Leaving a Legacy: Ruth Ellen’s Dedication to Fighting Hunger

Nutritious fruit and vegetables provided to families in need in Detroit, Michigan.
36 pounds of emergency food, including fresh fruit and vegetables are provided to families in need in Detroit, Michigan.

“I feel grateful that I am able to make this type of gift. It’s an honor and brings me joy to know my support will go on.”

Ruth Ellen Mayhall’s journey with Gleaners spans four decades.  “A business peer first introduced me to Gleaners’ founder, Gene Gonya, and his mission to ‘glean’ surplus nutritious food to feed our hungry neighbors. Back then, Gene was laying the groundwork for food banks, including the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act—incredible work that has had a nationwide impact.”

 As the president of the Michigan Restaurant Association, Ruth Ellen offered a variety of support for Gleaners’ earliest fundraising events. “We had unique dining events and big harvest celebrations. It’s a way I could help,” she said.  

Ruth Ellen’s passion for food security led her to serve as both Gleaners’ Board Chair and Vice President of Development. As she progressed from a business peer to advisor to dedicated fundraiser, Ruth Ellen became a life-long hunger hero. “I loved entering the warehouse. Every day was inspiring, witnessing the diligent Gleaners’ team preparing food orders for the service agency, greeting the agency leaders who were the direct providers for their hungry neighbors. I was especially impressed with the Kids Helping Kids program, students packing meals for their peers—their involvement is special to my heart.”

Over the years, Ruth Ellen has seen Gleaners’ distribution food grow from 3 million pounds to more than 45 million. Last year, Gleaners served more than 428,000 individuals of all ages and walks of life. Ruth Ellen knows first-hand that there are many faces of hunger. “The thought of our neighbors-in-need, the most vulnerable being children and seniors, not having enough to eat, spurs me to do what I can for the future.”

While drafting her estate plans, Ruth Ellen Mayhall included a bequest to Gleaners—a lasting statement of support for her hungry neighbors.

Since 1977, Gleaners Community Food Bank has been a reliable resource for children, families and seniors in their hour of need. This work is only possible with supporters like Ruth Ellen.

In addition to making a one-time or monthly cash donation, there are many ways to support Gleaners. Generosity comes in a variety of forms, including donating stocks, estate planning and more. These options might allow you to make a larger and more impactful gift than you ever thought possible. 

If you would like to learn more, Gleaners’ Planned Giving website offers many resources to help you leave a lasting benefit for your community.

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