I'm sharing a link to a great article on getting children involved with fundraising for good causes.
Pearls from the article include:
"There are so many benefits to introducing children to charity fundraising. These can be educational – learning about different countries, the environment, food chains, war – or related to personal development – altruism, motivation, and achievement."
"...it’s important to pitch the message just right so the children aren’t overwhelmed by the injustice and cruelty in the world..."
I would add the following items:
Do your best to make sure that kids see exactly what their funds are going to do and who they are going to help. Field trips are a great way to do this.
Debrief after field trips. Kids pick up on lots of things, but sometimes are unable to process what they've seen and heard. Take time to talk about the experience and emotions they may have had.
Give kids a chance to choose who they want to help and how they should do it. The lessons will help them develop self-confidence and an increased sense of they can make a difference.
Please chime in here! What advice do you have when getting kids involved in working for good causes?
There is a documentary film in the works called Altruistic Arcs which will follow three social entreprenuers and tell their stories. I can't wait to see it as it is completely in my wheelhouse.
From their site:
"In the film we will reveal the lives of these social entrepreneurs who through their own dedication and sheer will changed forever the lives of those they reached out to. Some were trained in one discipline, but when the opportunity arose to help others, reinvented themselves and built an altruistic foundation where before none had existed. Some recognized their abilities and calling very early on and got to work immediately. They watched but never waited until support finally caught up to them. The film will follow the arc of their lives before, during and after their important work in order to fully show the development of each character. We will also highlight the target groups they seek to assist, and learn of the hardships they have overcome, and what challenges lay ahead of them."
Altruistic Arc is currently using Kickstarter to raise funds for the production of the film. Or you can use the paypal link on their site. If you'd like to contribute a buck or two, I know it would be greatly appreciated.
Over the last couple of days, I've had four people ask me the same question. "I don't want to drive all the way down to the food bank. How do I find a local place where I can donate food?" I guess if four people ask me, there may be others who want to know the answer as well.
Food Pantries and Food Banks: What's the Difference?
Food Banks are large, regionalized centers that collect and store food. Generally, food banks to not provide direct services to people who need food. Instead, they distribute food to their "partner agencies" or food pantries.
Food pantries are the local, neighborhood organizations that distribute food directly to people. They really are the boots on the ground in the war against hunger. Food pantries get their food supply from direct donations to them and by purchasing food by the pound from the food bank. The going food bank rate at this time is 15 to 20 cents per pound.
Each food pantry determines its own criteria for who is eligible to recieve food. Some work through referrals from pre-qualified sources. Some will serve walk-ins. Others screen applicants for assistance and others do not. Some are manned by one or two volunteers and open only one day a week while others are well staffed and open daily. Some have storage for fresh food and others can only handle non-perishable items. There is great variety out there and pantries can be quite different. However, they all share the need for donations to do their work.
How to Find A Food Pantry in your Neighborhood
In general, food pantries do not spend money on advertising and many do not have websites. Finding them is kinda like finding a needle in a haystack. In all reality, you could have a food pantry in a local church just a few miles from your house or office and never know it.
Sadly, right now, the easiest way to find local food pantries is to visit your local food bank's website and then find the page that tells you who their "Partner Agencies" are. If you need help finding your local food bank, the Feeding America website has a locator tool. Some food banks don't have websites, so you may have to call them.
Donating to Food Pantries
The best advice I can give you is to call your local pantry. Find out what they need and how they handle donations.
If you really want your dollars to stay in your corner of the world, then monetary donations to your local food pantry are an efficient and cost-effective way to do that. Money you donate can be designated to be used to purchase food from the food bank. At the current rate, $10 will buy 50 to 60 pounds of food which equates to 60 to 75 regular-sized cans of food.
There are many good reasons why some food pantries prefer to receive donated food. Some pantries have difficulty coordinating regular deliveries food banks. Additionally, some do not have enough room to purchase the volume to have them placed on the docket for regular delivery from the food bank. Furthermore, fluctuating demand caused by the loss of an area employer, a local crisis, breaks from school (see a previous post on hungry children), or some sort of disaster also complicates food planning.
