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!

Friday, April 4, 2014

We Day

How do you get thousands of students to raise $37 million and volunteer over nine and a half million hours to change the world? Ask Craig and Marc Kielburger. They’ve done it and it’s called We Day.

We Day is a one day stadium-sized event that brings charities and inspiring speakers together for thousands of kids who have already spent a year making a difference. Craig and Marc have shared the We Day stage with change-makers such as Al Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev, Magic Johnson, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Larry King. This 2013-14 We Day season, there are 100,000 youth attending We Day events and 5.4 million people watching via broadcast.

The Canadian brothers started the We Day movement that has done all of this six years ago but Craig founded their nonprofit Free the Children when he was 12. Free the Children “has worked in over 45 countries since its inception, and has built more than 650 schools and school rooms in developing regions.”

Along the way, Craig and Mark also started the Adopt a Village Program and Me to We. “As a result of Adopt a Village programming, more than one million people have been provided with clean water, health care and sanitation; 30,000 women are economically self-sufficient; and $16 million in medical supplies have been shipped around the world.”

Me to We “offers socially conscious and environmentally-friendly clothes and accessories, as well as life-changing international volunteer trips, leadership training programs and materials, a speakers bureau, and books which address issues of positive social change.”

It started as a Canadian movement but has spread to the U.S. and the U.K. with We Day events in Seattle and Oakland this year.

National We Day is next Wednesday, April 9. “You can't buy a ticket to We Day—you earn it through service. Through the year-long We Act program, schools and groups take on one local and one global action and report back to Free The Children to earn their way to We Day.”

On my website, I have a list of children’s volunteer organizations. I’m going to add We Act and We Day to it because they are doing amazing things and may be the largest organization of children helping others in the world. To find ways to get involved, visit this We Day site. God Bless!