“Not many cities have the D.U.D.E.S.,” South Pasadena Mayor Bob Joe exclaimed Wednesday morning, a statement of appreciation that was met with applause by the 30 or so assembled at the South Pasadena Senior Center.
D.U.D.E.S., or Dads Uniting Dads in Education and Service, is a lively South Pasadena charitable organization that has more than 300 members. Ed Donnelly, who with five others founded the organization in 2012, had called the get-together to distribute checks to three local charities. D.U.D.E.S. had raised the funds through a recent charitable activity responding to COVID-related stay-at-home orders and the resulting rush to stockpile food and supplies.
“We were trying to figure out how we could help,” said Donnelly. “I was told it was chaos in the grocery stores. We figured we could find a way to make sure that the most vulnerable people were able to get food and prescriptions.”
Donnelly and the D.U.D.E.S. assembled what he called “a volunteer army,” of more than 160 community members who were willing to shop at no charge to the effort’s beneficiaries. for free. Because of the group’s nonprofit status, the shoppers had an important infrastructure that brought additional benefits.
“Even though we never made a call for donations, people started sending in money to support what we were doing,” said Donnelly, who presented individual checks on Wednesday for $1,000 each to the St. James Food Assistance Program, the South Pasadena Senior Center Foundation and the Holy Family Catholic Church Giving Bank.
“The first phone call I got was from Ed,” Marlene Moore of the Holy Family program said Wednesday.
And for good reason, according to Donnelly.
“I figured either they would need assistance or they could point us in the right direction,” he said.
The D.U.D.E.S. recently staged another successful fundraiser. On July 4, the group was part of a slow-rolling caravan through town — a procession replete with decorated cars and bikes bedecked with flags, banners and streamers — to help provide some Independence Day spark amid the cancellation of some holiday events.
The same day, group members visited the homes of several community members who were willing to make donations to the South Pasadena Educational Foundation’s Back2Class campaign, which is designed to help buy critically needed personal protective equipment and other supplies to keep students and teachers safe when schools eventually reopen.
D.U.D.E.S. members put on a private show at all 20 stops, providing a custom performance of “We Will Rock You” at each destination and eventually collecting $27,000 for the campaign.
“One of the more successful D.U.D.E.S projects ever,” said Donnelly. That’s a bar the group sets higher each time it reaches into the community.