By TERESA HAMMOND
One simple quote has spiraled into motivation and seemingly a mission statement for Sara Sperry.
The quote made famous by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” has proven to be the launching point for Sperry’s efforts with FARM to KIDS.
Sperry shared that they first began the philanthropy based organization in October 2015. Sperry Farms, a fifth generation family run almond grower, owns and operates approximately 1,000 acres of planted almond trees. FARM to KIDS was founded by the fifth generation of almond farmers.
“Giving is in my nature. It needs to be something that we’re giving back,” Sperry said. “My husband is the one that came up with the idea. I can’t take credit.”
The ‘giving back’ comes in the way of a pound for pound match program. Every pound of almonds sold through the FARM to KIDS website (farmtokids.org), is then matched by a one pound almond donation to kids in need. Just months since its first ‘match,’ Sperry shared that over 250 pounds of almonds have been donated.
“I’m excited,” Sperry said of the seed planted by her husband, yet grown through her efforts. “I’m very excited by the momentum and the reception. It’s exciting but it’s also telling of where consumers want to spend their dollars. As humans we want to be connected to community.”
Donations are made in 25 pound increments. To date a variety of schools as well as programs have benefitted from the generosity of customer orders including CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Stanislaus County and THRIVE (Transforming Habits Respecting Individuality Valuing Education), a Stanislaus County After School Program.
Sperry finds the biggest reward in making the deliveries.
“My favorite days are the days when I get to do a donation,” she shared. “The kids … the excitement that they have, you’d think I was giving them cash.”
As an outdoor enthusiast and a mom on the go, Sperry also recognizes the unique opportunity she is offering the students in the way of ‘clean fuel’ as she calls the healthy snack.
Sperry and her husband share a love of the outdoors. They are avid adventure seekers and almonds are always in tow when they set out for some fun. Many of their adventures are documented and shared via the FARM TO KIDS Instagram account, which she noted as a great source for broadening their audience.
“Even these kids are reacting to the Instagram posts,” she said. “It’s inspiring them to get outside and share their photos with ‘clean fuel.’ I’m just trying to lead by example; to inspire kids to be healthy and inspire them to get outside.”
Recognizing the opportunity to teach children the lesson of giving as well as have them be recipients, the philanthropist tested a Classroom Challenge utilizing the classroom of a friend who happened to be a teacher. Parents and family members were encouraged to visit the website and purchase almonds toward the 25 pound goal. Once the goal was reached, a 25 pound box holding the treasured treat was delivered to the classroom by Sperry.
“The classroom challenge is in California only,” she said, “since I personally deliver them. Shipping would be too expensive.”
Not one to turn down opportunity, however, Sperry added if an out of state classroom took interest and chose to cover the shipping cost she would be more than happy to consider that.
“This is not just our philanthropy,” Sperry said of FARM to KIDS, “it’s our contribution. We’re not in this to make money; we’re in this to share health.”
FARM to KIDS is not operated as a 501 c3 non-profit.
Sperry noted TOMS shoe company and their giving business model, as an example of a company which is making positive change sans the 501 c3 status.
Sperry operates FARM to KIDS in Oakdale. While there is not a traditional storefront, the location offers on-line customers the opportunity to bypass shipping and pick up their order within two to three days of placing their order.
“I feel the movement is going more toward the giving and supporting those companies,” Sperry said. “We’re just a small drop in the bucket, but people need to see this positive change.”