For twelve years, the Kids for Kids Foundation has focused on creating fundraising events that raise money for children and families struggling with medical challenges, but the spring of 2020 put our compassion to a new test. Covid-19 brought a medical and emotional struggle like our city and the Tri-State Area has never experienced and challenged us to unexpectedly pivot in the way we support our local communities. We are proud to say that our friends, families and donors rose to the occasion.
At the beginning of April, our Kids for Kids team saw what was taking place in our surrounding communities due to the pandemic and knew that we had to respond. Knowing those putting their lives at risk for the benefit of others deserved a huge thank you. As a result, on Sunday, April 12th, our Feeding First Responders initiative was launched.
We quickly initiated an effort to recruit our already generous donors to embrace this new opportunity to support the men and women on the front lines. The response was overwhelming and inspiring as a total of 18 corporate sponsors and 21 individuals and families stepped up and generously contributed to this initiative. To our surprise, the Facebook Group called, “The Underground” caught wind of our visits and did their own fundraising to support this program. They independently raised $2,000. In addition, we had a number of supporters who had lost loved ones to Covid-19. They and their families participated in this initiative to celebrate their memory and achieved a sense of closure in doing so. The Kids for Kids Foundation is honored to have been part of that experience for these families.
Several members of the Kids for Kids Board and Committee, most notably Paul Lombardozzi, Vice Chair of Events, took the lead with this initiative. “Sitting on the sidelines is not something that Kids for Kids knows how to do,” shared Development & Events Manager, Suzanne Karath. Karath spoke to the spirit of Kids for Kids, its members, and mission in saying, “All challenges are opportunities for us to unite and support our communities. We aim to tie our communities into all we do—whether through events, our Committee, or our Junior Committee, bringing people together and helping others is what gives us purpose.”
From April 12th through May 28th, our Feeding First Responders initiative continued and we committed to embracing the situation that paralyzed our community, bringing people together with the purpose to support, love and serve as many front liners as possible. The response and impact was beautiful.
Just a few weeks in, on May 4th Feeding First Responders had already delivered more than 10,000 meals. “We just want to say thank you to all of the amazing brands and people that have stepped up to help accomplish our mission of feeding first responders in this time of need,” said Robert Catalano, Kids for Kids Founder and Board Chair. “The fact that we can do this with the best products in their respective brands is beyond what I ever could have imagined. It’s our hope that, through these efforts, we are able to provide some relief and a sense of normalcy during these challenging times.”
By May 28th, we had made a grand total of 44 stops to feed our frontline heroes including all 5 NYC boroughs, Yonkers, Queens, Long Island and areas in New Jersey. A total of 24,100 meals were delivered to
- 26 Hospitals
- 6 Fire Departments
- 6 Police Precincts
- 4 Sanitation Departments
- 1 USPS
- 1 MTA Bus Depot
None of this could have been accomplished without our dedicated and selfless sponsors, restaurant partners and volunteers.
Feeding First Responders aligned with similar efforts of Frontline Sweet Support, NY Loves Coffee, Noshes for Nurses, and Fuel the Frontline to deliver the city’s best doughnuts and coffee to hospitals and first responders. A fun new relationship with Dough Doughnuts, Birch Coffee, and Everyman Espresso emerged as we aligned our initiatives, not only providing meals but a morale boost to those on the front lines. We also partnered with OWYN (Only What You Need) plant-based protein drinks to supplement meal deliveries and received a generous donation from Body Armor to also distribute with on our visits. And even with Kids for Kids events like our Lunch at Rao’s on hold, we were able to continue our partnership with New York City’s most exclusive restaurant to get their meals into as many hands of our local heroes as possible. We were blessed to have many additional amazing restaurants involved in this initiative, all of which can be found on our interactive map below.
With Feeding First Responders we also had the pleasure of working with a friend of the foundation, Dolores Catania of ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ for a two-day visit in Paterson, New Jersey. Dolores has supported Kids for Kids’ mission through events like our Winter Ball at the Oheka Castle and we were proud to return the favor by providing meals to two locations that are special to her, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and the Paterson Police Department.
Finally, a special shout out goes to those who helped distribute PPE to frontline helpers. Kids for Kids Junior Committee Members, Juliana and Sofia Bondi, assisted in making meal deliveries to their local hospital on Staten Island, Richmond University Medical Center and in addition to that community service, Sofia Biondi has also been sewing her own face masks and donated them to the nursing staff at RUMC throughout the pandemic. The Cemenja Family, who had already fundraised for PPE donations prior to this initiative with the passing of a loved one, joined with us on several visits to supply a total of 5,000 PPE to the front line workers and first responders to whom we also delivered meals. Our Kids to Kids community has gone above and beyond in every way.
Feeding First Responders spent six weeks making deliveries to the essential workers, true heroes to our city and communities. Taking the opportunity to see and care for so many beautiful people while collaborating with families, corporate businesses, food services and volunteers was extremely satisfying for the Kids for Kids family. It was a true testament to the heart of our organization and to all who united with us to give back to those who were doing more for us and our communities than we could ever imagine. Our hearts continue to be full of love for all of the workers who continue to rise up every day and take care of our city—and we know there are many more of these heroes out on the front lines in other cities, states and countries, we are grateful for each and every one of you!