Year-end push brings Coupeville food bank close to goal

— Created January 3, 2024 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

As 2023 comes to a close, Gifts from the Heart food bank in  Coupeville is hoping a final fundraising push will bring it even closer to its goal of a new, permanent home complete with much-needed workforce housing.

According to Gifts from the Heart board president, Molly Hughes, the organization received two unexpected donations totaling $35,000 recently from two anonymous donors, who both suggested a campaign to match those funds.

“We decided to run a five-week, year-end campaign to try and match the $35,000,” she told Whidbey Weekly via email. “People are really good to the food bank at year-end; we all tend to think of our neighbors in need during the holidays. We thought the opportunity to double their donation might bring in a few more donations or maybe encourage donors to give a little more.

“We are getting so close to our goal,” Hughes continued. “As of this minute, I believe we have about $100,000 more to go. That’s only 10 percent of the total cost of the food bank and two workforce housing apartments. We can see the finish line!”

File Photo
Gifts from the Heart food bank in Coupeville is nearing its fundraising goal to build a new facility, which will also include two apartments on the second floor. Food bank officials say they could be in their new home by the end of 2024.

Gifts from the Heart announced its plans to build a new facility less than 18 months ago, in August of 2022. Hughes said she is very pleased with how the community has rallied around the organization.

“I am amazed by how generous our community has been, including businesses, other nonprofits, and foundations,” she said. “We have written many grant applications and have gotten several between $5,000 and $20,000. Those add up quickly. But some of our largest donations have come from individual donors, some of whom have a long history of supporting the food bank, and other brand-new supporters. We had hoped to have the funding in place within 18 months, so I am very happy with our progress.”

Property for the new facility, which will house the food bank on the bottom floor and two apartments on the second floor, has already been purchased along SW Terry Road in Coupeville. The building has already been designed and engineered and the builder is submitting permits.

“When we get permit approval, we plan to break ground, even if it means we still have a little fundraising to do,” shared Hughes. “I believe the build will be six to eight months. I believe the food bank will have a new home and we will have renters in the apartments by the end of 2024.”

Gifts from the Heart currently operates out of the building it used to share with the Boys and Girls Club, which recently moved into its own new facility. Hughes said the food bank now has a little more space with which to work, but she said the permanent location will allow them to operate even more efficiently.

“Since the Boys and Girls Club has left our building, we no longer have to set up and take down every single time we are open for distribution,” she explained. “This is much less physical labor for our volunteers, and we have more room for food storage. When we move into our new building, we will be set up like a ‘shopping model’ food bank. Instead of clients getting a pre-packed bag of nonperishables, they will be able to pick the types of food their family will use from the shelves. We already let our clients choose their protein, fresh fruits, and vegetables, so a shopping model will give our clients even more choices. It will also allow us to carry some ethnic food choices, and make special diet foods like gluten free, low sodium and vegetarian foods more accessible.”

The food bank, which serves all those within the Coupeville School District, will celebrate 22 years of service in February and has offered the Meals 2 Kids program for 11 years.

“We continue to be completely run by volunteers and keep our overhead costs to a minimum and we try to be responsive to our community’s changing needs,” said Hughes. “Our donors know we are very careful and thoughtful about the way we spend their donations of money and grateful for the donations of food. Whenever we have been in need of a home, food, money or volunteers, our community has come through for us. Every. Single. Time. Our mission is ‘to respectfully provide food to those in need’ and we could not do this without our community support. It is an honor for the volunteers of the food bank to be entrusted with this mission.”

Anyone who would like to make a year-end contribution to the building fund or to Gifts from the Heart in general, can donate by sending a check to Gifts from the Heart, PO Box 155, Coupeville, WA 98239, or by credit card or PayPal on the website, A button for the new building will designate funds for that specific purpose.