We hosted a terrific group of students this week, from our neighborhood school, The Albert F. Ford Middle School in Acushnet. One hundred-eleven 7th graders. They arrived full of energy and curiosity and left tired, proud and with an enduring understanding of how very lucky they were. Tired from all the work they did. Proud of what they accomplished and with a new sense of their place in the world, of their responsibility to themselves and to help others.
We asked if one of the students would report back to us about their experience. Here is what student Elizabeth Teixeira had to say –
This week we visited a wonderful group of students in Fall River, at the Fonseca Elementary School. All are members of the “Community Club” an after-school program led by mentor extraordinaire, Josh Amaral.
Josh invited us to visit with his social entrepreneurs and young philanthropists on their last club day of this school year. He had organized a recognition ceremony and there would be cake!
The Berkley Girl Scouts Strike Again! This past week, Berkley Troop 75329 came back for a visit bringing a car-load of new toys for our Birthday Program. Photos here.
Here is what one of their leaders had to say: “Berkley Girl Scout Troop 75329 volunteered at GiftsToGive during our philanthropy badge back in January. The girls spent an afternoon from their winter vacation and processed clothes for children in need. Their afternoon made a significant impression on them.
Recently the troop had our annual cookie sales and the time came for the girls, ages eight and nine, to decide what to do with the money they had raised. Instead of using it for themselves, they decided to use a portion of their profits to buy toys for children in need and bring them to GiftsToGive. They could have decided to use them for anything, but GiftsToGive and their education on philanthropy made such an
impression, that they were compelled to give back to children less fortunate than themselves.
What an amazing night! What an amazing food fest! What an amazing group of neighbors!
Photos from our evening are here.
Two hundred neighbors spent their Saturday evening together! It was a blast!
None of this would have been possible without a most wonderful group of seriously giving people: We are so thankful and grateful to:
This is a story about tempered glass, but not really. This is really a story about a remarkable woman, Iris Wallace of Glaser Glass. It’s also a story about the power of giving.
Where to begin?
We opened our thrift store in Acushnet to help offset our programming and overhead expenses. We sell adult clothes and small home goods – things that are donated to us, but that cannot be re-purposed for children. The new store is open on Saturdays (only) and is doing well, primarily because we have terrific volunteer managers running it and the quantity, quality and pricing of the goods is unbelievable.
We secured terrific racking for the clothes from a defunct business in Plymouth and with the help of a local donor we bought new, chromed wire shelving for our home goods department. We then learned, the hard way, that all our brick-a-brac and small items won’t sit right on a wire shelf.
Last Monday, Santander colleagues spent the day with us.
Shirley Gantz, VP of Partnership and Training said – “It was an overwhelming experience just to be able to see the amount of donations that come into the center on a daily basis. Tons of clothes, from infant to adult get donated on a weekly basis. We had the pleasure of inspecting and sorting the clothes into categories, sizes and genders. Thank you, GiftsToGive. Your passion for the underprivileged warmed all of our hearts. We look forward to enjoying another volunteer day with you and your “family” of volunteers.”
Jim Stevens, our CEO had this to say – “Not one of these employees was paid to be here, they all volunteered on their own time. How good is that? What a bright and shining light these wonderful people are!”
We just spent two days with students from the Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
It’s become an annual two day field trip and what’s the best for us is that we get to see students grow – not only in size and maturity but in their coming of age and increased connectiveness to giving and service. Photos from their service days are here.
Rather than explain more – we’d like to share what student Hunter Corbett had to say – ” Our annual Rocky Hill sophomore trip to GiftsToGive is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year. The upperclassmen fondly remember their excursion, and this year’s trip did not fail to live up to our high expectations. I think everyone in my class left with a desire to do more to help people. I know I am definitely going back to GiftsToGive to volunteer again in my free time.
We met a most remarkable young woman on Saturday, Jessie Barbosa. Photos from our day are here.
Jessie is a student at Bridgewater State University. She organized a day of service with several groups on campus. We asked Jessie to write about their experience, she had this to say – “On Saturday a group of Bridgewater State University students from multiple backgrounds, majors, and ages volunteered their time and services to GiftsToGive in Acushnet. This community service was made possible by a collaboration between The Center of Multicultural Affairs, Men Integrated in Brotherhood and the Community Service Office, which all form part of Bridgewater State University’s clubs and organizations. The students arrived around 9:00am, registered and then received a short orientation, which allowed them to understand the organization’s mission and familiarize themselves with the building.
Thomas, Allison and Sierra are students at U Mass Dartmouth. They’re also representatives for Greek Life on campus. We’ve partnered with the Greek Life Council at UMD to help us connect middle school students to giving and service. We’re starting with their working together on Saturdays at the factory.
