Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas 296I was lucky to work with the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (sneaking in with a group of people from VMware) where we helped sort and build food boxes for people who will soon be moving into Habitat for Humanity homes.

From their website:

The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, a 501c(3) non-profit, is the largest hunger-relief charity in Central Texas providing food and grocery products, nutrition education and social services outreach to 300,000 clients each year through a network of 300 Partner Agencies.

More Capital Area Food Bank of Texas on the web:
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest

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There aren’t many things better than walking around a lake at sunset. When the opportunity arose to do exactly that at Milford Wampold Memorial Park right outside the campus of LSU, who could decline? Joined by old friend, Lisa, we picked up garbage along the water and in the general park area. It’s easy to see the change you can make picking up garbage. Immediate change for the better.

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Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas 251Chances are, if you’re not from the area, you’re wondering is that that Gau-thee-aye or Gau-theor, but it’s neither. It’s Go-Shay. Who knew?

Anyway, stopped by the Jackson County Animal Shelther in Gauthier and helped clean kitty cages. So many adorable and hugely adoptable kittens and dogs are waiting for you. If you’re looking to get an animal, please consider adopting from a shelter. Also, if you’re already a pet owner, please, please, please get your animal spayed/neutered.

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Had an opportunity to stop by a park my father used to play in when he was younger. It’s pretty incredible what ends up in the weeds and, in this case, a small lake at Antioch Park in Mission Kansas. Here are things retrieved from the water:

Styrofoam cups (4)
Sprite can
Softball
4 Pokemon cards

Also got to see ducks and fish and lots of people enjoying nature, so it was more than worth filling a garbage bag to enjoy part of a Saturday afternoon.

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One of my favorite places in America is the abandoned, highly toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma. There weren’t any opportunities to volunteer there, but the next closest town that is Miami, Oklahoma. I stopped by the Stonehill Grill in Miami and talked to Madison who helped me find another park to help clean. So I did. These last few days of warm weather are a great time to be outside, enjoy the weather, and help out in your community or somebody else’s.

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While hanging out in the Fayettevile, Arkansas area I saw a call for blood donations. I stopped in at the Community Blood Center in Springdale. To tie together separate trips, the Community Blood Center supplied blood for the folks in Joplin, Missouri after they were hit by the tornado in 2011.

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Back in 2011, Joplin, Missouri was the scene of a horrific tornado that leveled massive sections of the town. Many volunteers from all over the country rushed to the area to help with the rebuilding. Three years later we stopped by to do some clean up in Ewert Park. As luck would have it, there was also a local farmers market happening.

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Was supposed to volunteer at the Salvation Army in Iowa City, but my contact there was out sick today unfortunately. Without her being in the office, I wasn’t able to volunteer there. So, I headed to Goodwill, bought backpacks, filled them with socks, hats, toiletries, food, and water. I passed out one of the bags to somebody in need, and, after talking to the gentleman, I also picked up a phone card for him. Still have bags in the car, something I encourage others to always have on hand if they’re so inclined. You never know when you’ll be able to make a difference, so it’s best to be prepared.

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Amazing time volunteering with Girls Rock NC 10 Year Rally. So much music, art, design, and an astounding sense of community. It was an absolute joy to help document the day.

From the Girls Rock NC website –

GIRLS ROCK NORTH CAROLINA is a non-profit organization in central North Carolina that empowers girls and women — through creative expression — to become confident and engaged members of our communities. We accomplish this by focusing on the “three Cs”: creativity, confidence and collaboration.

In our ten years of programming, GRNC NC has held over forty music programs for girls in Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh. Our campers have gone on to perform in successful bands and even take on leadership positions at camp. GRNC has roughly 80 active volunteers and a growing number of partners, sponsors, musicians, parents, activists, and mentors working together to build a strong community.

GRNC is committed to social justice and seeks to amplify the voices of those traditionally marginalized. GRNC is a LGBTQI inclusive and affirming organization, and strives to provide a safe, visible atmosphere for all.

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When we started this project, one of the goals was to make sure to work with our existing framework of friends scattered across the country. Today we rolled into the Charlottesville, Virginia area and met up with Raven Mack. Together, we collected supplies for The Haven, a homeless shelter and services provider in Charlottesville.

