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Got $5? $10? $25? Save it for Give Day Tampa Bay online fund drive May 2nd

Members of Tampa Bay Area nonprofits and local business leaders are planning the fourth annual Give Day Tampa Bay online fundraising effort for May 2.

The one-day event is designed to cultivate new donors and encourage local Tampa Bay Area residents to make small donations to local charities and other nonprofit missions they choose to support. 

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay hosted the announcement of Give Day Tampa Bay at WEDU Studios on Feb. 15. 

The CFTB helps “donors grow, manage and direct their charitable giving,” while also working with nonprofits to understand their needs, making them something akin to being a matchmaker between donors and nonprofit organizations. 

Wilma Norton, VP of Marketing and Communications for the CFTB, who jokingly dubbed herself the Give Day Czar, spoke to the crowd of nonprofit leaders about the importance of communications between not only nonprofits and the community, but also between the nonprofits themselves.

“This is a truly good marketing opportunity for all of you. It’s about raising money, but a big part of it is about raising awareness of all the great work that you do. …It’s upon all of us to be creative and talk to each other and talk about what we do.” 

For 24 hours on May 2, people can log on to Give Day Tampa Bay’s website to make donations, and for eight hours that day WEDU will live stream programming in which nonprofit spokespersons can tell the stories and missions of their organizations.  

“It’s those stories that touch people’s hearts that have them open their wallets and their own hearts to help your cause,” says Norton. 

While more than 200 nonprofits have already signed up to participate in Give Day, organizers expect many more to continue to register. Last year 595 nonprofits earned nearly $2.1million collectively. 

One change this year will be the minimum donation allowed. In the past, the least a person could donate was $25, but in an effort to include more people, the new minimum to donate will be $5. 

“It’s a chance for everyone to be engaged, and that’s really a big part of what this is all about,” says Norton.  

Got a big idea for a social enterprise? Community Foundation of Tampa Bay might fund it

Because it’s virtually impossible for local donors alone to meet the financial needs of nonprofits serving people in need, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is holding its second Big Idea Grant competition, offering up to $50,000 to nonprofits who pitch the best ideas for either a new social enterprise for their organization or by expanding something they’re already doing. 

The goal of nonprofit social enterprise is to help these organizations become sustainable by relying less on charity and more on self-sufficiency to earn the money necessary to continue to do the good works that they do. 

The caveat, though, is that in order to win, nonprofits must find organizations that are similar to their own in mission, and work together to create a business plan with a clear road to sustained profitability. 

In 2015 the Big Idea Grant participants came up with so many innovative and creative ideas for collaborations that two more donors came forward with $50,000 each so that three different collaborating nonprofit groups were able to move forward with their initiatives. 

One of 2015’s winners, My Mobile Market was a partnership between Feeding Tampa Bay, Suncoast Goodwill and Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally to supply low-income neighborhoods with a pop-up grocery story, supplying affordable, healthy fresh food items like fruits and veggies, and non-perishable staples like beans and rice and peanut butter. 

Matt Spence, CFTB’s VP of Community Impact, says that one of the key ingredients that comprises nonprofit success is allowing a nonprofit to concentrate on what they are already doing well. In partnering with other groups that are doing a similar service but may have more experience with a different aspect of the same mission, these collaborations mean bigger and better results for all involved. 

My Mobile Market is an example of why that works. 

“Feeding Tampa Bay understands food and nutrition and distribution and they do those things extremely well,” says Spence. “What they don’t have experience with, and what Goodwill brought to the table, was in the job training aspect of it, so Goodwill was working with their adult clients to help build job skills and those are the people who man the trucks, who drive it, who sell the food. Those are all Goodwill employees. It’s a way to to connect to different areas of expertise while still allowing the nonprofits do what they do well.”

The deadline for submissions to win the Big Idea Grant is March 3. 

