Monthly Archives: February 2011

52 times 52

If you made a New Year’s resolution, you have probably either forgotten about it or given it up by now…just like the majority of people who make them.  Today’s profile is about a couple who have made a resolution to increase their charitable giving.  GiverGirl and GiverBoy made a resolution to give $52 each week to a different charity for all 52 weeks of 2011 – and are encouraging others to join them! 

The couple was inspired by Resolution ’11, an effort started by an old college friend of GiverGirl.  She describes that “he was encouraging me to make a socially-conscious resolution for 2011, and I spent all of November and early December turning the matter over in my mind.  In mid-December, we had a fateful Facebook chat that settled the matter.”  Since GiverGirl is a writer, she decided to try a weekly blog about issues and causes close to her heart.  In addition she wanted to increase her charitable giving.  These two ideas blended into a blog about a weekly gift. 

GiverGirl continues, “My marketing brain needed to pin down a clever name for this endeavor…and the numbers just sort of floated together.  Fifty-two weeks in a year…fifty-two dollars?  It was a scary number, but I wanted to be a little scared.  I wanted to really stretch myself.  52times52 took shape in my mind that afternoon, and I got started on a domain name and blog design that evening.  Then there was the matter of getting my husband on board!”

GiverBoy adds, “When Giver Girl came to me with this idea, my immediate answer was yes, though in the back of mind I wondered if we could sustain that level of giving.  I shared Giver Girl’s desire to increase our charitable donations, and we both feel that we’ve been blessed financially and desire to share what we’ve been given with others.”

Both GiverBoy and GiverGirl know what it’s like to have unmet needs, both physical and emotional.  They often hurt for others, because they know their pain.  They are now in a good place in life…a place that includes a wonderful, warm house, plenty to eat, and three beautiful children.  “We feel we’ve been blessed with more than we need, and we want to share what we have with others.”

GiverGirl describes one recent donation experience, “we gave our $52 to the Dream Foundation in honor of my recently-deceased grandfather, and a couple of folks from that organization found out about it, commented, and shared with their followers on Facebook and Twitter.  That totally made my weekend.”  You can find GiverGirl’s Dream Foundation post here

Many may think that $52 is a lot of money…but think about your weekly coffee purchases or add up your cafeteria purchases.  Giver Boy explains, “We realize that $52 seems like a lot to give week-in and week-out.  Bottom line, though, we feel it’s doable and a worthy challenge.  Both Giver Girl and I agree that we have more than we need.  If we live within our means, this shouldn’t be too hard for us.  Sometimes we don’t live within our means, however.  We like to go on family trips, we like expensive craft beer, we like eating out on occasion and, well, Giver Girl loves her some online shopping (the UPS man has joked that we should install a loading dock for all her purchases).  We actually really, really could use new living room furniture, and it’s going to have to wait a while.  But that’s okay.  That’s not nearly the biggest problem a family could have.”

How can you help?

  • You can watch their resolution unfold by following their blog at  Check their weekly giving post and if you are inspired, join them in making a donation to that week’s organization.
  • You can also sign up as a giver on their site – pledging to give alongside them each week – either to the causes highlighted on the site or to others near to your own heart.  You can set your pledge at a variety of giving levels if $52 per week doesn’t fit in your budget.
  • You can also share the link to their website on Facebook or Twitter to inspire others to make a difference.

Note that no giving transactions are processed through the 52times52 website.  Everyone gives on their own and shares their experiences via the blog posts and comments. 

Learn more about 52times52 and subscribe to their blog at  You can also follow them on Twitter.

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Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Volunteer Profile


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Clutch for Cause

I am a woman who finds a purse I like and uses it until it falls apart.  But I know many women who have multiple purses they switch between or even stop using once the season passes.  Get those purses out of your closet for a great cause!

Clutch for Cause is an organization that is finding a new life for gently used purses.  They are a nonprofit organization focused on helping single parents and their children by acting as a referral service to numerous government agencies, legal services, organizations, and companies.  A parent may be looking for someone to talk to about getting child support, child custody, medical assistance, financial assistance, day care, or some other service.  Clutch can also help with questions about parental rights.

