Monday, December 29, 2008

Manna From Heaven serves over 7000 for Christmas!

Christmas was quite festive last week in Myra, KY. After all was said and done. Manna from Heaven provided Christmas for more than 7000 people that included children and elderly. (This included the local nursing homes.) This almost doubled last years total.

Because of the economic times, they are NOT receiving the donations that they have in the past. Lois has paid out more than 2500.00 in truck rentals and gas for food and this years Christmas bounty. The truck that was given to Manna needs some repairs before it can go on the road. Once the truck is in service, it will only cost Lois the gas to drive to Covington, KY to pick up food. This is approximately 150.00

Next big program is Community Day in April. Needed items are: SEEDS -vegetable and flower. PLANT MARKERS. GARDEN GLOVES. Ebay is great for these items. Baby Chicks would be appreciated. The incubators can only go so far.

These items can be mailed to:

Focus America Seed Project
PO Box 43
Myra, KY 41549

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Update!

Feed the Children, Mission of Hope (Tenn) and King's Benevolence (VA) have sent toys for over 2000 thousand children!! Another truck is due tomorrow and Manna from Heaven feels that they will be able to meet the needs of all the children this Christmas. She feels that God has "answered their prayers."

The next big project is the Community Day, set for April. As stated in my last blog, they will need seeds for close to 1500 families. Average 10 packs per family and that equals 15 thousand seed packs. A donor has matched Heifer International donation and they are now 2/3 of their goal. A donor has also pledged 200 baby chicks to be given away.

Seeds needed: corn, bean, tomato, strawberry, pea, cucumber, watermelon, cantelopes, pepper. lettuce and onion bulbs. Any and all flower seeds.

Please send to:
Focus America Seed Project
PO Box 43
Myra, KY 41549

Thank you for reading this blog and for all the support you have given now and in the future.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have a safe and Happy Holiday Season!

Just wanted to write and update the readers of the Focus America Blog on Myra. Everyone is hurt in this country with the poor economic picture. Even communities like Manna from Heaven are being hurt. Yes - that area survives on foodstamps, welfare, WIC Social Security and disability. BUT - they also survive on the generosity and donations of strangers. That has been cut dramatically. The food Pantry is almost bare and has been like that for several months. Manna from Heaven has been accepted by Feed the Children, but they have no food to give them. Lois rents a truck for close to 400.00 monthly and they are able to obtain noodles, sauce to feed 300 for a month. Christmas will be very lean this year. Today Lois has enough toys for maybe 400 children. She usually services 3000. She is praying for a shipment next week from Mission of Hope for more toys.

That is why the Seed and Poultry Project is so important. This food, with a bit of work, will feed so mmany families. Fresh vegetables can be frozen or canned to feed so many people. Chickens can be raised for eggs and meat. I ask anyone that anyone who read's this blog to please give a bit to Manna from Heaven. Seeds give the gift of life to these people. There is a great need for tomato, corn, bean and STRAWBERRY seeds. The nice thing about strawberries is that they come back each year and some gardens will see them double in size. Seeds are being sold at great low prices at Just search for vegetable seed lot. Manna has over 5 thousand packets of seeds. We had estimated a need for 10 to 12 thousand seed packets. The number of registered families is growing each week. It would be safe to say we need closer to 15 thousand seed packets so that everyone will have the tools to grow their own food.

Lois also has close to 200 families that would like baby chickens next spring. Even with incubating - she needs aproximately 3000 chickens to give away at community day. Each family would get 15 chicks. 5 for setting and 10 for meat. This year we are concentrating on brown eggs layers, because they are great setters and can make more chicks. We estimate that the incubators can do approximately 200 chickens a month. We need help to really get the community started.

Seed's, chickens and other donations can be sent to:

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

Heifer International Generous Donation for Manna from Heaven

Heifer International has sent Manna from Heaven a huge donation of seeds for the 2009 Community Day. Over 5000 packets of seeds were received this date. These seeds will help go a long way towards the goal of 10,000 packets. 10,000 packets will give a thousand families enough fruits and vegetables to last through late Summer, fall and winter. We are halfway towards our goal!!!

