Life with Gracie: Wife’s promise to dying husband inspires Gwinnett teen, others to give

Three months ago, I told you about the moment Sally Mundell, a mother of two and former Spanx executive, decided to open The Packaged Good, a nonprofit that provides a fun, inspirational environment where kids and community groups can decorate and personalize care packages for people in need.

It started with a bedside promise Mundell made to her husband Grover, who died in 2013 from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis or IPF, a type of lung disease.

Start a foundation to help others, Grover told her.

And so she did.

When we talked back in June, Mundell was just days away from celebrating the grand opening of The Packaged Good in a Dunwoody shopping strip.

Even then, she hadn’t envisioned the impact she’d have on metro Atlanta’s youths and their communities. But in just the 14 weeks the nonprofit has been operating, The Packaged Good has created more than 4,000 care packages and is on its way to distribute some 16,000 this year alone to needy individuals and organizations such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Rainbow Village, and Mary Hall Freedom House.

We hear about so many fly-by-night nonprofits, it’s sometimes hard to buy into the mission of a new nonprofit.

The Packaged Good is already making good — pun intended — on its promise: empowering kids to do good and sparking conversations about needs in the metro Atlanta community and how all of us can help.

In just three months, nearly 600 children have experienced the joy of giving, many for the first time.

One of them, Bhaumi Shah, came and decided to stay awhile.

Bhaumi, 13, found out about The Packaged Good at Kids Boost, another local nonprofit designed to inspire kids to use their gifts, talents and passion to give back to the world.

After researching the organization, Bhaumi met Mundell and told her about her plan to use her talents to raise money for The Packaged Good and produce a video for the nonprofit that would explain its mission.

With help from Kids Boost, which gives kids ages 8-18 a $100 stipend and then helps them turn it into more for a charity of their choice by doing something they love, she drew up a plan and executed it.

She held a community garage sale at her home in Suwanee and an open house at North Gwinnett Middle School, where students paid $2 to spin the wheel for prizes.

In all, she raised more than $1,300 for The Packaged Good, $300 above her initial goal.

Kids Boost founder and CEO Kristen Stocks said her organization provides kids encouragement and support, including one-on-one coaching, a webpage, and resources to help them realize their goal.

“By giving kids this opportunity, we believe they will not only learn valuable lessons in philanthropy, business and money management, but it will also create a lifelong love of giving back to the world,” Stocks said.

But Bhaumi didn’t just stop with the fundraising. The eighth-grader has spent the past month creating a video for The Packaged Good that explains its brand and mission.

That project has now grown into an interactive, educational series to engage young children that will include four additional videos that will explore each of The Packaged Good’s causes the nonprofit supports: soldiers, senior citizens in nursing homes, the homeless, and children.

Bhaumi has dreamed of becoming a cinematographer since third grade, when she discovered an instruction app on her iPad. Two years ago, she garnered a first place for film in her school’s Reflection Competition.

“At first, it was just for fun,” Bhaumi said. “I decided to get more serious and make it for charities, too.”

Stocks, who coached Bhaumi through the process, said she knew it was important for the teen to work with an organization like The Packaged Good that truly helps people.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” she said. “In the end, it was Bhaumi’s decision to raise funds and awareness for The Packaged Good. Their mission is hard not to love.”

But it was Bhaumi — her passion, kindness and dedication to making a difference — that convinced Stocks to contribute the $100 investment.

“She worked hard — with nothing in return — except for the feeling of helping others,” Stocks said. “She used her talent and passion to give back in a big way. I am so proud of her.”

The other day, Bhaumi and Mundell were back at The Packaged Good, marveling at both their successes.

Bhaumi because of the success of her fundraising campaign and efforts to raise awareness about The Packaged Good.

And Mundell because of the way the community has embraced the notion of teaching children to give back, to live beyond themselves.

“My goal was to create a giving lifestyle, to get people thinking about others throughout their lives, not just at specific times in the year,” she said. “I’m thrilled with the response. It’s much more communal than I thought it would be. People really like giving together.”

The Packaged Good. Kids Boost. Two different nonprofits. Both teaching our children how to give and experience the joy that that gives.

How lucky are we?

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.