By Amy Rowley
Robert Coit is a winner. He isn’t holding a lucky lottery ticket or hitting the jackpot on the slot machines. Instead, as the Executive Director of the Thurston County Food Bank, Coit is happily sharing the good news about a $10,000 grant.
Today, Walmart announced that it was donating $100,000 to 10 nonprofit organizations who were nominated with compelling stories of personal hardship that help to put a face on hunger in our communities.
Walmart conducted the search for worthy nonprofit organizations through a social media campaign. The request was for customers, staff and other community members to nominate organizations that are making a difference.
While the actual nomination was kept confidential, Coit was informed that a previous client of the Food Bank and a member of the community nominated the organization. “It was a very personal story about how the Food Bank supported her family when she needed it most,” recounts Coit.
“This story talked about the dignity offered alongside the food at the Thurston County Food Bank,” explains Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. She added that outreach programs, such as the school backpack program, were another factor for why the local food bank was selected to receive the $10,000 gift.
The Walmart Foundation received more than 21,000 applications of real stories. “It was a huge job, but also a real pleasure to read stories about the great things happening in local communities. It was very heartwarming to see people write these stories,” says Gehrki.
Gehrki adds that Walmart has a longterm goal of donating $2 billion into communities over the next five years to help combat hunger. “We wanted to find stories where organizations were having a big impact,” she adds.
Gehrki stresses that while the $10,000 gift will make a big difference to the Food Bank, she notes that more is needed year-round. “We hope that this gift creates more visibility for the Thurston County Food Bank’s programs and encourages others to give,” says Gehrki.
Over the course of twelve days, Walmart is donating $1.5 million to 140 organizations across the country.
Locally, the Food Bank sees about 500 regular volunteers in any given month. The organization feeds anywhere from 175 to 300 people in the downtown Olympia facility. In addition, Coit’s team of 12 full and part-time employees also manage the ForKids Backpack and school garden programs. (Read Walmart’s press release here.)
“For us, there is no higher praise than that given by those we help,” summarizes Coit.