Collaborative arts project in University area neighborhood wins 1st placemaking grant

University Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) has been awarded a grant of $30,000 as part of the Tampa-based Gobioff Foundation’s Treasure Tampa (T²) initiative. The grant will facilitate community-led public art installations, called Art in the Park, to be integrated into the Harvest Hope Park. The groundbreaking for the park will launch March 8, 2017 and more specific plans for the public art will be announced at that time.   

“Public art is key, allowing residents not just creative placemaking but building a community while doing so,” says Sarah Combs, CEO and Executive Director of University Area CDC

The art installations will be a joint effort with residents and artists at the park working together on the concept and rollout. The local artists involved -- Junior Polo, Vivian Fisk, Marisol Vazquez -- also residents of the University Area, will work with the community to determine the final plan and design.  

The University Area is “a very transient community, but very culturally diverse,” says Combs. She says it is important that “the art chosen is a representation of the diversity” and hopes the public art will contribute to transforming the neighborhood from a “place they stay, to a place they call home.”

The Harvest Hope Park will be a 7-acre park in the heart of the University Area with a multipurpose sports area, a tilapia pond for fishing, community garden, teaching kitchen, playground, and the public art made possible by the Gobioff grant. 

“The vision we have for this park is not only for residents to enjoy, but to meet each other, know their neighbors, build those relationships,” says Combs “Art is just so essential to this. Studies show it is tied to social economic status in terms of improvement,” she continues, noting that there is no public art in the area nor playgrounds. The CDC’s mission and vision is to improve the area through a number of improvements -- infrastructure, education, after-school programming, etc. -- creating a collaborative network of support, advanced by and led by residents. 

The Gobioff Foundation's Tampa Treasure (T²) facilitates creative placemaking in Tampa through education, collaboration and funding. T² is an initiative of the Gobioff Foundation, a private family foundation which supports the Tampa arts community as well as human rights organizations nationally and globally. This was the first competitive grant awarded by the Tampa Treasure initiative.

As part of the grant award, the University Area CDC will partner with WMNF-FM to produce resident engagement events as part of its Urban Cafe´ segment and 83 Degrees Media will produce feature stories about the project. 

For Good: AT&T employee donates winnings to local hospital’s new distracted driving class

When you hear the acronym DD, you probably think of a designated driver, or maybe you think of drunk driving, but those two letters have another meaning in today’s fast paced and uber-communicative culture.

Distracted Driving is an ongoing problem, the cause of 45,740 car crashes in 2015 in Florida alone, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and it’s about more than just texting: Chiming in on social media, taking car selfies, video chatting or finding that perfect song somewhere in your itunes playlist all mean you’re distracted, and that’s when accidents happen. 

In an effort to reinforce the importance of paying attention to the road and your surroundings while driving, a group of like-minded organizations and one driven AT&T employee recently came together to try to make a change. 

Thanks to two challenges AT&T gives to its employees every year, the Director of AT&T Wireline Regional Infrastructure, Regina Ennis, dedicated herself to raising awareness and educating her community about distracted driving for the “Do One Thing” Challenge. 

She continued her mission during the follow up challenge called “It Can Wait, 16 in 16” challenge in which employees were encouraged to get friends and family to sign the “AT&T It Can Wait” pledge, which reminds people that “distracted driving is never okay.” 

AT&T Spokesperson Karen McAllister says that they have had over 14 million people take the “It Can Wait” Pledge since they started in in 2010.

“We find that there is power in a pledge. Once people take that pledge they are committed to not driving distracted,” she says. 

Ennis got almost 400 people to take the pledge in 2016, and for her efforts she won $2,500 to give to an organization that already had a distracted driving program in place.  

Ennis lived in Orlando for many years before moving to her current home in White Plains, NY, so she was aware of the Bradenton-based Mark Wandall Foundation an organization founded in by Wandall’s widow, Melissa, after he was killed by a red light runner only a couple of weeks before their child was born. The Foundation works to help grieving children who have lost family members or guardians. 

