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2 days ago · by · Comments Off on British War Veteran Raised Millions During Pandemic

British War Veteran Raised Millions During Pandemic

Captain Thomas Moore, a British World War II veteran raised money for charity in the run-up to his 100th birthday during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 6 April 2020, at the age of 99, Moore began to walk one hundred lengths of his garden in aid of NHS Charities Together, with the goal of raising 1,000 pounds or $1391 USD by his 100th birthday. In the 24-day course of his fundraising, he made many media appearances and became a popular household name in the UK, earning a number of accolades and attracting over 1.5 million individual donations. By the end of the day on Moore’s hundredth birthday, the total raised by his walk was 32.79 million pounds or $45 million USD.

When his campaign reached 5 million pounds, he explained his motivation “When we started off with this exercise we didn’t anticipate we’d get anything near that sort of money. It’s really amazing. All of them, from top to bottom, in the National Health Service, they deserve everything that we can possibly put in their place. They’re all so brave. Because every morning or every night they’re putting themselves into harm’s way, and I think you’ve got to give them full marks for that effort. We’re a little bit like having a war at the moment. But the doctors and the nurses, they’re all on the front line, and all of us behind, we’ve got to supply them and keep them going with everything that they need, so that they can do their jobs even better than they’re doing now.”

Funds raised by Moore were used on well-being packs for National Health Service staff, facilitating rest and recuperation rooms, devices to enable hospital patients to keep in contact with family members, and community groups who support patients once discharged from hospitals. When his campaign ended, Moore encouraged people to continue to donate, directly to the NHS Charities Together’s urgent appeal.

Moore’s selfless pursuit captured hearts around the world, including that of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called him “a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus.” So many cards had been sent to him during the last two weeks before his 100th birthday that Royal Mail had to introduce dedicated sorting facilities and around 20 volunteers were recruited to open and display them, at the local Bedford School. On the morning of his birthday, a Hawker Hurricane and a Spitfire from the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast over Moore’s house. In the afternoon, a second flypast featured two Army Air Corps helicopters, a Wildcat and an Apache.

Murals were created in his honor, a bus company named one of its buses Captain Tom Moore on and reprogrammed the electronic displays to show a “Thank You Captain Tom” message intermittently in between the vehicle’s route and destination. On 17 July 2020, he was personally knighted by the Queen at Windsor Castle. Moore passed away on February 2nd 2021 after contracting Covid 19 but his impact during the pandemic made him a hero in the United Kingdom. Moore’s family continues to honor his life and giving spirit through The Captain Tom Foundation.

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4 days ago · by · Comments Off on Missouri Woman Turned Grief Into Hope During Pandemic

Missouri Woman Turned Grief Into Hope During Pandemic

A Missouri woman turned her grief into hope after she lost 11 of her family members and friends to COVID-19.  Shana Jones, of Maplewood, sets up dozens of tables outside her home six days a week with hundreds of free items for those in need.  Jones lost the first eight of her friends and relatives in her home town of  Albany, Georgia, in the week before and after her March 25, 2020 birthday.  “I cried, and I felt weak.  It just became so overwhelming that I became numb” she said.  But soon after, Jones wanted to use her grief to do something good for her community, and she began putting a collection of tables on her front lawn, each one full of food and supplies for anyone to take — free of charge. 

The tables were stocked with paper products, snacks, canned goods and cleaning supplies — things that a struggling family may have a hard time affording if they have fallen on hard times.  Residents only have to drive by and take what they need from the “Grab-N-Go” tables.  Although she remains heartbroken from the losses, she wanted the tragedy to be a stepping stone and decided to give back to her community.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has given away food to more than 300 families a week.

“A lot of people cannot go back to work full time, they’re part-time and they’re still trying to make it, but they are struggling because, you know, they’re home. They can’t work” Jones said.  Jones’ generous actions meant so much to her neighborhood that many left notes expressing their appreciation. “Every time I get a note,I feel that the angel of one of my family members or friends is saying, ‘Well done” Jones said.

I have elderly people who come by and say, ‘I’m scared to go to the store, can I get some cabbage off your table?’ People come by and donate. They just put stuff on the table to help the community. That’s all I’m trying to do,” Jones said.  The St. Louis County Council awarded Shana Jones with a special resolution “for making a difference in Maplewood.”

