Bedtime Bundles celebrated its biggest year to date. Why is Karen Saeks, Executive Director and Founder’s stomach all tied up in a happy bundled knot? Could it be that the foundation surpassed its goal of bundles delivered this school season or is it the money raised surpassed every expectation through successful fundraisers, new faces and foundations contributing to the cause? Or has it been the streamlining of the operations for the foundation with the work of a dedicated board and an enthusiastic group of volunteers? How about all of the above!
Bedtime Bundles has come such a long way from when it was just an idea back in 2007. What started out as a dream and one-woman show has turned into a corporation with a very prestigious, committed board and a growing number of volunteers who put children first on their list of priorities; especially those children in need.
The time frame is simple; the big idea started with Karen speaking to philanthropic and social groups all over the island for any possible donations of clothing, and hygiene needs to be bundled for children of migrant farm workers, to standardizing the bundles in 2009 to making sure every child receive the same equal “bundle” of items. From that point emerged a group of dedicated women who brought “Doggy Yappy Hour” in 2009 to Marco Island as their headline fundraiser which turned into “Mutts and Martinis”, the largest fundraiser that brings pets and people together in one location in 2010. The last big change was in 2010 that brought together a group of volunteers which functioned as a governing board. The board members brought with them remarkable business expertise and streamlined the operations of the foundation with a more goal orientated function.
There are now specified positions within the organization with job descriptions from everything to Volunteer Coordinator to Public Relations and Marketing Director. Currently, the group is looking for a Special Events Coordinator. If you have great organizational skills you are wanted to plan, implement and execute all special events to raise both money and community awareness. Does this sound like a position that fits you like a glove? If so, Karen is anxiously willing and able to meet with you to discuss the position. Just a reminder, all positions are volunteer, that’s why they are able to make sure 90% of every dollar you give goes into making those bundles!
When asked what has led to the growth and success of Bedtime Bundles, Karen replied, “All the wonderful volunteers who make this happen because I couldn’t do it by myself.” In addition to giving credit to “her Bedtime Bundle family,” she praised thenew outreach of organizations which have jumped on board the bandwagon or should we say the “Bundle Wagon” such as the Marco Island Kiwanis Club with a $3,000 donation, the Eagle Creek Women Golfers charity benefit that raised $7,200. She smiled as she mentioned a long list of clubs, religious congregations and foundations that have supported her from the beginning.
Another big supporter were the folks from Seminole Casino who donated thousands to the cause. Tony Sanchez, General Manager, can speak straight from the heart growing up as a migrant child right in Immokalee. You could hear his voice crack with emotion during the appreciation luncheon (paid right out of the pocket of Karen and her husband) when asked what would receiving a “bundle” have meant to him as a child. The answer was spoken loudly and clearly, “It would have been as if I was given a Christmas present, it would have meant that much to me.”
Aside from “Mutts and Martinis’, two new fundraisers, “Macy’s Shop for a Cause” and “Thanksgiving Cards” together raised nearly $5,000.
What’s on the agenda for next year? How about a higher profile off Marco Island? The Wine Festival is on the list for the coming year. In keeping with island tradition, Karen plans to apply for more donations from local charitable groups including the Marriott Resort Beach Musical Festival and Appreciation Days as well as the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation. Karen said it is a never-ending search for opportunity to fund the cause.
Why the need to raise more funds? Karen explained that they currently bundle for Pre-K through sixth grade. There are 336 Middle School Children and 632 High School Children who have been identified to receive the “bundle.” Currently it cost $40.00 per bundle to fill with basic needs items and clothing. It will cost closer to $55.00 per bundle for teens because clothing is more expensive and toiletry needs for both male and female teens become more extensive and expensive. Although they have met their goal for the elementary aged children, there is still so much work to be done for our growing adolescents.
It doesn’t just end with the bundles, there is a whole division that does food pick ups from grocery stores and deliveries to the families of migrant workers. The work never stops even though we are ending the calendar school year. If you want to get involved with Bedtime Bundles, Karen is just a phone call away. Her office is 393-3415 and her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the organization you can always visit the website at www.bedtimebun
As Karen says many times over, whatever you can give she thanks you a bundle!