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Handmade Especially for You

I have written posts about using your passion to give back (Refresh Your Resolutions and Give Back).  Today’s organization was founded by a woman who found herself with extra gifts to give.

Leslye Borden sold her business in 2007 and spent more time on her favorite hobby, knitting.  She made beautiful outfits for her granddaughters, but realized that she had gotten carried away when she found the outfits in her daughter’s giveaway box.  It was then that she decided she needed to find more needy recipients for her gifts. 

She decided to start creating scarves for women impacted by abuse.  She created an organization named Handmade Especially for You with a mission to provide comfort scarves to women who flee domestic violence by escaping to a shelter for abused women.  The organization is based in Palos Verdes, California.  In 2010, they shipped 10,000 scarves to 33 shelters.  In 2011, they donated 15,000 scarves to 57 shelters throughout California.  

Handmade Especially for You has found there is power in the scarves they provide.  Directors at the shelters who receive the scarves often say receiving such a beautiful gift from someone they do not even know is a tremendous surprise to the women that it lifts their self-esteem and makes them open up to the counseling and education provided at the shelter, which is an enabler to change their lives.  Many women who leave their abusive environments bring their children with them.  The shelter staff give the children a scarf to help them sleep and they provide them some comfort in a difficult time.  

You can read stories from shelter staff in a recent newsletter.  One comment really seemed to summarize it well.  Richard Kravetz, Executive Director of DVS for Santa Barbara County, wrote, “Thank you for your support!  Your gift of 25 comfort scarves gives women and children a promise to fulfill a dream of a home and life without violence. . . . Thank you for being part of the solution.”

The organization has volunteers all over the United States as well as scarf contributors from England, Scotland, Singapore, Germany, South Africa, Australia, and Costa Rica.  Volunteers can make knitted or crocheted scarves to donate.  They prefer the scarves to be 4 to 4 ½ inches wide and at least 60 inches long.  The organization often provides kits with premeasured yarn.  Another way you can help is to donate yarn or make a monetary donation.  Learn more about making a donation on their website.  You can also find a listing of companies that have donated yarn on their website.

Local volunteers can assemble yarn kits, tie ribbons and gift tags on the donated scarves, and ship out boxes of scarves.

You can learn more on the organization’s website, www.handmadeespecially.org.  You can also find them on Facebook or contact them via e-mail.

Thank you letters sent to Handmade Especially for You by some of the 60 shelters for abused women to which they donate comfort scarves.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Pajama Program

Tomorrow is pajama day at my daughter’s school.  She gets to wear comfy pajamas to school all day – she can even bring a blanket or stuffed animal along with her.  It makes me a little jealous that I don’t get a pajama day at work.  Maybe I will work from home tomorrow and have a pajama day on my own.  Well, some kids don’t even know the comforts of nice pajamas.  Today’s organization is trying to change that.

The Pajama Program was started in 2001 by Genevieve Piturro.  She was volunteering at a homeless shelter reading to the children and noticed that they did not have pajamas to wear to bed at night.  Instead they slept in the clothes that they had on all day.  Genevieve came back the next week with 12 pair of pajamas.  She handed them to each child when one girl asked what they were and when she would wear them, Genevieve’s heart sank.  Within weeks the idea for the Pajama Program was starting to form.  She told everyone to bring her new pajamas and she gave them to the children.  In late 2001, Parenting Magazine published an article about the pajamas and new books that were being donated and suddenly boxes started arriving from around the country.

The mission of the Pajama Program is to provide new pajamas and new books to children in need.  These children may be waiting to be adopted, children in homeless shelters or temporary living situations, orphanages, or children removed from their homes for various reasons, such as abuse.  The program headquarters is in New York, but there are over 70 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Since their founding, over 1,000,000 new pajamas and new books have been given to children.  These books are theirs to keep – a book and a pair of pajamas to hopefully bring some comfort to these kids.  It doesn’t take long reading thank you notes from children who have received a Pajama Program donation to know that they really make a difference.  The Pajama Program also has additional programs for teens to help them express their feelings with poetry and to learn about money and budgeting.

You can help!

  • The Pajama Program website has everything you need to run a pajama collection in your community, school or business.
  • You can also donate online using a credit card.
  • You can find a chapter near you and volunteer your time.
  • There are also some wish lists on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about the Pajama Program on their website, pajamaprogram.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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363 Days

Recently I helped setup for a community event that served people struggling to meet basic needs by providing a wide variety of services such as medical care, haircuts, housing information, employment assistance, legal help, and a meal.  During this setup I helped make bagged lunches of sandwiches, chips, and an apple.  Kids and adults came together to assemble hundreds of sandwiches with bread, meat and cheese for what may be the only guaranteed meal for some of the people visiting the event.  Today’s organization also brings people together to assemble sandwiches and provides a way to get them into the hands of people who need a meal.

