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Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Monday Life

The Monday Life

Mondays have a bad reputation.  It is the sign for many of us that the weekend is over and we have to go back to school or work.  Today’s organization might just change your mind about Monday by giving you something to look forward to on your Monday.

On Christmas Eve 2009, Joey McMahon’s grandfather passed away.  Joey was living in New York at the time and working a job he enjoyed, but the passing of his grandfather reignited a desire to do something to help people.  Joey moved back to North Carolina and started working on an organization in honor of his grandfather. 

The Monday Life uses the concept of crowd-funding to get as many people involved as possible.  The organization asks donors for $1 each Monday to raise funds to support their mission of helping hospitalized children feel better and heal faster by improving their patient environments.  They raise money to fill children’s hospitals with art, light, color, music, technology, massage, games, animals and fun.  They are a 501c3 nonprofit based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and partnered with six hospitals around the United States: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Seattle Children’s, Children’s Hospital Colorado, UNC Children’s Hospital, Duke Children’s Hospital, and Miami Children’s Hospital.  

The goal of The Monday Life is to spread awareness and get as many people involved as possible. They also wanted to make sure that anyone can help.  One dollar is reasonable for almost anyone to give toward the cause.  One dollar isn’t the upper limit, some choose to donate more. 

The organization’s website lists some scientific research on each type of environment improvement that they promote.  For example, art therapy offers a distraction from pain and illness, reduce stress, provide coping skills, and offer social benefits.  The article refers to recent data suggesting that art therapy programs may result in shorter hospital stays, less need for medication, and fewer complications for patients.  Music therapy can also serve as a distraction as well as reduce pain and anxiety, and provide emotional support and comfort.

Recently, the organization started allowing hospitals who they have not officially partnered with to set up their own fundraising sites that target a particular need such as adding an art or music therapist, purchasing iPads, or other items to improve the environment for patients.   They are also working with new technology to let patients in hospitals interact with each other via tablets, smartphones, and social media sites to help provide social support and entertainment.

How can you help?

  • The easiest way to get involved is to setup a reoccurring donation through their website.
  • You can also designate your reoccurring donation toward a specific partner hospital here.
  • You can even setup a fundraising page to help fundraise for any hospital that is in your area.  The Monday Life will set everything up and help with promotion, they just need approval from the hospital.

You can learn more about The Monday Life on their website, themondaylife.org/.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for the weekly e-mails.

Related Posts: Camp Get-A-Well-A, Kid Flicks, and Sweet Dreams for Kids

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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The Cancer Poetry Project

The Cancer Poetry Project

I come across organizations to write about in a variety of ways; random searches, suggestions, my own experiences, and happening upon them, to name a few.  Today’s post falls into that “happening upon them” category.  I actually saw someone mention the Cancer Poetry Project on a chalk board at a local coffee house and after looking into it, I decided that it would make a great story for The Blogunteer.

When Karin Miller was expecting her first child, her husband was diagnosed with cancer.  This took Karin on an emotional roller coaster and she turned to writing poetry to help sort out her feelings.  After her husband went into remission and her daughter was born, she kept writing poetry.  One morning she woke up with the idea of creating a poetry book written by a variety of people who have been touched by cancer.  She told me that “it felt like a calling.”  

The Cancer Poetry Project book was published in September 2007.  The profits from the book go toward cancer organizations.  The two of Karin’s favorite organizations that have been supported by the book are Gilda’s Club and Cancer Legal Line.  Karin is currently working on a second volume to be published in early 2013 which will include about 140 poems selected from over 1,000 submitted poems.  The top 12 poems chosen received a cash prize plus each were able select their favorite cancer organization to give a donation in his or her name. 

Every poem in both volumes is followed by a brief bio of the poet including who he or she wrote the poem about and why the situation moved them to the write the poem.  Karin mentioned, “I like to provide context for each poem.”  She also mentioned that readers often tell her how much it means to them to understand the stories behind the poems. 

One poem was written by a woman who met her current husband after her children suggested she meet their friend’s dad.  He had also just lost his spouse to cancer.  They met to talk, eventually fell in love, and now have been married many years.  One poem included in the second volume was written by a five year old boy about his mother’s breast cancer. 

Many poems included have been written by people who have never written poetry until a cancer diagnosis of their own or a loved one.  Karin states, “It’s so exciting to call someone and let them know they’re going to be a published poet.”  A few poets have gone on to get publishing contracts or be featured on Garrison Keillor’s A Writer’s Almanac. 

