Pay It Forward

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Reading was difficult for me as a child, I was dyslexic and found no pleasure in books although my house was always filled with them. Over the years I developed coping strategies that helped me get through university and now I love reading. It is one of my major passions now.

Earlier this year I read a book called “Dream More” by the fabulous, funny and inspiring Dolly Parton. In this book Dolly discusses her organization, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the motivation behind what they do.

“In 1995, Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.”

“Dolly’s Imagination Library became so popular that in the year 2000 she announced that she would make the program available for replication to any community that was willing to partner with her to support it locally. Since the initial program launch in the United States, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gone from just a few dozen books to over 60,000,000 books mailed to children in the United States, into Canada and across the proverbial pond into the United Kingdom! Currently over 1600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to over 750,000 children each and every month. Already statistics and independent reports have shown Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library drastically improves early childhood literacy for children enrolled in the program. Further studies have shown improved scores during early literacy testing.”

Like Dolly, my parents always read to me and my sister when we were little. I cannot imagine a child without that same opportunity or the treasured memories of reading gems like “My Name Is Mudpie” or “Go, Dog. Go!” (my absolute favorite books growing up).

What were your favorite books growing up?

To pass the joy of reading on to children you can make a $20 donation here; you can replicate Dolly’s Imagination Library in your own community; or direct the parent of a child you think should be a part of this organization here (you must be the parent or legal guardian of a child to register that child).

(Information taken from: http://imaginationlibrary.com/ and

Parton, Dolly. Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.)

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Children’s Medical Center of Dallas (Children’s Health)

After spending a considerable amount of time at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas (now Children’s Health) twelve years ago this place, and the work they do, is very special to me.

“In 1913, a group of nurses, led by May Forster Smith, organized the Dallas Baby Camp, an open-air clinic on the lawn of the old Parkland Hospital.” From humble beginnings 101 years ago, Children’s, the not-for-profit Children’s Health System of Texas, has grown to be the “seventh-largest pediatric health care provider in the country”.

They “are the only hospital in North Texas —and one of two pediatric hospitals in Texas —to be ranked in all 10 specialties: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.”

“Children’s Health℠ simply could not serve all of our families without help from a generous community of friends and volunteers. We greatly appreciate the time, energy and support of former patients and parents, caring seniors, corporate leaders and many other diverse groups who’ve made getting involved with Children’s Health a priority.”

“We consider these caring individuals part of our family, and thank you for joining in the great rewards of helping children along their medical journeys. Whether you have time, creative talent or donations to share, your contributions are most appreciated and bring smiles to many faces.”

For information on making a financial contribution to Children’s, click here.
For information on volunteering your time, click here.
For more information about other ways to give, click here.

(Information taken from: www.childrens.com)

The Salvation Army

We all see those people dressed in Santa suits ringing bells next to little red kettles around town (any town) this time of year. They are gathering donations for the Salvation Army and the good works they do.

This charity has roots that started the early 1850s in London, England when William Booth took to the streets to share the gospel with the people without homes, food or money. He converted typically unsavory individuals to Christianity; they in turn went to the streets to others. By “1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all serving under the name “The Christian Mission.”” The group later became known as the “Hallelujah Army” and Booth’s followers referred to him as the “General”.

“Booth was reading a printer’s proof of the 1878 annual report when he noticed the statement “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.” Crossing out the words “volunteer army,” he penned in “Salvation Army.” From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.”

In 1879 the Salvationists were received enthusiastically in Philadelphia. Since then, “the Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world.”

“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

This organization has many programs that help numerous individuals. They facilitate adults with rehabilitation, veteran affairs, prison ministries, elderly services, missing persons and they work to combat human trafficking.  They aid children through hunger relief, housing, Christmas assistance, youth camps and recreation programs. In addition to all of these efforts, they also have a disaster relief initiative.

There are a myriad of ways you can support this organization with financial, time and goods donations.
For information about making a financial contribution click here.
For information about donating a car, clothes, furniture, etc. click here.
For more information on ways to get involved click here.

(Information taken from: www.salvationarmyusa.org)

Toys For Tots

Nothing is more special than Christmastime as a child. Can you imagine that time without any excitement? For some children Christmas lacks the extraordinary magic I recall.
With Toys for Tots we can do something to help them build wonderful memories…

“In 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U. S. Marine Corps and an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve.”

“The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”

“Most campaign sites are able to assist children up to age 12, but in many local communities, local support is such that the age limit may be extended to 14-16.”  There is no list of acceptable toys so as not to limit the variety available for distribution; the only types of toys that will not be distributed are toys with realistic looking weapons.

Like many other non-profit organizations, Toys for Tots displays the breakdown of their financials on their website. More than 97% of financial donations go to providing toys, books, and other gifts to less fortunate children. 2.80% of donations go to fundraising and .20% goes to cover overhead costs; “Not one donated dollar goes to pay for salaries or any other manpower costs.”

“While Toys for Tots Coordinators organize, coordinate and manage the campaign, the ultimate success depends on the support of the local community and the generosity of the people who donate toys.”

To donate your time this holiday season, or to find a location near you to drop off your new unwrapped toy donation click here. Most donations sites appear to end collection on December 13th this year, Make sure to check the dates for locations near you.
To make a financial donation to Toys For Tots, click here.
To request a toy for a child you know click here.

