15 Sep 2014
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Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop

The entrepreneur and hunger fighter wants to bring charity work to a new generation by enlisting kids who are already passionate about action sports.

Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop Danny Keith Opens the First Nonprofit Skate and Surf Shop


In the world of skateboarding, a grind is a trick where the boarder flies through the air, lands on a railing, skates along it, and then drops back to the pavement.

To the uninitiated, it looks impossible, a sheer miracle before your eyes.

Danny Keith is about to try something like it when he reopens his Santa Cruz Surf and Skateboard store on 41st Avenue in early September as a nonprofit that will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank.

For his efforts, Huffington Post will honor Keith as the Greatest Person of the Day on Aug. 15. Click through to read about Keith and past Greater Person winners. 

The store, which has sold surf and skate equipment for 20 years will be called Grind Out Hunger Headquarters. The money from everything sold there will go to fighting hunger, helping to grind it out.

It is, as far as he knows, the first nonprofit action sports store in the country, in a town known for action sports firsts. The first mainland surfing was done here. The first wetsuits were made here. And it was one of the first places to manufacture skateboards.

Now, Keith hopes to combine the world of outdoor adventure sports with raising money for charity. He is tackling a market of surfers and skaters aged 8-18 who participate in individualistic non-establishment sports and have a reputation more for partying than for serious community involvement.

But Keith has been changing that.

For a decade, Keith, who looks and acts at least a decade younger than his 43 years, has been enlisting some of the top surfers and skaters to the Grind Out Hunger charity and through them bringing in school kids to join the fight.

The organization has raised more than a million meals through school food drives, concerts, skate and surf exibitions and even a gathering of tattoo artists collecting charitable funds by emblazoning the words Santa Cruz on people's skin for life. He's had bands play for hunger, including Suicidal Tendencies and Cherry Poppin' Daddies and he's set up skate ramps on the Google campus to entice engineers there.

"The nonprofit world is losing a generation of loyal supporters," said Keith, who also works for the Second Harvest Food Bank. "Frankly, they are dying off. Where is the next generation of donors going to come from? I think we have to get them involved when they are young and passionate. I don't see many other people reaching out to these kids."

The new shop will have elements of a teen center. Kids will put on concerts, they will have classes with graphic designers to teach them to print clothing and create skateboard images and they will have skateboard ramps right in the building.

They are already posting Youtube videos from the old store, and they will be given tools to create more. Students will be able to take classes at the shop to learn skills and the money they pay for the classes will go to Second Harvest Food Bank. Then, they can sell their products through the store.

"We are engaging a community of people who have not typically been philanthropic," says Keith. "They are very individual, counterculture people. These aren't team sports. But they are passionate about their sports and this is a way they can enjoy their passion and make an easy transition to learning to help other people, while they are young.

Keith, who was raised by two disabled parents in Salinas didn't go hungry, but always felt the financial pressure in his family. He compares the passion of his young hunger fighters to that of people in churches, which are traditionally known for taking on charitable causes.

"The kids are very passionate," says Keith. "So you bring them a problem. You go, 'look your friends are going hungry, let's fix this.' It doesn't take a lot of congealing to get them to move forward."

They will be able to get community service credit for the work and be able to take classes in video production, design and graphics and sell the things they create through the store. The money from the products and for the classes will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Keith would like to take this branch of his hunger fight national and see other action sports stores catch the wave. He's had positive feedback at national meetings he's attended as a fundraiser with Second Harvest.

He's also had celebrities and sponsors take on the cause, including snowboarder Marissa Hushaw, who blogs and attends Grind Out Hunger events and Kim Moriarity, who has a foundation in the name of her husband Jay, who was a friend of Keith's and who will be celebrated in the movie "Chasing Mavericks," which comes out this fall.

Others include "Only in Santa Cruz" clothes designer Wesley Hobbs, who got inspired to start his business and fight hunger after hearing Keith speak at his high school, St. Francis, in Watsonville; musician Tess Dunn, skateboard artist , surfer Nic Lamb and musician Royalty the King, who has the hit "Brown Eyed Girl."

"You might not have associated these people with doing charity work," says Keith. "But when you talk to them, they are happy to do it. They have kids, they know kids, they know that one in six people are going hungry and they want the world to be a better place and this is something they can do to help."

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