You can help spread the word about this collection of poems by buying a copy for yourself or in memory of a loved one.  You can also have a copy sent to a favorite clinic, hospital, physician, or nurse.  Poetry offers a great addition to the lobbies and waiting rooms of hospitals.  Reading the poems in this book helps people feel not so alone during their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.  Readers, even those who have never read poetry, are sometimes surprised to find poems that resonate so well. 

You can learn more and purchase the current book, The Cancer Poetry Project, on their website, cancerpoetryproject.com.  You can also purchase the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  You can also connect with The Cancer Poetry Project on Twitter and Facebook.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Other

 

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Cookie Cart

Cookie Cart

A while back today’s organization visited my workplace to sell cookies.  The cookies were delicious, but had no impact on my desire to write about this great organization.

Cookie Cart began in the early 1980s as an extension of Mercy Missionaries when Sister Jean Thurerauf recognized the need to get youth off the streets of North Minneapolis.  She wanted to keep the youth away from crime and engage them in creative, educational, and empowering activities.  Sister Jean reached out to youth in the neighborhood to invite them into her home for help with schoolwork and to learn to bake cookies.  Word spread quickly of her generosity and commitment to the local community and before long her home no longer accommodated the growing number of young people and the large number of cookies they baked.  Supporters of her efforts stepped in to answer the call for the growth of the project.  They furnished a pushcart to allow the youth to begin selling their cookies throughout the North Minneapolis community.  In 1988, Cookie Cart registered as a 501c3 nonprofit and moved its operations to a bakery on Emerson Avenue North.  In 1996, they moved again to their current location at 1119 West Broadway Avenue in the heart of North Minneapolis.

The organization’s mission is to provide teens with lasting and meaningful work, life, and leadership skills through experience and training in an urban nonprofit bakery.  For over 23 years, Cookie Cart has helped thousands of youth build the foundation to become successful employees and attain their life goals.  They are the largest year-round employer of teenagers aged 15-18 on the north side of Minneapolis.

The organization has several programs:

  • The Bakery Program offers hands-on job training in a nonprofit bakery.  The young people in the program prepare, package, decorate, and sell cookies while learning basic employment skills.
  • The 360 Degree Program, is an advanced work readiness program that builds upon the bakery experience and prepares youth to transition to jobs in the mainstream workforce.  In this program, participants work in small groups and one-on-one with adult staff to identify areas of interest for potential careers.  They prepare resumes and cover letters, learn about job search tools, and practice interview skills.
  • The Customer Service Training Program allows youth employees to learn the concepts and skills required to provide positive service to customers.  The core to this training is interpersonal communication skills.
  • The National Career Readiness Certificate Program (NCRC) is an assessment and certification issued by ACT that measures skills that employers believe are essential to job success.  These skills include applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information.  This nationally recognized credential indicates that the individual has the foundational skills necessary to be a successful employee.

In 2011, Cookie Cart hired and trained 120 youth to work the equicalent of over 15,000 training hours.  This exceeded their annual goal by 18%.  They also provided customer service training to 47 youth employees and conducted 49 sales and promotional events to give youth employees opportunities to hone their skills.  In addition, they educated 61 youth through the 360 degree program.

How can you help?

Cookie Cart has a variety of volunteering opportunities for both individuals and groups.  Please contact If Meggie McCauley at mmccauley@cookiecart.org or 612-521-0855 x 112 if you are interested in volunteer opportunities with the Cookie Cart.

  • You can assist with cookie production by scooping dough, decorating, and assembling bakery boxes with the youth in the program.
  • You can also use your skills and knowledge to assist the youth employees identify areas of interest and potential careers.  You can help them prepare resumes, cover letters, and learn about job search tools and interviewing skills.  Your assistance will help the youth gain a better understanding of the workforce.
  •  Cookie Cart also allows you to customize your volunteer experience by providing youth with more insights into your expertise.  This may be a corporate tour, personalized workshop, or an interactive field trip.  They would love to hear your ideas to help give their youth a well-rounded experience.
  • You can also donate through GiveMN.org, order cookies through their website, or visit their retail bakery.

You can learn more about the Cookie Cart organization on their website, www.cookiecart.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Milk + Bookies

Milk + Bookies

I recently read a report on the Social Impact of Volunteering by the Points of Light Institute.  This report states that “individuals who volunteer at a young age are more likely to sustain their participation in later life.”  The report also outlines several positive effects on volunteers as individuals; they see an increase in their self-esteem, enhancement of various skills and capabilities, expanded career path opportunities, and better physical and mental health.  Today’s organization offers one easy way  to incorporate giving and service into

The mission of Milk + Bookies is to promote service learning and literacy promotion.  They are a nationwide charitable organization based in Los Angeles, California that inspires children to give back, using books as its currency.

