Thursday, February 23, 2012

12 in 12: February 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 February:

- Take 1 bag of food to the food shelf. This month we went to Cub (the grocery store) and purchased one of their "food shelf bags." We picked out and purchased a bag of food that had a variety of items in it and then place it in the collection bin. The bags are brought to the local food shelf by Cub.

Food Shelf Donation
Sophia and Olivia with the bag of items
for the food shelf.

- Volunteer 1 hour at a community organization that is chosen each month.

Sophia, Olivia, and I made and delivered a meal to four residents and a staff person at Hope House on February 15th. We spent about two hours cooking and baking; and then another hour driving to and from Hope House.

Delivering Food to Hope House
The girls with trays of food for residents at Hope House.

Hope House provides co-housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. It is based in a beautiful home in which each person has his/her own room and private bathroom. There are cooperative living areas (lounge, dining room, kitchen, and wrap-around porch). They have 24-hour staff and volunteer programs.

As Hope House's brochure said, "For many people, the living crisis created by the disease can be as devastating as the physical and emotional suffering. Consider what you would do if you could no longer live independently; when your partner, your friends, and your family cannot provide the care you need? Where do you go then?"

The residents receive assistance with daily living activities (personal care, cooking, mobility, and transportation); food, lodging, protection, and household services; social and recreational activities; 24-hour medical care; and holistic care (physical, psycho-social, and spiritual).  
Playing with Cat at Hope House
Olivia and Sophia playing with the cat at Hope House.

We were warmly welcomed when we arrived at Hope House; and the person accepting the food seemed so enthusiastic and appreciative of a home-cooked/baked meal. "It smells delicious!" she said. She thanked the girls for helping and bringing the food. Between that and seeing the house cat, they were happy to have volunteered this month for Hope House.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Chicken and rice casserole. Also brought broccoli and cauliflower salad,
carrot bread, and snickerdoodle cookies.

On February 20th, the girls made window stars for a half hour at their 4-H club meeting.
Making Window Stars
Sophia concentrating on making a window star.

The girls (and other 4-H club members) were very happy with how their stars turned out.

4-H Club with Finished Stars
The 4-H club members holding the stars they made.

Then, on February 22nd, they went to a local nursing home and put the window stars on the dining room windows that overlook a courtyard.

Decorating Windows at Nursing Home
Olivia and Sophia putting up the stars at the nursing home.

Dining Room Windows Decorated
The windows in the dining room decorated with stars.


In addition, I signed a petition that is being sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association. I also added my daughters' signatures as well as my mom's signature to the petition since the three of them do not have their own email accounts.

The Alzheimer's Association is hoping to collect 250,000 signatures and then present it to President Obama. Basically, the petition says:

We, the undersigned, call on the President to issue a strong National Alzheimer's Plan to help the millions of Americans now affected by Alzheimer's disease, and the many millions more at risk.

Alzheimer's won't wait.

Today, more than 5 million Americans are facing the challenges of Alzheimer's. This number could rise to 16 million by 2050 if we do not act.

Right now, nearly 15 million Americans serve as caregivers, and this is projected to soar to 45 million in that same timeframe.

The cost of inaction is too high. Alzheimer's will cost the nation $183 billion this year. This will rise to $1 trillion by 2050, bankrupting families and our health care system.

Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only one among the top 10 without a way to cure, prevent or even slow its progression.

We urge the President to take the next bold step forward in the fight against Alzheimer's, fulfilling the promise of the National Alzheimer's Project Act passed unanimously by Congress more than a year ago. Now is the time to create a world without Alzheimer's.
Mom Dad and Girls by Organ
Sophia and Olivia with their grandparents (my parents) in Pella, Iowa.
(We took a trip together in April 2009.)
This was taken one month before my dad's diagnosis of
having mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease.
This is a cause that is close to my heart since my father had Alzheimer's Disease and died last month. After seeing the effects on him, our family, and those who cared about him and who he impacted throughout his life, I can only hope that something is done quickly to address this disease. Truly, this is something no person or family wants to go through.

If you're interested in signing the petition, please go here:

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

We donated four bags of clothing to Family Pathways. Most of the clothing was from Sophia and Olivia because they went through their drawers and closets, and donated clothes they no longer could fit into or wear.

