Monday, December 18, 2006

12/18/06: Mailings and Reality

Just a quick posting that we have mailed almost 1000 lbs. of clothing, coats, and toys to Kentucky and South Dakota. We had wonderful donations from the Morris School District as well as a church in Flanders who donated over 150 coats in exceptional shape! Normally we receive dirty, torn, or worn items that have to be filtered out from the good quality. This church really did a fantastic job of collecting and sorting items.

A sad commentary that I was hit with reality again when a person close to me called me on the phone and was reading an email from a "friend" about a poor family who attended a church service. At the end of the phone conversation, this person was crying about this poor family and what could we do to help them?

At first, I was really angry because these types of families are who we deal with on a daily basis and the very reason why I created Focus America. Then, I felt sorry for the person who called me because this individual doesn't "get" what I do or why I do it. At no time during this holiday season did this person...or any of my other close friends/family (save two special people)...offer to donate, collect, or even assist in the efforts. All of my help came from strangers and children. Isn't that a sad reality?

A long time ago, the founder of Christmas is for Children, a life-long friend, gave me wonderful advice. She told me that not everyone would buy into my desire to help the poor. It's a behind the scenes charity, not one that makes Oprah or the front-page of the New York Times. We roll up our sleeves and do the hard work with little to no glory. No one says to me, "What a great job you do, Shelly!" or sends me thank you notes, for the most part. But I still continue to spend my weekends boxing up 200+ coats, weighing them, labeling them, paying for shipping. No, I don't walk up to the Father at the front of the church in front of the congregation with my shoebox of goodies for the Angel Tree receipient for all of the congregation to comment on what a good Catholic (or Christian) I am. There is no public honor for what we do...except for the knowledge that we are not holiday Christians. We carry forth the good-will and do-good attitude all year long and truly make a difference in people's lives for the right reasons.

A sad ranting but one that is needed from time-to-time...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

12/05/06: Manna from Heaven Shipment

Almost 250 lbs. of clothing, hats/gloves, toys, books, sweaters, and other gifts for the holidays are shipping out tomorrow. Wonderful gifts from Woodland and Thomas Jefferson School in Morristown as well as continued support from friends, family, and corporations such as Sankyo Pharma and BASF. A church in Flanders is dropping off 150 coats on Saturday and more items are still coming in from various individuals.

Big problem now: With 25 boxes shipping today and another 25 or more pending, the cost of shipping these items is going to hurt us financially. Some donors are coming to the rescue but we are depleting our budget for shipping for 2007 so...we may have to reach out for more fund raising options...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

11/26/06: Manna from Heaven Shipment

97.5 lbs. of clothing, food, and toys...preparing for Christmas. Gifts starting to come in from all over the place.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

10/04/06: 130 lbs. of Clothing and Supplies

Seven boxes containing over 130 lbs. of clothing, shoes, school supplies, and candy for Halloween were shipped to Virgie, KY today. Thank you to the Riley family for providing clothing for the two young girls that were recently relocated from their family to live with their grandparents. The girls arrived with the clothing on their backs...literally, that was it. The family thanks you for your kindness.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

09/13: More Chicks for KY

Thanks to the Madison Baptist Church for providing us the funds for purchasing another 250 chicks to send to Virgie, KY. The pastor's wife told me that the first batch started laying their "witch eggs" which are the first eggs and tend to be small. That means that this chickens are now feeding the community. :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

09/07/06: School Supplies for the Needy

Project Pencils 2006 is still in progress. One of our corporate sponsor who has asked to remain anonymous dropped of supplies for Coordinated Family Care in NJ. Assumption Church is in the midst of their donation drive for the children involved with the Department of Youth and Family Services of Northern NJ who still needs 60 backpacks filled with supplies. Dollar Dave's store in Boonton, NJ, offered to donate backpacks and supplies, too, which will complete the DYFS order and help with our KY children who needs everything from pens, pencils, notebooks, and backpacks.

Yes, it was a little more scaled down than last year but, for each child that we have (and continue to) help, it is just as important! Thank you to all of our donors.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

08/15/06: Chickens for KY

The children of the Madison Baptist Church have raised enough money through their Vacation Bible School so that we could order another 200+ chicks to be shipped to Virgie, KY. Focus America is matching this order with another 200+ chicks but they will not be shipped until next spring when the weather is warmer and they have a better chance of survival.

Pastor Ralph's wife, Lois, told me that they had the arrival of the first egg from their first batch of chicks! That's right, the March baby chicks are now laying eggs!

Thank you to the Madison Baptist Church and the children who made this possible.