Thomas Leman, Student leader had this to say – “Today, we were able to take a few short hours and work at something that’s making life easier for children throughout the SouthCoast. As Greek life students (Phi Sigma Sigma and Chi Phi), we know how fortunate we’ve been to get to college and find familial support in our organizations. We now have a chance to help those less fortunate than us and to be that support for the young boys and girls who volunteer at GiftsToGive. We can be examples of hard work and perseverance to empower other student volunteers to do well in school and life. We look forward to being repeat volunteers and mentors to influence and foster greater success for local youth!”
We met four remarkable young women today. Girl Scouts all and they were on a mission – a mission to make a difference.
We asked their leader to write a short background on this small but mighty group, this is what she had to say – “When we started our Girl Scout season this year we had a significantly smaller troop. The girls that stayed had one common interest and that was to volunteer and make a difference.
They started together as little girls being led by leaders. They are now young women making their own decisions and leading others to make a difference. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to make a difference. We look forward to coming back.”
While our goal of building a more caring community is beautiful, it’s not easy.
Being connected is the foundation for our work and last Thursday we held a community conversation about children and social media, after work, at the philanthropy factory.
Students in the Culinary Arts Program at Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School supplied tasty sandwiches in four varieties and a wonderful salad and dressing – to feed 110 people, at a price that would make a caterer spin circles!
We asked her Mom for details: “Caitlyn is a third grader at Pulaski Elementary School and she recently celebrated her 9th birthday. Caitlyn decided that she wanted to ask her friends to donate toys or clothing to GiftsToGive rather than receive gifts for herself. Through volunteering at Gifts to Give with her family, Caitlyn has realized the importance of giving to others”
Caitlyn says: “There are so many needy children with no special toys. I am lucky to have more than I ever wanted. These children are very brave. I wish that these toys will give them a happy surprise on their birthday!
Jason spent his senior year at Dartmouth High School, as our Social Entrepreneurial Intern. He then went on to Watson University, NYU and is currently at University of Cape Town.
We think Jason is a bright and shining light and a most perfect example of giving and service. Jason has also become a “For Real” Social Entrepreneur.
This project is important to Jason and we’re committed to help him start-up and launch – please help us, to help him. We’ll pass along 100% of all monies raised!
Peter Coyne, Theta Delta Chi Brother and Education Major had this to say – “I wasn’t sure what to expect when my fraternity, Theta Delta Chi, would be helping at GiftsToGive. Obviously I assumed we would be packaging toys and other things for children in need, but what I didn’t expect was the eye opening experience it turned out to be. Going on a tour of GiftsToGive was the first thing my fraternity did when we got there. I never knew some little old factory could contain tens of thousands of various items that are shipped to kids in need every day from this facility.
Nathan Turner is not your average young man. Nathan was acknowledged by President Obama for the President’s, Gold Volunteer Service Award.
Nathan has completed over 3,000 hours of volunteer community service. We’re so proud of Nathan. Nathan is a Junior at New Bedford High School and has been volunteering with us since he was in the 6th grade at the Roosevelt Middle School.
Jim Stevens, CEO and Founder of GiftsToGive said “ Nathan inspires us to do more and to be better. He is truly a bright and shining light and a most perfect example of giving and service. When we talk about young people making a difference, we talk about Nathan Turner!”
The New Bedford City Council honored Nathan on January 22 (See video below)
We think they’re a most perfect example of giving and service and we’re looking forward to engaging even more.
Their president, Ashley Martins had this to say “Circle K International (CKI) is the world’s largest collegiate organization dedicated to service and leadership development.
Elmire had a birthday party last week and in her own words, told us: ” I just turned 5. I had a birthday party and I asked all of my friends to bring something to donate to GiftsToGive instead of a gift for me. It made me feel good inside.”
Q: What do you get when you mix nine Berkley Brownies with 500 pounds of gently-used, children’s clothes donations?
A: Enough warm winter clothes, inspected, sorted and organized to help 24 local children receive a great gift package!
Photos from their afternoon are here.
Here is an email we received from their leadership team – ” Thank you so much for allowing our Brownie Girl Scout Troop to come and volunteer at GiftsToGive and showing them that they can be an important part of helping others no matter how old they are. We had such a wonderful experience. The girls, at eight and nine years of age, were saying things like “this was awesome”, “it was a good experience”, and that “it felt good to help”.
Philanthropy is a big word. It’s a big concept. For a child, it’s one of those ideas/concepts and values that takes perspective, experience and practice. Telling the truth, doing the right thing, not going with strangers, eating the right foods, washing your hands, respecting other people … but … giving away some of your toys, some of your treasure is a huge big deal! Very seldom do we meet a four year-old that had no problem with this, Liam brought us boxes full!
In this crazy mixed up world we live in, to see a four year-old wanting to share his treasure – inspires us to do more and be better at doing it!
We hosted our “First Annual Crafts Fair For A Cause” last Sunday. Fifty-five Vendors came to sell their wares, among them was Fairhaven Brownie Troop 65427 and boy did they sell a lot of cookies!