While the Mark Wandall Foundation doesn’t offer a distracted driving class, Founder Melissa Wandall knew who did. 

In mid-January, Ennis, along with Wandall, and Ed Narain, regional director at AT&T, presented the $2,500 winnings to Johns Hopkins All Childrens Hospital in St. Petersburg, where they lead the Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS Coalition.The money will go toward funding a class for teens and new parents about the dangers of distracted driving, and ways to avoid becoming another statistic because of it. 

For more information about the class, call the Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS c/o Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital at 727-767-8581 or 800-756-7233.

For Good: Tampa Bay Builders make 1,000 PB&Js for homeless

Members of The Tampa Bay Builders Association will be rolling up their sleeves and donning gloves and hairnets this Wednesday to make 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless. 

The TBBA is contributing to the mission of GRAB Tomorrow, a nonprofit for young professionals who set a goal of providing 25,000 PB&Js this year to the homeless in the Tampa Bay area.  

Jennifer Doerfel, Executive VP of the TBBA, says that while the construction industry is already a very philanthropic industry, the majority of their works naturally involve building homes for the needy, or donating materials and labor. 

Still, they are always open to opportunities to help the community in more immediate ways. When their sales and marketing team found this simple and important cause to contribute to, members of the TBBA were all in.   

“When we heard about this opportunity -- it was easy, and it would serve many purposes,” says Doerfel. “It serves as a team building experience and it’s very social in nature. You’re doing something good for someone and you never know when it might be you.” 

About 60 volunteers will work in shifts for six hours in the TBBA’s small 1,000-square- foot office assembling the sandwiches, which will then be distributed to the homeless by GRAB Tomorrow members. 

“It goes back to the underlying philosophy of the construction industry regardless of where you fall into the construction industry, whether you’re a home builder yourself or an engineer, a roofer, a carpenter or a plumber, this industry is really a wide cross section of professionals that are hands-on in the community building the American dream of home ownership, so we are acutely aware of the needs in the community and whenever possible we take a proactive role in solving the problems that we face,” says Doerfel.  

The National Association of Home Builders has recognized the Tampa Bay Builders Association four times with the Silver Award for their exemplary efforts in philanthropy, education and professional development but this last year they received the Gold Award, the highest recognition from the NAHB for giving back to the community.

For Good: Children’s Board of Hillsborough County seeks applicants for $10.8M in grant funds

The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County is offering $10.8 million in grant money to organizations that meet the criteria the board has set in place to ensure that children are healthy and safe, developmentally on track, ready to learn, and are in supported and supportive families. 

The CBHC releases this grant money every five years, so while some organizations may reapply and continue receiving funding, new entities also have an opportunity to secure grants as a new source of revenue.  

“We like to take another look at what the community needs, what new providers may have come into the area, and our goal of course is to fund the very best programs and services for the citizens of Hillsborough County,” says Paula Scott, Director of PR at the Children's Board

A special Leading Grant of up to $250,000 will be awarded to organizations that provide high quality summer programs for children, including making sure the program includes things like art and literature, and STEM and safety education. 

Another Uniting Grant of up to $250,000 will go to fund programs that provide training to early childhood educators on social-emotional learning. The CBHC specifically is looking to fund organizations who have both the administration and the programs in place that can train teachers to instill Conscious Discipline in the children, meaning that when they start Kindergarten children are prepared.

“It’s important that they enter Kindergarten ready to go, that they’re able to handle their emotions, that they’re able to regroup if something upsets them,” says Scott. “That’s all that Conscious Discipline and trying to give the providers the tools to handle those children, and also putting into those children the tools that they need to be successful once they enter the Kindergarten environment.” 

The grant money is open to non-profits and for-profits, but groups must meet very specific guidelines, which are outlined on the CBHC website. Scott says it’s crucial to read the Request for Proposal or RFP capacity checklist page to learn if organizations have the internal capacity to handle a grant from the Children’s Board.

Applicants can apply from now through March 2017. 

