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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Schools Serve

 SchoolsServe

Chances are good that you have participated in a food drive or donated food to a local pantry.  Fewer of us have coordinated a food drive.  For those of you who have been a food drive coordinator, you may have wished for some help in planning, promotion, and other resources to make your life easier.  Today’s organization, Schools Serve, was just launched in August 2010 to offer assistance to food drive coordinators in schools around the country! 

According to Feeding America’s comprehensive 2010 study, more than 37 million Americans sought emergency food assistance in the past year and many from local pantries.  School food drives are the largest contributor to local food pantries. 

At Schools Serve, the mission is to End Childhood Hunger in America by uniting America’s schools and school families around the cause.  Schools Serve focuses on three distinct goals:

  • To encourage and assist schools across the country to run food drives that help ease the hunger crisis in their community
  • To educated students on the hunger crisis, its causes and solutions, and:
  • To instill in students a life-long respect for service and a desire to serve their communities

Schools Serve is a national organization based in Wrentham, Massachusetts (about 30 minutes outside Boston).  The organization began when founding partner School Family Media’s (SFM) founder, Tim Sullivan, wanted to find a way to acknowledge the 10 year anniversary of SFM. 

Mary Richman, Director of Operations for Schools Serve told us, “Hunger is such a huge issue and schools are so well positioned to play an integral role as part of the solution. Out of this, Schools Serve, a national non-profit, was conceived and developed to support and encourage school hunger efforts and to unite the individual projects around the country into a national movement that we know will be a key force in ending hunger.”

Schools Serve offers many free resources and tools for running food drives and educating school communities on hunger.  Every coordinator or “Driver” that takes part in the National School Food Drive this year can receive a Drivers Toolkit full of promotional materials, collection box labels, bookmarks for students, and a Step-by-Step Planning Guide for Food Drive Success. In addition, the website offers additional planning resources, letters to parents, information on the benefits of service, flyers for educating the community on hunger and the most needed food items.   The website also offers participating schools an area to share tips and resources that they found most helpful.  Richman states, “Through our blog and website we’ll share stories of school food drive successes and will promote the great work schools are collectively doing around the country. By taking part in Schools Serve participating schools are not only helping their community but are part of a larger national movement working to end hunger in every community.”

Schools Serve focuses on “Good Giving.”  The concept is: Giving is good, Good Giving is better. All food donations are good, but donating the kind of food that pantries need the most is better. Food drives anytime are good, but food drives timed to fill pantry shelves when pantries are most in need are better. All food drives are good, but food drives that combine collecting food with educating and inspiring kids on the value of service are better.

Schools Serve was just launched this August and already has schools in 43 states participating in the hunger movement by running food drives in their community.  The organization recently introduced a Student Leadership Council, which is a group of students who have already taken initiative to end hunger in their communities and will continue as ambassadors of Schools Serve to influencing the organization’s work and fostering greater involvement of schools, students and families in local and national hunger efforts.

Richman continues, “Schools Serve will address hunger right at that local level, connecting active and engaged school parents and students with pantries right in their communities.”  In its first year, the goal for Schools Serve and its National School Food Drive Campaign is 5 million pounds of food donated from schools to their local communities.

So, how can you help?  You can work with your local school to utilize the School’s Serve toolkit and online resources for their food drive.  Since you have such great resources available, you could even volunteer to be a food drive coordinator at a local school! 

Schools Serve is supported by a coalition of leading education, hunger and service learning organizations – all with a shared passion for activating our schools, inspiring our schools’ students and creating change.  Namely– ConAgra Foods Foundation, Share Our Strength, Youth Services American and School Family Media

To learn more about Schools Serve, visit their website at www.schoolsserve.org, connect with them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or sign up for their e-mail updates.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Camp Get-A-Well-A

Camp Get-A-Well-A

Many of us have memories of camp during childhood.  Campfires, games, crafts, and more!  What about kids who can’t go to camp because they are in the hospital?  Camp Get-A-Well-A is here for them!

Camp Get-A-Well-A is a camp experience brought to children in the hospital.   If kids can’t go to camp, they bring it to them!  Executive Director JoLanne Hanson says, “At Camp Get-A-Well-A, we feel it’s important to recognize that children in the hospital need to not only have their medical needs met, but their social and emotional needs as well.”

The organization brings a five-day camp into hospitals so that kids undergoing a hospital stay can experience camp.  They raise the money and donate it to participating children’s hospitals in the form of a camp! Camp is then offered free to all kids and families in the hospital.  Hanson says, “Our prescription for seriously ill kids is a heavy dose of campfire sing-a-longs, s’mores, camp carnivals, tie-dying t-shirts, zoo visits and fun!”

Camp Get-A-Well-A currently partners with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota.

