Grandmother and physical therapy professor Kim Kotz decided to celebrate her 60th birthday next month with a new challenge for the charity she’s organized at Villa Maria College for the last eight years. As she does her usual cajoling for hundreds of volunteers to pack meal bags on campus for children around the world, she wants more: Extra money and extra help.
This year she added 45,000 meals to her usual order. Her new 147,000-meal total means she needs $32,000 by the time the truck delivery arrives in a couple of weeks.
“I want to feed one kid a year for every decade,” Kotz said, explaining a plea to Facebook friends for a portion of the costs. A single serving of the bagged meals costs 22 cents. So, one meal a day for a year is about $80. Multiply by six and that’s $480 in donations for what she’s calling “Kim’s Happy Birthday Account.”
Kotz, who coordinates the two-day Villa Maria College event, is methodical about fundraising even on a micro level. “All year, literally all year, I do not spend quarters,” she said. “I’ve been known to steal quarters from my husband’s car.”
Ever since she started the project to help after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, it’s become part of her identity, a volunteer feature for the school’s honors program and an annual quest to get the word out to the media, donors and more volunteers about a program that can be complicated to explain:
Feed My Starving Children– fmsc.org –is a Minnesota-based nonprofit that worked with nutritionists to create a vegetarian, protein-rich food mix that cooks easily with water. Since the its founding in 1987, the nonprofit developed a national network of community groups, schools and churches that fundraise, coordinate volunteers to pay for and pack the food ingredients that arrive by truck delivery.
Volunteers sign up for the sessions, set up in two-hour shifts, don hairnets and measure the rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy flakes and vitamin powder and seal them in plastic bags that will be shipped to countries in need worldwide – Haiti, the Phillipines, El Salvador, Nicaragua.
“You literally look around the room and there are hundreds of people, everyone working together. And it’s fun,” Kotz said. “You’re there for two hours. The two hours flies. Last year was a little different with the ice storm. It was crazy, but we did it. It’s so much fun. The music is going. The tables start competing with each other to see who can pack the most meals. People are yelling and hollering and making up chants.”
This year, for the third year in a row, the students taking the Digital Media and Communication program’s public relations class consider Kotz as a client and use the event to practice textbook lessons, write press releases and reach out to family and friends. To pitch in, Michelle Kearns, class instructor and former Buffalo News reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org, wrote this announcement with interview notes from Dr. Kotz’s class presentation.
“The more people who hear about this, the better,” Kotz told the PR class as the spring semester started. “The more people who donate, the better. The more people who want to volunteer, the better. There are cities where they do a half-million meal packs: 500,000 meals. I’d love to see it grow like that in Buffalo.”
Want to help? There are two ways. Pick one. Or both!
- Give to this year’s $32,000 fundraising goal at give.fmsc.org/buffalo
- Sign up for a two-hour packing session at the Villa campus at 240 Pine Ridge Road. Write or callKim Kotz at email@example.com or (716) 961-1837. Volunteers can be age 5 and up. An opportunity for families, businesses, churches and groups of all kinds.
Villa Maria College’s annual Feed My Starving Children MobilePack
240 Pine Ridge Road on campus at Villa Maria College in a neighborhood on the Buffalo-Cheektowaga border.
Friday, April 5: 6 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 6: 9 to 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
For more information write or call Kim Kotz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 961-1837.