Tag Archives: Illinois

Feed My Starving Children

Feed My Starving Children

According to the World Food Programme, hunger is the world’s number one health risk.  It kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.  Malnutrition and hunger related diseases cause 60% of deaths of children under five in developing countries.  Today’s organization is making a difference for children around the world.

In 1987, Richard Proudfit, a businessman from Minnesota, incorporated Feed My Starving Children to develop an original meal formula to feed starving children.  He had seen the needs of children in Honduras during his mission trips and felt a calling from God to make a difference.   Dr. Richard Fulmer, a food scientist at Cargill, teamed up with colleagues from Pillsbury and General Mills to develop a nutritious “Fortified Rice Soy Casserole” for malnourished children.  The formula for this rice mix was finalized in 1993 and the next year volunteer production started.  Their food is shipped via mission partners to the counties that need it.  They have distributed food to nearly 70 counties and have had more than 99.96% of their meals arrive safely.  In 2008 they worked with nutritionist Cade Fields-Gardner to develop the world’s first and only food to treat diarrhea.

I have personally volunteered at Feed My Starving Children and it is always a moving experience.  They start your experience with a video about their program.

Then after a short lesson on packing the meals, you spend time packing their formula of chicken flavored powder, dried vegetables, dried soy protein, and rice into bags and then into boxes.  Even kids can volunteer.  My daughter loves to put the ingredients into the bags and weigh the bags.  At the end of a volunteer session, you also get a sample of the meal (it tastes a bit like Rice-a-Roni).  Their locations are filled with pictures of the children who have received their food.  I have included a couple of these before and after images below.

Feed My Starving Children now has seven permanent locations in Chanhassen, Coon Rapids, and Eagan Minnesota; Aurora, Libertyville, and Schaumburg Illinois; and Tempe Arizona.  They also have an option for MobilePack events where they bring their operation to you.  You can find the already scheduled MobilePack events and learn how to host your own on their website.

How can you help?

  • If you live near one of their permanent locations, you can volunteer individually or with a group on their website.
  • You can also find already scheduled MobilePack events or learn more about hosting your own on their website.
  • You can also make a monetary donation or purchase merchandise to support their mission.

You can learn more on their website, and their blog.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Google+, and LinkedIn.

After 7 months of eating MannaPack meals twice a day, Marilyn was restored to normal development. Click the photo to read her story.

Jonise was in the Love A Child orphanage since she was 4 years old receiving Feed My Starving Children food. She is now going to school to be a bank teller. Click the photo to see her story.


Related Posts: Sow Much Good and 363 Days



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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Open Heart Magic

Open Heart Magic

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”   ~Roald Dahl

Young children are surrounded by magic.  Magic beans and carpets in fairy tales or the magic hug from a parent that can make things all better.  However, for kids in the hospital, they may stop believing in magic because their parent cannot just make it better.  Today’s organization is bringing magic to kids in the hospital. 

In November of 2003, Mike Walton was a commodities trader who decided to become a volunteer at Rush Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.  He performed close-up, slight-of-hand magic for patients.  Soon he realized that magic offered the perfect vehicle to help kids by getting them involved with an interaction that excited and interested them.  Mike developed techniques to harness the excitement associated with magic to help kids heal and feel better.  Each trick allowed the kids to learn new skills and rediscover their sense of fun and laughter.  The kids also conquered feelings of sadness, fear, and isolation that are common during a stay in the hospital.  These are all things that help the children heal. 

After some encouragement from hospital staff, patients, and patient families, Mike launched Open Heart Magic with a mission to use the therapeutic power of magic and laughter to energize and strengthen seriously ill children in Chicago area hospitals and to aid their healing.  They strive to reach young patients one-by-one regardless of their disease, medical situation, or physical ability so that all children may benefit from this engaging and entertaining therapy. 

