Denton Community Food Center

From left, Mike Paulson, Renee Sims, Kim Pearson and Tom Newell stand inside Denton Community Food Center on Monday. Pearson and Sims co-founded 100 Dentonites Who Give a Damn, which raised $10,000 for the food pantry last week. Newell and Paulson, chairman and vice chairman of the food center’s board, called the donation “significant.”

Last week, 100 Dentonites Who Give a Damn witnessed two watershed moments: The philanthropy group reached 100 members and raised its goal of $10,000 for the Denton Community Food Center.

The organization meets four times a year to raise money for a local charity, with each member donating $100.

The group was three members shy when it convened last Tuesday to pick the winner of this quarter’s contribution. Kim Pearson, the organization’s co-founder, said she didn’t think they’d make the $10,000 goal.

But someone donated $300 at the last minute to help hit the target amount.

“That person — when she came up and told me, I just started crying,” Pearson said, tears again welling in her eyes.

The group has attracted three more recruits since last week’s meeting, now fully living up to its 100-member namesake.

As a graduate student at the University of North Texas, Pearson said she initially created 100 Dentonites Who Give a Damn for a school project. She was inspired by similar groups nationwide that form the “100 Who Care Alliance.”

Pearson enlisted her friend Renee Sims as co-founder, and the two hit the ground running. Since forming in April 2017, they’ve inspired scores of Denton residents to donate funds to 10 nonprofit charities and counting.

Every quarter, three charities make a five-minute presentation to 100 Dentonites Who Give a Damn. Then, the group votes for which nonprofit will be awarded the money.

Pearson said that while charities always appreciate smaller, individual donations, there’s more strength in numbers.

“You write a check to something you know is going to make an immediate difference,” she said.

Tom Newell, chairman of the board of directors for Denton Community Food Center, said the donation was significant. He estimates that the $10,000 will actually be worth around $70,000 in canned and frozen food from the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

The money will likely fund the food pantry until the end of 2019, he added.

In addition to catering to indigent individuals and families, the center also offers pet food and baby food, as well as ready-to-eat goods for the homeless.

Although the pantry is only open five days a week for two hours a day, Newell said it’s always busy. According to the 2018 overview for the Denton Community Food Center, 21% of the Denton County population is considered “food insecure.”

Pearson said that no matter which nonprofit receives the money, the 100 Dentonites Who Give a Damn meetings are a great way for the community to learn about local charities.

Plus, Sims added, it’s a quick and easy way for busy group members to help people in need: “This concept is a way that I can get in, get out, and make a huge impact.”

To learn more about 100 Dentonites Who Give a Damn, visit their website at dcgad.wordpress.com.

SIMONE CARTER can be reached via Twitter at @simcarttweets.

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