Charitable NFL Athletes Doing Their Part off the Field

charitable-nfl-players

Being given such a huge platform is not commonly taken for granted by successful players in the National Football League. With such tremendous salaries and popularity, professional athletes often understand the impact they have on their communities, and do their part in helping others.

While the media and fans have been focusing on national anthem protests this past year, players all over the league have been helping their communities and donating their time and money to causes they are passionate about; something that has been, unfortunately, overshadowed by more political issues.

One of the first charitable acts we saw this season was that of Deshaun Watson donating his first ever NFL game check to victims of Hurricane Harvey. This was an incredibly selfless decision considering the fact that Watson is in his first ever season as an NFL quarterback, yet still understood the impact he could make by simply helping out people within his community. This is something that many NFL veterans have done as well, with the following being just a few of many.

Patrick Peterson

The shutdown cornerback of the Arizona Cardinals may be well known for his success on the field, but many fans may not know that he started the Foundation for Success, which aims to provide lower-income and inner city youths various resources in order to help them succeed in life.

Charles Johnson

The Carolina Panthers defensive end has been offering college scholarships to high school students attending his alma mater, Hawkinsville High School in Hawkinsville, Georgia. As if that wasn’t charitable enough, Johnson is active in the real estate market as well, having built affordable housing for seniors in Columbia and Rock Hill, South Carolina. He is also currently assisting with the convergence of an old Charlotte firehouse to a new restaurant; a $3.3 million project.

Chris Long

Following the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles pledged to donate every single one of his game checks to high school scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, while also raising awareness for the atrocious acts that took place there. In addition to this, Long is working alongside the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia to help with scholarships for local middle school students, thereby promoting well-being and education among children.

J.J. Watt

 
Many people were made aware of J.J. Watt’s incredible fundraising attempts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but few knew just how much he would raise. The Houston Texans defensive end raised an astonishing $37 million for victims of the hurricane, much of which came from fans around the country.

Non-Food Items You Can Donate to Food Banks

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It is a common misconception that food pantries only work to provide food to struggling families. People might assume that as long as someone is fed, they can thrive, but this is not the case. Everyone, including those who struggle financially, should be able to take care of basic needs beyond nutrition. Though many charitable organizations are called food banks or food pantries, their need goes beyond that of food. There are many things other than food that you can donate to food banks that will help them help others.

Toiletries

Hygiene is important for struggling families and can impact overall health, so donations of personal care items can be very helpful. These can include toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, or other personal items.

School supplies

Every child should have access to an education, no matter their home situation. Donations of school supplies can help a child be more successful in school and give a family one less thing to worry about. A reliable, sturdy backpack can make it easier for children to carry their items to and from school. Other supplies like writing utensils, notebooks, binders, and folders can be helpful as well.

Toys

It may seem that toys aren’t a necessity, but every child deserves to have some semblance of a normal childhood. Toy donations can help with this. They don’t have to be elaborate; a simple toy truck set or coloring book can bring joy to a child whose parents may not otherwise be able to afford these items.

Infant care items

Parents struggling financially have an added burden when trying to take care of an infant. Diapers, diaper rash cream, or other items specifically for infants can alleviate the burden on families.

Winter items

The winter months can be the hardest time for families who struggle financially, especially if they live in a place that lacks proper heating. Items like blankets, hats, and gloves can help keep someone warm. Opt for the warmest versions of these, like fleece- lined blankets or wool socks.

Gift cards

Everyone deserves to have some fun, so gift cards for specific activities or entertainment could be very helpful. Movie theater gift cards can allow for a bit of escape, and restaurant gift cards can give someone an opportunity to be treated for a night.

Books

Many food pantries are looking for book donations, as they not only offer an escape, but can help a person learn valuable lessons. Books donations for people of all ages can help alleviate this need.

 

If you have items to donate but aren’t sure if you should, it’s a good idea to contact your local food bank to find out what they’re looking for. It could be that they need a wide variety of items, or they may be looking for something specific. Though food items are always helpful, many overlook some other important needs of families who struggle with poverty.

Adopt Don’t Shop: The Benefits of Pet Adoption

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Everyone has heard the mantra that shelters, pet rescues, and the animals they save live by: Adopt. Don’t shop.

But, why should you choose to adopt your new fur kid rather than buying one from the pet store? Turns out there are lots of good reasons for adopting and not shopping:

When you adopt, you are saving a life that is worth saving. Many animals who find themselves in animal shelters or in the care of a rescue have come from abusive situations, were abandoned and simply don’t know what it feels like to be loved, safe and secure. When you adopt, you are changing your fur kids life forever, and yours as well.