What could be better than that you ask? They collected and donated 153 children’s books for us to re-purpose.
We literally were overwhelmed with a huge donation of great new toys and other items on Saturday from FOUR year-olds, Lily and Matthew.
We work everyday at receiving donations from some very remarkable people, lots of them children, but this donation was overwhelming for us. It was overwhelming not only for the volume of the things we received but for how and why they came to us. We were so busy the day they arrived we really didn’t get to hear the whole story. We emailed their mother and asked for details. What we got back was the best email in recent memory.
We see thousands of children every year and most are special, some beyond words, some are extra special, some are even extraordinary and then there is Lyla. I say this because this seven year-old had processed and understood how lucky she was and felt she needed to act on her feelings.
Last Sunday morning the Mattapoisett Knights of Columbus and the Mattapoisett Police Association hosted a free pancake breakfast, with Santa.
Officer Nichols Lorenco, President of the Mattapoisett Police Association had this to say – “We partnered with the Knights of Columbus in their already established “Breakfast with Santa” and chose GiftsToGive as the recipient of our collection drive. This year we asked for each family to bring a new or slightly used gift, coat or book to later be delivered to GiftsToGive. We had a great turn out and met our goal in filling a police cruiser.
We would like to thank everyone who attended this event and the gifts they provided.”
They told us a most amazing story. “Jewelry-making is an ordinary activity that many young girls enjoy throughout adolescence. Making friendship bracelets and key chains is a memorable part of our childhood. Last Spring, we reconnected with the hobby by learning the practice of fabricating a sophisticated, marketable bracelet. We spent the spring preparing to sell ‘Good Beads’ at Fairhaven’s annual homecoming fair. ‘Good Beads’ are a variety of beaded bracelets made from wire and macrame string.
Sixteen young women from our Normandin Middle School Sorority, spent two hours after school on Tuesday, with Executive Chef Victor Vieira.
Chef Victor brought $33.22 worth of groceries and demonstrated how to make two meals for five people that are not only nutritional but scrumptious! He talked to our young women about the food cost, engaging them in a math quiz for per-person servings comparing that to fast-food meals.
Talk about a service learning experience! Conversation abounded about how carrots are grown, the benefits of celery, we even learned that a part of the chicken is called an oyster! Chef talked about the different fats, comparing the meals that were being cooked and the fat content and types in processed food.
Five brothers from Men Integrated in Brotherhood (MIB) a student group at Bridgewater State spent the day with us, helping to build racking for our new thrift shop.
They learned a lot about working together, team work, tangible philanthropy and big citizenship. They also did a wonderful job!
Gary Chow, Secretary of the organization had this to say in an email to our CEO – “Today, was my very first community service of the year. Today me and a few fellow brothers from Men Integrated Brotherhood went to GiftsToGive.
Our original location in New Bedford was demolished and we moved five miles up the road. We’ve re-opened after having been closed for 12 weeks. We’re turning an old golf ball factory into a new Philanthropy Factory, powered by thousands of student volunteers.
We need adult volunteer help in the mornings, when our primary volunteers are in school, to help get the new space operational.
Adult volunteers can “drop-in” any time between 9-2, every day except Sunday! There are a zillion things to do; from heavy lifting – interior demolition and re-construction, to light work of sorting clothes by gender and size, sorting books by age, inspecting and cleaning baby safety items and the never ending cleaning and organizing of toys, puzzles and games.
When we learned that our New Bedford mill was being demolished and we had to move, the good news was that our new home in Acushnet will significantly increase our impact and greatly reduce our energy costs.
We’ve encountered severe financial challenges in retrofitting the new space. Building an interior stairway to our loading dock, building an outside loading dock, putting in a concrete pad for our trash compactor, building out our new thrift store and event space.
Please help us financially. If you can!
A check can be mailed or dropped-off. (We’d love to show you what we’re up to!)
1 Titleist Drive
Acushnet, MA 02743
Or if easier/better, please donate online.
CamRon Frazier, a New Bedford High School Junior, received his second SouthCoast Serves award for committing to and then completing sixty hours of volunteer service.
The ceremony was at Thursday night’s BaySox game versus the Mystic Schooners.
Jim Stevens, GiftsToGive’s CEO said ” CamRon has been volunteering with us since he was a seventh grade student at the Roosevelt Middle School. Over these last four years we’ve seem such tremendous personal growth in this fine young man. CamRon is truly a bright and shining light. He exemplifies the best of what is possible when a student is given the right support.”
On a beautiful Friday evening in June, the GiftsToGive volunteer management team went back to school and experienced first hand, a most perfect lesson in giving and service.
Talk about Expeditionary Learning, Tangible Philanthropy and Big Citizenship!
The night was amazing, both in terms of community turnout and all-around great vibes!
Our lease is up! When our building was sold two years ago, our rent was tripled! Now it gets even better – we learn from the newspaper, that the mill is being demolished! The challenging news is that we need to raise the cash to retrofit the new space and then of course – to move all our stuff as soon as the public schools let out!