Items Donated to Second-Hand Store
The girls by clothing, books, and other items we donated.

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

There were nine bags of non-clothing items that we brought to Family Pathways on the same day that we brought the clothing (see photo above). They were both happy - and surprised - at how much they could find to donate this month.

All the money that Family Pathways earns through the sale of items in its second-hand shop are used to fund programs that benefit those in need of all ages - from babies to seniors.

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

We donated books to a variety of organizations this month:

- Family Pathways received 42 books. (See photo above - there were two bags packed with books.)

- The public library received 5 books. These books were in very good condition and could either be used for their collection or for their on-going sale they have to raise funds to purchase new books and periodicals.

- St. Bridget's Catholic Church received 8 books. These books were of a more spiritual/religious nature and two were related to Alzheimer's Disease.  Since my dad (the girl's grandfather) was a deacon in the Catholic Church and had Alzheimer's Disease, it seemed appropriate that these books be donated to St. Bridget's for their library in memory of my dad. Although we are not parishioners at the church, they seemed very happy to receive the books.

Donating Books to the Library
Olivia and Sophia outside the library with books to donate.

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

Sophia and Olivia both wanted to donate $12 to Northwoods Humane Society again this month.  When we visited on February 22nd, we were happy to read a sign that said that 16 cats and dogs had been adopted in the past week. 
Girls Enjoying the Puppies
Sophia and Olivia spending some time with
puppies who need a new home.

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

On February 13th, I wrote and mailed a letter to Larry and Maureen who are friends of our family (my dad met Larry back in the mid-1960s). If anything would have ever happened to my parents when I was growing up, my sister, brother, and I would have lived with Larry and Maurren.

I thanked both of them for their many ways they helped our family during the past year, especially during and following my dad's death on January 5th. Since both Sophia and Olivia are still relatively young, I asked them if they felt comfortable seeing their grandpa before he died. Both said they did not - which is completely understandable. Their last memory of being with him was a positive one - they played the piano and harp for him; and brought Eenie (the cat) for a visit. I believe they wanted to keep that as their last memory.

Maureen suggested that on January 3rd, when it looked like that was going to be my dad's last day with us, that Sophia and Olivia be given an opportunity to talk to their grandpa over the phone. They understood that he wouldn't respond verbally to them, but that he would be listening to what they say.

Since I knew I wouldn't be able to say that aloud without crying, I asked Maureen if she would ask the girls if they wanted to do that. Both were eager to talk to Papa. In fact, each kept talking and talking. Maureen would come on and ask if they were done. "No? Okay, you may keep talking," she would say...and they did. For a long time.

To have that closure...that one last conversation...made a huge difference in each of our lives. For that, I am truly thankful that Maureen was there and facilitated that call.

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

Sophia and Olivia both wanted to donate a bag of cans to Northwoods Humane Society again this month.

Donating Cans to Northwoods
The girls putting the cans in the collector.

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

In addition to the Kitten Chow, Olivia found a harness for puppies or small dogs. The person who accepted the donations seemed very happy with both items as well as the cash donation. 

Donating Items to Northwoods
The girls in the welcome area at Northwoods with their donations.

- Spend 1 hour outdoors doing projects that help wildlife.

Throughout the month, we filled bird feeders. Since it is still winter, there aren't a lot of projects we can do yet. Once spring and summer are here, there will be more work outside.

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

I made a hand-embroidered owl from wool felt, cotton embroidery floss, and wool stuffing. The owl is about the size as a child's hand.

Hand Embroidered Owl for Toy Society
Owl toy with a note encouraging someone to take it home,
a page from a child's book about friendship, and
more information about The Toy Society.

After putting together the owl with the notes in a plastic bag it was off to the public library. We placed it on the lowest level of books right in the front so a young child would see it.

Toy Ready to be Found
Ready to be discovered.

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

The girls sang on Sunday, February 5th at both services at church.
Olivia in the front row and Sophia in the back row
singing during the first service.


What Remains Now said...

This post just warms my heart. That owl is sooooo cute! I'm glad you're not around me because if I found that little owl, I might forget my scruples and keep him for myself!

Rita said...

My goodness! So this is 12 things each month? You have more lists going than I ever have--and I'm a known listmaker. ;) What a ton of great things to do!! And fun stuff, too. Glad I am finally catching up on the last several days. :)