In 2013, after a mission trip with their church to South Africa, the Oelkers family—Blaine, Beth, and daughter Kaitlyn—returned deeply moved by the poverty they’d seen. Inspired by TOMS Shoes’ “One for One” business model, the idea for Feeding Cards came together one night during a meeting around the dinner table.
Today the family runs Feeding Cards, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing meals for children in the U.S. and the developing world. They create and sell custom-designed greeting cards online and to local businesses and other patrons. Initially, proceeds benefited children in South Africa.
In 2015, they established a partnership with World Vision to provide meals for families in the U.S. For every $1 greeting card sold, World Vision provides three children with a meal. A $3 greeting card provides meals for 10 children. Feeding Cards works with volunteers to assemble food kits, then distribute them to their community. In the first year of this partnership, they sold enough to provide 4,500 World Vision Family Food Kit meals to families. In 2016, they anticipate doubling that total to 9,000.
Since they began selling cards in 2013, the Oelkers say Feeding Cards has provided more than 70,000 meals to children in need through World Vision and another organization.
With Blaine’s business acumen and Beth and Kaitlyn’s artistic interests, they say the operation was relatively easy to set up. The effort—from managing sales to packing food kits—is all volunteer-run.
“It’s nice because it’s something we can all do together,” says Beth.
Much of their business comes from local shops and companies who purchase Feeding Cards to use with clients, Blaine says. Going forward, they’re working to establish more business partnerships to scale up their card sales and production.
The family is excited about the momentum they’ve built and believe the effort is poised to grow in coming years. “It feels like everything is there, but it could just be 10 times bigger,” Blaine says.