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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Increase of Fundraising And Donations During Pandemic

Increase of Fundraising And Donations During Pandemic

With millions dependent on unemployment benefits and food bank lines reporting record numbers for turn out during food drops.  The economic crisis set off by the pandemic has widened the chasm between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the United States in new ways.  The expanded rift has been accompanied by an outpouring of donations to local food banks, crowdfunding campaigns and other aid to financially devastated Americans.

The pandemic has shown that many people care about their neighbors and are willing to help.  Amazon shareholder Mackenzie Scott’s $4 billion in charitable contributions, announced in December, may be the biggest. But there are plenty of Americans who are also chipping in, donating $10 or $20, some for the first time ever.  About 70% of the donations made to campaigns on GoFundMe were under $50 this year, up from 40% in 2019.

Covid 19 Foundations have been established in every state in the US to help communities impacted by the pandemic.  Donations to small and mid-sized charitable organizations were up 7.6% in the first nine months of 2020 over 2019.  Charities received $2.47 billion in donations on Dec. 1, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving known as GivingTuesday, up 25% from 2019.  Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer for GivingTuesday said “People are giving like we’ve never seen before, what we have now is much more collective action.”

America’s Food Fund, started this year, raised over $44 million on GoFundMe, the largest campaign ever on the fundraising website. Long-time programs like the United States Post Office’s Operation Santa, which matches donors with needy families who send letters to a special North Pole address, report unprecedented support.

Across the globe, communities are raising funds for everything from Covid testing sites, necessities for those in need, food banks, helping small businesses, getting medical equipment for front line workers and even transport costs for farmers to get their harvest to hard hit areas hundreds of miles away.  There are even people from different states banding together to help families facing eviction like The 1k Project. 

GoFundMe itself even partnered with several foundations through their own COVID-19 Relief.  They turn donations into grants for people and charities in need.  Millions of people don’t know where their next meal will come from and people, even those who don’t have much themselves, are helping.  Every donation, big or small, is helping others get through the pandemic.

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Americorps Youths Deployed During Pandemic

Americorps Youths Deployed During Pandemic

National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), or AmeriCorps NCCC is an AmeriCorps program that engages 18- to 24-year-olds in team-based national and community service in the United States.  They recently they deployed 230 energetic young adults from across the nation in 24 teams across the country, assisting community groups that are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic or implementing wildfire management in the West.

The youths piled into vans to begin a new adventure serving others through the NCCC.  The training for AmeriCorps began in October and emphasized Covid-19 safety, teamwork, leadership development, and communication.  From tackling food insecurity to providing affordable housing, these youth are bridging the gap by providing much-needed volunteers to areas in need.

Habitat for Humanity is one of the groups that is benefitting from the ten week deployments. Two of the teams are wielding hammers and power tools assisting with affordable home construction in Sacramento.  Another team traveled to Stockton, California to help with food distribution and another group is in California assisting with fire management.

One team arrived in Oregon to work on similar projects and upkeep the environment while another is serving Salt Lake City, Utah.  Bode Anderson-Brown discovered the most impactful aspect was getting out of his comfort zone.   “It was so rewarding to talk to homeowners and know that because of the work I was doing, they are going to be safer and more protected from wildfires. I know that this is an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.  Talking to people on the phone and getting them the assistance they need… I previously considered this to be out of my wheelhouse, but have now discovered that I have a talent for it!”

Other groups are assisting the Health Department by supporting coronavirus testing sites and delivering hygiene supplies to residents.  They each will graduate from NCCC on July 14th, after completing 3-5 long-term service projects investing over 1,700 hours. In exchange, members receive $6,395 to help pay for college or pay back existing student loans.  The 10-month residential program funded by the U.S. government engages around 2,100 young people every year between the ages of 18 and 24. It was originally envisioned by a bipartisan group of Senators and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

The NCCC program was loosely based on the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  In some respects, NCCC teams resemble their CCC predecessors, who were also required to function under rugged conditions for prolonged periods and engage in strenuous conservation and wildfire-fighting projects, flood control, and disaster relief.  The main difference between the two is unlike the original CCC, the NCCC was not created to be a public work relief program, but rather was designed to help communities meet self-identified needs through service projects and develop leadership skills in its participants.

