Friday, May 31, 2013

My Reminder

Sometimes we all need a reminder. I’m the Volunteer and Charity Guru, but the other day my husband reminded me of what charity is all about.

He and I love Tropical Smoothie, which is a smoothie, salad and sandwich place with lots of veggies and fruits. The great thing about Tropical Smoothie is that everything tastes delicious so you feel good about eating your fruits and veggies.

So when my husband came home with a bunch of coupons for free smoothies and sandwiches, I was excited. I took some for myself and left the rest for him.

Then he told me a couple days later that he went to Tropical Smoothie and got a smoothie, but he didn’t have his coupons. I said, “Well, then what’s the point of having them?”

So, he let me know. He told me that he paid $10 for the coupons because it goes to Camp Sunshine. Tropical Smoothie helps raise funds for Camp Sunshine so kids with serious illnesses and their families can take a break at a beautiful camp in Maine for free.

Tropical Smoothie is also giving away free Jetty Punch smoothies on its National Flip Flop Day June 21 from 2 to 7 pm if you wear your flip flops and visit one of its stores. It’s a nice way to thank their customers and encourage them to donate to Camp Sunshine. Maybe instead of paying for that free smoothie, you could donate $5 to Camp Sunshine.

I’m definitely going to use at least some of those coupons my husband got for us by donating to Camp Sunshine. Tropical Smoothie is just too good. But I’m glad I have a husband who reminds me sometimes that it’s not about getting something for free or a reduced price, it’s about helping those in need.

Thanks, honey!

Friday, May 24, 2013

An End to Angels

Relay for Life season is coming to its end for 2013. Over the past year, you’ve heard about my preparations and fundraising for my church’s team Angels for a Cure. It’s the last time I’ll be able to say I’m on a team of Angels, at least one that raises money to fight against cancer.

We went out with a bang. We won fifth place overall for fundraising and got first place for most number of laps walked. We went to the silver team level, raising over $4500 which was $1,000 over our goal.

It was an amazing year, starting with a garage sale last October and finishing with photography sessions this April just a couple weeks before the actual Relay. We also had our first ever Chili Cookoff and a two-day bake sale to end all bake sales. We auctioned off donated items at the Elks annual auction and ate at Ruby Tuesday’s, getting ten percent for the team. We sold over $900 in luminaria as well as several trackmarkers, something we had never sold before.

We had the final team party on Tuesday and got the photos of our team, lapel pins for being a silver team and bumper stickers. My cohort in crime Mindy Collin came with me. I would not have been able to do it without her. She took over the Chili Cookoff when I told her my mother was dying and made it a success.

She wasn’t the only one. She and Carolyn Whitman called me almost daily before Relay organizing every detail. Melanie and Gerry Rodrigues decorated for the Chili Cookoff and Andy August was a kind of master of ceremonies and organizational coach. 

Melanie also helped me hawk muffins at Relay despite her assertion that I was a pirate in a former life. Her cheesecakes brought in a hefty amount at our bake sales, too. Jorunn Warren brought four kinds of muffins to Relay including Reeses peanut butter cup and brookies (brownie and cookie muffins).

I can’t forget Samantha Roberts, whose pina colada scrub was a hit at Relay and who styled hair for us, sold two trackmarkers and taught us all how to make beautiful hair ribbons to sell. Her mother Jennifer Romito helped with the hair and made us pretty Relay pins to give out while her other daughter Maddie stayed and walked most of the night to help us earn the most laps walked trophy.

Diane and Doug Wallborn showed up at Relay with more pins and hair ribbons to sell which Diane quietly put out with a smile. Erica Davenport and daughter came to Relay after her long day of work delivering babies. Jan Grover used her cooking talents for banana bread at Relay and her famous peanut chocolate clusters at the bake sale.

Carrie Gardner and her two daughters Cassie and Bailey couldn’t make it to Relay, but baked and helped at all the events beforehand. Stephanie Ball was a big help at the garage sale and stayed to the end despite the donation truck’s late arrival. A final thank you to someone who wasn't even officially on our team but showed up at Relay with gifts for our raffle and food for us and stayed to help long into the night. Thanks, Mary Ilene Mohler.

