Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Posts Tagged "Giving"

The George Mark Children’s House

Posted on Sep 24, 2009 in Giving |

I am irrationally protective over my kids’ safety. Not crazed, but protective. I refuse to drive down a street near a mortuary, and if I have to, I do so very quickly and drive fast. I don’t like them getting near one side of the street where we know a homeless guy was killed. I am superstitious about their safety, I can’t imagine them anything but safe. God willing.

The first time I heard of The George Mark Children’s House was a few months ago at the first Silicon Valley Tweetup. La Gringa and I mingled and networked like we’re supposed to. We traded business cards and banter like the pros. We had a couple drinks. But there was nothing, but nothing that stops a mom in her tracks like the story of a sick child.

The charity that benefits the Silicon Valley Tweetup is The George Mark Children’s House, a hospice for children who are dying. They are d.y.i.n.g., not recovering, from illness. This is the kind of thing I steer far from. It’s one degree of separation from the world’s worst horror and I don’t do that shit. But this time, somehow, it got me.

I got home that night and looked up the website. Indeed, an acclaimed 501c3 charity with a slew of volunteers, programs and support for the families of dying children all in a peaceful, private environment. You go to The George Mark Children’s House to die. If you’re a parent, you likely have already died a thousands deaths in bargaining with God to not take your child.

I don’t know much about this charity other than looking at the photos online, reading of their desperate struggle to stay afloat during this economic crisis we’re experiencing. I know a guy who’s niece died in a dignified manner at the House. I know that I can’t bear to think of a child dying. I know that somehow this charity got me in the gut.

So here’s how you can help: Visit The George Mark Children’s House website, look at their “wish list” and go find something in your garage that fits the bill and send it to them. You can donate online with stock or cash. You can write a note to a family. You can send good juju. You can speak with your very loud, influential voice to beg others to do the same.

I turned two streets out of the way tonight to avoid the mortuary again. Kids in the car. Don’t do mortuaries. And came home thinking of families that are sharing their child’s last breaths. And I felt so grateful to be home.

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Thank You!

Posted on Aug 18, 2009 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Giving |

This note is from our buddy at Sacred Heart Community Center. I can’t thank you, my literal and the online communities, and especially Twitter colleagues, for your generous gifts. Sacred Heart delivered, and delivered big, thanks to you.


I wanted to thank you and all of your friends and family for helping to make a difference in our community!

I truly I witnessed a miracle the last two weeks we were way down in donations and ultimately we came out with abundance (loafs and fishes comes to mind)

Click here to see the miracle unfold yesterday.

Thanks again and God Bless,


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Sacred Heart Community Center Needs 1000K Backpacks — now

Posted on Aug 3, 2009 in Friends, Seasons |

It is almost time for Pack-a-Back 2009 and we don’t have all the supplies that our neighbor children must have for the coming school year. We need your assistance collecting these critical supplies.

Every year, we register 1,500 children for this program. This year, due to the great need in our community, it was with great pleasure that 1,740 children were guaranteed a backpack on August 14th. At a time when state budget cuts have deeply affected children’s services, and impoverished children are constantly disregarded, we need your help to achieve this audacious goal!

We will be collecting backpacks and school supplies until Friday, August 7th. Any items can be dropped off at the Sacred Heart donation station , 1381 S 1st St, in San Jose.

Our most critical needs are backpacks, scientific calculators, notebooks, and subject folders. Read our brochure for a full list of what each backpack will contain. Or you can donate directly to Sacred Heart for this campaign.
Any school supply donation or financial donation will directly impact the lives of the children. Your contribution, especially right now, is greatly appreciated.

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Project: KidGive

Posted on Jan 6, 2009 in Giving, Holidays, Thing 1, Thing 2 |

“This feels like I won the championship,” Thing 1 told me today as he held the Salvation Army tag he’d pulled from the Christmas tree at the mall. Thing 2 kept showing people in California Pizza Kitchen her tag, telling everyone around her, “There is a 9-year-old girl who isn’t going to have Christmas presents and I’m going to get her a real art set!”

Project KidGive is an idea LaGringa and I have been thinking about for awhile. The plan was, like so many other families, to pick a child’s name off the Christmas tree at the mall and have the kids earn money themselves to make enough to buy the toy for a child this Christmas.

Project KidGive became the focal point of the kids’ days, doing chores, talking/fantasizing/questioning about the child they were so determined to help.

In the end, it took six weeks of cleaning out mommy’s car, taking out the trash, folding laundry, being the “light police” by turning off the lights in the house, offering to help neighbors and grandparents.

When it was time, we went and picked out the toys. It took They looked and sampled and price scanned dozens of toys, looking for the most special, coolest, most fun one they could find. At last, they were satisfied and we took the gifts to the mall.

The holiday crazed mall concierge caught on fast when I started coming toward her with two beaming kids, arms laden with presents, handmade notes and drawings that were to go with the gifts. I took photos and cried with pride. Mission accomplished:: The Things worked from their hearts for a stranger in need and for more than a brief moment, got to live the true spirit of Christmas.

How We Did It:

1. We told the kids about the project with great anticipation before we went to the mall to get the Salvation Army tags. That way, they knew what was going on and we didn’t spring it on them. I didn’t multi-task, I went to the mall for that reason only and I read them every single tag, allowing them to pick them for themselves.

2. We made everything very visual. We posted a progress chart that they could fill in daily. There was an unexpected bonus with this, since we were able to count how much we made for the day and how much was remaining. Good math skills!

3. La Gringa and I praised constantly for their work. We showed visitors their chart. We touted them as givers, we told them they were like Jesus (and they always added: and like Santa!). We didn’t confuse household responsibilities with these special chores.

4. We made the goals attainable. This took some work, as I had made the dollar values too low at first (10 cents per chore, on average was way too low). As time went on, we had to get more creative ($3 for reading a book). We made sure there was always room for a chore (30 seconds to run around the house and shut of lights to 15 minutes of putting away laundry).

5. We let them have control over picking their gifts. Gave them the money they’d earned and took the time to drive them to (three!) stores they wanted to investigate for their gifts.

6. We gave them one present on Christmas Eve: it was the same gifts they had earned for the other children. We praised them and talked about their giving, the feeling of giving and reinforced how they had made someone else’s Christmas a good one.

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Next Door Solutions

Posted on Nov 24, 2008 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Giving, Holidays |

I had a terrible experience years ago that reminds me of how vulnerable and precious the lives of mothers and their children are, and, every day reminded even more of how strong mothers and their children are.

The Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence is having a holiday boutique where children and mothers pick from donated gifts to give to each other for Christmas. You can get the full list of items on their wishlist is here:

Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence


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