Tag Archives: children

Classes 4 Classes

Classes 4 Classes


Most of the organizations I write about have a personal and moving story behind their beginning.  Today’s organization was born out of an event that impacted many across the country. 

When I asked the founder of today’s organization for the story behind its beginnings, Kaitlin Roig told a story that I want to share in her words:

“On the morning of December 14, 2012, inside Sandy Hook Elementary, myself and my entire school endured one of the worst tragedies imaginable. Twenty-six lives were taken too soon, too senselessly, and too brutally. In the midst of this unimaginable loss, which could have resulted in the loss of my own life, I knew I had to find meaning again.

In the wake of the tragedy, I experienced a deep need to create positive change by choosing, love, caring, consideration, compassion, empathy, and hope. In doing so, I made a commitment to teach that to my students—to our nation’s students—by creating an opportunity for them to be a part of something incredibly meaningful through their school curriculum.

As a teacher, I was well aware that teaching a social curriculum often gets overlooked in many classrooms, where the emphasis is so heavily placed on academic testing and more traditional subject areas. I knew the importance and meaningful impact of teaching students how to treat, interact, and empathize with others, and witnessed it being lost in the mix. I experienced first-hand that children need to be taught kindness, caring, compassion, and empathy, and knew, in the moment of the tragedy, that it was part of her responsibility as a teacher to make sure this happened. This is where I got the idea for Classes 4 Classes, Inc.”

The mission of Classes 4 Classes, Inc. is to teach every child in the United States to have a genuine interest in the wellbeing of others, by providing a platform through which to actively engage them in social curriculum. Students will learn kindness by being kind, they will learn to care by caring, and they will learn empathy by being empathetic. The organization enables students to learn to care for others not by talking but by doing, which cultivates a message that our lives are not separate, but connected.  When kindness, compassion, love and empathy are actively taught, there is no room for hate.

For teachers, the Classes 4 Classes website outlines a process to engage your class in a caring curriculum.  The step-by-step process guides teachers through picking another classroom to adopt through getting the funds to that classroom.  Students in one elementary school classroom give a gift that fulfills a need or educational objective of another elementary school class, anywhere in the country.  The organization promotes a “pay it 4ward” attitude because the receiving classroom is only able to accept their gift after they have selected another classroom to give to.  There are also curriculum ideas for engaging students in learning a social curriculum, not by talking about kindness and empathy but by actually living it. 

Phase 1 of the organization launched in April 2013 and they already have 14 classrooms that have launched projects to provide gifts for 14 other classrooms and nine of those projects have already been fully funded!  Donors have contributed over $9,000 to fund iPads, Kindles, textbooks, white boards, and projectors for classrooms across the country.  Additionally, $7,000 has been donated directly to support the Classes 4 Classes mission. 

Kaitlin also told me, “Classes 4 Classes’ ultimate goal is not the dollar amount provided by donors, nor the gifts that that money is funding, but the positive influence that grows out of the donor’s contributions. They allow students to participate in a project and to act on behalf of someone else this has an extreme impact on a young mind. C4C aims to positively impact the social climate through the youngest and most influential members of our society, so that they are more likely prevented from ever experiencing a tragedy like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook.”

How can you help?

  • Anyone can support the mission of Classes 4 Classes, Inc. by visiting their website,  You can scroll through the list of projects and donate directly to your favorite. 
  • You can also make a donation directly to Classes 4 Classes, Inc. on their website.
  • You can also spread the word to elementary school teachers in your community by sharing my blog post.

You can learn more about Classes 4 Classes, Inc. on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter




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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Color A Smile

Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~Albert Einstein

Color A Smile

One of my favorite things that my daughter has brought home from school is a journal.  It was actually a series of drawings that showed her memories throughout the year.  A child’s drawing can put a smile on your face and warm your heart.  Today’s organization is spreading smiles through art.

In 1986, Jerry Harris was visiting a friend when he noticed how cheerful their refrigerator door looked with all the colorful artwork from their children.  Jerry’s children were not yet old enough to draw, but he realized how a cheerful drawing can make people smile and brighten their day.  A schoolteacher friend agreed to have her class draw the first batch of pictures to distribute to seniors, adults who live alone, shut-ins and anyone else who wanted them and Color A Smile was born.

