Saturday, March 31, 2012

12 in 12: March Update

During 2012, Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing a special challenge that we've named 12 in 12. We are doing 12 different activities that help people in need, animals, or the environment. 

This is how we did during March: 

- Take 1 bag of food to the food shelf.

The girls brought a bag of food to the Lindstrom Food Pantry (a program of Family Pathways) as part of their 4-H club's service project for the month. The club members donated 46 pounds of food to the food shelf; and we were given a tour by two volunteers who also are members of the local Lions group.

Sophia and Olivia with a bag of food for the food shelf.

Last year, the Food Pantry served 1,738 households (which represents 4,994 individuals). 148,214 pounds of food was distributed; and 3,302 hours were worked by volunteers. Clearly, it provides a valuable service to the community of Lindstrom and neighboring areas.

- Volunteer 1 hour at a community organization that is chosen each month (can be the same one or different one).

On the 31st, the Olivia and I made cookies, bars, and biscuits for the April 1st social hour between church services. We made sugar cookies that were cut out in different Easter and spring shapes; meringue cookies; oatmeal bars; lemon-rose biscuits; and triple ginger cookies.

Olivia cutting out Easter shapes from the sugar cookie dough.

- Donate 1 bag of clothing to a second-hand shop.

We donated 7 bags of clothing to Goodwill this month. These were clothes that no longer fit Olivia or were ones that we had not worn in the past six months.

Olivia and Sophia in the car with donations
for Goodwill.

We also donated 2 big bags of clothing to Family Pathways on another day.

- Donate 1 bag of toys and other non-clothing items to a second-hand shop.

The girls went through their rooms again and we found 3 bags of toys and doll clothes that they no longer wanted. There were also two bags of curricula and teaching resource books that we used and no longer needed. These were brought to Goodwill along with the clothing and two bags of books.

Items for Goodwill.

During the third week of March, we continued to go through the house and found another bag of items that we donated to Family Pathways.

We also donated a bag of items to St. Therese Care Center. (This is where my dad spent the last three months of his life, and where my mom currently is in the Transitional Care Unit recovering from a fall in which she cracked her ankle.) Items that several departments could use were donated:

- Rosaries and other spiritual/religious items that belonged to my dad went to the Pastoral Care team.
- Puzzles went to the Activities team for use with seniors who are in 1 West (Alzheimer's/Dementia unit).
- Book with old-fashioned pictures went to 1 East (the palliative/hospice unit where my dad was).
- Transfer belt went to Physical Therapy (where my mom is spending a lot of time).

- Donate 12 books that we no longer read to organizations needing books.

We donated 46 books to Goodwill this month. (See photo above - the books are in bags in the back part of the car.)

Olivia and Sophia with books for the library.
Sophia is holding one bag.
The other two bags are behind the girls on the counter.

We also donated 60 books to the local library. The library uses donated books in one of two ways:

(1) If the book is in good condition and they don't have it, they add it to their collection; or

(2) If it isn't in great condition or they already have a copy (or copies) of the book, then they sell it. The proceeds from the sale of books supports the library (its operation as well as the purchase of new books).

Although it was (in a way) difficult to part with all the books, the reality is that we haven't read them recently and don't plan to read them again soon.

Ideally, I would do some type of yard sale and try to get some of the money back that I spent on books. However, in the age of e-books and Kindles the likelihood that the money earned would pale in comparison to the effort put forth as well as the advertising expense to sell the books.

We are keeping only the books that we have enjoyed, will read again, and/or have positive memories associated with them (the latter category are generally books that were read when the girls were babies and toddlers).

- Donate $12 to an organization that helps individuals, animals, or the environment.

The girls and I chose Northwoods Humane Society again this month. We were happy to see that - with the exception of a few cats and two dogs - there were all new animals this month.

The girls looking at two of the dogs that were
available for adoption.

Since Northwoods is a no-kill shelter, that means that all the animals who were eligible for adoption last month and are no longer there are all in new homes this month.

A very friendly cat who needs a new home.

- Write 1 letter to someone who has made a difference in our lives.

I wrote a letter to the human resources director at St. Therese Care Center to let her know about the good work and positive impact one of their employees has had on our family.

Throughout the entire time that my dad was at St. Therese and now my mom (who is in the transitional care unit there), one of St. Therese’s employees (Nichelle) has stood out as providing exceptional care and compassion to both my parents as well as me.

Dad and Nichelle at St. Therese.
(Taken on November 12, 2011.)

