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2 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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7 days 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 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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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Starlight Nintendo Gaming Stations Making Their Way To Hospitals Nationwide

Starlight Nintendo Gaming Stations Making Their Way To Hospitals Nationwide

Nintendo of America and the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to bring happiness to seriously ill children and their families have had a partnership for 28 years. Through this partnership, they have delivered Gaming stations to over 800 hospitals and healthcare facilities all over the country—bringing smiles to an estimated 11.6 million seriously ill children.

Their latest endeavor is bringing the Starlight Nintendo Switch Gaming stations to even more hospitals and health care facilities across the country. Starlight announced earlier this month that this newest gaming station would soon be available to more children, after it debuted in December 2019 at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. Adam Garone, CEO of Starlight, said. “We’re so grateful to Nintendo and their employees for such a long and continuing partnership fueled by innovation, impact, and generous support.”

Julie Hertzog, child life supervisor at Mary Bridge said “The gaming stations are important distraction tools that normalize the healthcare environment and help kids through difficult experiences. They provide choices for kids, motivate them, and give them the opportunity to have fun when it is needed most.”

Each station comes preloaded with more than 25 games from Super Mario Party to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The station is specially designed and manufactured by Nintendo for use in hospitals. The device can be completely cleaned with disinfectant to meet a hospital’s strict safety infection protocols and includes a mounted playback monitor that can roll anywhere in a hospital allowing children to enjoy some of their favorite Nintendo video games from the comfort of their own hospital beds or in a playroom with a group of other children.

Doctors, nurses, clinicians, and child life specialists are able to use a single Starlight Gaming station in a variety of settings, from entertaining children during a relative’s visit to the emergency room, to distracting kids during an otherwise painful medical treatment, to giving kids something fun to do during long periods of isolation or with a group of other kids, or helping them to relax and feel comfortable when communicating with caregivers about their diagnosis.

Gaming delivers happiness to kids stuck in the hospital by providing entertainment and much-needed distraction from stressful situations. Studies show gaming can provide emotional support, resulting in reduced anxiety and stress which improves overall mood. Don James, Nintendo of America’s Executive Vice President of Operations said “It’s been our pleasure to work with Starlight and observe them bringing happiness to kids when they need it the most. As with everything we do, we hope the new Starlight Nintendo Switch gaming stations will put smiles on the faces of children and their families.”

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Missouri Realtor Leads Quest to Build Tiny Home Villages for Homeless

Missouri Realtor Leads Quest to Build Tiny Home Villages for Homeless

Missouri realtor Linda Brown and her husband David transformed an abandoned mobile home property into a village of tiny homes that provides permanent housing to the chronically disabled homeless in Springfield. For 9 years the two organized a nightly drop-in shelter where homeless people in Springfield, Missouri could eat, shower, do laundry, use a computer, and socialize during bingo games and karaoke—but they wanted to do more. They raised $4.75 million and opened Eden Village in 2018.

The driving philosophy behind Eden Village is the same that fuels the Housing First movement: The root causes of a person’s homelessness cannot be thoroughly addressed until his or her immediate housing needs are met. Linda told the National Association of Realtors, who honored her with their Good Neighbor Award in 2020, “I watched as my (homeless) friends walked off into the darkness to a hidden, wet, cold camp while we went home to a warm bed. I had to do something.”

After drawing sponsorship money from Coldwell Banker, the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors, local banks, churches, and area residents, by February 2019, all 31 tiny homes, which cost about $42,000 each, were occupied. Brown’s 13 years of real estate expertise has been essential to the development of the tiny-home community. She learned of a listing for an abandoned 4.2-acre mobile park on Springfield’s east side. The property wouldn’t need to be rezoned for tiny-home trailers, and the infrastructure and utilities were already in place.

The tiny homes are rolled in on wheels attached to their steel frames, qualifying them as recreational vehicles. The 400-square-foot individual homes are fully furnished, including dishes and bedding. Residents pay $300 per month, which includes utilities. Most receive government disability checks of $725 per month to cover expenses. They can remain in their home as long as they wish, provided they remain a good neighbor in the community.

The village includes a 4,000-square-foot community center where residents can hold cookouts, do laundry, and access a medical office staffed with student nurse volunteers and mental health professionals. Plans for additional villages are already underway on donated land. Eden Village 2 will house 24 residents in tiny homes and is close to opening.