Lisa Clancy, the Chairperson of the St. Louis County Council said “I see Shana as an inspiration.  “We just wanted to honor her for what she’s doing. I think it’s great.”  While some items are donated, Jones has purchased many of the items herself, costing her hundreds of dollars. “Her main focus is improving the lives of those around her,” according to the GoFundMe page set up to accept donations for the effort.

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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on California Woman Has Fostered Over 80 Babies

California Woman Has Fostered Over 80 Babies

A Hayward, California woman has been a mother to more than 80 babies over the years through foster care.  Linda Owens has cared for 81 infants in the 34 years she has been a resource parent.  The 78-year-old retired grocery department manager fosters the babies as a single parent and she remembers them all.  She keeps a supply of baby gear and clothes on hand; some, bought with her own money. 

Owens said “It’s a challenging job, but very rewarding.  This is what God’s handed me a gift to do,” said Owens, who has loved taking care of babies since childhood.  Sometimes she fosters two infants at a time.  A number of the newborns come to her exposed to drugs in the womb. Some have developmental delays and many don’t sleep through the night.

Among the county’s 500 resource parents, Owens is one of the longest-serving.  Mia Buckner-Preston is the Placement Division Director of the Alameda County Department of Children & Family Services, which places children in foster homes.  “Her experience, the care, the love she provides to the babies, it’s immeasurable.  She’s in a category almost all by herself.” said Buckner-Preston.  That experience shows according to pediatrician Mika Hiramatsu. Owens has brought many babies to her over the years.  “She’s always been very optimistic, always determined to give these babies the best possible start in their lives,” said Dr. Hiramatsu. 

According to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, 7% of all children in the system are under the age of one and the average age of children in foster care is about 8 years old.  From October 2018 to September 2019, there were 672,594 children served by the U.S. foster care system.  During that time, 254,359 entered the system and 248,669 have exited the system. The Statistics from Adoption Network show 140,000 children are adopted in the U.S. every year and 59% come from the foster care system, 26% from foreign countries and 15% are voluntarily relinquished. 

When Owens job is done and it’s time to turn the babies over to their birth or adoptive families, letting go can be heartbreaking but she’s giving them and their parents the best possible start.  The oldest of the babies she’s fostered is now 37.  Owens has loved taking care of children since she was a child herself and it shows through her over three decades of work with the foster care system.

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3 weeks 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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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on California Couple Adopts Seven Children Orphaned In Deadly Crash

California Couple Adopts Seven Children Orphaned In Deadly Crash

California husband and wife adopted seven children after the children’s mother and father perished in a car accident a year earlier. The siblings had been placed in foster care when Pam Willis came across a post about their story. Pam, 50, and her husband Gary, who have five biological adult children, had fostered before, but they had never discussed adoption. She tagged him in the post, not knowing if he would feel the same but by the end of the day the both wanted to adopt them all.


“We knew deep inside that this mission was being placed before us,” Pam wrote. “If not us, then who? Who would keep them all together? Who would have the space for them? Who would have the time, and the love, and the patience for their trauma? We would. Why else did we have a six-bedroom house that was about to have its last child’s bedroom vacated? Why else would our nest that had raised our first five babies be empty just in time? It was only to make room for our new babies.”


Two months after making initial contact with the foster care agency, Adelino, 15, Ruby, 13, Aleecia, 9, Anthony, 8, Aubriella, 7, Leo, 5, and Xander, 4 were placed with Pam and Gary. The Willises knew it would take time for them to earn the children’s trust but they were willing to do whatever it took. Last August, Pam and Gary made the adoption official. The virtual ceremony was attended by the couple’s biological children, Matthew, Andrew, Alexa, Sophia, and Sam—whose ages range from 20 to 32.


The couple learned that the children had experienced quite a bit of trauma in their lives. Their mother and father were sometimes indigent and also struggled with substance abuse. As a result, they were sometimes unable to provide a stable environment for their kids. The family left their home with all their belongings in tow, headed to a new life in Texas when the deadly rollover crash occurred. All seven children had been ejected from the vehicle, suffering minor to critical injuries. They ranged in ages of 1 to 12 at the time. The children were treated for their injuries and placed in foster care.


Pam revealed that connecting with the older ones was tough. “I think it’s so hard to trust when so much has been taken from your life,” she told the outlet. “Ruby didn’t know how to be a kid. She had to be a mother figure at a very young age.”


