Friday, February 15, 2013

Angels Update

Happy Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness Week! It’s time for an Angels update. My Relay for Life team Angels for a Cure did so great on our bake sales. We made nearly $900! People were outbidding each other for cakes and we had enough cookies to feed half of Pensacola. The extras went to the Waterfront Rescue Mission Sunday night meal and the minister there was so grateful to get them.

We just had our Giveback days at Ruby Tuesday, too, on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I won’t know how we did on that for a couple weeks. It’s the first time we’ve ever done that, so I’m interested to know how it went. We passed out about 250 flyers and invited people through Facebook. Then our team had our meeting at Ruby Tuesday and had dinner there. We get 20 percent of sales back when people show the flyer we gave out.

Our next fundraiser, a Chili Cookoff, is going so well except for one thing—no ticket sales. I’ve gotten donations of cookies and drinks from Publix. We’ve got eight chili chefs and I even had to turn a couple more away. I’ve been planning for a hundred people to come but the tickets aren’t selling at the three campuses, I mean at all. I called a couple days ago and not one had been sold. I also gave out tickets to members of the team to sell, but no one’s been selling those either.

The cookoff's being held at the Fairpoint campus of our church, Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church. We’re supposed to sell tickets at all three of our church campuses this Sunday but we tried that at one of them last week and nothing happened. They don’t have a front desk at our beach service so I sent someone to sell tickets and she didn’t even sell one.  I’m beginning to get worried that we’ll have a ton of food and no one to eat it. We’ve also put out some money for paper goods, spoons, side items, plaques for the winners, and so on so we could lose money on this cookoff since we didn’t make the chili chefs pay any kind of entry fee.

I haven’t really advertised it outside the church because I thought we wouldn’t need to and in fact, I was worried we might run out of food. I’m not sure what to do now. It’s next weekend, so it’s a little late to do anything.

The little voice inside my head says it will be alright, that people will come in after the service but I keep seeing the Fellowship Hall set up with eight chili cooks and no people to eat their chili. If anyone has ideas, please leave a comment below. I’m placing this in God’s hands. Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

What is Love For Anyway?

Next week is a pivotal week. As we celebrate love on St. Valentine’s Day, we realize that love is to be shared. It’s something you can hold onto only if you give it away. 

Last week I wrote about how I enjoy books and sharing them with others, giving you lots of options about how to do so or support nonprofits that do. I guess I was subconsciously gearing up for International Book Giving Day on Valentine’s Day.

V-Day is also when we celebrate One Billion Rising to dance against violence done to women worldwide. I wrote about that in January so people could decide how and with whom they were going to dance in support of it.

But next week is also one of my favorite weeks of the year because it’s Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week. Back in January, I warned you that it was coming with my story of how Courtney Fell led a bunch of kids to do random acts of kindness. She had some great ideas for acts of kindness.

Now it’s time for even more. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation suggests the following for RAK Week 2013:

Monday, Feb 11—Smile at 10 strangers.
Tuesday, Feb 12—Buy something for the person in the line behind you.
Wednesday, Feb 13—Reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while.
Thursday, Feb 14—Bring a treat to a neighbor or your co-workers.
Friday, Feb 15—Donate your time or money to a local charity.
Saturday, Feb 16—Cook a healthy meal.
Sunday, Feb 17—Let someone go in front of you in line.

Pretty simple, huh? I hope these ideas are something you can put into practice. But they’re just the beginning. There are so many random ways to show kindness. There’s a military base near me and the security guards stand outside all day in the heat or cold. I like to bring them a snack or drink as a treat and they are always grateful. RAK has 282 more kindness ideas as well. You can google “random acts of kindness” to find even more.

Back to International Book Giving Day, RAK has a Reading Nook with books full of kindness, so if you’re looking for a good book, check it out.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, people have been doing 26 acts of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting at NBC newscaster Ann Curry’s prompting so if you haven’t started on those, next week’s a good time to start.

Doing this blog is a great privilege. I get to find out about wonderful people who help others and the amazing ways that they do it. Please send me an email to to share what you do. And have a great Random Acts of Kindness week. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Curl Up With a Good Book

I was going to write about ways to fulfill resolutions to be healthier in the new year while also helping charities earn money, but with the weather so cold, I’d rather curl up with a good book than go for a jog. I’ll share some ways to help others by working out soon.
For now, here are some ways to relax and read while helping others. I’ll start with the free one first—We Give Books. It’s simple, you read a book online and they give a book to someone in need. They’ve donated 1.6 million books already and are looking to donate a million more.
We Give Books is a fantastic resource for parents, teachers, and anyone who loves to read children’s books. They have a free online library of over 150 outstanding children’s books, including Llama Llama, Skippyjon Jones books and DK science books.
All of the books available for online reading are children's books for kids through age ten. There is a mix of fiction and nonfiction, a range of authors, and an equal balance between read-alouds and books for independent readers. We Give Books adds new books every month, together with special seasonal offerings. They’re also collecting money to help rebuild libraries in schools hit by Hurricane Sandy. It's meant to encourage reading to young children so get your kids or your friend's kids and start reading to them! You will be helping put books in the hands of children who need them.
Another organization fights illiteracy when you buy books. Every time you purchase a book from, they donate a book to someone in need. The books go through non-profit partners Books for Africa and Feed the Children. Better World Books has converted more than 53 million books into over $8.6 million in funding for literacy and education.
It’s also diverted more than 26,000 tons of books from landfills. So, yes, you can find used books at great prices at Better World Books and help others while helping yourself to a good book.
There are also many charities that support literacy in different ways. Here are seven that you might want to support as well:
      1.       Literacy for Incarcerated Teens (LIT). Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, Inc. (LIT) works to end illiteracy among New York’s incarcerated young people by inspiring them to read.
      2.      United Through Reading. United Through Reading offers deployed parents the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children when they are away on deployment
      3.      Reach Out And Read. Reach Out and Read prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. The program begins at the 6-month checkup and continues through age 5, with a special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities.
      4.      Reading Tree. Reading Tree is a non-profit organization that provides donated, gently used books to disadvantaged families. Since 2007, Reading Tree has distributed several million books to Title 1 schools and partnering charities that support local libraries and literacy programs.
      5.      Book Aid International. Book Aid International (BAI) supports literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa. BAI has sent more than 30 million books to partner libraries since 1954.
      6.      First Book. First Book provides new books for children in need. It has distributed more than 85 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.
      7.      The African Library Project. The African Library Project changes lives book by book by starting libraries in rural Africa. Their grassroots approach mobilizes U.S. volunteers, young and old, to organize book drives and ship books to a partner library in Africa.
      So read a book with your kid online or curl up with a good book from Better World Books and support literacy or give to one of the charities above.