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The City Journals

Premium fundraiser raises money for hungry kids

Dec 01, 2016 03:53PM ● By Travis Barton

A wine and cheese pairing event to benefit the KidsEat! foundation was held on Nov. 12 at Gallivan Hall. The event raised funds to feed hungry kids on the weekend. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Wine and cheese were paired together at a fundraising event hosted by KidsEat! at the Gallivan Hall on Saturday, Nov. 12. The event was held to raise money for hungry children during the holiday season. 

“People understand this is [for] children, ages three up to 18 that are out there that are hungry,” said Lynda Brown, founder of KidsEat!. She added that one in five children are at-risk of having no food on the weekend. 

The KidsEat! foundation is a charity that provides backpacks containing seven meals for children to take home on the weekend. Brown said they currently send out about 900 meals per week to the Children’s Pantry to Murray schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, and the Neighborhood House. 

While kids may get lunch at school, they may not eat the same way at home, Brown said. Almost 55,000 kids in the five major school districts of the Salt Lake Valley qualify for free lunches. 

“I find that shocking…we’re trying to help [the kids],” Brown said. 

Spearheaded by event planner, Geoff Partain, the party was designed as a premium event. The fundraiser included pairing wines and cheeses, red carpet photos upon entry and a silent auction. All auctioned items were donated by the event’s sponsors or personal contributions. 

Items auctioned included season tickets to men’s and women’s Utah basketball games, three private gymnastics lessons from Olympian Missy Marlowe, Elase facial treatments, onyx earrings from Bennion Jewelers and Jet Blue round-trip tickets and ski lessons with freestyle champion Gordy Peifer. 

“We’re trying to do things that involve the public to participate in KidsEat! because it’s a community effort,” Brown said. “We’ve had some really kind sponsors who have been generous and stepped forward.”

One donor, La Caille restaurant in Sandy, donated a week-long trip to the Mauian Hotel on Napili Bay in Hawaii. 

Most of the items were over $1,000 in value and individual tickets for entry were $100. All in an effort to raise funds for hungry children around the valley. 

“The biggest thing is that we bring awareness to the valley that hunger is a major issue,” Brown said. 

Nathan Monett has been a volunteer with KidsEat! since the beginning. He said participating in a fundraiser like this reminds him to think outside of himself, especially the thousands of kids in Salt Lake that don’t have food on the weekends. 

“It gets me outside of myself and being able to think about kids that don’t have as much as I do,” Monett said. “I feel blessed and grateful that I have the capacity and wherewithal to be a part of something like this.”

With over 50 people in attendance, Brown said it was a humbling experience to see successful people support children having suffered through similar hunger moments in their own childhood. 

“It’s very sobering to see so many people step forward,” Brown said. 

KidsEat! is funded completely by private donations, Brown said. Federal funds would require qualifications on the children and their families so Brown keeps it private in an effort to include everyone. 

“We don’t want to have to qualify the parents in order for the child to get food. If you’re hungry, we will give you food,” Brown said.  

In order to fulfill their mission, Brown said KidsEat! needs all the community help it can get so larger donor events are occasionally held such as a wine and cheese paring event. 

While the wines were provided by La Caille restaurant, certified cheese expert, Andy Fitzgerrell, was on hand to select and explain the cheeses offered at the event. 

For the attendees, it was the right type of experience to be involved in. For both William and Sandra DePasquale, their respective companies have supported KidsEat! through donations, activities and sponsorships. 

DePasquale, who works for Kenworth Sales, said they were looking for someone to donate to and suggested KidsEat! after Williams’ company, Expediters International, had volunteered with the foundation.

“It seems like as a society, there’s more that we should be doing. It seems like everyone that can should be involved in [feeding hungry kids] so it’s good there’s places like this that’ll step forward and more people need to support them,” DePasquale said.