Once grants are awarded, the CBHC continues to closely monitor how the funds are used in order to ensure that the children are gaining the maximum benefits. 

“Our grants are wonderful in that we make sure if we’re investing county taxpayer dollars that there is a definite positive outcome on those folks that they’re working with and the children and families,” Scott says.

For Good: Pedal through downtown Tampa, along Bayshore Boulevard in Winter Wonder Ride

Downtown Tampa may be one of the warmest places to be during the wintertime, but Bay area bicyclists are prepared to "get frosty" when they hit the streets for a cool cause at the sixth annual Winter Wonder Ride taking place this weekend (Dec. 10).  

The Winter Wonder Ride is the largest event hosted by onbikes, a nonprofit organization that partners with corporate sponsors and local governments to throw bicycling events that support the organization's mission of providing bikes for at-risk youth and foster kids.

Onbikes Executive Director and co-Founder Julius Tobin says that what started as an idea among his friends to simply take a bike ride on a sunny Saturday in 2011 quickly grew in ways the group never expected.

"It occurred to us that none of us had been on bikes in a really long time, so we took a sort of random adventure -- and we realized how cool it was. It unleashed the kid in us, and from there we thought, 'let's try to do something good with this.' We realized there was probably a big audience who would love to participate in it. We just didn't realize how big it would become."

On Saturday, (December 10), onbikes invites riders to join them at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park as they embark on the Winter Wonder Ride along The Tampa Riverwalk and Bayshore Boulevard before returning to the park for a post-ride celebration. (Motorized traffic will be temporarily rerouted along South Tampa streets from approximately 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) Last year's Winter Wonder Ride had approximately 2,500 participants. Tobin says onbikes expects at least 3,000 people for this year's ride. 

There may not be snow on the ground, but this year's Winter Wonder Ride theme is "Get Frosty" -- giving Floridians an excuse to don their best snowman gear, including but not limited to: scarves, top hats and snowflake-themed attire. onbikes highly encourages participants in the Winter Wonder Ride to dress in costume to spread holiday cheer as they pedal the streets of downtown Tampa -- or risk being "the only one dressed like a normal person" among a pack of bicycling snowmen.

"It's a pretty unique opportunity to be on the road with such a big group of people in general -- but 3,000 people dressed up like snowmen, gingerbread people, Santa Claus and elves is incredible. It really lets you lose your facade and just enjoy being in the moment. Everyone gets to be a kid again," says Tobin.

Rapper Big Boi (best known for his role as half of the Grammy-winning hip hop duo Outkast) headlines this year's Winter Wonder Ride celebration, promising a jubilant post-ride dance party at the park, with food and beverages available for purchase from local vendors. This year's Winter Wonder Ride will include an overnight bike valet, ensuring that bicyclists can enjoy the post-ride celebration and libations without having to worry about their bikes -- as long as they are retrieved by 11 a.m. the following day (Sunday). 

Tickets to the Winter Wonder Ride start at $50, with all proceeds geared toward the purchase of new bikes for at-risk youth and foster kids in the Tampa Bay area this holiday season. 

The organization's other big holiday extravaganza, the 'Santa's Bike Shop' Bike Build took place on Dec. 4th at Amalie Arena, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Flying Fish Bikes. At Santa's Bike Shop, professional bike technicians from Flying Fish and approximately 600 volunteer helpers -- the bike workshop 'elves' -- teamed up to assemble 800 bikes in nine hours. 

Tobin says that 400 of the bikes will go to Eckerd College to distribute to foster kids in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Tampa Police Department's bike division will also receive 300 bikes to distribute to local kids. Metropolitan Ministries will receive the remaining 100 bikes to distribute for Heroes Day and to establish a fleet for a free bike share program on campus. 

To date, Tobin estimates that onbikes has provided bikes for approximately 3,000 kids in the Tampa Bay area with the help of the organization's sponsors, partners and volunteers from the local community who join the annual rides and bike builds. 

