Sunday, December 14, 2014

Season of Lights, Points of Light

Some call this the season of lights. With all the lights and decorations, I can see why. Today I'm going to talk about another kind of light.
I don’t usually talk about just one website at a time in my blog. I give lots of websites that have great ideas or provide my own ideas and inspirations. But today, there is a website I want to talk about because it does A LOT!

The Points of Light website caters to individual volunteers, companies that want to make a difference and to nonprofits as well.

Individuals can find volunteer opportunities, causes and programs set up for them.  

Nonprofits can post volunteer opportunities. The Points of Light Civic Accelerator
“invests in and supports seed stage social ventures that solve pressing social and environmental issues by engaging people” also. If you have an idea for a nonprofit, this is the place to be, with money, mentoring, peer support and networking for your idea.

Or, if you have a company that wants to start or expand a volunteer program, you can get help here, too, including how to do pro bono or skills-based volunteering.

The phrase “points of light” might sound familiar because it was part of President George H.W. Bush’s (the father, not the son) 1989 inaugural address. He called Americans to action with his belief that “any definition of a successful life must include serving others.”

Bush later started a daily point of light award to showcase people making a difference and then the Points of Light foundation in 1990. As it says of the website, “today Points of Light transcends politics and borders to inspire millions of volunteers worldwide.”

It also brings kids into the equation with Generation On which partners with teachers, parents and schools to get kids involved in volunteering.

So, if you’re looking to start volunteering or get your business involved in it in the new year, take a look at and you can get help on how to do it.

I have another site I’m itching to tell you about but I’m doing some things to try it out first, so in the meantime have a Merry Christmas and remember the reason for the season. Happy Birthday, Jesus!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gifts That Give 2014

I started this in 2011 when I started my blog. It’s a list for Black Friday of Christmas gifts that give three ways: to the recipient who gets a gift, to a charity who gets a donation and to the giver who feels good for giving to charity. Since then a new tradition has started with Giving Tuesday. After Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, spend some time Tuesday giving to the charity of your choice.

Now, here goes: the list of $50 and under gifts that give three ways for 2014.

1.       As a Relay for Life lover, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one from the American Cancer Society’s website and almost everybody needs help with this—eating right to be healthy and prevent all kinds of cancer and other diseases. So, here’s the link to ACS’s healthy eating cookbook for $24.95.

2.      This is a new to me charity—Women’s Bean Project. It gives jobs to jobless women making gourmet foods. Started with $500 of beans, it’s grown to include all kinds of food, like salsa, rubs, soup and baking mixes. The Tea for Two gift basket has two handpainted ceramic mugs, The Denver Tea Room Cream Scone Mix, Ceylon Pearl Chai Black Tea and a 4 oz. Jar of Seedless Raspberry Preserves for $39.00.

3.      Hope the Butterfly Tutu from Everything Happy. How can you go wrong with a tutu for a little girl. True, I was a tomboy, but maybe if someone had given me one of these, I wouldn’t have been! For every Happy product purchased, another one is given to a child in need, so feel happy and buy blankets, toys, clothes and more through Everything Happy.

4.      For a bevy of t-shirts, check out You and Who. They sell one-of-a-kind designer t-shirts that help worthy causes in cities across the country. Every time they sell a shirt, they give the same shirt to someone in need. Right now, their t-shirts are on sale for $15 apiece, too! All of the shirts also have a heart, yeah, a real looking one, on its sleeve, too.

5.      I have featured Sevenly t-shirts in this list before, because I love them (though they do run a little small just to let you know). Sevenly gives $7 to a different charity each week when you buy a shirt designed for that charity. They are really cool shirts. Now Sevenly has a new product—prints! For $24 get a print with things like this great saying on them: Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

6.      Quilted tote purse from American Red Cross. For just $24 bucks get a handy tote and support this lifesaving, support-giving, disaster-prepping organization.

7.      This one squeaked in because $48 is just under the $50 limit I place on all gifts, to keep them affordable for most people. But the scents from GIVESCENT sound fabulous and I love the story. A yoga teacher found a Sicilian almond oil she paired with summery citrus, and GIVESCENT was born. By purchasing a bottle of GIVESCENT (and there are 2 other scents as well), you are helping to support women through Every Mother Counts and Women International.