In 2004, Meredith Alexander had one small child and wanted her family time to involve something meaningful from time to time.  It was difficult to find community service projects or fundraisers geared toward families.  She decided to invite all her friends with small children to a lovely children’s bookstore on a Sunday afternoon.  The children chose books to purchase and donate to a local low-income preschool.  She setup coloring tables to decorate bookplates for the kids to inscribe their selections.  When the line to checkout was 30 minutes long, she knew that she wasn’t the only parent looking for this kind of day with their children.

Milk + Bookies is now a 501c3 nonprofit.  They promote holding events for kids to donate books to their peers who do not have access to books of their own.  The organization combines the two essential and worthwhile efforts of literacy promotion and service learning.  The events plant a seed of giving into the young guests which spark feelings of importance, self-confidence, and the desire to give again.

In just three years since becoming a 501c3 nonprofit in 2009, they have raised almost 35,000 books and inspired nearly 9,000 kids to participate in giving back.

How can you help?

The program is designed so that anyone can host their own event.

  • For $30 you can buy a Bookies Box.  This toolkit provides you with “I donated” stickers, book plates, bookmarks, and balloons for your event.
  • There are also toolkits for birthday parties, class projects, and other types of events on the Milk + Bookies website.  The organization will help you find a local organization to donate to if you don’t already have a recipient in mind.
  • After you hold an event, fill out a short post-event form to share your experience and help the organization track their impact.
  • You can also donate and shop for other Milk + Bookies merchandise on their website.

You can learn more about Milk + Bookies on their website, www.milkandbookies.org or by watching the short video below.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Related Posts: Read Indeed, Adopt A Book, and Little Free Library

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Second Chance Toys

Second Chance Toys

Many organizations serve one mission.  Today’s organization found a way to do two good things with one organization. 

Sasha Lipton - Second Chance Toys Founder

Sasha Lipton – Second Chance Toys Founder

Sasha Lipton started serving her community at a young age.  She spent time with her father delivering food to homebound seniors for Meals on Wheels.  She also worked at soup kitchens and sponsored a child from the Dominican Republic through Children International.  During the summer of 2006, Sasha volunteered as a counselor at Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.  It was during that summer that the idea behind Second Chance Toys was born.  She spent time driving around neighboring towns with her mom and noticed many toys being disposed of at the curb.  Most of the toys appeared as good as new and Sasha thought about how wasteful it was to discard of these toys and that many children would love to have them.

Second Chance Toys is now a 501c3 nonprofit corporation with a mission to rescue and recycle plastic toys for children in need by donating them to community organizations.  The second part of the mission is to keep the non-biodegradable plastic toys out of landfills.  These toys are reused by giving them to children in need.  The toys can enhance the development of these children by promoting socialization, creativity, emotional security, motor skills, and learning. 

Second Chance Toys is headquartered in New Jersey, but they work in communities all over the United States and Australia.  As of spring of 2012, the organization reached the milestone of 112,949 toys donated.

Why are toys so important?  Play is the “work” of young children.  Babies use toys to develop their motor skills and learn how to control their bodies.  Toys provide motivation for them to learn to reach, grasp, roll, sit, crawl, stand, and walk.  Toddlers learn concepts of weight, shape, color and size through play.  According to research from the National Institute for Early Education, without sufficient toys, children do not develop necessary motor skills.  Studies also show that infant toys are critical for brain growth that affects learning later in life.  As children grow, toys provide opportunities for laughter, fun, and inquisitive exploration of the world. These are critical opportunities for the healthy emotional, intellectual, and physical development of children.

About 32 million children in the United States are from low-income families, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.   The toys donated through Second Chance Toys make a world of difference in the life of a these children and help keep non-biodegradable plastics out of our landfills.

Below are some opportunities to help Second Chance Toys put smiles on the faces of some very deserving children in your own community:

  • Donate your plastic toys to get them to kids who need them.  You can search for the nearest drop off location on their website
  • Volunteer to collect gently used plastic toys in your community during the Spring collection in April and the Holiday collection in November/December.  You can register your collection and find their collection starter kit here.
  • You can also make a monetary donation via their website.
  • There are a variety of opportunities to volunteer your time.  You can sign-up as a volunteer on their website.
  • If your company is interested in becoming a corporate sponsor for Second Chance Toys, please take a look at their sponsor page.
  • You can show your support with a variety of Second Chance Toys merchandise available on their website.
  • If you are a blogger, consider sharing the mission of Second Chance Toys.  Learn more here.
  • You can also share this post and/or the video below to spread the story about the opportunity to donate toys.

