Madalyn Denton ’16 (Middletown) recently appeared in the local press for her nonprofit’s growing success, which includes a $10,000 grant from eBay Inc. Maddy started the nonprofit “Goodness Now” in collaboration with her church, Middletown United Methodist, in the fall of 2014 to provide weekend meals to elementary school children who depend on free or reduced-cost lunches during the week as a main source of nourishment.
She came up with the idea when her church and youth group were looking for a new cause to help the local community. Maddy had noticed during Hurricane Sandy, which greatly devastated the coastal towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties, that the schools needed to open right away not only for academic purposes but because so many children relied on their school for food. “There are 7,400 children in Monmouth County who are food-deprived,” she says. “It really shocked me that kids less than 2 miles away from me are going to bed hungry every night.”
Each Sunday, Maddy and her family—including her brother Andrew ’18 and Ranney foreign exchange student Madeleine Migilianico ’15—grocery shop and fill backpacks with nonperishable items, such as oatmeal, breakfast bars, soup, pasta and tuna. The goal is to ensure that each child has two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners for the weekend. Her church helps deliver the bags to a local school where one-third of the student body is eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches. Teachers discreetly place the packs in students’ bags; everything is done anonymously.
Under Maddy’s leadership and the partnership with her church, Goodness Now began with a budget of $3000 and, through the use of social media and fundraising, quickly doubled its budget. The New York GIVE Team at eBay heard about Goodness Now through Facebook and held its own food drive to help. The team then nominated Goodness Now for eBay’s global grant program. “We were one of 45 global nonprofits to receive a $10,000 grant,” says Maddy.
The grant and successful fundraising efforts have allowed Goodness Now to serve 30 children each week, up from 20; to raise its backpack budget from $5.00 to $6.00 each; and to commit to providing weekend meals for 30 students through the end of the 2015-16 school year. Goodness Now also receives food donations, including from local bakeries and even Nabisco. The donations go a long way, says Maddy, as $6.00 doesn’t buy that much food—Costco’s bulk items make a huge difference!
Looking ahead, Maddy hopes to get more Ranney students involved with Goodness Now and is looking at ideas with her church to expand the program’s budget and the number of schools and students in need that it reaches. She says her younger brother Andrew may take over when she graduates from Ranney and goes onto college in 2016.
“It’s tough at first to start things,” she says. “People always have ideas, but I’ve learned you just have to get started. There will always be a 1,000 obstacles holding you back—you have to look them in the face, and say, ‘I’m not going to worry about you.’ My dad always told me that if you do goodness, you will get goodness back. That’s where the organization’s name Goodness Now came from. We had to take a leap of faith for this to happen—it could have fallen apart at any time, but if you believe in something and have a mindset for it to work, then nothing can stop you.”
Learn more about Goodness Now on shopforgoodness.com
.Read a local news media article about Maddy