The seeds are being sorted - so we will know in the next few months what seeds may be needed. There was NO corn, strawberry,or Blueberry seeds in the lot.

Manna from Heaven is also handing out flower seeds this year. All those seeds will help beautify the area. Flower seeds would be greatly appreciated.

Community Day is planned for late April.

Shelley started this program a few years ago and it has really grown.

On another note: Manna from Heaven has received a donation of a 16 foot box truck. It needs new brakes. This donation will help them pick up the food that they desperately need. It will save them approximately 500.00 per truck rental. They will only need the funds for gas. Once the brakes are done - it will be put into service picking up load in Covington and Louisville.

Jennie also sent another box of goodies to Manna for Christmas. Remember Christmas is coming up and toys, books, and canned food is needed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Update's from Myra

Manna from Heaven received 8 new additions in September! Momma Pig had eight little piglets - all boys - and they all were healthy and now are living with their new families. Last week-end, Manna was Blessed with 6 more and another Pig should deliver in the next two weeks.

Lois received the generous donation of school supplies and some toys from Jenny. It is so great that Manna has a new volunteer to help!

Lois received a shipment from Feed the Children. NO FOOD, but 10 thousand red purses and over 4000 pairs of jeans as well as a few thousand shirts. They were sized 18 m to size 6. Needless to say - these clothes were much appreciated and all the schools, day cares, Social Services and churches picked them up and passed them out. The Nursing Homes picked them up and will fill the Red Purses with shampoos and other needed items and will pass out to the women residents at Christmas.

Lois had such an abundance that she sent 12 boxes to the Navajo Child Drive. They were excited to receive the jeans, purses and shirts. I think that it is awesome that these two community organizations can help each other. Shipping was paid through a donation from another organization.

Lois still needs help with truck rentals and gas to pick up much needed food for the Pantry. Any idea's on fundraising is still being sought.

Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

10/02/08: Project Pencils in NJ

Special thank you to Daiichi Sankyo Inc. of Parsippany, NJ for collecting and distributing school supplies in early September to children in need from Edison, NJ. This is their fourth year contributing to Project Pencils!

The effort was coordinated by Joanne Bock whose email follows:

Shelly we collected 46 backpacks filled with school supplies and an extra two cartons of school supplies. The materials were delivered to Elva Hinestroza of Coordinated Family Care in Edison. They were very grateful for our donation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

09/16/08: School Supplies

Several boys on my son's Little League team collected backpacks and supplies that we are sending out this week for the Manna from Heaven children. A little later than I wanted but better late than never. Also, a new volunteer, Jenny, is sending school supplies out from her home town (which I think is out west but I'm not 100% certain).

We could also use winter coats, boots, mitten, hats, and scarves for the kids. That will be our next NJ collection...

Special thanks to Panurgy for shipping our boxes out. Shipping is expenses and I'm glad that we have a local company that is willing to help out from time to time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Myra goes Back to School!!

School started this week in the Myra area. Last Friday was the 'Back to School Rally'. They had close to 800 families attending and gave away close to 1500 backpacks filled with school supplies. Unfortunately - close to 200 children were unable to get a bag. That was a big disappointment to some children. The 'Rally' was fun with games, hotdogs, drinks, popcorn, cotton candy, prize Bingo and a raffle for over a 100 food bags. It was a grand time for all the participants.

