Tag Archives: Kindness

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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Life Vest Inside

Life Vest Inside

This year I have had a series of posts about kindness to highlight that kindness makes a difference.  Some stories included a volunteer becoming a client, how to be kind to those who are different, and how to make habits of kindness in your family.  Today’s organization is on a mission to spread kindness.

Life Vest Inside is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading kindness, empowering people to see their potential and building self-esteem and self-value.  They use inspirational films, a newly developed educational curriculum, and a social platform that connects people across the globe.  Life Vest Inside has an exciting kindness experience to bring back the human connection.  This connection helps people become more aware of their surroundings, not just by words, but through gratifying and uplifting acts of kindness.  Kindness is a universal language.

Orly Wahba always knew in her heart that she wanted to make a difference in the world; “I wanted to leave my mark and I wanted more than anything to bring people together under the banner of peace, respect, and kindness.”  Orly had a difficult time in middle school and high school until one day she looked in the mirror and asked if this was still the girl that was going to change the world with kindness.  “This would not be my end; it was just the beginning. I promised myself back then that I would rise back up and that I would be there for people the way I had wished someone would have been there for me. Been keeping to that promise ever since.”  That promise led her to work with community service organizations, led her to become a middle school teacher, and ultimately led to Life Vest Inside.

So what’s with the name “Life Vest Inside”?  In January 2007, Orly was on a plane to head off on a family vacation when she received the tragic news that a young girl in her community had passed away.  Her mind immediately went to her 7th grade students who had just begun to open up about a classmate who had passed away just three years earlier.  Her eyes became fixated on a small sign that read “LIFE VEST INSIDE” and felt instant comfort.  “A life vest stays afloat regardless of how much you push down upon it. The message hit me to my core. How do you stay afloat? Your life vest is inside! Through the kindness you bestow upon others and through the kindness others bestow upon you we can keep each other afloat through life’s rough seas. We can’t stop or prevent life’s tragedies or curve balls from coming our way, but we can most certainly extend a lifeline to someone in need. And hence, Life Vest Insidewas born.”

The philosophy of the organization is to Inspire, Engage, Educate and Connect. They strive to use these four steps to guide people from mere inspiration to follow through.

  • Inspire: They inspire and instill faith, hope, and belief in a better, brighter tomorrow through the production of inspirational films as well as the use of social media.  Their first short film, Kindness Boomerang has been viewed by over 20 million people. 
  • Engage: The organization offers an exciting and accessible kindness experience, so that people will become more aware of the opportunities that surround them.  Experiences will include Kindness Mission Days, Flash Mob Events, Acts of Kindness Cards, and an upcoming mobile app.  In addition, in February, they will be raising funding by participating in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.
  • Educate: Life Vest Inside is educating children in kindergarten through high school to see the beauty within them.  They seek to empower the youth to raise their voices in kindness, love and respect through our wonderful and interactive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Kindness Curriculum.
  • Connect: Life Vest Inside is working to connect people and organizations through a worldwide volunteer database making it fun and easy to turn inspiration into action by allowing individuals to be matched with organizations that match their interests. 

The organization is based in Brooklyn, New York, but anyone around the world can become involved. 

  • Most importantly, you can spread the message and raise awareness about the organization by sharing this post.
  • You can also make a monetary donation through the Life Vest Inside website
  • There are also volunteer opportunities.  If you are interested in film, computer programing, graphic design, music, social media, education, blogging, or pretty much anything else, Life Vest Inside can find something you can help with.  You can connect with them about specific opportunities on their website.
  • If you are interested in participating in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, visit
  • You can learn more about the kindness curriculum and sign up your school their website.
  • They are also interested in connecting with volunteer leaders to help plan and organize events and fundraisers to bring awareness to the organization.  You can e-mail the volunteer contact on their website to learn more.

You can learn more about Life Vest Inside on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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The PROP Shop

Many communities have a community resale or thrift store that offers assistance for individuals and families in need through donated items.  So, in that regard, today’s organization is not unique.  However, today’s organization does serve as a great example of the community coming together.

The PROP Shop

The PROP Shop is located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and has a mission to provide basic support for families in need through volunteers, community, and other organizations.

The PROP Shop’s creation was a direct result of the rapidly changing demographics of the Eden Prairie community.  According to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Eden Prairie experienced a 541% increase in food shelf usage between 2000 and 2004.  A separate non-profit food shelf and community service organization called PROP (People Reaching out to Other People), received increased pressure to provide food and emergency services.  Due to significant limitations on space and resources, PROP was unable to meet the growing need for clothing, household goods, and furniture.  Concerned community members saw a need to expand the services available to local families and looked to other nearby communities to see how they met these needs in their communities.  These community members then decided to form an organization that would accept donations to provide free clothing and furniture to families in need.  After several attempts to secure a free space were unsuccessful, they adjusted their vision to include a resale store to cover the operating costs of the organization and raise funds for social service agencies.  In April 2007, the PROP Shop opened and is celebrating their 5th anniversary this year. 

