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Family-to-Family

Family-to-Family

Many families look for ways that they can give as a family.  Giving provides teachable moments for children to learn about generosity and gratefulness.  I wrote about one organization called Doing Good Together that offers many suggestions.  Today’s organization provides direct connections between families who wish to give and families that have a need.

In the fall of 2002, the New York Times ran a series of articles on poverty in the United States.  One article featured stories of poverty from Pembroke, Illinois where “some still live in crumbling shacks with caked-dirt floors and no running water.”  The article went on with other staggering statistics such as 98% of their school children qualify for free lunch and the average per capita income was less than half the national average.

Pam Koner, a mom and entrepreneur living in Westchester, New York, read that article and felt compelled to help.  She contacted an outreach worker in Pembroke to share her idea of linking families she knew with the neediest families in Pembroke.  She was given the names of seventeen families and then convinced sixteen friends and neighbors to help.  They began sending monthly boxes of food and letters – one family linked to another family.  The seventeen families quickly grew to 60 families, then after a flurry of media attention, they grew to 900 families linked across the United States.  The Family-to-Family organization was born.

They currently help approximately 2,000 moms, dads and kids in 22 communities across the United States.  Families sponsored through the program continue to be identified by local outreach partners who have specific knowledge of the needs of families in their communities.

Learn about the founding of Family-to-Family directly from founder Pam Koner in the following video:

The mission of Family-to-Family is to alleviate suffering, one American family at a time.  They started by providing groceries to supply seven dinner type meals for a family of five, but have expanded to help families in need in a variety of ways including sponsoring meals for families, a variety of literacy projects, donating seeds to a family to grow their own garden, and much more.

Learn about a recent addition to their program offerings where children in need are enabled to help other children in need to learn how it feels to give to others in the video below.

 

How can you help?

Family-to-Family offers a variety of opportunities to get involved.

  • You can sponsor a family.  They have multiple options on their website including packing and shipping your own sponsorship or sponsoring a family though an online donation.
  • Give a child in need a birthday party including a gift, decorations, and a cake through the Birthday Giving Project.
  • Give the gift of books through their Books for Life or One Book at a Time program.
  • Help a family build their own garden by donating seeds to one of the Family-to-Family community partners.
  • Help children with less learn how it feels to give by supporting the Giving Works program.
  • Monetary donations can be made on their website.  These donations help purchase food for families who are not currently sponsored, expand to additional communities, or general operating expenses.
  • Explore the Family-to-Family website to find additional opportunities to help.
  • You can also watch this video to see how you can help.
  • You can also help by spreading the word.  You can share this post using the share buttons below to encourage others to make a difference.

You can learn more about Family-to-Family on their website, family-to-family.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Operation Paperback

Operation Paperback

I have always enjoyed reading.  I take advantage of borrowing books from the library and I am a sucker for a used book sale.  Today’s organization is helping provide books to those in the military who are deployed far from libraries and book sales.

In 1999, Chief Master Sergeant Rick Honeywell was deployed to a base in the Middle East without access to much in the way of relaxation or entertainment.  Dan M. Bowers, Rick’s father-in-law, decided to help him out.  He sent over 800 paperback books to Rick, creating the first Operation Paperback library overseas.  Rick’s wife, Chrissy Honeywell, thought this was a one-time occurrence, but her dad had a larger mission in mind.  Dan put stickers in the books to let the troops know how to write and request books.  He also started looking for other locations which needed books.  This was the founding of Operation Paperback.

The mission of Operation Paperback is to provide reading material to any military who requests it.  Their original mission was to support deployed troops who were in locations without access to reading material or other entertainment, but today many overseas locations have libraries of paperback books due to the 14 years of help from volunteers.  So, their mission has been expanded to reach veterans hospitals as well as individual veterans and military families in the United States and abroad.

The Operation Paperback is incorporated in Pennsylvania and their administrative location is in the Boston area, but they have individual and group volunteers spread across the United States.

Each volunteer or group of volunteers collects, labels, packs and sends their books directly to a troops, veterans, or military families.  Many thank you notes are sent directly back from the military directly to the volunteers.  This personal connection is what makes Operation Paperback unique according to current administrator, Chrissy Honeywell.  You can see examples of the thank you notes sent from troops on their website.

In 2012, Operation Paperback had 16,000 volunteers and sent 20,000 books per month.  Since their founding in 1999, volunteers have shipped almost two million books to troops, veterans, and military families.  Occasionally, the organization sends special requests to their volunteers.  For the past several months, they have been supporting a Behavioral Health Unit in a veteran’s hospital with self-help books and other personal care items.  This special project has helped young warriors dealing with post-traumatic stress and other personal issues.

How can you help? 

  • Anyone can participate by becoming a volunteer shipper.  Once you have registered with Operation Paperback, you can use their website to determine who could use the books you have.  Then you label and pack the books, include a letter and ship the box.  You can send a single shipment or several, it is up to you.  Learn more and sign up here.
  • You can also make monetary donations to help support the program including website costs and special requests.  Learn more and make a donation on their website.
  • You can also help by spreading the word.  Simply share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. using the options at the bottom of the post.

To learn more about Operation Paperback, please visit their website operationpaperback.org.  You can also follow them on Facebook.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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World Book Night

World Book Night

Last spring, I joined two other members of my local Women of Today chapter to give books to random strangers.  We didn’t think of this on our own, there is an organization on a mission to celebrate reading by giving away books.

World Book Night United States is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  It was celebrated for the first time in the United States in 2012 and will now be an annual event.  World Book Night was first celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2011 as a way to encourage more adults to read.

Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go into their communities and hand out half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to adult light and non-readers.  In their first year in the US, 25,000 volunteer book givers handed out books in 5,800 towns and cities around America.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading to those who do not regularly do so.  But I learned firsthand that it is more than that.  It is about people, communities and connections.  It is about reaching out to others and touching lives through the sharing of stories.  Each person that received the books I helped hand out was so appreciative and happy.  We had several conversations about books and reading.

The rules to the program are simple: give away all the books you receive.  Each of the volunteer book givers did things in their own way.  One volunteer, Suzie, said she went back to the community center where they gave out the book to have a potluck dinner and great conversations about the book.  Another volunteer, Colleen, walked back to where she had been handing out books to see people already reading them.  Heather gave her books to a local correctional facility and received a packet of handwritten thank you letters, one of which mentioned that the book he received that night was the first book he had ever read to completion.  Yet another volunteer, Chris Cander, gave her books to youth at a shelter for the homeless and runaway teens and then wrote about it on her blog.

World Book Night US is made up of thousands of passionate book lovers in America: Volunteer book givers who share their time and energy, the participating booksellers and librarians who host events, the authors who waive their royalties, and the publishers who contribute to the production and distribution of the free World Book Night paperbacks across the country.

How can you get involved?

  • The signup for the 2013 event recently opened.  First, review the list of books for 2013, then read the guidelines for the program and apply.  You need to apply by January.  In February you will learn if you will receive books to hand out on April 23.
  • You can also spread the work about the program though social media or sharing it with your community.
  • The organization also appreciates financial donations or information about foundations or groups that might be interested in supporting them.

You can learn more on the World Book Night US website, WorldBookNight.org.  If you have specific questions, you can e-mail them at April23@WorldBookNight.org.  You can also connect with them on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Goodreads, and Instagram!

Related Post: Little Free Library

 
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Posted by on November 27, 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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Adopt A Book

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Books have always been an important part of my life.  I always had at least one shelf full of books in my room and my kids are the same, but not all kids have easy access to books.  Several years ago, I read a story about a teacher who asked her students to bring a book in to class.  Several students brought in a phone book because that was the only book they had in the house.  Today’s organization is working to get books into the hands of more children. 

 Adopt A Book

Adopt a Book is an organization based in Loveland, Ohio with a mission to provide new and gently used books to under privileged kids.  It was founded in November 2011 after eight year old twins Hannah and Alex.  They learned of schools in the inner city of Cincinnati losing the funding necessary to provide new books to their students and were shocked.  The twins are avid readers and could not imagine life without a book and asked their parents if they could start a “business” that helped provide books for kids to keep.  Their parents agreed and setup a 501c3 organization.  So far they have collected and donated over 7,000 books to organizations that work directly with foster and adoptive children, homeless children, and families involved in at-risk programs. 

How can you help?

The biggest need the organization has is books for preschool to elementary school children.  They will take donations of new or gently used books.    

You can connect with the organization via e-mail at adoptabook@fuse.net or on Facebook.  You can also learn more in this newspaper article on the Adopt a Book organization.

Related Post: Read Indeed

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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