No Kid Hungry: 14 Days, 14 Ways

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Every time I see or read a news clip, post or tweet about what’s happening in the Philippines, one of the first thoughts to pop up is, “How are these organizations doing it?” I think about the recent refugee crisis in Syria, and wonder how the world’s relief agencies are going to be able to meet the nutritional needs of all the Filipinos who barely survived. It’s an unfathomable burden that requires “a village” — aka you and me.

Because along with the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons across the globe, we have many, many hungry families here in our own country, who are having equal difficulties obtaining food. Hunger continues to be one of the world’s most pressing issues. It’s hard to make sense of it, or to visualize an end. But in a country where food is practically recreation, it feels unacceptable that so many go without. If you’re not fully aware of what the real story is regarding hunger, particularly in kids, a visit to NoKidHungry.org will open your eyes. My fellow Pennsylvanians can also get a local perspective via Coalition Against Hunger. Skimming this PDF addressing the state of hunger in PA, it’s hard to overlook the big numbers…

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I don’t expect all of us to share the same passion for the myriad issues on the world’s plate, but as a No Kid Hungry blogger—and someone whose motto has always been, “I love everything about food, except that too many people don’t have enough,”—it is my duty to get information to you that might inspire action.

No Kid Hungry needs you, and the families who won’t be worrying about the turkey being too dry, the cranberries too runny, the wine not pairing up just right… they need you too. Hopefully, somewhere in these links, you’ll discover a reason to join the conversation. Ready, set, go. You’ve got 14 days to #bethechange, and now you also have 14 Ways:

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1.   Learn about  The Problem

2.   Watch and share the Story of Hungry video with your friends and family — #changethestory

3.   Arouse your emotions: Read this year’s Go Orange for No Kid Hungry winning essay

4.  Arouse your tastebuds: Download Cooking Matters free (healthy) recipe app, follow @CookingMatters on Twitter and share recipes with friends and family

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Get the app… via Apple

5.   If you’re a business owner, find out if your company meets the criteria to join Share our Strength’s Cause Marketing Partner Program

6.   Join the Hunger Core, No Kid Hungry’s Monthly Giving Club

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7.   Inspire giving by reading and sharing No Kid Hungry success stories

8.   Get Social: Follow No Kid Hungry on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

9.   Make A Memorial Or Honor Gift In A Loved One’s Name

10. Watch “A Place at the Table”, a documentary about the state of hunger in the US., featuring Billy Shore and Jeff Bridges

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11. Give through your workplace

12. Find out how your local school serves breakfast

13. Save the Date for NKH’s Holiday Give-a-Thon, December 3 (in conjunction with #givingtuesday)

14. Start your own fundraiser

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Typhoon Haiyan Giving Guide

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There’s nothing original about me writing a post on how to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan; lists and links have been circulating all week. But just like many of you, I am walking around with a burning need to act, and unable to stay focused and feel purposeful amidst a constant stream of staggering images, displaced persons stats and death/survival stories. Worse, I can’t convey my empathy to the families and individuals who have lost loved ones, their homes, and in most cases, at this point, their dignity. I can’t help think about the pregnant woman who shared her struggle of finding food to keep herself and her unborn child nourished. Nor can I get my mind off the young children who lost parents, and might be wandering around the streets, completely helpless and alone… babies dying at birth because their would-be moms are suddenly without appropriate medical care. I could go on and on conjuring up images of a life that is happening concurrently with mine. Mine, a life that at this moment boasts ridiculously mundane “problems” such as being behind schedule with a couple blog posts, not having had time to workout this week, and how I am going to pay for the computer my HS senior is begging for this Christmas.

You get the point.

