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17 hours ago · by · Comments Off on Teacher’s “Handle With Care” System Spreading Nationwide

Teacher’s “Handle With Care” System Spreading Nationwide

A teacher in Hutchinson, Kansas, handed out a message to the parents of her students this year and now it’s being shared on social media by educators all over the country. Fourth grade teacher Rachel Harder is being praised for setting up a simple system that gives parents the chance to let her know a child had a particularly challenging evening or morning. They only need to text her the words “handle with care.”

Harder said she came up with the idea after attending a trauma conference a few years ago. “There was a discussion about how police stations across the country have started partnering with schools so that when they have encounters with families in the evenings or on weekends, the police will contact the school – either counselor or administrator – and let them know to handle a student with care since they had encounters with police beforehand.”

The next year, she said, she had a student new to the school who also had autism. Some mornings she struggled to get to school. Harder started using the “handle with care” system with the girl’s mom. “I knew that when she would text me that her daughter needed some extra time and a quiet location, not the gym for morning announcements, so that the rest of her day went smoothly. “It’s important for me to give kids a few minutes of extra time or space – and it’s easy to give,” Harder said.

Harder offers all parents the opportunity to text her with the words “handle with care” if it’s been a particularly rough evening or morning. “I don’t need to know details but parents like that – they know I’m keeping an extra eye on them. I also usually text back and let them know how the morning is going. This gives the kids the grace we all want after a hard night or morning. We all have challenging mornings – we can’t find shoes, backpacks aren’t packed. It’s doing for others what we would like done for us when we have days that are hard” Harder said.

Her idea was valued by many parents and other educators got on board too. Her system is now being shared across the state and nationwide. Stress affects each family differently and kids react to it. It can happen in the morning, in the evening, or even over the weekend. Whenever they go through difficult times it’s a good idea to let their teacher know so they can give them extra help or patience. Harder said a lot of teachers do this without needing a text from parents because they know that kids need time and space and love just by the way they walk in the room. But, a heads-up from parents is wonderful if they can get that.

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3 days ago · by · Comments Off on Sandler O’Neill Foundation Pays Tuition for Children of Those Lost on 9/11

Sandler O’Neill Foundation Pays Tuition for Children of Those Lost on 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, 66 of the 83 men and women who worked for the investment banking firm Sandler O’Neill & Partners on the 104th floor in the World Trade Center lost their lives. They lost a third of their employees to the attacks on the World Trade Center. The firm quickly set up a foundation to pay the college tuition for the children of those who passed. Twenty years later, now known as Piper Sandler, the firm has two of those children working in their office and following in their father’s footsteps.

So far, 54 young men and women have had their college tuition paid so far, with 22 more still eligible. The 54 who are now attending or have attended college have gone to an array of schools from Stanford to Notre Dame to community colleges and technical institutes. The youngest child eligible was born six weeks after September 11. When that child graduates from college, the Sandler O’Neill Foundation will cease to exist, except as an honorable memory.

In 2001, the investment banking firm had 171 employees and was headquartered in New York City. Eighty three employees worked at the World Trade Center. One third of the firm’s partners, almost the entire equity desk, the entire syndicate desk, and all of the firm’s bond traders died in the attack. Among those lost were Herman Sandler, and Christopher Quackenbush, two of the three senior executives who managed the firm. In the harrowing days following the terrorist attacks, the company made the decision to set up a foundation to pay college tuition for all the 76 children of their fallen colleagues.

Sandler’s surviving partner, Jimmy Dunne set up the foundation along with friends, colleagues and some banking competitors. When asked why he set up the foundation, Dunne said “There was a moment in time to stand up,because we believed that what we did would echo for a hundred years in the families of our people, their kids and their grandkids. Because how we conducted ourselves in those first few hours and days would define who we really were and what we were about. I knew that if we were not honorable, then we stood for nothing.

Dunne’s friend, Andy Armstrong, one of the founders of the foundation said “We were up and running by the end of the first week. We wanted the families of the lost to know that we would always remember, that the passing years would never sweep this under the rug. People donated many millions of dollars to set up the foundation. We have no salaries and no expenses except fees to stay extant. I know most of the children who went to college. You wouldn’t believe some of the letters they have written in appreciation. I think they particularly appreciate that we remember their mom or dad this way. Many of them hardly knew their moms and dads.”

