7th Annual Fundraiser Benefits Central Florida School Food Pantries
Sparked by a 60 Minutes documentary on homelessness in Central Florida, Kick Off for Kids began as a quarterly food drive in 2011 organized by Kavaliro, a leading-edge technology solutions and staffing firm providing qualified personnel in information technology, engineering, finance, accounting and administration, founded by alumni from the University of Central Florida.
The idea was to “Fuel the Community” once a quarter by asking for specific food items, such as peanut butter and jelly and other dry goods and nutritious snacks, to donate to local public school food pantries and their backpack programs. As the community rallied behind the efforts of this simple food drive, a few people spearheading the effort began to brainstorm ways to make the program even bigger and better in order to support additional schools.
Fast-forward to today, and the program evolved into a nonprofit volunteer based organization in 2013, called Kick Off for Kids, that relies on community support of tangible donations to make a difference for Central Florida public school students in need. Its mission is to ensure all students have the proper nourishment to sustain the focus needed in order to achieve academic success.
“Knight Federal is proud to support Kick Off for Kids. What began as a simple grassroots effort has evolved into a critical support resource for children that are suffering from food insecurity due to homelessness and extreme poverty in Central Florida schools. We support their mission to raise more money to feed more children,” says Chris Baeten, Knight Federal’s CEO.
Kick Off for Kids hosts their annual signature fundraising event in the fall, held on NFL Kickoff Thursday, which is how the charity’s name originated. This year’s event took place on Thursday, September 5, at Rock & Brews in Oviedo. Proceeds raised from the event generated more than $37K – up nearly $2,500 from last year. Table sponsorships were also sold out this year and there was a generous support from in-kind donations as well. This event generates money to support the mission to buy food for the schools for the year, through table sponsorships, raffle items, games, and a live auction. Knight Federal was a sponsor of the program.
“We are grateful for the support of the Central Florida community to be able to address this increasing need impacting our children and families. Since we held our first event, it has grown exponentially each year increasing the number of sponsors and donations, raising more than $180K to support the local school food programs. Currently, we support 22 schools across Orange and Seminole counties, but we hope to expand that and provide more support as the demand rises and word spreads about our services. The more money we raise, the more food we buy and the more children we feed,” says Lisa Moore, Kick Off for Kids Executive Director.
The Kick Off for Kids program was created to benefit public school students who receive free or reduced lunch, or families facing financial difficulties. The way it works is that each Friday backpacks are filled at the school with nutritious food to be sent home with the students, providing families in need with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the weekend. The empty backpacks are then returned the following Monday to be refilled. Because the demand is so great, often the families given a backpack are asked to rotate each week.
In its first year, Kick Off for Kids generated more than $10,000 and 2,000 pounds of food. The proceeds were used to purchase food to support six local schools on a quarterly basis throughout the year. In just seven years, the event has grown annually with almost 100% of the donations used to purchase food. Everything is donated or done pro bono, aside from credit card fees. To date Kick Off for Kids has donated more than 95,024 pounds of food, helping to alleviate the problem of hunger for children in Central Florida’s public schools.
Kick Off for Kids
Kick Off for Kids was established in 2013 as a nonprofit organization to ensure all Central Florida students have the proper nourishment to sustain the focus needed to achieve academic success. It stemmed from a quarterly community food drive into an organization dedicated to help “fuel the community” by addressing the need to support local public school food pantry programs. Visit the website at www.kickoffforkidsorlando.com.