"We know that giving a bike to a kid isn't a unique or new idea. We just put a fun spin on it," says Tobin. 

Take a spin through downtown Tampa with onbikes for the most festive bicycle parade of the season. Visit the Onbikes website to purchase tickets to the Winter Wonder Ride.

For Good: American Cancer Society, Tervis team up to create Hands of Hope

Cancer affects the lives of millions of Americans each year --but it is with courageous hands that so many cancer patients and their loved ones and caregivers reach out from the darkness to touch lives, work toward a cure and inspire hope in others who are also battling the disease. 

The American Cancer Society recently announced a collaboration with Sarasota County-based insulated drinkware company, Tervis, to create an exclusive series of tumblers and water bottles with designs that feature the handprints of cancer patients and their families.

Tervis will donate 10 percent of sale proceeds to support the American Cancer Society's efforts to eliminate cancer as a major health problem through research, prevention and support for patients and their loved ones. 

The handprint design was created at the Winn Dixie Hope Lodge in Atlanta, and is intended to illustrate the lives of those who are touched by cancer: to tell the human stories behind the disease. The cup artwork depicts the handprints of cancer patients and their families arranged to form butterflies -- a symbol of hope and renewal, as well as bereavement -- that honor the lives lost to cancer and illustrate the powerful bravery and hope of those who battle the disease.

"When we met with the American Cancer Society about this project, every team member was incredibly moved by the Hands of Hope story. Tervis customers have always gotten behind our activism designs but we had been hearing lately that they wished that we had other cancer support designs beyond just the Pink Ribbon Collection for breast cancer awareness. We loved how inclusive this project was of all cancer survivors, caregivers and supporters," says Tervis president Rogan Donelly. 

Donelly notes that many in the Venice, Fla. based Tervis family have been personally affected by cancer or have supported a loved one battling the disease. He adds that over the years, Tervis has donated more than $100,000 to cancer research and local organizations, but that the partnership with the American Cancer Society is the first of its kind. 

"It was the perfect opportunity to work together to champion cancer education and research. We see this as the beginning of a long-term partnership," Donelly says. 

The 'Hands of Hope' tumblers and water bottles, as well as the Tervis 'Pink Ribbon Collection', can be purchased online and in 47 Tervis stores nationwide. 

"The American Cancer Society is grateful for the support of corporate partners such as Tervis, who have developed distinctive and creative products to encourage their customers to become involved in raising awareness and funds to end cancer," says Sharon Byers, chief development and marketing officer for the American Cancer Society. "We're excited to collaborate to increase awareness of all cancers to help end the pain and suffering caused by this disease."

For Good: Beth-El Farmworker Ministry celebrates 40 years in Wimauma

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Beth-El Farmworker Ministry Inc. is hosting a symposium on Nov. 5 that is designed to address daily struggles for farmworkers, including topics such as human trafficking, fair salaries, health and well-being.
 
The event will take place at the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry facilities at 18240 U.S. Highway 301 South in Wimauma.
 
Kathleen Dain, Executive Director of Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, says the celebration will honor the Tampa Bay area’s farmworkers whose labor is physically intensive and financially challenging.
 
“The majority of crops in Florida are picked by hand and require the individual labor of the farmworker, but farmworkers receive wages based on the quantity of crops picked,” Dain explains. 

A farmworker who picks tomatoes, for example, receives an average wage of one or two cents per pound picked, and is expected to pick 4,000 pounds daily, which is the equivalent of boxes stacked eight floors in height. For that labor, the farmworker is paid between $40-$80 a day.
 
“Most farmworkers work seven months each year, following the crops in their seasons (across the nation.) The work is very demanding with long hours and frequently under harsh conditions,” according to the letter of invitation to join Beth-El’s 40th anniversary celebration. 

The celebration will conclude with a dinner in which Beth-El’s history will be recounted and its future plans revealed.
 