The mission of Color A Smile is to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to experience the rewards of volunteering.  Their main program is collecting crayon drawings from school children to distribute to senior citizens and active military personal overseas.  They are based in Morristown New Jersey, but they receive drawings from every one of the United States and even a few other countries.

Color A Smile

Jerry Harris told me in an e-mail that they receive thank you letters every day from people who receive drawings from the program.  “People say how the drawings make them smile and remind them that someone is thinking about them and took the time to send them a cheerful greeting.”  They have boxes of cards and letters full of thanks and encouraging the organization to keep sending more drawings.  In addition, many parents, teachers, and scout leaders thank them for a program that allows young children to participate and learn the joy of volunteering.  Kids who participate in the program learn that they can help someone else by using the skills and resources available to them in their own home and school.

Since starting in 1986, Color A Smile has sent over one million drawings.  They are proud to have sent drawings to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as thousands of seniors in the United States.  Color A Smile provides a unique opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to make a difference.  Jerry Harris states, “Everyone can help us to spread smiles as long as they like to create cheerful colorful drawings.”

How can you help?

  • Anyone can color a cheerful drawing for Color A Smile to distribute.  Simply go to to download pages to color.  Then simply mail your completed drawings to the address listed here.
  • You can also nominate someone to receive drawings or request to receive a group of drawings each month for a nursing home on their website.
  • You can also spread cheer by sharing the monthly masterpieces that Color A Smile posts on their website.
  • You can also send a monetary donation to Color A Smile at PO Box 1516, Morristown NJ 07962-1516.

You can learn more about Color A Smile on their website,  You can also contact the founder, Jerry Harris, directly at or 973-540-9222.



Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Many families look for ways that they can give as a family.  Giving provides teachable moments for children to learn about generosity and gratefulness.  I wrote about one organization called Doing Good Together that offers many suggestions.  Today’s organization provides direct connections between families who wish to give and families that have a need.

In the fall of 2002, the New York Times ran a series of articles on poverty in the United States.  One article featured stories of poverty from Pembroke, Illinois where “some still live in crumbling shacks with caked-dirt floors and no running water.”  The article went on with other staggering statistics such as 98% of their school children qualify for free lunch and the average per capita income was less than half the national average.

Pam Koner, a mom and entrepreneur living in Westchester, New York, read that article and felt compelled to help.  She contacted an outreach worker in Pembroke to share her idea of linking families she knew with the neediest families in Pembroke.  She was given the names of seventeen families and then convinced sixteen friends and neighbors to help.  They began sending monthly boxes of food and letters – one family linked to another family.  The seventeen families quickly grew to 60 families, then after a flurry of media attention, they grew to 900 families linked across the United States.  The Family-to-Family organization was born.

They currently help approximately 2,000 moms, dads and kids in 22 communities across the United States.  Families sponsored through the program continue to be identified by local outreach partners who have specific knowledge of the needs of families in their communities.

Learn about the founding of Family-to-Family directly from founder Pam Koner in the following video:

The mission of Family-to-Family is to alleviate suffering, one American family at a time.  They started by providing groceries to supply seven dinner type meals for a family of five, but have expanded to help families in need in a variety of ways including sponsoring meals for families, a variety of literacy projects, donating seeds to a family to grow their own garden, and much more.

Learn about a recent addition to their program offerings where children in need are enabled to help other children in need to learn how it feels to give to others in the video below.


How can you help?

Family-to-Family offers a variety of opportunities to get involved.

  • You can sponsor a family.  They have multiple options on their website including packing and shipping your own sponsorship or sponsoring a family though an online donation.
  • Give a child in need a birthday party including a gift, decorations, and a cake through the Birthday Giving Project.
  • Give the gift of books through their Books for Life or One Book at a Time program.
  • Help a family build their own garden by donating seeds to one of the Family-to-Family community partners.
  • Help children with less learn how it feels to give by supporting the Giving Works program.
  • Monetary donations can be made on their website.  These donations help purchase food for families who are not currently sponsored, expand to additional communities, or general operating expenses.
  • Explore the Family-to-Family website to find additional opportunities to help.
  • You can also watch this video to see how you can help.
  • You can also help by spreading the word.  You can share this post using the share buttons below to encourage others to make a difference.

You can learn more about Family-to-Family on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Today’s post is about an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that is working to spread life-saving vaccines to kids around the world.  I encourage you to watch this short video from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to learn more about vaccines.

According to the United Nations Foundation, around the world, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine.  The number of children dying each year from preventable diseases in developing countries is nearly equivalent to half the children entering kindergarten in the United States.

In September 2011, the United Nations Foundation unveiled their Shot@Life campaign to expand access to lifesaving vaccines for children in developing countries.  The campaign also serves to educate Americans about vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save children’s lives around the world.

Over the past 20 years, new cases of polio have dropped 99 percent making the world is nearly polio-free. The Measles Initiative has vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries since 2001, decreasing world measles deaths by 78 percent.  Additional vaccines for pneumococcal disease and rotavirus are currently being introduced globally and, if distributed widely, have the potential to save millions more children.  Vaccines provide a lifetime of protection for children and at just $20 per child anyone can help make a difference.

Shot@Life builds on the United Nations Foundation’s 13-year commitment as a partner in the Measles Initiative and Global Polio Eradication Initiative and spreads newer vaccines developed to prevent pneumonia and diarrhea, the leading killers of children.  Shot@Life is supporting the work of its partners to expand access to existing vaccines for children in developing countries to protect them against four vaccine-preventable diseases, measles, polio, pneumonia, and diarrhea.

Shot at Life

How can you help?

  • You can start by visiting to learn more about the initiative.  Their website offers several ways to advocate for childhood vaccines including writing a letter to your representatives in Congress and spreading the word about global vaccines.
  • You can also make a donation to help children around the world receive lifesaving vaccines.  Just $20 will vaccinate one child.
  • You can also help by spreading the word about Shot@Life by sharing this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media using the share options below.

You can learn more on the Shot@Life website,  You can also connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Pinterest.

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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Beverly’s Birthdays

Beverly’s Birthdays

A birthday is a day to celebrate and feel remembered and loved.  Every child deserves to celebrate that special day each year.  Today’s organization was inspired to ensure that happens.

In March of 2011, Megan “Megs” Yunn was volunteering at an afterschool program helping a young girl named Beverly complete her homework.  Beverly was asked to use the “accustomed to” in a sentence, Megs offered an example, “At a birthday party people are accustomed to eating what?”  To this, Beverly responded, “I have never had a birthday party or a birthday cake.”  At 12 years old, Beverly had never had a birthday party of her own.  Megs was inspired by her story and decided to start an organization to provide birthday celebrations for homeless youth in the Pittsburgh area.  In June 2011, Megs submitted her idea to the “BE BIG in Your Community Contest,” of the ongoing Clifford The Big Red Dog® BE BIGTM campaign.  Her idea for Beverly’s Birthdays was selected as a first place winner out of over 1,000 entries in the nation which provided the starter grant to make her dream a reality.  Beverly’s Birthdays became a registered nonprofit organization in Pennsylvania in February 2012 and hosted their first birthday party that same month.

The mission of Beverly’s Birthdays is to provide birthday celebrations for homeless children living in shelters in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.  They believe in spreading birthday cheer 365 days a year and that every child, regardless of personal or financial circumstances, deserves to be celebrated.  They are currently the only organization with a mission to provide birthday celebrations in Pennsylvania.  Their specific mission provides something that the homeless children they serve would go without.  Their goal is to eventually be able to serve all the homeless children in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The organization currently partners with two local facilities, Sojourner House MOMS and Auberle.  Beverly’s Birthdays hosts a party each month for the children living in the facility.  The parties are for any child who has a birthday during that month and the other children in the program are the party guests.  Each party includes pizza, birthday cake, treat bags, and games.  The child also receives a birthday box filled with small presents on his or her actual birthday.  In addition, Beverly’s Birthdays provides Birthday Cheer Bins to local emergency shelters so children can celebrate a birthday that happens to occur during their stay.

Beverly's Birthdays

During the September celebration at Auberle, a teenage boy came up to Megs and said, “Ms. Megs, I don’t know what to wish for on my birthday, but this party is better than anything I could ever wish for.  Thank you for making me feel special.”

In 2012, Beverly’s Birthdays hosted 15 birthday parties that celebrated the birthdays of 60 children at four different agencies and raised $18,000 to spread birthday cheer.  In 2013, they have plans to provide parties for 200 children at seven agencies.

How can you help?