Friday, March 31, 2006

03/31/06: Give a Fish vs. Teach to Fish

I had a wonderful phone conversation with Manna from Heaven today. It was a true epiphany. I was checking in regarding the Girl Scout Gold Award Doll Project from Hannah in CT. During the conversation, Lois from Manna from Heaven mentioned the Heifer Project. They want to receive livestock to raise their own food since it's so hard to buy. Over the holidays, we had some amazingly generous donors. I had mentioned to my husband that a $250 donation from one of our friends would feed a family for a year and he scoffed at me. "How is that possible?!" I was figuring that the donation would cover shipping for donated food for the entire year. Well, today I purchased over 200 chickens that are being delivered to Myra, KY next week. The families will raise half for food and half for eggs.

In addition, we are going to do a Seed Campaign in the hopes that people will ship out vegetable seeds to Manna from Heaven so that people can grow and can their own food. Lois was thrilled with this idea and we are going to start this new campaign immediately.

Anyone who wants to help should send any type of vegetable seeds to:

Focus America Project
c/o Manna from Heaven
PO Box 43
Myra, KY 41549

I love exciting days and, today, we truly fed a village! Or at least took the first steps to providing them the tools to feed themselves.

P.S. If you want to donate more chickens, please email me at $50 buys 100 fryer chickens and $150 sends 100 egg layers (plus shipping and vaccination which Focus America will cover).

Monday, March 27, 2006

03/27/06: Letter from Girl Scout Donor


My name is Hannah and I am earning my Girl Scout Gold Award. The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts. I made 115 dolls for my gold award project. These dolls are named D.O.L.L. ( Design of Love and Laugther). They are child safe stuffed dolls made to make a child happier. These dolls are for a child who just lost there home or other disaster. I have donated these dolls to four organizations including Focus America.

My Gold Award committee suggested Focus America. I checked out the web site and instantly decided that this was a perfect organization to donated too. The other organizations I donated to are; The Salvation Army, Maines Children's Home for Little Wanderers, and the Red Cross.

Thank you for posting this on your web site. I have also attached some pictures. One of me on the phone with you and the other with the dolls I sent you.

Thank you,

Hannah G.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

03/11/06: Kentucky Shipment

I'm getting ready to ship out 50 lbs. of clothing and food to the family I adopted in KY. I have received some nice letters from the mother who is 23 with two children. Her husband is older and disabled. It's a great feeling to help the family by providing these little items. I wish I could do more and I really wish I had more help. As it stands right now, we've had wonderful help from people over the holidays. BASF was fantastic and donated a lot of gifts and some financial assistance for shippping. That is always greatly appreciated. Now that the holidays are a distant memory, I have have 10 families, only three of which have been adopted. I adopted one and the children from Assumption Catholic school picked up two others. I'm meeting with a church group tomorrow to talk to them. Perhaps they will pick up another family.

It's always interesting to me how so many people make promised to help but their own situations seem to get in the way of following through. I suppose it's so surreal to us to think of families in our country who cannot find work and cannot put food on the table. So, when we are faced with huge holiday bills or bills for vacations, we forget about the Americans who struggle with the things we take for granted...such as daily survival.

Monday, January 02, 2006

01/02/06: Facing 2006...

The holidays are past and we look forward to the upcoming New Year. We really achieved quite a lot over the past few weeks, even though we scaled back. If only I had more time to devote to working this cause on a more regular basis. It is a wish that I think about quite often. However, I know that our limited effort helped hundreds of people this holiday season:

  • One Cub Scout troop shipped over 100 pairs of mittens and hats to our Appalachian community
  • A school in Mountain Lakes for physically disabled children collected and shipped over 100 pairs of mittens/gloves and hat to the children in our adopted Appalachian community
  • Premier Medical Center in Morristown collected dozens of gifts for the children
  • Sankyo Pharma collected dozens of gifts for the children
  • BASF NTT Division collected hundreds of gifts, almost 50 winter coats, and provided funding for shipping items to the communities we support
  • Cafe Beethoven in Chatham helped collect hats/gloves for the children we support
  • One individual in Rockaway organized a collection of holiday gifts for the FACT NJ children
  • Several individuals sponsored families in NJ and NY once again for the holidays

We have also started working with individuals and schools to sponsor families in our Appalachian community. One woman has been mailing care packages to "her family" on a regular basis. The 5th Grade class at Assumption is adopting two additional families. we have at least 10 more families that need sponsors so, perhaps for the upcoming year, we will be able to achieve that modest goal. If only we could help more families...but that would take time and money which we do not currently have. But we are helping these families and our efforts are making a huge difference. Children will be warm this winter, families will be fed, and hope restored to a very oppressed region of our that has been oppressed for generations, not due to recent natural disasters. While the eyes of America are turned to the Gulf Region, we have to remember that these other communities need our support in order to survive, too.

Here's to 2006 and all that it brings.