From The Haven’s website —

The Haven works to end homelessness. We do this by incubating collaborative efforts across the system of care and operating a multi-resource day shelter for the homeless in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. We facilitate transformation for the ready and provide respite for the weary. We exist because everyone needs a place to start.
The Haven is a dynamic, multi-purpose community space. It enhances our city by providing a centralized location for resource providers, a commercial kitchen, a day haven, a community garden, and a cultural and arts space in downtown Charlottesville. The Haven is in a beautifully renovated church and annex building, across from Lee Park and one block from the public library.

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We stopped by Manna Meal to help serve lunch with the absolutely awesome team there. Huge thank you to Leslie, Camellia, and Jean for all of their graciousness and love and for all of the work they’re doing in their community. We’re so blessed to have spent time with them.

From their website –

Manna Meal soup kitchen serves meals to anyone that is hungry, no questions asked, at no cost, 7 days a week. Founded in 1976, Manna Meal Inc. is an independent nonprofit organization located at Saint John’s Episcopal Church on Quarrier Street in downtown Charleston. For the past 37 years we have fed over 1.30 million people serving approximately 380 people 2 meals every day. Countless in-kind food donations from local proprietors and individuals, as well as produce from the Manna Meal Garden, 4 full-time employees, 6 hourly workers, and 130 loyal volunteers keep Manna Meal Inc. operating daily. Our doors are never closed.

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We stopped by Northern Kentucky University to discuss books, publishing, and current events. Thanks to all three classes for their participation and great conversation.

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We headed to St. Vincent de Paul in Cincinnati, Ohio to help with the food pantry. Joining us for the day was author/musician/Cincinnati native, Nathan Singer.

From their website –

For more than 140 years, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has quietly cared for those in need throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County. More than 900 volunteers care for people in their own neighborhoods, visiting the homes of people in need more than 7,500 each year. In addition to providing immediate help with pressing needs such as food or utilities, we operate southwest Ohio’s only Charitable Pharmacy; seven thrift stores that provide furniture, clothing and household items to people in need; a comprehensive social service office; seven food pantries including the Edyth & Carl Lindner Choice Food Pantry in the West End; and the Ozanam Center for Service Learning.

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We had a few extra hours in the Boston area so we headed to beautiful Providence, Rhode Island where we picked up trash at India Point Park with our social media turned real life friend, Emily and her daughter Bridget. It’s such an easy way to make a difference, enjoy nature, and have a great conversation.

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We volunteered at the CureSearch Walk for Children’s Cancer in Boston, Massachusetts at the Franklin Park Zoo.

From their website –

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer is a national non-profit foundation that accelerates the cure for children’s cancer by driving innovation, eliminating research barriers and solving the field’s most challenging problems. We fight every day to make treatment possible and a cure probable for the 42 children diagnosed with cancer daily. We do this in three ways:

  • We accelerate the cure for children at greatest risk of losing their battle with cancer by posing essential challenges to scientists and inviting teams to overcome them with novel research approaches.
  • We support children’s enrollment in clinical trials that have the potential to save their lives today.
  • We provide resources and education, so no child faces a cancer diagnosis without a fully equipped support team behind them.

Ultimately, CureSearch is working to change the odds for those children most at risk.

 

 

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We stopped by Second Harvest Heartland in the Twin Cities to help prepare food for distribution.

Before beginning our shift in their warehouse, we were given a brief orientation including a powerful video about hunger, the challenges faced, and how Second Harvest is addressing the issue in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Videos can sometimes be dry, recalling filmstrips from our elementary school days. The Second Harvest video was as far from that as it gets.

Here it is for your consideration —

From the Second Harvest website —

Second Harvest Heartland works to reinvent hunger relief through leadership and innovation. As the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization, our goal is not only to help our hungry neighbors today, but to provide the means for everyone to be fed tomorrow. We’re known for distributing great amounts of food quickly and efficiently; in 2012 alone, we collected, warehoused and distributed more than 76 million pounds of food—but we’re also constantly pioneering ways to reduce waste and better use the abundant resources available in this land of plenty.

Second Harvest Heartland is a member of Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks serving every state in the United States. Membership means access to millions of pounds of surplus food and grocery donations from manufacturers and producers throughout the country.