The Gardens are doing great and everyone has fresh veggies and some fruit to eat. Many are canning and freezing their crops for use later on. Since this year went so well, we are planning the "Community Day 2009" for the last week of April. Our goal is to give 1200 families at least 10 packets of seeds - up from 1000 families this year. We also will give out Strawberry Plants again this year. It is our hope that the families will be able to grow enough food to last them at least 6 months of the year. The Poultry Program is doing very well. We have over 100 families on the waiting list for baby chicks. Next "Community Day" we plan on giving out at least 10 baby chicks to each family on the list. We are concentrating on setting chickens- that will brood their eggs and make more chicks. Lois has over a 100 white Leghorns that she will incubate the eggs in the spring to give out. The leghorns will also provide fresh eggs for the Food pantry on Fridays.

The Food Pantry is bare, but with school back in session, the kids will be served breakfast and lunch. Manna from Heaven has been accepted at some Food Banks - but she must pick up the Food and gas for the trips is close to 200.00. Her sister went and picked up a load which kept the Food Bank solvent for a month. And ideas or help there would be appreciated.

This is sale time for seeds. Please send seeds to:
Focus America Seed Project
C/O Manna from Heaven
PO Box 43
Myra, KY 41549
10 packets of seeds will give a family food for the late summer, fall and winter months. Needed seeds: tomato, corn, beans, peppers, watermelon, pumpkin, strawberry.

Thanks so much for all that you do to keep Focus America's programs working. It is very appreciated.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Focus America: Charity at Work - it's working!!

It is amazing what ONE packet of vegetable seeds can do. It provides a family with healthy food for their dinner table. This year I am so delighted that 1000 families are growing their own food to eat. Focus America - Shelly, is directly responsible for the whole program at Manna from Heaven in Kentucky. The other great thing is that they are bringing food back to Manna from Heaven so that Lois can give it out to the elderly and the sick. The Community Garden is also helping the ones that cannot grow their own gardens. Focus America has done a wonderful job in helping these people.

Lois has been busy incubating chickens and with donations of chicks she has given away over 800 chicks this year. The Poultry programs goals are: 1.) Raise chicks to have eggs to hand out on Food Pantry Day. 2.) Incubate eggs to hand out to the people to raise their own chicks for eggs and meat. Currently Lois has 100 families that are requesting baby chickens. It is our hope that next year we will be able to provide all the families on the waiting lists the baby chicks that they need. If anyone would like to donate chicks for this year. Here is a great deal: The chicks are 18 cents each and they can be raised for food for this winter. The address is:
Manna From Heaven
7269 Highway 610 West
Myra, Kentucky 41549
Attn: Lois Tackett
Just let Lois know that they are coming.

Also they are still collecting seed packets for next year. The goal is to give out seeds to 1200 families. That would be about 12 thousand seed packets - 10 to each family. Needed seeds: corn, bean, pea's, tomato, watermelon, cucumber, carrot, cantelope, lettuce, and pepper packets. This is the time of year when sale's are going on and a dollar will go a long way! Let's help keep this program going for years to come.

School starts soon in Kentucky. The Back to School Rally is less than two weeks away and supplies continue to be needed. Helping one child will ultimately help them to succeed during the school year.

Focus America continues to be a driving force to help these families learn to feed themselves. Giving them the proper tools to do this is Charity at it's best. Proper school supplies help's them to suceed now and in the future.

The slogan: Focus America: Charity at Work Because of all the generosity - IT IS WORKING!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Food Pantries are bare including Manna from Heaven

School is out for summer in the Virgie/Myra area of Kentucky which Manna from Heaven Services, and for kids there is little food. For us, it means finding summer camps for our kids, getting the kids to do their summer reading and vacations for most of us. For the 1300 plus families that the Manna from Heaven service, it means that the kids will go hungry. The children receive breakfast and lunch at school and in the summer they go without. Manna from Heaven's food pantry is empty. It is like that at Food Pantry's across the nation.

Recently Manna from Heaven was chosen by Feed the Children to receive food when they have it. Unfortunately, you have to have a refrigerated truck and the gas to go in it to go to Nashville, TN to pick it up. Manna doesn't have a truck and does not have the means to even pay for the gas.

