Nonprofit blossoming to nourish hungry children
Attendees look over the silent auction items during the Help Us Bloom event. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
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Neighbors along Draper’s Southfork Drive may have wondered who was having a party with the dozens of cars lining their street on May 7. The party-goers temporarily taking up space were there for the KidsEat! Help Us Bloom garden tea party, benefit and auction. KidsEat! is a Murray-based nonprofit organization that assembles backpacks of food to feed hungry kids on the weekends.
“There are more than 55,000 children in the Wasatch Front who are going hungry on the weekends because there’s not enough food, and that shouldn’t be. I can’t express how horrible that is,” said Geoff Partain, event director and recently named director of development for KidsEat!
In its second year, proceeds raised from the garden-themed tea party doubled the organizers’ expectations.
The sun-lit day saw a silent auction of over 30 items such as a signed Gordon Hayward basketball the Utah Jazz overnighted. Other items included a 49" flat screen TV, Real Salt Lake and Salt Lake Bees packages, Hale Theatre or Desert Star dinner nights and tickets to the Utah Blues Festival.
Former NBA coach Barry Hecker auctioned off a spot in his basketball camp while American Bobsledder Jeremy Holm auctioned off a lunch, summer bobsled ride and tour of Olympic Park.
Lynda Brown, KidsEat! founder, said the people behind the donations have been amazing.
“You hope that people believe in what you’re doing and for them to step forward and give their love and support to us is just more than I could’ve hoped for,” Brown said.
Partain said it’s because donors understand this money goes toward hungry children.
“We just don’t have the ability to do it without the help from the community. It’s absolutely 100 percent the support of the community that makes this all happen,” he said.
Holm visits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah with other athletes to share skills and life lessons with kids. He heard about the work Brown was doing and told her, “Whatever I can do to help, consider me on board.”
“These are amazing kids. They’re brilliant, they have these passionate dreams for the future, but they come from difficult circumstances, so if we can do something to alleviate that, let’s do it,” said Holm, who brought a full-size bobsled to the benefit.
Holm said everyone’s experienced the pains and frustration of hunger in their lives, but for some kids, a weekend without food is normal and it’s affecting their lives.
“It’s the nutrition aspect, it’s the mental aspect. It’s helping them excel in the sports they’re doing, excel in their education and be healthy overall,” he said.
Partain said feeding hungry kids couldn’t be more imperative with families not having the means to feed themselves.
“That’s no way to grow up. How can you grow up and learn and be a productive citizen when you’re hungry?” Partain said. “This is just essential that we feed kids … that is as important as it gets.”
The tea party also included an option where people could sponsor a kid for $100 and cover their weekend meals for a year.
“Every penny of that sponsorship goes to feed a child,” Partain said.
Holm said it was important to remember that it doesn’t take much to make a difference, whether it’s organizing a food drive with a local group or donating $5.
“Every little bit adds up,” he said.
For Brown, she is content being the place community groups come to for their projects.
“We’re happy to be the organization that people are coming to to give service,” she said.
With help from benefits like the Help Us Bloom event, Brown hopes to see the program continue expanding. She hopes to increase to a thousand meals per week by fall.
“This kind of support by these people are what will make it happen,” she said.