Friday, December 28, 2012

Twelve Months of Good Deeds Challenge

New Years Eve is less than a week away.  It’s time to start thinking about your New Years resolutions.  I’d like to suggest something and issue a challenge.  This year, I’d like to try to do one good deed per month and challenge you to do the same.  That’s only twelve good deeds.  I like to make manageable goals. 

In the spirit of the challenge, I will be giving suggestions each month based on a pre-determined theme for that month.  The theme of January will be “Isolation” and “Loneliness.”  How can we help those who are isolated or feeling alone?  Posts in January will mostly follow this theme.  Together we can make 2013 a great year.  As always, suggestions are encouraged via email at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Returns

            Ahh, the day after Christmas.  The only day that rivals Black Friday with the amount of people heading to the malls.  Of course today is the day that the stores get their merchandise back because it just wasn’t what the recipient wanted for Christmas.  With this in mind, I would like to speak about returns in a good light.

            I was watching a news show on television one day this summer and the show did a piece on a gentleman in California who drives around the highways and helps stranded motorists.  Most of them just need some gas or a tire changed.  He hands them a card and refuses to take any gratuity.  The card encourages them to help others as well.  One day, the Good Samaritan found himself stranded.  A motorist pulled up behind him to help out.  When the Good Samaritan thanked the motorist he was surprised to hear the response, “Thank you for helping my wife out when she was stranded.”  Now this is a return you can be proud of.

            So, while you’re standing in line at the returns counter, think of the people who have helped you out in some way.  Can you help them out?  Can you return the good deed? 


Friday, December 14, 2012

Food Fight!!!!!

            Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places.  Well not a strange place, just the leap made is strange.  Today’s inspiration came while cleaning the house and finding the magazine we get from The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  The teaser on the front read, “Start a Food Fight…” 

            Immediately thoughts of ducking out of the way of Chicken Ala King or mashed potatoes came to mind.  Of course there’s the peas shot through the milk straws, but I digress.  After amusing myself with a walk down memory lane I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a food drive disguised as a food fight?” 

In this scenario, you would challenge another church, school, family or whatever to a food fight.  Whoever collects the most food to go to the food pantry wins.  It’s a win-win situation.  The less fortunate get to eat.  You get to have a food fight without worrying about ruining your designer jeans or having to dig peas out of your ears and no one would be laughing so hard that milk comes out of their nose.  Well, I guess laughing that hard isn’t a bad thing, just try and stay away from the milk.  I wonder what eggnog out the nose would look like….

            Let’s see some food a flying!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Cookies

            My daughter Faith was born twelve weeks premature, on a snowy day in November.  While Faith was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, my Aunt came to visit.  She produced a plate of Christmas cookies and sheepishly said, “I didn’t think you’d have time to make them this year.”

            It was a wonderful gift.  She was right.  Between visits back and forth to the hospital and my older daughter’s basketball games, Christmas cookies were far down on the list.  I come from a family that bakes cookies from Thanksgiving weekend to Christmas day.  After Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, there was always a plate of cookies waiting for us at home.  A year without Christmas cookies was almost like having no Christmas at all.

            With all of the Christmas cookies that we bake, there are always extras.  I wonder. Who could use some Christmas cheer this year?  Shut-ins?  People who have family in the hospital and cookies are the last things on their mind?  How about the homeless?  Could cookies give them a small taste of home and bring a little Christmas into their lives? 

            Please let me know if you bring your cookies to someone for some holiday cheer.  I’d love to hear the story.  As usual, I can be reached at  Have a Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Christmas Riptide

            The kids’ Christmas lists are endless.  A note sent home in your child’s backpack suggests that you donate to the school district in honor of your favorite teacher as a gift idea.  Your mailbox is full of “gifts” from Charities in the hope that you will return the kind gesture by donating ten, twenty or even fifty dollars to their cause.  Your caller ID is maxed out with phone numbers of Charities.  You decide to escape the phone calls by doing a little Christmas shopping and run into the Salvation Army bell ringers posted at almost every store you enter.  You brush past them only to bump into the collection box for toys to give to the needy.  Grocery shopping is beginning to look good, but there you run into the food pantry boxes.  Every where you turn, someone wants something from you.  How can you say, “no” to the sad faces?  You shield your eyes and you run home as quickly as you can.  Your spouse comes home to find you in the fetal position in the corner, rocking back and forth hoping for the season to be over.  Does this sound familiar?

