1 month ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Indiana Program Enables Truckers to Donate Rejected Food Shipments to Food Pantries
A program in Indiana is allowing truck drivers to donate rejected food deliveries to charity. Truck drivers will often arrive at a grocery store to drop off several pallets of ordered food only to have the products rejected by the supermarkets because there was either an error in the ordering process; the food was cosmetically damaged in transit; there were equipment failures en-route that caused delay; or a variety of other reasons. This often results in tons of edible food being dumped into a landfill.
Instead of letting thousands of pounds of food continue to go to waste, the Indy Hunger Network charity created their Food Drop program which connects truck drivers with nearby food banks that can put the products to good use. In addition to helping to feed the hungry during a time that food banks across the US are reporting record numbers, the program also benefits the drivers by saving them from having to pay expensive landfill fees, providing them with a tax deduction for donated goods, and helping them to offload the cargo.
The program was initially launched in 2017 to operate solely out of Indianapolis and charity workers say that they documented over 90,000 pounds of food donated within the first six months. The program’s success led Indy Food Network to expand the initiative to several more food banks across Indiana. If the Food Drop project continues to prove itself effective, then the charity hopes to expand the program to other states as well.
Drivers are only asked to donate groceries that are still edible, non-alcoholic, and individually packaged with unbroken seals. The Indy Hunger Network works with community centers, food pantries, churches, and schools in the area with the goal of connecting drivers to fill the food shortage needs. They continue to look for new opportunities to improve the food assistance system.
They also run a grant program to award small grants to food pantries in Marion County for projects that would increase capacity, improve operations, and implement best practices. Each year they award grants to over 20 partners involved in the food assistance system.
The National Guard had been assisting Indiana’s emergency food bank system but their temporary deployment will be ending, leaving an urgent need for volunteers. People can visit https://www.in.gov/fssa/dfr/operation-food/ to sign up or go to https://www.indyhunger.org/ to find a list of locations in need of volunteers.
2 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on MacKenzie Scott Donates Additional $1.7 Billion Through The Giving Pledge
MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated more than $4 billion in the past four months to hundreds of organizations and charities—in particular to food banks and emergency relief funds across the USA. Scott signed the Giving Pledge—an initiative sparked by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett a decade ago—and promised to give away her billions “until the safe is empty.”
This July, she began making good on her promise and has already donated $1.7 billion of her $60 billion fortune to 116 charities. Just 5 months later, the 50-year-old announced that she’d given even more money away. Since summer, the world’s third-wealthiest woman has donated more than $4.15 billion to 384 organizations in Puerto Rico and the States—taking her 2020 donations so far to $6 billion.
In a blog post that begins with an Emily Dickinson poem, Scott–a lauded novelist as well as a philanthropist—writes, “This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”
Scott said she has been working with a team of advisors to help her accelerate her giving to organizations that need immediate support in the face of the COVID crisis. Using a “data-driven approach” to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams, and paying “special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital,” recipients of Scott’s funding include the YMCA, Meals on Wheels, the Global Fund for Women, civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, many dozens of food banks, Goodwill, and various centers of education such as Blackfoot Community College.
In the latest round of giving, Scott donated $40 million to Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore. The gift is the largest single private donation in the university’s history, and roughly doubles the school’s endowment. Scott also gave $50 million to Prairie View A&M University in Texas — the school’s largest donation ever, and nearly doubling its endowment, according to the university.
According to news outlets, these donations “might be among the most ever handed out directly to charities in a single year by a living donor.” Scott is not the only billionaire who’s been giving in 2020. While Jeff Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge, he has distributed $791 million in grant money to large environmental organizations through the Bezos Earth Fund.
3 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Prison Camp Survivor Donating $50 Million Children’s Hospital In New Zealand
Mark Dunajtschik, an 85 year old prison camp survivor committed $50 million dollars of his own money toward building a children’s hospital in New Zealand. Dunajtschik is one of the most successful industrialists and real estate developers in New Zealand and is known for his philanthropic works—having financed the country’s Life Flight Trust helicopter rescue service which has been credited with saving 22,000 lives. Dunajtschik’s latest major humanitarian endeavor is overseeing the construction of a new children’s hospital in Wellington.