Clutch founder Amy Wollmuth is a single mother herself and is aware of the struggles single parenthood can cause at times.  She states, “the growing number of single parent households throughout the U.S. is alarming and something needs to be done to reverse the trend.  My goal in starting Clutch is to reach those who normally don’t ask for help and raise awareness that being a single parent is not an easy task by any means. In the end, it’s the amazing and innocent children that are missing out.  Clutch is here to help the parents so that they can continue to raise our next generation of strong, independent children.”

The goal at Clutch is to stay focused, be reliable and respectable. Amy continues, “We will continue to be motivated because we are working together to change lives.  As long as there are single parents raising amazing children, Clutch will be here to lend a helping hand and grow with them.”

Clutch is also in the process of setting up a support group for single parents.  This will be a regularly scheduled meeting situated in different communities throughout the Twin Cities, Minnesota metro area.  It will be an opportunity for parents to meet others in the same situation as them and provide everyone with a place to go to relax, have fun and help each other.  Children will be welcome at these meetings.

Clutch is giving Purses a better Purpose!  The purses serve as a fun marketing idea.  They provide a simple way to donate to Clutch – either by purchasing a purse or by giving some that have been tucked away in a closet.  According to Amy, “Our plan is to always use this idea for marketing, but not to rely on it for income.”

Clutch for Cause is based in Richfield, Minnesota and is currently available to help single parents throughout Minnesota.  They have plans to eventually expand their services across the United States.

How can you help?

  • Dig through your own closet and donate a gently used purse.
  • Make a monetary donation via their website.
  • Shop the Clutch eBay Store for purses!
  • Hold a purse collection drive.  The MN Women of Today have had purse donation drives that have collected over 250 purses so far. The MN School of Business and sororities at the University of Minnesota have also donated purses from holding their own purse drives.
  • Spread the word about Clutch for Cause by sharing this post.

Learn more about Clutch for Cause at their website,  You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

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Posted by on February 22, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Kid Flicks

When kids are in the hospital fighting against Cancer , what is the first thing they might ask for?  A toy?  Ice cream?  Video games? Computers?   Not according to one Child Life Specialist.  “Movies are the first things kids ask for when they are in the hospital,” she says.  Enter four sisters:  Berni, Romi, Lexi , and Marni Barta.  Motivated by this premise, they founded Kid Flicks – a non-profit charitable organization devoted to stocking the shelves of children’s hospitals everywhere with movies.

While conducting spring cleaning in 2002, the Barta sisters found several used DVDs that they no longer watched.   Thinking of a mutual friend that was being treated for Leukemia at the Pediatric Oncology Department of the Los Angeles hospital, the sisters decided to take action.  They knew that their friend liked to watch movies to pass the time while she was in the hospital and decided to donate those used movies to her hospital.   But they didn’t just stop there, that afternoon they began the first steps towards creating Kid Flicks.  They wrote solicitation letters to family and friends requesting DVD donations.   Within the first week they had gathered over 100 movies, and their efforts gained steam from there.

Thanks, in no small part, to the massive amount of donations that continued to cycle in, the Barta sisters decided to donate a movie library consisting of 100 assorted films to as many hospitals as they could.  After contacting movie studios, and production companies, organizing drives at their schools, working with local pediatricians to advertise their organization, news began to spread.   Their positive efforts became contagious and other people began organizing their own drives to raise new and used DVD collections at religious schools, through Brownie Troops organizations, and promotions by radio and television interviews.

Today, people from across the nation send dozens of DVDs to the girls, and their outreach has included stocking DVD libraries to every hospital within a five-hour driving radius around Los Angeles.  Presently, Kid Flicks is donating movies across the United States and has expanded into South Africa.   As of February 11, 2011 Kid Flicks has donated 57,000 movies to 570 different hospitals.   But shipping these movies isn’t free. Not to be deterred, these four innovative and high achieving sisters began applying for grants and awards to help pay costs to ship the libraries.