8.     Hand in Hand Soap is pricey at $18 for two bars, but for every bar purchased, Hand in Hand donates one bar of soap and one month of clean water. Also, 50 square feet of rainforest is saved for every bar of soap, bath salt, or candle sold. The soap is also Fair Trade Certified. The scents sound wonderful, too, from lavendar to orange blossom.

9.      This Alzheimer’s Awareness bracelet for $14.95 funds 50 cups of food at the Hunger Site. With a grandmother who was stricken by Alzheimer’s and 5 million more Alzheimer’s patients in America, this is a cause that gives a fourth way, in building awareness.

10.  Last but not least, the new year is coming, so start planning for it! Get an $18 moleskin planner from Red and 5 percent of the price will go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

That reminds me, if you have a favorite charity, don’t forget to check out their website for products also. Many stores feature products for charities at this time of year and also many charities have started selling their own products. So, God bless and enjoy the holidays!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winter Hints for Helping

Sorry for not posting in a few months. I’m getting used to the challenges of a pretty new fulltime job and also being on the committee for the local Relay for Life besides my other duties as a mother and wife. Oh yeah, and I had a book come out in February, Behind the Stage. I still want to share great opportunities to help out others, but I won’t be able to do so on a weekly basis. Instead, I’ll try to do it twice a month. Here are a few ideas that I’ve put together for the winter season.

I know not everybody loves Facebook, but I think it’s pretty great. Especially since I’ve taken up a new challenge there. It’s called the 15 Can Challenge. It’s easy because it’s something you already do. Each week when you go shopping buy a few extra cans of food. Then the first week in December, contribute it to the local food pantry for their holiday dinners for the hungry. If you have the time, it’s a good idea to call them first and see what they are especially in need of, sometimes it’s something you may never think of, like peanut butter for PBJs, but that’s a great staple because of the protein benefits it has.

I regret not doing Socktober, which is a Kid President Challenge in October to provide socks for the homeless. But it’s not too late. Luckily, I live in Florida and we’ve only had a few days of cold weather. If you live somewhere that’s cold many months of the year, you know how that can be. Imagine being out in the cold night after night, or even in a shelter. It would be great to have some creature comforts. Local shelters and homeless providers need your help. Again, it’s better to call them and ask for what they need. They are the experts and they know what has already been donated by corporate or other sponsors. Gather the items and then have a packing party. You can get large plastic bags and pack them with necessities and add a personal note as well.

I’ve shared that I like to make and give out personal packs which aren’t so much for the homeless as for the depressed during this season when many miss their lost or estranged loved ones or just suffer from depression because of seasonal affective disorder, where the lack of sunlight can contribute to mood. The packs I make have a few fun items and the following explanation:

Survival Kit

Sometimes we need a little help to make it through. Here is a survival kit for you.

Included are:


A clothes pin so you can keep it all together.

A penny so you never have to say you’re broke.

A marble so you’ll never have lost them all.

Plenty of hugs and kisses (feel free to enjoy them)

Most importantly, a cross, so you’ll know that someone has had it harder than you

and He wants to show you how much He loves you.


The hugs and kisses are the chocolate kind. I'm a white chocolate nut so I have to include the hugs!
I also have done a Black Friday list since I started the blog in 2011 of things that you can buy for presents that give three ways—to the recipient, the giver and a charity. I will try to post that by Thanksgiving. Also, don't forget Giving Tuesday, a day after all the shopping and thanksgiving to give back. Take care and God Bless!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cruise into Charity

Summer’s almost gone but that doesn’t mean cruise season is over. You can always find a warm port somewhere. And now you can also find some opportunities for volunteerism and charity as part of your vacation.
USA Today printed a story with 10 cruises where you can give back. Here's some information on them:

Crystal Cruises:On every cruise there are complimentary "You Care, We Care" excursions where guests and crew participate in volunteer activities. You can create crafts with the elderly in Cartagena, do a neighborhood cleanup in Puerto Vallarta or rescue sea turtles in Athens. On World Cruises, the line also has knitting or other crafting classes where guest make blankets for various children's charities around the world.

