Holiday Gifts of the Heart

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Occasionally we all have the person that’s hard to gift.  No actual object seems to express what we feel.  For those folks why not give what I like to call a Gift of the Heart?  Identify an organization that does good work in our community and make a donation in the name of your special person.  Your gift aggregates with others to become quite meaningful.  Here are three well run, inspired local organizations I admire that can use your help: The Garden School Foundation Kickstarter, Homegirl Cafe and Food Forward. Keep reading to learn why I support these three inspiring organizations…

The Garden School Foundation Kickstarter is at the top of my list for support.  The foundation supports a large school garden project at the LAUSD 24th Street School, in the Adams district of Los Angeles. Why do they need your support?  Well they’ve developed a much needed standards based curriculum that is replicable at other LAUSD schools, an exciting accomplishment that can address a serious need.  But only if the curriculum is made available. The Kickstarter will pay to create both a book and website for LA’s first comprehensive K-5th garden-based curriculum that will get thousands of kids learning, growing, eating, and thriving outside!  To get insight to what this means for inner city youth read this quote from a teacher at the school.

 ”…Wow. What can I say? Where once our school seemed chaotic and depressed now there is hope for a brighter future. ..(where once there was) a place mired in blame, resignation and re-action, (now) the vegetable and flower garden has become a source of pride and knowledge for the students; a beacon of play, beauty, and learning that is tended and cared for by the students themselves.”

The Kickstarter is 30% funded with 18 days to go.

Homegirl Cafe
Homegirl Cafe is a farm-to-table breakfast and lunch spot featuring Latino flavors with a healthy, contemporary twist, where homegirls serve tables instead of serving time. Homegirl offers an extensive training program empowering women and men to undertake what is often their first “real job” in the restaurant industry and urban farming.

Homegirl Cafe is part of Homeboy Industries, a social enterprise assisting at-risk and formerly gang-involved young women and men to become contributing members of our community through training in restaurant service and culinary arts. Homegirl Café offers a one year training program within the food and service industry, empowering young people to redirect their lives and providing them with hope for their futures.

Father Greg Boyle and Chef Pati Zarate are powerhouses of resourcefulness, patience and deep understanding.  They’ve created an oasis of hope and service in the center of Los Angeles.

Food Forward
When I first met Food Forward founder Rick Nahmias he was documenting farm worker life in the Central Valley through his photographs.  Now he runs Food Forward, a volunteer organization that to date has picked and donated nearly 1.2 million pounds of local fruit from trees that were often forlorn or forgotten, the fruit wasted as it fell off the trees.  It was such a simple idea.  Southern California is loaded with fruit trees on both public and private land that no one picks or eats.  Hungry people need fruit.  So voila, from a simple idea a thriving philanthropic organization was born.

From their website:
Food Forward’s mission is to reconnect people with people – through food – by bringing together volunteers and neighbors to share in the gleaning and distributing of locally grown food from private homes and public spaces which is then distributed to local food pantries and organizations serving those in need.