December 2011: The Gift That Keeps on Giving!

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Christmas is just around the corner which means Christmas shopping is in full swing! If you’re like most of us, you probably have one (or more) recipients on your list who are really hard to shop for. Maybe they have everything, or are just hard to please. Or maybe they insist they don’t want/need anything…and they actually mean it! Whatever the reason, consider mixing it up a bit and giving a donation in their name!

When possible, to make the gift more hands-on, sit down with the recipient and let them pick something out from a catalog/site such as Food for the Hungry or World Vision.

Can you imagine how neat this would be to do with the whole family? Tell them what amount you’d like to spend and then let them help decide what to buy. There are so many ways to assist those who are in need!

Wouldn’t it be fun to casually mention how you gave your in-laws a goat for Christmas?

Maybe you’d like to say you presented a foot pump to Grandma?

Or how you gave fruit trees instead of a fruit basket?

Maybe clean water instead of a bottle of wine?

What about the gift of an education?

Or a vocation?

The chance for a new beginning?

Or maybe a gift that could have an eternal impact?

No matter what you give, I hope and pray that your Christmas is filled with family, friends, joy, peace, and a deeper realization of what the Christmas season is about.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! -Jenn

November 2011 Monthly Challenge: Give it Away!

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There are three ways to help this month!

1. Donate items. If you are in the Franklin County area, you can contact Ravi and Holly directly. If you are in Jefferson County or St. Louis, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to arrange a pick-up/drop-off time. I’d like to be able to collect donations from St. Louis/Jefferson by November 13th to allow time for delivery and set up.

2. Donate time. If you are in the Union area and would like to help set up, please contact Ravi and Holly for available time slots. I’m going to work with Holly and Ravi to set up a time to help sort when I make my delivery. Let me know if you are interested in tagging along!

3. Donate money. If you are short on time, but would still like to help, please consider making a monetary donation to Hope of India. It’s a worthy cause, led by wonderful people!

Don’t forget to get your kiddos involved! They can donate items…or allowance money. Maybe they can do special projects and donate that money to help the orphanage? What a great opportunity to foster giving hearts in our kids!

Contact info for Ravi and Holly:
Hope For India
Ravi & Holly Kommina
PO Box 53
Union, MO 63084
(636) 675-4375
www.hopeforindia@ymail.com

To get a hold of me you can email me at jenn@thecrashpad.com or leave a comment!

November 2011 Interview: Hope for India

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Growing up, Holly and I attended the same church and I can tell you that she’s always had an amazing love for Jesus. It’s no surprise to those who know her that she would be involved in spreading the hope and love of Christ to others. I’m so glad Holly could spare a few minutes to tell us a bit about what she and her husband, Ravi, are doing to spread the gospel, and meet the practical needs, of those living in India. -Jenn

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

We are Ravi & Holly Kommina. We live in Washington, MO. Ravi is from India and I am from Missouri. God has called us together and we are excited to serve Jesus with our lives… We currently live in Washington, MO.

What is Hope for India?

Hope For India is a Non Profit Ministry serving the people of India. We reach the people of India with the love of Christ. We have an orphanage that houses street children and orphans with the valuable contributions of generous people. Our goal and mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. We also do a lot of street evangelism & work with the poor and needy.

What prompted you to start this ministry?

Ravi’s father and mother started this ministry almost 40 years ago and have been sharing the love of Jesus with literally thousands over the years. We recently began an office here in Missouri to help raise support to send to India and further the awesome work God is doing there.

How can we help?

We have Garage Sales several times a year to raise support to send to this Ministry. We are able to have these Garage Sales by the generosity of many people who donate items to our sale! We also need help sorting through the items that get donated as well as helping set up and run the sale. It is an awesome way for people to get involved in the Ministry right here in a local way.

We are having our next sale soon! November 17, 18 & 19… so we are in the process of collecting items to sell and sorting and pricing everything! :)

We also have some people that choose to contribute financially and that is always a blessing.

We also love to speak in Churches about what God is doing… If anyone has an interest in having us come and share with your church, or even with friends and family in your home… we would love to set up a time to come meet with you and share the awesome things that are happening.

Here is our information if anyone has any questions… Thank you for taking time to read this! :)

Hope For India
Ravi & Holly Kommina
PO Box 53
Union, MO 63084
(636) 675-4375
www.hopeforindia@ymail.com

Check out Hope for India’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hope-For-India/114555911984606 for pictures and more info! Monthly Challenge will be posted shortly!