Thank you to Kate, Megan, Brenda, and Dan for joining us!

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Today’s trip to River Keepers in North Dakota was a first along this journey. To help create educational materials for the upcoming Red River Water Festival we spent time putting together gimp bracelets and cutting stickers that will ultimately end up with fourth graders. We also had a chance to hear about how important the Red River is specifically, but also how crucial it is that we keep our waterways and their surrounding habitats free from pollution.

From their website –

River Keepers is a non-profit organization established in 1990 to protect and preserve the integrity and natural environment of the Red River of the North in the Fargo, ND – Moorhead, MN area. In addition, River Keepers is interested in the recreation and sustainable development uses of the Red River. River Keepers promotes a renewed vision for the Red River of the North through workshops, youth service-learning projects and advocacy. The primary goal of River Keepers is to demonstrate to the public that the Red River is an underutilized resource. River Keepers works “hand-in hand” with civic, corporate and political leaders, local watershed groups and the public at-large.

We stopped by to help them with preparation of educational materials for the Red River Water Festival.

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The mission of Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s THE BANQUET is:

Our mission is to equip volunteers to provide food and fellowship to those served through the ministry of The Banquet. We provide a safe place where people can gather, receive nourishment and experience love in action.

On paper it sounds nice. In action, it’s even better!

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Be Local Everywhere visited the Open Door Mission in Omaha, Nebraska. The organization is doing a lot to help those in need from clothing to food to housing to life skills–they’re doing it all. Thanks for letting us see your operation! Big thanks to Steve Frazee for discussing the Mission and to Hannah who showed us the ropes!

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We stopped by the Denver Rescue Mission to help with lunch.

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I visited the hardworking and invaluable team at Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne and Laramie County. MOW provides critical food and human interaction to homebound folks in need of food in an effort to keep them in their homes as long as they can. The volunteers are also instrumental in keeping tabs on folks to make sure their health is doing ok.

The operation is funded by a variety of sources including grants, donations, and the Meals on Wheels Mart–a resale shop where I got to volunteer with sorting donated items that will ultimately end up for sale.

Big thanks to Sharon and Carol! Such a dedicated team!

From their website:

Welcome to Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne. We provide thousands of nourishing meals to seniors and others in Cheyenne and Laramie County, Wyoming. If you would like a meal delivered to yourself or a loved one, please sign up using the link above. We’re always looking for volunteers to help prepare and deliver meals. If you can give a little bit of your time, please let us know.

Remember the Meals on Wheels annual garage sale fundraiser? It’s now the Meals on Wheels mart – we’re open year round (and we’re indoors!). Come see us for great deals and help out Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne at the same time… and if you can make a donation to our mart, we’d sure appreciate it!

More Meals on Wheels on the web:
Website
Facebook

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Don’t know if you know this or not, but Bozeman is a pretty magical place. In no small part it’s due to people like our new friend, Cami, who is the Executive Director of Befrienders Bozeman, an organization that puts seniors in touch with young folks to bridge the intergenerational gap. Over the course of two days we met a variety of warm and loving seniors for great conversation including one of the best stories ever told.

On Saturday, we also had a chance to go fishing with two Bozeman locals (thank you Linda and Noah!) in Belgrade, Montana. Though we didn’t have any luck, Noah and Linda did. The fish they caught were donated to the Montana Raptor Center. Lucky for us, Linda took us to the Raptor Center and we were fortunate (very coincidentally) to see a Red Tailed Hawk the Center had been rehabbing for the past two weeks get released into the wild. We had no idea the release was happening, but were very glad to see it and very impressed by the work the Center is doing.

 

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We stopped by Clean the World (Las Vegas) to hear all about their operation, how they recycle soap from the hospitality industry, and why it’s so important to do what they’re doing. Thanks to Shae Hagen and the team for hosting us!

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We had an opportunity to visit with the busy and enthusiastic team at CARE Partnership in Mesa, AZ. It was certainly one of the most impressive organizations we’ve come across on this journey. In addition to medical and dental services provided, there was also a community garden, an afterschool program, and even a Santa program. It can not be overstated how much CARE does to serve the Mesa community.

