Apparently, once you p.o.p., you can’t stop looking for ways to make a difference.
A local candy company is partnering with a Santa Monica performing arts organization to help feed hundreds of people in need every day.
The toffee treats that p.o.p. candy co. makes in small batches will soon be sold at Edgemar Center for the Arts on Main Street, and half of the proceeds will be donated to OPCC’s food program.
“We’ve always wanted to contribute to a charity and give back to the community,” said Bill Waiste, who founded the candy company eight years ago with his now-wife, Rachel Flores. “But we’ve never been able to do it in a way that we thought was meaningful.”
That changed after Waiste started donating his company’s treats to Samoshel, an OPCC-run homeless shelter, to boost the spirits of the clients.
He was inspired to learn more about the nonprofit agency, which provides food, housing and social services to homeless people, domestic violence victims, addicts, veterans and at-risk youth. So he met with officials and toured facilities, including a center for homeless women with developmental disabilities.
Waiste was particularly fascinated by the demand on the organization’s food services. According to officials, OPCC serves more than 3,570 meals per week on a budget of about $2,300. That’s more than 500 meals per day with just $330, which the agency augments with donations from food banks, businesses, community groups and the public.
“It’s a basic human need, but it’s a way of making a direct connection with people,” OPCC director John Maceri said of the free food. “It’s another resource that sustains life, and it gives us an opportunity to engage with people and encourage them to take advantage of the other services that are available to them.”
Waiste’s company doesn’t have its own retail storefront, so all the partnership needed was a sales point.
Enter the Edgemar Center, a nonprofit that hosts theater productions and offers acting classes for adults and children.
Its managing director, Alexandra Guarnieri, said the center offers its own outreach programs but that it hadn’t supported another local nonprofit group before.
“They approached us, and we thought it was a worthy cause,” Guarnieri said of OPCC. “It’s good to expand. It’s a great organization, and it’s always good to give to other outreach programs.”
She added that the candy company’s products will be on sale during intermission at its shows, which have been performed for sold-out audiences for much of the last year.
The plan is for p.o.p. toffees to be sold at Edgemar (2437 Main St.) throughout the end of July, at which point the involved parties will evaluate the partnership to determine how to proceed.
“We’re hoping to expand on this idea exponentially,” Waiste said. “We hope we can bring in a number of partners.
“Anywhere you go in Santa Monica, you’re running into homeless people. What we had in mind was to sell our fresh butter crunch to people, and when they buy it they know that half their money is going to feed homeless people in Santa Monica.”
Added Maceri: “We’re so fortunate to have this collaboration. It’s a great example of how local community members and businesses are partnering with us to make a difference in Santa Monica.”
Photo by Nicholas Salazar: Santa Monica-based OPCC serves more than 3,500 meals each week.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.