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Uplifting the Community One Smile at a Time

Kimberly LaRussa hardly ever has a typical day. One day, she might be seen on television, surprising a child in need with a bedroom makeover. The next, she might be out in the community to raise funds for nonprofits, or you might see her advocating to help pups from local shelters find their forever homes.

Surprising a child battling cancer with a baby kangaroo named Gumball at their front doorstep is far from typical, though. Still, the work she does for the community does share a common thread: it makes people smile, and it makes a difference. You don’t have to be a child for a baby kangaroo hopping around your living room to make you smile.

Kimberly strives to bring smiles and make a difference through her company, Sweet Buffalo. Her work runs the gambit from writing uplifting news stories for her company’s website and making TV appearances, to surprising children in need, to running fundraisers and holding events in the community for nonprofit organizations. It all began with Kimberly’s passion for positive storytelling and her desire to share uplifting news in her community.

With a background in broadcast journalism from Buffalo State College, Kimberly started off as an on-camera journalist and transitioned to writing for community newspapers as a reporter and editor. Of all the news stories she was assigned to, it was the uplifting ones she felt most passionately about. “I just always saw myself gravitating towards stories that made a difference,” says Kimberly.

“I just always saw myself gravitating towards stories that made a difference,” says Kimberly.

Sharing positive news stories in the surrounding community is what propelled Kimberly to create Sweet Buffalo. Starting as a blog six years ago, Sweet Buffalo has blossomed into a burgeoning company that aims to make a difference and provide help for the people (and canines) that need it the most. Whether it’s rallying around kids and families in need, helping animals to get adopted, or simply sharing a sweet story to make someone smile, Sweet Buffalo lives up to its hometown’s title: City of Good Neighbors.

“I don’t think I could do what I do anywhere else,” Kimberly says, fondly noting the outpouring of support from the Buffalo community. “They all step up, and that’s what I think makes the City of Good Neighbors in Western New York such a special place.” Originally from Florida, Kimberly made her home in Buffalo at the age of 19 and hasn’t left since.

From its beginning, Sweet Buffalo has been spreading smiles. Shortly after launching the company, Kimberly took on a project called Sweet Buffalo Rocks for which people painted and hid rocks in the community for others to find in hopes of brightening their day. You might find a rock with the phrase “Have Hope” on it, or one that says, “You are somebody’s reason to smile today.” On the back of the rock, people were encouraged to find and follow Sweet Buffalo and Sweet Buffalo Rocks online.

The project quickly caused a ripple effect, spreading the word about Kimberly’s company. What started five years ago hasn’t stopped, and Sweet Buffalo Rocks now has over 42,000 members on Facebook. It continues to grow as a nonprofit organization, raising money for children and families in need. You can find its rocks in other states, countries, and even Disney World!

Not only does Sweet Buffalo focus on kids and families in need, but it also focuses on their canine counterparts. Kimberly started Sweet Buffalo to the Rescue to help rescue animals find their forever homes. Sweet Buffalo to the Rescue works with shelters and rescues in the surrounding area, using its social media platform to help animals get adopted.

What’s next for Sweet Buffalo?

Kimberly says get ready for a summer filled with lots of furry friends! Sweet Buffalo to the Rescue has partnered with the West Seneca Police Dept. (WSPD) and Buddy Second Chance Rescue to help rescued dogs get adopted through an event called Bark, Walk, and Talk. Occurring as a weekly event throughout the summer and culminating in a celebration, Bark, Walk, and Talk will feature WSPD officers walking dogs in the park to meet people in hopes of them finding these pups forever homes.

As always, Sweet Buffalo continues to uplift families in need and to make the Buffalo area shine. Kimberly credits the community for bringing to light these positive stories and creating change in the world. “This wouldn’t be possible if we weren’t in Western New York,” she says. “It’s the people that step up and help that are really making the difference.”

When she’s not promoting heartwarming stories and helping kids and canines in need, Kimberly LaRussa works part-time at a local cat rescue and spends time with her 7-year old son, her husband, and her three dogs and cat.

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