels will be placed at various locations throughout the community to help collect food and monetary donations for the Food Bank.
“Starting today, going forward our artists will have about four weeks to decorate and paint artistically those barrels,” Anastasia Perez, development and marketing director for IMAS, said. “Then, in about mid-February, we anticipate they will then go out into the community at participating restaurants with Brew-seum, at participating sponsors that want to house a barrel for a week, or two weeks, or four.
“Eventually, those barrels will go back to the IMAS for the final week leading up to Brew-seum, at which time they will be auctioned.”
Stuart I.R. Haniff, chief executive officer for Food Bank RGV, was on hand for the ceremony and said even a single dollar could help provide up to five meals for individuals in need.
“We want to always partner with our charities that are our neighbors,” Haniff said. “We partner, as it is, with 275 charities to help distribute the food, and this just seemed like a natural partnership because of the fact that we’re using these wonderful barrels to collect food. The museum itself is such a great opportunity to get these barrels decorated and showcased.”
Haniff said the benefit also helps awareness for both organizations, noting that the Food Bank helps feed tens of thousands of people in need in the region.
“That’s families, seniors, veterans. It’s a way for our local community to come together, for our nonprofit communities to come together, and to raise awareness for both of our missions.”
Haniff said that 98 cents from every dollar donated goes directly to feeding people. Among the most-needed items for the Food Bank are peanut butter, ready-to-eat and boxed meals in addition to canned goods — such as chicken, tuna, fruits and vegetables, soups and chili.
“We are so desperate to help feed those in need, as we mentioned, 64,000 people every month, but the need is closer to 146,000,” Haniff said. “So we’re trying to close that meal gap, and we’re trying to shorten lines. Not just give out food, but help move people from hunger to healthier nutrition. So a dollar is so critical.
“I always say: Give a dollar, give a can of food. Feed someone today, feed someone tomorrow.’ This campaign is going to raise visibility, raise dollars, and both of those are going to help us raise impact so that we can take care of more of our neighbors in need.”
James Jenson, who specializes in graphic design, is one of the six artists selected to design and decorate a barrel. He said that he is thrilled to be a part of a campaign.
“It’s very cool,” Jenson said. “It’s something that when I heard the idea and the whole concept about it, I was immediately wanting to partake because it’s such a good cause and hunger is something that shouldn’t be in this country. Any way to help fight it, I’m totally in.”
Information about the locations of the barrels will be posted at the IMAS website and their social media accounts in the near future.