The PROP Shop has truly been a community effort from the beginning.  In their first five years more than 1,300 people have volunteered and more than 6,900 people have donated goods.  With those donations, 1,400 families have been helped with basic needs such as clothing, household goods, and furniture conservatively valued at more than $500,000.  They recently gave out our 725th bed to a family in need.  They even do their best to pass forward donations they cannot use.  For example, ratty towels go to Humane Society and single bed sheets go to a local church for a quilting project.

The PROP Shop helped a family who recently immigrated to the United States from Moldova, a country in Europe bordering Romania and Ukraine.  When staff and volunteers first met the mother of this family of four, she spoke practically no English and needed a translator.  The PROP Shop provided the family with beds, a kitchen table and chairs, clothes, and much more.  The next summer, she began volunteering at the PROP Shop to practice her English.  She wanted to give back to the PROP Shop for all of the help that it had provided to her family.  She quickly formed friendships with volunteers and has most recently launched her own catering business.  She still volunteers at least once a week and often helps us translate with other clients.

The PROP Shop also calls out specific needs on their Facebook page.  One day I saw a post for a double stroller and just happened to have one we were no longer using and posted a comment.  I dropped it off that weekend and it went to a family in need.

Recently the PROP Shop received even more support from the business community.  They were trying to determine how to expand their space.  Hansen Thorp Pellinen Olson, Inc (HTPO) was recommended to help them survey the land around their building.  HTPO helped them navigate changes and wetland appraisals to donate time for land surveying, civil engineering, and landscape plans.  The Eden Prairie campus of the Hennepin Technical College located just miles from the PROP Shop, agreed to do carpentry as a part of a course.  Then the project hit a roadblock, their plans for a separate building were put in jeopardy because of their location near a pond.  It was then that the PROP Shop attended a local Rotary meeting to give a presentation about their organization and happened to meet an architect that volunteered his time to design an addition rather than a new building.  The architect also connected them with a structural engineer to examine the structure of the building.  This construction project has received support from the community by one person connecting them to another person or company.  They now have their paving, dirt, and landscaping lined up as well as discounts on other necessary work.  You can see up-to-date information on their construction project as well as a list of all their supporters on their website

How can you help the PROP Shop?

  • They always need volunteer for all times they are open (currently Tuesday through Sunday) for tasks such as donation sorting, displaying merchandise and organizing items for families in need. 
  • They also accept in-kind donations of household items, furniture, and clothing.  You can see what items they can (and cannot) accept on their website.  If you have something they cannot accept, they even offer suggestions of other organizations that can accept it. 
  • They also accept monetary donations on the website, in person, or through the mail.

You can learn more about the PROP Shop on their website,  You can also follow them on Facebook and sign up for their e-mail newsletter (which includes resale store coupons) on their website.

Related Posts: Amy Nylander and Sue Grady

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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The Blessing Basket Project

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”  ~Scott Adams

A tough situation can either lift a person up or break them down.  The founder of today’s organization had some rough times in her life, but she did not let them bring her down.  In fact, she found blessings in the kindness of others and turned that into a ripple of kindness that has become The Blessing Basket Project. 

The Blessing Basket Project Logo

The Blessing Basket Project works to reduce poverty in developing countries by paying Prosperity Wages® for products created by artisans in those countries. The unique financial model they have implemented allows the artisan to earn significantly higher than fair trade wages for a given period of time.  This creates a cycle of entrepreneur driven growth resulting in permanent financial independence for the artisan. 

The Blessing Basket Project was founded by Theresa Wilson.  She considers herself an ordinary person, who decided to ripple kindness out to ensure that good things really can come from a bad situation.  Theresa was born with fetal alcohol syndrome to an imprisoned mother and went through childhood only knowing a life of abuse and deprivation.  She was taken into state custody then grew up to get married and have two children.  Then after 13 years of marriage, her husband left her for another woman.  It was at this time that the acts of kindness started to pour in.  Groceries would appear on their doorstep, cash would arrive in the mail, and the lawn would get mowed while Theresa was at work.  Theresa kept each note, card, and picture in a basket as a visual reminder that she and her children were loved and life goes on.  By early 2000 Theresa began speaking at women’s organizations about overcoming trial using her “Blessing Basket” as a prop.  Women began requesting their own blessing basket and Theresa started selling them.  In 2004, this evolved into the Blessing Basket Project when Theresa started paying the basket artisans directly to help lift them out of poverty.  You can read a more detailed version of Theresa’s story here.

Since the start of The Blessing Basket Project, they have paid over $2,000,000 USD directly into the hands of artisans.  They work with approximately 1,500 weavers across the six countries of Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda.  They do not plan any expansion until at least 80% of their original weavers have achieved permanent financial independence from the project or sales allow expansion without impacting any of the current artisans.

How can you help?