It may be hard to imagine what a camp experience may be like for kids in the hospital.  The Camp Get-A-Well-A website has several stories from kids who have attended camp.  One is the story of Brittany who spent the last several months of her life receiving cancer treatments at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital.  She was able to spend a night acting like a typical teen girl at the camp’s Teen Survivor night.  She laughed, sang, competed and enjoyed every minute of Teen Survivor especially when her tribe won the competition and retreated to their “cabins” for the evening. According to her mother, Camp Get-A-Well-A’s Survivor was the most fun Brittney had experienced in more than four months.  Brittany passed away the weekend after camp ended.  Find more camp stories here.

Camp Get-A-Well-A is for every child in the hospital regardless of age or diagnosis.  They invite everyone to participate including siblings, parents and friends of the hospitalized child. They have served over 11,000 campers benefitting children and their families in Minnesota, Arizona, Texas and Pennsylvania since their founding in 1998. Camp events are free to all patients and their families.  The camps are supported 100% by individual contributions, sponsorships, fundraisers and grants.  All donations made to are tax deductible. 

Individuals and groups can help Camp Get-A-Well-A in many ways, such as:

  • Monetary donations to support camp expenses.  For example, just $25 will provide Camper Memory Frames for 50 campers.  A $1,000 donation provides T-shirts & Tye-Dye Kits for 200 campers.
  • In Kind donations are also appreciated.  Check out the organization’s wish list at www.campgetawella.org/wish_list.cfm
  • If you live near a hospital served by the organization, you can also volunteer to help at camp.
  • You may also contact the organization directly through their website to see if other volunteer opportunities are available at the time. 

Learn more about Camp Get-A-Well-A by visiting their website, becoming a fan on Facebook, following them on Twitter, watching their video, or sending an e-mail.

 

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Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Free Arts MN

Free Arts MN 

Today’s organization profile is Free Arts Minnesota.  Free Arts Minnesota is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families. They are dedicated to healing young lives through artistic expression. Free Arts recognizes that abuse encompasses a wide range of experiences such as trauma caused by violence, neglect, poverty, and homelessness.

The first Free Arts for Abused Children in was founded by an art therapist in Los Angeles over 25 years ago.  She was motivated by the theory that art and positive adult relationships are not a luxury for abused children, but a necessity.  In 1997, Free Arts Minnesota began serving children in residential treatment centers, battered women’s shelters, and therapeutic pre-schools.

In Minnesota alone, there are more than 25,000 reports of child abuse each year, and one in four families are affected by physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.  This abuse afflicts the most vulnerable in our society – about 80 percent of the victims are children under the age of 10. And each day, nearly 90 children are taken from their parent’s custody and added to an already over-burdened foster-care system.  Abused children are often distrusting of adults, exhibit aggressive behavior or withdraw from their surroundings altogether, while others perpetuate violence on themselves or on other children. Most lack any sense of self-esteem.  Free Arts programs seek to interrupt the cycle of violence. Through painting, drawing, music, writing, drama and other creative outlets, the program serves as a catalyst to help children communicate and express themselves in new – and positive – ways.

At-risk refers to children who have been abused, have witnessed abuse, have been removed from parental custody, or are otherwise deeply, emotionally troubled. At-risk children can come from any background, any religion, and tax bracket, anywhere.  Free Arts Minnesota offers arts programming and mentorship to these at-risk children.

Art can be a retreat; a haven; a pressure release valve; a confidant. Artistic expression offers the chance to succeed without the fear of failure. It can be a sounding board for their frustrations and a blueprint for their dreams. “We’ve seen art heal children whom others have written off.”

They have served more than 10,000 children since their founding, but unfortunately, more than 5,000 remain on their waiting list.

The organization recently finished the Y.E.S to Art Singers Program, which is an initiative to expose singing, music and performance as artistic expression.  School age and teenage children where brought together to learn more about the power of music and to the positive, empowering messages delivered in the songs.  In three weeks time, the participating youth sang songs from Michael Jackson to Ben Harper and an original song written and performed by singer/songwriter Chris Koza from the band Rogue Valley.  The program was presented at the University of St. Thomas on July 29th with resounding success.  The youth themselves were able to work through barriers and hesitations about singing or performing and find self-esteem through bringing their voices to audiences and meeting the challenges of their personal barriers.

So, what can you do to help?

Free Arts Minnesota provides many ways for you to harness and further your talents and passions. 

  • Weekly mentorship program (they are currently seeking volunteers for this program which will start at the end of September).
  • Helping out in the office in a short term or long term capacity.
  • Serving on a committee for fundraisers to solicit donations and gifts or to organize an art supply drive.
  • Internships involving a 10-20 hour-a-week commitment depending on the internship position. Internship programs include: program, marketing, development and graphic/web.
  • Check out their Featured Volunteer Opportunities found on their website each month.
  • You can also donate items listed on their current wish list.

