At El Toro Non-Profit's first Spring Bash fundraiser at the Sly Fox Golf Club in Middletown, Virginia in May, we talked about a few of the students we have been able to help over time with travel, competition fees, equipment and class tuition costs. A recent incident involving a young student who is in school to be a chiropractor came to our attention. This student had cobbled three jobs together to pay for rent, fuel and food while he attended classes. Last year his school required him to intern at a local chiropractor's office and he had to let two of the three part-time jobs go. His food budget slashed, he lived on peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles. Word got to us this year from one of our family members and coach. Sensei Evans took this young man on a shopping trip to a local Walmart.
We had no idea students in traditional four year colleges, community colleges and vocational schools struggled with food and lodging. "Food insecurity" and "pop-up pantry" were terms we were not familiar with. It opened our eyes to the challenges facing academic, scholarship and trade students. It was not long after our tournament fundraiser that one golfer who heard our story about this particular student donated money directly to him. It was also during that time that we heard our first news story on college food pantries.
What started as vehicle in 2011, then a non-profit in 2013 to raise awareness and fundraise for student/athletes involved in judo, has transitioned to fundraising for student/athletes in other sports, sponsoring and donating to other-abled student athletes, veterans and their family members and judo students in school or training in programs geared toward their future professions.