Then, work will begin on Eden Village 3, which could house up to 80 residents in duplexes. Over the next six years, Brown, who is a realtor for Amax Real Estate, plans to have five villages across Springfield, housing an estimated 200 homeless people. Nate Schleuter, who helped launch a tiny-home village for the homeless in Austin, Texas, but now is the chief visionary officer for Eden Village, said “It takes someone who wants to do something, and then believes they can. I’ve watched Linda Brown live that out. It’s exciting to watch the homeless who thought they’d live the rest of their life on the street now have a home.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Seven Year Old Cancer Survivor Celebrates Last Treatment by Donating Thousands of Toys

Seven Year Old Cancer Survivor Celebrates Last Treatment by Donating Thousands of Toys

A seven-year-old cancer survivor with a big heart wanted to show his gratitude after completing his chemotherapy treatment. Tripp Hughes completed his treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and his thought was, ‘How can I give back and help other kids that are going through tough things?’ He and his mother, Krista Hughes, started a toy drive that amassed thousands of toys for other kids going through treatment.


During the pandemic, patients are not allowed to share toys, so they go home with the children. Supplies were low and this is typically a slow time for toy donations. “They’d offer anything to make us just feel as at home as possible,” Tripp said. “So, we just wanted them to also feel the way that they made us feel.” Tripp and his mom started the toy drive and it just kept growing. They collected 4,400 toys packed into more than 100 boxes. “We just wanted to make sure that we got everything the hospital needed to be able to give back what they gave us,” Krista Hughes said.


Young Tripp was four years old when he was diagnosed with pre B-cell near-haploid acute lymphoblastic lymphoma. Tripp’s mother said the family was determined to face the challenge head-on and with positivity. She said the first 8 months were the most challenging but they had physical and emotional help from the hospital staff. “His team is just amazing. We’re so happy to have Children’s Mercy here,” she said. “Every single person you come into contact with helps the process feel ok.”


Krista said “He’s really impressed all of his doctors. His energy was always sky high, positive mood, never really let it affect him for the age that he is. He was always very mature for everything he was going through.” Tripp said “It’s just been a rollercoaster, every single pill I’ve been taking, every single day for two-and-a-half years.”


He wanted to celebrate his last treatment by thanking everyone at Children’s Mercy. His Toy Drive began as a few posts on social media, then it grew to involve benefit concerts and viral TikTok videos. “This has just exceeded our expectations. We had no idea it was going to get this big,” Krista Hughes said. Together, they donated a U-Haul packed with toys, blankets and other supplies to the hospital for other kids still in treatment.


Children’s Mercy staff said their supplies are running extra low. Summers are slow for donations and almost every toy is single use now because of COVID-19 safety precautions. They say Tripp’s gift couldn’t have come at a better time. Gregg Rosenboom, In-kind Giving Coordinator for Children’s Mercy described the donation as Christmas in July at the hospital. He said “He just went through a really tough time in his life and his thought was, ‘how can I give back and help other kids going through tough things?’ That’s awesome.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Missouri Teens Hailed Heroes For Saving Woman During Flash Flooding

Missouri Teens Hailed Heroes For Saving Woman During Flash Flooding

Two Missouri teens are being hailed heroes for saving a woman from drowning after a June storm dumped six inches of rain over Columbia, Missouri with little warning. The fast moving storm caused flash flooding with creek waters bursting their banks, causing overflow zones to turn into ponds.

Boyscouts Joseph Diener, 16, and Dominic Viet, 15, were exploring the scene of their hometown to survey the damage after the massive rainfall flooded parts of the city. The two, along with a few other friends, were biking past a basketball court when they heard someone calling for help. The group of teens saw a woman in a bathing suit, clinging to a basketball hoop that was nearly entirely submerged in the floodwaters. The young woman was desperately trying to keep her head above water under the force of a current.

The two took “about 30 seconds” to realize they had to take action, Joseph said. There was a small group of people gathered near the woman already, Dominic said. “We didn’t have time to think, her head was barely above the water and we could see her sinking more down every second. We didn’t think about the risks, we had to get her out.” The two teens hoisted her up onto their shoulders because her legs were cramping. “There were some currents trying to pull us down too, because — I don’t know —it’s not normal water,” Dominic said.

