Thursday, May 27, 2010

Play and Feed

Here is a fun way that people, including kids, can effortlessly feed the world's hungry simply by playing a game. The FreeRice site donates rice to the UN World Food Programme for each question that is answered correctly, thanks to advertisers. (In this way, it works similarly to The Hunger Site, to which I try to go every day.

So, for a fun way to help the hungry at no cost, drop by the FreeRice site: click here.

Have a good day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Online Billion Helping the Hungry Billion

When the number of hungry people in the world passed the one billion mark, the United Nations World Food Programme turned to the people who are online (now topping one billion in number) to each give a little to help to the hungry. They called their pcampaign, Billion for a Billion, and asked people to donate and to spread the word online and elsewhere. The message is simple: If everyone does a little, we can achieve unimaginable results.

Here are some of the things the online billion has achieved so far, as listed on the UN World Food Programme website:

1. Responded to the earthquake in Haiti with small donations that added up to 12 million meals for children
2. Collectively contributed enough money to feed more than 19 million hungry children in school
3. Donated enough grains of rice through the online quiz game FreeRice to provide meals for 4 million people


4. Raised awareness through half a million posts on the web about the billion hungry people
5. Shared key hunger facts with friends and colleagues 35,000 times through Twitter and viewed the ‘Billion for a Billion’ video 500,000 times
6. Spread the ‘Billion for a Billion’ call to action through all social networks, using it as a profile picture or background image on personal pages

7. Created inspirational videos about hunger through the HungerBytes video contest. One of the videos gained over 31,000 views on YouTube.
8. Built a movement of 200 bloggers against hunger who help keep the billion hungry in the public eye at all times.
9. Inspired children such as 8-year-old Aditya from India, who wrote to us that we could use his pocket money to help other hungry children.

For ways in which you can be part of the one billion helpers, click here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hunting for the Hungry

In Virgina, for almost two decades now, hunters, teaming with the professional game associations, have contributed thousands of pounds of venison to food banks and charities to feed the hungry. Here is some background information.

During the summer of 1991 a meeting was held to determine the feasibility of the Hunters for the Hungry concept in Virginia. Involved in this discussion were representatives of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Association of Meat Processors, the Virginia Deer Hunters Association, the Virginia Federation of Foodbanks, other nonprofit food distribution charities, and interested individuals. Information was also available from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Meat and Poultry Inspection.

The outcome of this meeting indicated that venison could be donated, processed, and distributed while complying with all laws and codes applicable in Virginia. It was decided that the program should be administered by a certified 501 (C) (3) organization and that to function best funds should be raised to cover the costs of having professional meat processors(butchers) accept, cut, wrap, and freeze the deer donated by hunters in Virginia. Distribution would be handled through foodbanks and other charities. A nonprofit administrator volunteered to take on the project as a pilot effort and Hunters for the Hungry began in Virginia in the fall of 1991.

During the first year over 33,000 pounds of venison was donated, processed, and distributed. The program expanded and in its second year over 68,000 pounds of meat was handled.

It became clear that the potential of the program was quite large and the decision was made in January of 1993 to form a separate nonprofit corporation to administer and operate the program. This was accomplished and continues to exist. That organization has a corporate title of Virginia Hunters Who Care, Inc.

The Hunters for the Hungry program has continued to expand. Annual distribution now exceeds 400,000 pounds.

For more information, check out the website: Virginia Hunters for the Hungry.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

God's Credit Card to the Rescue -- Again

"Go dancing tonight," the doctor told me yesterday afternoon at the end of my appointment. Yes, he wanted some more tests, but in general he agrees with me that I have been blessed with better health than my attention to taking care of myself deserves. So, I went dancing. Well, not literally dancing, but the effect was the same.

Donnie and I decided to grab a Subway sandwich and take it back home to San Ignatio (which has no fast food joints). We had some new movies from Netflix that had arrived in the mail and decided that after a hard week we deserved a relaxing evening. And that is just what we did -- after taking care of one of God's children.

When we arrived at Subway, we encountered a girl in her early twenties who asked us for a dollar. Well, being a mother, I have to know some things from kids in their twenties.

"What do you need it for?" I asked.

"Food," she replied.

Ah, in that case, I had a better solution that a dollar bill. I handed her one of my $10 McDonald cards. She could buy a couple meals with that. She thanked me and seemed sincere about it. Hollister has a 22% unemployment rate right now, so there are many hungry people looking for help.

AS Donnie and I stood in line, we had second thoughts. McDonald's was on the other side of town, and here we were at a place selling FOOD. For heaven's sake, we could buy her a meal on the spot and not make her trek somewhere else. Then she would have the card for a meal the next day.

So, I went back outside to talk to the young lady. She had started to walk off, ostensibly to go to McDonald's. "Excuse me," I called after her. "What's your name?"

She approached me. "Mary," she answered. Now there's a name that makes you think twice!

"Well, Mary, would you let us buy you a meal?" I asked.