In this season of giving, everyone seems to expect something.  But we need to be honest.  How real are those expectations?  Yes there are some who expect things.  But, we have to draw the lines. 

I have to tell my five year old that she cannot have everything she sees on the commercials on television.  Curse those advertisement agencies. 

I cannot give to every charity, but I can give what I can afford, to the one that means something to me. 

I can load my pockets up with change when I go to the stores.  That way when I see the bell ringers, I can give some copper and/or silver to my daughter to throw into the bucket.  Every little bit counts. 

During this season, we have to remember that if we try to do too much, we will be struggling to tread water in the wave of charities that ask for our help.  Like a rip current, they pull us out to sea.  But if we remember to swim parallel to shore until we don’t feel that pull anymore, we can survive and make it back where the waves are safer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Breaking Habits on Giving Tuesday

            “Giving Tuesday” is finally here and it brings to mind a sermon from the pastor at my parent’s church.  He said that we are creatures of habit.  Unfortunately, sometimes we get into the habit of ignoring people in need.  As my daughter’s friend’s mom said during a trip to the city, “Don’t make eye contact.” 
As a society we’ve gotten into the habit of looking the other way.  When there are two entrances to a store and one has a Salvation Army bell ringer, we tend to choose the other door.  When charity comes up on the caller I.D. we don’t answer the phone—guilty as charged.
            Today on "Giving Tuesday," let’s break the old habits.  Let’s throw the change in our pockets into the red bucket.  Let’s answer the phone and at least give the person on the other side an answer.  If we can’t afford it this year, there’s no shame.  Be honest.  But always remember, even the smallest act of kindness can go a long way. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Tuesday Made Easy

            About four years ago, my mom told me that for Christmas she wanted me to either volunteer somewhere or give to charity in her name.  She dropped this bomb on me in November.  No problem.  Not really.  The charity could not be one of the big ones.  In other words, “Don’t just throw money at a charity and call it good.” 

            With “Giving Tuesday” less than twenty four hours from now, you might be panicking like I did four years ago.  Take a deep breath and know that the people at “Giving Tuesday” have made it easy.  Just go to their website at and click on the “Partners” button.  Then scroll down to the “All Partners” area and select your state and click the “sort” button.  Then find a cause that fits you. 

I think you will be surprised to find organizations that you have never heard of.  I know I have.  Take some time out tonight and browse the site.  I’m sure you will find something that you can believe in.  Good Luck and I hope to hear about your stories of doing a good deed on “Giving Tuesday.” 

Your stories are welcome at the “Giving Tuesday” site as well as my email box:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Getting Thrifty on Giving Tuesday

            Christmas is just around the corner.  Thoughts of new games, clothes and gadgets are on everyone’s mind.  It’s time to make room for all of the new things.  Out with the old and in with the new as it were. 

            With “Giving Tuesday” only a few days away, now would be a great time to go through your house, box up the things you don’t use and take them to the thrift shop of your choice.  It could be the Salvation Army or Goodwill.  Things you don’t have a need for could be useful to someone else.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all. 

            On the flipside, for donated goods to earn money for charities they have to move off of the shelf.  There are a myriad of thrift shops for different charities.  The Salvation Army and Goodwill do not have the corner market.  Find one you like and go shopping.  You could find the perfect Christmas decoration for your house at a minimal cost.  If you’re a garage saler and you miss the season, head on over to your nearest thrift store and know that your money is going to help someone. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shop Until You Drop on Giving Tuesday

            One of my fondest memories of Thanksgiving revolves around Black Friday.  My brother and I used to get up early and go to the stores for the entertainment value.  Sure we bought one or two things, but it was much more enjoyable to watch the people.  Of course at the time, people were more inclined to laugh at themselves then they are now. 

            One year, we took our places in the back of the line to get into Best Buy.  The people in front of us asked what we were getting and we asked,  “What do they have?”

            The man looked at us incredulously, “You’re kidding.”

            We shook our heads and my brother said, “We saw the line and thought, ‘Hey there’s got to be something good here.’”  We all chuckled at the insanity of Black Friday.  Then we saw a guy bring a huge T.V. out to his car. 

            “He is not going to get that in there,” my brother commented. 