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We started our day in Albuquerque with the team at Good Day New Mexico where we talked about the mission, how great it has been to meet so many enthusiastic volunteers along the journey so far, and how others can help. Then we visited St. Martin’s Hospitality Center in Albuquerque, NM (www.smhc-nm.org).

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We stopped by the Fairbanks Foodbank to see how the organization and volunteers were serving the community in one of our farthest flung stops so far. Like the other foodbanks we’ve visited along the way, we found an energetic and compassionate group dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of others and it inspired us to join in and help. Thanks to everybody in Fairbanks for being so warm and inviting.

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We visited the Oregon Foodbank in Portland, Oregon where we met a dedicated group of volunteers that not only work hard together, but also spend time together outside of the warehouse. They were a truly welcoming and loving community and it was hard not to immediately share in their spirit.

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St. Paul’s House is an NYC institution (you might remember their sign from the opening credits of SNL) and on the last Tuesday of every month (September – May) they have pizza and movie night. My friend Aegina and I were able to help out (and I might have snagged a slice of pizza along the way) and make new friends.

Here is an interview with Shandra Velez discussing what St. Paul’s House does and how the community can help.

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withtroyOne of the things I resolved to do this year in conjunction with the Be Local Everywhere project was to give blood, when able, wherever I am. Back in March I donated in Clark County, Washington. By the time I got to Connecticut, the requisite 58 day waiting period between donations had passed.

And that’s how I found myself (along with my good friend, Aegina) at the Red Cross of Fairfield County in Norwalk, Connecticut. I’ve given blood plenty of times (though not as much as I should have, especially in the last few years), but I have never had a more skilled Red Cross worker than my new friend, Troy, in Norwalk. Everybody should go visit her!

More Red Cross on the web:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

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I was fortunate to hang out with the folks from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Rockville, MD over the Memorial Day Weekend. The volunteer request asked for people to hang out with a shelter dog for the afternoon, become friends with the dog, and answer any questions prospective adopters might have (breed, age, philosophies towards children and cats).

This is me and Cream.

withcream

As you can imagine, it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon going on walks, lying in the grass, feeling the sun, and just generally being outdoors in the company of a loving dog. It was also a bit tough to say goodbye at the end of the day. But it was also nice to know that a lot of families were interested in Cream and I am confident she’ll end up in a nice home.

Thank you to Sue for giving me an overview of Lucky Dog and all of the good things they’ve done in the MD/VA/DC area.

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Delaware was one of the states that I could technically say “I’ve been there,” but only because I’d driven through it on the way to somewhere else. Now I’ve got a real Delaware experience. My friend Kiri drove down from Pennsylvania to join me.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to visit The Little Sisters of the Poor in Newark. The mission there is:

“As Little Sisters of the Poor we care for the elderly poor in the spirit of humble service we have received from our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan. We welcome the elderly as we would Jesus Christ himself and serve them with love and respect until God calls them home.”

I was fortunate enough to speak with many of the residents, help with serving lunch, and even made some great new friends. For more information please visit their website, here.

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kirifeaturedI love nature. It’s something relatively new in my life to go out on long hikes to appreciate wildlife and the quiet. It has become essential to me. And that’s why it was such a natural opportunity and a blessing to do trash pick up along the banks of the Little Neshaminy Creek at Kemper Park in Warminster, Pennyslvania. My friend Kiri and I walked between four and five miles and were treated to birds, squirrels, the easy current of the creek as we went. We worked with the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania (part of the larger Keep America Beautiful). Anybody can go out and pick up garbage, but if you want trash bags, gloves, vests, and a group of others to go with you, be sure to check out your local chapter.

More Information:
Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania
Keep America Beautiful

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newjerseyteamMy friends Bill Gordon and Thomas Pluck joined me at the New Jersey Veterans Home in Paramus where we played Bingo with the residents. The experience was real and joyful and heartbreaking at the same time. It was great to hear some fantastic stories of lives lived, and it hurt to hear the stories of lives lost. It shifted my perspective in a meaningful way and I am sure I won’t forget it anytime soon.

We worked with Jersey Cares to find the opportunity–an excellent resource for narrowing down volunteer opportunities by interest and availability.

