Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: Year in Review

Greetings friend and happy almost new year! I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Christmas. I had a great time- it is one of my favorite times of the year. I can't believe I haven't blogged in almost 2 weeks- yikes! I've been working on wrapping things up for the end of the year and I've been taking a few days off to enjoy Christmas and relax with family.

The year wouldn't be complete without our own year in review- it seems like everyone does them, so here goes ours!
- Reaching 189 departments that we've donated to is a big highlight- our goal is to get to 200 departments this year.
- Our donation on December 18 to the children at the Boston Public Health Commission's Entre Familia homeless shelter. Thanks to donors, we were able to do some great gifts for the 20 children. The kids were so happy and the moms were very appreciative. Here are photos of two of the little girls with their new Barbie dolls. I posted a lot more photos on our FB page. 
I particularly love this donation because I was able to meet the kids. Our efforts help thousands of children annually, but this is the only time that I get to meet the children who receive our items.
- Our partnership with the Dept. of Children and Families is another highlight. I joined the Worcester regional advisory council this year and I'm really looking forward to being able to expand our partnership with DCF. We did an extra donation to the Worcester office right before Christmas because we had a bunch of gifts left over. They were very happy to get them because they had a great need for gifts for the children they work with.
- Our 7th Annual Date Auction was another big highlight- the event keeps getting better and better each year. The anxiety never decreases, but that's just the way it goes. The new venue worked out perfectly and our hosts were amazing. Thank you again to everyone who made the event such a success. We couldn't have done it without you.
 -  Our 10th Anniversary Celebration was another awesome event- it was a milestone for us and it went great.  We worked so hard on getting lots of great auction items and sponsors and it is always a relief when it goes well!
- Our Smiling Stiletto Step into Spring fashion show fundraiser at Copley Place and The Show- our fall fashion show during Boston Fashion Week were two awesome events. They are small fundraisers, but they are also great exposure for Project Smile. The Show was our first full scale fashion show on our own.
- Our partnership with Pandora at Legacy Place and their choosing me to represent the launch of their new Essence Collection. They donated almost $600 to us from the November sales of the new charms. They also donated during our summer event at their store and they donated a bracelet for our Anniversary Celebration. The store has been supporting us for a number of years.

There are lots of other good things that happened this year. We keep expanding and I hope that 2014 brings lots more growth- both with fundraising and our program work. Thank you to everyone who helped make 2013 a success. I am so grateful for your support and I never take it for granted. I hope that 2014 also brings lots of happiness and good things to you as well.
I'm now off to eat my grapefruit (some things will never change!). Until next time friends....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Latest and Greatest Snow Edition

Happy snow friends! It is another winter wonderland happening today. So what's new? Well, tomorrow is the children's Christmas party at the Entre Familia homeless shelter at the Boston Public Health Commission in Mattapan. A local company, Shepherd & Goldstein, reached out to us last week and made a $250 donation and offered to help with any upcoming projects- so I told them that we needed help in wrapping the gifts for the party. They purchased the paper and gift bags and I went to their office on Monday. It was so much fun sorting the gifts and matching them up to the 20 children that will be getting them. We got a nice assortment of items for the kids. The employees did an awesome job with helping sort them gifts and wrapping them up. The bags look so pretty. It was great to have their help. I hope this is something we can do every year. Here is a photo from our wrapping party.
We have a few extra gifts left over and some Build-a-Bear teddy bears, so I reached out to the Worcester DCF office to see if they needed any additional Christmas gifts for children. David, at DCF, emailed me back immediately and said there was a great need for items. I'm going to drop off at least 2 boxes of gifts this week for Worcester kids. I wish we had more resources to provide more gifts for children. It is so sad to think that there will be children who won't have any Christmas gifts.

Well, I'm off to catch up on a few emails- I'm trying to wrap up lots of little things before the end of the year and I'm furiously trying to clean up my office- a never ending project! Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Days

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, today I dropped off a box filled with books, coloring books and crayons to the Fitchburg Police department. Their Domestic Violence Advocate called me recently and asked if we could drop off more items for children, so I was happy to drop them off. They still had a supply of stuffed animals. After Fitchburg, I zoomed over to Medfield to pick a bunch of toys that one of our families who have been awesome supporters, bought for us. The toys will be given to the children at the Entre Familia homeless shelter holiday party next week. Donna, the mom, who has been an awesome supporter, did an amazing job with buying a lot of toys and art supplies for the kids. Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to stop at Walmart and buy some remaining items for the children- mostly ones for the newborns and children that are under 3 years old. Between my friend Jen helping buy items, our board member Michelle purchasing a bunch and today's donation and the items that I've been collecting over the year, we have a great amount- more than 100% of what we did last year. I am so excited for the children's holiday party- it is going to be a great time for them. I can't wait to see how happy they will be when they open their gifts.