Please donate what you can – any amount matters!
We came away from our day today – inspired! Wareham Middle School Student Council Members redefined altruism for us. Talk about the power of one and then multiply that by a factor of forty!
Photos from our day are here.
Wendy Brogioli, Student Council Advisor for the Wareham Middle School wrote – “Thank you very much for allowing us to help at GiftsToGive today. It was amazing to see such a big place filled with so many things that will be given to families in need. We had a great time sorting all of those toys, clothes, and books. This is one of the best field trips we’ve been on – mostly because we were helping kids, but also because it was fun. We’ll be back!
On Monday, 70 members of Dartmouth’s Joseph DeMello School’s Student Council performed an afternoon of service..
The group of 4th and 5th graders, who have held donation drives to benefit some of the 35,000 local children living in poverty, volunteered their time inspecting, sorting and processing a zillion pounds of donated clothing and toys. They also experienced the power of giving and service in the most tangible ways!
When asked about her time at Gifts to Give, 5th grader Mia Paynton said – “I really enjoyed helping out today. I want to bring my sister and mom back to volunteer this summer. It is so important to help others.”
Photos from our day are here.
Turning five years-old is something very special. Especially for twins! Understanding philanthropy at five … well talk about making our day!
Saturday afternoon, two ball players arrived at the mill with a zillion brand new toys in tow. They explained to us that they wanted to help children who were not as fortunate as they were and who might not get a birthday present.
Parents Kathryn and Dennis had this to say – “It is truly our pleasure to be able to contribute. Our boy’s just turned five years old and had a wonderful party with family and friends. We have been truly blessed with two wonderful healthy boys, a loving family and many friends. We know that there are many in the community that are less fortunate than us, and we feel it is important to help others and give back whenever possible.
What does the President of the United States and Sophomore, CamRon Frazier have in common?
Last Saturday night, at our First Annual “Rising Tide” event, we awarded New Bedford High School Sophomore CamRon Frazier, the Presidential Service Award.
Over 100 students from Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School and Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School developed, marketed and staffed their First Annual Health and Safety Fair for Elementary School students and their families.
These amazing high school students turned 10,000 square feet at the GiftsToGive mill into a Spring Fair! Over 500 neighborhood students and their families visited and had a great time, all the students learned a lot, got brand new books to take home and had a healthy lunch.
Jeanne Butler, a Health Careers teacher at Old Colony Voc Tech conceived the idea as a tangible service learning experience for her students. Jeanne forged an alliance with Greater New Bedford Voc Tech. She recruited over 25 community groups to exhibit. Her leadership not only launched an annual community event, but exemplified service learning with tangible and measurable results. When we talk about remarkable teachers, we talk about Jeanne Butler!
Photos from our day are here.
Twenty-five community agencies exhibited and each had a learning component and terrific prizes and surprises. The SouthCoast Hospital Van did screenings. The Bristol County Sheriff’s Mobile Command Van gave tours and our favorite fire-fighters brought Ladder 3 out for the kids to tour and take photos.
What a terrific afternoon! Photos HERE
With the leadership and mentoring of UMASS Dartmouth students – students from Roosevelt Middle School and Scouts from New Bedford Troop and Pack Seven joined together to support Mother Earth!
On a very rainy and cold Saturday morning sixteen Bishop Stang High School Students chose to make a difference. Their gift of donations and time will help over 50 local children, many of them homeless and all of them living in poverty!
Photos from our day are here.
Student Hallie Manchester had this to say about their visit – ” I woke up on Saturday at 7:30 to drive to Stang, where a medium sized group of us would meet before spending the day at GiftsToGive in New Bedford. Unsure of what to expect, I went through my normal morning routine and got breakfast with two of my friends who would be with me all day. When the three of us got to Stang, we went into one of the administration offices where there was a large amount of donated objects from clothes to children’s toys. As we loaded the bags and boxes into our cars, we were feeling anxious and wondered what this place was going to be like. We all were groggy and tired yet excited to be having the opportunity to help others.
For us there is a special meaning in the half-marathon!
We’re a stop for the wheelchair teams. We like it a lot – when we all work together, amazing things happen.
We’re grateful to the New Bedford Half Marathon Race Committee and The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for their continuing financial support and we’re so very proud of them for making this half-marathon such an inclusive and wonderful event. Our special thank you to Paul Mello and the BayCoast Bank volunteers for managing the last of the Schwartz Center wheelchair stops along the marathon route.
Photos from the New Bedford Half-Marathon and a part of our day are here.
This week we met sixteen students from Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton.
Photos from our day are here
We talked as a group about child poverty, the importance of education and graduating high school. We talked about giving, philanthropy, making a difference, social justice, big citizenship, the power of one, the power of a group and then we went to work. These sixteen students inspected, cleaned and processed enough great stuff to allow us to help three dozen local children in-need. How great is that?