MSC Cruises: The Italian-style line is a booster of UNICEF. The "Get on Board for Children" initiative encourages adult passengers on all the line's ships to make contributions. Plus there's a day of "edutainment" activities for children including a parade, wish participating kids receiving a passport designating them a UNICEF World Citizen.

Royal Caribbean:Passengers can support Make-A-Wish with "A Walk for Wishes," a walk held on deck one sea day per cruise. Participants pay $10, and receive a "Royal Caribbean International Walk for Wishes" t-shirt. Cruise in June and you can also bid at auctions for perks such as back-of-house tours, dinner with the captain and cabin upgrades, to raise funds for Make-A-Wish. If you're looking to make a smaller donation, there are fundraising rubber wristbands and towels for sale onboard.

Celebrity Cruises:Support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation by participating in "Celebrity Freedance," an upbeat, group choreographed exercise activity, typically held once per voyage. Each participant is asked to pay $15, and receives a "Celebrity Freedance/Breast Cancer Research Foundation" t-shirt. You can also buy fundraising wristbands on the ships.

Seabourn: The luxury line has a new partnership with UNESCO, to support the safeguarding of World Heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal in India and the ruins of Pompeii in Italy. Seabourn is launching new shore tours focused on providing passengers greater understanding about conservation, with a portion of the price going to UNESCO's World Heritage Fund. Passengers are also being encouraged to make contributions through the cruise line's website — guests receive Seabourn Club rewards points for their donations.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic: The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation supports sustainable tourism, with a focus on places around the world the expedition line cruises – such as the Amazon and Antarctica. Passengers are encouraged to make donations and the line provides incentives: In lieu of a tax refund, you can receive up to $250 per traveler in future travel credit. National Geographic also provides membership in its Grosvenor Council for donations of $1,000 or more.

Holland America Line:"Deck for a Cause" fundraising walks on all HAL ships raise money for the global fight against cancer. Participants donate $20 to do a non-competitive 5km (3.1 mile) walk (you don't even need to do the whole course). You take home a t-shirt and wristband. The money raised supports six cancer organizations around the world including the American Cancer Society.

Carnival Cruise Lines:Carnival supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and on all ship passengers can participate in a fundraising dance party – you make a $10 donation and receive a "Care to Play" t-shirt and wristband. There's also a "Beary Cuddly" program where kids build a stuffed animal, proceeds of the sale of the bears benefiting St. Jude. Coming soon is a special bingo game with a portion of each card benefiting the charity, as well as a waterslide activity with a $1 donation for each ride during a specified time.

Princess Cruises:Together with Susan. G. Komen for the Cure, Princess is supporting two specific breast cancer research grants. Funds are being raised shipboard with an "On Deck for the Cure Walk" on each sailing. For a minimum of $15 you receive a special hat and appreciation reception. The total walk is five kilometers or a little over three miles.

Blount Small Ship Adventures:For 25 years this small ship line has supported the Casa Guatemala orphanage on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. Passengers cruising there on the 88-passenger Grande Mariner or Grand Caribe visit the orphanage, meet the kids and have the option of buying necessities from a list the orphanage provides. Each sailing, the Blount crew also auctions off a Guatemalan handmade carving, the money going to the orphanage.

So don’t think summer vacations are over. The season has just begun and the ways to help others are many. God bless.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do what?

I was trying to think of what to write about today and doing searches on Google and finding all kinds of things that I already knew about.

Then I came across an idea which I have never tried. I LOVE doing that. On my website and in my blogs, I’ve written about free ways to help others, fun ways to help others, cyber-volunteering, virtual mentoring, donating, volunteering, random acts of kindness and paying it forward.

I have never written about becoming a “professional volunteer” also known as a docent. Now, although I haven’t done it myself, I’ve met people who are docents at my local zoo and at museums around the U.S.

I’m calling docents “professional volunteers” because they train so they can become like a professional. A docent is someone who has been trained by the organization that they volunteer for to take the place of a paid employee. Like most volunteers, they do the work that needs to be done for free, but usually docents have to make a time commitment that a lot of volunteers don’t.

