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VA Palo Alto partners with local nonprofit for huge donation

Alice Kong and Evan Fasbinder with pallets of donations

Alice Kong recently donated $250,000 worth of PepsiCo products to VA Palo Alto health care.

Upon first meeting, Alice Kong will greet you with a big smile and “hello” before you get within a few feet of her. She is full of excitement when she talks about her donations and the good they will bring to those who will benefit from them. She can share so many great stories about her adventures with the nonprofit, but her most recent will amount to a $250,000 donation of PepsiCo products to VA Palo Alto health care.

Kong founded the Aloha Kiss Arthur Kong Memorial Foundation in 2008 after being laid off around the time of the last U.S. recession. She wanted something constructive to keep her busy and began crocheting beanies. She was on a flight back home one day and next to her was a U.S. senator who inquired about what she was making. He quickly reminded her of those who serve our country if she wanted someone to share them with.

This led to her first donation through Blue Star Moms organization to send with their care packages. In the first year, she made 179 beanies. She is now dedicated to making 4,000 beanies this year with the help of friends and an organization called GIFT, or Give It Forward Today. Her family also got involved as her brother creates little angel ornaments to “watch over” service members while they are abroad. The beanies and angels are being sent to service members in all reaches of the world.

It was in support of the Livermore Homeless Refuge Golf Classic Invitational, a premier amateur golf event for charity, that she first became connected with PepsiCo. Her contact at the time, who is now a great friend, helped her coordinate thousands of dollars in donations of snacks and drinks for the tournament.

She has now leveraged her relationship with PepsiCo to share the products with Veterans at VA Palo Alto health care. Over the past few months, Kong partnered with Evan Fasbinder, Voluntary Service Specialist for VA Palo Alto’s Center for Development and Civic Engagement, to coordinate the donation.

“It takes people with like minds, cooperation, and like hearts to make things happen,” said Fasbinder, who worked with the Supply Chain Service warehouse team to receive the donation.

However, proper transportation for such a large donation is crucial. When Kong and Fasbinder were connected with trucking company Spirit Xpress, they stepped up and donated their time along with a massive truck to pick up pallets from Pepsi’s distribution center in Tracy, California. The first shipment was received in mid-February to the 3 VA Palo Alto divisions in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Livermore.

“Aloha Kiss is about lending a helping hand in any way we can. My philosophy in life is always to look beyond the horizon and to make what we think are impossible dreams a reality,” said Kong. “Reaching success with this donation is truly a blessing and we hope to do many more in the future.”

Outside of the normally prepared meals for inpatient units, Veterans, family members, and visitors pay out of pocket for any additional food and drinks. While there are many contributors to the donation fund managed by VA Palo Alto, this direct donation of products cuts out the coordination of purchasing and puts them right into the hands of our Veterans and families being served on at each campus.

“We could not provide the level of attention and care VA Palo Alto health care is known for without our volunteers and donations like this,” said Lisa Howard, Director of VA Palo Alto health care. “We are so grateful to have people like Ms. Kong who are selfless in their pursuit to help others.”

The products will be distributed to Veterans in various inpatient and outpatient settings. This donation is crucial as VA is limited by the amount of food and amenities it can offer within its programs.

Learn more about how you can volunteer or donate to VA Palo Alto health care

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