  • If you live near their St Louis, Missouri location, you can volunteer to assist in the warehouse, prep baskets to be sold, or assist with special project in their office.
  • Monetary donations can be made through The Blessing Basket website.  All donations will go directly to the project of your choice, including general operations, travel, education, or more. 
  • You can also shop their online store or find retail locations to purchase baskets, bags, and other products. 
  • You could also host your own Seeds of Blessing party to view and purchase baskets or become a Seeds of Blessing consultant.  Learn more about Seeds of Blessing at

You can learn more about The Blessing Basket Project on their website,  You can also connect with them on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Related post: Bead for Life

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Kindness: Pay It Forward

Today we have another guest post for my series on kindness.  Today’s post is by Kelsey Ohme, an Outreach Manager at Metro Meals on Wheels; an association of 37 Meals on Wheels programs serving the Twin Cities, Minnesota metro area.  Kelsey’s work at Metro Meals on Wheels has focused on recruiting and engaging the next generation of diverse volunteers to meet the growing need for Meals on Wheels in the Twin Cities. 

Meet Norm.

Norm is able to live independently in his own home in Maple Grove, Minnesota with the help of Meals on Wheels

Having lived in outstate Minnesota for most of his life, Norm actually delivered meals at a rural
Meals on Wheels program many years ago and fondly remembers his time volunteering as a way to
give back and connect with members of his community.

As life often does, Norm’s life has come full circle as he is now a recipient of Meals on Wheels. He
started receiving Meals on Wheels a couple of years ago after struggling with serious health issues.
At that time, he moved to the Twin Cities and his doctor recommended he receive Meals on Wheels
so that he would have a regular and nutritious meal on a daily basis to help him regain his health.

But for Norm and many others, Meals on Wheels is much more than a meal. Meals on Wheels is
about spreading kindness to seniors and individuals with disabilities who might otherwise be socially
isolated and lonely. By delivering Meals on Wheels you are sharing a smile, kind words, and a sense
of community with your neighbors. Many years ago, Norm was able to spread kindness to his
neighbors by delivering Meals on Wheels, and now he enjoys the friendly greetings his Meals on
Wheels volunteers bring him on a daily basis along with his meal.

Meals on Wheels conducted a survey of their clients and 40% of the respondents said the meal
delivery volunteer is the only person they see on an average day. When you think about that
statistic, it highlights why the kindness of a volunteer is so important in the lives of Meals on Wheels
recipients. Often times when volunteers deliver Meals on Wheels the client is waiting at the door in
anticipation of the meal, but even more so, to greet and chat with the volunteer who is delivering the

We invite you to learn more about Meals on Wheels and the many ways you can help spread
kindness to your neighbors at

“Words cannot express how much I appreciate all the volunteers who deliver the meals. If it wasn’t for them, I couldn’t live at home” —Meals on Wheels Recipient


Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Guest Post


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Kindness in Business

Today’s post is a guest post in my kindness series.  Previous posts have included Habits of Kindness, Random Acts of Kindness, and Storytellers for Good and most recently a post about being kind to those who are different from you.  Today we learn why kindness in business is important. 

Kindness in Business LaunchHER

Do you mix business with pleasure kindness? If not, you should consider it. Working with business owners on a daily basis, I know two things: owning your own business can be very STRESSFUL and owning your own company can make business a very personal subject. The stress that comes with starting and owning your own business can be overwhelming; you wear every hat within the company. Owning your own business can also make business very personal. Afterall, it’s your livelihood, your dedication, and your income on the line. At LaunchHER, we try to keep all of this in mind and promote kindness with our clients and community. However, we don’t stop there, we also encourage our entire network to do the same.

Instant {and online} Kindness

With so much business happening online – email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – these days, it’s more important {and easier} than ever to infuse kindness into business. It’s the small things like salutations in emails, a Facebook post or a Re-Tweet. You can make someone’s day and it only takes a minute. Literally.

Unfortunately, it’s also easier than ever for bad behavior to prevail. Although we don’t like to admit it, we all know it’s much easier to dish out an insensitive thought, comment, or even rant via email or Facebook {aka hiding behind the screen} than in person. With access to thousands just a mouse click away, I would always encourage you to think twice before you hit send. Yes, you may have a right to be upset, but also consider how your words or actions may make you look and impact your reputation. Not everything has to be solved immediately, take a few hours to think about an issue or discuss it with a mentor/colleague before you respond.

Can businesses have good Karma?

Giving back is an important aspect of business. At LaunchHER, we give back by promoting three women-owned businesses a week in a feature called “Freshly Launched Friday”. For many women entrepreneurs just starting out, they are looking for positive exposure and a supportive community. We are proud to offer both. The result is not only the pride of the business being launched, but also all of the other women that are paying it forward by sharing, commenting, “liking”, and just reading. Positively is definitely contagious! This is not your typical “giving back” – of course, you can support charitable organizations as a business and even host a fundraising event. Businesses can team up to make an even greater impact. There are many ways to pay it forward; get creative!

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the “busyness” of business, and overlook the importance of kindness. Just like we schedule meetings with clients and colleagues, schedule time in the day or week to infuse some kindness. Be intentional. Be kind.

Tracy helps other women build their brands through creative marketing and communications at LaunchHER, a Minneapolis based company. Tracy has always preferred the unique style of small, local and indie brands. She knows first-hand the importance of branding and marketing a small business as inexpensively and uniquely as possible


Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Guest Post


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