The next time you’re at a museum and are taking a tour, you might be taking it with a docent. I have certainly done this at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida which is filled with docents.

You might be wondering who can become a docent. Well, to be honest, most of the docents I’ve met have been retirees. For the time commitment it takes to become a docent, you need the unfettered time that retirees have.

I recently posted to my Facebook page a quote from Paulo Coelho (yes, I’d never heard of him before but I like this quote so I hope he’s not an ax murderer).

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. DO IT NOW.”

I want to do those things. They can be little and easy, like hugging your son every day.

Or a bit bigger. Maybe for you one of those things is to learn about airplanes, or feed a rhinoceros, or talk about great works of art.

As a docent, you can do those things, FOR FREE! You just sign up with a zoo, museum or other foundation that does those things and say you will commit to them a certain number of hours and they will commit to teach you.

Docent is just a funny word for volunteer and you all know how great volunteering is. The more you do it, the better you feel. So, God Bless and go for it!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Billionaire Dreams

Have you heard of Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg? Chances are, you have. They are some of the richest people in the world.

Now, have you heard of “The Giving Pledge campaign?” It’s a campaign by Buffet and Gates to recruit billionaires to agree to donate at least half their fortunes to charity.

People are keeping track of these generous billionaires. The "Philanthropy 50″ list is issued annually by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The 2014 list is the 14th annual list of the 50 most generous donors in America in 2013. Something surprising about these giving people is their mean age, the median age of the top 50 donors in 2013 was 72.5.

Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg and Pricilla Chan made new donations or pledges that total nearly $1 billion in 2013. Zuckerberg is the youngest ever billionaire on the top 50 donors list. Unfortunately, Zuckerberg is the exception when it comes to young billionaires. His peers are choosing, at least so far, to keep their money.

Following are the 10 most generous Americans in 2013 and how much they donated or pledged to charitable causes:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan – $992.2 million
  2. George Mitchell – $750 million (bequest; passed away in Jul 2013)
  3. Philip and Penelope Knight – $500 million
  4. Michael Bloomberg– $452 million
  5. John and Laura Arnold   – $296.2 million
  6. Charles Johnson – $250 million
  7. Pierre and Pam Omidyar – $225 million
  8. Irwin and Joan Jacobs – $221.1 million
  9. Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki – $219 million
  10. Jeffrey Carlton  – $212 million (bequest; passed away in 2012)

The donors on the Top 50 list represented 17 U.S states and Washington D.C.

Giving away half your fortune may seem too far away for most of us to dream about, but for many of us giving of ourselves in volunteering and charitable donations can give us just the same feeling of hope and generosity as those billionaires get.

I truly believe (and studies have shown it) that giving makes you feel better. So, the next time you give to that guy down the hallway at work running a 5K for charity, realize you’re doing your part.

You may not be a billionaire but all our dollars add up to billions and they make a difference. You do have something in common with the billionaires on the lists above—you both try to make a difference in the world through charity. God Bless!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Be Nice Box

OK. I haven’t tried this yet because I just heard of it, but OH, how I love the idea! It’s a month worth of ideas and items to spread kindness. You can sign up to get them for one month, six months or 12 months!

Here is how the founder Heather Shugarman describes the Be Nice box:

Each month, the box will center around a theme & all contents will be a surprise until you open the box.
But, each month you will receive a list of 13-15 fun, awesome & affordable ideas to practice kindness in your area. along with the list, you will also find 5-7 materials, items & handmade products to help you fulfill some of those tasks. and finally, each box will contain a cool, handmade surprise for YOU!

Also, $1 from every box goes to a charity. The Be Nice Box has supported Ten Thousand Things, Himalayan Cataract Project, Open Arms MN, Blessings Basket Project, Project Success and LIFEline Fashion, Share Our Strength and Meals on Wheels since they opened in October of 2013.

I have to get one of these boxes! You can even see some of the past boxes here. When I get one, I'll be sure to share about it.