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4 days ago · by · Comments Off on New Orleans Music Venue Feeding Thousands After Hurricane Ida

New Orleans Music Venue Feeding Thousands After Hurricane Ida

The New Orleans music venue that fed thousands in the pandemic served free meals to residents who have been without power since Hurricane Ida swept through the city. The Howlin’ Wolf partnered with local restaurants and markets that were unable to keep their food cold and got cooking. Volunteers and paid workers were producing thousands of meals, using food donated by different local restaurants, bound to be distributed for free across the city or dished out right there on the sidewalk.

Restaurants all over gave away fresh ingredients from their kitchens, eager to see people put them to use before they spoil. The Howlin’ Wolf rapidly emerged as a central collection point for many with the same instinct. Truckloads of food were donated to the cause and cooked on the sidewalk just outside the music club. Using wood-fired barbecue smokers and propane-fueled seafood boiling rigs, thousands of families were fed. While a majority of the city was without power in the aftermath of the hurricane, music played on a portable speaker that doubled as a phone charging station. Local families, National Guard troops, police officers, utility workers and people from elder care facilities filled the food lines.

Club owner Howie Kaplan had led a similar effort in the early phases of the coronavirus crisis to feed people in need, working with a broad network of other organizations and volunteers. Kaplan said “This is literally putting the pieces together. We are so tight-knit in this city. This was just people talking with each other, and the support started up.”

This network snapped back into action after Ida. Donations ranged from 700 pounds of shrimp, cases of chicken for the smoker, cold cuts for sandwiches, gumbo in five-gallon buckets and bushels of fresh bread. Supplies soon lined the surface of the bar and were packed into the corners of the club. On the second day after the storm, the effort produced some 2,000 meals. The following day it hit 3,000 and kept growing.

Community volunteer group Culture Aid NOLA coordinated volunteers and donations through its website. Culture Aid NOLA founder Erica Chomsky-Adelson said she put out an urgent call for some essential supplies, including propane, ice, outdoor grills and also people who can come help cook. Kaplan said “We take care of each other, I think, in a way nobody else does. Right now, it’s not about the money. It’s about making sure folks are taken care of and making sure that we can get the word out … and make sure that people recognize how important New Orleans really is.”

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7 days ago · by · Comments Off on Rhode Island Partnership Renovates 30 Apartments For Homeless

Rhode Island Partnership Renovates 30 Apartments For Homeless

A partnership in Providence RI between Crossroads Rhode Island, R.I. Housing, and the Providence Housing Authority has unveiled 30 newly-renovated housing units for formerly homeless families. The 30 apartments are located in 14 different buildings in Providence. The new renovations are said to include new interiors, appliances, insulation, heating, exterior renovations, and handicap accessibility.

President and CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island Karen Santilli said “There’s nothing more heart-breaking than seeing a child have to pick up the school bus outside of a homeless shelter because of a housing shortage. Ending family homelessness in Rhode Island is entirely possible given adequate funding and the creation of more housing like this that families can actually afford.”
The COVID pandemic heightened and highlighted an already-dire affordable housing crisis in Rhode Island. The number of families experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island has grown by 12% over the last year, according to advocates. They attribute the increase to the financial hardship brought on by the pandemic, combined with an existing shortage statewide of housing that families with low incomes can afford.

The project was paid for by a combination of federal and state funding. A total of $4 million came from the federal Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund programs. Another $2.5 million came through the state bond program Building Homes RI. The Preservation Revitalization Deferred Loan Program, which provides funding to address capital repairs, covered $627,378.

The homes are intended to provide permanent, safe, affordable housing for families with very low incomes who were homeless or at risk of homelessness. In addition, case management and other services will be available as needed to help the families excel. The apartments will be affordable to households earning less than 30% of area median income, or $29,950 for a family of four. Crossroads said they secured support from the Providence Housing Authority to ensure the tenants’ rent will not exceed 30% of their income.