Adopting your furry kid can also appeal to your frugal side. Adopting your newest family member from a shelter or pet rescue will typically cost you anywhere from $50 to $200. compare that to the thousands you can spend when you buy your pet from the store.

Most of the time, the animal you adopt will be spayed or neutered; have had a health check and all his preliminary vaccinations. All of those procedures can add up when you put them on top of the cost of buying from a pet store.

When you adopt, you can be sure that you are not supporting puppy mills and breeders who are only it in for the money. These mass-breeding businesses compromise the health of the puppies because they breed so many at one time.

Rescues and pet shelters are home to literally every breed of dog and cat – both purebred and mixed – that you can possibly want. There is such a wide selection available at most shelters and rescues that they have websites so you can search for your furry kid by age, sex, breed and size.

You’ll never experience a moment of loneliness when you adopt a pet. Pets can give your life a purpose because they give you someone to care for and give you unconditional love right back while giving your life a sense of purpose. Who doesn’t want to come home to a wagging tail at the end of the work day?

You can’t put a price tag on the love you will receive when you adopt your new furry kid from a shelter or rescue organization. You are not only saving a life, but but supporting a good cause as well.

Community Service Ideas for Kids

community-service-ideas-for-children

Community service projects are an important growing experience for children of all ages. Through working together, children learn to solve problems and make decisions that affect not only themselves, but their community as well. It helps them connect to local concerns, global issues, and gain a greater awareness of others’ well being. These attitudes will serve them both now and after they transition into the adult world. Here are a few ideas that could help get them started.

Community Improvement

  • Pick up litter in a park
  • Plant trees or wildflowers in the community
  • Plant a garden and donate fruits or vegetables to a local food bank
  • Start and maintain a recycling program at school

Literacy Based Ideas

  • Read a newspaper to an elderly person who may have trouble seeing small print
  • Have them read a book to a younger child who is learning how to read
  • Have them read a story to a senior citizen who needs companionship
  • Hold a used book sale and donate the funds collected to a charitable cause

Help Out Children in Hospitals

  • Have them put together a package for children in a hospital such as bubbles, craft supplies, activity books, or other items that may help brighten their day (New Items Only)
  • Hold a crayon, marker, and construction paper drive for the local hospital (New Items Only)

Animal Activities

  • Raise money for homeless or sick animals and donate it to a local cause
  • Help local animal shelters obtain items on their wish lists
  • Hold a fundraiser such as a walkathon or marathon, bowling event, or reading circle and donate the proceeds to a local shelter
  • Put out feeders and water for the local avian community

School Ideas

  • Start a SWAT team, standing for Student Who Assist Teachers.
  • Have children collect loose change around their homes, donating the collections to a charity of their choosing

Other Ideas

  • Visit the Pencil Project Website and collect pencils for needy children
  • Collect used items still in good condition such as athletic shoes, sweaters, scarves, mittens, and other items for those in need
  • Visit the Adopt A Platoon website and collect items for servicemen
  • Participate in the 20 grains of rice activity through the World Food Hunger Program
  • Participate in Earth Day activities

As you can see, there are many great ideas for community service projects. This list is only a short example of ideas that you can use to promote a sense of community and inspire your children.

The Importance of Understanding Special Needs in Children

special-needs

There is an ever rising concern to reshape education for children with special needs. Even though there are several different types of special needs, autism is bringing light to the educational needs of all special needs children. Autism is on the rise and affecting as many as 1 in 68 children. This rising number has brought forth the children who are not receiving enough attention in their educational environment.

With the rising number of children who are diagnosed as autistic, there is an increase in the number of parents who are learning what it means to have a child with special needs. All of these parents are determined to get their children the best education possible, but many teachers are not well trained in handling children with special needs. This indicates that families have been turning to more private schools than public schools.

Autism Speaks came around about the same time as social media, which has helped give a voice to those trying to promote awareness for autism in a world that does not know how to handle special needs. They started the trend for special education advocacy on social media and have paved the way for many people to get the word out about special needs. For example, Decoding Dyslexia has followed Autism Speaks and has been campaigning on social medias well. There has been a success in passing certain legislation that has something to do with dyslexia in over half of the United States.

Due to social media splitting up different types of special needs, education is making a stronger push to take a look at the different requirements that come with the varying conditions. Not all special needs children have the exact same needs, especially if you see that those with autism tend to have differing commitments than others with the same developmental disorder.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts are key to helping schools with the individual plans for each child with special needs. This is a career that is in high demand, and even more so needed in education. BCBAs are able to make more money in healthcare and private practice divisions than they typically do in the education sector, which makes it difficult to get BCBAs to apply to schools where they are most needed.

