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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tatum’s Bags of Fun

In previous posts we have highlighted organizations such as Camp Get-A-Well-A and Sweet Dreams for Kids that make a hospital stay a bit better for kids.  Today’s organization has a similar mission.

Tatum’s Bags of Fun is a 501c3 non-profit based in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Their mission is to make a positive impact on the lives of every child diagnosed with cancer in Indiana (and beyond).  They do this by supplying a backpack filled with $350 worth of age-appropriate games, toys, and activities ideal for a hospital setting.  This helps to entertain and distract the children during their long and difficult battle with cancer.  Each year almost 300 children are diagnosed with a form of cancer in Indiana alone and since August 2008, Tatum’s Bags of Fun has been able to distribute over 900 bags of fun to children throughout the state.

Tatum is the 11-yr old fifth grade student and a two-time cancer survivor that is behind this organization.  In July 2006 Tatum was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone tumor, in her right femur.  She endured 13 rounds of chemotherapy and 3 major surgeries.  Tatum and her family received a tremendous amount of support from friends, family and the community during her treatment.  One of the gifts she received was a “Bag of Fun” from the Gabby Krause Foundation in Colorado.  Gabby lost her fight with cancer in 2004, but her family started the Gabby Krause Foundation in her memory and “Bags of Fun” was their signature project.  Tatum and her family were so moved by the gift and the concept that they began speaking with the Krause’s about bringing Bags of Fun to Indiana.  On August 1, 2008 a little over a year after Tatum completed her first battle with cancer, her family began distributing Bags of Fun.

Unfortunately Tatum was re-diagnosed with Ewing’s in November 2008, this time in her right lung.  Even though this was another setback, Tatum remained positive and confident she would beat cancer again.  Bags of Fun also provided an opportunity for Tatum to personally deliver Bags of Fun to her new friends that she would be fighting with.  Tatum completed her treatments in September 2009 and has remained cancer free!

Each Bag of Fun is provided to pediatric cancer patients free of charge and is theirs to keep.  The bags are delivered weekly to several Indiana hospitals.  Through an arrangement with the hospital, Tatum’s Bags of Fun receives a list of new patients including their ages and initials.  This allows them to abide by HIPPA regulations and ensure that each child receives just one bag filled with items that are age appropriate.   If the patient has a sibling, a game or toy is also provided to them. With toys and activities that are chosen by same age children, the Bags of Fun provides a way for kids to keep busy and happy during their hospital visits.

On the organization’s blog, you can see some thank yous that have been sent.  One mom said that it made her daughter’s day to get such a wonderful gift and another bag recipient said “no words that I can explain my appreciation and thanks”.

Monetary donations can be made directly on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about Tatum’s Bags of Fun on their website, tatums.bagsoffun.org.  You can also connect with them on Twitter, Facebook or their blog.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Habits of Kindness

Guest post by Sarah Aadland, blogger for Doing Good Together

As the dust settles on the New Year’s Resolution season, consider moving family volunteering to the top of your family’s list. Emerging research continues to confirm that teaching empathy and compassion to our children not only helps the communities that we serve today. It creates tomorrows advocates for social justice.

Many researchers find that habits of empathy and compassion can even make us all healthier (lowering risks of heart attacks and strokes) and happier.

Thanks to Doing Good Together (DGT) and their simple tips for family volunteering, my own family of five is making intentional acts of kindness as much a habit as brushing teeth or reading one last story before bed.

Here is how we got started. Join us!

Pick a project. Check out Doing Good Together’s list of projects, especially the Kitchen Table Activities that are easily done right in your own home. Though it’s energizing to commit an entire Saturday to package food for Feed My Starving Children, it is extremely rewarding to spend the odd hour after school or lazy Sunday evening doing a small project together as a family. These smaller projects are easier to accomplish more often, even when schedules get crammed with other activities. My family started out making greeting cards or decorating dessert bags for Meals on Wheels or taking up some other small, isolated project every few weeks.

Using Doing Good Together’s reflection ideas, I started having some pretty big conversations with my relatively small children. In the beginning they were only 4 and 2, and our conversations primarily expanded their feelings vocabulary beyond happy and sad. Each project seemed to strengthen their awareness of the well-being of others. Now at 6 and 4, we are deepening our conversations nearly every day. Each new volunteer activity, children’s book, or news headline helps us segue into how we can do more or what might be causing the problem at hand.

My first-grader, seemingly empowered by these conversations, is now prompting us to take on new volunteer projects if I don’t set one up for a week or two!

If it was fun, make it easy to repeat. Did your kids enjoy making greeting cards for sick children or did they seem pumped up after taking a garbage walk? Keep the materials on hand to do these things whenever the mood strikes. Our family created a greeting card corner, so the materials – even labels – are always on hand.

Take time for reflection during family dinner. Our family relies on two simple questions to reinforce an intentional habit of kindness:

  • How did you help someone out today?
  • How did someone help you today?

Simple though they are, both girls take notice during the day. I frequently hear my four-year-old say, this will be my helping thing, when she goes out of her way to bring a treat to the neighbor or spends extra time cleaning up her baby brother’s toys. Even better, she pays attention when others make her happy. She often follows “thank you” with “you will be my helping friend tonight,” which I then get to translate to the store clerk that just offered her a succor.