Though a second family hadn’t been in their plans, Pam said “They were ours from the minute we saw their faces on the news story. If you ask my friends, one moment we were reposting their heart-wrenching news story and calling attention to their plight, the next minute we were meeting them, falling in love, and starting the adoption process… WE are their forever home, and this is our second chance with SEVEN!”

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on NC Mother Raises $35K For School Custodian Who Helped Her Son

NC Mother Raises $35K For School Custodian Who Helped Her Son

After the head custodian at Edenton’s White Oak Elementary, Raymond Brown, didn’t take home the North Carolina School Hero Award he’d been nominated for last year, an entire community—led by one determined mom—got together to let him know just how much they appreciated him.  Adrian Wood, whose autistic son Amos has formed a special bond with Brown said Brown welcomed her son and when the most popular man in the school gives her son a nice nickname, it drew other children in, leaving Amos with no trouble fitting in.  “As a mom of a child with a disability, there’s nothing more I want in the world to others to include him” Wood said.

When the kids at his school realized there was something special going on between the 7-year-old and the school’s favorite grownup, it helped them see Amos in a way they hadn’t before.  All the kids started talking to him. Even now, if you walk down the hall, you’ll hear children say, “There’s Famous Amos! Hey, Famous Amos!’  

With her other two children, Wood went through the usual school-related worries, but having a child with special needs was another experience entirely. “Sending Amos to school was such a different path.  He was 3 when he started school. He was in diapers and he didn’t speak. But after Mr. Brown started saying hello to him and calling him Famous Amos,’ Amos started saying, ‘Hey Brown,’ when he saw him. He wasn’t even saying ‘Daddy,’ at that point, so it was really something” Wood said.

Brown’s affection for little Amos helped the now 7-year-old fit in with his fellow students.  “You have this man that everybody loves suddenly paying attention to this little boy,” Wood added, “Amos is a hard friend to have. He takes a lot more than he gives and that’s tough for children. But those kids saw that he was popular and loved and they started fighting over who would get to hold Amos’ hand on the way to the classroom. It meant so much to me for him to be so favored by the other children at school, and Mr. Brown had a big hand in that.”

When Brown was passed over for the NC Heroes Award, Wood admits to crying tears of frustration but she decided to find another means of honoring him.  She used her Facebook blog, Tales of an Educated Debutante, as a platform to right a wrong. Within a week, she’d raised $35,000 from nearly 2,000 people from around the globe and had a plan in the works to shower Brown with the kudos he deserved.

On March 20, in a surprise ceremony that coincided with Brown and his wife’s 38th wedding anniversary, the Browns’ grown children along with hundreds of well-wishers—including Edenton’s mayor, the chief of police, and Miss North Carolina—were on hand to sing their beloved custodian’s praises and present him with a $35,000 honorarium dubbed “The Famous Amos Award.” 

“I was very surprised,” said Mr. Brown, who wore a tuxedo to the event for his photo shoot. “I was caught off guard. To see all those people shouting and hollering ‘Mr. Brown, congratulations,’ it was beautiful and it’s hard to explain, but I know this community loves Mr. Brown.”

White Oak principal Michelle Newsome said “Mr. Brown is really, truly so deserving of all of this and then some,” said Newsome. “He’s our rock steady fella here at White Oak… he’s just a gem and we are so lucky to have him here. There isn’t a child in this building that doesn’t know who Mr. Brown is and that Mr. Brown cares for them and loves them.”

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on New Zealand Nonprofit & Supermarket Chain Partner to Combat Food Insecurity

New Zealand Nonprofit & Supermarket Chain Partner to Combat Food Insecurity

A first of its kind supermarket opened in Wellington, New Zealand on March 16, 2021 thanks to the efforts of the Wellington City Mission and the supermarket chain New World.  The social supermarket is just like any other supermarket, with fruits and vegetables, sanitary products, pasta, cheese and baked beans lined up along the aisles.  While it has the look and feel of a regular supermarket, this store has no prices, all the food is free. 

This new market is a big shift from the traditional model of people who are food insecure receiving ready-made parcels because it gives people the dignity of being able to choose their own food.  In a time when food insecurity is on the rise in New Zealand, the new social supermarket will go a long way in reducing the stigma of people who cannot afford to purchase food on their own.