There are several changes that need to be made within public special education programs. They are underperforming and not meeting the needs of the children or the wants of the parents. On a positive note, special education has finally been put at the forefront of today’s society, and is starting to receive the changes necessary to help all children with developmental disorders.

5 Benefits of Afterschool Programs

Carl Turnley

Education is obviously one of the most crucial parts of growth for a child. The classes taken teaching them skills that can be applied to the modern world prepare them life outside of school. However, their education should not be limited to within these buildings’ walls.

Afterschool programs are extremely beneficial in terms of continued growth for your child, and should be strongly considered depending on his or her interests. From karate classes, to instrumental lessons, to painting, children have a wide range of opportunities to choose from, all of which can enhance their development. With that said, here are five of the greatest benefits that come with enrolling children in afterschool programs.

Improves Academic Performance

Many afterschool programs allow for children to do their homework when present, and even offer help if needed. Working in a much more casual environment may inspire them to ask more questions, and generally show more interest in the work that they’re doing. Some programs even focus specifically on certain subjects, like math, science, and computers. This can directly lead to more enthusiasm when learning about these subjects in school.

Increases Confidence

As mentioned before, the casual environment of afterschool programs can give children a sense of ease. There may be feelings of pressure in school and certain classes that students feel, inhibiting them from contributing as much as they’d like to. When taking part in an activity that they genuinely enjoy after school however, chances are they will be much more likely to try new things and challenge themselves. This can improve self-esteem quite substantially, which is profound for those with learning or attention issues.

Similarly, an increased sense of confidence can translate to leadership skills. Once these are developed, a child may be bore inclined to take initiative and join a student board, school clubs, or assist teachers during or after class. A trait like this is one that is extremely vital in the working world.

Enhances Social Skills

Groups of children taking part in activities that they enjoy together are much more likely to interact with one another; something that isn’t seen quite as often in the classroom. Afterschool programs promote interaction among their participants, and are great platforms for children to build their social skills upon. Experienced staff members are present to correct and teach a child should they act out, which can again sharpen their interactive abilities.

Provides Physical Activity

Programs like the YMCA offer several physical activities for children to play, like swimming, soccer, flag football, and much more. Not only does this keep them active and healthy, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle in general. Additionally, these programs may teach children the importance of nutrition, and provide healthy snacks.

Keeps Kids Occupied

Many parents today may work longer hours that directly compete with their child’s school schedule. While some jobs today are more accommodating, it can be difficult to leave early every day to ensure you are home when your child is. Afterschool programs can effectively act as modes of childcare in addition to their educational benefits. Though they should never be seen as merely babysitting platforms, these programs can keep children in a safe environment while their parents are still at their places of work.

 
In fact, studies have shown that teens whose parents’ work schedules may conflict with theirs are more likely to engage in risky behavior; something afterschool programs can help with by keeping them occupied and off the streets.

Teaching Your Fearful Dog Calmness

teaching-dog-calmness

Every dog, no matter their background or disposition, deserves a second chance. Many of the dogs that are rescued from shelters have gone through unspeakable abuse through no fault of their own. When you have a fearful dog, it’s often through no fault of their own. If you have a fearful dog, it’s up to you to teach them calmness. Luckily, it’s not too difficult. I recently read some tips from none other than the legendary “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan. Here is what he had to say:

When your child is afraid, it’s only natural to want to comfort them and tell them that everything will be okay. Your dog might feel like your child, but comforting them like that is actually the worst thing you can do. Dogs relate your behavior to whatever it’s doing in that moment. That’s how positive reinforcement works; if you want to teach your dog to “shake,” associate that behavior with a reward. To dogs, one of the best rewards is affection. So when you comfort a fearful dog, you’re rewarding it for acting scared.

Over time, rewarding a dog for its fearful behavior, even if it’s unintentional, can make an already timid dog even more skittish and fearful. It’s difficult not giving your dog unconditional love at all times, particularly when they’re clearly afraid. But, in that instance, they don’t need to be comforted, they need to see leadership. Dogs learn by imitating, so when your dog is afraid, you need to act calm and assertive, which can help make them more confident.

