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Meet Mandy Ellen of www.tkohelpinghands.org in Calabasas and Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mandy Ellen.

Mandy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
www.TKOhelpinghands.org was founded in 2000 as a way to incorporate philanthropy into our families life. We wanted our children to grow up philanthropic, kind and compassionate to others.

Our mission is to instill a sense of philanthropic responsibility in our community. In 2000, we wanted to have our kids surrounded by like-minded children who felt empowered to change the world through their actions. We created projects and gathered volunteers which we termed “Kindness Ambassadors”. Our purpose was unique as we found projects that were important to our volunteers. There was no one cause such as homeless, elderly care or muscular dystrophy. We found our nitch was to ignite the heart light in the average child or parent who was simply participating in the required community service hours required for school. TKO found that by creating these heartwarming projects we could truly impact any volunteer. We watched as parents raced to hand out lunch bags to homeless or young kids told us about ways they could do more or get toothbrushes from their uncle who was a dentist.

The magic of kindness continued to spread as friends started asking us how they could get their families, businesses or schools involved.

We watched as our children spoke of their philanthropic experiences like other kids spoke about their toys. We soon learned that with 5 children within a 10 year age difference our kindness projects was the one thing that everyone connected with. No one agreed on what movie or what to do on a Friday night but we all agreed on our Turn Kindness On Projects.

As we traveled as a family, we would take an extra duffel bag filled with toys, flip-flops, and school supplies. We would find an orphanage or two to visit and spend the day playing with the children.

It is always the best part of any trip we do. As a family, we love to travel and our kids have been blessed to have visited over 5,000 orphans from Peru, Ecuador, Africa, Bali, Tahiti, Japan, Thailand and other countries. Together as a family, we have organized and participated in feeding over 30,000 homeless souls to date. The lifestyle we have chosen embeds philanthropy in every aspect of it.

We have operated at 100% give for the past 18 years. Every dollar collected goes directly to our causes and TKO operates at a 100 percent volunteer status.

We have basically operated because we as a family donate a percentage of our income every year to continue our efforts to make s difference in the world. We believe that if everyone can be kind to one soul and makes them have a better day. they may treat someone else a little kinder, react a little gentler or be more tolerant in a situation. When asked about why he does philanthropic work. Our son, Tristen, then only 10 years old said: “It’s just something you need to do in your life in order to be complete”.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our non-profit was founded organically to help our family and we have grown with volunteers and projects on a small scale. We never assumed we would be honored individually or as a family for our actions but we have been highlighted a couple of times.

At times, I would feel like we weren’t making progress in getting more people involved as we could post kind acts on social media and get 200 views and see crazy antics going viral. I have come to terms with the fact that what we do is impacting our lives as a family as well as the lives of those who have connected with us.

Now, almost 20 years since we started TKO, we still operate under the same premise of turning on the heart lights in individuals and families and we still try to create projects that our volunteers are passionate about,

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about www.tkohelpinghands.org – what should we know?
I am most proud of our team of volunteers that have joined TKO and support us through our various projects. TKO Acts of kindness go on continually throughout the year and we specialize in supporting a variety of causes. TKO is unique because if you love animals we volunteer with “paw works” if your passion is helping the homeless we sponsor the Carnival of love in skid row. If you want to support children we collect items for “Keiki’s cupboard” which supplies items for children in schools discreetly or visit orphanages around the world. If your interest is the military we work with “operation gratitude” or help to eliminate military homeless in along beach at the Cabrillo village.

Our passion is simply to turn kindness on in all that we do.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Our family and friends have supported us through the years. Crystal Parra who is our director volunteered 8 years ago as a student studying non-profit management. She operates all of our social media and operates TKO by spending many hours of her day to create projects and connect with each volunteer and non-profit.
Crystal is definitely an earth angel who has found that the silver lining of any difficult situation is to turn kindness on.

Brett and the boys have been hands-on in every aspect of TKO.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Mandy Ellen, Corena De Klerk, Albert Winchell

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