From an early age Dawn De Kruyf, CEO of Lilly’s Legacy learned the importance and vitality of helping the underprivileged. Being raised by parents who dedicated their careers to helping others, her dad a union worker and her mother a nurse; it's no surprise that she too would follow in the family footsteps.
Dawn’s parents, Paul and Lilly Kruyf established a shelter for the women and children of Los Angeles in 1976. Their corporation was then passed down to Dawn; now extended all the way out to their great-grandchildren.
“Growing up we always did stuff to help the unfortunate, we always tried to figure out what we could do to be philanthropic,” Dawn De Kruyf said. “Once we found the shelter, it became a legacy that's been passed down, we all do it.”
Lilly’s Legacy came into the picture in 2015, shortly after Kruyf’s first phase: the “purse project.” In November 2015, Kruyf went around asking people if they no longer needed purses and new toiletries to put them aside for the homeless community.
In response, Kruyf collected 14 purses along with checks from friends and work clients. With the excess money Kruyf went to the Dollar Tree to buy everyday essentials, assembled the bags, then headed out to Hawaiian Gardens to distribute. Even after she completed the “purse project” people were still donating
“All the items kept pouring in and the need was still there,” Kruyf said. “I approached a taxman to establish my own nonprofit charity where I received approval just nine days later.”
The perfect outlet was found by creating Lilly’s Legacy. With about 800 homeless people residing in Long Beach, Kruyf realized she could make a change in her community by providing haircuts, food and everyday essentials to the homeless. As of January 2019 Lilly’s Legacy has given out 7600 toiletry bags and 1400 meals.
During the distribution process, which happens each weekend, Kruyf’s car becomes flooded with donated clothes for the homeless. If the Lilly’s Legacy team comes across anyone in need of clothes ranging from pants to jacks; assorted sizes are ready to be handed out.
“My parents inspired me to love people unconditionally and really help the poor. It’s not about making me feel good but its about helping them,” Kruyf said. “When you know you're the answer to someone's prayer it’s exciting.”
Lilly’s Legacy currently has eight board members, four trip helpers and volunteers that come and go. The team is faith-based but doesn't force faith upon anyone, unless they want a bible or a prayer. Common cities that are visited are Bellflower, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood and Long Beach. Although food is mainly distributed in Long Beach due to high demand.
“We are a team that got tired of crying about it and decided to do something about it. If everyone did something about it the problem wouldn't be so bad,” Kruyf said. “I can't just let people starve. You can't help the whole world but you can help the person next to you.”
Revenue for this corporation is reached in various forms. Restaurant fundraisers are held where customers go in, mention the nonprofit and a portion of their meal’s cost goes to Lilly’s Legacy. Long Beach locals also donate a large portion of un-needed items. A “donate” button on the nonprofit’s website accepts recurring donations. Lastly, Collison Community Church in Lakewood raises anywhere between $400 to $1000 every month through their weekly offerings.
While Lilly’s Legacy is happy with the weekly, tangible impact they make, Kruyf is also excited about growing their organization. In the near future, the group hopes to attain a much- needed van to hold more supplies for distribution, as well as a warehouse that allows the team to help process items quicker.
“I think I want them [the homeless] to feel loved and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Kruyf said. “I want them to not feel alone and have their basic needs meet.”
For more information and or to donate please visit http://www.thepurseprojectla.org/ or call (562) 321-4961.
Donate or Volunteer
Items needed are:
All sizes of used or new Purses, Knapsacks, Backpacks, Shampoo and Conditioner, Qtips, Lip Balm, Gum Toothbrush kits, Wipes, Small Packs of Tissue, Small Bibles, Small First Aid Kits, Sandwich Size Ziploc Bags, Healthy snacks, Water Bottles, Feminine Protection, Hand Sanitizer, Soaps, Body Wash, Small Tubes of Lotion, New or Used Socks, Scarves, Beanies, Combs and Brushes, Sweatshirts, Small Umbrellas, Small Blankets, New or Used Sleeping Bags, Sheets or Washcloths.