The two were able to get her to solid ground where she started throwing up water. Emergency services arriving at someone else’s call performed first aid and rushed her to the hospital. Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Jenkins described the boys’ act as heroic and brave, as did Dominic’s mother Monica Viet, who had been calling her son to warn him of another storm rolling through and was growing nervous. She sent her husband to where they were located and when he saw the ambulance and fire truck, she said her heart sank. “You know, my mind went to the place where he was the one who was injured,” she said. “I didn’t realize that he was out there saving somebody! But then he saw them on their bikes heading back to their friend’s house, and I got a text from Dominic saying ‘Coming home soon, just saved a woman’s life Mom.’”

The fire department honored the two boys with a “Citizen Life Safety Award” for their heroic rescue. Both teens are Life Scouts, which is the last level before Eagle Scout. Neither are working on any lifeguarding skills as part of their upcoming projects, but their scoutmaster, Morgan Dailey, that they might get badges for their honorary action. “There’s a heavy emphasis on being prepared and especially being prepared for emergency situations and this clearly was an emergency situation.”

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on California Couple Stuffs $1000 in Various Essential Baby Items at Target Stores in LA

California Couple Stuffs $1000 in Various Essential Baby Items at Target Stores in LA

A California couple wanted to help new parents who are especially struggling during the pandemic. The couple wanted to brighten the day of a few new parents, so they decided to hide money in essential baby items like formula containers, diaper boxes, baby bottle boxes and breast pump supplies at three LA area Target stores.

Krystal Duhaney is a registered nurse and the founder of Milky Mama. When she and her husband Patrick had their first child they realized just how expensive raising a family can be.
“We recalled how hard it was for us as new parents to afford some of the basics and we could imagine how difficult it must be during this pandemic.”

Now a soon-to-be mother of three, says they’re in a better place financially so they can afford to give back to others. So far they’ve stuffed about $1,000 in cash into various baby supplies around Los Angeles Target stores, and they’re not stopping any time soon.

“When we were new parents, the saying, ‘It takes a village,’ really rang true. our neighbors, coworkers, friends and family members showered us with meals, pitched in to help with yard work and so much more. It was so amazing to feel supported and to know that there were people out there that cared. I wanted other parents who may be feeling alone to know someone out there cares about them.”

Duhaney says it’s her hope that the parents who find her hidden gifts not only feel supported, but also pay the act of kindness forward. “I hope they help other parents that are in need,” she said. “The world needs more kindness and I’m hoping our video inspires others to spread joy and kindness wherever they go.”

Duhaney posted a video of their good deed on instagram showing them stuffing money in the items while the Target location flashed on the screen and encouraged people to tag a mama who could use the help. “We hope that the parents that purchase these items have a brighter day when they find our gifts,” she wrote alongside the Instagram video.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Jersey Mike’s Raises $15 Million for Charities Nationwide

Jersey Mike’s Raises $15 Million for Charities Nationwide

Every March, Jersey Mike’s Subs holds their annual month of giving in all franchise locations nationwide.  Customers are invited to come in and donate to a local charity partner then on the last day in March, known as the all Jersey Mike’s locations across America donate 100 percent of sales—not just profits—to local charities. They set a company goal this year of raising $8 million but thanks to the generosity of their customers, blew past that mark to raise an incredible $15 million.  The money raised will help more than 200 charities nationwide.

More than 1,900 restaurants that are known for their in-store freshly-baked bread donated every penny of their sales on the 31st to hospitals, youth organizations, and food banks.  The fundraising total is double the amount raised in 2019 when the New Jersey-based company gave away $7.3 million to their communities.  Peter Cancro, Jersey Mike’s Founder & CEO said  “We really hoped to do well this year after the disappointment of having to cancel last year’s Day of Giving and the outpouring of support from across the country is truly inspiring.  We are filled with gratitude and admiration for our customers, franchise owners, and team members who have helped these charities in such a big way, now, when they need it more than ever.”

Jersey Mike’s began the practice in 2011, and over the years has raised more than $47 million for local charities and distributed more than 1.5 million free sub sandwiches to help numerous causes.

The company’s mission has always been: “Giving…making a difference in someone’s life”.  The company says their culture of giving at Jersey Mike’s is as much a part of their heritage as oil and vinegar. Every franchise store that is opened starts by partnering with a charity in the local community.

The next nationwide fundraising campaign is “Christmas in July” for Wreaths Across America.  From June 27 through July 11, Jersey Mike’s stores throughout the nation collect donations for this non-profit organization, which lays thousands of wreaths at the graves of the nation’s veterans in the Christmas season.

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