Solar car race benefits food bank

November 20, 2008 7:30:37 PM PST
There is an unusual effort to end hunger in the South Bay. The Second Annual Applied Materials Solar Car Race took place Thursday. It is a race where cheating is encouraged because it comes at a price, and all proceeds go to Second Harvest Food Bank.

In Santa Clara on Thursday, it mattered when the sun came out. The big three automakers might have taken clues from this -- a race between solar-powered cars at Applied Materials. It was part of a company fundraiser for the Second Harvest Food Bank in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Employees from every department pool their money to enter their cars, and then they pay to cheat. Every mid-course correction -- $25.

It can add up in a hurry. For instance, $50 buys 100 meals from Second Harvest and $250 even more in these tough times.

"That's 500 meals... that's absolutely making a huge impact for a lot of people," said Michelle Sklar with the food bank.

Applied Materials has given to Second Harvest for more than a decade. In 2005, employees stacked soup cans. Another year, they threw pies at executives. Last year the company changed gears. They said, 'Well, we're already in the solar business."

This year's winning car was a combination of model airplane parts. In a contest where it is a violation of the rules to not cheat, they savored the moment.

"Since we beat HR, we could be in trouble," said an employee.

But for the food bank it was money from sunshine, about $4,000 worth.


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