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One of the things I wanted to explore when I started this project was the differences between “online friendships” and those people we know in the “real” world. I’ve known Ben Bailey and Chels Meacham through Twitter for more than a year, but I’d never met either of them in person.

Until now.

Ben, in his professional capacity, manages a Smashburger restaurant in Draper, UT. He was able to secure permission (and food!) from corporate headquarters for the three of us to distribute to the homeless in Salt Lake City. It’s great to see companies acting responsibly in their communities. Big thank you to Smashburger, Ben, and Chels.

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I had an opportunity to visit the Idaho Foodbank in Boise to see their operations. Within that massive warehouse, there’s a lot of magic going on. In addition to sorting donations, I also had a chance to learn about their innovative backpack program that helps fight child hunger in school kids. This was such a beautiful experience and I won’t soon forget it. Such a loving and dedicated group of people.Big thanks to Teena, Mike, and everybody else there!

Idaho Foodbank on the web:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
Youtube

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I had an opportunity to visit the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama in Mobile with my friend Michelle. Public Relations Director Katie Emer gave us a tour of the facilities and explained the philosophy behind the organization. We then joined some of the kitchen staff to help prepare and serve dinner to those in need.

More about the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama (from their website):

The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama provides spiritual, social and emotional assistance for men, women and children who have lost the ability to cope with their problems and provide for themselves.
Our centers offer emergency shelter, job training and placement, social services and seasonal assistance for families in need.

We also provide work, group and individual therapy for men who are recovering from addictions. The physical and spiritual care that program participants receive prepares them to re-enter society and return to gainful employment. Many of those who have been rehabilitated are reunited with family and resume a normal life.

Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama on the web:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

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I joined my friend Delilah S. Dawson at the TLC Humane Shelter in Dahlonega, Georgia. We spent time with cats and dogs who needed a little human interaction. To be honest, it was nice, having been on the road for a bit, to run around outside with the dogs and to quasi-nap in the sun with the kittens. Here’s an interview with Doreen Sanders, the head caretaker at the shelter.

 

TLC Humane Shelter on the web
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

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I was joined by my friend Jamie Mason in Asheville, North Carolina to distribute backpacks to those in need in Asheville. Backpacks contained water, food, socks, and some toiletries.

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I was lucky to have two opportunities to volunteer in Nashville. My friend Sara J. Henry joined me for both. We were joined by Zack Barnes for the second of the two.

Sara and I began the day at the Nashville Rescue Mission where we worked in the kitchen helping to prepare lunch for the Friday afternoon guests. Though I am not exactly “skilled” in the culinary department, I managed to peel cucumbers, chop cucumbers and tomatoes, and take part in the orderly assembly line of putting together meals (big thanks to my new friend Jill K. who showed me the ropes).

It’s really an impressive operation to see everybody moving so fast and in unison and with a palpable sense of compassion. The Mission serves up to 2,000 meals per day. It also provides a whole host of opportunities and programs to help people get back on their feet. Here is an interview with Samuel Bolton, Director of Volunteer Services at the Mission.

Sara and I then joined Zack at the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter of Nashville and Middle Tennessee where we were greeted by our YWCA representative Mary (picture above is (l-r) Mary, me, Zack, Sara). We sorted and folded donated clothes that would be made available to the women and kids staying at the shelter as they begin their journeys to new lives.

If you’d like to donate to or volunteer with either organization, here’s more information.

Nashville Rescue Mission

YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee

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Many years ago I was a fairly regular blood donor. For whatever reason I stopped going. Occasionally, I’d tell myself to go, but didn’t.

But I also know that donating blood is a pretty important and simple thing most of us can do. It takes less than an hour, the pain isn’t really significant, and someday it might be somebody close to us who desperately needs blood.

I scheduled an appointment with the Clark County (Washington) Red Cross, made the brief drive from Portland, OR to Vancouver, WA, and donated. It was as smooth and easy as I remember (and I got free cookies!).

Here are some statistics from the Red Cross.

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

 

For more statistics and to find your local blood bank, click here.

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I joined the Hoffmeister family of Eugene, Oregon to make burritos that we passed out to those in need.

