Food distribution program receives surprise $10,000 grant

As about 50 people waited to receive a food package in the community center of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, board members from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation surprised organizers of the Neighbors 4 Neighbors program with a $10,000 grant.

“It was a wonderful surprise,” said Chet Hecht, Outreach Director for St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, which supplied about 1,100 seniors, adults and children with food on Tuesday, during the program’s weekly distribution. “We are so thankful to the Berger Foundation for recognizing what we are doing here.”

As Christopher McGuire and Catharine Reed, delivered the $10,000 grant check, a crew from CBS Local 2 was recording and Livestreaming the presentation on Facebook. The grant is an offshoot of a partnership between the Berger Foundation and CBS Local 2, where each month, a local nonprofit receives a $25,000 grant. But this gift was in addition to the monthly awards. CBS Local 2 Reporter Alexandra Pierce and her crew had cameras rolling, as representatives from the television station and the foundation carried balloons and an exaggerated check into the room unannounced.

“This summer we added three surprise grant presentations so we could affect more people in our community who were requesting assistance, because it’s difficult to choose only 12 nonprofits from the approximately 100 Coachella Valley Spotlight applications we receive each year,” said Christopher McGuire, Vice President of Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church’s Neighbors 4 Neighbors program applied for a 2017 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant, but was not selected as one of the monthly recipients. However, the organization’s application stood out, noting a need for more refrigerators and freezers to keep up with the increased number of people the organization is serving.

“This was a great day!” said Catharine Reed, Program Director of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “We were able to see, first-hand, the people we are able to help with the Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership.”

The church’s Neighbors 4 Neighbors program started in 2007, and currently assists about 48,000 area residents annually with basic necessities including food, clothing and shelter. With the help of many volunteers, the Neighbors 4 Neighbors program also helps area residents apply for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and refers them to medical and social services in the community.

“We are proud of the Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership with the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, which has made a difference in thousands of people’s lives. We are excited to open the grant application period for 2018, and look forward to learning more about all the wonderful work happening in our community,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2.

For more information about the Coachella Valley Spotlight grant or to apply to receive one in 2018, go to, and click on the Coachella Valley Spotlight logo near the bottom of the home page.

To learn more about St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church and its Neighbors 4 Neighbors program, visit or call 760-346-2697.