The garden's may be flourishing, but the pantry is bare. Help is desperately needed.
Basic needs are rice, flour, sugar, corn meal, beans for soup, wheat/oat flakes for cereal. is a great source and sells in 50 lb bags for one low shipping price. 50 lb bags can assist 50 families.

Any assistance will help them. The economy and the gas prices has greatly hurt them also as well as the donations have dried up.

Have a safe summer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Myra's Vegetable Gardens are Flourishing!

The Community Garden at Manna from Heaven is doing great. The other 1000 gardens are also doing well. The rain has helped as well as the extremely warm weather and all is doing well. A donor is sending 300 chickens to Manna from Heaven the week of 6/29 to be handed out to over 50 people on the waiting list for chickens.

Sales have been plenty for Vegetable seeds in this area and I have been able to pick up 4000 seed packets for a very reasonable price. Seeds do well if stored correctly and Lois has an area to store them at Manna. Manna from Heaven goals is to give out enough seeds to 1200 families next year. So any help in that area would be great. Unsure if Heifer International will be assisting this year with seeds. Will post when I get that information.

I had planned to go visit Manna from Heaven and Myra last week-end. I found that it was cheaper to send all that I had via DHL to the Manna From Heaven 7269 Highway 610 West Myra, Kentucky 41549 address, then to go by car. I will plan it for another time.

Manna has a new email address:

School supplies are needed for their back to school rally 8/1 - a Friday, from 9 - 3. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Thanks and have a good summer.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Community Day - a big success!

Manna from Heaven's Community Day was a big success! All the Strawberry plants, gardening sets, gloves and most of the Vegetable Seeds were passed out to almost 1000 families. The garden was planted at the Manna from Heaven building - so Lois will have fresh fruits and vegetables to hand out late summer. Lois handed out baby chicks and feed to almost 40 families.
The families enjoyed a day of food, games as well as raffles and door prizes. It was a fun day held by all. It's amazing to see that Project Seeds has really grown and how many families are growing gardens this year.

They are planning a Back to School celebration the first week-end in August. All school supplies will be handed out. Shelly's idea of the gently used school supplies will go a long way to helping these kids get back to school with the right tools.

Lois will be holding classes to teach the community how to blanch food for freezing. This will go a LONG way to preseving the food so that it will extend into fall/winter. There is a BIG NEED for pint and quart size freezer bags. I am asking that if anyone see these and picks up a few boxes, it will go far in helping these people eat.

It is exciting to see how this community is learning to feed themselves with food that they have grown on their own.

Thank you to all that read these blogs and all the help that you have done to help this community to learn how to feed themselves. I am excited about Shelly's programs and her upcoming trip to Myra.

Have a safe spring,
Ellen Murphy

05/09/08: Returning to Appalachia

I have been inspired to return to Appalachia this year. Despite my sister's near-death experience, she is also considering returning. In fact, she is the one who called me after reading Ellen's postings on this blog and said, "When are we going back?" I think I'll take my oldest son with me, too. It will be a humbling experience for him and open his eyes to the needs of the world.

I'm planning to coincide this trip with the Myra children's return to school in early August. So, I will head out in either late June or early July. It's going to be tough and expensive with gasoline so high but, I have to do this to help Lois and the community.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

05/01/08: NJ and Myra, KY

The kids are at it again, collecting vegetable seeds to send to Myra, KY. Both kids asked for seeds for their birthdays. In addition, we are starting a gently-used school supply drive for end-of-year school supplied from the local schools. Several kids are jumping on board for this effort and will collected the remnants that would otherwise be tossed out but are still in good shape!

I am very impressed with all that Ellen is doing with the Myra community! Bravo and kudos!!!! I have tears in my eyes reading all of these notes that have been posted to the blog. I have been so involved in my own geographic area that I haven't been monitoring the happenings from Maryland. Wow, Ellen. YOU ARE AMAZING AND TRULY BLESSED!!!!!