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Chicago Restauranteur Helping Feed Those With Food Insecurity

Chicago Restauranteur Helping Feed Those With Food Insecurity

Chicago restauranteur Robert Magiet was driving across town one morning when he spotted a shivering tamale vendor braving the frigid January temperatures of the “Windy City”.  He made a spur of the moment offer she couldn’t refuse.  Rather than let the woman wearing many layers of clothing to keep warm stay in the cold all day—Magiet bought out her entire day’s supply—close to 10 dozen tamales, gave her a big tip, and sent her on her way.

Magiet loaded up the tamales he’d purchased and distributed them to homeless people.  Pleased with the outcome of the morning’s events, Magiet took to Facebook to see if he could continue the trend. “Anyone know of any Tamale Cart vendors that will be out this weekend in the cold weather?  I went to Yolanda near Humboldt Park and bought her out so she could go home today. I’d love to do the same for other Vendors and distribute the Tamales to our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Let me know of any leads please” he posted.

In the following days, armed with suggestions, Magiet bought up all the tamales from vendors at three different locations. And again, after generously tipping the sellers whose trade had been severely curtailed by both the weather and the lockdown, he distributed the tamales to people in need.  Helping the hungry in his community is nothing new for Magiet.

After opening a Love Fridge community food pantry outside his TaKorea Cocina restaurant this past June, Magiet teamed up with the owners of Fatso’s Last Stand and Jack & Ginger’s restaurants to prep and deliver 1,300 Thanksgiving meals for the needy.  After Christmas, he also partnered with Jason Vincent, owner of Logan Square eatery Giant, to man a food truck serving breakfast and lunch to the homeless.

He also partnered with his friend Taylor Hammond, owner of The StopAlong, a Bucktown pizzeria, to ask if he’d be willing to donate his kitchen once a week to help ease food insecurity for families in need. Knowing how much kids love pizza, Hammond readily agreed.  “It’s like, I have a restaurant. I have food. I know people who have restaurants and food. Let’s help people who need food.” Magiet said. 

Having seen firsthand the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic had on his own industry, he feels lucky to be in a position to provide much-needed relief for those struggling to put food on the table.  He says on average he purchases 15 dozen tamales for an average price of $16 a dozen.  “At first they are in disbelief. They don’t understand why someone would want to buy so many tamales.”

Magiet plans to continue his tamale runs for the remainder of the winter. Pizzas are still on the table as well.  “If somebody in our neighborhood is struggling, we all struggle.  I’m not trying to save the world. I’m just trying to help people who need food. If I have the ability to go help somebody, I’m just going to go help somebody. To me, it’s literally that simple” Magiet said.

The food Magiet collects will be distributed to several Love Fridges locations around town, Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park, and to Franciscan Outreach’s homeless shelter in North Lawndale. If you’d like to help, donations can be made to Zelle at 773-807-0057 or venmo: @takoreacocina.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Indiana Program Enables Truckers to Donate Rejected Food Shipments to Food Pantries

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.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Former Addict Shares Hope In Philadelphia

Former Addict Shares Hope In Philadelphia

A former opioid addict is giving back through random acts of kindness.  Megan Cohen had been in over 70 treatment centers and found herself homeless in different states.  Cohen also spent time in prison before going clean in 2019.  In August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan started The Grace Project, non-profit that gives back to struggling addicts in the Philadelphia area.

“It was actually complete strangers that showed me kindness when I was out there and it, like, planted a seed of hope,” Cohen said. “I wish that the kindness my family showed me would have done that but it didn’t. It didn’t because I expected it.”  For years, Cohen lived in a perpetual state of hunger, trauma and pain. Eventually, she landed on the streets of Kensington, PA -the largest open-air drug market on the East Coast.  Joshua Santiago, an Uber driver coming off his shift spotted Cohen walking along the interstate in the rain.

“Something in my heart told me to stop, I was about to go home and lay in a warm bed” said Santiago.  When he pulled over, Cohen was skeptical about his intentions but being so cold, she said she didn’t care what happened.  Cohen said “I had no hope or will to live at that point.  I asked him why he would let me in his car when it’s obvious what I am.”  “You are still a person,” Santiago told her.  Not long after Santiago offered her a ride, two other “angels” stepped into her path — one gave her a hot meal and a place to shower; another offered her cold water and encouraging words.