You can find out more and connect with Free Arts Minnesota below:
www.freeartsminnesota.org/
www.facebook.com/freeartsminnesota
Phone:(612)824-2787
Fax: (612)338-5060
Office Location: 400 1st Ave N, Suite 518, Minneapolis, MN 59401

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Read Indeed: Making the World a Better Place, One Book at a Time

Read Indeed

It is back to school season!  Some kids are excited for school while others are already counting the days until the next summer vacation.  One difference between those types of kids may be reading.  Studies have shown that reading forms the foundation of all learning and that children who read often (or are frequently read to) have higher self esteem, better relationships with parents, and a more positive attitude towards school.  Not all children have the same access to books which makes it difficult for them to get exposure to reading.

Several years ago a young girl named Maria saw that not all kids enjoyed reading as much as she did.  “I love to read and one day I asked my mom why some kids don’t like to read as much as I do,” she said. “My mom explained that some kids simply don’t have access to books. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, who can’t have access to books?  Then she explained how some kids in need have never owned a book. I wanted to change that.” 

Maria, who is now 10 years-old, wanted to find a way to make the world a better place and made a lofty goal of collecting and distributing one million books by the time she turned 18 years old.  When asked how the organization began, Maria says, “I did a small book drive through my school and church and collected about 1,000 books. Then I waited a few weeks and thought a lot about it and decided it was fun to have a book drive. But this time I wanted to have a goal of 1 million books. I knew that would take a really long time to collect it, so I set a goal of by the time I was 18.”

With the help of her mother, Maria founded the Read Indeed Organization.  As of fall 2010, the organization has collected and distributed nearly 400,000 books.  Over 90 organizations around the world have received books from Read Indeed.  According to Maria, “It is amazing for me to be able to get books into the hands of the kids who need them the most. It is so rewarding. I love it.”   

Recently the organization expanded from an operation out of the family’s garage into a warehouse in Hopkins.  The warehouse currently houses about 70,000 books which are being sorted by age level.

Read Indeed does have opportunities to help:

  • Volunteers are needed to help sort, count, and package books in the warehouse.  Kids age eight and over are welcome to help.
  • Individuals and groups can collect kid’s books by holding a book drive. 
  • The organization also accepts monetary donations on their website to help fund their warehouse space and shipping costs.  Donations are tax deductible since Read Indeed is a 501c3 organization.
  • Individuals can also sign up to receive e-mail updates on the organization’s website.

You can contact Read Indeed on their website, www.readindeed.org, via e-mail readindeedforkids@yahoo.com, or by phone 612.720.4694.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization, Volunteer Profile

 

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All About Family

I am sure you have heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”.  In today’s fast paced world, the village isn’t always available.  This is why we need organizations to bring communities together.  Today’s profile is about one of those organizations. 

All About Family is dedicated to bringing all individuals from a community together.  They originally began as a way to bring kids and dads together for quality time, but has evolved to include entire families and anyone else interested in participating in community activities.  All About Family offers parents, guardians and community members an opportunity to build community together while participating in an activity where no or very minimal cost is involved. According to organization founder Brian Kelley, “People from a broad range of ethnic backgrounds have attended our group and our events have always been very friendly and positive.”   The organization strives to include people from different ability levels, ethnic and economic backgrounds in fun, educational and encouraging activities taking place within urban, suburban and rural communities.

Activities are typically on Saturdays in urban, suburban and rural settings. Many activities include a meal sponsored by a restaurant and all activities are completely open to all. Arts and other fun activities are incorporated so the broadest range of participants can be included.  Some activities encompass volunteer work such as feeding the homeless or wrapping presents for kids at Christmas time. 

Kelley states, “We have been able to serve families from all backgrounds. We focus on bringing together families to help build and strengthen them.”

Currently All About Family has several opportunities to help with the program, including

  • Assisting with a fundraising initiative for their 2011 Youth Entrepreneurship Program,
  • Helping with the Thank You Card Initiative,
  • Organizing supplies and activities,
  • Sponsoring activities,
  • Purchasing pre-made cards to help fund the programs, or
  • Donating needed supplies (click here for a list)

Kelley adds, “We are looking for more families and volunteers to get involved so that we can help build and strengthen families throughout the Twin Cities area.”

Activities are held at multiple locations throughout the Twin Cities.  Currently the two main locations are Phelps Park on 39th and Chicago (which is also the Boys and Girls Club Southside Village) and at Farview Park on 26th and Lyndale in North Minneapolis.

You can find more information about the All About Family Organization by visiting their website (www.allaboutfam.org) or by e-mail Brian at kelley01@visi.com.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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