Check out their website at www.secondchancetoys.org to get involved.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Tips for Supporting a Legitimate Charity

Note: These tips are for non-profit organizations based in the United States.

It may sound horrible, but there are fake organizations that are out there trying to get donations but aren’t doing the good deeds they claim.  Here are a few tips and resources to help you find an appropriate non-profit to support with your money or time:

  • Don’t donate through telemarketers or other third-party fundraisers.  These fundraisers typically keep some portion of each donation, so more of your donation will go to the cause if you donate directly.  It is recommended to never provide your credit card or bank account number over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Research before making a donation.  Don’t just donate to everyone seeking funds.  Instead find causes you have a passion for, research the organizations supporting those causes and then donate.  I have provided some resources for this research below.
  • Keep records of your donations.  If you wish to receive a tax deduction for your donation, ensure that your donation fits within IRS rules and you have keep appropriate records of your donation.  Here is some information from the IRS website: Donation Tips and Donation Rules.
  • Trust your gut when making a donation.  If they seem too good to be true or anything seems fishy, trust your gut and find a similar organization to receive your donation.  If an organization is pressuring you, not disclosing their finances, or not willing to provide you details of their programs, they are likely not a valid charity.
  • An Internet search for the charity will also typically give you a good idea about an organization.

Resources:

  • Great Nonprofits is a website that allows people to post reviews and ratings of websites that have impacted them.  People who rate nonprofits on this site have donated their time or money or benefited from their services.
  • Charity Navigator rates nonprofit organizations based on their financial health, accountability and transparency.  You will only find larger nonprofits on this site since they only review organizations who receive public support over $500,000 and total revenue over $1,000,000.  They also require four years of IRS records before they will review an organization.
  • GuideStar pulls together IRS records with other financial data and information provided by nonprofits.
  • Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance is a division of the Better Business Bureau which provides information in national charities.
  • If you have been scammed or suspect a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Do you have additional tips to share or other resources that should be included above?  Please share them in the comments.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Loved Twice

Loved Twice

Kids grow fast!  Babies grow even faster.  In the first year of a baby’s life, they go through so many clothes that they sometimes barely wear an outfit before it no longer fits.  I was lucky to have several hand-me-downs to keep up with the many new sizes they needed.  Once my kids outgrew their clothes, I made sure they went to good homes.  Some went to friends with younger kids, others went to a charity garage sale, and a lot of baby clothes went to the local chapter of today’s organization.

Loved Twice started in 2005 when Lisa Klein responded to an online community appeal for donations of baby clothing after Hurricane Katrina.  Lisa had just had her first child and was deeply moved to contribute.  She rallied together with other San Francisco Bay Area mothers to collect 200 pounds of clothing for babies in Louisiana in just four days!  While she was mailing the collected onesies, swaddling blankets, and other donated newborn clothing, she realized that this simple process of recycling gently used baby clothing could be spread nationwide to help provide for infants in need. 

The mission of Loved Twice is to clothe America’s Newborns-in-need with quality recycled baby clothing for the first year of life.  They are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but they have “mail to” locations across the Unites States to help spread their donations. 

Since their founding, they have grown into an effective organization embraced by the communities they serve.  According to a 2010 report by the Children’s Defense Fund, 2,962 babies are born into poverty each day in the United States.  Since 2005, Loved Twice has clothed 5,759 newborns with over 430,000 garments at an estimated retail value of almost $1.3 million.  Loved Twice is making a difference to those babies by providing them with clothing.  At the same time, they are reducing waste by encouraging people to reuse and recycle baby clothing and supplies.  They have kept over 57,000 pounds of clothing out of landfills.  You can watch the video below watch them in action:


Loved Twice collects and distributes baby clothes in sizes up to 12 months.  Blankets, hats, socks, bibs and board books are welcome too.  However clothing for older children as well as other baby supplies are not collected.  The clothing is distributed through social service agencies to ensure it gets to those who need it most. 

How can you help?

  • Tax deductible donations are accepted via their website to help clothe more babies.
  • Their website provides all the details for running a baby clothing drive to help newborns-in-need in your local community. 
  • You can also mail clothes to one of the Loved Twice partners throughout the United States.  You can find an updated list on their website.
  • In addition, you can join other supporters of Loved Twice by signing up to be a campaigner in the Grand Baby Campaign where volunteers each raise $1000.  The organization provides the support with over 100 fundraising ideas and the materials you need to be successful. 

You can learn more about Loved Twice on their website, www.lovedtwice.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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