Sandra Aldridge has only been a Menifee resident since 2002, but to many of the residents, she is a face of hope. As the Executive Director of the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard, Sandra is very busy working to maintain a viable food bank for the community's poor. From grant writing, organizing events, fundraising, managing volunteers, running the Thrift Shop, organizing payroll and Worker's Comp, all the way to shopping for food, holiday food distributions, working with other local organizations, maintaining equipment and attending community events, her busy schedule leaves little time for Sandra to reflect upon how she came to her position in our community.
While Executive Director is a paid position, she realized early that the position required more than 40 hours a week. "Somebody has to be here, sometimes up to 60 hours a week. Those weeks are more often than not. And while this type of schedule isn't something that could be expected of someone, well, the Cupboard needs someone to be here; someone to be in charge. It's not a 'Hey it's Friday, I'm outta here' type of position."
Sandra relocated here after her time in San Diego as a military wife. She literally stumbled into community service after 9/11, and she realized the great need of military families that was left behind in the wake of the deployment of the troops. "San Diego was a ghost town. All of the military left, all of them. Thousands of military wives and kids were alone, and they needed assistance." Going to work with Roger Hedgecock, Sandra was instrumental in forming Operation Homefront, which is now a nationwide non-profit organization providing financial assistance, counseling, and recovery support for military families. Sandra was the first Chapter President, and worked helping to form this grassroots organization through volunteering her time.
Working at the Cupboard, Sandra leads a staff of 10 and a volunteer staff of 50, on a regular basis, to help meet the needs of over 1,100 clients per month with food. Sandra is also grateful to have the support of the Board of Directors as well. In December, the Cupboard assists with the Santa's Workshop as well, providing toys to around 950 needy children in Menifee. "I think of the children, how many of them there are. This is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. So many of them come with no shoes, no coat, in the same dirty clothes day after day. I look in the faces of children who will benefit from just a meal, a toy, and some care."
Sandra also expresses great concern for our local seniors, and the fact that at this time of year they are choosing whether to spend their money of food, prescriptions, or heat. Sadly, no matter what choice they make, they will ultimately suffer.
"I came to this just following a path, a set of circumstances rolling into the life I have here. Sometimes you never know what will be in your path that turns into a passion. Being here was not really a calling, just following my path. When I look into the faces of those I am able to help, well, I'm glad I followed."
To learn more about the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard and how you can help, or to shop in the Thrift Shop, to find many wonderful treasures and help support your community, visit: