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AmpleHarvest.org

AmpleHarvest.org

In Minnesota, this is the time of year where home gardeners are harvesting their bounty and cooking or preserving their harvest in canning jars.  Today’s organization is working to encourage growers not to allow their harvest to go to waste.

Shortly after Gary Oppenheimer became the director of the Sustainable West Milford Community Garden in late 2008, he learned that some of their garden plot holders left large amounts of their garden unharvested when their crops produced more than they could possibly use.  Gary was aware that hunger was a problem in his community so he suggested that they create a committee to help gather the extra harvest and deliver it to local food pantries.  The program was named Ample Harvest West Milford.

Food pantries are hard to find because many operate without an Internet site or yellow pages listing.  Even Google doesn’t provide an answer since it can only list those pantries it knows of.  This challenge is shared by backyard gardeners throughout the United States who wish to share their excess bounty.

To address this dilemma, Gary created the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign, new supply side channel in our national food network that educates, encourages and enables gardeners with extra produce to easily donate to a local food pantry.  AmpleHarvest.org gives food pantries the opportunity to register themselves in a central nationwide directory so that gardeners and other donors can share their fresh produce and, garden-by-garden, help diminish hunger in America.

The organization’s mission is to move information instead of food to diminish hunger and malnutrition in America by educating, encouraging, and empowering growers to share their excess harvest with the needy in their community rather than letting it rot in their garden.  Their “No Food Left Behind” goal is being spread via a virtual solution to hunger.  Today nearly 6,400 food pantries from 50 states are registered in the AmpleHarvest.org database.  This allows the 40+ million Americans with home gardens to easily donate what they cannot use.

In August 2010 when AmpleHarvest.org was only 15 months old, a survey of registered food pantries indicated that more than 3 million pounds of freshly harvested locally grown produce had been donated to food pantries. At the end of 2011, it had increased to more than 20 million pounds.  There are other benefits as well.  Families who utilize the food pantries are introduced to new varieties of food they may have had no prior access to and gardeners across America can enjoy the satisfaction of helping their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyard instead of their back pocket.  With one out of six Americans (including one quarter of all children under age six) without access to healthy fresh food at their local food pantry, AmpleHarvest.org can make a significant difference!

Below you can view a TEDx talk from AmpleHarvest.org founder, Gary Oppenheimer.

How can you help?

Learn more about Ample Harvest on their website, AmpleHarvest.org or contact them directly via e-mail.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or their blog.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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A Rotta Love Plus

A Rotta Love Plus

In school this past spring, my daughter was given an assignment to write a persuasive letter to her parents.  She attempted to persuade us to get a dog…I think she may have convinced her father, but not me or the cats.  Today’s organization is working to persuade people to understand two specific dog breeds: Rottweilers and pit bulls.

In 1997, A Rotta Love was founded as the first nonprofit Rottweiler rescue organization in Minnesota.  In 2003, A Rotta Love and a Twin Cities’ bit bull rescue named Pits Plus merged to become A Rotta Love Plus.  The organization is a comprehensive and proactive all-volunteer advocacy organization that uses multiple strategies to further their mission of re-homing Rottweilers and pit bulls in Minnesota, raising breed awareness, educating the public about responsible pet ownership, and advocating for the humane and equal treatment of all dogs without prejudice.  They are based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, but they serve the entire greater Twin Cities area.

Pumba

Pumba

A Rotta Love Plus has several programs that further their mission.  Their foster and adoption program takes a “quality-over-quantity” approach to carefully select the dogs that they bring into the program and the homes where they are fostered and adopted.  They also offer ongoing assessment and support for their dogs to ensure ongoing success for the animals.  They rehome approximately 30 to 40 dogs each year.

A Rotta Love Plus builds and foster strong relationships between dogs and owners through their Rott n’ Pit Ed training classes.  These classes, free to fosters and dogs who have been adopted through their organization, offer owners a variety of tools to ensure the right approach is taken for each dog as an individual.  They also offer a Dog Safety/Humane Education program that offers education to youth, adults, and organizations on the humane treatment of animals and reduces the risk of dog bites.  Between 2009 and 2012, this program reached nearly 4,000 individuals.  They also offer free spays, neuters, vaccinations in addition to low-cost micro-chips to pit bulls and Rottweilers.

Vitojoe

Vitojoe

This year they partnered with the Minneapolis Police Department, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, and the Minneapolis Public Schools to bring a Dog Safety program to local elementary schools.  In just one semester, they conducted 46 classes where a group facilitator and two or three volunteers with their trained pit bull or Rottweiler visit a classroom and educate student on the humane treatment of animals and reduction of dog bite risk.

Another program offered by A Rotta Love Plus is their PRIORITY Paws (Pit Bull and Rottweiler Interactive OutReach Instruction and Therapy for Youth) program where they conduct dog-therapy groups with youth in crisis who reside in local youth-services organizations.  The stories of abuse, neglect, and negative social perception of the pit bulls and Rottweilers provide the youth with a powerful parallel that often mirrors their own experiences.  This can inspire the youth and enable them to work through their own crisis using the lessons and skills that only the dogs can teach.  In 2012, their PRIORITY Paws program gave about 700 at-risk youth experience with this unique program.

Sara Nick, Communications Director for A Rotta Love Plus shared just one of their many success stories:

This is the story of Prim, a beautiful brindle pit bull. Prim endured the first couple years of her life in a heart-wrenchingly abusive situation – without going into the ugly details, suffice it to say that when she wound up in a local animal control, it was like heaven on earth. (Food! Rest! Kindness!) Eventually, Prim ran out of time at animal control, but two ARLP volunteers, who were freshly mourning the loss of their 10-year-old pit bull to cancer, decided to push through their heartache and open their home to another dog in need through fostering. ‘When we saw her face and heard her story, we knew without words that we wanted to save her,’ they said. As soon as Prim was in their car, ‘despite not having a clue where she was going, she was smiling ear to ear!’

Ever so gently, Prim’s new fosters took the time to earn her trust. They slowly introduced her to the sights, sounds, smells, and other animals of their household. Prim adjusted well (REALLY well) to their routine and lifestyle, so it came as no surprise when we heard the news not long after that they decided to make Prim a permanent member of their family. In their words, ‘Prim brought life back into our family. She will stop doing whatever she’s doing to come kiss us and let us hold her. She has so much love that she wants to give, and we want to be the ones to give her every success in life.’”

Prim

Prim

How can you help?

The organization’s greatest volunteer need is for foster homes which allow them to save a pit bull or Rottweiler and place them in a loving home until their forever family can be found.  Foster families are provided with everything they need to be successful, including food and supplies as well as free training and support.  Learn more about their foster program on their website.

A list of other current volunteer opportunities can be found here.  You can also give a monetary donation, including dog sponsorships. They also have a wish list of in kind donations.

You can also attend any of their adoption events.  On Saturday, August 10 from 4 to 7 PM, they have a “Beer and Dogs” event at Nomad World Pub (501 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis) where people will have an opportunity to meet some of the dogs they have available for adoption.

You can learn more about A Rotta Love Plus on their website, www.arottalove.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or follow their blog.

ARLP-3

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Connecting for Good

Connecting for Good

Most of use the Internet every day – staying in touch with friends, reading about current events, menu planning, and most jobs now utilize the Internet.  Imagine if you were unable to afford having an Internet connection and a computer at home?  While Internet access is available at libraries, schools and other public institutions, today’s organization believes connectivity in the home is essential for families if they are to fully participate in our digital society, and they are making a difference in one community.

Michael Miimatta had been serving as a consultant to several non-profit organizations while his friend Rick Deane had a company that provided technical support to nonprofits.  They both saw the need to close the Digital Divide between the nonprofit world and the corporate world.  They gathered a few other providers of Information Technology services to nonprofit organizations to begin a joint venture in the spring of 2011.  They began by planning a series of training events to teach nonprofit staff members about websites, online marketing, and social media to raise public awareness of their causes as well as utilize the Internet for fundraising. 

Around that same time, Google announced that it had chosen Kansas City as the first city in the United States to build its ultrahigh speed one gigabit fiber network.  Michael and Rick saw this as an opportunity to extend Internet connectivity to underserved kids and families who would be left out of this fiber revolution simply because they cannot afford to pay for fiber service, lack the computer equipment to connect, or the knowledge to become productive Internet users.  A board of directors was formed and Connecting for Good was incorporated in Kansas in November 2011.

In October 2012, Connecting for Good received a jump start when a local mobile applications developer, One Louder Apps, won a national competition where the prize was to give $10,000 to the charity of their choice, and they selected Connecting for Good as the recipient.  In December 2012, Connecting for Good installed their first free Wi-Fi network in a 168 unit low income housing complex in Kansas City, Kansas.  This project brought Internet connectivity to nearly 400 residents as well as digital literacy training to fifty residents and several low cost laptops for residents.

The mission of Connecting for Good is to enable organizations and individuals to use technology to connect with one another in order to have a positive impact on society and the environment.  They are bridging the Digital Divide through free in-home Internet connectivity, Wi-Fi mesh networks, refurbished computers, and digital life skills instruction for low income families.

Rosedale Ridge

Since December 2012, they have brought free broadband Internet to over 600 households in the Kansas City area, along with cheap PCs and digital literacy training to a 168 unit low income housing facility, to a 60 unit building for low income senior citizens and to a 390 unit public housing project.  Their most recent project at Juniper Gardens was accomplished by installing over 70 Wi-Fi transmitters to create a hotspot that covers four city blocks.  Their installation at Rosedale Ridge enabled over 400 devices to connect to the Internet including 21 school issued laptops.  You can read more about this installation on their website.

Connecting for Good believes that Internet connectivity equals opportunity and the Internet is a necessity in order to fully participate as a productive citizen in a digital society.  They also believe that education is the number one thing that lifts people out of poverty and it is nearly impossible to pursue a quality education without access to the Internet.  Connecting for Good also believes that in-home Internet access should be viewed as an essential modern utility like phone service, electricity, and running water.

How can you help?

Connecting for Good has a variety of volunteer opportunities including:

  • Mentoring of low income individuals who are beginning Internet users, teaching digital literacy classes, and working in their computer refurbishing shop.  You can learn more about these opportunities and view their volunteer opportunity calendar on their website or by joining their Meetup group.
  • Donating your used computers for their refurbishing program.
  • Donating to their Crowdfunding campaign to purchase the remaining Wi-Fi antennas they need for their Juniper Gardens project.  You can watch a news story about this project here.
  • Donating to them via PayPal by clicking the Donate button on their homepage.

Learn more about Connecting for Good on their website, connectingforgood.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup.  You can also contact them by phone at 913-730-0677.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Bake Me Home

Bake Me Home

Baking is a hobby of mine.  I love to find and try recipes for cakes, cookies and other desserts.  Today’s organization turned baking into a way to give back and help others.

Alison Bushman, a stay-at-home mom, and her 7 year old twin daughters, Amy and Emma had a desire to do something more for the homeless family shelter where they had volunteered together for three years.  They had begun volunteering with the shelter by collecting items at the twins’ birthday party each year.  Instead of gifts, the girls asked for items such as books, infant toys, and snacks for those staying at the local homeless family shelter.  When they delivered the donations, they also prepared a homemade pancake breakfast for the families.  The girls’ favorite part was always staying to play with the other kids at the shelter after breakfast.

After watching Teen Kids News coverage of the Young Entrepreneurs Convention, Emma asked if kids could really start their own business.  Amy’s love of cooking took the girls to “Camp Cuisine” where they learned about food as gifts and brought home their own mason jar of cookie mix.  Meanwhile, their mom was inspired by stories of wonderful philanthropic projects at a YA Connect Conference, but was not sure who would watch her kids if she was building houses in Mexico.  That is when the idea hit.  A simple jar of cookie mix for families leaving the shelter was a great way to give other mothers and children the experience of baking together that they loved so much.  After a lot of hard work and taste testing, Alison, Amy and Emma perfected their original Bake Me Home Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, applied for tax-exempt status with the IRS, and established the Bake Me Home organization in 2008.

Bake Me Home

Photo by Neysa Ruhl Photography

Bake Me Home is dedicated to promoting volunteerism and providing disadvantaged moms and kids with direct services that encourage shared family experiences.  They are based in Cincinnati, Ohio and depend on over 200 volunteers to help run their organization.  In February they moved into their own building after working out of a storage unit and their family home for almost five years.

They have four programs:

  • The Tote Bag Program helps families leaving shelters celebrate the beginning of a new life in a new home.  Each sturdy tote bag contains a jar of homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix, a mixing bowl, spoon, cookie sheet, pot holder, spatula, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a $20 gift card to a grocery store for the essential butter, eggs, and a few other groceries.  This program helps over 350 families per year from 14 agencies.
  • The Family Portrait Program provides 5×7 framed portraits to shelter families.  This program started when photographer Annette Bryant wanted to do something for those who could not afford photos of their kids.  Over 400 families have received portraits with this program!
  • The Bake Me BACK Home Program sends two dozen homemade cookies to members of the military for a donation of $30.  Approximately half of each donation supports their Tote Bag and Family Portrait Programs.  Over 6,000 cookies have been sent to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Bake It Forward Program allows children entering grades 2 through 9 an opportunity to apply for a grant of $100 for the charity of their choice serving children in Ohio.  Each applicant must perform a summer service project for the charity which helps further the Bake Me Home organization’s mission of promoting volunteerism.

Alison shared a couple quotes about their impact on the families they have helped.  One mother of four, after receiving a family portrait from Bake Me Home at a battered women’s shelter cried and said, “Thank you for this.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  I will always look at this and remember our turning point.  I am free.”  Another mother, after baking her cookies, said, “We made our cookies!  It was wonderful!  It made me feel like I accomplished something.  We had everything we needed.  I’ve used the pan lots of times for other things too.”

BMH Food Pantry

How can you help?

Bake Me Home has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities.

  • Help fill jars of their homemade cookie mix and tote bags.  Assembly events are posted on Facebook and sent out via e-mail.  You can sign up using the volunteer form on their website or by e-mailing cookiegirls@bakemehome.com.
  • You can volunteer to deliver Tote Bags to agencies.  You can sign up using the volunteer form on their website or by e-mailing cookiegirls@bakemehome.com.
  • Knit, crochet, or quilt pot holders to include in their tote bags.  You can find a free pattern here.
  • Donate new or gently used 5×7 photo frames for the Family Portrait Program.
  • Volunteers are also needed to assist with the Family Portrait photo shoots.  You can sign up using the volunteer form on their website or by e-mailing cookiegirls@bakemehome.com.
  • Bake Me Home also holds an annual silent auction and accepts donated items.
  • They also need volunteers to assist with various administrative, fundraising, and graphic design projects.  Please contact them with your specific expertise.
  • They also accept monetary donations on their website.

To learn more about the Bake Me Home organization, visit their website, bakemehome.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Bake Me Home

Related Posts:Family-To-Family and Cookie Cart 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Color A Smile

Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~Albert Einstein

Color A Smile

One of my favorite things that my daughter has brought home from school is a journal.  It was actually a series of drawings that showed her memories throughout the year.  A child’s drawing can put a smile on your face and warm your heart.  Today’s organization is spreading smiles through art.

In 1986, Jerry Harris was visiting a friend when he noticed how cheerful their refrigerator door looked with all the colorful artwork from their children.  Jerry’s children were not yet old enough to draw, but he realized how a cheerful drawing can make people smile and brighten their day.  A schoolteacher friend agreed to have her class draw the first batch of pictures to distribute to seniors, adults who live alone, shut-ins and anyone else who wanted them and Color A Smile was born.

The mission of Color A Smile is to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to experience the rewards of volunteering.  Their main program is collecting crayon drawings from school children to distribute to senior citizens and active military personal overseas.  They are based in Morristown New Jersey, but they receive drawings from every one of the United States and even a few other countries.

Color A Smile

Jerry Harris told me in an e-mail that they receive thank you letters every day from people who receive drawings from the program.  “People say how the drawings make them smile and remind them that someone is thinking about them and took the time to send them a cheerful greeting.”  They have boxes of cards and letters full of thanks and encouraging the organization to keep sending more drawings.  In addition, many parents, teachers, and scout leaders thank them for a program that allows young children to participate and learn the joy of volunteering.  Kids who participate in the program learn that they can help someone else by using the skills and resources available to them in their own home and school.

Since starting in 1986, Color A Smile has sent over one million drawings.  They are proud to have sent drawings to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as thousands of seniors in the United States.  Color A Smile provides a unique opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to make a difference.  Jerry Harris states, “Everyone can help us to spread smiles as long as they like to create cheerful colorful drawings.”

How can you help?

  • Anyone can color a cheerful drawing for Color A Smile to distribute.  Simply go to colorasmile.org to download pages to color.  Then simply mail your completed drawings to the address listed here.
  • You can also nominate someone to receive drawings or request to receive a group of drawings each month for a nursing home on their website.
  • You can also spread cheer by sharing the monthly masterpieces that Color A Smile posts on their website.
  • You can also send a monetary donation to Color A Smile at PO Box 1516, Morristown NJ 07962-1516.

You can learn more about Color A Smile on their website, ColorASmile.org.  You can also contact the founder, Jerry Harris, directly at jerryharris@colorasmile.org or 973-540-9222.

 CAS2

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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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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The Blue Slide Project

The Blue Slide Project

Last summer I wrote about Dana Millington, a mom who is honoring her daughter by creating an inclusive playground in her Minnesota community.  Today’s post is about another mom who has built a playground for her son in Oregon.

When Mona Pinon’s son Isaac was just 4 months old, he was paralyzed after a cancerous tumor injured his spinal cord.  He has been in a wheelchair since he was 18 months old and is now in kindergarten.  In November of 2011, Mona visited the school where Isaac would attend kindergarten and found that he would not be able to play on the school’s playground equipment.  She met with the school principal who suggested she approach the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA).  She went to a meeting, told them what she wanted to do, and asked for help.  They agreed to support the project and Mona agreed to be the fundraiser.  The Blue Slide Project was born.

Over the summer of 2012, Mona and her team of fundraisers held a variety of events to raise money to build a new playground at the Parkside Elementary School in Grants Pass, Oregon.  They held a Bunco Night, Zumbathon, Concerts in the Park, a car wash, yard sales and more.

In July 2012, the construction of Phase 1 began.  You can see the groundbreaking in this video from KDRV TV.  In August 2012, Isaac was able to celebrate his 5th birthday by cutting the ribbon on the new playground.

IMG_7598

The community really rallied around the project to make it become a reality.  One example is a 64 year old man with Parkinson’s Disease who walked 46 miles from Grants Pass to Ashland, Oregon.  He said he was “doing what Isaac can’t.”  He ended his journey with a trip down a slide with Isaac.  Mona said she believed this was possible “because a community believed that ALL children should have the freedom to play.”  She has received e-mails from local residents thanking her for making the playground possible.  Even adults with disabilities are now able to interact with their children at the playground where before they could only watch from the sidelines.

There is a second phase to the project which will resurface the remaining area of the playground.  Anyone can purchase a tile for under $20 to help support the resurfacing.   Mona hopes to work with the local parks department to help make other local parks accessible to all as well.

I asked Mona for her tips to others who want to build an accessible playground in their community and she told me to be prepared to do a lot of research and do not be too proud to ask for help.  Ask the media to share the story of what you are doing.  “Keep your eye to the end and enjoy the people you meet along the way.”

To learn more about the Blue Slide Project, connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or via e-mail.  You can also find the link to donate to the project on their Facebook page.

Watch Isaac use his blue slide here:

Related Post: Madison Claire Foundation

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Underwearness

Underwearness

Raise your hand if you have ever received underwear as a gift.  It may seem like an embarrassing gift for many of us, but imagine if you never had your own new underwear.  The Salvation Army states that underwear is the second most requested essential item after food and water, but it is the least donated item.  Today I write about an organization that is helping fill this underserved need.

Over a conversation with her brother-in-law, Koree Khongphand-Buckman was inspired.  He told her how his family grew up without much money and he would be so excited when they received barely used underwear as part of their donations rather than very used underwear.  She left that evening feeling sad to know that children grew up with used underwear or no underwear at all.  The next morning she shared the story with her co-workers and it tugged at their heartstrings too.  They formulated a plan to make a difference in children’s lives, one pair of underwear at a time.  Soon the UNDERWEARNESS organization was born.

UNDERWEARNESS is based in Thornton, Colorado and is on a mission to provide new underwear to children in need.  Underwear is kind of a taboo subject so it is rarely donated.  The organization may not be saving the world, but they are providing brand new packages of underwear to children so they can have underwear that is theirs and theirs alone.  UNDERWEARNESS serves a unique need by focusing on underwear.  They do not donate directly to individuals, they provide their new donations to children through other 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that assists families and children in need.

Since 2009, they have donated over 61,000 pairs of underwear to locations all over the United States as well as the Dominican Republic, Africa, Haiti, and Mexico.  This has helped approximately 10,000 children.  They recently collected about 4,000 pairs of underwear to the Salvation Army in Staten Island, New York to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  What makes this accomplishment even more impressive is that they did this in just 3 days.  Earlier in 2012, their third annual Drop Your Drawers 5K event was held in Denver and collected over 4,000 pairs of underwear and $15,000.  The underwear was donated to the Salvation Army of Denver to go to the Colorado Wildfire Victims.

Like many other organizations, UNDERWEARNESS is run completely by volunteers so they have a variety of ways you can help.

  • You can make a monetary donation through the organization’s website.
  • You can also host an underwear drive in your own community and the organization will donate the underwear to the organization of your choice.  They have details on how to run a drive on their website.
  • If you are in the Denver, Colorado area, you can participate in or volunteer for their annual “Drop Your Drawers 5K” event.  You can find the details about the upcoming May 2013 event here.

You can learn more about the UNDERWEARNESS organization on their website, underwearness.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Love for Leah

On this Thanksgiving week, I have many things to be thankful for, my wonderful husband, a great family, and a good job.  After writing so many stories of grief and loss on my blog, I am thankful to be blessed with two wonderful and healthy children.  I am also thankful that so many people have turned their grief into an organization to help others.  Today’s organization is just one example.

Jenny and Marc Fujinami found out they were pregnant on May 21, 2011.  They were excited and nervous just as any new parents would be.  At just 13 weeks along, they learned that there was something wrong.  Nothing was certain except that their baby girl would have a birth defect.  At 18 weeks, they learned that she had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and a Diagrammatic Hernia and were given a 1% chance that she would survive.  They named the baby Leah and continued to hope for a miracle.  Jenny tells the rest of their heart wrenching story better than I ever could.

The sad truth is that 1 in 160 pregnant women will experience stillbirth and 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage, stillbirth or other tragic events shortly after birth.  After her experience, Jenny knew that more should be offered to families experiencing infant loss.  She partnered with Carolyn, the photographer and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep volunteer who captured photographs of Leah’s birth, to create Love for Leah.

Love for Leah

Love for Leah is an organization that donates Love for Leah Bags to families in Cheyenne, Wyoming who are experiencing the loss of an infant while at the hospital.  The bags include items to capture memories, books to offer advice, and a list of resources, support and helpful organizations.  You can see a full list of the items included as well as a photo on their website.

How can you help?

  • You can make a monetary donation or inquire about items you can donate.  You can learn more about making a donation on their website.
  • You can also share the story and share all the great resources they have collected with others who may benefit from them.
  • If you live in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area you can watch for promotional events or memorial events sponsored by Love for Leah.
  • Love for Leah also seeks volunteers to help with fundraisers, bag assembly, and helping spread the word at vendor fairs and other events.  You can contact them at loveforleah@gmail.com to volunteer.

You can learn more about Love for Leah on their website, Love4Leah.com and on Facebook.

Related posts: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Mikayla’s Grace, and Project Sweet Peas 

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Prior Lake Players

Prior Lake Players

Today’s organization has been a big part of my life in the last couple months.  In early September, my daughter auditioned for a play and she convinced me to also audition too.  We both got parts, she is a playing card and I am a duck.  This past weekend was our first set of shows!

The Prior Lake Players started as an idea inspired by a play at a local community festival.  Thirteen couples, including Nick and Patti Sotis, came together in 1972 at a cocktail party and decided to put together a theatre organization.  They held their first meeting that year.  One of the couples had been involved in a local theatre organization in another Minneapolis suburb, so they were able to quickly develop bylaws and become registered as a nonprofit.  

Their first show was “Don’t Drink the Water” in the Spring of 1973 and have done a play each spring and fall since including “The Wizard of Oz”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, and “My Fair Lady”, just to name a few.  Their current production is “Alice in Wonderland”. 

The Prior Lake Players is a non-profit, performing arts educational group formed for the purpose of producing and performing live theatrical entertainments, including both established and original scripts, and of providing training and experience to its members in the various artistic and technical aspects of live theatre. 

In 1976, Nick and Patti’s daughter, Karen Welch was in her first play, The Music Man.  She was in the chorus.  It was her most memorable play because her brother and parents were also in the cast and it was fun to be in a play together as a family.  In Alice in Wonderland, the family tradition continues with Karen playing the caterpillar and her daughter Caitlin Welch playing the Gryphon. 

The theme of family involvement doesn’t end with them.  Kay Dunning worked on the wonderful costumes for Alice in Wonderland and her daughter Ryanne Dunning was in the play as the Dodo bird and Tweedledee.  In 1993, Kay did set design, costume design, directed and acted in The Music Man. 

The organization also has a scholarship program for high school seniors who were either in their productions or attend the local school district.  Up to $1,000 is given out each year.  You can learn more about the Nick Sotis Memorial Scholarship program by contacting the Prior Lake Players

How can you help?

  • You can sign up for their e-mail list by e-mailing priorlake_players@yahoo.com to keep up to date with upcoming shows and events. 
  • You can sign up to be a member to receive discounts and other benefits. 
  • Tax deductible donations can be made through GiveMN.org.
  • Before each play can come to stage, they need many volunteers including actors, set construction, prop building, costume sewing, publicity, and more!  During the productions they also need volunteers to sell tickets prior to the show and serve refreshments during intermission.  E-mail priorlakeplayersvolunteers@yahoo.com to learn more about specific volunteer opportunities.
  • The organization does also do things between productions such as walk in parades and attend other local events.  If you are interested in offering your time or talents in other ways, you can contact them at priorlakeplayersvolunteers@yahoo.com

No play is successful without an audience, so consider taking an evening or afternoon to enjoy the show!  You can connect with the Prior Lake Players on their website, www.plplayers.org.  You can also sign up for their e-mail list and like them on Facebook.  If you don’t live near Prior Lake, Minnesota, there is likely a small theatre organization near you and they likely have many of the same volunteer opportunities as the Prior Lake Players.

Alice in Wonderland Cast Photo - November 2012

Alice in Wonderland Cast Photo – November 2012

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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