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benleroybelocalWhile doing this project, I’ve had a few opportunities to check in with myself to see where I am and consider where I want to be. I don’t mean that strictly from a geographic perspective (though I would love to be somewhere not freezing, but that’s not my point right now), but more from a “ok, so you’re doing this, what are you learning, what do you want to learn?” approach.

Sometimes when you turn the microscope on yourself you find cracks and flaws you didn’t think existed or didn’t want to fully own. But I am confronting these things as honestly as I can as they arise. If I were to keep it to myself, it would simply be to try bettering myself. But I also want to share them with you, because I want to show that this is a truly human endeavor and I want you to know that if you’re dealing with similar issues, you aren’t alone.

The first time I called myself out on a shortcoming was when looking at volunteer opportunities I saw one to help elderly folks with shoveling their sidewalks and driveways. I might have creaky knees and wrists, buy I’m still pretty handy with a shovel. I kept reading for more details. It’s then that I noticed the neighborhood and thought to myself, “Oh, well, it’s kind of dangerous over there, I don’t think I want to do that.”

A few seconds later a voice in my head spoke up – “Why are you pledging to do volunteer work this year? You want to help, but only in nice environments where you’ll feel safe and in your comfort zone? Is that it?”

That resonated with me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was my full understanding that this bad neighborhood also happened to be a significantly economically disadvantaged neighborhood. You know, the kind of place that needs help because resources aren’t as readily available? Which, if I was going to hold myself accountable, made me sound a little selective in my compassion as it relates to faith vs. deeds.

Though I did not grow up in a religious household and I do not identify with any particular religious school of thought (I have taken many lessons, some of them the same, from various books both holy and secular), I have an affinity for the Book of James found in the New Testament.

The gist of it, for those not familiar, is that it’s all well and good to declare yourself compassionate and wanting to help, but if you don’t actually go and do something about it, then really you’re just talking.

The last few days, as a reminder to myself, I’ve written “James 2: 14-17” on my wrist.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.

I pride myself on wanting to help wherever and however I can. In theory. In faith. This year will be a test. I hope that I will have a record of deeds by the end of the year to pass it. I invite you to call me out on it if you notice I seem to be doing softer things when it is clear there are other opportunities I’m missing.

Because we’re in this together. All of us. Even the people who aren’t reading. And the only way we’re going to end up in a better place is to be honest with ourselves and the world around us, and then do what we can to help.

Love not Fear,

b.

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I had to pick up a co-worker in Providence. After we left the airport, we drove around downtown Providence and Interstate exits to distribute backpacks filled with food, water, socks, toiletries, and warming items to those in need. It’s cold out there!

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brattleborovermontMy good friend (and hugely talented author) Sara J. Henry put me in touch with the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, Vermont. I met up with Robert Nassau, the Board President and he walked me through the organization’s goals–keeping kids fed, helping with school work, providing a safe environment, building community, and many other things. It’s so important that the kids who will lead this world into future are given the necessary resources to tackle the challenges.

Robert introduced me to the club’s Executive Director, Beth Baldwin, whose dedication to the kids at the club is self-evident and contagious.

We gathered with the kids to discuss the importance of reading, how books can shape our view of the world and the people in it, and then everybody got a gift certificate to visit the local bookstore. The plan is for everybody to read their books and then have a pizza party to discuss what they’ve read.

Facebook

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The plan was to distribute more of the bags Steff and I put together in Maine, but the weather was bad, and my familiarity with New Hampshire geography is sketchy. I was, however, able to find contact info for Hundred Nights Homeless Shelter, an organization helping those in need.

From their website -

Hundred Nights, Inc. is a community organization with two components. Our mission is to provide a cold weather shelter which offers clean beds in a safe and warm space from 7pm to 7am during the winter months to our neighbors in need. Concurrently we operate the Open Doors Resource Center which provides a welcoming space for people to gather for sustenance of body and spirit on a year-round basis.

I dropped off backpacks with Hundred Nights and look forward to going back to Keene in the future to learn more about the community and Hundred Nights.

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portlandmaine
The plan to volunteer in all 50 states during 2014 began in Portland, Maine as I joined up with my good friend Steff Deschenes to distribute backpacks to the homeless. We stuffed the backpacks with food, water, socks, hats, toiletries, a toy, medical items and a few other things for those in need.

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