(Information taken from: www.toysfortots.org)

Locks of Love

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving with friends and family; I had a wonderful day with friends, family and fall foods! We all have so much to be thankful for.

This year I donated ten inches of hair to Locks of Love. I have heard of Locks of Love many times over the years and I wanted to help, but never had hair to meet the requirements for donation… It all worked out this year!

“Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.”

“Locks of Love helps children with medical hair loss achieve crucial self-esteem and confidence.”

“Locks of Love is a non-religious, non-political, not-for-profit entity.”

To aid this organization, you can send them financial contributions, or donate your hair.
If you don’t have hair to donate, here are other ways you can help.

If you know a child who could be benefitted by the work Locks of love does, you can nominate them for a hair piece here.

 

(Information taken from: www.locksoflove.org)

The National Kidney Foundation

This week’s charity is close to my heart, and even closer to my kidney!

The National Kidney Foundation is “the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk.”

The National Kidney Foundation was founded in 1950 and helps Americans by educating, empowering, supporting, advocating and sharing. “The National Kidney Foundation, a major voluntary nonprofit health organization, is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.”

Their website has a wealth of information on everything from why your kidneys are so important, risk factors, living donation, prevention tips and everything in between.

There are many ways to support the National Kidney Foundation and the work they do…
You can participate in an NKF event.  If you are interested in participating in a Kidney Walk, but there are not any more scheduled near you for 2014, check back with them in 2015!
You can donate your time as a volunteer at NKF events.
You can make a monetary donation here.
You can also sign up with Donate Life to become an organ donor.

While I did not lose my kidney to disease, I still support the NKF because I know if anything were to happen to my kidney the work that this organization does would be invaluable.

(Information taken from: www.kidney.org)

Wounded Warrior Project

I believe every day should be Veteran’s Day. The men and women in uniform who serve and protect our country and our freedom, from enemies both foreign and domestic, deserve to be honored for their valor 365 days a year.

The Wounded Warrior Project embodies that notion. They are a nonprofit organization that “seeks to empower injured military veterans returning home.” With a vision, “to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history” this organization is making great strides and an immeasurable difference in the lives of our veterans and their families.

“Wounded Warrior Project serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.”

Wounded Warrior Project started “when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, took action to help others in need. What started as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they transition back to civilian life.”

It is wonderful to see that the financial reports found on their website indicate WWP works hard to ensure the vast majority of funds they raise are spent with their mission in mind, “80 percent of total expenditures went to provide services and programs for wounded service members and their families.” “When you support Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), you’re supporting an organization whose broad appeal reaches across demographic, geographic, and political boundaries. We’re an apolitical organization by design. For us, it’s not about the war; it’s about the warrior.”

To stay up to date on the wonderful work this organization is doing follow Wounded Warrior Project on Facebook and Twitter.

We can help their effort by offering financial support, volunteering our time, raising awareness through social media and word-of-mouth, supporting their sponsors, and by writing a “Thank You” letter to a warrior.

If you would like more information about the various ways to give a monetary donation click here.
If you would like learn more about becoming a proud supporter of their mission and vision click here.

If you know a wounded warrior who could benefit from the work of the Wounded Warrior Project, share this URL with them:
http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs/wwp-registration.aspx

(Information taken from: www.woundedwarriorproject.org)

Snowball Express

For the next two months, I will be highlighting charities that are close to my heart.  This is the time of the year when we are extra aware of our bountiful blessings; it is a good season to “pay it forward”.

SNOWBALL EXPRESS   

During my last semester at Texas A&M University I was required to complete a professional interview assignment, it was one of my favorite assignments during my time in college.  To complete this project each student in this course had to contact an upper level manager or decision maker in a recreation, event or tourism business and conduct a professional interview. I was blessed to have been able to sit down with Mr. Buck Kern, Executive Director of Snowball Express.

Snowball Express is a non-profit organization that hosts small “Snowflake” events throughout the year across the country and one large event at the end of the year in the DFW area. Their mission is to, “Honor America’s fallen military service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11 by humbly serving the families they left behind.  Champion their children’s future success by creating opportunities for joy, friendship and communal healing, by connecting these families to one another.”

Snowball Express was founded in 2006 and it has grown every year since. It is the largest all-expense paid gathering of its kind for military families and is 99.9% volunteer effort (Snowball Express only has one paid staff member). “Snowball Express is an organization that creates opportunities to bring these unique families together to build hope and new memories after the tragic loss of a military parent. These experiences help each of our families realize that they are not alone in their struggles, and that we will never forget the tremendous sacrifice they have made for our nation.”

The impact of this small non-profit enterprise is felt by thousands of people across the United States of America.  Results from their 2012 survey show that:

95% of the surviving parents say that Snowball Express has been a positive experience in the life of their child/children.
93% of the surviving parents say that Snowball Express has been a very positive experience in their life as a parent or guardian.
79% of the surviving parents say that after attending Snowball Express their child/children are better able to cope with the loss of their fallen hero.

There are several ways to give to Snowball Express…

You can give your time and volunteer.
For more information on volunteer opportunities, click here.

You can make a one time, monthly or annual financial donation.
(You can make a donation in honor of someone.)
For more information of making a financial donation to Snowball Express, click here.

(Information taken from: http://www.snowballexpress.org)