Tag Archives: social action

Milk Money: IMMEDIATE need for @HaitianFam1st

16 Mar

Kervens smile, holding milkSo often giving money to a charity is abstract.  You donate to an organization, that organization works on research or advocacy or “awareness” or sometimes even concrete projects.  Still, it’s rare to fully get your head wrapped around exactly what your dollars and cents are doing.   And of course everyone has their own pet projects, so it seems for every contribution you make, 3 more organizations or friends promoting organizations come up who need help as well.  I, again, find myself joining this chorus.  But this time the need is immediate and the results tangible.

I love supporting Haitian Families First because this is a bare-bones organization and you really SEE how your contribution is making a difference.  There are some necessary administrative costs (as there are with every organization, but HFF does a good job of keeping these down), but other than that, the money goes directly to the mission itself: Helping Haitian families.  And most importantly, helping Haitian families help themselves.  HFF focuses on projects that enable families to become self-sufficient. Amazing things all around.

But in an organization like this, there is no margin for error.  You depend on everything going right, because it has to go right, because there’s no room to catch up if it doesn’t.  And recently, HFF hit an unexpected roadblock and needs some help.  The latest shipment of milk and formula was contaminated.  Here in the US, we could just take it back to the store and demand a replacement.  Things aren’t that easy in Haiti, especially when you have a whole lot of people to feed. They need to ship in replacement milk and they need to pay for medical services for the kids who got sick.  No money means no milk. And no money means no medicine.

HFF is running a campaign through CrowdTilt for the money they need to get the extra milk (and get it fast).  The full campaign isn’t looking for that much and every little donation will help.  Think about how much you pay for a gallon of milk at the store… $5? $6?  Maybe you’ll kick that cash towards these kids who definitely need it.  I contributed today.  I hope you will too.

Milk Week: Help Haitian Children Access Milk


Hunger Action Month- Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank #BlogMob

17 Sep

L’Shanah Tovah, all! Wishing you a sweet and wonderful New Year! I wish that for all of you, your New Year is full of health and prosperity, and that you share that prosperity with all in your community who are in need!


On Thursday I had the wonderful opportunity to tour Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank with a group of Pittsburgh bloggers, and learn about all the amazing programs the food bank provides for 11 Western Pennsylvania counties. I had assumed that the food bank was a food pantry, but it is much much more than that. In addition to providing direct food distribution to individuals, the food bank coordinates food distribution to local food pantries all over Southwestern Pennsylvania, and so many other programs and resources that I can’t even begin to address them all here (but you can learn all about them from the food bank’s webpage!) Better yet, see the hunger action month calendar for inspiration for things you can do in the month of September to take action against hunger.


I was amazed by the sheer size and volume of food at the food bank, and the corresponding need within our community.  You always know that people are in need and are hungry, but the dramatic size of that need really did not strike me until I saw aisle after aisle after aisle of the enormous warehouse.




On the day we toured, the food bank was doing a “produce to the people” distribution.  Produce to the people is a program that distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to those with income qualifications.  I was not only impressed with the variety provided and the food bank’s collaborative work with local farms to distribute much-needed produce, but also the comprehensive information and cooking demonstrations the food bank provided about how to use that produce in healthy, fast, and inexpensive ways.



acorn squash harvest stew

In the face of potential massive funding cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps), the food bank is leading a paper plate writing campaign, in which individuals write letters to Governor Corbett on paper plates, explaining what SNAP, the food bank, and other hunger-fighting programs that receive government funding have meant to them. Here, Rachel shows off the stack of letter plates collected this night alone.


I was proud that my firm, Thorp Reed & Armstrong LLP, sponsored this event by providing a raffle prize of Pirates tickets and a swag bag.  Here’s the proud winner, who herself is an inspiration.  She’s a high school student running a project that involves collecting totes for the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, and also sewing tote bags from donated fabric.