And last of all, you may have noticed I’ve been a little sketchy on blog posting days lately. I am contemplating changing my blog post day from Friday to possibly Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.

I would love to get your feedback, so please respond in a comment below or email me at if you have a preference. God Bless and have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bored Teens No More

The summer solstice is behind us now but there’s still a couple months of summer left. This is the first summer I’ve had a teen in the house before (since my son turned 13 this year) and I thought maybe it’s time to do a blog about teens volunteering during the summer.

In Florida, your high school aged teen can use the summer to get volunteer hours for the Bright Futures Scholarship, but no matter where you are, bored teens can be a boon for charities.

So, what can they do anyway? Well, my son likes cats and we’ve volunteered at our local cat shelter SOCKS (Save our cats and kittens). We go pet the cats and can also clean litter boxes and sort items for the thrift store they run.

Truth is, many teens love animals. I looked on VolunteerMatch for volunteer opportunities in the area and found a few more related to animals, including the local zoo asking for help cleaning out cages and preparing food for animals and the wildlife refuge wanting volunteers for day-to-day activities.

What else? I don’t know about where you are, but here in Florida, it’s hot! So, I found out about one fundraising opportunity that’s really cool—swimming for MS. MS stands for multiple sclerosis and is a disease that attacks people most often in their 20s and 30s. The protective covering to the nerves of the brain and spinal cord become damaged and people have muscle problems, weakness, numbness, and for some, reduced mobility.

This summer, your teen can set a goal to swim a certain amount of laps over a set period of time (a day, month or whatever) and raise money per lap for MS. Or, if you have your own pool, you can have a fundraiser like a volleyball tournament, cannonball jumping contest or turn your next pool party into an MS Pool Party. What a fun way to support young people with a debilitating disease.

One last idea. In looking again at VolunteerMatch, I found two hospice organizations that wanted help. As you may know, hospice is for those who are not long for this world, whatever age they might be.

One hospice even has a special teen volunteer program, visiting hospice patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, providing computer support and other administrative assistance and helping with fundraising and community outreach. What a way for teens to realize that life is precious.

These are just a few ideas, but as with any kind of volunteering, passion takes precedence. Find something your teen is passionate about and he or she will enjoy what they’re doing and keep doing it!

Good luck and God Bless.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Common what?

I was watching a TV show set in the future that said the common cold had died out. What a wonderful world that would be to live in. The common cold is not a big deal for adults, just annoying, but imagine if you got it before your immune system had really kicked in.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that infects people of all ages and is usually harmless to people with a healthy immune system, but it is not so harmless to babies still developing in the mother’s womb.

According to Stop CMV, permanent health problems or disabilities that may occur due to congenital CMV infection (which means infection with CMV while still in the womb) include hearing loss, vision loss, mental disability, feeding issues/Failure to Thrive (FTT), sleeping issues, sensory issues, behavior issues, small head/small brain (Microcephaly), intercranial calcifications, lack of coordination, cerebral palsy, seizures, and even death.

About 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV in the United States, but like the common cold, it is preventable by keeping saliva and urine that might contain CMV away from pregnant mothers. Here are some tips to do so:

§  Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, feeding a young child, wiping a young child's nose or drool, and handling children's toys

§  Do not share food, drinks, or eating utensils used by young children

§  Do not put a child's pacifier in your mouth

§  Do not share a toothbrush with a young child

§  Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child

§  Clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that come into contact with children's urine or saliva

I have done all of the “do not” suggestions myself so although this may seem obvious, it isn’t once you have a child for they are all things I never thought I would do.

The main thing is that only 13 percent of women have heard of CMV, so now you know about it, spread the word. It’s not just in wintertime that you need to wash your hands often. It’s all the time, especially if you deal with other people’s saliva, urine or other bodily fluids.

These are lifesaving prevention tips. So, as they say, spread the word, not the disease! God Bless.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May Showers of Love

May is lots of things—the gateway to summer, the last full month of school, the month of flowers after April showers—but also it’s national foster care month. I know some foster care parents and have shared their stories before, but not all of us are able to be foster care parents. So, I want to share some things that we can get involved in to help foster kids without being a foster parent. The first one is Together We Rise.