Twenty-two, Pembroke Middle School, Student Leaders, SHATTERED our standing collection drive record for winter coats, by collecting and then delivering and sorting 714 coats and a ton of hats, gloves and scarves.
Some kids talk about making a difference, the Student Leadership Club students walked the walk and we have the photos to prove it!
What do you get when you mix sixty-five university students, stir in a sorority and a fraternity, add in four hours of time, sprinkled with 5,000 pounds of donated items, fifty or so middle school students and of course – twenty-two pizzas? Read on!
Bridgewater State University students from Delta Phi Epsilon and Phi Kappa Theta worked together and proved that there really is power in numbers and that great things can be accomplished when we work together.
For us, mixing these university students helped our middle school student volunteers see another side of maturity, student life and possibility. What excellent role models for our younger student volunteers. Over 120 students, of all ages, worked together and made a week’s worth of donations – disappear!
We think every student should have a savings account for college, most importantly – all students should start a savings account. Towards this objective, we’re launching a program with our student interns and our favorite bank, The Bristol County Savings Bank and our favorite banker Ms. Wood Dupont! Ms. Wood Dupont said – “The Bank is pleased to partner with GiftsToGive in their efforts to educate their interns on financial literacy and the importance of savings. We believe these early lessons will pay dividends for the rest of their lives’.
Yesterday, Student Intern CamRon Frazier opened his College Fund Savings account with the Bristol County Savings Bank – with matching donations from GiftsToGive CEO, Jim Stevens and Domino’s Pizza CEO, Nelson Hockert-Lotz in honor of CamRon being our trailblazer! Nelson had this to say –“The mission of every service organization should be to build leadership capacity and enrich lives. GiftsToGive gets that, and our supporting educational attainment among youth volunteers is simply at the core of that mission.”
Early adopter and GiftsToGive volunteer Janet Galipeau stopped in on Saturday to donate sixty pairs of children’s socks!
But wait … there’s more! Janet was on her way to her friend Susan’s 60th birthday party. What do you get for a special friend who has everything? How do you really express your love, your friendship, your caring?
For Janet it was simple – her gift to her friend Susan was something that money cannot buy – “A Very Real Act of Kindness and Caring.”
The longest journey begins with a single step. The first step in this story started with an email from Carolyn, Hadleigh and Braelyn’s mom – “On 1/19 my daughters are turning 8 and 10. I am interested in having them and some friends volunteer at GiftsToGive as part of their party on 1/18. I see stories of kids that had friends bring presents to donate instead of birthday presents for them, could the girls and their guests also volunteer their time?”
Carolyn sent a follow-up email after the girls’ visit – “As parents, we try our best to teach our daughters about being thankful for their blessings and look for opportunities to give back to those in need.”
We’re collecting “gently-used” sports balls! Spring is on the way and our current inventory is wiped out!
Student Intern, Molly has organized a sports balls collection drive with the Boston University Hockey Team. On Friday February 28, in their game against Northeastern at BU, buy one ticket, get one free if you donate a sports ball.
Student Intern Stephen is working with Bishop Stang High School on a collection drive!
Sonia Cabral, Nicole Resendes, Julie Leach, David Martins, Garrett Gomes, Joshua Brien, and Jackie Bartoloni volunteered today and helped us inspect and sort children’s clothes. They also brought donations of clothing, toys and books.
DCF Manager Sonia Cabral wrote in an email “Our agency is so appreciative for the incredible service and the help your organization offers not only to the families we serve, but also to the community. We look forward to future volunteer work and collaboration with GiftsToGive.”
Michaelah Noelle Nunes is an amazing young women!
Michaelah has competed for 4 years in the Miss New Bedford’s Outstanding Teen pageant.
This is her second consecutive year hosting a community drive to benefit GiftsToGive as part of her chosen platform, titled A Real Life Science Experiment: The Ripple Effect.
Michaelah intends to show others how even the smallest form of contribution, much like a drop in a small pond, can have a ripple effect, reaching far and wide.
But wait … there’s more!
Lead by Michael Perreira and Alex Pinarreta students at the Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School and members of the Business Professionals of America (BPA) Chapter’s officer team held a donation drive to gather clothing, toys, and books for children ages three to twelve. The students and staff at the school generously donated many items which were delivered to GiftsToGive.
Every once in-a-while, we’re flabbergasted and we don’t flabbergast easily!
Nicole Long, one of our earliest adopters wrote last week – “SO PROUD of my niece Abby and her cousin Georgia: over Christmas vacation they brainstormed a charitable organization called “GAB” and collected over $100 in one weekend to help people less fortunate. This morning, Abby gave me the money… (Which is being matched by their Grandmother Blair!) to deliver to GiftsToGive and I can’t think of a more beautiful start to a new year. Love these girls and their giant hearts.”