September 2011 Focus: Hope Community Thrift Store

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The Hope Community Thrift store was started by a group of dedicated individuals from our church. I happen to think that thrift stores are pretty exciting in and of themselves (reduce, reuse, recycle), but this thrift store goes above and beyond all that. First, a little bit about them, from their website:

Hope Community Foundation activities are to receive donated items, i.e. clothes, furniture, appliances, medical equipment, etc. from the surrounding community and distribute these items to individuals and families in need of assistance. We are currently serving the St. Louis surrounding area.

Items are donated by people like me and you and then are sold at the thrift store. People in need can be qualified, through their church or organization, to receive vouchers for free items.

A family or individual needs to be qualified through a non-profit organization i.e. church or community civic organization. Each non-profit organization will need a community assistance director or of similar status. The community assistance director will be responsible for qualifying the family or individual in need and determine necessary items. The family or individual in need will be provided a voucher from the community assistance director allowing them to receive needed items at no cost from the Hope distribution center.

But wait, that’s not all…

Everyone who mans the store is a volunteer. The money they would have received in wages is donated to the church or non-profit that they represent! You can help in three ways:

Hope Community Foundation – provides you the ability to help your community:

1. Basic Items, i.e. furniture, appliances, clothes, etc. can be donated to help families or individuals in need.

2. Time – multiple positions needed. Presently at this time Hope is completely a volunteer organization with no paid employees. Time is precious to all of us, so the positions or duties are broken into small segments. This will ensure one person is not overloaded and will allow individuals the ability to donate just a few hours at their convenience. Some example positions are bookkeeper, laborers to pick up donated items, scheduler, website programmer, social networker, etc.

3. And of course – money. This is not the main focus of this organization but is still needed to help pay for storage of donated items.

The thrift store is located across from the post office in Arnold, MO, off of Jeffco Blvd, South of 141. The operating hours are M-F 9am-7pm and Sat 9am-5pm. Stop by and see what they have!

Stamp Out Hunger!

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Stamp out Hunger is this Saturday, May 14! To participate, just fill a durable, disposable bag with healthy, non-perishable foods like canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta or cereal for needy families, children and seniors. Once you’ve filled the bag, leave it near your mailbox for your letter carrier to pick up on Saturday, May 14. The letter carriers will deliver all donations to the local food banks.

May 2011 Monthly Challenge: Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

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Since Mother’s Day is just a few days away, I thought I’d do a quick post with some ideas for Mother’s Day gifts with a purpose. To make it meaningful for mom, choose an organization that is near and dear to her heart.

The American Heart Association
The American Lung Association
Breast Cancer
American Cancer Institute
Jesus Said Love – a group that takes Christ into the strip clubs of Dallas.
Sponsor a child/individual
Lydia’s House – helping survivors of domestic violence rebuild their lives.
Tornado victims
Local pet shelter
Food pantry
Her school or College, particularly if privately funded
Literacy
For more ideas, go here.

Presentation Idea: Attach a note, telling mom what you’ve donated in her name, to a small gift such as a potted plant, perfume, chocolate bar, book, etc.

If you’d like to give mom something for herself, too, consider presenting her with a membership to one of her favorite places. Membership holders obtain free entry and usually lots of perks, while ensuring the success and longevity of the organization they represent.

Consider memberships to:

The Zoo
Botanical Gardens
Art Museum
History Museum
Adopt a Tiger
St. Louis Symphony
St. Louis Science Center

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

April 2011 Monthly Challenge: Support Just1

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Shortly after my hubby and I were married, we decided to sponsor a child. Every month we sent a check and in exchange, we were sent regular status reports, updates, and pictures of a little girl in Peru. We’re now on our third child and it’s been really neat to get to watch them grow. We’ve been doing this for so long that I kind of forgot about it, until recently when a friend became a sponsor and excitedly suggested I encourage others to do the same!

There are many ways to give, but what we like about child sponsorship is that most organizations will allow you to write or even email “your” child which really lends a personal touch, and lets the child know that they are valuable and cared for. This makes the program rewarding for the giver and receiver alike! Many programs provide a variety of services for the child; food, water, school supplies, religious instruction, special programs, even medical and dental care – for as little as $28-$35ish per month! So much for so little.

Here’s a breakdown of a couple of the more popular child sponsorship programs, just to get you thinking:

ChildFund International receives an A- rating at Charity Watch. According to their website,

• Proper nutrition
• Safe water
• A quality education (and a place to play)
• The opportunity for a respectable job in
their community
is all provided for for $28 per month. For $35 a month you can sponsor a child here in the U.S. Childfund’s website is highly interactive and allows you to choose a child based on sex, or country. Be sure to explore their site a bit – there are many ways to give!

