Monthly Archives: July 2012

Keys 4/4 Kids

Do a quick Internet search for the benefits of music education and you will quickly find long lists of benefits including better academic performance, improved creative thinking, and higher self-esteem through self-expression (just to name a few).  There are many organizations dedicated to music and today I profile one of them.

Keys 4/4 Kids is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire young people to believe in themselves through the arts.  The primary programs are the Piano Placement program and he Paint-A-Piano program.  Both programs involve piano donations to low-income homes, churches, schools, or community centers that could not otherwise afford a piano.  The organization also promotes better access to music and the arts to all people by selling pianos and donating the proceeds to support local music and arts programs.  You can see a video about their Piano Placement program here.

Newell Hill began selling donated pianos out of his parent’s garage in 2000 to fund MUSE, an after-school music and arts program in North Minneapolis.  This program helped fill the gap in music and arts education that was created by budget cuts to schools.  He was able to successfully fund the program and felt he had a great opportunity to bring the idea of piano donations to a broader public.

The organization is based in St. Paul, Minnesota and also has locations in Belle Plaine Minnesota, Chicago Illinois, and Kansas City Missouri.  They offer a unique opportunity to recycle used pianos rather than struggling to find a new home for a piano when moving, downsizing homes, or purchasing a new piano.  A piano donation to Keys 4/4 Kids supports local non-profits and allows you to receive a tax deduction.  It also provides a lower cost option for families looking to purchase a piano.

How can you help?

  • First, you can spread the word about this organization!  If you hear someone looking to buy a piano or trying to find a new home for their piano, please suggest they look into Keys 4/4 Kids.  You can find information about piano donations and pianos for sale on their website.
  • They are also currently looking for volunteers to help out on Saturdays to greet customers and even help them pick out pianos.
  • They are also looking for volunteers to assist them with their social media campaigns.

Another project that Keys 4/4 Kids has launched is Pianos on Parade (POP).  This project places ‘artistically transformed’ pianos around the Twin Cities, Minnesota in various outdoor locations for all to play and enjoy.  The idea behind this project is to spur residents and visitors to spontaneously engage with art, music, and one another, creating moments of community and highlighting the city’s exceptional commitment to music and arts.  You can learn more about this program and watch videos about it at  Below are examples of the pianos as well as a map of their piano locations in 2013.

You can learn more about the Keys 4/4 Kids organization on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook.


Pianos on Parade



Pianos on Parade

Pianos on Parade

Pianos on Parade Map

Click the map for an interactive map.


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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Please Vote for The Blogunteer

The Blogunteer has been nominated for a GOOD Maker award!  The winner will receive $1500 ($1000 donated to a charity of my choice and $500 to me).  I selected the Minnesota Women of Today as my charity of choice – you can see why here.  If I win, the $500 would also be used to make a difference in some way.

Visit my project page at and click “Vote for this Idea” to vote for me! Please use either Firefox or Chrome browsers.

If you need to register, please remember to validate your email address (you’ll receive instructions after you vote) so your vote gets counted. You’ll see a notification at the top of the screen once your vote has been successfully counted. If you have any issues,

Please spread the word!  I appreciate any support that I receive!



Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized



Madison Claire Foundation

Summertime is prime playground time!  Time to swing, slide, run, jump, and play tag; but playgrounds are not made for all kids.  Today’s organization is on a mission to change that.

On May 16, 2002, Madison Claire Millington was born.  She appeared to be a healthy baby, but by her six-month checkup, her parents knew her development wasn’t progressing the same as her two older siblings.  Madison was not lifting her head, rolling, bearing weight on her legs or sitting unaided.  The doctor referred her to a neurologist and a diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) followed.  According to the SMA Foundation, “SMA is a genetic neuromuscular disease characterized by muscle atrophy and weakness. The disease generally manifests early in life and is the leading genetic cause of death in infants and toddlers”.    Madison lived until just three months past her second birthday.  She passed away on August 17, 2004. 


After Madison passed, her mother Dana knew she wanted to start a foundation that would help families with disabled children in some way.  The birth of that idea came after a day of golfing for her husband Dave.  A group of men passed a hat around the table and collected a couple thousand dollars.  They told him it was for the family to use where they needed it.  They put it in savings until they were ready to make that decision.  They started the foundation by donating overnight backpacks to parents in the Pediatric ICU at St. Paul Children’s Hospital.  The backpacks contained everything needed for an overnight stay.  Over four and a half years, they donated 320 backpacks annually. 

Then, one morning Dana saw a news segment on “inclusive playgrounds.”  As she watched a family share a story similar to hers, she remembered taking her children (including Madison) to the playground.  Dana had to decide between letting her older children (then only ages 5 and 3) play independently in the playground or to leave Madison alone in her wheelchair at the edge of the playground.  Playgrounds are a childhood experience that no child should go without, and while all playgrounds can claim they are accessible, they are not inclusive. 

The Madison Claire Foundation is currently raising funds to build an inclusive playground named “Madison’s Place” in Woodbury, Minnesota.  They hold an annual fundraiser and accept donations through their website.  The playground will be 15,000 square feet and is being designed with help from the Rehabilitation Services team at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. 

A rendering of the Madison’s Place playground

How can you help?

  • You can make a donation directly on the organization’s website.
  • You can also volunteer to help with their annual fundraising event – the next one is scheduled for October 20, 2012.  Watch for updates on their website.
  • You can also contact them directly at to inquire about group fundraisers or other volunteer opportunities.
  • You can also spread the word about the need for inclusive playgrounds.  If you don’t live near Woodbury, you can search to help you locate inclusive playgrounds near you in the United States or Canada. 

You can learn more about the Madison Claire Foundation at their website, and sign up to receive their newsletter.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Balls Go Round

Each year over 300 million tennis balls are made each year.  The US Open alone goes through 70,000 tennis balls each year!  After a while the balls lose their bounce and are no longer usable for the sport.  I am sure some can come up with creative ways to reuse the old balls, but you can only go so far.  Today’s organization is helping those balls get new life!

Balls Go Round is an organization dedicated to collecting, recycling and reusing recreational balls in order to help needy organizations and youth programs throughout the United States.  The organization was founded in 2007 by brother-sister team Jeffrey and Karly Krasnow. 

The idea for this organization came to them while competing in United States Tennis Association (USTA) matches in New York City.  With each match, they were required to throw away the used balls and open a new can of balls.  This would happen at hundreds (or even thousands) of USTA matches across the country.  They knew this was also happening at country clubs and tennis centers. 

Balls Go Round collects the used balls and redistributes them to other organizations such as animal shelters, occupational therapy centers, and youth programs where the balls are reused as animal toys, hand therapy tools, and of course to play tennis.  Since their founding, they have been able to get 100,000 balls collected and redistributed.

In addition, Balls Go Round has been able to recharge over 3,000 balls via reBounces to extend their life even longer.

How can you help?

If you live near their Vero Beach, Florida headquarters, you can offer to assist with labeling recycled balls with the Balls Go Round logo for various, managing their database and helping pickup and recycle donated balls. 

For others, Balls Go Round can help you contact country clubs and other places throwing away dead tennis balls and help link you with organizations that may be a great beneficiary of the balls.  Local youth programs, nursing homes, and animal shelters are just a few examples. 

You can learn more about Balls Go Round on their website,  You can also connect with them via e-mail,, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Related Post: Kids Are Heroes also recently wrote about the founders of Balls Go Round

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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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