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Helping fight hunger

Employees of Santa Rosa Morgan Stanley office exchange suits for work clothes for volunteer stint at Redwood Empire Food Bank


John Evans plucked juicy plums from a bin Wednesday and packed them neatly into plastic bags inside the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s cavernous warehouse just north of Santa Rosa.

 FRESH FRUIT: Morgan Stanley employees John Evans, from right, Bob Janes and Rob Lenz bag plums at the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa last week. A team of 22 employees volunteered at the food bank a day after the company announced it had donated $50,000 to the nonprofit agency. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

FRESH FRUIT: Morgan Stanley employees John Evans, from right, Bob Janes and Rob Lenz bag plums at the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa last week. A team of 22 employees volunteered at the food bank a day after the company announced it had donated $50,000 to the nonprofit agency. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

The financial adviser with Morgan Stanley usually wears a suit to work, but on this afternoon, Evans and 21 of his colleagues were dressed in blue T-shirts identifying them as “Morgan Stanley Volunteers.”

For Evans, volunteering with the food bank for a few hours was an opportunity to give back to the community and help low-income people eat fresh, healthy food.

“I’m a fortunate person and it’s nice to do things for others,” he said. “This is a way to introduce people to fresh food and maybe change their diet.”

The volunteers from Morgan Stanley’s Santa Rosa office bagged fruit and sorted cereal a day after the company announced it had given $50,000 to the food bank, which feeds 78,000 needy Sonoma County residents each month.

The grant is to fund the food bank’s Farm to Family program, a child-hunger initiative that helps ensure low-income families have access to healthy, nutritious food, the food bank said.

“It’s great to have the help because of all the people we feed each month,” said Mike Iritz, a food bank volunteer specialist. “These volunteers have a lot of energy. They know they are helping out.”

Anna Camera, a business development manager with Morgan Stanley, said it was great to volunteer at the food bank’s new $9 million, 60,000-square-foot headquarters.

“I think they’ve done a great job in building a state-of-the-art facility,” Camera said while moving bags of corn flakes. “I love to volunteer.”

For financial analyst Doug Brinker, the opportunity to volunteer was better than giving money.

“It’s a good feeling to help the needy,” he said, plums in hand. “You can donate money, but working really gives you satisfaction. It’s sweat equity.”

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or