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Bella Tunno Michelle Buelow
Bella Tunno Gives Back: The Buelow Family
North Carolina
Since 2013, Bella Tunno’s Buy One Give One Initiative (B1G Initiative) helps alleviate childhood...
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Bella Tunno Michelle Buelow
Bella Tunno Gives Back: The Buelow Family
North Carolina

For the Buelow family, “changing their corner of the world” is more than a phrase. Todd, Michelle and their two daughters each does his or her part to address hunger, poverty and homelessness, among other social issues, in their community.

It only takes a short conversation with her to learn that business savvy and a caring heart find their perfect match in Michelle Buelow. A mom-turned-entrepreneur, Michelle is CEO of Bella Tunno, a baby and parenting accessories line designed to make a difference. Launched in 2005, Bella Tunno has grown from an in-home venture to a thriving commercial business with diaper bags, crawler kneepads, bibs, blankets, pint-size bodysuits and more available at retailers of all sizes, including Nordstrom and Amazon.

A passion for hunger relief may seem misplaced amid this fast-paced, successful business. But for the Buelow family, helping others — including eradicating hunger — is not an afterthought, but rather part of the company’s very foundation.

One impactful moment solidified the family’s long-term commitment to hunger relief. A volunteer experience at a local elementary school brought the severity of child hunger into focus. While sharing tangerines with first and second-graders during story hour, Michelle discovered that some of the children had never heard of the fruit. And before she could explain that the peel should be discarded, several students bit into them like apples. But then came the biggest surprise. “Some children chose to continue eating the rind because they were so hungry,” said Michelle. “You cannot know that happens and not do something about it.”

Blending the Buelow family’s passion for hunger relief with Bella Tunno’s child-centric mission made perfect sense. Since 2013, Bella Tunno’s Buy One Give One Initiative (B1G Initiative) helps alleviate childhood hunger in the United States. For every product sold, Bella Tunno donates one meal to Feeding America to help children struggling with hunger. “Through the campaign, consumers play a role in ending hunger,” said Michelle. “They have direct impact, connecting one child in America with one meal.”

Now in its fourth year, the B1G Initiative has gone from baby steps to an all-out sprint, having raised funds for more than 685,000 meals to date. “The more we do, the more we want to do,” Michelle said. “It hurts your heart to see children facing hunger.” And so, to address the 1 in 6 children who struggle with hunger across America, Bella Tunno will spread the love even further: From Valentine’s Day through the end of February 2017, every product sold will generate not one, but a six-meal donation, to Feeding America.

We asked Michelle how a heart for hunger relief grew into a national effort with Feeding America. “It was not by chance,” said Michelle emphatically. “It was through research.” Bella Tunno staff compiled a spreadsheet of non-profits associated with key words like “children,” “family” and “meals.” Then they dove further, analyzing and comparing Charity Navigator ratings, fundraising efficiency, charitable commitment ratings, credibility and whether the funds would be used here in the United States. It revealed one conclusion: “Feeding America became the clear choice,” said Michelle. “We love our partnership. When you give to Feeding America, your gifts will have the most impact and the most reach.”

Proud of their commitment to alleviating hunger with Feeding America, Michelle, her family and the Bella Tunno team invite everyone to share the love during this Valentine’s season and all year round. Through the B1G Initiative, “for every action there is a philanthropic reaction” — connecting food-insecure children with much-needed meals. And as a result of their partnership with Feeding America, with its ability to feed more children than any other hunger-relief organization, participants can know “that what you do is exponentially impactful.”

As part of Bella Tunno’s commitment to "do better, live brighter and love bigger," each sale triggers a financial donation to help someone in need. Donations are directed to the Matt Tunno Make a Difference Memorial Fund, created to honor Michelle’s late brother who struggled with drug dependency. From there, funds are disbursed to a myriad of philanthropic causes close to the Buelow family’s heart in their community of Charlotte, North Carolina and across the country, including hunger relief for children.

You can make a difference. Give today.

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Spiritual Gangster is a yoga-inspired clothing brand that reflects an inner state of being. A state of being rooted in gratitude.
Spiritual Gangster
For every item sold, the company donates proceeds to provide a meal to a person in need.
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Spiritual Gangster is a yoga-inspired clothing brand that reflects an inner state of being. A state of being rooted in gratitude.
Spiritual Gangster

With mantras like “Grateful,” “Love is All We Need,” and “Warrior” inscribed in the designs of each collection, Spiritual Gangster is a yoga-inspired clothing brand that reflects an inner state of being. A state of being rooted in gratitude.