This tour inspired me to take action.  I’m continuing to pick up a jar of peanut butter to donate each time I stop at the store, and I want to arrange a repacking day where my coworkers and I can help out at the food bank with repacking bulk food into individual-sized distributions.  With my crazy schedule, I am more able to volunteer in a single-event kind of fashion (rather than every week or month).  Of course, the Food Bank and its affiliated entities have plenty of volunteer opportunities for every level of involvement and availability.

One of the other fantastic aspects of the event was getting to meat some inspiring and amazing Pittsburgh Bloggers!  I was so happy to meet Sue of the Tote Bag Project,  Emily, Becky, and Caitlin!  Emily is running an amazing giveaway related to our BlogMob event!  Visit her page here, and you could win a 60 minute coaching session on a topic of your choice!! 

Hunger Awareness Month #BlogMob #Hunger

30 Aug

Despite it being 3/4 of the way through the year, September is a time for new beginnings. School goes back into session. For those of you (like me) who are Jewish, Rosh Hashanah brings about the New Year, with reflection and resolutions. September is also Hunger Awareness Month– a time to think of those in need.

Some basic facts:

  • 1 in 7 Pennsylvania residents are “food insecure,” meaning they can’t reliably provide food for themselves or their families.  Across the nation, 1 in 5 children are food insecure, and 1 in 4 will experience food insecurity during their childhood.
  • Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank seeks to respond to this need by serving 11 counties, and distribution over 2 million pounds of food each month to more than 120,000 people.  That means they are able to serve only about 35% of the people who meet the definition of food insecurity, resulting in many people going without food pantry assistance.
  • In Pennsylvania, the state budget for many human service programs– including programs designed to respond to hunger issues– was cut by as much as 10%.  Reauthorization of the federal farm bill (provides the funding for SNAP, formerly called food stamps) is still being debated by congress.  If it is not reauthorized, food resources will be cut by as much as $16 billion.  Many families rely on both food pantries and SNAP to get through hard times, and the loss or reduction of SNAP will create a need that the food pantries can’t keep up with.

So what can you do to help?

If you are a Pittsburgh area blogger, consider joining me for BlogMob 2012 at the Food Bank!

In addition to learning about the Food Bank, you will have a hand in raising awareness about hunger issues and generating enthusiasm about fighting hunger.  PLUS– attendees will have an opportunity to win a swag bag and pair of tickets to the September 30 PIRATES game against the Cincinnati Reds (LETS GO BUCS!…also FLEECE BLANKET GIVEAWAY NIGHT!), donated by Thorp Reed & Armstrong.  These tickets are in Section 119, row K so they are nice tickets!

Donate to local food pantries and the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project!


The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project’s motto is “One Tote Bag at a Time”– and it has proven that a big difference can be made, little by little.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve got TONS of reusable bags around (and shamefully forgetting to bring them with you to the grocery store…)  How do tote bags help? Tote bags make it easier for families to access food – they can carry more food home with dignity especially if they are relying on public transportation, walking, or riding bikes.  Incorporating totes into food distribution also means pantries have to buy fewer disposable bags and that frees up money for food. The Tote Bag Project has collected over 18,000 bags in its first 16 months.

And the obvious– collect some food! Peanut butter and other nut butters, tuna, and low sugar cereal are important food staples, and are always a HUGE need for food banks.  Make food donations a part of your life.  Here are some thoughts–

Pick up a donation each time you stop at the store.  For the month of September (and part of August too, since I started this week), I’m picking up an extra jar of PB each time I stop at a grocery store, drugstore, or discount store.

Get your friends to make a small donation the next time you get together.  At my book club this week, everyone brought some food to donate (the picture above is our collection for the night).  It’s just a small contribution from each person, but putting it together, it makes a big impact!

Cash donations are always helpful.
In addition to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, other Pittsburgh area hunger organizations that are always in need of assistance include Attorneys Against Hunger and Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry.