Our spotlight this month shines brightly on a relatively new (2012) non-profit, The Kind Mouse, whose mission is to assist families in transition and their chronically hungry children. No hardworking individual should ever feel despair due to economic hardships beyond their control. Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their own homes, and no one should ever go hungry.
Founder and CEO Gina Wilkens is the driving force behind this grassroots organization. She works tirelessly to create awareness of the agency and the programs and services it offers.
- Mouse Nibbles Weekend Feeding Program: Nonperishable food is provided every weekend to the “hungriest of the hungry” students in the Tampa Bay area. This is a confidential program that regularly feeds 350 students on average, up to 400 over the summer.
- Kind Mouse Transitional Families: A 90 Day Program for hardworking individuals and families affected by the economy. Food, household, and pet supplies are provided. Families come to their pantry to “shop”. Most families do not stay in the program for the 90 days. Once they realize they can feed their families, they are able to clear their heads and find some sort of employment.
- Jane’s Pantry: A program designed for hungry students today in conjunction with Pinellas County School Board (PCSB). A counselor determines their needs and come to The Kind Mouse location that same day. They provide 9 meals for each child in the family.
- HEAT: A PCSB program piggy backed on Jane’s Pantry to assist the homeless student population and students at risk of becoming homeless, with food immediately.
- Mice in Training: This program is targeted at 5-12 year olds. The children learn about the mission of The Kind Mouse, volunteerism, and the importance of eradicating hunger. The children shadow organization leaders and adult volunteers so they can see The Kind Mouse in action. They work as volunteers at The Kind Mouse events; budget, purchase and pack food for the Mouse Nibbles program; run food drives; and participate in fund-raising activities. The children also have an opportunity to develop their public speaking skills by speaking at meetings and events. When a child reaches the age of 13, and with sufficient volunteer experience under their belt, he/she is eligible to graduate and become a Mice in Training Intern.
- Mice Interns: This program is targeted at 13-18 year olds. These young adults further their knowledge of nonprofit administration by interacting and collaborating with other non-profit agencies in the community including Angels against Abuse, Ready for Life, Hannah’s Homeless, Hands Across the Bay, and Volunteers of America. They also work with adult volunteers from corporate entities such as Wells Fargo, Franklin Templeton and Allstate to further the mission of The Kind Mouse.
To learn more about The Kind Mouse, to make a donation or to become a volunteer, call: 727-518-5575 or visit their website at www.thekindmouse.org