At Toni’s Kitchen, we are grateful for the many food donations we receive from people in our community. Donations of food come in all shapes and sizes, and from all sorts of people.
One of the unique donors to Toni’s is the Astute Brothers Club. The club’s origins and how they came to donate to Toni’s make for an inspiring story.
The club began in January of 2016 when the son of Beatrice Adewole (one of the founders of the club) asked his mother why there wasn’t any book clubs for boys (his sister had her own book club). Beatrice got together with her friends Darrin and Ray Simon, Dianna Davis, and her husband Akintayo and the Astute Brothers Club was born. (The word “Brothers” in the club’s name is an acronym for “Bold, Resilient, Outstanding, Together, Humble, Eloquent, Respectful, and Smart.”)
The club started with nine members, all boys in middle school or high school, meeting every month. It started as most book clubs do, with the boys reading books and discussing the themes and issues the books raised. But from the start, the club was always about something more than just reading.
“It’s beyond literacy,” says Beatrice. “We really aim to use the book club…as a vehicle for supporting autonomy and leadership skills.”
Over time, the boys decided that they wanted to add community service to their activities. Dianna Davis was familiar with Toni’s Kitchen, and she suggested helping Toni’s as an outlet for the club.
When the group found out about Toni’s Healthy Backpack program, they decided to do a food drive as a community service activity for the club. The boys printed flyers and put them all over their neighborhoods. They collected about 30 bags of food and brought it to Toni’s.
“It was a beautiful, beautiful example for them to see how much they could impact the community with relatively little effort,” says Beatrice.
The food drive and the fact that the food collected was for children definitely had an impact on the boys.
“They (the boys) connected a little bit more with that concept,” says Dianna Davis. The boys, she says, realized that they “could be walking in those shoes of those children who need this help.”
Toni’s Backpack Program distributes backpacks filled with shelf-stable food to kids through partner programs. The food the kids bring home can really help lower-income families stretch their monthly budgets. Beatrice Adewole says the boys appreciated that aspect of the program:
“[Toni’s backpack program] allows these young people who are not old enough to necessarily hold down a job…to contribute to their family. They (the boys) liked being a part of that.”
The third year of the club has just started and the boys plan on doing another food drive at Toni’s Kitchen this year.
Dianna Davis herself has been volunteering at Toni’s Kitchen for about six years, and she appreciates Toni’s place in the community. “Having Toni’s Kitchen in our town here and being part of it, it really just helps you to become that much more connected, I think, to humanity, to suffering, to the people we serve here in our town.”
The Astute Brothers Club is just one of many, many groups and individuals who are doing creative and amazing work to help fight hunger in our area. The lessons the boys from the Club are learning will last a lifetime, and the help the Club provides through their work with Toni’s is impacting many lives in our community. Toni’s thanks the Astute Brothers Club and all of those who work so hard to help us fulfill our mission.