Anonymous donation propels food bank toward new home

Gifts from the Heart Food Bank received an generous donation after a fundraising performance event.

A miracle donation has brought a Coupeville food bank one major step closer to its planned new facility.

Gifts from the Heart Food Bank President Molly Hughes, who also serves as the mayor of Coupeville, said that the food bank received an anonymous donation of $140,000 after participating in a joint fundraising performance event with the Price Sculpture Forest earlier this month.

The donation brings the food bank within $70,000 of the total $1 million needed to construct its own building. The food bank currently operates out of the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club; Hughes announced plans last year to build the food bank a space of its own.

The planned building will have expanded facilities and, on the upper story, two affordable workforce housing apartments that will be rented out below market rate. Income from renters will cover the food bank’s overhead costs.

At the time of the announcement, the food bank had around $550,000 to put toward the project after saving for years and receiving several large donations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The food bank also received a $230,000 state appropriations grant, which Rep. Clyde Shavers helped secure in the state budget. These funds, combined with smaller donations from the community, brought the food bank’s total to around $800,000.

It was here, Hughes said, that the food bank got stuck.

“We really hit a wall at the last 20%,” she said.

With $200,000 still to earn, fundraising efforts had stalled, and the final push to the building was starting to feel insurmountable — until last week.

The Price Sculpture Forest held “Wander/Wonder: A Sculptured Dance Happening” on Aug. 19. The performance event featured a dancer next to each sculpture in the park, with dances choreographed by Seattle choreographer Eva Stone. Proceeds from the performance were split between the Sculpture Forest and Gifts from the Heart.

Hughes said she handed out a few food bank fliers at the event but didn’t talk about the project in too much detail to any visitors. For this reason, she was shocked when the food bank secretary told her the following Tuesday that she had received a phone call from a charitable foundation in Texas, informing her that someone wanted to make an anonymous donation of $140,000.

The donor had been in town for the Wander/Wonder event, had picked up a flier for the food bank at the forest and decided to make the donation. Hughes said she was nothing short of flabbergasted — at first, she even thought the call was a prank or a scam.

But the check arrived as promised, bringing the food bank to around 92% of its fundraising goal for the new building.

With only $70,000 left to raise, Hughes said she is hopeful the food bank will secure the rest of the needed funds by the end of the year. She said Gifts from the Heart will continue seeking grants, hosting fundraisers and working with donors in the community for the final stretch.

The food bank will soon begin the permitting process for the construction.

“We are just really excited and ready to start working on our forever home,” she said.

Scott Price, founder and president of the Price Sculpture Forest, said he, Stone and the dancers are thrilled that Wander/Wonder inspired such a generous donation to the food bank.

“This generous donor’s gift to the community food bank demonstrates how positive, impactful art and performance can inspire people to think and act expansively in their lives,” Price said. “We are happy to have been the catalyst that enabled this amazing donation to Gifts from the Heart.”

Hughes expressed her appreciation for Price’s community-centered approach to operation of the Sculpture Forest.

“If he wouldn’t have included us, this would not have happened,” she said.