During four decades, Beth-El Farmworker Ministry has provided food and clothing for needy farmworker families in Wimauma. It also provides legal aid and health services and serves, on average, 600 families weekly. 

“Every day we have fruits and vegetables on our table that have come from the farmworker’s hard labor -- even though those same fruits and vegetables may not easily make it onto their own tables,” Dain says.

For sponsorship opportunities, click here.

Beth-El Farmworker Ministry celebra 40 años de servicio en Wimauma

A través del tiempo la misión Beth-El Farmworker Ministry se ha convertido en una fuente de apoyo para los trabajadores del campo en Wimauma y la misión se dispone a celebrar sus logros desde su establecimiento en 1976.

Para la celebración de sus 40 años, la misión ha organizado un simposio para el 5 de noviembre acerca de la vida y los retos que a diario enfrentan a los trabajadores del campo con temas desde tráfico humano, salarios justos, salud y bienestar. El evento se llevará a cabo en las instalaciones de la misión ubicada en el 18240 Highway 301 South en Wimauma.

Para Kathleen Dain, directora ejecutiva de Beth-El, la oportunidad de celebrar 40 años de misión es la oportunidad de honrar a los trabajadores agrícolas cuya labor es intensa y económicamente retadora.
“La mayoría de los cultivos en Florida son cosechados a mano y requieren el trabajo individual del agricultor, pero los trabajadores reciben su pago en base a la cantidad que puedan pizcar”, comenta Dain.

Un trabajador que pizca tomates recibe entre uno o dos centavos por libra y se espera que pizque 4,000 libras diarias, el equivalente a ocho pisos de altura y en dinero a entre $40 dólares a $80 por todo el día de intensa labor.

“La mayoría de los agricultores trabajan siete meses del año, siguiendo los cultivos de la estación. El trabajo es altamente demandante, trabajando largas horas y con frecuencia en condiciones inclementes”, indica la invitación especial de los 40 años de Beth-El.

La celebración cerrará con una cena en la que se hablará sobre la historia de la misión y se abordarán planes para el futuro.
Durante cuatro décadas, el ministerio ha proveído comida para los trabajadores agrícolas, ropa para quienes la necesitan, asistencia legal y de salud. La misión atiende a 600 familias por semana.

“Todos los días tenemos frutas y verduras en nuestra mesa producto del trabajo de agricultores, pero difícilmente esas mismas frutas y verduras llegan a sus propias mesas”, comenta Dain.

Para oportunidades de patrocinio haga clic aquí.

For Good: Art Extravaganza features artwork to benefit Haiti

This weekend, South Tampa Artist Donna Morrison is hosting The 2016 Art Extravaganza, an annual art show aimed at holiday shopping, and for the first time including a raffle to benefit Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Morrison has long been involved with Village Partners International (VPI), a Tampa-based nonprofit, which provides medical and other services to Haiti and other impoverished “world villages.” All proceeds will go to VPI. 

Tickets are five dollars apiece for a chance to win an original 15” x 22” watercolor painting by Morrison, entitled Purple Passion #1, valued at $1,500. The show takes place October 27-29, 2016 and includes works from well-known ceramic, woodworking, photography and jewelry artists.

“I like things that have multiple good outcomes,” says Morrison. “I love having a raffle because it involves a lot of people, spreads the word, somebody gets a great painting, and Village Partners gets money to be sent to Haiti.”

In addition to the over $72,000 VPI already spends annually supporting a hospital and Mobile Clinic in Haiti, the devastation caused by the recent hurricane has meant new and urgent challenges. The all-volunteer organization is currently trying to raise funds to build wells for clean water and for nutrition support in the northwest sector, which has had significant increase in cholera outbreak as well as malnutrition and lack of clean water, according to Tampa surgeon Dr. Sylvia Campbell who runs the nonprofit and has been doing mission work in Haiti and Uganda since 1996.

“Haiti is a country that has been steeped in so much tragedy,” says Campbell. “Every dollar that is given to VPI goes to help those in need. We are all volunteers, and do this mission out of our hearts. Fundraisers like this help support the cause, both in dollars and awareness. … Each dollar can change a life.”

