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Eric’s “Big Ride” benefits the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry

Shortly after Eric Rickin turned 39, the panic set in about his impending 40th birthday. Self-described as “risk-averse” and staving off an impending mid-life crisis, Eric put aside thoughts of the stereotypical sports car, and instead picked up his bicycle and decided to put the pedal to the metal in a different way – to benefit the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry.

“Almost turning 40, I had to do something out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I wanted to use this opportunity to make my mid-life crisis productive and encourage my friends, family and myself to do a good thing in the community.”

As his 40th birthday approaches in September, Eric has focused on training for and completing an upcoming bike ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. in 5 days, and raising funds for SHCFP along the way.

“I’d like my ride to be a force for good,” Eric said on his blog “I feel that this is my part in tikkun olam.”

“Tikkun olam” is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” or “healing the world,” suggesting a shared responsibility across humanity to help in healing, repairing and transforming the world in each individual’s own way.

Eric is passionate about the work and mission of SHCFP, which was also his late grandmother’s favorite charitable cause, for providing for those who are hungry in the 15217 zip code, as well as serving Jewish individuals and families throughout Pittsburgh who keep kosher and are in need of food assistance.

“I like that the Pantry serves kosher Jews in need of food assistance,” Eric said. “Poverty can sometimes be hidden within the Jewish community, and the Pantry does a good job of serving that need.”

As more people in our communities are struggling with economic uncertainty and food insecurity, for some, the Pantry is their only hope of putting food on the table. SHCFP’s services are crucial to ensuring individuals and families in our community are able to feed and provide for themselves, and we work to help our clients achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.

The Pantry depends entirely on grants, the generous contributions of donors and the time and talents of volunteers to fulfill its mission of ensuring food security and helping individuals and families in our community achieve as much self-sufficiency and independence as possible.

In honor of his big ride, Eric will match every donation to the Pantry, dollar for dollar, up to $2,000. Any donation to the Pantry received by April 30th, 2013, will also count toward a challenge grant offered by the Feinstein Foundation, which will match donated funds to the Pantry through the end of April.

Now is the time to maximize your gift to SHCFP.

The financial support of our donors and community goes to work immediately, directly helping us provide food and supportive services to individuals and families living in our community who, without our help, would not be able to provide food for themselves and their families. The more money we raise before April 30th, the more we will receive from the Feinstein challenge to help the Pantry continue to provide food-assistance to those in need in the community.

For those inspired by Eric’s act of generosity, he encourages community members to get involved in charitable causes.

“Get involved in the community,” Eric said. “Try to give back in your own little way.”

To donate to the Pantry online now, click here and select: “Sq Hill Food Pantry Annual” under program designation to ensure your gift is counted toward the Feinstein matching challenge. If you’d like your gift to count toward Eric’s challenge as well, please be sure to type or write “Eric’s Big Ride” on your donation form. You can also donate to the Pantry by calling 412-422-7200 or by mailing your donation to the JF&CS office at 5743 Bartlett Street, Pittsburgh PA, 15217.

To learn more about the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry, visit our website. To volunteer or to find more ways you can help support the Pantry, please contact Tanya Bielski-Braham, Food Pantry Coordinator, at 412-421-5982 or by emailing tbielski-braham@sqfoodpantry.org.