Volunteering to Help Schoolchildren

More than 13 million (million!!) American children live in households with uncertain access to food which supports a healthy life.

Schoolchildren who qualify for free or reduced lunches get those lunches only on school days. On Friday afternoons, these kids are each given a Power Pack—a sack which looks like a lunch sack yet is filled to the rim with power food. These Power Packs are provided by Freestore Foodbank and dependent on volunteers to bag the power food for them.

Yesterday, Saturday, I joined other volunteers at the Freestore warehouse and together we bagged nearly 1,500 Power Packs! Fifteen hundred may sound like a lot, but in reality, it barely scratches the surface to keep Cincinnati area kids from going hungry over the weekend.

According to the Freestore Foodbank, these are the stats and how our volunteer work impacts the community:

  1. More than 13 million (million!!) American children live in households with uncertain access to food which supports a healthy life.

 

  1. Donated food items are provided by area grocery stores, local partnerships, and community members and stored at the warehouse for distribution.

 

  1. Volunteers—there were about forty of us in the ware house yesterday—we unloaded pallets of donated food and packed sacks—“Power Packs.”

 

  1. Our warehouse serves 105 sites across the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, distributing these Power Packs to schools.

 

  1. These Power Packs are given to school children on Fridays so they can go home with power food to carry them over until the next school day, Monday.

 

Feeding America is the national association of affiliated food banks, which includes Freestore Foodbank. It is also the largest hunger relief organization, connecting community food pantries in every state of America.

Feeding America and Freestore Foodbank are dependent on volunteers. Another way to reach out with your volunteering support is to contact any soup kitchen, food bank or shelter local to you to find out what they need and how you can help.

Resources

Feeding America
Find your local food bank and who to contact for volunteering, based on your zip code.

The direct link to sign up for volunteering through Feeding America is at  feedingamerica.org.

I hope you will join in the efforts to make our communities a better place for our children. Please share in the comments about your volunteer experience. Together, we can ensure a better tomorrow—Children are our future.

If you like what I post, and haven’t yet subscribed to my newsletter, please do! Link here.

-Elle-

Share this:

Dinner at a Soup Kitchen

Community means joy, laughter, and rejuvenation.
Community enables a reconnection to the world and  human spirits.

(Quote as narrated in video,
Security Dignity Community in
a Place Called Home at Tender Mercies
.)

Schools, churches, and community groups volunteer hundreds of meals and thousands of hours to the residents of Tender Mercies. It is a supportive and transitional housing environment, located in Over-the-Rhine on 12th Street, here in inner city Cincinnati.

Last Thursday, I joined friends to share dinner with these folks. A few of my friends got together ahead of time, cooking lasagna and preparing other dinner items. I left work early that day (using “vacation time”) to meet my friends in the kitchen at Tender Mercies.

We served dinner to about sixty folks. I recognized some folks who came through our dinner line, as folks who hang out at the public library where I work.

One gentleman resident, Cleo, was already a familiar and friendly face for me. On Wednesdays, I pass through “his” street corner, where he sells the Street Vibes, a bi-monthly informative newspaper about the homelessness plight in our community.

Each Wednesday, I buy a paper from him and in return he tells me a joke.

And each Wednesday, Cleo and I exchange a big friendly hug. Thursday evening, I got another hug out of him (smile).

 

 

x

 ”Tender Mercies transforms the lives of homeless adults with mental illness by providing security, dignity, and community in a place they call home.” (Tender Mercies mission statement.)

Resources

Tender Mercies: If you are in our Cincinnati community and would like to know more; perhaps volunteer, visit Tender Mercies’ website.

Volunteer Needy: If you are in other parts of America and need a resource to point you where help is needed, this website is user friendly. It opens with a map of the United States—click on your state and from there, find out where to go and who to contact.
Link here for their directory. 

Please share in the comments your community experience. What is it like for you to share a meal with those in need?

If you like what I post, and haven’t yet subscribed to my newsletter, please do. Link here.

-Elle-

 

Share this:

Sharing is Caring: Coat Drive how-to and more….

Cold weather is on the horizon. It’s time to pull our scarves and hat out of the closet. And it’s time to think of those struggling in the moment who need a scarf or hat—or especially, a warm coat.

Autumn and winter months are a terrible struggle for many people. Low income families with growing children often need help when it comes to sending their child off to school—coats, mittens, and rain or snow boots are a must have. Yet, many parents who already struggle with increasing bills in the winter months (heating bills, for one), can only wonder how to keep their kids safe and warm.

Those experiencing homelessness also have it rough. Sure, there are overnight shelters. Yet, there are not enough shelters and some turn people away for lack of identification or other problems. And some homeless people, who perhaps out of mental illness, are unwilling to turn to these shelters for help. And many over night shelters are just that—overnight—not letting people in until after dark, and then shut their doors early next morning. Outdoor temperatures are still frigid at seven or eight in the morning.

That’s their reality.

We can lift their burdens. Getting a warm coat and other winter gear to those in need can be naturally easy.

Some ways to help are:

  • When you buy yourself a new hat or pair of gloves, grab a second one and donate. Often, stores have sales of “buy one, get one half-price” or of a like-wise bargain—perfect for helping someone.
  • When Christmas shopping (or other holiday shopping), include a coat on your shopping list; a coat for someone in need.
  • As your child(ren) grow out of their coats, donate the old.
  • Keep extra gloves and hats in your everyday bag, or an extra coat or two in your car. When out and about, if you see someone, perhaps someone homeless, who is begging for assistance, offer them one of these extras.
  • Donate to coat drives. These drives are sometimes found through employers, local stores, clubs, schools, churches and synagogues.