What I like about Together We Rise is that it started out of a real need. Danny Mendoza had a cousin who was living on his own. Danny couldn’t find a way to help because he was told he was too young. He decided to start his own charity that could help children in foster care while mobilizing young people to make a difference in the world.

Through its fundraising and network of passionate volunteers, Together We Rise gives foster children a brighter future and a sense of normalcy and belonging. They provide bikes, sports camps and simple suitcases for foster youth. Their Aging Out program also provides resources to older youth who are leaving the foster care system.

You can donate a buck a month or more if you have it or give a onetime gift. If you don’t have any money, then start a fundraising page of your own.

Another way to help foster children is to become an advocate for them. You may have heard of guardian at litems or court appointed special advocates. They become an advocate for a child by learning about that child’s situation through reviewing records, interviewing the children, family members and professionals in their lives.

They appear in court to help explain what is in the child’s best interests. They seek cooperative solutions for the children. They recommend services and monitor plans and court orders to make sure plans are being followed and keep the court informed.

Advocates commit to stay with the child until they are put in a loving, permanent home. They can be the only constant adult presence in a child’s life when they have been taken from their parent’s home.

I’ve also written about Foster Care to Success before. It offers many ways to get involved – from sponsoring a student’s education to buying textbooks, knitting scarves or providing care packages.  

There are lots of ways to help children who have been separated from their families because of difficult circumstances over which they have no control. They are at the mercy of their parents, the court system and foster parents. But a helping hand can remind them that they are not really on their own.

These are some options if you want to be that helping hand. We can continue the showers of April into May and provide showers of love to foster kids. God bless.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Custom Culture

Remember those cool surfer shoes Van’s made with the checkered design? Well, now you can make your own design and earn money for the art program at your school.

It’s called Van’s Custom Culture and it’s a nationwide contest where the first place winner gets $50,000 for its art program. Only schools can enter and each school can send in four pairs of shoes that its students design.

Fifty finalist schools go to the public vote and then surprise celebrity judges make the final determination of the winners from the top five finalists. The four runners up receive $4,000 for their school art programs as well.

Registration begins in January and the schools submit their designs February through April. The final event when the winners are announced is June 10 in New York City, where the finalists get a tour of art sites in the city before the main event.

School is winding up around the country now and I usually talk about treats for teachers to show them how you care in May. Well, some cash is a real treat for art teachers!

If you have artistic ability and are a student, check this out! God Bless and have a marvelous and safe Memorial Day, everyone!

Friday, May 16, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons


Can you imagine getting the news when you’re just four that you have cancer? It might not mean much, until you start the medical tests, shots, surgeries, chemotherapy and so on. What if while you were going through this, you decided to do something about it, to help people find a cure. That’s what Alexandra “Alex” Scott did.
Alex, at age four, held a lemonade stand to help find a cure for all childhood cancers, including her own. Since that time, more than 20,000 Alex’s Lemonade Stands have been held across the country!
Alex is no longer with us, but her idea of helping to find a cure is still alive and is part of a nationwide movement.
It was just last weekend that I was raising money for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life. Our Relay raised over $100,000 and I am so excited to have been part of it.
But the reason I relay is for my son who was healed of cancer when he was 6. So, Alex’s Lemonade Stand is dear to me, too.
National Lemonade Days are coming up in about three weeks, June 6 to June 8. Held the weekend before Father's Day every June, this three day event is open to all who want to participate by holding their own fundraising stands or events.  
If you decide to do it quickly enough, Alex’s Lemonade Stand will also send you a free kit of materials including posters, balloons, coupons and more!  
So think about serving up some lemonade and helping fight childhood cancer at the same time. God Bless!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

RFL Niceville Here We Come!

Today is the day! My Relay for Life in Niceville, Florida. I haven’t spoken much about being on the steering committee for Relay this year because it’s just not as exciting as having your own team. I have been calling people, recruiting teams, setting up chairs at team meetings and helping to plan the event.

It’s not like planning events to fundraise. You don’t get to count the money at the end of the evening and know it’s going to fight cancer. Of course, everything you do on the steering committee helps the teams do their fundraising so it’s all important.