With the launch of Open Heart Magic, Mike trained the first set of volunteer Hospital Magicians.  These volunteers had no background in magic, but were interested in helping kids in hospitals.  He took them through a 12 week course which is now the basis of the Introductory Training at the OHM Magic University.  In 2004, Open Heart Magic became an officially registered 501c3 nonprofit organization.

The organization excels as engaging kids that have been difficult to reach and those who may not be able to participate in other activities due to their physical or medical restrictions.  They recently launched a new magic program that allows them to even visit those children staying in isolation to protect them from infection.  They are able to visit these children who are restricted from most visitors to show them the transforming power of magic, laughter, and joy.  

How can you help?
Open Heart Magic has several opportunities to help their cause.

  • You can volunteer as a Hospital Magician.  You can find the volunteer application on their website.
  • Run on the Miles for Magic Charity Running Team in the Chicago Marathon, Half Marathon or other race or personal challenge.  You can learn more about their Miles for Magic program at
  • You can also join the Open Heart Magic Professional Board to help promote awareness of the organization and serve as a catalyst for their growth.   You can contact Ryan Walsh at to learn more about this opportunity. 
  • You can also make a donation through the Open Heart Magic website. 

You can learn more about Open Heart Magic on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts: Sweet Dreams for Kids, Camp Get-A-Well-A, and The Monday Life

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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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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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Dreams for Kids

There are 1.7 million homeless children in the United States and 8 million children with disabilities.  Some of these children don’t have the opportunity to achieve their dreams or don’t feel as though they have dreams to achieve.  Today’s organization, Dreams for Kids, has been helping kids achieve their dreams since 1989. 

Dreams for Kids is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization that was founded by Tom Tuohy, in Chicago.  On Christmas Eve, 1989, a dozen volunteers, including Santa, visited 54 children living in a Chicago area homeless shelter. When the volunteers were told that the kids would never have even known it was Christmas, a commitment was made to reach out further each and every year.  This event grew into the Dream for Kids Holiday for Hope that has become the largest holiday event of its kind in the world – holding events in over 30 countries.  Homeless and severely underprivileged youth enjoy a spectacular day of food, music, games, and activities.  Each child also receives a shopping bag full of gifts.  In each event, those who are given the gift of hope are encouraged to pay it forward by serving their community in the following days.

In 1996, Dreams for Kids was introduced to another group of isolated children—those with developmental and physical disabilities.  When the organization found that these kids had no organized sports or social activities available to them, they created Extreme Recess, the first adaptive sports program of its kind for kids with disabilities.  Extreme Recess gives children with developmental and physical challenges the opportunity to participate in sports.  Many of these children have never participated in sports and enjoy a life changing experience when they realize they can.  Adaptive sporting events from snow and water-skiing, to martial arts and baseball, allow youth to realize a physical potential they never knew they had.

In 2007, the international Dream Leaders program was launched.  This program unites an entire generation of youth of all abilities, and from every race, religion, gender, and socio-economic background, to each other, and to service in their local and world communities.  Instead of receiving a charitable handout, isolated youth are reminded they have something to give and are empowered by the opportunity to serve others.  The program helps these youth become the solution and help change world.  This program builds self-esteem, enhances leadership skills, breaks down stereotypes, and so much more. 

In 2009, Dreams for Kids expanded to the nation’s capital to serve the Washington DC Metro area.  The DC group recently partnered with the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Washington Capitals hockey team for Extreme Recess events.  They were able to partner with both teams to raise awareness for adaptive athletics and children living with disabilities while giving over 100 kids an amazing opportunity.  Here are videos from the event with the Capitals and a video from the event with the Nationals.

How can you help?

  • If you live near Chicago or Washington, DC, volunteer for one of the Dreams for Kids events. 
  • Make a monetary donation to Dreams for Kids or one of their specific programs. 
  • Spread the word about Dreams for Kids on Facebook or Twitter. 
  • Share this post to spread the word about this organization.

Learn more on the Dream for Kids website,  You can also follow the Washington DC chapter on Facebook and Twitter or follow the Illinois chapter on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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