Mr. Allan Law taught in Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Schools for over 30 years.  During that time he began working with youth to provide after school, weekend and summertime programs and started a non-profit called Minneapolis Recreation Development, Inc, but that is another story.  In 1999 when Mr. Law retired from teaching, he set off on a mission to help feed the homeless.  The organization inspired by Mr. Law’s work is called 363 Days because the focus is feeding people on the 363 days a year (all but Christmas and Thanksgiving) that others forget about those in need.

He began by asking local convenience stores for the sandwiches that they were about to throw out.  He would drive to dozens of stores collecting sandwiches then would take to the streets handing the sandwiches to those in need.  In 2007 he ran into a former student of his and after hearing the story the former student had his bible study make 150 sandwiches for Mr. Law.  This was the birth of the 363 Days organization which has since grown to 15 drop sites with freezers full of sandwiches that are distributed to the homeless.  The organization helps coordinate sandwich making and delivery to freezers at drop-sites around the Twin Cities Metro Area.

Mr. Law now spends his nights driving to shelters in Minneapolis and St. Paul to drop off sandwiches. Shelter residents take sandwiches when they leave in the morning.  He also hands out sandwiches to those he sees on the streets.  Now he delivers over 500,000 sandwiches per year.

How can you help?

363 Days is always looking for groups to make sandwiches.  You can find all the instructions on their website.  In addition, they also distribute mittens, hats, coats, blankets, socks, toiletries and money that will help buy bus fare.  Monetary donations are also welcome to assist with the cost of transporting sandwiches from the drop sites and administration.  You can also find other in kind donation opportunities on the organization’s website.

Learn more about 363 Days at www.363days.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or via e-mail, info@363days.org.

Update: In 2012, the mission of 363 Days split into two separate organizations, The Sandwich Project and MRD 363 Days Food Program.  You can learn more about each organization by visiting their joint website, 363days.org.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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The Bridge for Youth

High school is tough!  Kids can be mean, there is homework, and your social calendar is quite difficult to manage.  Some kids have it even harder – they are homeless.  In a recent year, the Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Schools counted 5,500 homeless children in the district.  Some of those kids are lucky to find a home with today’s organization.

Bridge for Youth is a 24-hour runaway and homeless youth program in a residential setting in the Minneapolis, Minnesota metropolitan region.  Their mission is helping youth in crisis and their vision is to be the premier resource for youth and families in crisis.  They ensure a continuum of care to provide shelter and support, to reunite families whenever possible, and when it is not, to build independent living skills in young people.  The Bridge for Youth is a community leader in the development of approaches for youth and their families to resolve problems and develop healthier relationships.

The Bridge for Youth was founded by Sister Rita Steinhagen in 1970 as one of the first runaway youth shelters in the nation.  Sister Rita was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Catholic order.  She and her fellow sisters noticed that homeless youth were increasingly vulnerable to exploitation, prostitution, violence, and illness and felt the need to act. 

Each year The Bridge serves over a thousand youth between the ages of 10 and 20 years old.  The families are also helped when applicable.  A continuum of services is offered, from street outreach to homeless youth, short-term emergency shelter, housing skills and career development, and transitional and permanent supportive housing.  Their services are available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If there is a young person in crisis or a parent of a young person in crisis they can call or come in and someone will be available for them.

The Bridge has some amazing results.  Here are just a few of their impressive statistics: 

  • 70% of youth served in the reunification program were safely reunited with parents or extended family.
  • 60% of youth participants in their transitional living program moved to stable living.
  • 100% of youth in transitional living were working and/or going to school.
  • 97% of youth in scattered site supportive housing retained their housing for six months.

The personal stories are also amazing.  One of the many success stories is Valencia McMurray, a young woman who has been on her own since 10th grade.  She spent time living with siblings until they were no longer able to pay rent. Then she did some couch hopping with friends until a school social worker found her a space at The Bridge.  She spent some time in the emergency shelter and then in the transitional housing program.  She was able to graduate high school and earn a four year scholarship to Augsburg College.  You can read her full story here.  There is also a video about six young adults who were impacted my homelessness.

If you live in the Minneapolis area, there are many volunteer opportunities available, including cleaning, yard work, and more.  Volunteers are always needed to do a variety of things depending on their interests and skills.  Groups and organizations are always welcome to hold donation drives or collections.  Individuals can also help with cooking, mock interviews, and more.  You can learn more about current volunteer needs at The Bridge on their website.  