It is rare that you see someone radiate joy and happiness when she is doing her job. When these things are shown, especially by someone in the healthcare field – like Nichelle - it is truly inspiring.

So, not only did I write the letter to the human resouce director, but I also sent a copy to Nichelle so she could read what I wrote. With her letter, I included copies of a prayer and homily that my dad wrote (the former in 1996 and the latter in 2005 - most likely when he was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's Disease).

Both referred to the importance of serving and helping others which Nichelle demonstrated repeatedly. Because she knew my dad only when he had Alzheimer's Disease and didn't have adequate words to express himself, I wanted her to "hear" him when he was himself and able to share what he believed. (She knew that I found a big file of homilies and prayers that he wrote as I have been cleaning his offices at home after his death.)

One part of the prayer was, "We are truly thankful for the...opportunity of service, for it is serving others that we also serve You. .... We thank you for bringing us together...and to recognize those among us who have given much and have demonstrated a willingness to help other people."

The homily included this paragraph: "The reign of God is big, but made up of many tiny things. Mustard seeds. Yeast. Not much in themselves. A quick thank you note. An understanding smile or greeting. A reassuring and comforting touch. A word of praise or a word of encouragement. When ammassed, we can see a committed relationship, a happy marriage, a warm and loving family. The little things we do, almost unnoticeable, are never little things in the reign of God and in our relationship with caring, loving, and service to others."

- Donate 1 bag of pop cans to places that collect them to raise funds.

Sophia and Olivia putting cans in
Northwoods Humane Society's can collector.

Both Sophia and Olivia are committed to helping the animals who arrive at Northwoods Humane Society find homes. To help Northwoods, they donated another bag of pop cans this month.

Zorro needs a new home.

- Donate 1 bag of Purina Kitten Chow (dry) to Northwoods Humane Society (where Gretel was adopted).

Northwoods was very grateful to receive the Kitten Chow this month.

Sophia and Olivia by the counter where they donated the Kitten Chow.
The cat at the counter was very interested in the food as well.

The volunteer who accepted the donation said that next month there will start to be many kittens since this is the time of the year when many are born. They are running low on kitten food, so this was a timely and needed donation.

Gelbman is waiting patiently for a
new person or family to adopt him.

- Spend 1 hour outdoors doing projects that help wildlife.

I trimmed some of the lower branches on the trees in a forested area in the northwest section of the pasture. With the larger branches, I created areas where small animals and birds could get some shelter and/or protection from predators.

One of the areas that can provide shelter or protection.
By late-spring and summer, this will be enclosed in leaves.

I also filled all the bird feeders on the 31st of March. Some of the feeders were empty or close to being empty. However, some still had quite a bit of seeds in them.

With the mild winter and early spring, the ground has thawed, worms are being found by the robins; and insects are already crawling and flying around. This makes it much easier for the birds and creates less dependency on eating from bird feeders.

One of the feeders that I re-filled.
Within ten minutes, the dark-eyed juncos found it.
They returned frequently, and often times looked for seeds
that other birds had tossed onto the roof.

- Make and randomly drop off 1 toy for a child to find as part of The Toy Society.

This month I hand-embroidered a toy in the shape of a squirrel. The toy is made from 100% wool felt, stuffed with wool from sheep I raised, and sewn together/decorated with 100% cotton embroidery floss.
The pattern is from a Japanese craft book, so all the instructions and descriptions on the diagrams are written in Japanese.

Toy made for someone to find.

This month, we picked the Target store that is a bit north of Minneapolis off 35W. We put the toy (that was in a bag along with a note and label that said "Take me home") by the drinking fountain that was lower to the floor. In this way, we thought that a child would be more likely to find the toy.

The squirrel toy waiting to be discovered and
taken home by a new owner.

- Share 1 time the gift of music (piano and/or harp) or singing with others.

This is the month of practicing...and no performances (the first month in a long time where the girls haven't had to sing or play an instrument).

Although the girls did not publicly sing with the children's choir this month, they will have several opportunities to sing during April. Next month they will be singing on April 1 (Palm Sunday - 2 church services in conjunction with the adult choir), April 8 (Easter - 1 church service), and April 15 (the week after Easter - 2 church services).

They also have been practicing for their piano recital that is the first weekend in May. They not only need to know their piece, but have it memorized for the performance.


Rita said...

You guys have been super busy, as usual. It makes me tired just reading all this. ;)

Great job!!! :):)

Anonymous said...

Always find your posts inspirational. Enjoy seeing your lovely daughters. Found it particularly meaningful to read your father's words in the context in which you used them. Blessings all around...