Tomorrow morning, we're doing another donation to Boston PD. I also need to set up our next donation to DCF- we always do a donation before Christmas. In other good news- we received a $3,500 grant from the Brown Foundation. They've been supporting us for approximately 5 years and this year, they even donated more that what we asked for- a very nice surprise indeed!

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat some more leftover lemon meringue pie- one of my favorite foods and put the box of books/coloring books together for our donation to Boston PD tomorrow. I need to be out early, so I don't want to have to spend time getting it ready in the morning. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Latest and Greatest

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, we are wrapping up the year on a good note. We  had a great board meeting tonight, going over all the major events and updates of the year and goals for next year. We also welcomed a new board member, Kelli. She has been to a lot of our events over the years and has been a great supporter, so I'm really happy that she decided to join our board.  Michelle, one of our other board members, purchased a bunch of toys for the children's homeless shelter Christmas party next week. One of my friends also donated a number of toys and we have another volunteer who is donating toys too. I will go shopping to fill in the additional items that are needed for the kids. I'm so happy that people have helped with getting items for the party.

The non profit organization in Oregon that asked for stuffed animals for their prison parenting program sent us a nice thank you letter. We sent two boxes of stuffed animals to them. Our board was talking about looking into if there were prison parenting programs in Massachusetts where we could donate stuffed animals for the children.

In other news, calendar sales are moving along. We received a $250 donation from one of the police associations whose officer is in the calendar with his children. They usually make an annual donation to us. I'll drop off 25 calendars with them this week. Kelly, another of our board members, has collected 10 orders for calendars, so that is good. We have another approximately 50 calendars left to sell which isn't too bad.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat my grapefruit and start a new book that my sister recommended- Life After Life. Hopefully, it is good! Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Happenings

Greetings friends! So what's new? Well, today I was working on scheduling some more donations. I was also working on getting some items together for the children's holiday party. Michelle, one of our board members, volunteered to help with getting some items and to help distribute the gifts at the party. She suggested that I reach out to the shelter to see if we can get some more info on what items the children would like. We're focusing mostly on toys, but if possible, it would be great to have some guidance on what toys the kids like. Obviously, we don't have the resources for any high end electronics, but it would be nice to match the gifts for what the kids are into. I'm going to email my contact at the shelter tomorrow.

I think that we might not be receiving a grant from one of the foundations that usually donates to us. We applied for a grant in October and they typically have a grant awards dinner in early December which they invite the recipients to attend. The event usually happens on the same day as the monthly women's networking dinner that I attend, so I thought of it last night- we didn't get an invitation to the dinner. That is not a good sign. They've been supporting us for the past 5 years, so I don't know why they wouldn't support us again. I hope that maybe it was an oversight and we are on the list. It is so important to have ongoing annual support- that's how you keep building.

I'm moving along with calendar sales. We are making progress, so that is good. We should be getting some donation checks from police/fire associations who usually buy a bunch to give out to their members. I'm going to keep following up with police/fire associations and with the families whose children are in the calendar.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to eat a grapefruit and read for a bit. Until tomorrow friends...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Welcome December

Welcome December! Thanksgiving is over and the year is almost done- how fast it always goes by. I guess that is a sign of good times. So what's new? Well, we are donating again for the children's holiday party at the Entre Familia homeless shelter which is run by the Boston Public Health Commission. The party is on December 18. They sent the list of children and their ages over, so we can work on getting appropriate gifts. Most of the children are quite young, including a couple of infants. Our donation last year was very touching last year. It was one of the first times that I got interact directly with the children that receive our items. I didn't realize that we were going to be the sole provider of the holiday gifts last year. I've been putting items aside all year for this party, so we have some items already- I have some action figures, toy cars and Build-a-Bears that have beautiful outfits. I also have some large boxes of crayons and some particularly nice books that would be great gifts. I'm going to buy some more toys. I'll also put the word out on our FB page and ask people if they would like to help- hopefully, we can get a few more items donated. I was reading an article in the Boston Globe today about the record number of homeless families- there are 4,100 homeless families in MA. Half of them are being housed in motels. It is so sad to know that there are so many families that are struggling. I wish we had more resources so that we could help even more.

In other news- a bugger somewhere stole my AmEx business card number, made a fake card and used it in Canada to make purchases at a liquor store, fast food chain and then attempted to buy over $100 worth of items at Toys R Us. I received a call and email from AmEx fraud department on Saturday evening to verify the purchases. I thought they were calling to verify an online purchase I made the night before, so I was shocked to hear about the Canadian charges. AmEx removed the fraudulent charges and my new card should be arriving tomorrow. I had no idea how the number was stolen. I know it happens all the time and there are lots of ways it can be stolen. It is really crappy how people make money by stealing like that. Not only is it simply wrong, but it can create such difficulties for people and businesses. Hopefully, it doesn't happen again. I'm pretty careful where I use my card- it's usually at the same places, so I don't know what happened.

Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read for a bit. My library book is due in 2 days, so I want to finish it- I can't renew it again. Until tomorrow friends...