The Bridge also accepts cash and in-kind donations.  You can find donation options as well as their current wish list on their website

Learn more about The Bridge for Youth on their website, www.bridgeforyouth.org.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Hannah’s Socks

Kids seem to notice so much more than adults do.  There have been times where I am driving down the road and one of my kids notices a bus or construction site that I didn’t realize was there.  Or walking through the grocery store and my child notices a picture of a cow or chicken on the wall that I never even noticed in all the years I shopped there.  Today’s charity was started because a child noticed something…

On a chilly Thanksgiving Day in 2004, 4-year-old Hannah Turner was helping serve dinner to the needy at the Cherry Street Mission in Toledo, Ohio.  In the middle of the hustle and bustle of doing her part to fill plates, she tugged on her mother Doris’ sweater.  “Mommy, won’t his feet be cold?”  Hannah had focused on a man in line wearing shoes that had split open to reveal he had no socks on, and her small face reflected concern.

Doris tried to reassure her: “His shoes will keep his toes warm.” She didn’t know how they could help with all staff focused on the meal, and she didn’t want her daughter carrying a burden.  Hannah — too smart, too big of heart — was unconvinced.  “Mommy, he can have my socks,” she said.

That next day, Doris took Hannah to purchase and distribute socks to local shelters. The following two years, they were able to collect and donate over 100 pairs around Toledo.  Over two more years, and with amazing support from friends and family, they distributed nearly 10,000 total pairs of socks to partner shelters.

Doris and husband Vic quickly discovered that of all the materials donated to shelters, new socks and undergarments are given the least and needed the most. They created Hannah’s Socks with the goal of addressing that problem.

In 2010, Hannah’s Socks has set a goal of collecting and distributing 150,000 pairs of socks.  According to their website as of today they are about 25,000 pair away from their goal…so how can you help?

  • Make a financial donation on the organization’s website.  A $5 donation can provide 7 pair of socks to people in need.  A $50 donation can provide socks, pajamas and underwear to 4 homeless children.
  • Host a neighborhood sock party.  Click here for sock party suggestions.
  • Collecting socks is a great alternative to a gift exchange at your upcoming holiday party.
  • Host a sock drive at your church, school, or workplace.  Hannah’s Socks has a full Sock Drive Packet to help you get started!
  • You can also find a sock drop off spot on their website
  • Donate something from the organization’s needs list.
  • For those in the Toledo area, Hannah’s Socks also has volunteer opportunities.  Please check their website for details.

You can learn more about Hannah’s Socks on their website (www.hannahssocks.org).  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Project Night Night

As a mom to two young children, I have a hard time imagining what it might be like if I couldn’t put a roof over their head and a warm bed to for them to sleep in.  In this economy more and more families wonder where they will sleep the next night. The stress of living in shelters, sleeping in cars, or staying with friends negatively influence a child’s early experiences and often lead to an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, poor sleep habits, and behavioral issues.

In 2005, Kendra Stitt Robins began the Project Night Night nonprofit organization with the belief that every child deserves a good night’s sleep.  Robins, a former attorney and mother of one, founded the organization after working through the bedtime trials of her two year old son.  She realized how critical a good night’s rest is for the healthy development of children and became concerned for the many thousands of children living in shelters who lack the basic bedtime comforts.  She began an effort to collect security blankets, books and stuffed animals for these sheltered children to help ease their bedtime anxieties while in a new and unfamiliar place.  Robins felt that if children sleep well at night, they will not suffer the ill effects of inadequate sleep such as decreases in performance, concentration, learning, and health.

The mission of Project Night Night is to provide “Night Night Packages”, free of charge, to homeless children from birth to pre-teen who need childhood essentials to feel secure, cozy, ready to learn, and significant.  Each Night Night Package contains a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal — all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag.  In addition, Project Night Night establishes a foundation for lasting change through the hands-on volunteer opportunities that they provide to tens of thousands of individuals each year.    

According to Robins, “We are very proud of distributing 25,000 Night Night Packages in 2009 and on track for at least that in 2010.” 

How can you help?

  • The most popular opportunity is the “Adopt a Night Night Package Program.”  Robins describes the program as providing, “the means, the opportunity, and the structure for community-minded individuals and corporations to make an ongoing and lasting impact on their communities.”  Groups collect items for the Night Night Packages, then assemble and deliver them to a local shelter.  All the details can be found on their website
  • Monetary donations are also accepted online
  • You can also donate items at certain locations or by mail.  Click here for details.
  • Their website also lists many additional volunteer opportunities such as graphic design or public relations assistance, one time projects and internships.  Click here for a current listing. 

Learn more about Project Night Night on their website or by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

Click here to tweet this post about Project Night Night!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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