So if all I can do, is compile information on how and where to give, making it as easy as a click for anyone willing to read this post, then I have made a difference. If you think the resources here have value to those in your circles, I hope that you will share this post. More importantly, I hope that you will find a few extra dollars in your piggy bank to donate. World relief organizations are under incredible pressure in regard to Syrian refugees and so many other global aid initiatives; I can only imagine how challenging this new international crisis is and how fretful they are about being able to reach victims before more lives are lost. I am sorry to be a downer, or come off like a bleeding heart liberal… but these people need help. A lot of people need help, I know. But today, the victims of Typhoon Haiyan need it most.

If you have any links to add, please do so via a comment below. Thank you for tuning in.

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This post on People.com highlights several organizations making  appeals via Twitter.

Earlier today, I tweeted this link from nytimes.com, which provides a  comprehensive list of organizations and different ways they’re  collecting funds.

CNN.com also put out an additional list of resources. You’re going to  see duplicates across these lists, but there are a few new names as well.

Via WBTV.com and @AP, I found a few other organizations include AmeriCares, which is preparing to deploy an emergency response team and collecting donations at http://americares.org

Lutheran World Relief has deployed its local staff to stricken areas and is appealing for $2.5 million to aid its recovery effort. To donate, go to http://lwr.org/donate/

American Jewish World Service is collecting money to provide directly to local groups in the Philippines. To donate, go to http://www.ajws.org

ABC-7 in San Francisco put this list of resources out, which includes a link to Google Person Finder and Relief Map.

Since I live in Philadelphia and want the community to know what is happening locally on victims’ behalf, I am also including these links below:

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Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Red Cross

Philippine Disaster and Recovery Foundation — Donations to typhoon relief can be made via Paypal at the national federation’s website at www.faapi.org

Finally, I just want to give a shout-out to Geeklist Corps of Developers,  which is working on a collaborative initiative to create technology  that will help coordinate rescue efforts and ensure that emergency  supplies and food get where they need to in an optimum amount of  time. You can read more here.

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Building a Healthy Young Athlete

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Every child deserves a healthy start, nutritionally, socially, academically and athletically. Which, is why CVS Caremark truly loves partnering with organizations that continually provide fun opportunities for kids of all abilities to grow healthy minds and bodies, and to learn and play together. Connecting parents to resources, and inspiring smiles along the way, is a daily goal for CVS Caremark All Kids Can program—one shared by Special Olympics.

Just a few weeks ago, CVS Caremark gave this hardworking organization its own reason to smile: a $50,000 grant to help expand Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes Program, which prior to this grant, benefited special needs children and adults over the age of 8. Dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes, Healthy Athletes has enabled nearly 1.4 million athletes to obtain free, comprehensive health screenings.

The new initiative, aptly named Healthy Young Athletes, now empowers Special Olympics to serve families with children between 2-7 via age-appropriate healthcare services and support, and early childhood intervention and preventive education. This is critical for parents, who primarily rely on annual well-visits for information on their child’s health status, when during the year, things can change, particularly with sight and hearing.

On November 2, families from Chester, Northampton, Delaware and Philadelphia counties experienced the Healthy Young Athletes program in action at Special Olympics PA Fall Festival, held at Villanova University. CVS Caremark’s grant helped families attend the clinics and benefit from the health screenings.

Those participating in this kick-off event had the opportunity to engage their children in a variety of gross motor activities, including a get-to-know-you round of Duck, Duck, Goose; catch ’n’ toss, running in and around an obstacle course, and having a little fun with a giant parachute.

Krystina Steinhauser, a Northampton County mom, found out about the event through one of Special Olympics’ partners, Miracle League. Though her 7-year-old son, Dylan, who is autistic, began the day feeling a little shy, over the course of the morning, he and his twin sister romped around with the other children and energetic volunteers, whooping it up and wearing those big smiles that All Kids Can loves to see. One of the aspects Steinhauser appreciated most about the day, was the relaxed feel and co-mingling of children, college students and adults of all abilities.

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Helping families discover these inclusive opportunities is at the heart of what CVS Caremark All Kids Can’s mission. Anyone walking around Villanova’s campus during the fall festival, would not be able to miss the upbeat energy, camaraderie and good clean fun being shared by all.