Years ago, when living in New Mexico, and starting when the winter months hit, a child’s red wagon was parked in the sanctuary of my church. Coats and toys were collected by putting them in this red wagon. As we congregated for worship services every Sabbath, we’d see the wagon was fuller than the week before.

 

Or, you can run a coat drive yourself. This can be as simple or as involved as you’d like.

Earlier this month, through a community organization I belong to, I helped run a coat drive; a simple one.

Starting a month before our October monthly membership meeting, I put the word out that we would collect coats. I then followed up with messages on Facebook and other online places that our members hang out in. On our meeting night, I designated a table for collections. At the meeting’s conclusion, we bagged up the coats. These will be given to a community agency for disbursement. It was a “one-night” collection and went well.

For a more involved coat drive, visit the website for One Warm Coat. It is a resourceful tool to help you plan and promote your coat drive. They even have a map to click on to find out which agencies or places in your community to donate those coats.

Together, we can make positive change in our communities. We can help those in need. I hope you will join me in the efforts to ease the burden that cold weather brings to low income families, to those experiencing homelessness, and to others who simply need a helping hand.

Resource:
One Warm Coat
https://www.onewarmcoat.org/

Please share in the comments how you plan to get involved, knowing that someone doesn’t have to face the cold season alone.

-Elle-

Share this:

Writers Conferences–nuts and bolts….

Writers Conferences—the nuts and bolts—and what you can get out of going to one.

•You’ll connect with new writer friends. Those connections are valuable especially since you’re all going through the process.

•Your newly met friends may become your allies and accountability partners.

•You’ll clarify your book concept. Every time you practice talking about your book (not just writing it), you’ll get clearer about the direction you want to take.

•You’ll learn things you didn’t expect to learn. Sessions, lunch gatherings, and happy-hour mingling will present opportunities, which you didn’t expect.

Attending a conference:

Here in my greater Cincinnati area, I’ve been to several writer’s conferences, workshops, and the like, each of which garnered from our community. Last weekend, September 29 & 30, I stepped it up a notch by attending a conference which invited writers from all-around. Although, still here in Cincinnati, people came from as far away as California, New York, and Canada.

Given by Writer’s Digest, it was at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, with a friendly hotel ambiance that was comfortable, and plush. Before even hitting the check-in table, I met up with an online friend, Amy for breakfast, to meet in person for the first time—she lives in the New York area. Amy is an industry leader when it comes to teaching new authors how to promote our book(s) and I’ve been one of her groupies for more than a year.

When my book was hitting publication, I retained her marketing services for her know-how and action that I see she puts in to her passion. You see, an author is always responsible for carrying some, if not all the burden in marketing efforts. A publisher; most any publisher won’t do it all, nor could they even if they tried. My publisher is involved in the social media end of things, but they can’t walk with me in my daily commute to promote my book.

My breakfast time with Amy was not to talk business, but for us to get to know one another on a more personal level. I already knew we are the same age (by two months, I’m the older one)—we were in a group video conference on the day of her last birthday. Come to find out over breakfast, we have much more than age in common. It was an invaluable connection.

∼∼   ∼∼    ∼∼

With about 75 writers and authors in attendance, we mingled in the conference room, anxious for the 9:00 hour to start it off. At the front of the room was the podium. We took our seats, with many seats to choose from and four chairs to each table, all facing the front. Each table came with a carafe of water and a place to put our complimentary coffee. Through small talk, we encouraged each other to be proud of our published books. This could be seen as many of us pulled our book out of our tote bag (or attaché case or backpack) and laid it prominently on our table.

The conference opened with a presentation by another well-respected industry leader, Jane Friedman. She gave us her experience in publishing options and then how to proceed once published (the latter of which I tuned in to).

The weekend continued, all day Saturday and much of Sunday, with break-out sessions, guest speakers, and networking with fellow writers through lunch. Our break-out sessions spanned the gamut from readership connection to social media use to audio book consideration, and oh, so much more.  Even Amy had her share of leading workshops during these break-outs.

Key-note speakers were Zetta Elliott (children’s author) and Tobias Buckell (sci-fi author). With the conference focused on diversity, Zetta shared her journey with us, as an African American woman who writes stories which give a voice to the diverse reality of children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

 

 

 

 

xxxxxx

CLICK HERE TO TWEET THIS BLOG POST

(and keep reading)

xx

Aside from the structure in these sessions and listening to speakers, it proved to be an awesome opportunity to meet others. I learned from other authors who are a step or more ahead of me, and I shared my experience with those who are where I was a year or so ago.

Overall, it was great to see a big picture of opportunities and choices available to authors in our writing careers. This big picture will carry me forward as I continue to learn and make informed decisions, which ultimately will benefit readers.

A writing conference comes with nuggets:

•The craft and business of your writing life is enhanced when joining forces with others.

•It keeps you abreast of the rapidly changing shifts in the industry so that you can make informed decisions for the best-fit path in your journey.

•Its uplifting and motivational to be surrounded by other writers. The writing process can be solitary. Being surrounded by other writers who are also going through the process is motivating.

Conferences gives us the venue to invest in our dreams….

Like the protagonists in the books we read or write, we too have turning points in our journeys. A conference is our way of accepting the challenge and rising to the call. It means we are willing to invest in our dreams, learn all we can, teach others through our experience, and do the action.

If you are a writer, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you saw in yourself after going to a conference?

If you are a reader, curious about my writing life, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference for your craft or profession? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you had after going to a conference? And if you knew your favorite author attended conferences, would this influence your opinion of that author?

Please join in the replying comments below. As writers and readers, we come together; it’s a “we thing.” -Elle-

 

 

 

 

Share this: