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Thank You to Those Who Make a Difference!

Over the last few weeks, a lot of people have been doing things to make a difference for an organization that I care about a lot. It’s called Compass House. During my December challenge, Kate Ellis and Theresa Gray each pledged to make a difference for them, and I was really grateful when they told me they were making some great donations. Mrs. VanEtten’s seventh graders also did a HUGE clothing drive for them too, which was really impressive AND inspiring.

I know I haven’t been blogging a lot lately. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my blog and with my service work. I’m learning more about the different ways in which people use blogs, and I have some ideas about what I want to do here for the next year. I like the idea of trying to use my blog as a way to share ideas for how people could do small things to make a difference for ANY cause.

Next month, I will be going to Idaho to take part in the Special Olympics World Games. There are so many great things that kids and grown ups can do to make a difference for this organization. I plan to use this month to blog about what I am learning about the Special Olympics. I also want to share some ideas that anyone can use if they want to make a difference for a cause they care about.

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December 5, 2008

 Laura:

Today I am grateful for Nina’s laugh and smile.

Nina has always cheered me up, especially with her laugh. Her laugh is really small, but it is really nice to hear. For some reason, it always make me feel warm and smile. When she laughs it’s kind of like cold medicine when you have a REALLY bad cold and like music after a deaf person becomes able to hear.

Her smile is really refreshing too. Nina’s smile is like when you finally get to see that pretty night blooming flower come out. I can’t stand it when she is unhappy. I like to see her smile, it is a pink blossom of light into a dark spooky room, it always will show.

So today, because Nina means so much to me, I am going to play doll house with her when I’m done tweeting and blogging for today because I know that she really wants to and I want to give the gift of happiness to he too.

 

Nina:

Today I am thankful for my friends.Today I helped one of them do the baseline for hot cross buns on recorder.

Please Visit 17 Chances to Make a Difference

A few days ago I got a comment from Ari and Sarah from 17 Chances to Make a Difference. This is a blog that an entire class is keeping. I was really excited to learn that they did their blog off of my blog! I was also excited to see their blog because it is TOTALLY AWESOME!!!  Ari and Sarah are Jewish, and they are commanded to do good deeds make the world a better place. In Hebrew, this is called Mitzvot.

Please take some time today to go and visit their site, and bookmark it too to spread the word about the great things these kids are doing! Thank you so much for visiting my site Ari and Sarah! I will be visiting you all the time too. I’ve also added you to my blogroll.

An Interview with Karen Kitchel from Cheerful Givers! Plus, a Giveaway for Compass House!

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!

THANKS!!!!

Using MySpace in Good Ways! Visit the Compass House MySpace Page!

As we all know, sometimes kids and adults don’t use MySpace in good ways but the people at Compass House do! The people at Compass House set up a MySpace page so that they can also spread awareness there too! I think that they are very smart for doing this!

First, I want to thank everyone for wishing me a happy birthday! I had a really nice one and everyone helped to make my birthday special! Thank you so much for your comments. They were a great surprise!

I would really like to thank Coco for

1. Leaving me a funny comment

2. Writing about me on her blog

and 3.  DONATING $25.00 TO CHEERFUL GIVERS!

I also want to remind everyone that I have a giveaway this month for COMPASS HOUSE!!!! It is a gift basket for everyone in the family!! If you make a tiny five dollar donation, you will be entered to win! I’m also going to give you another way to be entered to win! If you work in a SCHOOL in Western New York and you are willing to hang a Compass House poster in your CLASSROOM or in the hall, please let me know! I will make sure we get the poster to you and enter you to win my contest! If you work in any other place where young people are, and you would like a poster, just let me know. I also have fliers and wrist bracelets for anyone who might like to give them to kids and teenagers! If you leave me a comment or send me an email, I will get them right to you.

The more awareness we can spread of the good that Compass House does, the better.

Surprise!!

Since today is Laura’s 11th birthday, I’ve snuck on to her blog today to surprise her with this little message: Happy Birthday Lu!!!!! We love you!!!!

Our morning was filled with balloons and flowers and long-awaited presents. Laura headed out the door this morning eager to see her friends at school. She is lookinig forward to celebrating with the cookie cake that she balanced in her hands as she tip-toed across the ice that last night’s storm left in its wake. I often wonder, though, who enjoys Laura’s birthday most? Being the mom is often quite a lot of fun on days like today. Giving is always a gift in itself, and putting a smile on your own birthday girl’s face is one of the greater rewards that parents get to reap.

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When Laura decided to support Cheerful Givers this month, I could not have been happier, and today seems like the perfect day to spread the word about this wonderful organization. Cheerful Givers promotes gift giving for underprivileged children. What we like best about this organization is the fact that we are able to give locally. In order to be a “cheerful giver” you may work alone or with others to create birthday gift bags that you may then donate to a local shelter, food pantry, or other organization that services the needy. Gifts are then provided to parents who may not otherwise have the ability to purchase a birthday present for their child. Cheerful Givers provides guidelines that help ensure that the gift bags are filled with items that children will love and use, and they credit volunteers for their efforts by asking you to let them know how many bags you fill, how many volunteers you worked with, and where the bags were distributed.

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The Efforts of One Brownie Troop

Laura and I have been in frequent contact with Karen Kitchel, the President of Cheerful Givers, for several months now. This week, Karen shared a great idea with me. In honor of her brother’s birthday, she made a donation to Cheerful Givers so that other children could celebrate their own birthdays as a result. Talk about paying something forward! If you are interested in celebrating a birthday in a similar way, you may make a monetary or supply donation here. There is also a birthday certificate pdf file that you may download and give to someone that you care about as well. Laura will be receiving one of these certificates from our family tonight after dinner, and I know that this last small surprise is certain to make her smile.

“Doing charity work is a wonderfully selfish thing to do,” someone mentioned last week, and I couldn’t agree more. There is so much good that comes from giving, and there is so much joy that it brings to the giver. Discovering this has been a tremendous gift for our family….better than anything that comes wrapped up in boxes with paper and bows.

This month, Laura will be using her bottle return money to create gift bags on behalf of Cheerful Givers. These will be donated to her friends at Compass House. Laura will be back tomorrow, writing about Compass House and Cheerful Givers. In the mean time, we have some cake eating to do!

Happy Birthday Laura! We love you!

Love,

Mom

An April Showers Giveaway!

aprilshowers.jpg

This month I will be doing an April Showers Prize Bag Giveaway to support Compass House. I have a whole bunch of brand new items to give away that will help you and your family enjoy spring even more. I am planning to give them away by having a drawing on March 25th!

All that you have to do is make a five dollar donation to Compass House right here! If you donate more, your name will be entered once for every five dollars you donate.

Inside the canvas shopping bag (which is good for the environment) there is a kite, a Cirque Du Soliel golf umbrella donated by Sylvia Nadler from Compass House, a bag of 12 hyacinth bulbs, a bag of 36 daffodil bulbs, 8 designer greeting cards, spring colored cooking utensils, spring cookie cutters, a garden stone-making kit, a whole bunch of different flower seeds, and two great books. One is Bloomability by Sharon Creech and the other is Sleeping With a Sunflower: A Treasury of Old Time Gardening Lore by Louise Riotte. To enter, please make a five dollar (or more) donation to Compass House right here. Please forward a copy of your email receipt to me at twentyfivedays(at)gmail(dot)com.  You can also call or mail a donation. Please let them know that I sent you, and then email me or leave a comment too. Thanks! Everyone who donates will be entered to win. The drawing is on March 25th!

I’m also hoping people will support Compass House this month by doing any of these things. The people who make the most difference for Compass House this month by doing any of the things below will win a $20 donation to the charities they choose. One individual and one group will be selected.

  • Raising awareness of Compass House by putting posters up in places where young people will see them. I also have a whole bunch of rubber wrist bracelets to give away too. If you would like a poster or some bracelets, please email me! This would be great!
  • Raising funds for Compass House by doing a penny drive, a bake sale, or any other type of fundraising.
  • Blogging about Compass House or your local safe place.
  • Inviting someone from Compass House to speak where you work or where you teach.
  • Donating clothing, food, or other needed things to Compass House
  • Helping me support Cheerful Givers and Compass House by creating birthday gift bags. I would like to donate gift bags to Compass House so that the kids that come there and the young moms and dads who come there have birthday gifts that they couldn’t afford on their own. I will be writing more about this tomorrow and in the next week too. I have some ideas to help them.

If you do any of these things or have other ideas for helping, you will be entered to win my charitable donation this month. Please let me know what you are doing to help so that I know you are interested in winning!