The winners of Tabor Academy’s first quarter “Green Wars” competition, were the 25 young women in Baxter House! They collectively chose to give back.
Under the careful eye of the dorm’s “dean of green,” junior Sara Kosicki, the Baxter House residents were declared the campus’s best and most conscientious recyclers. As a result, money accumulated at the redemption center was given to the Baxter girls as a prize for their dorm’s thoughtful approach to caring for the planet. Rather than use the money for a weekend pizza party, the girls chose to use the money to buy socks and underwear. Why? Because they answered our call for help! Our supply of new socks and underwear, essentials many take for granted, is dangerously low. Hearing this, these amazing students acted!
When we think about service, one of the first things we think about is our Fire Department. Men and women who put themselves in harm’s way every time they report to work.
Today we met Firefighter Andy Bois. Andy grew up in New Bedford with our Russell Souza and have they have kept a friendship since their school days. Andy brought us several hundred brand new toys courtesy of the New Bedford Fire Department’s annual collection drive.
Why I Volunteer at GiftsToGive, by Sarah Davis Blodgett
I have been helping to manage mill operations this fall and winter. The last few weeks have been very busy as people clear out their houses to get ready for the holidays and their donations have been pouring in.
One donation that came in on Saturday, reinforced why I spend three days each week volunteering at this amazing children’s charity. It was several bags of children’s clothes, books, and toys with this accompanying letter:
Every Monday and Wednesday, students from grades 6-8 at Normandin Middle School have chosen to take part in the 21st Century grant program – “Community Service Group.” The purpose of the 21st Century program is to establish or expand community learning centers that operate during out-of-school hours and provide students with academic enrichment opportunities along with other activities designed to complement academic programming. Teacher John Martins oversees the programming and facilitates all the different after-school group’s needs.
Update: Monday, December 2, 2013 The Scouts of Pack 32 in Marion, made a huge difference today!
In November the scouts participated in their soap box derby and used the event to: help help a local family, collect donations for a food pantry and collecting “gently-used” children’s things for GiftsToGive.
This afternoon, after school, Pack 32 in full force – descended on the mill in a literal caravan of vehicles, full of not only scouts, but the treasure they had collected between themselves and other families in Marion.
We need adult volunteer help in the mornings, while our student volunteers are otherwise occupied, to help us process donations and fill orders.
On Saturday, 300 elementary students from our neighborhood visited the mill with their families and we celebrated reading and family.
Older students from ten area middle schools, high schools and universities were exemplary role-models. They staffed literacy-based game tables, greeted our youngest students and facilitated their choosing six, brand new books and a pumpkin of their choice.
We’re so proud of our older students and their volunteering to support learning to read and reading! Photos
There we were … early on a Friday afternoon getting ready for our Saturday event, The Third Annual Great Pumpkin For Early Literacy.
It was the end of a long week, the end of a long day and there was still a ton of work to do. Then a bus pulled up in front of the mill and twenty BSU students rolled out .. all looking to make a difference.
These twenty students did the work of forty and when they finished – all we needed done for our event was completed and we were good to go.
When people tell us about the problem with kids today … we’ll smile, we’ll wait politely for them to finish, and then we’ll tell them the story about the students we met on a rainy Friday afternoon from Bridgewater State University!
This year’s freshmen class set new GiftsToGive records! Not only in making a huge difference but they collectively processed a week’s worth of donations in a morning!
Besides setting a new record for the most amount of donations processed in a morning, this year’s class helped to define giving and service in a whole new way. Photos here.
Here is what Student Journalist, Will Landry had to say about their combined class experience:
GiftsToGive student volunteers along with mentors Matt and Bob met up with over 400 neighbors in the first annual walk to raise awareness around the crisis we share as a community about the alarming rise in suicides, especially among teens.
Student leaders Nathan Turner and Camron Frazier took the point, they are GiftsToGive uber volunteers and founding members of the Gentlemen’s Round Table.
Performance in reading on the third grade MCAS has not improved since 2001. Among children from low-income families, a staggering 65% lag in reading.
The 2013 MCAS scores show that third grade reading proficiency rates have declined four percentage points since 2012.
This year, 43% of third grade students did not score proficient in reading. The consequences of failing to read by this age are devastating. Struggling readers are four times less likely to graduate high school on time, which in turn significantly impacts employment opportunities and lifetime earnings.
We have made no real progress on this critical benchmark. Unless and until we find a way to build a community around our children learning to read and then reading to learn – nothing will change.
Sixty BSU students from two groups: The Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority and The African Students Association came in at different times on Saturday and processed a week’s worth of donations in one day!
With over 30,000 SouthCoast children living in poverty, the need is overwhelming and we’ve been swamped with orders for back to school supplies and winter clothes.
We’re able to help 400 local children in-need as a direct result of their combined effort.
* UPDATE: We had an amazing tomato experience this summer. We harvested 463 lush, unbelievably great tasting heirloom tomatoes and donated 250 to the local food pantry and our student volunteers took the rest home!
