We talked with Kathy McKibbin-Manuel  recently to learn more about her experience with Health-e Giving, Health-e Pro’s philanthropic initiative. As the chair of the Washington School Nutrition Association this year, she recently applied for a grant through Health-e Giving as part of the community giving opportunity at the annual WSNA show in August 2018. Kathy is the menu planner at the Tacoma School District in Washington State, but volunteered with Tacoma Backpack and WSNA this year.

Here’s the mission of Tacoma Backpack:

To help reduce some of the hardships homeless teen students in Tacoma and the Greater Pierce County face by providing support to keep them mentally focused and in school through what is said to be the most challenging years in life while facing the added stress of living without a permanent home. With the help of donors in the community, the Forgotten Youth Foundation & Team Backpack provide backpacks and shoulder bags filled with clothing, personal hygiene supplies, gift cards to food establishments, coats, blankets, and gift items for the long holiday break and into the rest of the academic year.

Check out our quick interview with her below!

How did this project come about with Tacoma Backpack?

Nicole Ward, the founder of Tacoma Backpack, and I have been acquainted for a while. When the Tacoma Backpack foundation started, I did some occasional volunteering and enjoyed it so much. It was such a big part of helping kids in our district and was such a fun way to be part of the community. Homelessness is a personal thing for me, between my church and helping with Nicole, so it’s been a really cool way to serve my community. It was a great fit for me.

I was the Chair of the Washington School Nutrition Association conference this year, and we trotted out the backpack program and they wanted to support it!

How did Health-e Pro use Health-e Giving to join in on the fun?

I knew about Health-e Giving, but I thought it had to be school-specific, so I didn’t apply for a grant. But I was contacted by Wendy at Health-e Pro, who’d heard about our charity program at WSNA. She approached me to see if I’d be interested and I then very quickly wrote the grant proposal. In the course of three days we heard back that our grant application had been approved and got everything rolling with Health-e Giving!

What did you learn during this process?

What I learned from this is that I want to be more aware and more observant of when and where I can partner with Health-e Giving again in the future. It doesn’t just have to be specific to my district.

This grant enabled us to buy so many blankets and socks and those things we tend to run short of, like the actual backpacks. It’s not hard for people to donate toiletries, combs and brushes, but sometimes the other items are hard to come to by. The cash helps with those other items, and that’s where the matching grant from Health-e Giving helped so much.

We donated over 1000 backpacks last year. Our goal this year is 1500. Every one of them goes to a student!

Thank you so much to Kathy, Nicole, Tacoma Backpack, and the WSNA!