Kyle beamed with pride as he showed off his family garden at Kuda Vana Children’s Home, a home and school for orphaned and abandoned children in Zimbabwe. In that moment, Kyle couldn’t imagine that a group of women half a world away were busily making chocolate with him in mind.
Sales of Bellafina Chocolates also helped Maria, a doe-eyed little girl in a home for abused and abandoned children in Nicaragua.
They've contributed to college funds for a teenage girl in Nebraska whose father died while on deployment with the U.S. Navy And a little boy in Nigeria walks through his village with pride because Bellafina Chocolates helped buy his first pair of shoes.
Children from the Kuda Vana Children’s Home in Zimbabwe. (Photo: Bellafina Chocolates)
The gourmet chocolate company, based in the Appalachian town of Kingsport, Tennessee, is a social enterprise that donates 100% of its profits to children’s charities. The founder, Brenda Barnicki, is a former engineer who started the company ten years ago as a way to raise money to support various nonprofits.
Its mission is threefold: to help children threatened by disease, poverty, abuse, or neglect; to help women of all ages and circumstances lead productive, purpose-filled lives; and to work for a cause greater than themselves.
The good work done by Bellafina Chocolates is possible through a group of devoted volunteers who have chosen to use their time, energy, and talent to help others. The company's few paid positions are filled by women recovering from addiction, abuse, or other personal struggles.
“I want the company to continue to help women and children in a significant way long after I’m gone,” says Barnicki.
Trish and Muku on the playground of the children's home in Zimbabwe. (Photo: Bellafina Chocolates)
On any given day in the chocolate kitchen, you'll find a handful of women laughing, talking, and making chocolate. Others greet customers in the retail shop or sew clothing and quilts to donate to children in orphanages around the world. All serve as volunteer mentors for women who are struggling and need someone to believe in them.
Barnicki's passion also extends into her products. When it comes to the chocolate, customers often say that Bellafina's truffles are the best they've ever tasted.
“The chocolate industry typically adds several types of sugars and sometimes preservatives to their chocolates to extend the shelf life,” explains Barnicki. “We don’t do that because we think it interferes with the flavor of the chocolate. We make our truffles fresh to order and you can really taste the difference."
It's truly a chocolate that makes a difference, too.
100% of Bellafina Chocolates profits benefit charities helping children threatened by disease, poverty, abuse, or neglect.