The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging looks like a neat organization. You can choose to sponsor a child, youth, aging individual for $30 a month. You can also make one-time donations to their scholarship program or programs targeted to specific needs. CFCA also puts together about 30 trips per year to give sponsors the opportunity to meet the person they are sponsoring. Cool! CFCA receives a rating of A+.

Food for the Hungry
is a Christ-centered organization that receives a 5-star rating from Charity Navigator. FH is set up so that individuals/families or churches/communities can give. They have a great variety of programs! For $32 per month, this organization provides for a child’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being ( (food, water, medical).

I hope you’ll decide to sponsor a child/individual through one of these programs (or one like them). You can be as involved as little or as much as you are able! This type of giving is suitable for individuals, families, or even groups! It doesn’t matter if you are super busy (some can withdraw the money right out of your account) or if you are looking to really get to know who you are sponsoring (maybe even getting a chance to meet them some day)! If finances are a bit tight, consider getting a group (friends, family, neighbors, Bible study) together to share the cost. Don’t forget that you can also choose between sponsoring a child in a foreign country or right here in the U.S.! You can choose to donate every month, or just make a one-time donation – the choices are almost limitless! I hope you’ll take the time to look through a couple of these sites and see if one of them is right for you!

March 2011 Monthly Challenge: Spring Break

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March is a busy month for us so no interview! However, since this is the time of year when many people do “spring cleaning” or are possibly moving, I wanted to encourage you to donate all those unneeded items! It makes me so sad to see piles of perfectly good things sitting out by the trash can!
Here are some links to get you started!

Goodwill
Salvation Army
Freecycle
Craigslist Free Section
VVA (they’ll do pick-ups!!)

Other ideas:
Post on Facebook and ask if anyone could use what you are giving away.
Many churches and schools will have collection bins in their parking lot.

With so many options, it’s easier than ever to give your old stuff new life!

February 2011 Monthly Challenge: Angels’ Arms

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During the month of February, Erica and I will be collecting items for Angels’ Arms. Please consider donating – even if it’s only one or two items! It really does add up!

For more information on how to help this awesome organization, please visit them at their website. Be sure to check them out on Facebook, too.

These are the things that Angels’ Arms is collecting now. ..

* Snack foods & cereal
* Paper products (paper plates, paper towels, toilet paper)
* Toiletries, including feminine products
* Cleaning supplies
* Laundry detergent
* Ziploc sandwich bags
* Band-Aids

Angels’ Arms cannot accept used items.
For drop-off, please feel free to call Erica at 314-604-2290 to set up a time to take the items to her house.
For pick-up, please feel free to leave a comment on this post, or on the Just1 Facebook page and I’ll contact you to work something out.

February 2011 Monthly Interview: Erica and Angels’ Arms

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This month’s interview is with my friend, Erica, who is a great example of how even the busiest of people can make a difference in the lives of others. She’s been telling others about Angels’ Arms for a while now so I’m excited to have the chance to help her spread the word.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Erica. My husband, Eric and I have been married for 9 years and have two sets of twins, ages 6 and 4. Yes, you read right TWO sets of twins. I work at Concord W.E.E. school with 2 ½ yr. olds twice a week and also work as the Administrative Secretary at Eagle Point Community Church.

What is Angels’ Arms and what prompted you to help them?
Angels’ Arms is an organization that has 5 houses throughout the St. Louis area that specializes in fostering sibling groups. As found on their website www.angelsarms.com “Children entering an Angels’ Arms home are met with acceptance and love and immediately learn about their role in their new family. So many foster children don’t know how a family works or what it means to be a family member. But the house parents quickly involve all foster children in activities such as chores, extra-curricular activities, homework, eating together as a family, peaceful problem solving, sharing, and more.”
I found out about Angels’ Arms about 3 years ago because they have a house not far from me. I have always felt a calling to somehow help children without families. Also now that my children are older I want to teach them that it is very important to help others in need.

I love what Erica said about wanting to get her kids involved. Setting a good example for our children is really important, but if we can actually include them in helping others, then all the better! Thanks Erica for taking time from your hectic schedule to share about Angels’ Arms!

Something that stood out to me about Angels’ Arms is that they have helped almost 200 children over the past ten years – without any government funding. The foster parents themselves receive a stipend from the government, but everything else is provided by caring, committed members of the community. They have only 5 employees and, get this, over 500 volunteers. Love it!

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