It’s important to remember that dogs do have the common animal instincts possessed by so many. They can be narrowed down to four: fight, flight, avoidance, and surrender. When your dog is experiencing fear, their first response will almost always be either flight or avoidance. Obviously, you’ll want to prevent the fight response as best you can, but this can occur in extreme cases. The goal is to make them surrender, which is them accepting whatever the stimulus is without reacting to it. This can be done by displaying calm, assertive energy.

Dogs are surprisingly intuitive about our feelings. Your dog can often tell when you’re sad, afraid, or excited. So, when you act afraid, your dog will pick up on that. Humans are typically the leaders of the pack, and when you’re afraid, that leadership role is empty and a dog’s natural reaction is to take over, which could lead to the dog acting aggressive out of fear. This, in turn, creates a feedback loop that exacerbates the situation. Therefore, a fearful dog needs, more than anything else, a calm and assertive leader to show them that everything is okay.

The Boys & Girls Club of America

boys-and-girls-club

The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA), of which I am a proud supporter, is primarily an after-school program that was designed to keep young people safe, and to help guide them to reach their maximum potential to becoming a responsible, caring, and productive citizen within the community.

According to the BGCA youth outcome data, 97% of teens that attending Club regularly expect to graduate from high school and 88% of them plan to attend some type of formal continuing education program. Almost three-fourths of Club youth volunteer in their community. In addition, when attended on a consistent basis, it has been proven that 90% of club members in the 9th grade abstained from drinking alcohol. This is mainly due to the fact that regular Club attendees stand up for what is right, even when their friends are not in agreement.

The ultimate vision for this organization is that every young person who crosses the threshold of a Boys and Girls Club is given an opportunity to become a high school graduate with a beautiful vision of the future that lies ahead of them. In addition, they are taught how to live in a healthy manner and also they will be shown how to display good character traits among their peers and with their community. The main purpose of BGCA is to engage young people in positive programs, to inspire them to see the world in a positive way, and to empower them to make a positive impact within their community.

Some of the programs offered by the BGCA include, but certainly not limited to:

PLAY BALL – a program for all ages and it focuses on increasing the overall physical fitness level of the child while teaching them basic skills of the game of baseball.

CAREER LAUNCH – a program designed for young people between the ages of 13 and 18 and it focuses on exploring different vocations for their future, make solid decisions regarding their future work and also to find success in a chosen career.

NATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY – this program allows the youth to view their beautiful surroundings through the lens of a camera

DIY STEM – a program that is designed to reach the young people who have a heart for science.

SMART MOVES – This program is designed to educate as well teach young people about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, and also to avoid engaging in premature sexual activities.

In addition to the above mentioned, there are also programs specific to drama and entertainment, technologies workshops, money matters, and music makers.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club of America, I encourage you to reach out and become part of something that will engage, inspire, and empower the next generation in a positive way.

The Value of No-Kill Animal Shelters

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As an animal lover and financial supporter of no-kill animal shelters myself, I understand the importance and significance that these programs hold in saving the lives of homeless and ‘unwanted’ animals. It’s an unfortunate problem that not many people address today.

There are currently over 70 million stray animals in the United States, of which only 6 to 8 million dogs and cats find animals shelters annually. The only reasons why these animals successfully make it to our country’s shelters is because of their owners either giving them up, or animal control officers finding them in the wild. But, even then, many of the cats and dogs rescued are subjected to a similar fate by being given to facilities that promote euthanization to control population sizes.

Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized every year, largely due to the fact that most shelters do not have the space permitting for the number of cats and dogs received on a regular basis, along with adoption rates not being able to keep up. However, depending on the type of shelter, many homeless or ‘unwanted’ animals are able to once again find their way back to a loving home. Private shelters, for example, often have contracts that allow them to work with their local governments for funding sources, additional help in finding homes for these animals, and enforcing stricter animal care laws.

The standard practices within these facilities also differ in terms of dealing with the increasing size of the animal population. For example, standard shelters typically euthanize cats or dogs who have not been claimed in a shockingly small 72-hour window, thus stressing the importance of no-kill shelters.

The only reason why a cat or dog may be euthanized within a no-kill shelter is because they are suffering from an irreparable disease or injury, which is then for the good of the animal. Doing so as a means of controlling the shelter numbers is never policy. Because of this, communities working together to save homeless and ‘unwanted’ animals are able to rescue up to 90% of those found, without worrying about euthanization.

No-kill shelters are also responsible for largely promoting adoption, spay and neuter programs, donations, and fellow programs benefitting an animal’s well-being. They strive to work collaboratively with other organizations dedicated to placing animals in loving homes, and avoid senselessly putting down those without them simply due to the fact that their facilities are not big enough. Though some people may argue that allowing at-risk animals through their doors is unsafe, that is the point of no-kill shelters; to give each animal a fighting chance.

