Sherri Leal, director of the satellite branch of "Kids Against Hunger" in Pleasanton since 2010 that has delivered one million meals to children in Haiti, the Philippines and Somalia, was presented with the Mayor's Award by Mayor Jennifer Hosterman Friday night.
Nearly 200 attending the award celebration in the Barone's Restaurant patio gave Leal a standing ovation, honoring her effort to enlist local volunteers to make, pack and send the meals. Each packet serves six children.
"There are 7 billion people in the world and almost one in seven of those people are hungry," Hosterman said. "Among those, it's hungry children who are the most critical victims of malnutrition."
"Sherri Leal is one of those people who simply won't stand by as this is happening," Hosterman added. "Here's a woman who moved here with her family in 1997 and has been a volunteer in the community and her children's schools ever since."
Leal worked for many years with the Alameda County Child Protection Services and was employed by Bank of America until she retired in 2010.
That was the year when she became involved with organizations fighting world hunger and launched the satellite branch of Kids Against Hunger in Pleasanton
It takes less than a minute for the volunteers to put together a meal, using scoops that add a predetermined amount of each of the ingredients. Leal explained that each meal contains rice, soy with extra protein, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins and minerals.
"With a one-cup serving, you can literally survive on and a child can actually thrive," she said, adding that when Kids Against Hunger volunteers travel to Haiti, they eat those meals themselves.
Leal pointed out that Kids Against Hunger in Pleasanton already has a commitment to feed 1,500 children in Haiti three times a week, with the United Nations feeding them other days.
To help her raise funds, Hosterman, who has worked with Leal's organization packing meals, had placed donor boxes on each table at the awards dinner where contributions could be made.
The public can also contribute by sending checks made out to Kids Against Hunger to 1258 Quarry Lane, Suite H, Pleasanton, CA 94566 or clicking donate on their website www.kidsagainsthungerpleasanton.org.
"We can't save everybody," Hosterman said at Friday night's dinner. "But with a community like this, we can save a few."
Each year the city of Pleasanton sets aside an evening to celebrate the work of its appointed officials, the men and women who volunteer their time and talents to make Pleasanton better. This is the City Council's way of thanking the individuals who advise them.
Since 1971, the celebration has provided the mayor with the opportunity to identify an individual or group who has made contributions so outstanding that they warrant special recognition. These are the recipients of the annual Mayor's Award.
Besides the mayor, only council members Jerry Thorne and Cheryl Cook-Kallio also attended the event. Both are campaigning for election to the mayor's post in the municipal election on Nov. 6.
Commissions and committees honored Friday night were the Planning, Housing, Human Services, Library, Parks and Recreation and Youth commissions, and the Economic Vitality, Energy and the Environment, Hometown Holiday, Youth Master Plan Oversight and the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails committees.
Also honored were the Downtown Hospitality Guidelines, East Pleasanton Specific Plan, Historic Preservation and the Kottinger Place Redevelopment task forces.