SALT LAKE CITY — A passion for healthy eating combined with a desire to help others has led a Judge Memorial Catholic High School senior to bake batches of snack bars as a fundraiser for the YWCA.
"When I went to visit and tour the YWCA this summer, I was deeply touched by their cause in helping the ongoing problem of domestic violence in our society," said Niki Kaschmitter, who visited the organization while deciding where to donate the 45 hours of required community service required by her school.
Rather than simply volunteer her time, Kaschmitter decided to raise funds, as well. She bakes "ily" Bars – made of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, agave nectar, raisins, and chocolate chips – that she sells for $2 each.
"‘ily’ is my personal symbol for ‘I love you,’" Kaschmitter said. "I named them this because when you eat an ‘ily’ Bar or donate to my cause, it spreads love to your heart, and love to your soul."
All funds from the sale of the bars will go to the YWCA, she said.
Amberlie Phillips, YWCA chief development director, said the organization has a few high school volunteers each year, but she was impressed with Kaschmitter because the Judge senior undertook the fundraising without help from the organization, other than taking a tour so she could learn about the YWCA.
"She came to us with the vision intact," Phillips said. "That is relatively unusual for high school students."
Phillips said she also is excited that Kaschmitter timed her fundraiser to coincide with the YWCA’s annual Leadership Luncheon on Sept. 21. Funds donated on the day of the event, up to $60,000, will be matched by a group of women philanthropists, Phillips said.
"Niki is being strategic in getting money maximized with the grant; all of the money that she has raised will effectively be doubled," Phillips said, adding that the luncheon raises almost 20 percent of the agency’s unearned revenue budget each year, through ticket sales, donations and sponsorships. "We have $60,000 on the table, so we are definitely hoping that in the crowd we will raise $60,000. Every little bit helps, and Niki’s piece is definitely more than just a little bit."
Four days before the event, Kaschmitter had raised about $1,000, with another $500 pledged, she said.
To market the "ily" bars, she contacted everyone she knows to ask for help; she also sold them at her back-to-school night and after Mass at Saint Ambrose Parish.
"A lot of people are donating more than just buying the bars," she said.
One reason that Kaschmitter chose
the YWCA is that a family friend is an active supporter of the organization and has invited Kaschmitter to the Leadership Luncheon for the past three years.
"I think it’s a really good cause that deserves to be expanded on," said Kaschmitter, who is thinking about majoring in business at college. "My biggest reason is to educate the public more about it. It seems many people don’t know about it."
The YWCA offers a variety of programs, including a domestic violence shelter and transitional housing for women and children, an early education center, a family justice center for both men and women in abusive relationships, parenting classes, a book club and leadership training for young women.
"The YWCA is for the community; we have something for every woman," Phillips said. "Clearly our domestic violence programs are what people know about the YWCA in this community, but we are really so much more. Our programs are far-reaching."