Big news coming up for next year. It appears that my college will be creating a Sociology course to have the students learn about Myra, KY. It's a course called "Living on the Edge". We will be teaching the students all about Appalachia and explore the long economic disaster known as American poverty. The plan is to actually take the students out to Myra, KY in 2009. I know it's a long way away but...I'd rather get back out there in 2009 than 2010. :)

On a more fun note, my daughter's Daisy Troop learned about Myra, KY where I showed them my photo book and talked about the community (with special commentary on Destiny and Kirsten). The 5 and 6 years old really loved it...but the parents really jumped on board.

After reading about all that Ellen has achieved with Heifer, my box of seeds seems small in comparison. I'm motivated to continue my work. Thank you, Ellen and all of the Focus America volunteers throughout the nation!

Shelly Zimmerman, Founder

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thank you to all who helped make this Community Day possible!

The Community Day is a little more than a week away and it looks like it will be a complete success. Shelley's program really will give the people of Myra nutritious feed to eat late summer and fall. With the HUGE donation of 5000 seed packets from Heifer International and another 1500 packets from donors like you all - quite a few gardens are going to be planted. A donor donated 1200 strawberry plants, 800 tomato seed packets, 800 pairs of garden gloves, rakes for the community garden, 110 garden 3 piece sets, 40 pounds of beans, 5 pounds of corn, 10 pounds of seed potato's and all the napkins, tablecloths, plates, bowls, plastic ware, cups, lemonade, cookie mixes, coffee and condiments for the big day.

Mission of Faith will be on hand to assist with the cooking, children's games and assisting with the day. St Luke's Church generously donated the hamburger and hot dogs as well as new tillers to till gardens. Lois and Ralph had a pig just for the occasion.

Lois will be handing out 200 baby chickens that day to all who had signed up for the Poultry program.

A complete canning kit will be given out as a door prize.

Thanks to all of you who sent in seeds and really made this possible for families to grow their own food.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Heifer International continues to help Myra.

Heifer International sent Manna from Heaven 5000 seed packets for their Community Day late last year. Now they have committed to 25 pounds of Bean seeds and 25 pounds of Corn seed. This will go far with the Community raising healthy food to eat.

Community Day plans are progressing well. They expect more than a thousand families to attend. They have enough tomato, corn and Bean seed now. They still need Pepper and Watermelon Seeds. Any help there will greatly assist the Mission Community.

Five baby Turkey's were hatched this week. The incubators are working great and as spring approaches they will be used more and more.

Hope everyone is enjoying themselves and God bless all of you.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sad News from Myra

Lois, the program administrator at Manna, brother died yesterday in a house fire. Lois is understandably distressed at this sudden death. Please keep her and the family in your prayers.

Manna from Heaven had 9 baby pigs born this month. The mom accidently killed all nine babies. It was quite a blow to the Mission.

A very generous donor donated 300 baby "Easter Egg" chicks to be handed out to the families. Unfortunately, only 51 lived. The Hatchery will be replacing all the chicks at the end of March.
Another donor also had 25 chicks delivered this month and they are doing fine. That donor has arranged for another 110 plus White Leghorns to be delivered over a 3 month period starting at the end of March. Apparently these chicks are great egg layers and Lois will keep the incubators busy starting late summer. This donor also arranged for 7 dozen fertile eggs to be delivered in March so that Lois can incubate and hand out at Community day. The donor also arranged for 15 White Turkeys to be delivered in May and 24 Turkey eggs for the incubators in April.
Currently Lois has 2 incubators going. One for 16 Turkey eggs and another for Phoenix Chicken eggs. This will be a good start for the program getting underway.

Lois has received another 1500 seed packets, eight hundred were tomato seeds from a very generous donor. More than a thousand families will take part in the community day. Corn, Beans, Watermelon, Pepper and Strawberry seeds are needed. As it stands now each family will receive 6 packets of seed, so many more are needed. 30 Senior families have signed up to have their gardens tilled and planted. St Lukes Church will bring volunteers to till and plant these gardens.

