Lauren and the Lizard

20151112_105756You hear stories of princesses being held captive by very large dragons, and then a prince swoops in and saves the day. Well, my story is slightly different. I was not physically held captive by a dragon, no, a certain van-sized lizard has captivated my mind and there needn’t be any prince rescuing me.

The Western Colorado Community Foundation (WCCF) launched the Lunch Lizard food truck program this past June 2015 to feed children in the Grand Valley during the summer months. These kids would usually receive free or reduced lunches at school and when school is not in session they are likely to be food insufficient as 23% of kids in Mesa County. This food truck served over 4,000 lunches this last summer and was such a wonderful blessing to this community that now multiple other towns on the western slope of Colorado are asking for Lunch Lizard trucks or the support to start their own similar programs. That’s where the Colorado Mesa University Business Honors Society and I came in.

I count myself with the dreamers whole heartedly and I am a big believer in going all out. Less than excellent, why bother? And so when the WCCF asked us to help them raise money and awareness about the issue of childhood hunger in Mesa County so they could buy a food truck my mind went wild with ideas.

How do we let people know what a wonderful thing the Lunch Lizard is? How do we get support? How do we impress upon people what a deep rooted issue this is in the valley?

After some fine tuning the answer I came to was we needed to do a campus wide event in the middle of campus quad to reach as many students as possible.

“If we could raise $2,500 I would be pleased, but if we could raise $5,000, well then I would be thrilled!!” I thought to myself. (See that dreamer mentality showing through?)

We would have stations to engage the students, a viral Instagram campaign to reach beyond the students, and the Lunch Lizard would have to come to campus. In a little less than one month this grand scheme came together and on the bitter cold and windy November 12, 2015 CMU hosted the “Meet the Lunch Lizard” event.

We had a station that showed how many boxes of food local grocery stores donate daily to local food banks. The number: 52 boxes a day on average. 52 BoxesThe best way to display that many boxes? A pyramid.

Food table

We had another table that showed the difference in caloric intake for college football players and children who are food insufficient. Let me tell you it’s a lot! We also had a backpack from the local backpack program to show CMU students what elementary school kids get sent home with each weekend. Over 2,000 full backpacks are sent home each week here in Mesa County. There are a lot of hungry kiddos.

Each table also had Lunch Lizard stickers designed by one of the other Honors Students and information on how to donate online. We also had students like myself out in the center of the quad where students were walking through asking for cash donations. The day of the event we raised $937, which was matched dollar for dollar by a generous WCCF donor and so our total was $1,874.

BUT WAIT! There’s more…..

The CMU Board of Trustees was so impressed with our event they invited us to their monthly lunch to tell everyone what we had accomplished. I sat next to my boss, the Vice President of CMU, and the Mayor of Grand Junction. Talk about feeling like a big kid. Best part? I didn’t know about the lunch until 30 minutes before I was supposed to be there, and I was at work when they called. Thank God I dress well every day!

Anyways! At the end of the lunch CMU’s President Foster asked me to stand up and tell the room about the event. When I was finished one of the board members came up and presented me with a check for $1,900! The doubled our amount! Which was in turn doubled once more by the generous WCCF donor! So in the end we had raised $5,674!! I fully admit to doing a happy dance in public when I left the lunch. (Not near any of the donors of course)

Our Lunch Lizard Event was featured in the KKCO News Story and in the local Newspaper.  From this story the WCCF has received even more donations and are well on their way to purchasing a second food truck for summer 2016.20151112_105756

I am immensely proud of what we accomplished, but I am not finished yet. This Lizard has taken over my mind and in my young, naïve ambition I began to ask myself: “How do we make this bigger?” The answer: I am writing a letter to Governor Hickenlooper to present to him what we have accomplished and discuss what we can do to get the Lunch Lizard program running in other parts of the state. Who knows where this will go.

Some people call me crazy for how hard I work, but I don’t mind. I thrive off of accomplishing great things, and great things take time, dedication, and dreams! Some people don’t understand my obsession with Disney, but it comes down to thismickey

Who knows! For me it might all start with a Lizard.

Until next time,

Dream Big. Live Courageously. And Thrive!!

Xo Lo

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