Why the name Zara?
We named our organization after the Incan godess of harvest and maze.
A Little History
What have we given so far?
Over 45,000 pounds of rice
Over 45,000 pounds of beans
5,000 boxes of cereal/oatmeal
Over 17,000 pounds of pancake mix
8,000 jars of spaghetti sauce
10,000 packages of pasta
5,000 jars of peanut butter
2,000 jars of jelly
96,000 cans of vegetables
2,000 boxes of Mac&Cheese
Vouchers for meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy
.......and so much more we can't list it all here !!!
A little help can lift a heavy burden...
The Zara Project was originally started by a young, new to the profession teacher and her social worker mom.
Twelve years ago, I was a second year teacher trying to stay afloat in my new profession. I was teaching at Johnson Elementary in Denver, CO and there was one thing I couldn’t shake each night when I left work, it was how hungry so many of my students were all of the time. This basic need for nourishment consumed them so much that it interfered with their learning. As Thanksgiving break that year neared, I noticed that contrary to my excitement for a week of freedom, many of my students did not feel the same way. I observed their anxiety levels elevate and felt this sense of dread that I could not explain nor understand. I asked what was going on and no one gave me an obvious answer until we started talking about Thanksgiving break. They weren’t excited like I was. I asked them why and some of their responses were heartbreaking... “we don’t have any money for food or anything else” or “at least we get breakfast and lunch when we are in school”. My heart sank.
A few days later, I told my mom the story while enjoying a nice dinner and some wine. In that moment tinged with irony, the seeds for The Zara Project were planted. We decided to try and help some families with food that winter break and sent out a friendly letter to friends and family asking for donations. We didn’t expect the response we got. If memory serves, I think we raised $3500 and were able to provide food for about 40 families. The next year it was 75 and the following year, we decided to turn our little project into a nonprofit. Since, we have fed thousands of families over winter break at high poverty schools in Jefferson County and Denver Public Schools and plan to feed thousands more in the years to come.
Today, I am still a teacher and the director of the Zara Project. My mom is retired and truly the glue that keeps Zara going. Her official title is secretary. New life has been injected into our efforts with the addition of two new board members, Jeremy and Chris, and a corporate sponsor, Johns Mansville. Jeremy Montana works for Johns Mansville and is our Assistant Director. Chris Arteaga is a music teacher at Force Elementary and Zara’s Community Liason.
Thank you all for your continued support. A little help from The Zara Project has definitely lifted some heavy burdens local kids and their families experience. We couldn’t have done all of this without you!