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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Houston’s Mattress Mack Opens Showrooms and Raises Donations for Hurricane Ida Relief

Houston’s Mattress Mack Opens Showrooms and Raises Donations for Hurricane Ida Relief

Houston’s legendary philanthropist, Jim McIngvale, who also goes by Mattress Mack, stepped up yet again to help during a natural disaster. McIngvale quickly transformed his three Gallery Furniture showrooms in Houston into shelters for people displaced by the hurricane. Mattress Mack said he wanted to assist those who came to Houston after Ida damaged their homes and about 50 families and individuals sought shelter at Gallery Furniture.

Gallery Furniture, Kroger and the City of Houston asked Houstonians to step up this week with donations to help its neighboring state. Mattress Mack also headed the gathering of supplies to send to New Orleans, loading up dozens of his trucks with donations of non-perishable food, bottled water, diapers, baby wipes, pet food, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, hairbrushes, shampoo, feminine care products, socks, books, games, puzzles, generators and activities for families with children.

A convoy of box trucks and 18-wheelers, escorted by Houston police then hit the road to help families displaced by the storm. McIngvale said the loaded trucks are a testament to the generosity of Houstonians, many of whom have been impacted by past hurricanes. A total of forty trucks brought supplies to hard hit areas in Louisiana. He also set up a GoFundMe, Mattress Mack’s Hurricane Ida Relief Fund that has raised over $79,000 of it’s $100,000 goal.

Mattress Mack said the relief effort is the first of others to come. “We’re gonna do this today and next week and probably going to keep doing it until the effort’s done because certainly during our hardships during Hurricane Harvey people rallied to help Houston.,” he said. “So now it’s our turn to rally and help the people of Louisiana. They’ve had their lives turned upside down, and we’re going to do all we can to help them.”

For Houston residents, Mattress Mack’s kindness is well known. He opened his showrooms to displaced families after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Hurricane Harvey in 2017,
during Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019 and again last year after a deadly winter storm left more than three million people in Texas without power. Displaced families have been welcomed to use the beds, sofas and recliners in his showrooms. Additionally, the business owner invites them to take in a movie or basketball game on his big screen televisions and even sit down for a hot meal.

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on 81 Year Old Man Receives Life Changing Donation

81 Year Old Man Receives Life Changing Donation

Self-proclaimed hermit, 81-year-old ‘River Dave’, whose real name is David Lidstone, became unintentionally famous after losing his home to a fire. He’d been living off-the-grid in the same secluded New Hampshire location for almost three decades when his cabin burned down. His longtime friends Jodie Gedeon and Sharon Copello organized a GoFundMe that quickly reached its $15,000 goal. On August 11, New Hampshire resident and billionaire CEO of Palantir Technologies Alexander Karp reached out to Lidstone and wrote him a personal check to the tune of $180,000 for living and future expenses.

Lidstone didn’t own the property where he’d built his modest A-frame cabin on the banks of the Merrimack River, but says he had permission from the site’s previous owner to stay there. The current owner of the land took steps to have him removed. On the same day that Lidstone appeared in court charged with civil contempt for refusing to vacate, his cabin burnt to the ground. The fire left “River Dave”, known for occasionally befriending a passing kayaker or boater, homeless along with his cats and chickens.

Estranged from his wife and family, for most of his 27-year tenure on the 73-acre plot – those ties in the community proved strong enough to form an unexpected lifeline. As word of his plight spread- donations and offers of places to stay began to roll in. While the response was staggering and the initial $15,000 funding goal was quickly met, no one could have predicted such a large donation.

Lidstone told news outlets “How can I express myself and my gratitude towards something like that? I start to tear up whenever I think about it. For an old logger who always had to work, for anyone to give you that type of money, it’s incredibly difficult for me to get my head around. I feel about as good as I ever have in my life.” A grateful Lidstone said the recent outpouring of kindness and support has been something of a revelation to him. “Maybe the things I’ve been trying to avoid are the things that I really need in life. I grew up never being hugged or kissed, or having any close contact.”

