Among the many things we’ve learned at Second Harvest Food Bank over the years are a couple of simple truths about people. First, that most people in our community are generous, and tend to want to help others who are less fortunate.

Second, that in order for someone to reach the point of actually ‘taking action’ to help someone else, one has to first be made aware that the problems are real—and that they represent true hardship for those who face them every day. Once that awareness and a connection with the heart is made, resources and assistance begin to flow, plain and simple. And lives are changed as a result.

Real Radio 104.1 broadcaster Jim Philips has sometimes been called a ‘king-maker’ in reference to his ability to affect public opinion around political candidates. His passion for helping the community, however, just might earn him the moniker of ‘hope-maker’ as well. Philips and his on-air crew have been passionate supporters of the Second Harvest Food Bank mission for a number of years, and continue to lend it an extraordinary amount of credibility and awareness among thousands of faithful radio listeners.

Last fall, I was thrilled to learn that the Philips Phile program was planning to repeat the successful ‘Make Jim Pay’ on-air challenge that they had inaugurated during the previous holiday season. We were informed in November that the show’s team would devote valuable air-time to bringing awareness and attention to the plight of Central Florida’s struggling families, and that listeners would be asked to consider what their own generous contributions could accomplish.

A goal of $25,000 in donations made through the Second Harvest web site was set up, along with the challenge that Mr. Philips would get out his own checkbook and write a big check if the goal was achieved by Christmas Day. What a guy!

Those who listen to the ‘Philips Phile’ program will attest that not a single day went by during the holiday season that Jim, Moira, Jack, and Jana did not talk in great depth about how important it is that our community take action to help those in need of food. And, wow, did the listeners ever connect with their message!

Not only was the goal of $25,000 achieved by the deadline date, but managed to attract the attention and support of Panera Bread’s ‘Dough Nation’ program to the effort as well. Panera offered to collect money at each of their restaurant locations, as well as provide a dollar for dollar match to the funds that were donated. As a result, this combined effort has produced a total of more than $46,000 in just over a month!

This incredible listener response is a great testament to the loyalty and respect that so many people in Central Florida feel for Philips and his Phile team.   Jim, Moira, Jack Bradshaw, and Jana Banana truly get our thanks and kudos for helping us change so many more lives for the better.

So what does all that great support really mean?  Try this: Get out your calculator and multiply $46,000 by nine. Then imagine yourself walking into your local grocery store and spending that amount on food for low-income seniors, kids, working poor families, homeless, and others who need help. Tip: You’ll need a big cart.

On behalf of a grateful community, thanks to the Philips Phile, to all the listeners who dug deep to make Jim pay, and to Panera Bread.

Happy New Year!

Greg Higgerson
Vice-President, Development

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