The power of those moments fuels Cohen’s faith in humankind and strengthens her resolve to save others who feel trapped, as she once did, in the throes of addiction.  Every Thursday night, friends and family join Megan to distribute food, jackets, and toiletries in addition to cleaning up the littered streets.  Shane Williams, who became a volunteer following his own recovery said “There’s people openly using drugs. There’s people with serious medical issues being unattended to.” 

Weekly visits will continue as long as the community continues to support The Grace Project with funds and donations. Cohen hopes that the non-profit will evolve into a resource to support entire families who struggle with similar circumstances.  The GRACE Project’s GoFundMe page expands on their vision: “As we continue to grow, we hope to be able to start helping more people in need. This goes beyond those that are homeless. We would like to be able to start offering assistance and organizing events for children out there and in similar areas. We also hope to be able to start assisting anyone else who is in need of a little grace and a little hope. This could look like the person who is just turning their life around and needs some help getting on their feet or the parents who have a sick child and may not be able to work anymore and in turn are facing financial struggles.”

They also take in-kind donations and have a list on their Facebook page of some of the items they are currently taking. Locals who want to donate can message them on Facebook to set up a pick up or drop off.  In-kind donations can also be sent in the mail to 701 Philadelphia Ave Warrington PA 18976.  “We would not be able to do what we do each week if it weren’t for the support of others and we want to thank anyone who has contributed from the bottom of our hearts.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Atlanta Homeless Man Hailed Hero For Saving Shelter Animals From Fire

Atlanta Homeless Man Hailed Hero For Saving Shelter Animals From Fire

Heroes come in all walks of life and are often created just by being in the right place at the right time. That is the case for Keith Walker, a homeless man in Atlanta who made the split second decision on Dec. 18, 2020 to rush into W-Underdogs Shelter and rescue 16 dogs and cats trapped inside. WWhen Walker saw the flames, he urged another homeless man named Mike to call 911. Then he rushed inside and started pulling out animals as fast as he could.


Walker, 53, has been homeless since he was 13 years old and the nonprofit frequently shelters his dog. One of the nonprofit’s signature programs, The Rescue Team, teaches at-risk kids about compassion and responsibility through rescuing and rehabilitating homeless dogs and cats. Walker has done odd jobs for W-Underdogs for several years and was heading there to walk his pit bull, Bravo.

It’s fortunate the two homeless men arrived at the scene when they did because the organization’s founder happened to be on an outreach mission at the time. Celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, founder of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior and member of the advisory board of W-Underdogs said he saved every single one, and they’re all perfectly fine.

“It could have been really bad,” she said. “If they hadn’t done that, the fire could have spread and we would have lost all our animals. The act that he did was incredibly brave and he is a true hero. He is the guardian angel that was watching over W-Underdogs.” Officials deemed the blaze an electrical fire and the shelter was left uninhabitable but all of the animals were taken to a new facility.

Walker told news outlets that he was “nervous” to run into the burning building but that he knew he had to save the trapped animals. “I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals,” he said. “If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world. My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn’t be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs.”


Walker is now being hailed a hero and a GoFundMe set up to help him with a $5,000 goal has raised almost $85,000. “We received a flood of requests on how people can help Mr. Keith Walker, the hero who saved our animals from the fire. Rest assured we have Mr. Walker’s best interests at heart, and are exploring how to best manage donations that have come in on his behalf,” the facility said on their Facebook page.

In addition to teaching at-risk youth to rescue, care for and train pets for forever homes, W-Underdogs fosters empathy and leadership in young people with programs like planting trees, building dog houses and distributing pet food for those in need. Youth also help with their program to trap, neuter and return of community cats. “We’re not an animal rescue and we are not just a youth program; we’re actually a youth program that empowers you through animal rescue and that’s where the connection lies,” Stilwell explained.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Facebook Adopt A Health Care Worker Group Started To Thank Health Care Workers

Facebook Adopt A Health Care Worker Group Started To Thank Health Care Workers

Christine Danderand knows how hard nurses like her mother have been working during the coronavirus pandemic and wanted to do something to let them know how much their sacrifices are appreciated.  Danderand, an Omaha, Nebraska, makeup artist, set up a Facebook group last month inviting people to adopt the nurses and health care workers at her mom’s hospital.  She only expected her friends to see the group it has grown to more than 12,000 members in just over three weeks and hundreds of health care workers have been adopted.

To participate, nurses and other health care workers can post some information about themselves and a link to their Amazon wish lists.  Adopters got busy sending box after box of holiday cheer along with heartfelt messages of thanks and encouragement.  The gifts have come from grateful members of the public, doctors, who adopt entire hospital units, and even other nurses.  “If you read a lot of the Amazon links, they want compression socks, or a new pair of shoes, or a coffee mug, candy,” she said. “Just little things that kind of brighten their spirits when they get home from work at the end of the day.”

She says she has been spending about four hours a day running the group and has recruited three of her friends to help.  Danderand had only planned to run the group for a few weeks, but says it doesn’t feel right to stop now since it’s grown so much.  She said she’s heard from a lot of people who’ve made new friends through the group.  It’s not just a gifting page anymore, it’s something where they’ve got support from their peers,” she said.

One of her new volunteers is a hospice nurse and was one of the first people adopted by the group.  Kris Epps-Martinez said she’s been adopting other nurses to pay it forward.  “I deal with death all the time,” Epps-Martinez said. “These other nurses aren’t used to this. It’s hard on them. They deal with death, but not like this.”  Epps-Martinez added “It’s simple to do and any health care worker can post and get adopted. We’ve been having them create a wish list on Amazon so that way they get what they want.”

Nurses from states all across the country are now posting and getting adopted.  Danderand says it has been uplifting to see the generosity.  There are currently about 200 workers waiting to get something from their wish list. Now, there’s a need for people to adopt. You can buy as much or as little as you want. Danderand said anything will mean a lot.  “If I could say anything to all the nurses out there I would say thank you,'” Danderand said.  Similar groups have been springing up across the country. If you want to join the movement, check your social media for local adopt-a-nurse initiatives—or start an adopt-a-frontline-worker group of your own.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Chicago 7 Year Old Donates $20K To Children’s Hospital

Chicago 7 Year Old Donates $20K To Children’s Hospital

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 7 year old Hayley Orlinsky has been making colorful rubber band bracelets that she sells for $3 to $5 each. Hayley’s initial goal was to raise $200 as a fundraiser to buy personal protective equipment for a children’s hospital. So far, the endeavor has generated nearly $20,000 for Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, prompting praise and purchases from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Broadway actor Miguel Cervantes and her beloved White Sox.

It all started when she heard news stories about PPE shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic and was inspired to help. Hayley chose Lurie Children’s Hospital because she spent the early days of her life there due to a breathing problem. The money Hayley raises goes directly to Lurie through a fundraising office. Lurie hasn’t had any problems getting gear and has used the money to pay for masks, goggles, face shields, gloves and other items for medical workers and visitors, said Tracey McCusker, an associate director at the hospital’s foundation.

While many enterprising young people are raising funds for causes close to the heart, the amount Hayley has brought in is unusual. “Her fundraiser is exponentially more than our typical kid fundraiser,” said McCusker who estimates $500 to $1,000 is about average. It’s hard for the second grader to grasp how much more $20,000 is by comparison — but she figures it’s a lot. “It’s more than the tooth fairy gives,” she said. “I want to do it until coronavirus is over,” she said. “It feels like I’m helping a lot of people.”

Her mother, children’s book author Lori Orlinsky, estimates the effort has created roughly 8,000 bracelets, most of them made by Hayley. The fundraiser has been a family project: A 4-year-old sister helps organize the bands by color and both parents help mail the finished products nationwide. Family friend Alysson Bourque, who lives in Sunset, Louisiana, purchased some before joining the project, looping bracelets with her own children. “We were excited that bracelets were a symbol of hope and goodwill and brought people together in a time where people feel disconnected,” said Bourque, who also writes children’s books.

Hayley also introduced the idea at Apachi Day Camp, a summer program she’s attended for years. After Hayley’s pitch, campers of all ages were on board. “It just became a thing that everyone wanted to do,” said Beth Miller, a camp director. “It bonded the kids.”