Dunajtschik escaped Knicanin prison camp with his mother near the end of WWII and was forced to flee his homeland of Yugoslavia. Five years after the war ended, he became an apprentice toolmaker. He mastered the trade and after spending five years travelling the world, decided to make New Zealand his home. Soon after arriving he established his company Precision Grinders, running the business for 25 years. Dunajtschik was among New Zealand’s most successful property developers and investors, although he only started in the industry as a “hobby” at the age of 57 and has no staff.
Dunajtschik’s life experiences have undoubtedly contributed to the man he is today and his commitment to giving back. Housing in post-war Germany was almost nonexistent, Dunajtschick’s only option at that time was living in a housing facility for the mentally and physically disabled. Seeing the daily challenges his housemates faced made him realize how lucky he was. “Because I was given the opportunity to live in that home, which was founded by an industrialist in the 1880s, now that I am in a position that I can also do something, naturally I want to do it. Those people that are born with a healthy body and mind can look after themselves and those unfortunate to be born with, or suffering ill health, need our help” he said in an interview.
Over the summer, construction on the exterior of the hospital was completed. Dunajtschik had no desire to simply throw money at the new hospital. He takes a hands-on approach to all his projects so he plans to see it through to completion. “It’s exciting to see that in a little over a year the vision will be realized and we will have a magnificent new purpose-built facility that will help generations of sick kids to come,” said Bill Day, Chair of Wellington Hospitals Foundation.
4 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help
Like many independent businesses across the country, the beloved NYC book store the Strand is in trouble. A Greenwich Village fixture since 1927, known worldwide for its “18 miles of books,” the Strand is the single remaining establishment out of 48 bookstores that once ran the length of 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing crucial foot-traffic, store proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the store’s original owner, posted a cry for help on Twitter.
In a last-ditch effort to save her beloved family business, Bass Wyden reached out to her customer base with a plea for help. “I’m going to pull out all the stops,” she tweeted, “to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in the Strand’s 93-year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there’s a vaccine.”
The response from the Strand’s loyal clientele came in the form of an avalanche of 25,000 orders over the course of a single weekend that crashed the store’s website and brought in approximately $200,000 in sales. One patron ordered 197 books. That was followed up by round-the-block lines at the store’s flagship location on Broadway and East 12th Street in lower Manhattan when the store opened.
Having suffered heavy financial losses earlier in the year, even with the amazing outpouring of love and a much-needed boost in revenue, the Strand isn’t out of the woods just yet, but Bass Wyden is determined not to give up. Revenue was down 70% since this time last year, the business’ cash reserves had depleted, and the $1 million to $2 million loan the Strand received in government emergency relief in April is running dry.
Bass Wyden started working at the Strand in the mid-’70s, when she was 16, and inherited full ownership of the business, including the building at 828 Broadway, from her father, Fred Bass, after his death in 2017. The bookstore has withstood the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 9/11 terror attacks, but the pandemic could be its downfall. “As the 3rd generation owner,” she said, “I have tried to imagine what my dad and grandfather would do right now after they spent their entire lives—6 days a week—working at the store. I don’t believe they would want me to give up without a fight.” Bass Wyden said.
“Never did I imagine that the store’s financial situation would become so dire that I would have to write friends and devoted customers for help,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden said in an open letter. “It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament that we are in now.” For the first time since her grandfather founded the store 93 years ago, Bass Wyden said, the time had come to ask customers for help. She’s asking all loyal lovers of the written word to start the holidays early and Shop the Strand to save the Strand.
4 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Fourteen Year Old Named America’s Top Young Scientist For Work On Potential Covid 19 Cure
A 14-year-old girl from Texas has discovered a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2. Eighth grader Anika Chebrolu has been named the winner of the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge—America’s premier middle school science competition. She received a $25,000 gift for her award-winning work and a one-of-a-kind 2 day/1-night destination trip.
The Young Scientist Challenge is a youth science and engineering competition administered by Discovery Education and 3M for middle school students in the United States. Students apply by creating a 1-2 minute video detailing their idea for a new invention intended to solve an everyday problem. Ten finalists are chosen annually to work alongside a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship and receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, to compete for $25,000 and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist.
Anika’s winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Binding and inhibiting this viral protein would potentially stop the virus entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target. As part of her research, Anika screened millions of small molecules for drug-likeness properties, ADMET properties, and binding affinities against the spike protein using numerous software tools. The one molecule with the best pharmacological and biological activity towards the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was chosen as the lead molecule that can be a potential drug for the effective treatment of COVID-19.
Initially, her goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus. She was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the United States despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.
