Back in August, our Managing Director, Marketing Director and Human Resources Director attended a partnership summit for No Kid Hungry here in Chicago. The day started out with a trip to the Greater Chicago Food Depository where they had a tour and over lunch they listened to a few speakers. Among the speakers was Yolanda Morris who runs a youth program in the neighborhood of Englewood in Chicago.
For those of you who do not know, Englewood is an area with extremely high crime, gang and drug rates. This youth program was created to provide the children of Englewood a safe haven where they are fed, educated and most importantly, cared for.
During the summer months, Yolanda and a group of volunteers take in an average of 150 children from 8:30am until 2:30pm, Monday through Friday. During the day, these children are fed a nutritious breakfast and lunch, which for some kids are the only meals that they receive. They get to play, read and learn about the positive opportunities that are available to them beyond what they may know.
During the winter months, the youth program is available on Thursday evenings, where the children can go after school. Those who attend the winter program are fed dinner and receive assistance with their schoolwork.
Yolanda shared her passion and concern for the kids in the youth program. She spoke of Share our Strength and how it has helped her with grants which have allowed the youth program to become available to more children. Her story was very moving, so moving in fact that we asked Yolanda to come and talk to The Land of Nod employees at our corporate office. She made the trip to the northern suburbs and gave a presentation on what life is like for the kids and the struggles she faces in running the youth program. Our employees were completely engaged by Yolanda’s presentation, we decided that we had to find some way to help this youth group in particular.
Being a children’s furnishings company, the first thing we decided to do was to take some of our product and makeover one of the children’s classrooms for them.
Our employees donated art supplies, games, DVDs and children’s books. We planned out the classroom space and took a group of volunteers down to Englewood where we spent the day painting and setting up the room with The Land of Nod product. We also donated 5 repurposed computers, a printer and a projector with DVD player for entertainment.
The end result turned out amazing as you can see in the before and after photo. We were able to transform the room into a vibrant, colorful, and inviting space for them to use.
The relationship we have formed with the Englewood Youth program has just begun. We have already started plans for making over another room this winter; this one will be for the younger kids.
Our employees are currently donating Thanksgiving meals to share with some of their more needy families. And we are planning to provide “Letters to Santa” gifts to the children in December.
Our partnership with No Kid Hungry has allowed us to make this very special connection. It has provided our employees an opportunity to be involved in a very tangible way to help people right here in Chicago.
By Becky Phillips
Becky works in Nod’s HR Dept. doing everything from booking the hot dog cart for our kickball parties to training our store staff on all the details of our latest products. In addition to cooking, she learned how to knit last year, but has yet to finish her first project…a scarf. So, if you come across any good, quick, knitting patterns, send them her way!