Campbell says Village Partners International has a vision “what we call the 3 ‘C’s” – connect, commit and continue. VPI has been operational since 2007, though the founders had been involved in similar work largely through the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church for years. In addition to its work in Haiti, the organization is active in rural Uganda and has partnered with Beth-El Farmworker Mission, supporting migrant workers in Wimauma, Florida.   

For more information on the Art Extravaganza and chance to win a painting, you can email Donna Morrison,  or you can make a direct donation to VPI through its website.

For Good: St. Pete free clinic to help 200 needy senior citizens with grant funding

The St. Petersburg Free Clinic has received a grant, which will provide food to senior citizens in south and mid-Pinellas County.

The Hearty Homes program is just one of the many programs the free clinic offers needy citizens. Armed with a $20,000 grant from Clearwater-based Senior Citizens Services, Inc., the clinic can now provide food assistance to more than 200 elderly residents.

While most seniors in need are able to access meals through community centers on weekdays, there is a need for services on the weekend. The Hearty Homes programs provides food for the elderly to take home with them once they leave the center.

“We bring the food to the community centers where the seniors are already beina transported for lunches,” says Beth Houghton, Executive Director for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. “Their driver takes them back to where they live, gives them their food and even helps them get the food up to their apartment.”

To qualify for the program, seniors must be considered food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. Also, they must have few or no options for transportation. Houghton reiterates the importance of providing nutritious food for the seniors.

“As we get into the holidays, there are a lot of food drives, which is a great,” she says. “However it's important to remember that some of the people receiving the food have restrictions. For our food bank, we are looking for donations that are low-sugar, low-sodium and low-fat. Things you might buy for a loved one who is diabetic or has cardiac health issues.”

In addition to donating food to the free clinic's food bank, you can also help by donating money to help with the cost of delivering the food to the elderly. For more information about the clinic, and how you can help, click here.

For Good: Hungry Howies pizza hosts local events to raise money for breast cancer foundation

Pizza franchise and the National Breast Cancer Foundation team up to raise money and make services available to women battling cancer.

Hungry Howie's Pizza is hosting two local events designed to benefit the fight against breast cancer in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. “Hands of Hope” is an art mural, and will be showcased at 3073 18th Ave. S. in St. Petersburg. The public art project will feature hands representing both survivors and those who lost their battle to breast cancer. The mural will get a personal touch from the community during its dedication.

“On October 1st from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. the public is welcome to come see the mural, and dedicate a handprint to a survivor or a loved one,” says Misann Ellmaker, a spokesperson for the Love, Hope & Pizza project.

The second event is the “Love & Hope Quilt,” which is being sewn by Debbie Devine, a former Hungry Howie's store owner. The finished quilt will be up for auction, and all proceeds will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).

In addition to these local events, the pizza chain will serve all of pizzas nationwide in pink Love, Hope & Pizza boxes with the NBCF logo during the month of October. A portion of sales will be donated to NBCF.

The local events, along with the funds raised nationally for NBCF will impact local women because the foundation has a partnership with Moffitt Cancer Center, which helps thousands of women each year battle breast cancer.

This hits close to home to one of Hungry Howie's associates, Andrea Adair, who also is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

“It's not just about offering mammograms,” she says. “What NBCF offers through Moffitt provides women with whatever they need whether it's radiation, chemo, or psychological support. They want to make sure they are really helping people”

While she praises Moffitt and the NBCF for offering more than just mammograms, Adair goes on to emphasize the importance of early detection. She says it was early detection that saved her life. Ellmaker echoes her sentiments.

“There are so many times we get so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget to take care of ourselves,” Ellmaker says. “However the breast cancer foundation has lots of information and links on their website that can educate on early detection because it's so important.”

For information on where you can bid on the “Love & Hope Quilt,” click here. Also, for information on the National Breast Cancer Foundation for links about early detection, click here.