We have had rain in too many of our past Relays in Niceville I’m told and it looks like it might happen again. There’s a fifty percent chance of rain pretty much throughout the Relay. The skies have been cloudy but it hasn’t actually rained yet as I write this. I wish it would rain early and get it over with or hold off until Sunday. But we don’t know God’s plans.

I just know we have almost 50 teams and we are ready to roll! We’ve raised $71,000 so far but we are going to get a lot closer to $100,000.

It’s going to be a busy weekend. After Relay is over, I’m going to catch a few winks and then go to a friend’s book signing. Sunday is Mother’s Day so we’re going to take my husband’s mother out for lunch and then I’m delivering dinner to a friend who shattered her ankle and had two surgeries the last week to try and fix it.

I started a new job this week so I’m finding I have less time and am more tired! But I really do like the job so far, more on that later.

God Bless and have a great weekend!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Did You Say Free?

Tomorrow starts National Park Week, a week to get out and visit a national park, for free! Sunday is the day to celebrate Easter, and it's also a perfect time to simply get outdoors and take advantage of the more than 17,000 miles of trails in national parks and another 15,600 miles of national recreation trails. God's creation is made for us to enjoy!

Did you know there are more miles of trails in the national trails system than miles of road in the interstate highway system? Search here for events going on this week at national parks.

Next Saturday is also National Junior Ranger Day for young visitors to "explore, learn, protect" and be sworn in as junior rangers. We have visited a few national parks in our time and there are always programs going on for Junior Rangers. There’s even a site for Web Rangers.

Tuesday, April 22, is Earth Day, so if you want to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with a project, look for a park where you can help out. There are more than 400 national parks and even more ways that you can help. The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks.

You can also support the National Park Foundation by seeing the new movie "Bears" April 18-24. If you do, Disneynature will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation for conservation efforts in our national parks focused on wildlife protection, habitat restoration, and conservation research and education. The movie is the story of a year in the life of two young cubs and their family in Alaska in several national parks.

I don’t know about you but it’s rainy where I am today, but it’s supposed to be beautiful tomorrow. After being cooped up at home for most of the day today, it would be great to get out and see a national park tomorrow.

Happy Easter, Earth Day, National Parks Week, and God Bless!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lotsa Helping Hands

Ever feel helpless? When a friend is very sick, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do. It’s not true. You can always pray for someone and prayer can change things. There’s another thing you can do. Get some help for your friend.

Recently, a friend of mine was sick. She was self aware enough to know she’d have trouble cooking so she asked me to have some of our friends make her some meals. I did so gladly.

Thank God it was just a temporary illness and she was back on her feet in a few weeks. Sometimes that’s not the case.

In those cases, there’s a lot to do. Take your friend to the doctor, help with laundry and housecleaning, watch the kids while she rests or is at the doctor, give her primary caregiver a break. The list goes on.

So, how do you coordinate what needs to be done with the people who can do it? You can spend all your time on the phone calling and setting things up. Or, you can use Lotsa Helping Hands.

What is Lotsa Helping Hands? An online service for those who want to help.

It provides a Help Calendar to schedule members for tasks. The Coordinator creates a community and invites members to join. Then she posts tasks and volunteers take them.

When a new need is posted, everyone in your Community will get an email. Reminders are sent, too. There are message boards to keep the communication going. One of those is Well Wishes to help the person going through this know she’s loved.

You can also post photos and add custom sections like a Donate tab or special recipes or a personal blog. To keep up with important dates, you can put occasions on a calendar to remind everyone. You can also put special events in the Help Calendar if they require multiple volunteers or go over many days like a fundraiser or clean-up day.

Lotsa Helping Hands has a specific website for those going through cancer called My Cancer Circle.

So the next time you have a friend going through an ongoing illness, don’t feel helpless. Talk to her and her family and see if they know about Lotsa Helping Hands. They may ask you to set up the community or may do it themselves.

Isn’t it great to have a way to help and to organize others to do so? Thank you Lotsa Helping Hands. God Bless, everyone!