            We all watched with anticipation as the guy tried to get the T.V. in his little Cavalier.  He tried this way and that.  Finally, he ripped open the box and put it in au natural.  When he successfully closed the trunk everyone in line clapped.  He stopped, took a bow and went on his merry way.  Where else can you get entertainment like that for free?

            The reason I bring up the story is to offer another suggestion for “Giving Tuesday.”  Shop until you drop.  You don’t have to fight the crowds or stand in line hoping that someone will do something to entertain you.  There are websites that give a percentage of their proceeds to charity when you shop with them.  One such site is  Everything you buy from their store funds food for the hungry. 

            If you have someone in your life that adores jewelry,  has charms for you.  Each charm is made for a specific charity and half of the net profits go to that charity. 

            These are just a few examples of how you can shop online and help others.  If you type “shopping for charities” in your search engine, you can find much more.  There are six days left until “Giving Tuesday,” so find your site and get ready to shop.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Geting Crafty on Giving Tuesday

Today, in the spirit of “Giving Tuesday” which is only a week away, I thought I would give crafty people some project ideas to accomplish on that day. 

There is a charity called “Knots-of-Love” which makes caps for patients who suffer hair loss.  It is a useful gift that is colorful and brightens the patient’s day.

“Bridge and Beyond” is an organization that collects handmade items such as hats, gloves and scarves to give to those in need. It is a gift of warmth on cold winter days.

There are a myriad of charities that one can crochet or knit an afghan for.  With “Warm Up America” you need only crochet or knit a 7” x 9” square and drop it off at your local Michael’s Craft store. 

If you don’t know how to knit or crochet, don’t fret.  I know of a group that makes fleece baby blankets for the needy.  The only skill needed to make these warm blankets is the ability to tie a knot.  Craft stores sell kits in different sizes, so you can make them for adults, children or babies.

I still have the afghan and cap that a volunteer knitted for my daughter while she was in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).  It is a gift that brought comfort during a stressful time.  

I’ve heard of a group that sews heart pillows to give to breast cancer patients.  It’s a small gift that brings reassurance to those who feel alone in their fight.

Another group that I’ve read about sews Raggedy Ann dolls to give to little girls who through circumstances beyond their control may feel alone and isolated.  We all know that sometimes little girls just need something to hug.

The possibilities are endless.  Start a conversation, brainstorm an idea and put it into action.   Call your friends and have a crafting party on Tuesday, November 27 to work together to bring joy and comfort to someone in need.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Little Giraffe Foundation

            The baby’s breathing keeps in time with the cadence of his mother reading.  The sounds of the outside world melt away as he finds an oasis in the myriad of noises surrounding him.  Just as her voice lulled him to sleep in her womb, so it does out here.  The bond he has to her voice continues as they both wait in anticipation for the day in which she can hold him.  They thought it would happen the day he was born into this cold world, but alas, his early arrival landed him in an incubator isolated from her touch. 

            The life of a preemie is stressful, but his mother’s voice is a reminder that he is not alone.  Parents of preemies can feel isolated and Mike and Amanda Santoro felt that loneliness when their twins were born premature.  Although their daughter Cheyenne did not survive, she is able to live on through the Little Giraffe Foundation created in her honor by her parents. 

Little Giraffe Foundation’s main purpose is to improve the quality of life in preemie’s both during their stay in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and beyond.  They have been able to work toward this goal by raising money to fund neonatal research.  In 2012, they offered $12,000 in grants.  Two grants went directly to research.  Two more grants went to NICUs in need.  Some of these NICUs have patients whose parents live in rural areas and visiting their babies is not a trivial matter.  These grants allowed the NICUs to offer assistance through gas cards and to set up a food pantry for the parents.

            Most importantly, the Little Giraffe Foundation helps the parents of NICU patients know they are not alone and that there are people out there who have been through the same struggles.  Gift bags containing such things as books, toys, and personal notes are donated by the foundation during the holidays to let the parents know that they are not forgotten.  The foundation currently serves six hospitals in the Chicagoland area in this manner with each hospital caring for up to sixty patients.  Since its inception, the Little Giraffe Foundation has distributed over one thousand gift bags. 

The foundation’s ability to complete their mission is dependent on donations from kind people and volunteers with a passion to serve.  If you would like more information about the Little Giraffe Foundation or would like to volunteer, the website address is  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giving Tuesday

            I know that I promised more stories about students doing good works, and they will come, but sometimes inspiration hits you and you have to jump on it.  I was driving my husband to work today and I saw a billboard advertisement for “Giving Tuesday.”

