Local non-profit gets boost from pledges of kindness

COVINGTON -- A non-profit organization started by a local woman got a big boost recently, thanks to a national snack food company and average folks who just want to show a little kindness.

The Larry D. Bradley Foundation "Food for Thought," launched by Newton resident Christy Whitley to purchase meal plans for college students, caught the attention of KIND Healthy Snacks, and the company partnered with Whitley to raise funds for her organization.

Each month KIND challenges communities to do an act of kindness on its website, Do the Kind Thing, at www.kindsnacks.com/dtkt. If enough people pledge to complete the challenge, KIND will "give back in a big way to people who need it," said the company's communications coordinator, Erin Schanke. Since the Do the Kind Thing movement was launched in 2011, it has motivated more than 300,000 kind acts, according to Schanke.

The challenge related to "Food for Thought" was for citizens of the Atlanta area to thank someone who "fed their mind," be it a teacher, professor, mentor or friend.

Not only did the pledges reach the 11,000 threshold required by KIND, but they almost doubled that.

Schanke said the cost of a meal plan at the University of Georgia is about $3,800 for a year, and KIND will likely fund four meal plans for students thanks to the simple commitments to thank a mentor made on the website.

"Food for Thought" was formed by Whitley in memory of her fiancee, Larry D. Bradley, who died in 2010. Bradley once shared with Whitley that he feared he would starve as a UGA student, even though he had financial aid and a part-time job.

"Food for Thought" purchases meal plans for college students that are lacking traditional financial assistance from family for numerous reasons, including unemployment, homelessness, health issues and being part of the foster care system.

"The partnership with KIND (Healthy Snacks) has been a true blessing," Whitley said. "They chose Larry D. Bradley Foundation 'Food for Thought' out of all the nonprofit organizations in Georgia because of our unique focus on assisting college students in need. KIND has given our organization nationwide exposure, which enables us to share our mission with people we may have never reached otherwise."

Whitley said KIND funds will purchase at least four meal plans for students attending school this fall semester. She said she is currently working with UGA officials to identify students who need assistance.

In exchange for receiving the meal plans, the students will tutor public school students in the Athens area.

Food for Thought began assisting local students by purchasing college meal plans for two Newton High School graduates for the current 2012-2013 school year. "We are seeking partnerships, donations and grants to assist an ever-growing waiting list of college students hungry for an education," Whitley said.

Donations are accepted through PayPal, located on the foundation's website at www.larrydbradleyfoundation.org. Checks can be mailed to Larry D. Bradley Foundation, 135 Moss Road, Covington, GA 30016.

For more information, email foodforthoughtldbf@yahoo.com or visit the organization's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Food-for-Thought-Larry-D-Bradley-Foundation/255380364486176.