Carmel Valley couple’s multi-nut butter is helping to improve lives of orphans around the world
By Karen Billing
Eating NuttZo multi-nut butter has more benefits than getting a healthy dose of Omega-3s — it is helping change the lives of the world’s orphans by the spoonful.
Created by Carmel Valley mom Danielle LiVolsi, 1 percent of the gross sales of NuttZo goes to help Project Left Behind, a nonprofit she runs with her husband, Kevin, to support orphanages around the world with basic needs and care.
In the three years since NuttZo and Project Left Behind were created, they have donated nearly $10,000.Adopting their two children Matthew and Gregory from Ukraine changed the LiVolsis’ lives in many ways.
The new additions to their family were the impetus for NuttZo, as Danielle created the nut butter to help her children’s vitamin deficiencies.
The organic, multi-nut butter combines Valencia peanuts with cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Their new peanut-free NuttZo is a seven-nut- and-seed butter with all the ingredients of the original NuttZo, minus peanuts and plus chia and pumpkin seeds.
Since 2009, the brand has expanded and grown, and is now available in more than 300 stores, including Jimbo’s, Whole Foods, Seaside Markets, Henry’s, Village Mill Bread Company, Zinc’s Café and Good On Ya Deli.
Traveling to Ukraine twice to adopt Gregory in 2002 and Matthew in 2005 from separate orphanages, the couple’s eyes were opened to the plight of orphans there. They understood the problem was much bigger than Ukraine as UNICEF estimates there are between 143 million to 210 million orphans worldwide.
The creation of NuttZo also gave the couple the opportunity to establish Project Left Behind.
Project Left Behind operates in three major categories: Human touch, surrogate nurturing and nutrition/health. Their projects have helped bring blankets to orphans in Haiti, furnished the House of Hope in Molo, Africa, with basic essentials, funded an Abandoned Babies and Children project in Kenya, and helped the SPOON Foundation’s orphan’s nutrition project in Kazakhstan.
The human touch category of their service is perhaps the most important, allowing Danielle and Kevin to travel to areas in need directly.
In 2009, Danielle visited Nepal, both went to Guatamala in 2010, and in March, Danielle went to Bangkok, Thailand.
“We go to these orphanages and find out what the needs really are,” Kevin said. “It’s daunting, overwhelming, when you see the scope of the problem worldwide.”
While visiting Nepal, Danielle walked with the children to school every day and there were not always enough shoes for every child. She remembers a young 8-year-old girl walking to school in broken shoes that were much too big, crying every step of the way.
The experience created one of NuttZo’s favorite projects, supplying shoes to Nepal’s Aishworya Orphanage children—it’s a project they’ve done every year since 2009.
“It’s something I never would’ve seen unless I had visited,” Danielle said.
In Thailand, Danielle learned that the biggest problems for children in Bangkok include the proliferation of child trafficking, as well as an AIDS epidemic among street kids.
From her visit, Danielle hopes to get a project going to get AIDS medication to the children who cannot afford it.
While the orphanage visits can be overwhelming, the benefits are huge — it resets Danielle and Kevin’s expectations of what they can do to help and keeps them more focused on their priorities.
More than anything, the LiVolsis understand the importance of love, caring and education for these children. They are trying to work with orphanages to make it easier for people to come volunteer — some of them only allow volunteers to come for a minimum of six months, which Kevin said cuts out a lot of people who would be able to come to serve for about a month, namely college students.
To that end, Project Left Behind has set up relationships with about 100 colleges nationwide, hoping to raise awareness about these in-need places.
“We can only do so much,” Kevin said of him and his wife, but noted that if all of those schools sent two or three students every year, the lasting effect could be powerful.
“We want to raise awareness about these places and hope that the program really blows up,” Danielle said. “For a child to feel loved and cared about is so powerful and it’s so sad that so many don’t.”
NuttZo is in the running for a $25,000 small business grant from Intuit. Each month a small business is selected to win the grant based on customer votes. To help them win, text 244326 and enter the code EATNUTTZO. Voting is free.
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