The Wellington City Mission’s blog post explained “We can only imagine how hard it must be for someone to ask for food support. The concept of the Social Supermarket is about providing dignity, self-respect and encouragement to those who are vulnerable in our local community. We wanted to make a positive change to our Foodbank model.  We already had a close working relationship with New World across Wellington, they’re always hugely supportive with donations and through their annual Family2Family Foodbank Appeal, so when we started to develop the Social Supermarket concept, we picked the phone up and asked for their help.”

Chris Quin, CEO of Foodstuffs North Island who operate New World, says the partnership is a natural extension of a long-standing relationship between New World, it’s local owner operators and Wellington City Mission. Working together on the Social Supermarket, which is a first of its kind in New Zealand, provided an opportunity to extend the co-operative’s commitment to helping ensure all New Zealanders have access to healthy food.

The supermarket will be open for anyone in need in the Wellington region. This includes people who are already receiving help from the mission or who are referred from other social service agencies.  People do not have to prove that they are in need to shop at the supermarket but appointments are necessary. The super is open Monday – Friday from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm with social workers on hand to help the shoppers.  People are allocated points depending on their individual situations. A single adult is allocated $55 in points and families receive more. There are also special bins that include items that do not come out of the point system.

The market stocks almost anything you can find in a grocery store except alcohol or tobacco products and already has 3,000 different products. Even though the new store is being supported by a large chain, food donations are still needed and wanted.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on NJ Moving Company Sparked Initiative to Help End Hunger

NJ Moving Company Sparked Initiative to Help End Hunger

A simple question asked by a New Jersey moving company in 2009 has sparked an initiative capitalizing on the amount of food left behind in clients’ fridges in order to help increase supply to local food banks. Over 1,050 moving companies and 22 million pounds of food later, Adam Lowy—founder of Move for Hunger—has turned unwanted food items into enterprise-level charity.


Lowy said “When people move, they throw away a whole bunch of stuff: food, clothing, furniture, you name it. And what bothered us was the perfectly good, nonperishable food that was getting left behind in the pantry, or simply thrown in the trash. So we started by asking a very simple question: ‘Do you want to donate your food when you move?’” In the first month of Lowy’s idea, he managed to collect 300 pounds of food. He wondered if one moving company could make this kind of impact in their local community, what an entire network of moving companies could do.


That question, led to the creation of Move for Hunger, which links moving companies with food banks in their area, and these pairings with apartment offices, corporate housing, relocation management companies, real estate agents, and other entities to reach as many tenants and homeowners as possible about the impact they can make by donating their food before they change addresses.


Once one of these partners gets word that someone wants to move, Move for Hunger provides a pamphlet about local hunger problems, a large plastic bag, and a cardboard box—all to help people donate any food they don’t feel like bringing along with them. Then a local moving company will bring those packed-up pantry staples to a local food bank, helping ensure nothing gets wasted.


Hunger affects one in six American children, and it’s only gotten worse during the pandemic as government-mandated business closures have ravaged the economy, destroyed jobs, and disrupted supply chains. Move for Hunger operates across the USA and Canada. They try to hold special events—such as food drives and holiday-themed collections as well. Their February 2021 Spread the Love event received 16,000 meals donated across 300 separate food drives, and 20,000 pounds of peanut butter and jelly being used.


Rental property owners or managers, moving companies and real estate agents can help by signing up on the moveforhunger.org website and encouraging others to do so too. Anyone with an upcoming move can also find moving companies in their area on the website who will deliver their donated food. Move For Hunger’s mission is to mobilize the relocation industry to reduce food waste and fight hunger. Rescuing and donating meals for communities in need is so important because millions of people need help today.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Wheel of Fortune Winner Donates 100% of Winnings of Charity

Wheel of Fortune Winner Donates 100% of Winnings of Charity

Scott Kolbrenner of Encino, California, a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, donated his $145,000 in winnings to be split between two charities.  Kolbrenner won approximately $45,000 in cash and prizes during the regular rounds of play, before correctly guessing the bonus puzzle and collecting the $100,000 Grand Prize.  He pledged $72,500 each to Uplift Family Services at Hollygrove and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Kolbrenner has worked with Uplift Family Services, one of the most comprehensive behavioral health treatment providers in California, for the last 20 years.  He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and volunteers his time.  The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank sources and acquires food and other essential products to distribute to those experiencing food insecurity.