When we told Bob Feingold (our tomato plant benefactor) what a bumper crop we had, he told us we were relatively unique as most people experienced blight and poor results. Bob thought that maybe our being on the ocean and the salt air helped to mitigate the fungi that were so prevalent. We learned a lot about tomato gardening, working as a team, responsibility, over-watering, organics, bumble bees and living off the land. We can’t wait for next year, we’ve set a goal of 600 tomatoes and helping two food pantries!
ORIGINAL STORY: We decided to plant only TOMATOES this summer. Local attorney Robert Feingold, grew them from seeds and gave us the babies for planting – our first Heirloom Project.
Last Saturday, Tabor Academy students and their faculty/advisers descended on an old Berkshire Hathaway mill in the south-end of New Bedford and moved the needle! Photos are here.
Their gift? – 400 hours of motivated, high energy labor. With over 30,000 SouthCoast children living in poverty, the need is overwhelming and we were able to completely morph our processing operation from summer into fall and winter, enabling us to help over 500 local children get the right clothes and school supplies for the new school year.
Talking the talk about making a difference is easy – doing the work, is another matter. For us – Tabor Academy students – walked the walk!
Talk about Big Citizenship – sixty-eight Boston University freshmen spent two days with us. Their impact was outrageous!
These students gave a collective 400 hours of their love and their labor to help process thousands of items – “gently used” clothes, books, toys and school supplies. Photos from their two days are here
Talk about Tangible Philanthropy – their gift will help over 500 local children be able to start the new school year with the basic essentials they need.
With over 30,000 SouthCoast children living in poverty, the need is overwhelming and in two days we were able to process a week’s worth of output.
Molly’s quest to collect 1,000 gently used sports balls has hit snag after snag, then last week something positive happened.
The back story – Initially Molly went to the Bruins and asked for help in the form of a player coming to New Bedford and she and her hockey team would host a skating event. The Bruins could not send a player but did offer some of their surplus equipment – so that is working itself through. Then Molly went to the Celtics for help and they also could not send a player down to New Bedford. (You can see Molly’s letters to them below).
The positive thing that happened last week came in the form of Boston University and FYSOP! Sixty-eight incoming BU freshmen spent two days at the mill helping us process clothes (we were at the critical process place of swapping out summer clothes for winter clothes and getting ready for back to school.) See that story here.
Last week we received an email from Anthony Moccia asking to be connected to Molly. Who is Anthony Moccia you ask? Anthony is a senior at BU and was one of the chaperones for the the visiting BU freshmen. Here is Antony’s email –
Every once in a while something happens that fuels change. That something, for us, is Martha Kay.
It’s one thing to facilitate thousands of children in community service, it’s another to connect them to service learning and then to something much bigger than themselves.
Some people talk the talk, others walk the walk, Martha does them both – every single day! Thousands of student’s lives are better for what they learned on her watch over 38 years as a New Bedford Educator and in her retirement Martha is continuing to connect thousands of children to a pathway for a better life. Rather than have us talk about her – we’ll defer to the Standard Times and the YWCA. Here is what the Standard Times had to say about Ms. Kay.
Nine year-old Abby is in the 4th grade and lives over an hour away from New Bedford.
For the second year in a row, Abby asked friends coming to her birthday party not to bring her any gifts. Instead, she wanted them to bring new things that she could donate to GiftsToGive.
Abby likes to bring everything down to the mill with her sister, Maggie. Maggie is in the 2nd grade and just turned seven.
Summer Intern Wrap-up Party Luncheon: Ice cream cake and water balloons in the conference room!
Our summer intern story is a story of: service learning, small, medium and large challenges, heartbreak, immaturity, revelation, love, hope, mentoring, education, relationship, service, giving, daily Khan Academy math, frustration, maturity, modeling, customer-service, schedules, disappointment, hard projects, easy projects, hard work, being lazy, meeting hundreds of new people from all over, honor, consequences, integrity, reading, inspiration, fun, open heart surgery, wisdom teeth extraction, poison ivy, sunburn, “what-if”, public relations, marketing, communication, non-communication, truth, independence, explicit instruction, fetching, leadership, cleaning the lavatories, patience, respect, fractions, healthy choices, smart choices, not so smart choices, being invisible, gardening, grumpy adults, being seen and not heard, breaking things, loosing things, organizing things, asking for things, finding things, more pizza than you could ever imagine and pretty much all the other stuff that happens, every day, at the mill!
With over 30,000 SouthCoast children living in poverty, going back to school is very difficult for lots of kids – especially when it comes to clothes and school supplies.
When people ask us how we are able to help so many local students with school supplies, we tell them about our friend Barbara and her colleagues at Edison Mission Marketing and Trading (EMMT) in Boston.