Stray animals may appear hostile when approached by any individual, but trained professionals working with no-kill shelters are able to rescue those without homes regardless of age or breed. Sadly, pit-bulls and “bully breeds” are often discriminated against depending on the community’s laws. Nearly every no-kill shelter though, rejects this false belief that one breed is more dangerous than another, accepting all animals into their facilities.

 
Today, the number of animals euthanized has thankfully decreased in recent decades because of the no-kill shelter movement. This humane trend is beginning to take effect in many cities across the United States, leading to a higher number of rescued animals and more volunteers willing to devote their time to this cause. While establishing no-kill shelters in every community across America is unlikely, there are strategies we can put in place, along with the combined efforts of those passionate enough to make a change, that can lead to this ideal goal.

10 Charity Organizations Working To Decrease World Hunger

Carl Turnley

The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project works throughout 22 countries to end hunger and poverty.  While the organization does not distribute food, it works with rural and poverty populations to teach life skills to overcome hunger.  A network of individuals and company partners work in more than 24,000 communities, reaching 20 million people around the world.  The Hunger Project is leading communities to make improvements in health, education, gender-based violence, hunger and income.

 

CARE

As a community-based effort, CARE works to improve education, access to health care and increase income opportunity.  Operating in 94 countries across the globe, more than 80 million individuals are reached through 1,000 different projects.  CARE also responds to emergencies to address individual and community survival needs.

 

Concern Worldwide US

Reaching the poorest communities in the world, Concern Worldwide US helps fight malnutrition, disease and disasters.  Emergency response is provided after disasters to help families and communities rebuild.  Concern Worldwide US helps communities suffering from the stresses of climate change by teaching agricultural skills.  Since 1968 the organization provides long-term development in over 50 countries.

 

International Rescue Committee

International Rescue Committee (IRC) gives emergency response and aid to refugees and individuals displaced by war, natural disaster or persecution.  Working in over 40 countries including the United States, IRC provides long-term assistance by resettling and teaching life skills for refugees to become self-sufficient.  The IRC responded to the earthquake disaster in Haiti in 2010 and is currently working to improve advocacy and resettlement of Iraqis misplaced by war.

 

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)

The Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) helps improve education, health care, finance, agriculture, government and social protection to help those in poverty.  IPA works with businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations to develop anti-poverty interventions.  Research for anti-poverty intervention is analyzed and researched in controlled studies to publicize poverty relief intervention recommendations.  20 countries are participating in IPA programs to further research reaching over 100 million people across such countries as Africa, South America and Asia.

 

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger established in 1979 with the mission to end child malnutrition and provide safe drinking water to poverty communities.  Since its start, the humanitarian organization outreached to over 40 countries and reduced the global mortality rate of malnourished children under five.  To reduce the global mortality rate, the Action Against Hunger Scientific Committee created a therapeutic milk formula designed to treat acute malnutrition.  Action Against Hunger partners with top food and beverage industry leaders to raise awareness about global hunger.

 

International Childcare

International Childcare (ICC) helps children to relieve poverty and sickness while providing children education all over the world.  The programs offered to children in poverty focus on providing shelter, health care services and education.  With numerous projects in different countries, the ICC sees an average of 400 patients a day treating malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases.  One of the main programs offered through ICC is caring for children with disabilities in the Dominican Republic.

 

Oxfam

Working with 17 national organizations to fight poverty, Oxfam is dedicated to finding the causes and effects of poverty.  Emergency relief services reached over 90 countries since 1951.  Today, Oxfam responds to over 30 emergency situations across the world.  Oxfam supplies long-term development programs, emergency assistance and political advocacy to those in poverty.  The organization also deals with issues including climate change, gender equality, indigenous and minority rights, natural resources, and HIV/AIDS.

 

Population Services International (PSI)

Population Services International (PSI) provides affordable health care products and services to communities through health education.  PSI dedicates itself to family planning, HIV/AIDS treatment, gender-based violence, maternal health and clean drinking water.  Programs operate throughout 60 countries and help raise awareness toward treatment of diseases related to high mortality rates in children under five.

 

Project Healthy Children (PHC)

Working with national governments and manufacturers around the world, PHC works with producers to supply staple foods with essential micronutrients to overcome hunger.  Food fortification reaches over 55 million people in countries such as Liberia, Honduras and Rwanda.  Fortified foods are provided to an individual for an average of 25 cents per year.