Kolbrenner has been watching Wheel of Fortune “his whole life” and watches religiously with his wife and kids. He was selected to be a contestant after applying with a video at WheelOfFortune.com and participating in a virtual audition.  When asked he said the COVID-19 pandemic and current economic downturn is why he knew he wanted to help the community if he won.  “It’s been a dark time,” Kolbrenner said. “When I went on the show, I was doing it for the fun of it, and I said to my wife … ‘If I do OK here, anything that I get, let’s give it to charity. We’re very fortunate. Let’s see if we can support some others who aren’t as fortunate as we are.”

He added “I got lucky that day and knew right away that I wanted to share my good fortune. So, I decided to contribute all of my winnings to Uplift Family Services and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, whose services support thousands of families. The fun and memories from the day will stay with me forever, but the urgent need in our community cannot wait.  My wife was the only person that knew what happened that night of the taping. It was complete and utter shock for everybody in our lives, and they were elated about it.”

Both organizations thanked Kobrenner for his generosity on Facebook.  Uplift Family Services, which helps children and their families manage and recover from trauma and related challenges wrote “We are so honored and grateful that Scott chose to play for us while advocating for our agency’s Los Angeles-based Hollygrove programs!”

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank said in a Facebook post said “It takes the whole community to fight food insecurity and the critical work that we do is possible with the help of people like Scott Kolbrenner.”

Kolbrenner said that Hollywood, despite being known for its “glitz and glamor,” also has struggling communities that are underrepresented. “What I was hoping with the ‘Wheel’ is to shine a light on them,” Kolbrenner said.  The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank serves more than 300,000 people every month.  They estimate one-quarter of the food they distribute goes to children, and roughly one-fifth to senior citizens in LA County. 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Minneapolis Coffee Shop Expanding To Help Homeless Youth

Minneapolis Coffee Shop Expanding To Help Homeless Youth

As of 2019, there were more than 35,000 homeless youth in the U.S., with an additional 550,000 young people between 18 and 24 experiencing homelessness for longer than a week. Most often this is a result of family conflict coupled with poverty, mental health, substance abuse, and other contributing factors. The pandemic hit the homeless youth especially hard, as already limited access to hygiene and shelter resources became further strained by social distancing measures and school closures. 

Despite these dreary facts, a Minneapolis woman is determined to make a difference in her community.  Carley Kammerer, the executive director of Wildflyer Coffee, provides skills training and support—as well as an income—for young people experiencing homelessness.  When Kammerer first established Wildflyer, the organization employed four to six young people to sell simple pour-over and iced Dogwood Coffee drinks at local farmers’ markets each season.  It now expanded to a brick and mortar location and is in the process of expanding both its coffee service and its training program.

Before starting Wildflyer Coffee, Kammerer had been working youth experiencing homelessness for about eight years in different capacities.  Since Kammerer’s parents owned a coffee shop when she was growing up in Wisconsin and she had roughly 10 years of barista experience herself, she decided to start a coffee business to help address the problems she was seeing in the youth with whom she worked.

She spoke with other social workers and case managers to understand what was working and what wasn’t when homeless youth tried to get and maintain jobs, and she used their insights to develop Wildflyer’s six-month program. By offering extensive training and real-time coaching when issues on the job arise, the program is designed to help bridge the gap between life on the street and entry-level positions.

 “I saw the same youth cycling through drop-in centers and outreach programs and there wasn’t a lot of traction to get them out of that cycle.  Youth don’t always know how to do well at time management, customer service and dealing with managers professionally” Kammerer said. 

Her goal was to run a business that would meet homeless youth where they are, offering flexibility and understanding while fostering the soft skills and customer service-focused development that would help them meet the demands of the job market.  When she founded the café she said “What if we knew what we were getting into and planned ways to handle skill development rather than fire them?”  When challenges arise, Kammerer and her team talk through them with the youth employees, focusing on causes and potential future solutions. With her social work background and contacts, she’s also able to connect youth to services and resources to help stabilize their situations.

Kammerer is now able to increase Wildflyer’s available employment hours from 200 per year to a minimum of 3,000 per year. She expects to employ roughly two six-month groups of 10 to 12 young people.  Moving forward, Kammerer plans to focus on what she calls Phase Two of Wildflyer’s work: partnering with local businesses to hire its graduates. So far, another local business, Butter Bakery Café has come on board as the first Phase Two partner dedicated to hiring graduates with an understanding of their situation.  Kammerer’s business had to adapt to the pandemic but those challenges haven’t seemed to deter her from making a difference in the lives of people in her community.

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