In 2005, Dr. Kimberly Kimpel launched a Christmas-giving campaign in her home. She opened her doors to community members, inviting them to enjoy her annual lavish Christmas display in return for donations of Christmas gifts for families in need. What began as Christmas 365, evolved into the nonprofit organization Giving 365. Today, the organization offers support to families in need year-round.

For the past several years, Giving 365 has focused its efforts on helping the students of Parkridge Elementary School in Corona. Kimpel reached out to the school, bringing backpacks filled with school supplies for children in need. While talking to Sandy Verdugo, the school’s principal, Kimpel discovered that many of the children would benefit from more support.

Parkridge Elementary serves 653 students and 92.6% of these students’ families are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, these children were experiencing academic gaps, struggling with socializing and feeling disconnected even within their families, according to Verdugo. Most of the students lived with single-parent families and their parents were often away from home working odd hours at any job they could find.

There is a lot of impact that COVID has had that people don’t even realize,” Kimpel said. “We think it’s happening in some other community but it’s the person next door or even in your own family.”

Giving 365 did a drive-through Winterfest Holidays Around the World event. Working with another nonprofit the organization was able to distribute Christmas gifts to all of the students and had Santa Claus there to bring cheer to the children and their families.

The following year, Giving 365 was determined to make a larger impact and assist students experiencing food insecurity. The organization built a Food Pantry at the school. More than just ensuring that students did not go hungry, the food made sure other family members did not go hungry. Over the last two years, the Food Pantry has provided nourishment to over 2,952 family members.

Giving 365 has also distributed 1,400 bags to the school’s families over Thanksgiving filled with the ingredients for a holiday dinner. Over Christmas break last year, the organization provided food, clothing, blankets, and hygiene items to families most in need.

“They don’t have to worry about Christmas, Thanksgiving or just getting dinner on the table,” Kimpel said.  “For a moment we can let them concentrate on being a mom or a dad or a family.”

Recently, Giving 365 received a grant from the Community Impact Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The organization is run entirely by volunteers and relies on grants and donations. As a small nonprofit, it often struggles to receive consistent funding, Kimpel said.

Giving 365 welcomes new volunteers. Those interested can contact the organization through its website. The organization is launching a monthly donor program called “A Cup of Jo” in honor of Kimpel’s Aunt Jo. For $10 a month, donors help make a difference in the lives of the families Giving 365 assists, and help the organization grow.

Giving 365 has a goal of breaking the cycle of poverty for the families it serves and hopes to grow its programming to include more resources them. Kimpel is also receiving requests from other schools to provide similar services but will need more funding and more volunteers.

“The work we do is important and even helping just a little can have an impact,” Kimpel said. “When we make an impact with a family, they will turn around and make an impact in another family’s lives. This is how you make a difference.”

More information: https://giving365.org/  or (951) 305-0016

This article originally appeared in the Press Enterprise, September 2022.

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