The Local Bee facilitates giving back and spreading joyDec 14, 2020 11:43AM ● By Katherine Weinstein
The Local Bee co-founders Shawna Borg and Natalie Watson held a collection event at La Petite Maison in Draper last October. (Photo courtesy Natalie Watson)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
The success of The Local Bee, a new grassroots charitable organization founded by a couple of Draper women, is a bright spot in challenging times. The founding members were recently honored as Extra Miles Heroes by Draper City Council. With the goal of bringing happiness and helping those in need, The Local Bee offers friends and neighbors an opportunity to get involved and “focus on something positive,” as co-founder Natalie Watson explained.
Each month, The Local Bee partners with a different local charity to fulfill a specific need and hosts a simple service opportunity for community members to participate in while also highlighting local restaurants, shops, businesses and organizations. A large part of their mission is to help spread joy to people through the act of giving and participating.
The name, The Local Bee, refers to Utah’s nickname as the Beehive State and the “local” reflects the group’s focus on small businesses and organizations within the Wasatch Front.
The Local Bee started last summer when friends Watson and Shauna Borg began talking about how they could give back and help the community thrive. “Both of us had been wanting to do this for a long time,” Watson said. In researching local charities, they learned about For the Kids, a nonprofit in Salt Lake City that provides food for kids on the National School Lunch Program (a federal free or low-cost lunch program) who often go hungry on weekends.
The two organized a food drive, getting their kids involved and inviting friends and neighbors to contribute prepackaged and easy-to-prepare foods via social media. The response was outstanding. The Local Bee contributed 732 complete weekend meal kits to For the Kids, stocking their pantry for the month of September.
For their next project, The Local Bee reached out to the Granite Education Foundation which puts together “Santa Sacks” for underprivileged kids. Learning that there was a particular need for gift items for tween girls, Watson and Borg organized a drive to make grooming kits including combs, brushes, nail polish and lip balms.
Seeking to simultaneously shine a light on local businesses, they set up a collection site for the items at La Petite Maison Antiques in Draper. By the end of the drive, The Local Bee had 510 grooming kits for the Santa Sacks.
“It’s been terrific, really rewarding to see how this has taken off,” Borg said. “We have a lot of kind and generous people who want to help and we couldn’t do it without them.”
Watson relayed an anecdote about a donor who told her, “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do something for those little girls.”
The women view their organization as a way to make it easier for people to give back. “We recognize that a lot of people don’t have time,” Watson said. “The idea is to come up with small, simple projects that have an impact on the local level and spread the word.”
“People just want to help,” Borg said. “They recognize that there is a need and they want to do their part.”
For November, which is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month, The Local Bee teamed up with HomeAid Utah for an online fundraiser. HomeAid Utah is a nonprofit provider of housing for those experiencing homelessness. The Local Bee spread awareness about the organization over social media inviting people to donate online.
This month, The Local Bee is collecting new sweatshirts, hoodies and socks to help underprivileged teens keep warm this winter. In speaking with local nonprofits, it was clear that “the teenage population is where the most help is needed,” Borg said.
“We also want to draw attention to great little businesses in our community,” Borg continued. They approached The Piano Place to act as a drop-off site for the clothing. The clothes will be donated to the Christmas Box House, Family Promise of Salt Lake City, Shelter Kids, South Valley Sanctuary and Utah Foster Care.
Ideas for future drives and fundraisers in 2021 include honoring teachers, a diaper drive and reaching out to children who have lost a parent. “We have many different ideas floating around,” Borg said.
The Local Bee invites members of the community to donate new sweatshirts and socks at all locations of The Piano Place during December. The Draper location of The Piano Place is 12575 S. Fort St. There will also be a collection event on Dec. 15 from noon to 2 p.m. in front of La Petite Maison, 915 E. 12600 South in Draper. For updates on projects and ways to give, follow @thelocalbee on Instagram and Facebook.