15 year-old Intern and New Bedford High School Sophomore, Camron Frazier was honored Friday night at the Bay Sox final game by SouthCoast Serves (a UMass Dartmouth initiative) for his extraordinary volunteer service.
The Bay Sox ended their 2013 season with a 7-0-shutout victory over the visiting Ocean State Waves at Paul Walsh Field, which was nice!
THE NEW NEWS: With the help of Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn, we’re staffing an adult mentor to work with Student Volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, after school from 2:30 to 5pm and Saturdays from 9-2. (This means that during these times – students 17 and under do NOT have to volunteer with a parent or guardian, because we’ll have a dedicated adult mentor on the mill floor!)
Summer interns Freddy and Tyler, spent last Saturday volunteering at Alma del Mar, to help them build their playground.
Some kids talk the talk, others walk the walk and then there are the select few that help to define the great hope of their generation.
WAY TO GO …… Tyler and Freddy!
We think that Alma del Mar Public Charter School is the most exciting thing happening in public education and we help them whenever we can … you should too!
GiftsToGive Saturday was a “truck-load” of fun. The Junior and Senior Friends of Joseph H Plumb Memorial Library, Rochester, hosted a “Give and Go” drive for GiftsToGive last Saturday.
Lisa Fuller, who manages Youth Services said – “The Jr. Friends, the library youth group, created signs, and donned in their Jr. Friends T-shirts, parked themselves on the side of the roadway promoting donations! They also helped people unload their cars. They received many wonderful baby items, lots of toys and clothes, and even some monetary donations. The Sr. Friends helped sort the items, and load up the truck. They were very excited that the truck was at least half full!”
Last Tuesday, sixty-four, 4th and 5th Grade, DeMello Elementary School, Student Council members and 10 adults, spent three hours volunteering with us at the mill, processing thousands of donated toys and articles of clothing.
Their gift? … 200 hours of inspecting, cleaning, sorting and processing power. Talk about giving and service!
Through their combined efforts, we were able to process enough great stuff to help 64 homeless and at-risk, local children.
Dartmouth Middle School thought they’d collected a lot of books for GiftsToGive in 2010 when they collected over 3,200 gently used books for kids and teens in one week.
Then they smashed that record in 2011 by collecting over 6,000 gently used books.
Now DMS students have smashed that record once again by donating 7,154 books!
Nate agreed with his mother that he already had enough “stuff” and decided instead to help kids who didn’t. His friends thought this was pretty cool too.
Normandin Middle School Principal Bill Burkhead “Blogs” on the Sorority and Mentoring
My name is Nathan Dos Reis I am a Boy Scout in Troop 20, Squanto District, Old Colony Council. Our troop is located at 400 Faunce Corner Road in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. I am a senior at New Bedford High School and I am enjoying this final year in high school.
Eight year-old Paige, did something amazing on her birthday.
Her parents held a party and Paige asked her friends to bring a new birthday present for a GiftsToGive child, who would not ordinarily receive a gift on their birthday.
Paige brought us 31 new birthday presents to be given to local children on their special day.
In her “doing” Paige has not only made a huge difference, but has become a most excellent example to her siblings and friends about the power of giving.
Sometimes a bicycle is more than just a bicycle. Sometimes a bicycle is a metaphor for building a more caring community!
Sometimes a bicycle is more than just a bicycle! Sometimes a bicycle is the only means to get to work, or to open up new vistas. A bike is something privileged children take for granted and something, that a lot of times, is out of reach for under-privileged children.
We collect a lot of bikes, hundreds are donated to us each year. Half of them are OK but need a little work. The other half are terrible – embarrassingly terrible; rusted, worn out, unsafe and makes us wonder what people are thinking when they leave them with us.
The bikes that are good, generally need brake pads, inner tubes, tires, chains fixed and wheels aligned. Which is not the easiest thing for us to do – actually it’s almost impossible. So a lot of good bikes never get re-purposed and gifted.
It was a huge problem for us until our “Go To Guy” Bob Cormier introduced us to Kim Camera at Yesteryear Cyclery. Kim became a silent donor of used bikes that he could not take in trade, or to re-sell. His crew fixes them up to be safe and then Kim shows up after work and drops them off for us to give to local children. Then it got better – Bob would bring bikes that were donated to us, that needed some work, to Kim and Kim and his crew would make them safe.
Last week Kim showed up with a zillion tools and spare parts and his best friend Andy. They spent the day – went through our entire inventory and were able to make safe and re-purpose 51 bicycles! On the face of it a tremendous act of charity and kindness. Two professional men spending their day doing a day’s work, but not for themselves – but rather for 51 local kids who would never be able to have their own bicycle.
We spend a lot of time and energy talking about building a more caring community. Last week Kim and Andy did exactly that!
With his signature resolve President Carter dives into three unexpected reasons why the mistreatment of women and girls continues in so many manifestations in so many parts of the world, both developed and developing. The final reason he gives? “In general, men don’t give a damn.”