For Good: USF partners with custom T-shirt company to raise funds for Moffitt

A local custom T-shirt company is partnering with USF to raise funds for cancer research.

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, a garment decorating franchise based out of Dunedin, has announced its exclusive sponsorship with the USF’s Athletics Department. The custom T-shirt company will provide USF’s ‘Bulls Against Cancer’ campaign shirts. These shirts support Moffitt Cancer Center, raising cancer awareness and funds for research.

The president of Big Frog, Dr. Tina Bacon-DeFrence, an alumna of USF, wants to help those battling cancer.

“All of us here at Big Frog, from the Dunedin headquarters to our individual franchises, and store employees across the country, have been affected by cancer in some form,” she says. “We might have battled through it ourselves, fought through it with a close friend or family member, or have shed tears over the loss of folks close to us.”

As part of the partnership, there will be several game-day promotions and giveaways during both USF’s football and basketball season. Big Frog will be introducing a T-shirt launcher, which will propel 3,000 shirts out to USF fans during men and women’s basketball home games.

In addition, the official kick off of the partnership between Big Frog and USF will take place at the USF’s home football game against UCONN on October 15th. During tailgating gatherings, flyers will be passed out with information on the partnership, and where people can order their T-shirts.

For those who are interested in getting one of the ‘Bulls Against Cancer’ shirts, Bacon-DeFrence says you can order them through Big Frog’s website.

For Good: Free Welcoming Tampa event celebrates cultural diversity of refugees, immigrants

No need to bring your passport to travel on a virtual tour around the world during a free event coming soon to USF.

Among the offerings at the second Welcoming Tampa celebration: Get a henna tattoo, take a Latin dance lesson, watch a culture fashion show, listen to live international music, visit cultural educational tables and test your patriotic knowledge by taking a mock citizenship test.

Along the way, it’s an opportunity to meet new neighbors -- resettled refugees and immigrants who now call this area home.

It takes place on Saturday, Sept. 17,  from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida. The collaborative effort is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force, the USF’s Honors College and the Department of Global Health, and the local refugee and immigrant community. Campus organizations, volunteer outreach programs and social-service agencies take part as well.

This is just one event like this celebrated all over the country in September. The initiative is coordinated nationwide by Welcoming America, a Georgia-based nonprofit. The mission is to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by refugees and immigrants in local communities.

“It helps all who participate with a localized understanding of the refugee experience and encourage true connections across cultures,” says Natalie Harrell, spokesperson for the Suncoast Region of the Florida Department of Children and Families. “Every year we hear of new friendships formed and gatherings held after the event, so we know there is an ongoing impact.”

And for the refugee families, she says, it’s a day of fun where they get to see their culture celebrated and “feel fully included in their new community.” 

Service providers will also be on hand, as well as information on volunteer opportunities to encouragement more engagement.

This year’s theme is “Small Shoes, Big Journey,” and will focus on the experiences of refugee children and youth as they begin a new chapter of their lives here in the Tampa Bay area. Ten-year-old Rachel Ackey, whose father was once a refugee, is coordinating a shoe drive for these youngsters. To donate a new pair of shoes or a gift card for a refugee youth, email Florence and Rachel Ackey or call (813) 732-4190 or contact Elizabeth Dunn at (361) 510-7935.

Dena Gross Leavengood, a member of the Tampa Bay Refugee Advisory Group, an independent advocacy volunteer effort, says giving refugees a support system is the first step toward establishing normalcy in their new lives.

An event like this can be a first step in building new relationships, she says. It also can set in motion more dialogue so there is less duplication of services.

“The more coordination we have between agencies and volunteer groups, the better,” she says. “There are so many issues refugees face when the first arrive -- cultural divides, the language, transportation, housing, jobs. As a community, we need to collectively understand these challenges and how to address them.

“In the end, we all will benefit as they work toward becoming contributing citizens.”
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