Another donor has donated 600 strawberry plants at the community day. The first 300 families will receive 2 plants. 100 plants were also donated to the Manna Community Garden. It is hoped that these plants will flourish and eventually all families will have access to seedlings next year. These are great to can or to make preserves or Jelly.

Please take the time to send a seed packet. It will really help a family to grow food and feed their families.

Manna from Heaven
PO Box 43
Myra, KY 41549

Thank you.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Exciting News from Myra, KY- Manna from Heaven

I want to share some exciting news from Manna from Heaven! They have 9 baby piglets! They were born earlier this week and all are healthy. They also have a new baby turkey. I had arranged for 3 Turkey eggs to be delivered and one of the eggs produced a little Royal Palm Turkey. The woman that I had bought the Turkey eggs from is sending 12 more to be delivered this weekend and is replacing the two that did not deliver. The incubators are being tested and so far so good!!!

Plans are underway for the Community Day on May 3rd. So far, 1000 families are expected to pick up seed packets. They have received donations of approximately another 1100 seed packets. They still need additional packets to distribute. Tomato, Beans, Peppers, Corn and Watermelon seeds are still being asked for. Any help would be very appreciated.

St Luke's Church has become involved with the Community Day. They will be holding a Cook-out/barbecue. They will be roasting a 300 lb pig and hamburger and hotdog's for 2000 people. The ladies of the Mission are making big pots of Chili, lemonade and Oatmeal cookies. This is a first for Manna and for the Community. Everyone is quite excited about it. I hear that their will be a clown and other entertainment!!! The ladies from the Sewing Group will have a table set up with all their wares.

Burpee has a sale going on and if you order online use code BA 53 and get 5.00/off!!

Please take a moment and remember to please send a few seed packets in:

Focus America Seed Project
C/O Manna from Heaven
PO Box 43
Myra, KY 41549

Lois will be using the incubators and is hoping to have 100 plus baby chicks to hand out.

Thanks to all.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I received a note from Manna from Heaven with a phone number on it. I was able to talk with Lois and got an updates on the happenings there. Manna now serves over 1300 families! Lois felt that Manna was very blessed this year and Focus America was a big part of it. She states that her sewing group is doing very well and they have been busy making quilts, aprons, place mats and napkins and are working on clothes. They have been asked by a local unwed mothers home to make Layette sets so the ladies are learning to knit and crochet. A local nursing home has requested lap blankets for their residents. So the need in the community is great.

Lois had exciting news. When Shelly was in Kentucky in May she met the representative from Heifer International. Heifer International was so impressed with Shelly's program - Focus America Seed Project - that they sent 5000 packets of seeds to Manna. The only seeds that they did not receive is Beans, Tomato's, Watermelon, Peppers, and Corn. They have planned a Community Day in May to plant the community garden. They will serve refreshments, hand out seed packets, gloves and gardening tools. They will also be building chicken nesting boxes and baby chicks that Lois is incubating with the incubators that Focus America sent to them. If anyone can send seeds - the community will appreciate them. Again they need: Bean, watermelon, tomato, corn and pepper seeds. THEY ARE ALSO GOING TO TRY TO GROW RASPBERRY, BLUEBERRY AND STRAWBERIES. These seeds wold also be appreciated.

Focus America Seed Project
PO Box 43
Myra, KY 41549

They expect 900 families to receive seed packets.

Christmas was hectic and Manna served over 5100 children. They also receive 5 pallets of soup. 1300 families were able to take home 7 types of frozen soup in 5 pound bags.

Lois will be concentrating on incubating her chicks starting in February and will continue until October. Her goal is to supply all the families with chickens for eggs and for meat. Her hopes is that they will be able to raise their own and Manna will start working on Turkey for next year. Between the Seed project and the incubators Focus America has been very instrumental in helping the community learn how to feed themselves.

Happy New Year to all!!!