STANFORD — As the oldest of four, Brittany Gooch says she has always been helping out with children and concerned about her younger siblings.
About seven years ago, one of her concerns helped her imagine a project that has erupted into a generous organization.
Gooch, a senior at Asbury University in Wilmore, is the founder of NSpire, a non-profit organization that supports local children and families by providing school supplies each year and assistance during the Christmas season.
Gooch started the organization during her sophomore year at Lincoln County High School, after realizing how expensive school supplies must be for struggling families.
“My little brother went into sixth grade,” Gooch recalls, “and it cost like $200 for school supplies.”
Gooch said the first NSpire event was a flop but not for lack of people showing up.
She and her family, who live in Stanford, advertised the school-supply event, which was funded by donations. They expected about 50 people to show up and were shocked the turnout was more than 100 people.
“People were lined up around the door,” Gooch said.
After seven years, NSpire has expanded greatly. Working mostly out of Mount Moriah Christian Church, the organization has a yearly Christmas fundraiser and event, a clothing bank and, of course, its annual event to hand out school supplies.
“We average around 400 children now,” Gooch said, adding that the counties they’ve seen children from include Boyle, Casey, Fayette, Garrard, Jessamine, Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle.
“We pre-bag everything now,” Gooch said.
Each child gets one giant bag of supplies, and local churches usually chip in with food for the event.
But the group is currently hitting a rough patch in finances for next year’s school-supply event. Part of Gooch’s job is to gather the supply list from all the counties NSpire serves and then shop. She bargain-shops at Big Lots, Walmart and The Dollar Tree and buys supplies in bulk whenever possible.
“We will easily spend $1,000,” she said, adding that any occasional leftover funds roll over for the next event.
Right now, the funds are at about half of what is needed for the next school year, Gooch said.
To raise money, NSpire is having a silent auction and chili supper beginning at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Inter-County Energy in Danville.
Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children 12 years old and under, and children under 3 will get in free.
Gooch said some of the auction items will include a University of Kentucky gift basket, cleats signed by professional football player Jacob Tamme, and guitar lessons.
Gooch hopes the organization will grow to hire a manager to help find resources for needy families every day, not just at Christmas and the beginning of school years.
She said it is continuously inspiring to give back to the community.
“Just seeing the kids’ faces,” she said. “For my siblings, I feel like it’s good for us to get involved because we have the stuff. We see kids come in that are so excited to see what they will get for school.”
College student inspired to help children in need
Brittany Gooch (February 19, 2013)