TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Gina Wilkins as the 20th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Wilkins, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Kind Mouse Productions.
Wilkins is the Founder and CEO of The Kind Mouse Productions, Inc., a nonprofit established in 2012 that assists low- and no-income families who lack the financial means to provide basic sustenance for their children. Her 501(c)3 offers a weekend pack sack program, an emergency food program, and a 90-day family transition program. Each Friday, chronically hungry students receive a Mouse Nibbles sack filled with 10-12 healthy snack items that will feed them through the weekend. If the family wage earner has lost their job or is in a career transition and struggles to pay their mortgage and other bills, Kind Mouse provides food, housewares and pet food for a 90-day period.
Over the past six years, Kind Mouse organization has filled over 180,000 hungry tummies. Gina has approximately 150 volunteers that clock 11,500 hours annually. These volunteers serve around 900 unduplicated persons and pack 17,500 Mouse Nibbles weekend pack sacks. They also host many food drives which bring in approximately 60,000 pounds of food per year. All of this is to make sure that the wage earner does not need to be concerned about where the next meal will come from so that they can concentrate on paying bills and finding alternate work.
Gina Wilkins becomes the 343rd Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $17.25 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.