Inside Villanova’s Kennedy Ellipse building, volunteer healthcare practitioners set up Special Smiles and Healthy Hearing screenings for its newest set of “patients,” who eagerly popped into chairs for traditional ear examinations and an otoacoustic emissions test, a type of hearing test that measures an acoustic response produced by the inner ear. Now administered within 48 hours of birth; this was a first for the children participating in the Healthy Young Athletes program. By helping Special Olympics expand its reach, CVS Caremark is making an impact on early detection and prevention for this “special” group of little people.

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Down the hall from the hearing screenings, children and their parents took part in what might have been the most exciting dental visit they’ve ever had. Coloring pages, word searches, brushing lessons, free toothbrushes, and make-and-take mouth guards… all were a hit with the kids. And while they scooped up all the goodies, moms and dads soaked up vital oral hygiene information and potential trouble spots being giving to them—for free—by volunteers from Temple and Villanova universities, and Randolph A. Philip AVT High School.

Following these screenings, diagnostics citing potential concerns are addressed with parents, so that immediate action can be taken—a significant benefit to families who might otherwise have a delay in obtaining appropriate, timely care.

CVS Caremark’s funding will result in double the number of Healthy Young Athlete events and screenings across the country in 2013-2014, and reach communities that have been underserved by Special Olympics due to financial constraints.

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Watching these partnerships in action, it’s quite clear that the prescription for healthy athletes of ALL abilities starts with collaborative initiatives such as these that create a sense of “family” on so many levels. At a time when nonprofit organizations are struggling to deliver quality services, grants like the one provided by CVS Caremark can make the difference in a child’s self esteem as well as his/her physical health. It takes a lot for children with disabilities to get to the finish line; being in optimum health shouldn’t be something families need to worry about.

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Lessons from Hurricane Sandy—& Save the Children

“Disasters happen. It’s how we prepare for them that makes the difference.”

It’s hard to believe that one full year has passed since Hurricane Sandy roared up the East Coast and made landfall in New Jersey, killing at least 117 people and causing $50 billion in damage—the second costliest weather disaster in American history, behind Hurricane Katrina.

Though weather models warned of the potential destruction, coaxing evacuations, closing subways, rescheduling and repositioning trains and other public transportation—ultimately saving lives along the eastern shoreline of New Jersey, New York, Long Island and New England—families had very little to work with in preparing their children for the pending devastation.

During the storm, the foremost concern for parents with homes and children in Sandy’s path was physical safety. But in the days that followed, when electricity, food, water and shelter were scarce, and survival mode stretched on far beyond expectations, parents were tasked with managing their children’s mental state to a degree never before imagined.

The volatility of nature and technology spinning out of control is frightening for adults; the fear and trauma created for children even more so. Ultimately, as portrayed in the movie, “The Impossible,” the effect of familiar surroundings suddenly looking like a war zone, can leave children fretful for years.

“When disasters like Sandy end, the impact on children doesn’t. One of the most important parts of recovery is planning for the future.”

As you tune into the news today, you’ll likely hear numerous reflections of victims’ experiences, and feel the same sense of anxiety that many of us shared during newscasts and interviews a year ago. And, if they’re watching and listening alongside of you, so will your children. They may have questions about what you would do if another storm was predicted, and want reassurance that he/she, their friends, their pets, and everyone around them will be safe. You will readily supply all the right answers, but in your mind, be wondering how exactly, you might fulfill your promise to your child that, “everything will be OK.”

Save the Children has four words for you: Get Ready. Get Safe. And, in honor of all those who lost homes and family members just a year ago, they want you to start today

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Created to help families open up positive, proactive dialogue about the possibility and consequences of a natural disaster, the project also seeks to provide awareness and funding for families still recovering from Sandy. Reliving Sandy’s memories today, will quickly remind us all that protecting our children must be a priority across the country and around the globe. 