While their journey has taken them international, along the way they have won numerous awards, including:

  • The Gladys Marinelli Coccia Award at the National Service-Learning Conference in San Jose.  This award was founded in memory of Gladys Coccia, who began her entrepreneurial career as a young girl in West Virginia and went on to become a successful businesswoman and community leader in Washington, D.C. Berni was one of two girls to win this award and was granted a $2,000 donation for Kid Flicks.
  • Huggable Heroes:  Marni was named a 2008 Build-A-Bear Workshop® Huggable Heroes® finalist. She was one of 31 young people from around the world being honored by Build-A-Bear Workshop® for demonstrating strong leadership, dedication and compassion to make positive strides in the world.
  • Most notably, On January 29, 2008 Marni and Berni Barta received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush when he visited Los Angeles. After he presented the Kid Flicks founders with the award, the girls were given a private tour of Air Force One.

Their goal — which may have once seemed like shooting for the stars, is well on its way to becoming a reality – to, “provide every children’s hospital and pediatric department in the county with a Kid Flicks ‘movie library’.”  You can help them in their cause by visiting  or on Facebook.   On their website you can see their list of recipients and impressive list of donors.

If you know a little boy or girl recovering from a serious or potentially life threatening illness in a children’s hospital, give them all the warmth and love you can, maybe a bowl of ice cream, and their favorite teddy bear, and don’t forget to pop a movie in the DVD player.  Maybe you can pull that movie from a Kid Flicks DVD library, and maybe, you can send the Barta sisters some of your used DVDs to support their cause.   Every child deserves the right to be a kid, and no child needs the diversion of an upbeat and comical movie or cartoon, than a child struggling with a serious illness.

This post was written by Brent Pearson….Blogunteer supporter and husband.


Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Volunteer Kansas

Did you know that the Corporation for National and Community Service has a website that allows you to see the ranking of each state in volunteerism?  Based on this data, the state of Kansas is ranked 8th out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. for the percent of state residents who volunteer.  Kansas has an average annual volunteer rate of 35.9%.

A new website, launched in September 2009 to help more Kansas residents connect with volunteer opportunities.  The vision of Volunteer Kansas is to move Kansas from number eight to number one in volunteerism.  To realize this vision, they will need to add more than 100,000 volunteers in the next five years.  The organization’s mission is to connect potential volunteers to organizations that need help in order to work toward that mission.

Volunteer Kansas, is a 501c3 organization based in Wichita, Kansas and has an extensive and diverse network of individual, corporate and non-profit contacts, making it uniquely suited to take on the visionary goal of making Kansas the number-one state in volunteerism. began because many people in the community expressed an interest in volunteerism but did not know how to connect to organizations in need.

Individuals can search for volunteer opportunities on the site by date, type of organization, length of commitment and location.  The website also features volunteer opportunities from their partner organizations.  All organizations are reviewed, so volunteers can be confident that they are working with reputable organizations.

The site also hosts a searchable exchange where members can post their needs – such as help with yard work or hauling away junk – and their haves – such as an extra couch or some spare time.  This feature allows members to connect directly to make a difference.

Organizations can apply to be a partner organization with Volunteer Kansas which allows them to organize and promote their volunteer opportunities through the website.  Organizations are also able to request microgrants…small monetary grants that offer a bit of assistance to those in need.

How can you help?

  • If you live in Kansas, register for free on the website to find volunteer opportunities.  Opportunities are ever-changing and include things like setting up for events, selling items, providing clean-up, babysitting, office work, teaching, caring for animals and more.
  • Take a look at the Exchange to see if you have anything to offer to someone who needs it.
  • Anyone can offer assistance through the Microgrant program by searching for opportunities and making a secure donation on the site. 
  • Spread the word about Volunteer Kansas by sharing this post! 

You can learn more about Volunteer Kansas by visiting their website, or by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Alive & Kicking

There are some conversations that can change your life.  The idea for today’s organization was spurred by one such conversation on a street in Tanzania.

Alive & Kicking’s late founder, Jim Cogan OBE, saw a man on the side of a road stitching a ball, stopped to talk to him and the concept for Alive & Kicking was born.