For every item sold, the company donates proceeds to provide a meal to a person in need. “We believe that no person should go hungry,” comments Spiritual Gangster CEO Ian Lopatin, “and every person has the right to food and shelter.” With an astounding 48 million people in America struggling with hunger, he adds, “We can do something to end this epidemic by donating meals, educating our community, and empowering one another to make a social impact.”

With Spiritual Gangster’s roots in Phoenix, Lopatin talks about the brand’s early affiliation with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. He mentions, “We found that they were the first food bank in Arizona and built a close relationship with them. In addition to monetary donations, our team packed meals alongside organizers and other dedicated volunteers.”

“Beyond good karma, Spiritual Gangster is committed to addressing and eradicating America’s hunger epidemic,” Lopatin explains and further adds, “The brand and the business is a platform to give back and inspire others to be agents of change. In giving to others, we are truly giving to ourselves. In feeding others, we are feeding ourselves.” Another mantra frequently messaged in Spiritual Gangster’s collections is “We Are All One” – echoing his belief in connectedness. Lopatin concludes with, “Spiritual Gangster is truly a movement disguised as a clothing brand.”

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Stan
Stow, OH
My wife and I have raised vegetables (~1,800 lbs.) in a garden at a local church ministry.
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Stan
Stow, OH
My wife and I have raised vegetables (~1,800 lbs.) in a garden at a local church ministry. For several years, we distributed them to local residents through our Community Days in order to supplement canned and dried goods from the Food Pantry. This year, we are also working thru a local homeless outreach center to provide produce at a weekly food desert market which also provides employment to their clients.

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Your Story: Samantha and Cornell - VideoPlay Video
Your Story: Samantha and Cornell
"I do everything I can to make sure my children have enough of the healthy food they need to grow...
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Your Story: Samantha and Cornell

My husband, three children and I live off of my salary of $22,000 per year. My husband stays home with the children because even with him working, we can’t afford the cost of daycare. I’m a school health aide, work full time and have an associate’s degree – but I still cannot generate enough income for my family to live comfortably.

However, I am hoping that will change soon. I’m in the process of completing my bachelor’s degree and I only have a few more semesters to go. With my new degree, I can earn more and provide a better life for my family. In the meantime though, we rely on the food pantry to help feed our children.

The pantry is helpful all year round, but it is particularly helpful for us during summer. I am only employed nine months of the year because I work at a school. From June to September, we have no income coming in. On top of that, my children aren’t receiving free school meals – so I have to stretch our budget even further those extra costs. I start stocking up shelf-stable items from the pantry early in the year so I know we’ll have enough. During the summer, I also cut food costs by growing fruits and vegetables in my garden. I do everything I can to make sure my children have enough of the healthy food they need to grow strong – no matter the season.

We are low income and to be honest, it’s really self-defeating at times. Especially when I get up and go to work each day like everyone else, but still have to ask others for help to put food on the table. Even so, I refuse to let my income level define me. I am Samantha. I am a mother, a wife and I am surrounded by a loving, caring community – including the people at the food pantry who are always there for us.

I’m going to get my degree and tomorrow will be brighter. But today, I’m still thankful for what I have. We may not experience the “finer things” in life but we have everything we need, including love – and that’s something money will never be able to buy.

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Marilee - Volunteer at Treasure Coast Food Bank
Marilee
Alabama
Marilee has been volunteering at Feeding the Gulf Coast for 9 months and in those 9 months she has...
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Marilee - Volunteer at Treasure Coast Food Bank
Marilee
Alabama

I would like to tell you about an awesome volunteer we have at Feeding the Gulf Coast. Marilee has been volunteering at FTGC for 9 months and in those 9 months she has put in nearly 475 volunteer hours. She always arrives with a smile on her face and has a positive attitude. Marilee has volunteered in reclamation where she helped to sort over 53,000 pounds of donated food. She has helped with clerical needs, inputting data into Primarius and recording volunteer hours. She have performed many tasks in our warehouse:

Marilee implemented new forms for pulling frozen and refrigerated product. This has proven to be more accurate and efficient when filling agency orders. She also maintains our produce coolers. With her creativity our produce looks more appealing to our agencies.

When asked, what do you enjoy about volunteering? Marilee answered, “This is my first volunteer job and I wasn’t sure what to expect. After realizing how many individuals and families need help, it is a good, but humbling feeling to know that you have helped in some way. I never realized there were so many hungry kids. The Backpack Program was a real eye-opener for that. I always feel like I have accomplished something when I leave the food bank and I look forward to coming back the next day.”

Marilee has been retired for a few years, prior to retirement she worked in the Space Shuttle Program for 26 years. She lives with her two one-year old German Shepherds, Ranger and Loki.

Story was submitted by Feeding the Gulf Coast.

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