            After I got home, I immediately hopped on the internet and checked out the website  This website encourages people to use Tuesday November 27 as a day of giving.  I encourage everyone to visit the site.  It has great ideas of how to give whether it is by giving through donations or volunteering. 

            Here are a few things that I can come up with off the top of my head. 

In a previous post, I’ve already mentioned how you can help out with the food pantry for as little as one dollar a week. 

While I was shopping at the dollar store the other day (Dollar Tree to be exact), the cashier asked if I would like to spend an extra dollar to donate a toy to Operation Home Front.

Another painless way in which you can help is by using the dollars you get as rewards from a chain store such as Kohl’s to buy something for the needy.  Typically, the Kohl’s cash sits in my purse, forgotten among the gum, candy, loose change, aspirin, and McDonald’s toy from my daughters happy meal only to be found after its expiration date.  Why not put it to good use?

A friend of mine has told me that she and her siblings shop for the needy on Black Friday.  That way they spend a day enjoying each other’s company as they do something good and get more bang for their buck. 

So, in the next two weeks, I ask you to think about it.  What can you do?  Can you give your time?  Can you give groceries?  Can you give a toy?  The possibilities are endless.  As always, I would love to hear your stories.  You can either leave a comment here or email your story to  Either way, let’s plant a seed which can continue to grow beyond November 27!    

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

For the Common Good

            We’ve all heard it before.  People say that they did something for the common good.   But what does that really mean?  Through a class, aptly named, “Common Good,” students at Northbrook Junior High have an opportunity to learn its true meaning.

            In the class, the students are challenged to participate in a community service project of their choice and to come together as a class to choose a project to work on as a group. 

            As the students go through the process of deciding what to accomplish in the class, they quickly realize that there are people just like them out in the world struggling.  Some answer the call by collecting items for the food pantry and homeless shelters.  Others collect used sporting goods to donate to schools that have none.         

            Another realization that hits the students in this class is the reality of Juvenile diabetes.  Most of them know at least one person who has it.  This inspires them to work hard to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). 

            Other students look beyond our borders and become very aware of how lucky they are to be born in the United States.  This understanding motivates them to work on projects such as collecting money to help build wells in Africa. 

            The possibilities are endless and the students find that their passion to help others can bring about great things.  Regardless of the project chosen, the students grow by going beyond their comfort zone for the “common good.”  In the posts that will follow, I will tell more stories of how the students of this class realized that they are somebody and they can make a difference.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hey Sandy, Can You Hear Me Now?

            In my last post, I spoke of how the simple things matter.  It seems that it usually takes a crisis for us to realize the importance of the simple things.  It is human nature to take things that are always there for granted.  I don’t think it’s good or bad; it just is. 

            I was browsing through Facebook today and I came across a picture that a friend posted.  The picture was at a house in New Jersey.  An extension cord was hanging on a fence with a sign that said, “We have power, feel free to charge your phones.” 

            It was a simple gesture that helped others to call loved ones and say, “I’m okay.”  It allowed people who were scared and alone, to be able to reach out through their phones and ask for help.

When my oldest daughter was in high school, I used to joke about whether or not she could survive without her cell phone.  But, when it comes down to it, most of us need our cell phones now.  We need to feel connected.  Sandy isolated millions of people when she took out the power.  But one person stood up to her and said, “We take care of our own.” 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Simple Things Do Matter

            I was busy cleaning the house when my doorbell rang.  When I opened the door, I was surprised to see a friend who I haven’t seen in months. 

“I’ve had these pictures sitting on my front seat for a month and when I saw your car in the driveway, I thought I would drop them off,” she explained.

I thanked her and she apologized that she couldn’t stay long because she was taking a casserole to her friend who had surgery.  We hugged and said our goodbyes and after flipping through the pictures of my daughter at a skate park, I went back to work, the encounter a distant memory.

A few days later, I told a mutual friend about the brief visit and let her know that our friend was doing well, but insanely busy.  During that conversation, the importance of what my friend was doing amidst her chaos hit me.  With everything else she was doing, she took the time to take care of a friend.      