Enhance your library. Check out Doing Good Together’s growing list of resources for kid’s and parents. From Todd Parr to Shel Silverstein, the world is littered with books just waiting to be the next one your shelf. Think of evening reading time as your very own children’s book club. Ask a few questions about the meaning behind the story. This timeless ritual is an opportunity for some astonishing (or hilarious) conversations.

Whatever you do, don’t simply volunteer when your kids happen to be along. Do good with your kids. Talk about it. Ask questions. Read some of the excellent children’s books that tackle these big ideas. Bring up the difficult subjects at your child’s level, and answer their questions as honestly as you can.

This is powerful stuff and the impact will create habits of kindness and an increased capacity for empathy that will last long past the 2012 resolution season.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Guest Post

 

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One Simple Wish

Many organizations offer amazing ways to help, but sometimes the link between the donator and the receiver are lost.  Today’s organization is different because it allows you to directly impact one person’s life.

One Simple Wish aims to brighten the lives of foster children and vulnerable families one simple wish at a time.  The organization educates people about the lives of children in foster care.  They also empower people to make a direct difference by allowing them to grant simple wishes online.  Granting a wish to a child or family in need can change a life, for just a moment or forever.  When you grant a wish, you’re planting a seed, a seed of hope.

One Simple Wish began as an idea of founder, Danielle Gletow, had more than a decade ago.  She thought it would be great to create a service that allowed everyone to see the needs of children and to be able to facilitate the fulfillment of those needs.  In 2006 she became a foster parent and made a decision to focus the organization primarily on the foster child population because it is so underserved and often depicted negatively in the media.  She knew that more people needed to hear these children’s stories and to be given simple, affordable ways to help.

One Simple Wish is based in Trenton, New Jersey, but they serve foster children and vulnerable families in 23 states.  They partner with more than 180 social service and child welfare agencies.  These approved agencies and organizations are able to login to the One Simple Wish website to suggest wishes to be granted.  Wishes typically range from $10 to $100 making it affordable for just about anyone to make a wish come true.

How can you help?

It’s simple, just go to OneSimpleWish.org and click on Grant a Wish to search through the current wishes.  If you find a wish you would like to grant, simply login or register to grant the wish.  In addition, One Simple Wish accepts monetary donations through their website and even has a variety of unique products available for purchase.  You can also visit their website to learn more about additional volunteer opportunities.

In addition to wish granting, One Simple Wish also holds a variety of other events including a Thanksgiving Meal Drive, a Holiday Gift Drive and a Prom Dress Drive that results in hundreds of girls receiving dresses for free or cheap.  In addition, they hold a huge annual event, A Night of 1000 Wishes with performances, awards and a sit down dinner to raise awareness and funds for their cause.  You can learn more about all the programs on their website.

You can learn more about One Simple Wish on their website, onesimplewish.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Help Harry Help Others

Kids Are Heroes is an organization that highlights kids who have done great volunteer work.  In the past we have profiled kids that were featured on the Kids Are Heroes site.  Harry Moseley is one such hero who left a legacy.

Harry’s story began in 2007 when he had problems with his eyes.  After many visits to the optician and the local hospital, the doctors gave him an MRI scan and discovered a brain tumor.  The tumor was in a dangerous place, deep in his brain, so it was inoperable.  Harry began chemotherapy treatments but unfortunately it didn’t work and his tumor grew.  His only other option was radiotherapy.  It was during these treatments that he met Robert Harley who was also having radiotherapy for a brain tumor. They had their treatment on the same day, every day for six weeks so they became very good friends.  In 2009 Robert became very ill so Harry decided to make and sell beaded bracelets to raise money for brain cancer research to help make him better.  Sadly four weeks into his campaign, his friend Robert died at only 55 years old.  Harry wanted to continue selling bracelets in Robert’s memory and to help make sure that no one else would have to go through what they did.

Harry continued regular checkups to monitor the size of his tumor.  It remained stable for two years but unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worse in July 2011 when he developed a blood clot on his brain.  He had an emergency operation on August 10th and remained in a coma for over eight weeks.  On October 7th, doctors advised Harry’s family to bring him home to rest.  Harry passed away peacefully in his mother’s arms on October 8th.  Harry’s campaign, however, continues to live on in his memory.

The mission of Help Harry Help Others is to raise as much money as possible to help fund brain cancer research and to raise awareness.  At the heart of this mission are Harry’s beautiful bracelets which act as a symbol for Harry, his campaign and what it seeks to achieve.  It was Harry’s dream that everyone in the United Kingdom would be wearing one of his bracelets.

In April 2011, Help Harry Help Others partnered with Cancer Research UK. As a result, the campaign now largely functions out of their head offices in Angel, London.

How can you help?

Help Harry Help Others welcomes all the support they are offered.  Volunteers have been key to helping raise money for the campaign.  They have opportunities locally for individuals or groups to fundraise for the campaign.  These fundraisers aren’t just limited to bracelet sales, previous groups have done bake sales, live music events, runs, and even jumping out of an airplane.  They also have a team of volunteers who help with bracelet production.

For those who live further away, you can still run a fundraiser and make your donation online or via the mail.  The organization’s website has a fundraiser pack available for download.  Anyone can also purchase bracelets online.

Harry’s organization has sold over 40,000 bracelets and raised over £185,000 (or about $280,000) for brain tumor research.  You can learn more about Help Harry Help Others on their website, helpharryhelpothers.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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