Natural disasters can’t be prevented, but families can be prepared. By clicking on the links throughout this post, and downloading the campaign’s thoughtful checklists, you and your family will be better equipped to navigate the unthinkable. And, you will also be better equipped to help your community build a safer, more efficient emergency plan.

Spend some time on the site, and if you’re interested in advocating for larger-scale prevention, you’ll find a link leading to state-specific emergency planning standards—something we should all be aware of. 

Thank you Save the Children for helping us to provide a safe haven for our most vulnerable population.

Pay it (fashion) forward

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I don’t know about you, but my wardrobe is looking a bit shabby these days. Ever since fall officially hit, I’ve been wearing the same sweater and leggings, or jeans, blouse and blazer combinations (ignoring dresses and dress pants completely)—looks saved only by good quality boots that fortunately make everything look better.

But with warm weather and its characteristic air of informality behind us, taking liberties with fashion is a definite don’t. Wander through the high-end stores at the King of Prussia mall, or hanging at any of the boutiques in town and in the ’burbs: Fall and winter in Philadelphia means polished looks—most successfully created with sumptuous fabrics and balanced combinations of classic and trendy styling.

Now, not all of us ladies can afford to make designer purchases, even once in a while. But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t if we could.

So here’s the good news: This week, every woman in the Philadelphia area has a chance to get a piece of the designer fashion pie, and at jaw-dropping prices, thanks to Community Clothes Charity’s annual sale.

The Community Clothes Charity has had a large impact on Philadelphia and the Main Line ever since its original inception in 1957 to aid hospitalized war veterans. In 1977 the organization was restructured to its present form and name. Over the years this group has donated over $3.7M to many worthy beneficiaries. By recycling their own and others’ stylish fashions, this committee’s concept has been ecologically “green” for 56-plus years.

Before I dish the details, take a minute to picture yourself in some of the gorgeous clothing you’ve been ogling while flipping through the pages of Vogue. Imagine how great you’ll look and feel wrapped up in Chanel, Armani, Prada, Oscar de la Renta, Dior, Ferragamo, Gucci, Hermès, Pucci and more. Or how relieved you’ll be when you find that elusive dress you’ve been looking for, to get you through gala season or other milestone event that requires you to look like a million bucks—even if your bank account is just not quite there… yet.

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Kicking your wardrobe up a few notches is just one of the “wins” you’ll experience by attending the sale. The real reason to spend your hard-earned greenbacks, is to show support for this year’s two beneficiaries: Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech and Puppies Behind Bars (PBB), in acknowledgement for their Dog Tags: Service Dogs for Those Who’ve Served Us program. Anyone who has experienced the joy of owning a pet, will appreciate this organization’s main function, which is to offer prison-trained service dogs, free of charge, to physically and psychologically wounded veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, spreading comfort and companionship.

Regarding the Clarke School, I’ve driven past its Bryn Mawr campus a number of times, but have never taken a tour. Based on conversations with a former trustee, with whom I spoke during Main Line Today days and again recently, this hardworking school is making a positive impact for families locally and along the East Coast.

Here in Philadelphia, the Clarke team works with families to educate schools, both public and private, about childhood hearing loss, along with the value of traditional academic placement post-on campus intervention. By building relationships with area schools and providing critical services, Clarke helps create positive outcomes for students striving to transition into traditional classrooms. Students requiring a higher level of support are equally represented. In fact, monies raised during the CCC sale, will be put toward a much-needed inclusive and accessible playground that will extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom and allow their students the freedom to play in a safe environment. Just think how much better you’re going to look and feel wearing a designer garment that has the power to make a difference.

Technologically, Clarke has some pretty neat bells and whistles; since you’re already online, why not click on the website? Or, if you would like to take a tour, contact Kate Hagarty, (610) 525-9600 ext. 110; khagarty@clarkeschools.org. Learning more might just make you feel extra motivated to get your clothes shopping on.

