Moussa Elmoussa. • Photo by Tony Leonhardt
Moussa Elmoussa. • Photo by Tony Leonhardt

One man makes one phone call. One hour later, thousands of lives in the Seattle community are changed. That man is Moussa Elmoussa, a business owner at The Landing in Renton, which hosts an annual Food Drive for The Salvation Army. This year, The Landing in Renton’s marketing director Sallye Soltner created an ad campaign around the release of the movie Hunger Games. Soltner hoped to inspire people to remember the hungry in their own community while watching the film.

Elmoussa requested a box to place inside his Gyros House Mediterranean Grill restaurant. Looking at the box, mostly filled with his own donations, Elmoussa decided to think big.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I bet I can get more food,’” Elmoussa said. “I am going to contact my suppliers. I buy food, and we’re talking big money, from them. Perhaps they would like to donate.”

The first person he called was Ali Shibane, owner of West Coast Pita. Elmoussa requested food close to expiration or any sort of contribution. Shibane replied, “Let me go around the warehouse and I will try to [get] something together.”

One hour later, Shibane called back to say the company would donate 10 pallets, almost $20,000 in food, to the Salvation Army.

Overwhelmed at Shibane’s generosity, it inspired Elmoussa to call others, including family-owned Evergreen International Inc., which immediately gave five cases each of vegetable including cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, and more.

“It’s incredible how one person can really make a difference for many,” Soltner said. “It shows that the ‘Gift of Giving’ can be contagious. We planted a seed of an idea and watched such an incredible cause ‘bloom’!”

The contagious blooming will now be annual; West Coast Pita and Gyro House have promised to donate the same amount each year.

“My philosophy is: it doesn’t matter how much money you have,” Elmoussa said. “When you die you can’t take it with you. When you leave, make sure you leave something good behind.”

Elmoussa wants others to know that they can change the community too.

“Little things do make a difference,” Elmoussa said. “If you can help someone who is hungry with a dinner, he will go by for another day. It doesn’t matter the amount of money, do whatever you can afford and you will make a difference. If we all help a little but we won’t have anyone starving or becoming lost this season.”

Elmoussa’s restaurant, the Gyro House, regularly collects donations and coordinates outside campaigns to feed the hungry in Seattle.

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