Amanda the Panda Receives Community Impact Grant For Grief Backpacks

Amanda the Panda, a program of EveryStep Grief & Loss Services, announced today that it was awarded a $20,000 Community Impact Grant from New York Life.  

The grant will support Amanda the Panda’s Grief Backpack project that allows the program to provide age-appropriate grief materials, activities and local resource referrals to children, teens and families across Iowa who have suffered the loss of a loved one. 
Each grief backpack contains items carefully selected to provide support across a spectrum of needs, including the EveryStep Grief & Loss Services programs and resources folder, the book Turned Upside Down by Teana Taché, stress ball, a fidget toy, the DVD Inside Out and other items. Schools receiving a backpack will be able to send the materials home with students or staff members who have experienced the loss of a loved one.  

One grief backpack will be distributed to each of the more than 100 elementary, middle and high schools in the Des Moines, Urbandale, Johnston and Waukee. Additionally, one backpack will be delivered to each of the 10 EveryStep offices across the state that are home to bereavement counselors. Any remaining backpacks will be housed at the Amanda the Panda offices and made available to any school where a loss has occurred. 

“We are grateful for New York Life’s investment in Amanda the Panda’s grief backpack program, which will change many lives for the better,” said Ashley Mori, program director for Amanda the Panda. “Without the support from New York Life, we wouldn’t be able to provide grief backpacks that support children, teens and families, allowing them to process their grief in a healthy way.”
“I’m proud to work for a company that encourages its agents and employees to devote their time, energy and talents to support the needs and priorities of their local community,” said Josh Ervasti, an agent with the company’s West Des Moines General Office. “We are pleased that our partnership will have a long-lasting impact on EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda program and the population they serve."
The Community Impact Grant program awards grants of up to $25,000 to local nonprofit organizations, which are championed by New York Life agents and employees. Since the program’s inception in 2008, more than 600 grants totaling nearly $8 million have been awarded to nonprofits across the country.