If you haven’t heard of DonorsChoose.org, you’ll probably enjoy learning about it. Charles Best was a teacher in the New York area and a graduate of Yale who, in the year 2000, created a website where teachers could post needs that they had in the classroom and encourage donors to help them put the project together. He paid a developer a few thousand dollars and DonorsChoose.org was born. Donors can find projects that inspire them and put in as little as $1 towards the cause. When the project has its funding, the site buys the needed supplies and ships them directly to the school. Every donor also gets a thank you note from the teacher, photos from the classroom and an accounting of how the money was spent.
Today, a staggering 76% of public schools in the U.S. have a project posted on the site. Learn more about their site, and think about how one person with an out-of-the-box idea can change an industry.
Hearing stories from people who have experienced the deep and lasting impact that cancer can have on a family can really make a difference. It helps with fundraising and with allowing others to understand the pain and the real facts involved with cancer. One such story was recently shared by James Donovan, Goldman Sachs Managing Director and Board of Trustee member at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Jim Donovan recounts how he felt when he lost a good friend to prostate cancer; then, in 2013, his brother, John, was diagnosed with adrenal cancer and he lost his life at the age of 43.
As Donovan explains, “Through the years, I have learned that the “unimaginable” loss we felt is something that millions of families in the U.S. and around the world also experience. According to the American Cancer Society, 8 million people worldwide die of cancer each year and the number of new cancer cases is rising.”
He hopes that others like him will help Dana-Farber with its efforts as it continues its groundbreaking research, its clinical trials and its new treatments.
As he explained, “When my friend, and then my brother died, I felt helpless. I wanted to do something. I wanted to fight back. In part, it’s the reason I joined the Board of Trustees at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It’s why I started a fund for Prostate Cancer Research at Dana-Farber.”
If you have followed Chuck Robinson at all (and he’s worth following!) then you’ll be happy to know that he’s back on the road. Chuck is an independent bookseller and cross-country bike-rider who rides for philanthropies. Robinson is a 69 year old former owner of Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham, Washington who started his latest ride on September 1 in North Dakota. His last journey two years ago was cut short when two far dogs knocked him off of his bike and damaged five of his ribs. This time around, he started near the accident site and now plans to travel 2000 miles to Bar Harbor, Maine. He’s raising money during his journey for three nonprofits which include:
- Book Industry Charitable Foundation
- The Whatcom Community Foundation
- Whatcom Community College
Each location will get $1 per mile that he rides. During his first ride, he generated almost $30,000 for Binc, the Whatcom Community Foundation, and Robinson’s high school. As a fun addition this time, Garth Stein, the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain (Harper) will be matching Robinson’s donations to Binc.
If you happen to be in Hawaii between August 30 and September 8, you may want to check out the grand opening of Jersey Mike’s Subs in Wailuku. Located at 52 Maui Lani Parkway, they are having a free sub fundraiser with all proceeds going to support the American Cancer Society. The franchise owner Alvaro Garcia is sending out 7500 coupons and offering a free sub for a minimum $2 contribution to the American Cancer Society.
As Garcia said,
“We are very excited to be opening our second Hawaii store in Maui. At Jersey Mike’s our fundraising partnerships create a layer of sustainability for schools, youth sports leagues, and other nonprofits in and around our city. These partnerships allow us to truly become members of our community by allowing us to contribute to the success of our youth and our city. Our crew, city officials, and residents have a high level of respect for us for that reason. We honestly feel that we are changing the world one sub at a time.”
Jersey Mike’s has done an amazing job of giving back. Since 2010, their locations throughout the country have raised almost$25 million for charities and they have given away more than 1.5 million free subs to help many causes. This year alone, their 7th Annual Jersey Mike’s Month of Giving in March raised more than $5.5 million for close to 150 charities throughout the country.
A little bit of giving really can go a long way. Bikes 4 Orphans, a nonprofit run by brothers, has given more than 250 bikes to orphans around the world. They started out while in high school at St. Francis High School, trying to raise enough money to purchase and deliver new bikes to orphans in six countries including Kenya and Armenia.
Recently, a supporter recommended to brothers Shawnt and Sebouh Bazikian that they help America’s foster youth, who often don’t have transportation. As Shawnt explained, “We thought that this was kind of a similar situation with the orphans in the other countries [that we’ve previously helped] and there is a real problem here. The more research we did, the more we wanted to help out these foster students.”
17 students at the CSU Northridge’s Resilient Scholar’s program were identified as needing transportation and they were given new bikes, helmets and locks.
Most people get on a plane and visit a country for a week, maybe two. They travel on buses, in cars and with taxis. But not the Roberson family. They, instead, are visiting Scotland and plan to trek 170 miles across the country to pay tribute to cancer victims. Scotland is the homeland of the family ancestor, Clan Robertson, and they set their sites on this location for this reason.
Now, Adam (40), will be going on the trek with his dad Dan (63) and his brother Donavon (43) and cousin Devon (32). They have been planning the charity trek for three years and they hope to be able to complete the journey in 10 days. Devon’s father died of the same disease nine years ago.
Now, the Robersons (the family dropped the “t” in their name centuries ago after a family fight) are raising money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. They hope to raise £5,000 to find a cure for the disease. They are starting from the Isle of Mull and ending in Pitlochry.
If you haven’t heard about Smiles Forever, it’s certainly a place worth knowing about. They have provided free dental services for over 15 years in Bolivia. They also offer oral health education. Over 30,000 poor children have received quality, free preventative and restorative dental care and 37 disadvantaged women have completed the Smiles Forever two year vocational dental hygiene program.
As explained on their website, “Smiles Forever believes the only way to break the cycle of poverty in developing nations such as Bolivia is to educate young women and girls. The culture may relegate females to second-class status, yet there is no denying that the woman is the primary socializing force of the family. An educated woman practices family planning. An educated woman knows that equal opportunity should be afforded to both male and female children. An educated woman understands and values the importance of prevention when it comes to both medical and dental care. She is less likely to accept domestic violence as a situation she must tolerate. She has self esteem, which allows her to make appropriate decisions within her household, community and country.”
Learn more about Smiles Forever and see how you might get involved, or replicate this program in other places.
Now this is a lovely idea for Valentine’s Day and one that more schools might want to implement. Alma’s Stepping Stone school in Arkansas, which was organized in 1972 to help almost 300 children with developmental delays and disabilities, has a fundraiser every Valentine’s Day. All money that is raised goes back to buying supplies for the school classrooms.
The way that it works is that there is a gift shop filled with Valentine’s Day items include premade gift bags, stuffed animals, candy, balloons and more. Items range in price from $6 to $20.
As Mariann McCause, the service coordinator, said, “It’s a great way to not only raise funds but also to be out in the community. It gives people the opportunity to come in and see what we do and how we help the children.”
As a nice addition, the organizers will even deliver gifts to other schools in the area.
The fundraiser will run through Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14. Stepping Stone is located off Highway 64 East, and their doors are open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser and we just get anything we need like supplies for the classroom,” said McCause.
Organizers will also deliver your gifts for you to any school or residence in the River Valley. The deliveries will be made to Fort Smith, Van Buren, Alma, Mountainburg, Dyer, Kibler and Mulberry.
Portillo’s is stepping up to the plate with their charitable work. They have just launched their donation program Portillo’s For Good. With this non-profit, organizations can partner with them to assist in fundraising and support of charitable causes. As its first initiative, Portillo’s For Good is teaming up with the American Red Cross on the program Cake for a Cause. Portillo’s is offering a heart-shaped chocolate cake for Valentine’s Day. They will be available from February 10-14 and a portion of the proceeds (up to $25,000) will be donated to the relief organization.
They will also take pre-orders by calling 866-YUM-BEEF or ordering online at www.portillos.com.
As the CEO Keith Kinsey said,
“Portillo’s has always valued the importance of belonging to the local community and finding ways to support charitable endeavors. As a Marine, our founder Dick Portillo has supported charitable giving to support our service men and women. It was a natural fit to partner with the American Red Cross in launching our Cake for a Cause and Portillo’s for Good programs.”
It is always heartwarming to hear stories of people who have helped others in their time of need. Most of us don’t expect to have to come to the rescue as we go about our daily lives, but it’s possible that if we do, we could actually save someone.
This was the case in August, when financial executive Jeff Feig suffered a cardiac arrest while vacationing in Pine Lake Park in Cortlandt Manor, New York. When he collapsed, rather than watching helplessly, his neighbors jumped into action. One person called for an ambulance while another started doing chest compressions. Someone else did mouth-to-mouth ventilation and a fourth person ran to get the defibrillator.
Jeff Feig would probably not have survived had it not been for their help. The ambulance took ten minutes to arrive. As Jeff Feig told Jane E. Brody for her New York Times article entitled “Increasing CPR Training to Save Lives”
“I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life and I’m not going to waste it. My goal is to spread the word to increase the level of CPR training in the population and get every institution to have a defibrillator on hand and people trained to use it.”
The American Heart Association runs programs around the country training people in CPR and in the use of defibrillators. Certainly, the Red Cross does as well. And there are many people like Jeff Feig who are giving their time and their money educated others about heart health and about CPR.
One such person is Bob Schon who suffered a heart attack at the age of 51. He started to volunteer for the Minneapolis North Memorial Medical Center’s Mended Hearts, which is an affiliated organization of the American Heart Association. He then created the Heart Center Volunteer Program which has grown to include 60 members in the last 13 years. He also helped to form a “Heart Club” which is a monthly, one-hour program that focuses on health issues.
These are examples of people who have taken their health issues seriously and have worked to help others in similar situations.
Update (April 5, 2017): Here is another article which stresses the importance of CPR and healthy living. Enjoy!