I could go on and I’m leaving out plenty but the gist of it is that I had an awesome team of Angels who never gave up fighting against cancer. I am honored to call them my team of Angels for a Cure. Thank you, all of you, my Angels.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Foster CARE

Next week is your chance to do something for kids in foster care. Even if you can’t take a child into your home, you can do something for them and the families that care for them. What can you do? You can pray and ask others to pray for the more than 400,000 children in our nation’s foster care system, as well as their families, their workers, and the Church’s response to the foster care crisis.

You can find a map of prayer vigils already scheduled at the Cry of the Orphan’s website. They offer a prayer guide you can download as well.

May is National Foster Care Month. We just celebrated Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is around the corner. Can you put yourself in the place of a foster child who has been waiting to be adopted for three years or more? That’s the average time that a child waits in foster care to be adopted but they can wait five years or more or never get adopted. Those years are usually spent in several different foster homes, not just one. Many are older kids, with the average age of children waiting to be adopted from foster care being eight years old.

Each year an estimated 28,000 young people age out of the U.S. foster care system at age 18 without an adoptive family. Of those, 77 percent of females become pregnant by the age of 23 or 24, compared to 40 percent of the general population. Eighty-one percent of males are arrested by that age, compared to 17 percent of the general population. Over half experience one or more periods of homelessness. Nearly 30 percent are incarcerated at some point. These facts are from Cry of the Orphan.

Can you imagine having no family to fall back on at the tender age of 18? Do you remember how vulnerable you were back then? Imagine trying to find a job, a place to live and then support yourself totally. These kids need your prayers. Or, can you imagine being uprooted from your family and sent to a new home with little to nothing of your own? That’s what happens to these kids through no fault of their own.

There are some great organizations out there that help these kids. One is Foster Care to Success which provides scholarships to college, care packages and mentors for foster kids. They accept applications to be mentors starting in June.

One Simple Wish provides wishes to foster children. They also provide prom dresses and personal care items for foster care kids. Together We Rise provides thousands of foster kids across the country with sports equipment, bicycles, and suitcases so that they don’t have to travel from home to home in a trash bag.

These are just a few of the organizations out there that help foster children. Pray for them next week and if you feel led to do something then, check them out. God Bless.




Friday, May 10, 2013

Day by Day

It’s national teacher appreciation week and although this is the last day today, I wanted to share the great idea that my son’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) had because it is both easy and creative. Maybe some of you can share it with your own PTAs or PTOs. His PTO designated a different gift idea for each day of the week and asked parents to do as little or as much as they wanted.
Monday was chocolate day. My son has six teachers so we bought six jumbo Hershey bars, one for each of them. Tuesday was school supply day. I personally think Post–it Notes are very useful, so I bought a few packs in bright colors for each teacher.
Wednesday was flower day. I asked my son if he wanted to get flowers for all his teachers or just the female ones. He has three male teachers and three female ones. He chose to get flowers just for the ladies. I bought a bunch of roses and wrapped a stem for each teacher in a wet paper towel covered in aluminum foil to keep the water from getting out.
Thursday was a day for handmade items, like thank you notes or homemade goodies. My son wanted me to bake something for his teachers, but I told him it must come from him, not me. He doesn’t cook very often so I bought him a mix for blueberry muffins and he baked them.
Today is the last day and it’s fruit day, so we got his teachers his favorite kind of apple—Gala.
What a week!  When I was a teacher, I would have loved getting these kinds of things.
I’ve been working at a school the past few months, not teaching, but still around teachers. This week at the school they’ve gotten all kinds of sweet goodies in the morning and catered lunches as well. The pulled pork they had today smelled so good that I mentioned that to a teacher and she said, “I feel so appreciated.”
It doesn’t take much to make a teacher feel appreciated. They are giving people to start with so they appreciate everything they are given.
I also got my share of hugs today from the kids. I worse a velour shirt that’s very soft and all the kids were coming up to give me a hug or touch my shirt. It’s amazing how nice a hug from a first grader feels. It just brightens your whole day. 
So, if your son or daughter didn’t do anything for Teacher Appreciation Week this week, it’s not too late to make a teacher feel appreciated. Have them write a little note to their teacher or make them some cookies, but most importantly, have them deliver them with a hug (or for the older ones, at least a smile).
As they say, if you can read this, thank a teacher. They deserve your appreciation this week and all year long!