Now, back to the sale:

The five-day fundraiser kicks off with a Special Preview Day, Tues., 10/29, 1-6 p.m. pm. All you need to do to capitalize on the “early bird special,” is make a $30 tax-deductible donation at the door that day (this also gives free re-entry on Wednesday).

The sale continues on Wed., 10/30, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., with a $5 donation request at the door. (Entry is free all on the remaining days of the sale.)

On Thurs., 10/31 the sale runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. because of Halloween. Marked prices will be cut in half on both Fri., 11/1 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Sat., 11/2, (9 a.m. -noon). 

The sale venue is The Village Hall, Eagle Village Shops, 503 West Lancaster Ave. (the intersection of Route 30 and Eagle Road), in Wayne, PA 19087. Cash, checks, Visa, and MasterCard will all be accepted.

While you’re waiting for doors to open on Tuesday, you can do a little cyber window shopping on Twitter and Facebook. I’ll see you there. Maybe wearing these…

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Sweet Smell of (hunger advocacy) Success

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In the better late than never category, I’d like to send out a not-so-gentle reminder on behalf of No Kid Hungry and Share our Strength.

…In just 10 days, this in-constant-action organization will wrap up its October initiative, spurred by two very generous “sugar daddies,” Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar.

Of course, I mean this is in the most positive interpretation of the colloquialism, because these two food industry superpowers have offered a dollar-for-dollar match on October’s Bake Sale No Kid Hungry proceeds.

If  you’ve been itching to get your baking on, NOW is the time to grease those pans, melt that butter and cover the counter in flour. (It’s a good excuse for your kids to make a mess without being scolded too!)

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Want to make a stand against hunger? A neighborhood or community bake sale is an effective—and tasty—way to get involved and make a positive impact.

The No Kid Hungry team is happy to receive your Bake Sale contributions all year long, but the promise of matching funds is irresistible—apparently to bakers across the country, who have raised $75,000-plus since October 1. Talk about “sweetening the pot;” at minimum now, a total value of $150,000. This is a big deal at a time when families are facing SNAP cuts along with a generally unstable economic foundation.

Whipping up a bake sale is easier than you think: With one weekend between now and October 31, and plenty of football, soccer and fall ball games happening at parks and schools across the country, you’ve got a captive audience. And, who wouldn’t want to bite into one (or three) of these tasty cupcakes (or these and these!). Click here for a gluten-free option. 

Spreading the word and showing support for food-challenged families through an old-fashioned bake sale is an affordable and fun way to get your community talking about hunger. Having that time and effort rewarded with a matching gift, is the icing on the cake.

Happy Baking!

#SGS: Why tune in, reasons 1-3

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1. The Speakers:
Turning the public onto the world’s forward-thinking leaders is part of SGS’ job, so if perusing the #2030NOW speaker list leaves you feeling a little under-informed, rest assured that you’re not the only one. There are certainly enough recognizable names that the wow-factor won’t be lost on you, but for those that you’re unfamiliar with, a handful of BING searches will quickly bring you up to speed. (Yes, that was a shameless plug for a few of the speakers.) The easier route is to click here.

2. The Mission:
What’s not to love about a group of very talented, motivated, well-connected, tech-savvy people trying to make the world a better place, all while building a global, inclusive social good community that understands the value of collaborative thought and action? The big question: How can new technology and new media create solutions for the biggest problems facing my community and create a better future by the year 2030?

3. The Conversation:
With three-days’ worth of panel discussions ranging from how technology, data and digital media will shape our world; to knocking out malaria via mobile technology; to improving healthcare, empowering women as global leaders and youth as peacemakers, #SGS is the ultimate think tank and destination for anyone who truly believes that we all have the ability to make a difference in managing world issues—individually and collectively. Read the agenda and get ready to join the online dialogue.