Finally, another good reason to donate locally is that keeps resources in your community. You help out your local grocery store by purchasing there and help to keep jobs in the area. The tax you pay on the food you buy locally, much of it goes to local government. You also burn less fuel by keeping it local, which saves money and the environment.
Giving Food Feels Good
Last night, some friends and I staffed a local food pantry. Our volunteer hours enable the food pantry to stay open one night per month so that working families and working single parents having a hard time making ends meet can access some help. I see moms and dads come in stressed, worried and embarrassed. It amazing how a little kindness, compassion, and food can lift a burden just for a little bit. These moms and dads, while still worried, can walk out proud that they have done what they needed do for their kids. It really feels good to have helped and to have offered some respite.
OK - I admit it I am quite smitten with this efficient wood stove idea. Helps the environment, improves the quality of life of people who have them, reduces exposure to unhealthy smoke, does not foster an new dependencies upon any commodity, government, or organization, and is non-invasive and respectful to all cultures.
Facts that help you understand the video
In rural Kenya, the social burdens around cooking over an open fire can lead to women having to walk over 10 miles just to collect one 60 pound bundle of wood for cooking. This is difficult work that requires hours of collecting wood, subjects them and their children to severe health risks and can drain a family economically and a community environmentally.
But the Stoveman Cometh! Click here to help the Stoveman reach his goal of bringing Rocket Stoves to 5 million families.
OK... not $1. But it is a meal for two at the local mexican restaurant with margaritas.
I take so many things for granted. In my college days, I've lived without a washing machine and dryer. However, I have never lived without access to a stove. I want to thank the fellas of a The Paradigm Project for giving me a wake up call. Check out the stats...
3 billion of us in this world cook every meal over a dirty, inefficient open fire.
1 in 2 of us don’t have that luxury --- meaning that 1 in 2 of us have to walk over 10 miles and spend over 30 hours a week to collect wood.
1 in 2 of us spend up to 35% of our income on purchasing fuel, expose ourselves to harm and smoke the equivalent of 40 cigarettes a day according to the World Health Organization (WHO) just to cook. (WHO estimates that harmful cookstove smoke is the fourth worst overall health risk factor in developing countries behind malnutrition, unsafe sex and lack of access to clean water and sanitation.)
Killing 1.6 million each year, women and children are disproportionately the majority of deaths related to indoor cooking smoke. Surprisingly indoor cooking smoke is the number 1 killer of children under the age of 5 (that’s ahead of AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and water-borne diseases).
So can an efficient stove save lives? Well... its a darn good start!
Could an efficient stove change lives? Absolutely!
When one thinks of summer, images of water balloon fights, swimming, and carefree times come to mind. For many children, summer is a time when their bellies are never full and the cupboards are bare. Lets face it--- growing children (especially pre-teen and teen) eat. Activities and summertime fun make children hungry. Yet in these hard economic times, there are many children who do not have enough to eat during the summer. Not to mention, those that do may have limited access to healthy food options.
In my community, each year I work with an organization that distributes lunches to children who ordinarily get for their lunch (sometimes the main meal of the day that they will get) from the school they attend. In my community alone, there are over 2000 children signed up for this program. This week I recently saw a notice that the shelves of our local food pantry are empty. Additionally, after 2 years working once a month at our local food pantry in the evenings, I know that there is an increase in moms and dads coming in just to get a few items specifically to feed their children.
So summers are rough if you are a hungry child and there are lots of hungry children out there. Furthermore, hungry children have very little access to healthy foods that are ordinarily abundant during the summer - so they are left with cheap unhealthy foods to fill their bellies.
How to Help
One thing that you need to know is that Food Banks can buy food much cheaper than you can. So donations to food banks are not only easy, but they also give you the most bang for your buck.
Super Quick Method of Helping:Feeding America is an organization that supports local food banks. You can donate through them and they will use the money to purchase (at an awesome price) foods to help families in need.
