This September, Homeless Backpacks will be hosting its famed fundraising dinner and auction, Bountiful Harvest. “The Bountiful Harvest Dinner and Auction is always a lovely event,” shares Kelly Wilson, founder of Homeless Backpacks. “I think the thing that I love most about it is the gathering of hearts who are committed to the same mission: supporting kids to be their healthiest selves and to stay in school.”
Homeless Backpacks has grown over the years from a deep desire to make a difference into a booming non-profit serving well over 600 of our community’s highest risk students. Their generosity extends from Thurston County to Mason County and even out towards Grays Harbor County. Every weekend during the school year, these students are given bags of food to put in their backpacks intended to support their nutritional needs over the weekends. The Bountiful Harvest Dinner and Auction serves as the non-profit’s largest fundraiser with every cent you contribute reinvested into the program’s operating budget. This means their growth is directly impacted by the community’s grace and generosity.
“Bountiful Harvest has evolved so much since its inauguration in 2006,” reflects Kelly. “The first year we held the event we put it together in only six weeks! At the time, Homeless Backpacks was growing faster than we could have expected. We just knew we needed funds and that we needed them fast! It was a small affair held at the Jacob Smith House. I think we had just about 65 guests. It was both sweet and surprisingly successful and we remember it fondly because it taught us so much about producing a dinner and auction, a skill critical to our success today.”
This year’s event takes place Saturday, September 22 at the Lacey Community Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased beforehand on the Homeless Backpacks website or at the door for $90 each and include a champagne reception, passed appetizers, wine, dinner provided by Elyse’s Catering and of course the auctions.
“We have some really great auction items this year,” Kelly says excitedly. “The Homeless Backpacks procurement team worked especially hard to bring really unique and irresistible items to both our silent and live auctions.”
Here are some of the amazing items you can look forward to bidding on at this year’s Bountiful Harvest:
- Two Sets of Seahawks Tickets, each with their own game date. One set includes transportation from Lacey in a luxury motorhome and an unforgettable tailgate party. The other comes with a pass to the CenturyLink parking garage.
- Prix Fixe Dinner for Two at La Petite Maison in Olympia. This package includes a case of beautiful French wines, all hand selected by Chef Justin Wells.
- The Batman Basket. The perfect item for any superhero fan. This basket includes a coffee maker, toaster, apron, lamp, throw, nightlight, insulated mug and action figure all in a collapsible storage chest.
- A Jake a Week for a Year donated by Dirty Dave’s Pizza Parlor.
The Bountiful Harvest Dinner and Auction is special to Homeless Backpacks because, in addition to raising much needed funds for the program, it serves as an opportunity to celebrate and share all that has been accomplished. Although Kelly has attended each and every Bountiful Harvest Dinner and Auction, she still looks forward to the portion of the evening dedicated to former Homeless Backpacks recipients most.
“I have been doing Homeless Backpacks since the Spring of 2006,” she says. “Even after all this time it is still so moving to hear these former students share their stories. It makes me grateful to be a part of this program and it re-inspires me to keep moving forward.”
One thing you may not realize about Homeless Backpacks is that they are entirely volunteer run. That means that every detail of day to day operations has been handled completely through the gracious donations of time by countless generous hearts.
“Our program took a giant leap last school year,” Kelly says. “We always plan for growth, but nothing like what we experienced in the 2017-2018 school year. We gave out over 3,000 more bags of weekend food than we had given out the previous school year. To put that in money terms, we spent over $24,000 more on weekend food than we had the previous school year.
“There are so many great causes in our community and in the world. At Homeless Backpacks, we are honored by every dollar that our community entrusts to us and we strive to be good stewards of our community’s donations of money, food and time. At the heart of all this work, we are just a bunch of volunteers, learning how to do all of this as we go. We don’t know what this school year has in store for us. But, our volunteer teams and team leaders are geared up and ready to go.”
Bountiful Harvest Dinner and Auction is all about helping our students focus on their education. It’s about making a win for our kids. Homelessness is a critical issue in our community, but even more so when our students are impacted. It may seem a small thing to share a bag of food with a student, but it is a simple act that can change their world, define their futures and ours.
To purchase your tickets in advance, learn more about Bountiful Harvest 2018 or to discover ways you can support this inspiring non-profit, visit them online at the Homeless Backpacks website.
Mark your calendars now!
Bountiful Harvest Dinner and Auction
Saturday September 22nd at the Lacey Community Center
6729 Pacific Ave SE, Olympia
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.