“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika said. “Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, Dr. Mahfuza Ali, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Anika said winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honor, but her work isn’t done. Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to “control the morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus. Chebrolu also received the “Improving Lives Award,” according to a release from Frisco ISD.
“I am extremely humbled at being selected America’s Top Young Scientist as all of the finalists had amazing projects and were extremely well-rounded individuals,” Anika said in the Frisco release. “Science is the basis of life and the entire universe and we have a long way to go to understand it fully.” While she hopes to be a medical researcher and professor in the future, she is already doing grown-up work and inspiring a generation to reach for the stars.
4 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on MI Teacher Saves Student’s Grandmother During Virtual Lesson
Michigan elementary school teacher Julia Koch is being praised for her quick thinking after she helped save the life of a student’s grandmother while giving a virtual lesson. Koch was teaching her first graders remotely at Edgewood Elementary School in Muskegon Heights late last month when one student began experiencing technical difficulties. Koch called Cynthia Phillips, the student’s grandmother, to solve the problem — and that’s when she realized something was not right.
When Koch spoke to Cynthia Phillips, who was having trouble charging her granddaughter’s school tablet, the teacher noticed something was off in the grandmother’s voice. “It was clear there was something very wrong. Her words were so jumbled, and I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say,” Koch told CNN. “She didn’t sound like herself.” Koch quickly alerted the school principal Charlie Lovelady who had a staff member call 911.
Lovelady said “I noticed her speech was impaired and I asked her if she was alright. She was stumbling over her words and it was getting worse by the minute. I knew the symptoms of a stroke because I lost my father from a stroke so I told her hold on and immediately got her help.” With an ambulance on its way to Phillips, Lovelady asked two of his employees to drive to her house to check up on her and the young children under her care.
Phillips remains hospitalized and is slowly recovering. “I would have died if it weren’t for the teacher being so quick and fast about getting me help,” Phillips said from her hospital bed. “It made me so close to the staff and the principal, even the secretary who hurried to get me on the phone with the principal. They showed up at my house to make sure I’m OK,” she said through tears. “I thank God I didn’t die in front of my kids.”
Koch’s quick thinking helped a life and while Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System Superintendent Rané Garcia said he is immensely proud of both Ms. Koch and Mr. Lovelady, Koch feels she did what anyone would have done. “I don’t think one can truly be a good teacher and not care about the students and their families. In the environment we’re in especially, it’s too hard to do this without actually truly caring. Out of all this, what I’ve learned being part of a community that cares is so important. Paying attention to people and listening to them, always thinking of how to help. It’s great to know I’m part of a team like that.” Koch said.
Principal Lovelady said he is “blown away” by how quickly his staff worked together to save Phillips’ life. “I’m so proud of my team, it just shows that we have wonderful people here who didn’t think twice about calling for help and jumping in the car to check on them,” he said. “I’m a very, very proud principal.”
4 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Tyler Perry Being Honored For Generosity
Actor and producer Tyler Perry is being recognized for his work in entertainment, commitment to supporting charities and for “inspiring empathy and progress for humankind.” The renowned philanthropist will be honored with “The People’s Champion of 2020” award at the E! People’s Choice Awards. Perry has made history on multiple accounts, from opening the largest privately owned motion-picture studio in the U.S. to receiving a slew of prestigious accolades for his work including being named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
After making history becoming the first African-American to own a major film studio outright, opening Tyler Perry Studios last year, he announced plans to build a shelter for disadvantaged youth and homeless women to be located on the new 330-acre film studio property in Atlanta, Georgia. Perry’s generosity has been unwavering for over a decade. He has been intimately involved and donated generously to civil rights and human rights causes. Perry also strongly supports charities serving the homeless, including Feeding America, Global Medical Relief Fund, and Covenant House, among others.
In 2009, Perry gave the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a $1 million dollar gift to celebrate the historic nonprofit’s centennial. The financial blessing made history at the time on its own as the largest individual donation from an artist the organization has ever received. After the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, Perry jumped into action. He pledged $250,000 to help the island recover, then raised his own total and promised an additional $750,000 to make it a cool million. His charity reportedly inspired others to give hundreds of thousands of dollars as well.
Aside from supporting many charitable organizations, he has helped others during hard times. In 2010, while watching the news, Perry heard about 88-year-old Atlanta resident Rosa Lee Ransby and her 4-year-old great-granddaughter escaping from a house fire that destroyed the home she owned for 40+ years. He met with her and rented her a fully furnished home on the same street, paying all utilities as well. He then built her a new home where the old one burned down.
Perry worked with and featured gospel singer LaShun Pace’s music in many of his films. In 2018, when he heard Pace’s mother’s health was ailing and that she always dreamed of owning a home large enough for the whole family to live in, Perry purchased her a $350,000 home not far from Atlanta where the Pace family grew up. Bettie Ann Pace died in July 2020 but the last years of her life she was living her dream thanks to Perry’s kindness.
His generosity became known worldwide during the Christmas season of 2018. Perry paid off $430,000 of layaway items at the East Point and Douglasville Walmart stores prior to Christmas 2018. It was the holiday gift that was talked about around the world and he was labeled “Tyler Claus”. Perry had attempted to do the good deed anonymously, but later was outed as the ‘Secret Santa’.
This year, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, he supported his local community by picking up the tab for all groceries purchased during senior shopping hour at 73 supermarkets in both Atlanta and his hometown off New Orleans. He also purchased grocery store gift cards for police to hand out to Atlanta communities’ in-need. He also left a $21,000 tip to 42 out-of-work servers at his favorite local restaurant in Atlanta. Perry’s generosity and random acts of kindness run far and wide throughout the world and he uses his platform to encourage others to follow his lead. He also became one of the first filmmakers to safely resume filmmaking amid the COVID-19 pandemic by creating “Camp Quarantine” on the Tyler Perry Studios lot in Atlanta, GA, effectively getting his staff back to work.
5 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Sgt. Major Thomas Payne 1st Living Delta Force Member To Receive Medal of Honor
Sgt. Maj. Thomas “Patrick” Payne was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism and selfless actions that were key to liberating 75 hostages under fire during a rescue mission five years ago in Hawija, Iraq. The Congressional Medal of Honor citation reads in part, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on October 22, 2015. Sergeant First Class Payne’s gallantry under fire and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Special Operations Command, and the United States Army.”
The South Carolina youth had originally joined the Army after 9/11, inspired by patriotism and a desire to defend the United States. Payne served as a sniper and sniper team leader in the 75th until November 2007, when he was selected for assignment to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. He would endure 14 deployments before the day of October 22, 2015, when then-Sergeant First Class Payne—as part of a joint task force assisting Iraqi security forces—in what was dubbed OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE-raided an ISIS prison to liberate 70 hostages, after a request by the Kurdistan government.
Payne and his fellow Rangers continued to receive constant fire from the enemy as they first tried to enter the building through the roof before moving to the ground level after several blasts from suicide bombers from the floor below caused the building to partially collapse. Payne navigated to the front door and saw the captives were being held behind a metal door secured by two very heavy padlocks.
His team breached windows and walls to enter the building’s first floor. Once inside, the fighting was intense and commandos began taking casualties. “One of the teams was holding down the breach point all the way down to their last magazine,” Payne said. “Bullets were passing through their uniforms.” Though the building was on fire and partly collapsed, he grabbed a pair of bolt cutters and, through flame and smoke, succeeded in cutting one of the locks before scorching heat forced him to flee the building for some air.
He ran back in seconds later and cut the final lock as the building began to collapse. He received orders to evacuate, but refused to do so before all the disoriented hostages were led to safety. Still receiving enemy fire, Payne entered the building two more times, to drag an incapacitated hostage from the building and again to make sure everyone was out, before he gave the “last man” call so the task force could prepare for extraction.
Under heavy fire, Payne and the other commandos then formed a human wall so the hostages in the other building could run behind them and board the extraction helicopters. The hostages, Payne’s task force and the partnered forces flew back to Erbil, having just taken part in one of the largest hostage rescues in history. His heroism and selfless actions were key to liberating 75 hostages during a contested rescue mission that resulted in 20 enemies killed in action. Payne is the first living Delta Force member to receive the Medal of Honor.
Payne has not talked about his connection to Delta, but said he views the Medal of Honor as a sacred responsibility as a tribute to fallen heroes. “The Medal of Honor represents everything great about our country, and for me I don’t consider myself a recipient of this medal,” Payne said. “I consider myself a guardian of this medal and what’s important to me is my teammates’ legacies will live on with this Medal of Honor.”
5 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Chrissy Teigen Buys Teachers’ Amazon Wishlists, Inspires Others To Help
As school is starting for many across the country, Chrissy Teigen has generously bought entire school supply wish lists for many teachers. Chrissy Teigen, who is home schooling her daughter Luna, called on teachers to send her their wish lists so she buy them. “If you are a teacher in need of supplies for the upcoming school year, please drop your amazon wishlist here, I will do as many as I can!” she tweeted. Teigen’s tweet received over 5,000 replies, with many of her followers also chipping in to fund supplies.
The response was overwhelming. Teachers, as well as their friends and family, all reached out to take Teigen up on her generous offer. “Today I cleared 50 entire lists and countless extra items were purchased from lovely people just passing through,” Teigen subsequently posted. “Will do more this week and would love to focus on struggling districts and special needs. Please keep posting in this thread!”
While teachers have traditionally purchased classroom supplies that school budgets don’t cover, COVID-19 has totally changed the landscape of education. Virtual classrooms or hybrid learning that combines at-home and onsite classes have become the new normal. Although the fundamental educational supplies and equipment needed to meet these changes continue to evolve as we feel our way through the pandemic by trial and error, teachers are still the ones who must often pick up the slack.
The generousness, while wonderful to see, highlights that teachers are regularly forced to resort to crowdfunding their basic classroom needs or more likely, paying out of their own pockets, a fact that Teigen herself alluded to. As teachers head back to their classrooms, their shopping lists are stocked with items that aren’t just for arts and crafts. They now need hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and air purifiers—just to keep themselves and their students safe in what is sure to be one of the most challenging school years any of them have ever experience.
These last few months have given so many a window into how hard teaching is. It’s certainly not going to get any easier now that so many teachers will be facing tasks like keeping their kids socially distanced, helping with masks and hand washing, or teaching a class where some students are in the room and others are joining remotely. Many people were inspired by Teigen’s post and also began purchasing items from Amazon Wishlists posted. Making sure they have everything they need is the least we can do— and if you have the means to help, there are plenty more wish-lists to be found in the thread.
6 months ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on CDC Drops 14 Day Quarantine On Travel As Campus Cases Rise
The confirmed U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 180,000, with over 5.7 million recorded infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the U.S. is on track to record its 200,000th death from COVID-19 by the fourth week of September. Public health officials say the true U.S. death toll likely passed that grim milestone weeks ago.
The White House defended a decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend against coronavirus testing for people who lack symptoms of COVID-19 — even if they’ve been exposed to an infected person. The CDC also quietly dropped its recommendation that people quarantine for 14 days after traveling from an area with a high rate of infection. Public health experts say the moves will undermine efforts to control the spread of the disease. The New York Times cited two federal health officials who said the changes were ordered by higher-ups at the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House.
The decision was reportedly made at an August 20 meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, while top public health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was not present because he was undergoing surgery. The changes were backed by the task force’s newest member, Dr. Scott Atlas — a Fox News contributor and radiologist with no expertise in infectious diseases. This comes amid rising concern over outbreaks in schools around the country as at least three dozen states so far have reported cases on college campuses.
A return to campus for the new academic year has colleges and universities struggling to both contain outbreaks of Covid-19 and enforce policies meant to prevent its spread. Across the United States, at least 36 states have reported positive cases at colleges and universities, adding more than 8,700 cases to the country’s tally. Outbreaks have been identified at four different sororities at Kansas State University, according to news releases from the college and the Riley County Health Department. Temple University in Philadelphia announced it is suspending in-person classes for two weeks following the identification of 103 cases on campus. East Carolina reported 370 total positive cases from students as of Aug. 24.
The University of Alabama is receiving backlash after it ordered faculty members to remain silent about students who test positive for the virus, arguing that alerting their classmates would violate federal privacy laws. In an email the professors were admonished, “Do not tell the rest of the class,” with the word “not” underlined. UA currently has confirmed over 1,200 Covid 19 cases since classes resumed August 19th. They continue to urge students to wear masks and socially distance on and off campus. Many schools have limited parties and other gatherings to reduce Covid-19 risks but those rules being violated are why Notre Dame’s outbreak started.
A consensus is building among public health experts that it’s better to keep university students on campus after a Covid-19 outbreak rather than send them home as many are doing. It’s easier to isolate sick or exposed students and trace their contacts if they stay put. While sending students home risks exposing other people there as well as along the way, and makes contact tracing all but impossible. Contact tracing can help manage outbreaks when done correctly. The U.S. has struggled with it for many reasons, including getting people to answer the phone and respond truthfully. That’s even harder at college, when students worry about being disciplined for violating rules on social gathering.