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Campaign for Kindness
Local nonprofit fills gaps for people in need
By Jessica Laskey
It started with quiche.
The year was 2015 and Arden-Arcade resident Sarah Thompson suffered from post-partum depression after giving birth to her daughter. An avid cook, she was chopping and baking her sorrows out when she decided to see if her kitchen skills might help someone else.
She put out a call on Facebook, offering to make a quiche for anyone who needed “an extra measure of kindness.” A connection came from a woman recently diagnosed with cancer.
The experience was so gratifying that Thompson made more than 1,000 “kindness quiches” under the moniker Sarah’s Kitchen for people all over Sacramento who were hungry or hurting.
When Thompson realized how much need there was—and that it would take more than quiche to fill the void—she founded the Sacramento Kindness Campaign. “We identify gaps, fill them while they exist and then the campaign changes,” Thompson says.
In 2016, Thompson was dismayed by the way the U.S. was beginning to fracture prior to the presidential election. She decided to do something about anti-immigrant rhetoric. She connected with Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services to help host an event to benefit refugees. The collaboration furnished six homes for families who had recently immigrated to the area.
In 2017, SKC furnished 700 more homes and tutored more than 100 immigrant women and children in English. The campaign partnered with educational nonprofit Inspire Girls to offer science, technology, engineering, arts and math classes to young Afghan women who had not been able to attend school in their native country. The group donated vehicles, supplies and money to underserved women, youth and homeless families.
In 2018, Thompson needed help. She and her daughter escaped domestic abuse, and SKC was put on hold. But when the Camp Fire blazed through Butte County, Thompson swung into action to provide survival items, meals and holiday decorations. In 2019, SKC helped more than 600 people access trauma recovery services.
With the pandemic, Thompson says, “The gap became very clear—there were so many people affected by hunger.” She called the president of the Sacramento City Unified school board to ask how SKC could help.
Thompson was connected to Oak Ridge Elementary School in Oak Park. The call led to the creation of Food For Families, a campaign that delivers weekly meal kits and other support to schools in neighborhoods with high poverty. By the end of last year, SKC had fed approximately 87,000 people.
For 2021, the Kindness Campaign is partnering with San Juan Unified School District and Oak Ridge Elementary to provide COVID care packs and meal kits to homeless and insecurely housed children and families.
“Families who get COVID often have to choose between buying food and buying cleaning products,” Thompson says. “COVID kits aren’t the sexiest, but I think there’s nothing sexier than a clean space.”
SKC launched the Bridge Program, where social workers and volunteers donate time to help people find services or fill out forms. SKC will also serve as a field agency for upper-level social work students at Sacramento State this fall.
“Everybody has something they can contribute,” Thompson says. “People can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. We want to hold that light and help people find that path so lives aren’t lost because of lost hope. We’ll get through this together.”
None of SKC’s success could happen without an extensive network of volunteers. For more information or to get involved, visit sackindnesscampaign.org.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.