Every Thursday without ceasing, Jim Cluff drives out to Mesa from his south Phoenix home to pick up and fill the bed of his Dodge truck with nearly 800 loaves of bread.
Cluff, 69, a retired salesman for an auto parts company, delivers the bread to about a dozen resource centers, food banks, women’s shelters, and more.
“I could do it every day if I could, or even twice a day,” said Cluff, who has been doing this weekly routine for the past three months.
Last Thursday at 8 a.m. sharp, Cluff and his grandson, Jesse, drove around the back of Alpine Valley Bread in Mesa to the loading dock. Backing in his gray, Dodge Ram crew cab, the pair began moving pallets filled with bread over to the truck.
“This is basically the process,” said Cluff, who is soft spoken with a humble, hardworking disposition.
In just half an hour, they loaded more than 700 loaves of day-old or slightly misshapen loaves from the bakery by hand, then set off to deliver the loaves to about a dozen centers in Tempe and Phoenix on a typed-out list.
Visiting places like the Kyrene Family Resource Center, Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, Maggie’s Place and St. Mary’s Food Bank, among others, Cluff said he saw a need around the community and decided to help fill it.
“These places are all about helping others, so I’m helping them help others,” he said.
Though Cluff doesn’t live in the Ahwatukee or Tempe area, he’s been connected to the community since his grandsons, now in high school, attended Kyrene Middle School, where he served on the PTO, and his youngest daughter attended Mountain Pointe High School.
With another of his daughters currently staying at Maggie’s Place, Cluff said the personal tie to centers that help those in need was a motivation for his service.
“I’ve seen her in places that no one should have to live, and there are so many people that go without,” Cluff said.
Just before the school year ended, Cluff gave Kyrene’s Family Resource Center about 300 loaves of bread, a donation that prevention specialist Amanda Nosbisch said is still helping district families.
“Bread for us has been something we provided every now and then, but it wasn’t a reliable food source,” Nosbisch said. “(Cluff) is an amazing resource, and it’s a goal of the center to start providing families with fresh food.
The resource center in Tempe serves families and district students in need of canned food, supplies and clothing.
“It’s amazing that he does this of his own volition, just to think about being able to give our families fresh bread every week is exciting,” Nosbisch said.
Since starting his donations and deliveries this spring, Cluff said he gets referred on to other centers or shelters who might need the loaves of bread. Also helping out his neighbors and the occasional homeless man or woman he comes across, Cluff said his delivery list keeps growing on its own. But the best part of it all, according to Cluff, is simply receiving the genuine “Thank you.”
“It’s something I like to do, and I just go do it.”
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