August 2, 2021 - Minnesota Spokesman Recorder

PHOTOS | O’nika’s Angels continues to do good in the neighborhood
Source – by MSR News Online

Amid all that we have seen in the past few months with COVID-19 and the high rates of crime afflicting the City of Minneapolis, O’nika’s Angels nonprofit continues to shine a light in the community.

On Saturday, July 31, over 300 people came out to O’nika’s Angels’ free, inaugural BBQ, including Charles McMillian, one of the last people to speak to George Floyd alive, and a key witness in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. McMillian stopped by for a plate before heading back to work.

“Thank all of you that stopped by to volunteer, BBQ, or to say hello or donate,” said Onika Nicole Craven, founder of the nonprofit. “And a special thank you to Mr. Steve Johnson of Cub Foods for letting us use his property. It was a very successful day!”

June 25, 2021 - O'nika’s Angels

We did it! 501(C)(3)

We are so excited to announce that O’nika’s Angels is now recognized as a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. It has been a wonderful journey and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of you! Thank you LegalCORPS for all your help achieving this status, and to Angela Linder, Onika Nicole Craven, Rachel Aug, Sarah Healy, and Shron Lovely Flowers for all your hard work.

December 24, 2020 - Minnesota StarTribune

Reidun Harris, 43, of Minneapolis picked up a box of food at Victory Outreach church. Sylvia Reese organized an effort to get food and other supplies to families in need across the Twin Cities.

Grassroots efforts spring up to help Twin Cities families in need
By Kelly Smith Star Tribune

Two days after George Floyd died, Valerie Quintana rallied a handful of friends to clean up a damaged Target store in south Minneapolis. By the end of the week, 400 strangers were clutching brooms and garbage bags to sweep up the shattered glass and debris across the city.

O’nika Craven saw the stores set ablaze and logged online from her Bloomington apartment to collect diapers, water and toilet paper for families suddenly without a grocery store.

A few miles away, in north Minneapolis, Sylvia Reese was out of work herself but eager to help, putting out a call on social media for essential household supplies.

Seven months later, the three women are still heading all-volunteer efforts in hopes of leading lasting change — handing out Thanksgiving meals and Christmas toys and setting up a center where students can study online. They aren’t nonprofit experts with big budgets or a single employee, but as women of color with strong community ties, they’re passionate about aiding neighbors in need… Read More

December 5, 2020 - Minnesota Spokesman Recorder

O’nika Nicole Craven, O’nika’s Angels founder

Nonprofit spreads holiday cheer
Source by MSR News Online

O’nika’s Angels, a nonprofit that launched after the killing of George Floyd, is doing good in the neighborhood.

In August, the nonprofit was awarded $15,000 from the Hennepin County Cares Grant. With COVID-19 and the effect it has had on Black, Brown and Indigenous people, the organization decided to use some of those funds to give away 164 Thanksgiving dinners to people in the Hennepin County area—bringing communities together for the good of us all.

—Information and photos provided by O’nika’s Angels.

November 4, 2020 - Minnesota Spokesman Recorder

$2 million in CARES funds is feeding residents

A lot of people think if someone can afford to go to college, they can afford to eat. But according to Becky Nordin, dean of students for Minneapolis Community & Technical College, “Many of our students are fighting a battle just to be able to afford their education.”

That’s why the college has had its own food pantry for years.

Just last week, Nordin spoke with a family who had three small children. The mother shared that she used to donate to the pantry, but now has to use it. “With COVID, we’ve had so many students who lost jobs because they were in the service industry,” said Nordin.

The college is one of dozens of out-of-the-box places getting funds for food through Hennepin-administered grants from CARES funding. (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is a federal economic stimulus bill that has allowed the county to support COVID-related needs.)

Jillian Kyles, program manager for Navigation and Information Services, said $2 million in grants is going to organizations providing food. Preference is given to those that serve culturally specific needs, but “it’s really open to everyone – pop-up distribution sites, food pantries, food shelves, all kinds of organizations.”

Unlike SNAP or other supportive resources, the CARES money isn’t based on eligibility criteria. “This has been a tremendous benefit to people who otherwise would be met with food insecurity,” Kyles said. “People who are distributing food are seeing record numbers of people in need, and the good news is we’re getting the money to organizations that need it.”

She said the emphasis on culturally appropriate food – the kinds of items that are often hard to find – allows us to fill a clear need.

Nordin said the college’s pantry manager is looking forward to buying a wider variety of items. “We keep some of the staples – different rice, four or five different types of beans – but it’ll be nice to have a few specialty items for populations we serve.”
About 60 organizations are receiving funding. Some of these organizations are working with the county for the first time, including O’nika’s Angels.

Julie Hample, who has been helping track applications and payments for the CARES food grants, first encountered the group as she was driving past a Minneapolis park with her husband. “I saw this group of women wearing these purple shirts that said ‘O’nika’s Angels’ – they had a tent with a card table, and it looked like they were collecting food donations,” she said. While she ran errands, the group stayed on her mind – so she and her husband returned to the park just as the group was preparing to leave.

When Hample learned they were collecting donations to give people in need who have been or are affected by COVID-19, she took their contact information to send them information about the CARES grant opportunity.

“Their application was approved, and they got $15,000,” said Hample. “I was so happy when I saw that! These small organizations are doing their best to reach out and help people, and we often don’t know how to contact them about grants – and they don’t know what’s available from the county.”

She later was delighted to see a video on the group’s Facebook page showing stacks of supplies purchased with the grant money that were going to be distributed within the community.

Kyles said this funding opportunity has given us an extra opportunity to focus on disparities.

“It’s important that people understand this is something that wouldn’t have been available without the CARES funding,” she said. “It’s really going into the hands and mouths of our most disadvantaged community members.”

~Hennepin County