She agreed with a wide smile, and in we went. We talked a little about the kinds of sandwiches we wanted while waiting in line, and she seemed a little awkward. That made sense, I thought. She did not know us. However, the real reason soon came to light.

"I don't know how to ask this," she started, then continued. "I feel guilty about accepting a meal for myself and then going home to my family who are also hungry. I was trying to collect money to buy food for them all. Could I get something for them, too?"

"How many of them are there?" I asked.

"Six," she responded. "Two children, my mother, my sister, and my brother-in-law, besides me."

"Okay," I told her. "We can manage that." Of course, we could manage that. I had God's credit card with me. ( I had originally set up a $250 credit card to carry with me for those times I ran into people needing help when I was without cash. The credit line on that account has been raised without my request to $500, then to $750, then to $4500. Yikes! I wonder if God has a big spending request pending for me. Not to worry; every time I have used the card for someone God has put in my path, within a month the amount of money needed to pay off the card has dropped into my lap. I run a zero balance on it.) So, here we were, God's credit card where it always is -- in my pocket, and a young lady in need of six meals.

Mary excused herself briefly to use the bathroom. The lady in front of us in line had overheard everything and suggested that we save money by getting six footlongs that were cut in half. That way it would only be $15 and would still be enough for six people. I considered it briefly and decided to leave that decision to God. It was, after all, His credit card.

Mary came back just in time to order. She immediately asked for four footlongs and two children's meals. As she darted back and forth between the person handling the bread and meat and the person handling the toppings, I remembered so many times doing the same thing with our kids. Sometimes, I had ordered as many as ten, depending upon who was home at the time. It was always quite an experience for the sandwich makers when my family came to dinner or I stopped by to bring them home. I got involved in the information passing to the sandwich makers, helping Mary. What joy! What fun! It was just like the old days, and for a brief few minutes, through Mary, it was like being back with my kids in younger years.

Finally done, we packed up all the sandwiches, chips, drinks, and headed out the door. "How far do you have to walk?" I asked Mary, eyeing her multiple bags.

"Oh, I live nearby," she said. "Near the dollar store."

"That's more than a mile away!" I protested. "We will drive you."

So, we drove her there, talking along the way about her family, current situation, boyfriend -- and the, yikes, fact that she might be pregnant.

"Okay," Donnie, now the dad again, brought up. "How are you going to feed the baby?"

"Well, if I am pregnant, my boyfriend has agreed to pay for the baby and get married. He has a job."

That seems like a backward way to do things, but I guess the modern days are different from the days in which we grew up. Nonetheless, both Donnie and I slipped right back into the parent role, discussing the implications of these kinds of things. She seemed to accept that even though we are not her parents. Somehow, it just all seemed so natural.

All too soon, we arrived and let her out. She started to walk away, then set down her bags and came back to me, as I was about to get back into the car after helping her with the bags. She reached out and gave me a big hug and smile. "Thanks," she said. And that was it.

Yesterday, I followed the doctor's orders. I went dancing -- but not in the literal sense.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stand Downs

Here is an interesting idea from the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans: a "stand down" for homeless vets (or for homeless people in general). From the coalition's website comes the following description:
The Stand Down for homeless veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.

That is the purpose of the Stand Down for homeless veterans, and achieving those objectives requires a wide range of support services and time. The program is successful because it brings these services to one location, making them more accessible to homeless veterans.
Stand downs in May are taking place in Lakeland, Tucson, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Lansing, and San Luis Obispo. Here is the schedule for 2010 Stand Downs.

Let's spread the information!

Monday, May 10, 2010

National Conference on Ending Homelessness

The National Alliance to End Homeless is hosting a conference. The image above gives the most important details. Here are some more:

(1) Registration can be accomplished on line at the Alliance's website: click here.

(2) Events include pre-conference meetings, workshops, institutes, and keynote speakers.

(3) Unfortunately, at least for me, the registration fees are a bit steep: $450 for early registration and $700 for on-site registration. Scholarships are available, but they must be requested by May 21: click here for the link. In addition, volunteers receive free registration.

(4) Hotel accommodations for those who do not live in the DC area have been arranged at $205 a night.

It sounds like an interesting and useful way to spend three days!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Twitter Transforming Help for the Homeless

I recently came across an interesting post about someone twittering about a homeless situation and people stepping forward as a result to help. Here is an excerpt:
An LA mother and her nine-year old son have been homeless and living out of their van. Earlier this week, their van was towed by the city - along with all of their clothing and belongings. Horvath, who works during the day as an outreach worker for an LA-area shelter, tweeted the following message:

That message was received by several thousand followers. One person responded to Horvath's message, and offered to purchase clothing, food, and even a few toys for the family. Needless to say, the family was thrilled; the young mother said it was the first time she and her son had received new clothes in a very long time. Horvath documented much of the event on video, and has since blogged about the entire ordeal here.

You can read the whole post here: Will Twitter Transform Homeless Services in 2010?

This is not the first time I have read about a Twitter comment bringing out the best in people. It is good to know that social networking can be used effectively for something other than chatting. What a great idea it will become if everyone starts using it this way.