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Gabrielle Trautmann – also known as Gabi – is a well-known and well-loved member of the Thurston County community. Her business, Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics is a mecca for those looking for games or comics, but also for those in need of a safe place to belong. Her nonprofit, Gabi’s Kids, helps anyone in our community in need. No questions asked. No barriers. It’s the epitome of what Gabi is all about.

Thurston County Nonprofit Gabi’s Kids Helps All in Need with Dignity

Founded in 2007, Gabi’s Kids is a charity that has grown from handing out food on the weekends and during the summer to youth, to offering items year-round for anyone of any age in need. They have two large drives a year as well. The first is their school supply drive that happens in early August – though they take school supplies year-round – and the second is their Adopt-A-Family program that happens during the holidays each year. Unlike other Adopt-A-Family programs, Gabi’s also has a “shopping” event where families can come and pick out donated items for their families.

“If you take the barriers away, and don’t put a stigma on it, then people can enjoy it on a level that otherwise they may not be able to,” continues Gabi. “And that’s kind of why we shifted from doing just the adoptive family stuff to doing the big event we do where people can come in and shop and take what they think their kids are going to want, versus us picking for them. And so every step of the way we’re trying to give everyone options and ways to have it be dignified, to have it not be embarrassing, to not have that stigma, because nobody wants to be judged.”

Her shopping event is just one of the ways Gabi strives to give people in need dignity through her charity. “I read an article that called it, “Charity with Dignity,’ and I loved that,” she explains.

tons of items in boxes and bags donated for Gabi's Kids.
During the holidays, Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics is full of donations from the community for their Adopt-A-Family and holiday shopping event for Gabi’s Kids. Photo courtesy: Gabrielle Trautmann

Olympia Community Comes Together to Help Each Other Through Gabi’s Kids

Because of the way Gabi’s Kids is set up, people often come full circle, those who once needed help donate when they can, and sometimes people need help after donating for years. Kids who use their food bags often help make lunches for others in need.

The 100% donation-based charity also has no overhead, so every penny people donate goes to those in need. Since the charity has the same house as Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics, Gabi pays her employees to do charity work during business hours. Some employees also volunteer off hours and she has community volunteers as well.

Gabi’s Kids is always in need of shoes, socks, jackets and school supplies, year round. In the way of food, Gabi says single-serve meals are always in need, things like macaroni-and-cheese and soup, as well as beef jerky, nuts and things like Fig Newtons. She mentions that soft foods are especially needed, for those with bad teeth.

Food is always something that is needed in our community. You can drop food donations off any time Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics is open. Photo courtesy: Community volunteer together with Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics workers make light work of helping the community through Gabi’s kids. Photo courtesy: Gabrielle Trautmann

Those in need are always welcome to come by Gabi’s Comics during business hours. “We have a cart by the door that has things like toothbrushes and food bags, and emergency tents and emergency blankets and stuff like that,” Gabi shares. “So that people that are under-housed just come in and they grab it. And we just assume that everybody will grab just what they need. And for the most part, people do. Nobody comes in and just like takes a bunch. I don’t want any barrier between someone and food.”

But what makes Gabi’s Kids – and truly Gabi’s Comics – so unique is it’s not just a handout. It’s a place where youth feel safe. Kids will often take some food and hang out at the store, Gabi shares. It’s a safe place where all are welcomed and no bullying is tolerated. Whenever something happens, like a power outage, Gabi is the first to post on her Facebook page that the comic store in Olympia is warm, dry and has electricity for charging devices. It’s just who she is – a woman with a big heart for her community.

Community volunteer together with Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics workers make light work of helping the community through Gabi’s kids. Photo courtesy: Gabrielle Trautmann

She calls it “laulima,” a Hawaiian word for “many hands,” as in, “many hands make light work.” She mentions that one of her regular donors donates $5.64 every month. “It might seem like a small amount,” Gabi continues, “but that amount is enough for me to buy a book or buy an entire meal for someone. If lots of people do little things, then it grows and then we have some people that do tremendously huge things. It all helps.”

One of the more recent huge things was a large grant given to Gabi’s Kids by the Micheal E. McGoldrick Charitable Foundation for a bookkeeper. The organization also found and vetted a professional bookkeeper to help out with the charity. “My hope is that we’ll be able to have an offsite office and have someone take some things off my plate, since I run both the charity and the businesses, it can be a little overwhelming.”

You can drop off donations anytime during Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics business hours. If you would like to volunteer, ask to speak to Gabi when you go in. All are welcome to help out in any way they can. Follow Gabi’s Kids on Facebook for updates.

Gabi’s Kids and Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics
4230 Pacific Ave SE, Lacey
360.459.7721

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