The money raised for River Dave is being put into a trust and he’ll be staying at an undisclosed location over the winter. Sometime next year, at a building site as yet to be named, construction for his new home will begin. As the GoFundMe setup wound down, Jodie Gedeon said “We feel we can help Dave build a good life now and will forever be thankful. We also know how many other charities and people are in need of help. At the end of August we’re asking that the spotlight be passed on to others to bring awareness and opportunities to spread the love and continue to be the change! The world is a better place with each of you in it and we simply can’t thank you enough.”

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on PAWS Act Passed to Connect More Veterans With Service Animals

PAWS Act Passed to Connect More Veterans With Service Animals

A bill to connect more veterans with service dogs trained to support mental health conditions has passed the Senate. The Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members for Veterans Therapy Act, or PAWS Act for short, will require the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to train service dogs. Once signed into law, the $10 million, five-year pilot program will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

The PAWS ACT authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program to connect service dogs with veterans dealing with post-deployment mental health needs by awarding grants to nonprofit organizations that would provide veterans with puppies to become therapeutic service dogs, as well as cover the cost of training the puppies.

Additionally, the bill will amend title 38, United States Code, and authorize the Secretary of VA to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses who do not have mobility impairments. The American Legion testified in support of a previous version of this bill in 2017. “Service dogs can act as an effective complementary therapy treatment component, especially for those veterans who suffer on a daily basis from the physical and psychological wounds of war,” wrote The American Legion.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will work with organizations like K9s for Warriors, a Florida nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to veterans. Rory Diamond, the CEO of K9s for Warriors said that of the more than 700 veterans who have been through the K9s for Warriors program, 72 percent had attempted suicide before being paired with their service dogs. Jeremy Van Beek, the founder of Get Your Six K9′s Service Dogs said veterans with PTSD had been left out to dry. “They would ask, our well-being isn’t enough? And now a lot of veterans didn’t come forward that probably needed this and unfortunately are not with us today because it wasn’t a well respected idea.” Van Beek said.

Michael Thorpe, a veteran and dog trainer for Elite Canines said he is living proof that service dogs can make a difference for those with PTSD. “I had tons of panic attacks, I had tons of nightmares and before I got my dog Fecto, I would just stay in all the time and it was a nightmare for me.”

Senator Kevin Cramer, who helped get the bill passed said “Many veterans with mobility impairments have had their lives changed — in some cases, saved — by service dogs. Our bill would expand this treatment by launching a pilot program to make veterans with mental health issues such as depression eligible to receive service dogs. It’s a big deal for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. I think it’ll lower the suicide rate and give these veterans their lives back.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Moms Write Book About The Loss of a Child To Raise Money For Charity

Moms Write Book About The Loss of a Child To Raise Money For Charity

A group of moms who have experienced the loss of a child came together to write a book about their experiences and raise money for charity. The book is called “The Last Kiss” and is a tough read but they wanted others going through this to feel like they aren’t alone. A nonprofit known as My Friend Linkin published and released the book recently.

My Friend Linkin was founded by Naudia Greenawalt in 2017. The then third-grader wrote a book about her friend Linkin, who was battling cancer. The two sold more than 500 copies of the book to raise money for Linkin’s care and other childhood cancer funds. They’ve since published several books about childhood cancer written by kids.

Each chapter of “The Last Kiss” is written by a mom who lost a child. Through each chapter, they recount their deeply personal experience. All proceeds will be donated to each mom’s charity of choice. Danielle Biddy, an Atlanta-area mom whose is one of the authors, said “I definitely want others going through this to feel like they’re not alone and to have points where they relate or feel like even when they’re in the depths of that grief initially that there is hope. If you have to go through it alone, or you feel like you are the only one feeling that way, then it can be very isolating,” she explained.

Danielle said sharing her story in print was difficult, but something she felt called to do. “I kind of vowed to be that voice that you will survive. Because it doesn’t always feel that way. You don’t feel like you will. And just to look for the good.” Danielle and her husband are donating their portion of the proceeds to the Miracle Babies Foundation to honor their daughter Carolina and by keeping her memory alive for their new baby boy Jace.