It’s a simple act that is easily overlooked, but when my youngest daughter was born and I was still in the hospital, the neighbors brought food to my husband.  It was nothing fancy, but it was something that helped him through a time when there was so many other things going on.  My brother has similar stories about food deliveries when his children were born. 

Too many times we think that we have to do something big to make a difference, but really the small things can make a change too.  The worst thing that we can do is pass up an opportunity to do something good because we think it’s too small. If you make someone smile or breathe a sigh of relief, you have made a change.  You’ve turned their day around in a good way. 

So, hold the door open for someone, tell the cashier to have a wonderful day, make a phone call to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and smile because someone just might need it. 

Monday, October 22, 2012


            In the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that a lot of people had just plain given up hope and stopped looking for jobs.  Whether that is the fault of the current administration or not is for the politicians to argue.  I don’t care about the politics.  I do care that Mr. Romney was correct. 

I liken it to when I finish cleaning the living room and move on to the dining room.  Within five minutes, my five year old daughter has undone everything that I did in the living room.  It’s a continual battle.  I clean and she gives me more to clean.  Eventually I throw my hands in the air and give up.  Does that make me lazy?  Not really.  I’ve just hit my breaking point. 

Many people out there in this economy have gone to job interview after job interview and put hours into sending out resumes.  But, there are only so many jobs out there and there are so many people looking.  Eventually, some people hit their breaking point.    

Now is a good time for those of us who are blessed with a job to give them hope.  All you need to do is check out your community website or your church to find a program that fits you.  Maybe you have clothes to donate.  Maybe you have canned goods.  Maybe you have time to volunteer.  Whatever the case, a little hope can make a big difference.   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feed My Starving Children

(Thank you to FMSC for permission to use their logo)
            It was a brisk Saturday evening when a group of parishioners from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church of Palatine Illinois met to make the trek to Schaumburg.  It’s not a long drive by any stretch of the imagination, but their trip would not end there.  Schaumburg would be the starting point for their hearts to make a longer journey; one that would take their love to countries outside of the United States.  Their destination was Feed My Starving Children’s (FMSC) Schaumburg packing site. 

            FMSC is a Christian organization whose goal is to feed the starving children around the world.  Their success depends on donations and volunteers.  Ninety-two percent of the donations go directly to the food program.  Through the utilization of volunteers, labor costs are negligible bringing the cost to produce a meal down to a mere twenty-two cents.  These meals are specifically designed to meet the needs of severely malnourished children.  More information about FMSC, the contents of the meals and how to volunteer can be found at

            FMSC packing sites are located in Minnesota where the organization started, and in Illinois and Arizona.  In Schaumburg, the parishioners of Prince of Peace volunteered for a two hour shift.  Some weighed the food, others packed it and still others sealed the plastic bags.  At the end of the shift, a prayer was said over the food and then the volunteers were told how many children would eat due to their efforts.  They were delighted to learn that by giving up two hours of their time, 65 children would be able to eat for a year.  It takes longer than that to make a Thanksgiving dinner to feed nine for one day (a week when you consider leftovers).    This is a great volunteer opportunity where the whole family can be involved including children ages five and up. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A PATH to Hope

(Thank you to PATH for permission to use their logo)

            I was at the park with my daughter the other day when her friend fell and got a bloody lip.  I quickly whipped out the napkins that were in my pocket and handed them to his mother.  Another parent ran to his car and retrieved a bottle of water to wash the wound.  In a few minutes, the crisis was taken care of. 

Wouldn’t it be great if all crises could be solved this smoothly?  The Palatine Assisting through Hope (PATH) organization has created a network to do just that.  Spearheaded by Rich Tyack, PATH has an email network of volunteers who spring into action when the organization is informed of a crisis situation.  For example, a fire displaces a family.  PATH is called and they immediately email the volunteers with a list of needs.  Joe responds to the email that he has a bag of clothes that will fit the youngest boy.  Marie responds to the email that she just won a one hundred dollar gift card in the sweepstakes at her grocery store and she would love to donate it to the family.  Jimmy has just updated his son’s bedroom and emails PATH his intent to donate a bed.  Soon, people who had just lost everything have a fresh start thanks to the email volunteers.  A community rises up to help their fellow man in need. 

This is the dream that Rich Tyack and his friends shared while volunteering at the Palatine Opportunity Center.  Crisis after crisis came into the center and after a while, Rich and his friends decided that there had to be a better way.  While they were on a fishing trip they hatched the plan to create PATH. 

            Most births come with some pain and the birth of PATH was no different.  There were some growing pains and lessons that had to be learned.  Just as we can’t do everything for our children, they had to learn that they couldn’t help everyone.  They decided to focus on crisis situations. 

            Beyond dealing with crisis situations, PATH has created an annual outreach program named, “Day of Giving.”    The event is the Friday evening and the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving.  Volunteers prepare for this day the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving by helping to sort and move the donated items.  It’s a wonderful way for the whole family to be involved helping out others.  On the “Day of Giving,” families that are in need are given bags to fill with the donated items.  Typically 1500 people are served on this day.

            PATH’s board is made up of three members who are volunteers with a day job on the side.  The success of this organization is dependent on volunteers who have a strong desire to help others get a leg up when they are down.  If you are interested in volunteering to be a part of the email network or to help out in the “Day of Giving” event please visit their website at

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mats For The Homeless

            When I was growing up the lady next door used to always yell at me for sitting on the cement, claiming that it was the root cause of many ailments.  Of course I was young and didn’t listen, but now I’m older and a little wiser and avoid sitting on the cement at all costs.

The homeless of course, can’t avoid it.  They don’t have the luxury of a chair or a bed to relax in.  Their seat is the cement, which is always cold and uncomfortable.  A group of women from St. Edna’s Catholic Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois learned about mats made from plastic bags which would insulate the user from the cold.  They quickly attended a “how-to” training session and started a ministry. 

The response to the project has been outstanding with parishioners, school children and scout groups helping out collecting, cutting and rolling the bags into balls of “yarn.”  Those who know how to crochet bring the balls of plastic yarn home and crochet them into 3 foot by 6 foot mats.  Since January of 2011, St. Edna’s has donated 108 mats to the Cornerstone Ministries in the Uptown area of Chicago.  It is a project to be proud of that involves a community of people with different skills working together to help others.


Directions to make the mat are as follows:


Supplies:  Plastic grocery bags (500 – 700 bags per mat)



                 Crochet Hook, size L/8mm or larger


To cut bags:

  1. Flatten bag
  2. Fold sideways and in half, then in half again.
  3. Cut off bottom seams and handles.
  4. Cut bag in strips of 2 ½ or 3 inches wide.
  5. Make yarn by looping one ring inside of the other, then, pulling through itself.  Continue with all the rings.  Roll into a ball of “yarn.”
  6. Using single crochet, make a mat 30 to 36 inches wide by 6 feet long.  Make 1 chain stitch turning chain at the end of each row, single crochet in second chain from hook.
  7. You can make a carrying strap by single crocheting 2 rows wide by 80 inches long, weaving the ends together to make a loop.


Note:  If using thick bags, cut them into 2 inch or 2 ½ inch wide strips.  Thin bags (dry cleaning bags) 3 ½ inch or 4 inch wide strips.


If you are interested in attending a training session, St. Edna’s will hold one on Saturday November 10 from 9:30 am to 11 am. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bernie's Book Bank

            Some bands started in garages, why not a charitable book organization? 

In 2008, Bernie’s Book Bank founder Brian Floriani had given up working as a golf professional and had become a reading paraprofessional for Shiloh Park Elementary School in Zion, Illinois.  In one short year, he came to the realization that most of the children he worked with did not have books at home.  The time and energy on reading intervention, while worthwhile, could be prevented if those children had books.  It was a need that Brian decided should be fulfilled.  Somebody had to do something, why not him? 

            Since 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank, has moved from Brian Floriani’s garage to a warehouse and has distributed more than 900,000 children’s books to at-risk children.  That number is expected to reach one million by November 1st.

The success of the book bank is dependent on volunteers and donations.  Many have answered the call.  Children have donated the proceeds of their lemonade stands.  Families have collected books to donate.  Volunteers help sort and package the books.  It is a community effort that was started by a man who looked for a cure instead of a band-aid. 

Bernie’s Book Bank now serves more than 55,000 children throughout the Chicagoland area – and ALL at-risk children 0 to 12 years of age living in Lake County -- who each receive a minimum of 12 books per year. Three years from now, all children in Lake County, Illinois will have received 60 books from Bernie’s Book Bank by the time they step into the door of their kindergarten classroom.  This is just the beginning of a great endeavor to give our children a great start to a great future.

            More information about the history of Bernie’s Book Bank and ways in which you can help can be found on their website:   

           A special thanks to Catherine Driscoll for the wonderful information about Bernie's Book Bank and for providing the photo.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's Not The Teacher's Fault

            The teacher’s strike in Chicago is over.  The kids are back to school and the teachers are back to work.  One thing that has stuck in mind since the strike began is the complaint from the teachers that test scores are artificially low because most of the kids are taking the tests hungry.  The teachers claimed that most of their students get the majority of their nutrition from school lunches.  I don’t doubt that.  But, this is not something for the teacher’s union or the school board to address.  This is a community problem. 

            In North Ridgeville Ohio, the Community Care Center noticed that by the last week of the month, families were running out of food stamps.  They contacted churches throughout the area and asked if they would host a community dinner one day during the last week of the month.  Everyone in the community is welcome to partake in a free meal at those churches.  Those in need are no longer faceless.  Conversations are struck between people that wouldn’t normally meet.  The hungry are fed both physically and emotionally, because they finally have a chance to feel a part of the community.  The teachers in Chicago are correct.  They cannot resolve the nutritional deficiencies of the students, but the community can.    

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cool nights, warm blankets

The nights are cooling off and it’s time to pull out the afghan blankets and winter covers.  I still have the afghan blanket handcrafted by my grandmother.  It was a present for my sixteenth birthday and has been with me through good times and bad.  It was there for me through bouts of the flu and strep throat.  It traveled with me to every station that I was assigned to while I served in the United States Air Force.  It saw the births of my two daughters and will some day belong to one of them.  Twenty nine years have passed and it’s still going strong, keeping me warm and bring me comfort.

Simply put, afghan blankets are comforting.  It can be easy to bring that comfort to those in need.  Michael’s craft store has a “Warm Up America,” drive where crafters drop off 7 inch by 9 inch squares using basic knitting or crocheting patterns.  Michael’s has volunteers who put the squares together to make an afghan blanket which is then distributed to those in need.  You don’t have to crochet or knit for Michael’s.  You can make the afghan blankets yourself and drop them off at a shelter.  You can start a group of friends to crochet or knit with you.  It doesn’t have to stop here.  The possibilities are endless.  Water the seed I just planted and see what comes up.  

Have a wonderful day…Denise

Friday, September 14, 2012

Advice From A Park Ranger

            Since this blog is about how one person can make a difference, I thought I would start with a story that some of us may be familiar with.  When visiting a National Park, we are always told by the park ranger, “Don’t pick the flowers.  You may think it’s only one flower, but thousands of people visit this park and if everyone picked a flower, there would be no flowers left.”  I’d like to take this negative message and put a positive spin on it.

With the poor economy, Food Pantries are critically low.  Some grocery stores offer 10 for $10 deals.  Most grocery stores have items on sale for a dollar or less that could be used in the food pantry.  So, if you watch the sales, it would only take a dollar a week to buy one thing to put into the Food Pantry collection basket.  You’re in the grocery store already, so you don’t have to make a special trip.  The baskets are easy to find; churches, community centers, even grocery stores have them at times.  It’s a simple way of making a difference.

Now, if we take into account a community of 100 people whether it is a church, a social club, a school etc…and every week they give one food item to the food pantry, there’s one hundred items the pantry did not have.  Within each city, there are a number of these communities, which multiplies that number.  So, instead of having no flowers for people to enjoy as the park ranger warned against, we could have food pantries filled to help others enjoy a meal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


            There is a rock/paperweight on my desk with the following saying on it, “I wondered why somebody didn’t do something…then I realized that I am somebody.”  I have no idea when I got the rock.  I believe it was an art project in Junior High.  Now, in my forties, I’m finally realizing the true meaning behind it.  It’s easy to see a need for something to be done, but more difficult to realize that we have the power to do it.  That is what this blog is about. 

            This blog will take a look at things done by ordinary people that helped others.  Some posts you may read and shrug about.  Others you may say, “Hey, I can do that.”  Still others you might tell a friend about who would take that ball from you and run.  Whatever the path the seed of my posts takes, my hope is that it finds somewhere that it can grow and spread. 

            If you have a seed that you want to plant, please email me at sowaseednow at gmail dot com.