Beverly’s Birthdays offers a variety of ways to get involved.  You can contact them via e-mail to inquire about any of these volunteer opportunities.

  • Volunteers are needed to staff the birthday parties.  Typically there are one or two parties each month.  Volunteers must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by an adult.
  • Birthday Bakers are important volunteers who bake cupcakes or cookies for the parties.  The bakers need to accommodate nut-free treats for at least 3 dozen people.
  • Volunteers are also needed to shop for specific birthday wish requests from the children.
  • In addition, volunteers are needed to serve on the administrative team of the organization.  They are currently seeking individuals to assist with party planning and fundraising.
  • They also accept in-kind and financial donations.  Their current wish list as well as information about making a financial donation can be found on their website.

You can learn more about Beverly’s Birthdays on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and via e-mail.

Beverly's Birthdays

Related Post: Cheerful Givers


Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Raise your hand if you have ever received underwear as a gift.  It may seem like an embarrassing gift for many of us, but imagine if you never had your own new underwear.  The Salvation Army states that underwear is the second most requested essential item after food and water, but it is the least donated item.  Today I write about an organization that is helping fill this underserved need.

Over a conversation with her brother-in-law, Koree Khongphand-Buckman was inspired.  He told her how his family grew up without much money and he would be so excited when they received barely used underwear as part of their donations rather than very used underwear.  She left that evening feeling sad to know that children grew up with used underwear or no underwear at all.  The next morning she shared the story with her co-workers and it tugged at their heartstrings too.  They formulated a plan to make a difference in children’s lives, one pair of underwear at a time.  Soon the UNDERWEARNESS organization was born.

UNDERWEARNESS is based in Thornton, Colorado and is on a mission to provide new underwear to children in need.  Underwear is kind of a taboo subject so it is rarely donated.  The organization may not be saving the world, but they are providing brand new packages of underwear to children so they can have underwear that is theirs and theirs alone.  UNDERWEARNESS serves a unique need by focusing on underwear.  They do not donate directly to individuals, they provide their new donations to children through other 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that assists families and children in need.

Since 2009, they have donated over 61,000 pairs of underwear to locations all over the United States as well as the Dominican Republic, Africa, Haiti, and Mexico.  This has helped approximately 10,000 children.  They recently collected about 4,000 pairs of underwear to the Salvation Army in Staten Island, New York to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  What makes this accomplishment even more impressive is that they did this in just 3 days.  Earlier in 2012, their third annual Drop Your Drawers 5K event was held in Denver and collected over 4,000 pairs of underwear and $15,000.  The underwear was donated to the Salvation Army of Denver to go to the Colorado Wildfire Victims.

Like many other organizations, UNDERWEARNESS is run completely by volunteers so they have a variety of ways you can help.

  • You can make a monetary donation through the organization’s website.
  • You can also host an underwear drive in your own community and the organization will donate the underwear to the organization of your choice.  They have details on how to run a drive on their website.
  • If you are in the Denver, Colorado area, you can participate in or volunteer for their annual “Drop Your Drawers 5K” event.  You can find the details about the upcoming May 2013 event here.

You can learn more about the UNDERWEARNESS organization on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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MN Blogger Conference Charity Recap

A couple notebooks, a few pens, a cool phone screen cleaner, a flash drive…these are just a few things I brought home from the Minnesota Blogger Conference this past weekend.  Even though that stuff was cool, they weren’t the best things I found there.  I found some great connections with other bloggers.  One blogger suggested a non-profit for me to write about, another wanted to connect with a non-profit for an opportunity, and others were excited to check out my blog.  It was exciting to connect with other passionate bloggers and learn ways to improve my own blog.

Another exciting part of the conference was the opportunity to feature a local charity with all the attendees.  The planning committee selected Free Arts Minnesota and at the conference we collected art supplies.  Bloggers brought supplies that filled two boxes to help Free Arts Minnesota to further their mission of bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families.  A local photographer, Mandy of Glimpses of Soul Photography, took headshots in exchange for donations toward Free Arts Minnesota.  We collected $938.71 in cash and check donations – not even counting the online donations that were made that day.  If you would like to make an online donation, you still can at

Donations of Art Supplies to Free Arts Minnesota

We are excited that our monetary donations will also be matched by a recent grant that the organization received from the Pohlad Family Foundation.


Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Other


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