The vision of Alive & Kicking is an Africa where every child can play with a real ball, where thousands of jobs are sustained in the production of balls for previously unemployed adults, and where sport contributes to the eradication of deadly disease.  To realize this vision, they are establishing stitching centers in disadvantages areas in African countries.  They employ local adults at a fair wage to hand stitch footballs, volleyballs, and other sport balls from local leather. 

Some of the hand-stitched balls are sold in local retail outlets or online, with proceeds being reinvested in social outreach and employee programs.  The rest of the balls are donated to local schools and projects that cannot afford to purchase them. 

This already sounds like a great program, but Alive & Kicking also prints simple messages on all their balls about diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and TB to act as prompts for teachers and coaches.  The children can then be taught about the difficult topic of disease through sport.

The organization currently has two stitching centers, one in Lusaka, Zambia and the other in Nairobi, Kenya employing 150 adults between them.  Both centers operate as not-for-profit businesses with all surpluses being reinvested in further charitable activities and employee welfare.  The organization also hopes to open a third stitching center in West Africa in 2011.  In addition, there is an office located in London where they created an educational program that is focuses on teaching young people about issues in international development and global citizenship.  They even created a series of lesson plans which integrate Alive & Kicking’s work into the school curriculum that has been adopted by over 20 youth groups and schools in London.

In addition, in Kenya, Alive & Kicking has produced a set of HIV/AIDS awareness posters featuring African sports stars warning young people of the dangers of contracting HIV. These have been distributed to every secondary school in Kenya.  A similar program is being launched in Zambia in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

How can you help?

  • Buy a hand-stitched ball for yourself at their website.
  • You can also donate a ball to a school, orphanage, refugee camp or youth project in Africa.  You will even be sent information on who receives it.
  • If you happen to be near one of the stitching centers in Africa, you can visit to see how a ball is made (or for most people…you can watch a video of the balls being made here).
  • You can also spread the word about the Alive & Kicking mission by sharing this blog post!

You can learn more about Alive & Kicking at their website, You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.

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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Cheerful Givers

Earlier tonight our family had a family celebration of our daughter’s birthday.  While we didn’t do much, we gave her a gift, a special meal, and some cake.  I hate to imagine a child being sad because their family couldn’t afford a birthday gift.  Today’s organization is making a difference for those kids. 

Cheerful Givers provides toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift. They believe this simple gesture boosts self-esteem, enhances self-worth and strengthens bonds in less fortunate families.

Cheerful Givers began when founder Robin Steele was touring a food shelf when the barren birthday shelf met her. The thought of a child’s birthday passing without recognition lit a fire in her heart and stirred her to action.  Robin created twelve birthday bags filled with toys and dropped them off at the food shelf on a Sunday night.

Early Monday morning a call came to share the heart-warming story of a woman who had come to the food shelf looking for a food item to celebrate the birthday of one of her children. Her despair turned to joy when she was presented with a birthday bag that she could now give to her child. Overwhelmed with joy the woman exclaimed, “The whole way over on the bus I prayed and prayed that there would be something here for me to give my child, but I never dreamed that there would be something so beautiful!” Within hours, all the bags were gone.  Cheerful Givers was born.  Since 1994, more than 380,000 bags have been provided less fortunate children with a Happy Birthday.

Cheerful Giver’s celebrates that every child’s birthday is a very special day and that every child has the right to have it recognized.  A birthday celebration is important to the development of self-esteem and healthy self-esteem is critical to a child’s ability to develop and learn successfully.  However, for children who are living in poverty and/or homeless, birthdays pass with little or no celebration due to a family’s limited financial resources.  There are many children who do not believe they have a birthday, or that they deserve a birthday, since it is never celebrated. These birthday bags send a message that every child is important. 

Cheerful Givers serves families primarily throughout the state of Minnesota but they work with thousands of volunteers throughout the country.

How can you help?

  • Make an online donation to purchase items and supplies to make birthday bags.  Every $10 donation provides supplies to make one gift bag filled with toys!
  • Hold a Birthday Bag Blitz by collecting toys, bag them in gift bags, and donating them to a local shelter.  E-mail Karen to let her know about your donation inspired by Cheerful Givers.
  • Donate toys, crayons, puzzles or other items for kids ages 3-12.
  • Spread the word about the organization by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook.
  • The organization is also looking for additional volunteers such as bloggers, grant writers, and sponsors.  Please visit their website for details.

Learn more about Cheerful Givers by viewing the video below, visiting their website,  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or Flickr.

Update 10/2012:  If you live in the Twin Cities area, sign up now to participate in our Make A Difference Day event from 1-2 pm on Saturday, October 27 when 120 volunteers will fill 3,001 birthday bags at Thomson Reuters headquarters in Eagan, MN.  You must register by October 17 to participate.

The Cheerful Givers Story from Cheerful Givers on Vimeo.

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Posted by on February 8, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Store To Door

Each of us has probably known someone who started having difficulty running their own errands but still could take care of themselves in their own home.  There are well-known services such as Meals on Wheels to help bring meals into their homes, but today’s organization is another option enhance the ability for aging adults to continue to live independently.

Store to Door is a nonprofit grocery and prescription shopping and delivery service for elderly adults in the Twin Cities, Minnesota seven-county metro area.   The organization was founded in 1984 by Dr. David Berger and Judy Madaj.  Dr. Berger had attempted to encourage other agencies to initiate a grocery delivery service for homebound adults who are able to live in their own home and prepare their own meals.  When other organizations did not step up to provide this service, Dave and Judy started Store To Door by enrolling a group of clients.  They did everything themselves – order taking, shopping, delivery, banking and administration.  In that first year, Store To Door shopped for and delivered 1,600 orders.  Since then they have grown and developed better processes.  In 2010, they delivered over 17,000 orders to over 1,300 clients.  In 2003, they started purchasing all your groceries at Cub Foods.  They currently have daily shopping operations out of five metro area Cub Foods stores in St Anthony, Crystal, Bloomington, St Paul–Midway, and Maplewood.  In 2013 they plan to make 20,000 deliveries to 1,700 clients as well as adding a Cub store in Chanhassen to serve Carver County and their first store outside of the Metro in Isanti County at the Cambridge Cub Store.

Store To Door serves the entire seven county metro area, acting as the eyes, ears, arms and legs of adults unable to get out and shop for their own groceries.  On a regular schedule, volunteers phone clients for their grocery order and shop for them at Cub Foods.  Staff members deliver the groceries and prescriptions in refrigerated vans.  Their clients live on their own and pay for their groceries, using personal funds or Food Support benefits.  They serve people of all incomes.  A delivery contribution (determined by age, household size, and self-reported income) is requested of all clients.  Customers can order any product that Cub Foods carries, including postage stamps, magazines, cleaning supplies, toiletries, prescriptions, greeting cards, etc.  Store To Door services are tailored to meet the needs and expectations of our elderly clients.  Orders are placed over the phone (no computer needed), customers can use coupons and food stamps when paying for groceries.  Deliveries are made right into the client’s kitchen and when needed the staff member even helps the client unload and put away the groceries.  Also, since they are talking to customers over the phone, and seeing them in-person during delivery, they are able to provide another social outlet for seniors who may otherwise be quite isolated.

How can you help?

  • Make a donation online at their website or via your company’s United Way campaign.  Monetary donations are used to maintain delivery vehicles, purchase gas, or help with other administrative expenses.
  • Donate your whole, uncut, un-separated manufacturer’s grocery coupon booklets from the Sunday paper.
  • Take a look at the volunteer program blog to learn more about opportunities.
  • Volunteer with Store To Door in a variety of capacities, including roles as office assistants, volunteer order takers, coupon corps members, and volunteer grocery shoppers.  One opportunity is a phone order taker.  These volunteers develop an ongoing relationship with the elderly adults by calling them on a regular schedule to take their grocery order every other week.  A second opportunity is to volunteer as a grocery shopper.  Visit their website to find a full list of opportunities and to signup.

Learn more about Store To Door on their website,  Store To Door was also recently featured in the “Non-Profits To Know” series presented by the Saint Paul Foundation and the Minneapolis Community Foundation – watch the video here.   You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.


Posted by on February 3, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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