Greenawalt says the book is not only for moms who have experienced child loss, but also helpful for those who want to understand grief better and how to help those going through it. “It was important for us to include that because it was a way to bridge those that have experienced loss and those that have not experienced loss and say this is what we can all do,” she said. “Grief is messy, grief can be extremely ugly, but through that every day that you wake up you have a new day to start off fresh.” The book retails for $14 and can be purchased on myfriendlinkin.org along with several other books they have published.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Olympian Auctions Medal To Pay For Toddler’s Life Saving Surgery

Olympian Auctions Medal To Pay For Toddler’s Life Saving Surgery

A Polish javelin thrower, Maria Andrejczyk, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics auctioned off her silver medal to help pay for the surgery for an 8-month-old boy with a heart defect. The 25-year-old athlete won second place during the Olympic women’s javelin throw final in early August. Andrejczyk, a bone cancer survivor, announced on her Facebook page that the winning bid of $125,000 will pay for little Miłoszek Małysa’s operation at Stanford University Medical Center.

The Polish convenience store chain Zabka placed the top bid, paying $125,000 for the silver medal. After the auction closed, Andrejczyk said in a translated Facebook post that the medal was to her a “symbol of struggle, faith and the pursuit of dreams despite many adversities.”
She added: “I hope that for you it will be a symbol of the life we ​​fought for together.”

The toddler’s condition, according to his fund-raising page, is dire and requires an urgent operation in the United States. Małysa, whose heart defect causes his blood pressure to skyrocket and damage the arteries in his lungs and in the heart, is currently at home in southern Poland and receiving hospice care.

In an interview with a Polish sports program, Andrejczyk said winning the medal “brought her enormous happiness and she wanted to pass that happiness on” to a young child who could use some. “The true value of a medal always remains in the heart but a medal is only an object. It can be of great value to others. This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet. That is why I decided to auction it to help a sick child.”

In a twist of equally inspiring kindness, instead of collecting its prize, Zabka announced it would let Andrejczyk keep the silver medal. “We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian,” the company said in a Facebook post translated from Polish. “We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will remain with Ms. Maria, who showed how great she is.” Żabka instead made a donation for the boy’s operation in Andrejczyk’s name.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Texas 5th Grader Leading Another Kindness Campaign

Texas 5th Grader Leading Another Kindness Campaign

Orion Jean, the then 10-year-old Fort Worth Texas boy who won a student kindness contest in 2020 where he pitched a campaign of compassion, is still spreading kindness. Last year, he used his $500 prize to buy toys that he donated to a children’s hospital in Dallas. After that, he partnered with a relief group to organize food drives and helped distribute 100,000 meals to families in Texas.


An avid reader, Jean has moved on to a new effort of collecting books to give out to children who might not have any at home. So far, he has 120,000 books but his goal is to have 500,000 books to pass out by the end of August. “I want to be able to share my love of literacy with as many people as possible,” he said. Jean said he’s participating in “the race to kindness,” because “It’s all about my moral duty to help people. You know, it’s my responsibility to be able to see these people who need help and knowing that I have the resources to help them.”


The children’s literacy non-profit, Reading Is Fundamental says 2 out of 3 children living in poverty do not have books at home and a recent survey reveals 94% of teachers’ biggest concern is their students do not have access to print books at home. Race to 500K books campaign runs until August 31st you can get involved by donating new or gently used children’s books to several drop off locations in Texas and Oklahoma. You can also make monetary donations through the website.


Last year, Orion worked quickly to record a video for the 2020 competition, held by Think Kindness, an organization that aims to inspire acts of kindness in schools and communities. In his speech, Orion focused on the idea that “kindness is easy, it can be free, and it can make someone’s day a whole lot better,” he said. Not only did Orion win the contest, but he also put his speech into action by creating the Race to Kindness, a series of events spreading kindness around the world.


Orion’s Race to Kindness previous campaigns of Race to 500 Toys for children at a local hospital and Race to 100K Meals were a success. For his efforts, the fifth grader was named one of America’s top 2021 youth volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Orion said organizing a donation drive is one way to practice kindness, but small, deliberate acts are just as important.


“It can start off with a positive thought or being kind to someone,” said Orion. He offered suggestions such as leaving a nice note for a neighbor or asking your parents how you can help them at home. “If you treat someone with a little kindness and with a little care, hopefully it will be returned back to you. And even if it doesn’t, it can make you feel better knowing that someone else feels better.”

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