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Atlanta Entreprenuers Pay For $40K In Groceries Inspiring Others To Help Community

Atlanta Entreprenuers Pay For $40K In Groceries Inspiring Others To Help Community

A group of local entrepreneurs in Atlanta paid for over $40,000 of groceries just before Thanksgiving. The group surprised shoppers at the Kroger on Wesley Chapel Road in Decatur on Tuesday. Video posted by entrepreneur Brad Giles’ Instagram pages shows customers dance for joy and tear up as they go through the checkout lanes — only to find their bills taken care of. The generous benefactors worked the registers and delighted customers with the news.

The social media post read “This is the season of giving and it’s more important than ever to give back to those in need! We had the Kroger at Wesley chapel in Atl on fire by giving out free groceries and paying for everyone for over 2 hours! Well over $40,000 of purchases given back to our community! I’m so proud to be a part of an incredible group of successful entrepreneurs that banded together to make this happen! Not only did we shut down the grocery store, we helped inspire the community by showing them that Entrepreneurs can give back to the community just as big as any celebrity and it was so much fun helping so many people this holiday season! “We literally took up all 12 registers for two hours at the grocery store and family after family would go through,” Jason Lobdell, one of the benefactors said.

As many still suffer from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, spreading food insecurity across America, it is important for people to help others where they can. Millions are still without jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic and according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, more than 54 million more people in the country could soon face food insecurity. That is 17 million more than before the coronavirus outbreak.
Local churches across the country have been trying to keep up with communities’ food distribution and are experiencing record turnout with car lines miles long in some areas. Brad and Tronda Giles, along with several of their fellow entrepreneurs took notice and wanted to give back. “We’ve always had that love for giving back and helping individuals who have never had help before, and all the people we help in our work translates to who want to help in our communities,” Brad said.

The Giles’ said that after their group’s show of giving went viral, other entrepreneurs reached out to them to learn how they could give back. “Every little bit counts. Giving is something we all have to do as a community, and if we can all give to each other, it’s going to make everybody stronger,” said Giles.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Michael Jordan Opens 2nd Clinic In Charlotte NC

Michael Jordan Opens 2nd Clinic In Charlotte NC

One year after the first Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic opened its doors in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jordan and his partner Novant Health have opened a second facility. The North End facility has the same goal of providing vital access to primary and preventive care to individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. Like with the original medical clinic in west Charlotte, which was built with a generous $7 million grant from Michael Jordan, the new one also offers behavioral health and social support services—addressing health equity gaps further exacerbated by COVID-19.
Carl Armato, CEO and president of Novant Health said “Michael Jordan’s commitment to improving the health of our communities, and society, is deep-rooted. The impact of the first clinic has been measurable and if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of having accessible, safe, and quality care in communities that need it most.”

In its first year, the first clinic on Freedom Drive had seen more than 3,350 patients, including more than 450 children. Of those, nearly 700 patients were assisted by the clinic’s full-time social worker with nearly 80 patients being referred for additional behavioral health care. In April, when the clinic transitioned into a respiratory assessment center to meet the communities’ needs for accessible coronavirus screening, testing, treatment and education, they completed 12,584 appointments and performed nearly 14,000 COVID-19 tests.

Jordan said “When we came together to mark the first clinic’s opening last fall, no one could have predicted we would be facing a global pandemic just five months later. I’m so proud of the positive impact our clinic has had on the community so far, especially during COVID-19. Our second clinic will provide critical services to improve the health and lives of more Charlotteans, which is so important to me and to Novant Health.”

Both clinics provide integrative services that includes primary care, behavioral health and social support services. Every patient is screened based on social determinants of health such as how a patient’s socioeconomic status and environment affect their overall health. The 6,800-square-foot clinic at 2701 Statesville Ave. in Charlotte is the same size as the first clinic with 12 exam rooms, an X-ray room and physical therapy space. Both clinics service patients of all ages and thousands of uninsured have already been helped by his efforts, and thousands more will be in the years to come.

Jordan grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, and went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets since 2010. A lack of health care is a major issue affecting millions of people in this country, and Jordan is doing his part to directly address the needs of those less fortunate than him.

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