The Panther Foundation’s virtual giving event exceeded organizers’ wildest expectations raising over $100,000 for the Panther Pantry and Weekend Food Pack Program.
A program that provides food for students over weekends and breaks when school isn’t in session doesn’t need to worry about funding anytime soon. The Panther Foundation made the Weekend Food Pack Program and Panther Panty the focus of its first-ever virtual giving event and the results are impressive – more than $100,000 for these critical programs.
“We knew this effort really connected with people’s passions, but we had no idea what to expect,” says Colleen Pederson, Panther Foundation Executive Director. “The results are far surpassing any expectations we had. We are incredibly grateful for everyone who participated, including a record number of sponsors. It shows us once again how special this community is.”
Since the pandemic struck last March, the demand for Weekend Food Packs – providing food for students over weekends and breaks – increased 256 percent. Each pack costs just $2 and provides two breakfast items, two "heat and eat" meals, fruit and snacks. The school district’s emergency food shelf, the Panther Pantry supplies the packs. To keep the efforts going, the pantry needed an infusion of support.
“The Panther Pantry and Weekend Food Pack program have helped to keep children fed since the program’s beginning in 2013,” says Marla Sciara, Panther Foundation Chairperson. “After this event, the Pantry will have what it needs for the rest of this year and well into the future.”
Fun with a purpose
In place of its annual gala event, the Panther Foundation produced a unique, first-of-its kind online experience on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Families could enjoy the virtual program together from home for free and engage in an online auction with more than 300 items. Many donated outright to the effort and 100 percent of the proceeds support the programs.
“While we may miss the magic of our annual gala evening, it was incredible to see families participating together and everyone uniting in new ways to celebrate what it means to be a part of this community and support these critical programs,” says Marla.
The online event was the culmination of weeks of purposeful fun. A community food drive and “pennies for packs” collection, 10 days of SLP spirit and a dance challenge all engaged the community in the lead up to the event.
“During a cold pandemic winter, it was special to see district leaders, principals, The Panther, students, families and community members all coming together – while we’re still apart in so many ways – to support this effort,” says Marla. “Thank you – to all who supported these efforts to keep children fed and learning. It really does make me SLP Panther Proud.”
Learn more about the event and the Panther Pantry and Weekend Food Pack Program at SpringLakeParkSchools.org/GiveBack.