FROM READERS: Trial attorneys, Buddy Packs and apple pie?

Thursday, February 14, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys volunteered Jan. 28 at Feeding America food banks across the state, including The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri in Columbia.

Jeannie Brandstetter is director of communications for the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.

Prices are up, incomes are down, and food bank donations are scarce.  But how do trial attorneys, Buddy Packs, and apple pie go together?

To help ease the increasing burden placed on regional food banks across Missouri, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (“MATA”) volunteered at Feeding America food banks across the state, beginning in Columbia on Jan. 28 and finishing up in St. Louis on Jan. 31.

MATA staff were joined by MATA members from across the state as part of the food bank tour to donate money and time sorting food.

Several Columbia trial lawyers, part of “Missouri Trial Lawyers Care Foundation,” gave a $5,000 donation to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri in Columbia on Jan. 28.  Columbia trial attorneys Scott Wilson, Mike Campbell, Aaron Smith, Brad Lear, Sander Sowers and Mark McMullin joined other MATA volunteers at the Food Bank and packed 668 “Buddy Packs” and repackaged 882 pounds of apple pie on Jan. 28.

“Our Missouri Trial Lawyers Care Foundation (Mo-TLC) raises money annually to help with projects like this,” said Columbia trial attorney Scott Wilson, a member of MATA's Board of Governors. “The food bank work-days have become favorites among our members because it allows us to do more than just hand over a check.”

Other food banks targeted for donations and work days are Harvesters — The Community Food Network in Kansas City, St. Louis Area Food Bank and Ozarks Food Harvest in Springfield. All are members of the Feeding America Network, formerly known as America’s Second Harvest, and serve as umbrella organizations for hundreds of nonprofit agencies.

“The Food Bank serves literally hundreds of thousands of Missourians,” said Wilson, “and we expect their needs to continue growing for the foreseeable future. We want to do our part to help, pure and simple.  Packing the “Buddy Packs” and knowing that those go home with kids right here in Columbia every weekend to give makes it really hit home, though.”

Mo-TLC’s mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where MATA members live and work across the state.  Grants made to educational, cultural, civic and health and welfare organizations have supported the families of officers killed in the line of duty, provided housing for veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project and support statewide Safe and Sober programs for teens, to name a few.

Founded in 1951, MATA represents 1,300 trial lawyers who are dedicated to protecting the civil justice system and the right to trial by jury, safeguarding victims’ rights, promoting injury prevention, and disclosing information crucial to public health and safety.  Wilson, who has served on the MATA Board of Governors since 2005, volunteered for the MATA’s Emergency Response Team, together with the Red Cross, and went to Joplin shortly after the Joplin tornado.

“Serving on the ground in Joplin was shocking, just from the sheer devastation and the effect on people's lives, but helping kids with the Buddy Pack program right here in mid-Missouri is just as rewarding. I’d encourage everyone to volunteer at least a few hours at the Food Bank, and I promise that you will get more from it than you give,” Wilson added.

(If you can't see the slideshow embedded above, view it on Flickr here.)

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor Joy Mayer.

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