Donating is good, but I also understand the need for givers to have a personal connection with giving. Hey look, I have a child that I am constantly trying to teach about the importance of thinking of others and the lesson is kinda lost when I say you can do it online.
There are a variety of small, local food pantrys, many are run by churches or other civic organizations that are always in need of donations. These pantrys often have limited hours, so be sure to call ahead and see what kind of items they can take. In many cases, fresh items are welcome, but they must be timed with distribution days because small pantrys do not have a lot of storage.
So here are a few suggestions for 'getting your hands dirty" ways to help:
Purchase healthy kid friendly foods and donate them to your local food pantry (you can locate these by calling your regional food bank). Items that they rarely get and would love to be able to hand out are:
baby carrots (buy a big bag and break it up into smaller portions for children)
fresh fruit and vegetables
Work with your local food pantry to provide a lunch for children on the day their family comes in. You can make a lunch for around $1 to $1.25 each.
A standard loaf of bread will make 9 -12(half pound loaf) sandwiches. (Consider 10 for $10 days at the local grocery)
A bag of pretzels will make 15-20 individual servings.
Juice boxes run about 25 cents each.
Do you have other ideas? Please post them. I'd love to hear them. Also if you know of a great food pantry in your area, please share!
I was just not feeling the creative juices this week. I'm afraid the pollen (and allergy medicine) have my brain in slow-poke mode. So here are some posts I found this week that I really enjoyed. I hope you do too.
"Weeds are simply plants created by God that are growing in the wrong place"
I cannot take credit for this quotation and don't know the name of the fella who said it. However, it was passed along to me from a friend. Nevertheless, this is what I'm pondering today.
Last night, I did my regular volunteering at our local food and clothing pantry. I'm always surprised at the people who end up sticking with me throughout the next few weeks. It always changes. Sometimes, it is the first-timers that come in being ashamed and embarrased to ask for help. Sometimes it is the single mom or dad working hard to provide for their children but still having a hard time making ends meet. Last night it was two homeless gentlemen who came in. Each story is different, but both of said the same thing in different ways. The gist was "I am lost and messed up. I'm alone because I don't want to be a burden on my family." I sensed real sadness in these gentlemen.
So I'm thinking about these men and along comes the quote for the day. Thinking back to my previous post on names and how they change how I think about the suffering in the world. I had this thought. Someone cared enough about weeds to give them a scientific name. I wonder if I start thinking about run of the mill weeds by their name if it wouldn't truly transform how I think about them. I know for sure that it changes the way I think about the folks I meet on my journey that need a little consideration and caring. With that said, I'm thinking about all the possiblities that will help those people into the right place.
“The deep root of failure in our lives is to think, 'Oh how useless and powerless I am.' It is essential to think strongly and forcefully, 'I can do it,' without boasting or fretting.” - Dalai Lama
Often we shrink back from a social ill, an unjustice, and abject suffering all because we tell ourselves a bunch of falsehoods:
That doesn't happen in my community.
I can't change the world.
If I do something I might endanger myself or my family.
The problem is too complex and the simple thing I do won't solve anything.
The list goes on...
The problem is that most times, these things are in your neighborhood, endangering you and your family already and you do change the world anytime you make even the smallest action to alleviate the suffering of a single person.
The eye opener this week is about child sexual trafficking. So before you go down the road of saying, "I can spot a pedophile and it doesn't happen in my neighborhood...let me just offer you some fact-based alternatives:
The average age of child sexual exploitation appears to be 14, but girls as young as 10 and 11 are regularly exploited.
Ignorance is not an excuse. A recent study found that "Most men who commercially sexually exploit adolescent females are not necessarily looking for a female they know to be under 18, but rather are looking to pay for sex with “young” females. Some of these men actively avoid any discussion of the actual age of the “young” female they are requesting, while other men ask for a young adult (e.g., a 19-year-old) apparently without realizing that in doing so they put themselves at extremely high risk for soliciting sex from a female who is actually under 18."