This week I interviewed Karen Kitchel from Cheerful Givers. I got lucky because Ms. Kitchel answered each question with so much detail. Please read below to learn more about Cheerful Givers! I am creating gift bags this month to donate to Compass House on behalf of Cheerful Givers!
1. What is Cheerful Givers all about?
The mission of Cheerful Givers is to provide toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift. We believe this simple gesture boosts self-esteem, enhances self-worth, and strengthens bonds in families.
I think what’s important about Cheerful Givers is that we provide a way for less fortunate parents to recognize their child’s birthday and Cheerful Givers remains invisible to the child. Also important are the Givers. We are able to give many people the opportunity to experience the joy of giving to others.
We focus only on birthdays because there isn’t another organization that is addressing this unmet need.
2. Are there a certain number of gift bags you like to see donated each month? What was the most ever donated?
Our goal for 2008 is to provide more than 44,000 children with gift bags, so we would like to see at least 3,666 gift bags each month. The most ever donated was last year when a group of volunteers from a company called BI (where I worked for 30 years) filled 3,765 birthday bags in less than two hours. At the same time they held a silent auction and sold box lunches for us.
3. What part to do you play in Cheerful Givers?
I’m the one (and only) full-time staff. So I need to recruit and manage volunteers (last year we had 3,878 of them). Here’s my job description:
· Managing the day to day operations of Cheerful Givers (e.g. program services, financial and human resource management, publicity, grant management and reporting),
· Serving as a liaison between the organization and the community,
· Providing technical assistance to corporations, community groups and sponsored organizations,
· Increasing the visibility of Cheerful Givers within the community, which includes implementing Cheerful Givers business, public relations and fundraising plans and serving as the Web site liaison,
· Reporting to the Board of Directors on Cheerful Givers’ activities, financial status, needs, new activities, etc.,
· Working with the Board of Directors to identify new opportunities to ensure the fulfillment of Cheerful Givers mission, as well as long term growth of the organization,
· Assisting in the development of the Board of Directors to ensure access to an array of talents and resources needed by Cheerful Givers to fulfill its mission,
· Assisting in the orientation of new board members, and
· Overseeing evaluation of organizational activities.
4. When did you begin working for Cheerful Givers?In 1996 I met Robin Maynard, the founder of Cheerful Givers who quickly became a good friend. When I learned what Cheerful Givers was all about, I immediately felt that it was an organization I wanted to support. Robin asked me to join her board of directors and I began introducing Cheerful Giver at BI where I worked. Employees got together once each month at lunch time to fill gift bags with toys they donated. I thought that other companies could do what we were doing and started spreading the word. In 2003, I did a lot of soul searching and decided to leave my 30-year career at BI to work full-time for Cheerful Givers. That was also the time when the board of directors had realized if the organization were to grow that we needed someone devoted full-time.
5. What can people do to help Cheerful Givers beyond donating gift bags?
We need funds so that we can continue to sponsor the teens with disabilities and the elderly group and to cover general operating costs. Aside from that, people can help spread the word about us and encourage others to visit our website.
6. What can kids do to help?
Kids can do a lot of things – fill gift bags with toys and take them to a shelter or food shelf, they can conduct a fundraiser for us or just help spread the word. ===============================================================
Just a reminder: We have a gift basket to giveaway this month!
What to do to enter?
Make a donation that’s more than $5.00 to Compass House and you will be entered to win an April Showers gift basket with all of this stuff in it! The drawing will be on March 25th, so if you donated, please let me know!
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