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Child Sponsorship Opportunity [28 Mar 2006|07:31pm]

I'm not sure how active this community is, but I thought I'd give it a try!

I am looking for potential sponsors for the Christian Upliftment School in Uganda. This school, which is in southern Uganda, mainly serves orphans who are refugees of the civil war, mainly taking place in the north. This school has undergone a lot of hardships recently, with the school director dying very suddenly about a month ago (his wife now runs the school), and, on top of that, they were evicted from the land they were renting because the owner had a buyer (they have now moved to a nearby location and are working on buying that land.) Children from this school are available for sponsorship for $20/yr. The school is only about a year old and the need is certainly tremendous! If any of you are interested in possibly being a sponsor, definitely drop me an email (ChristianUpliftmentSchool@gmail.com) and I'll send you the information when it's available.

In the meantime, check out the website.

Thanks for reading. I'm definitely passionate about this group and I think it's a great cause to support!

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Education for Everyone [27 Mar 2006|02:02pm]

Everyone deserves an education. Looking for a way to make that happen?

Aura's House at http://www.aurashouse.com is currently raising $7,000 to build a classroom for the Sto. Nino Elementary School in Manila, the Philippines. (They have over $4,000 so far...) There are 4,611 students enrolled in the school and the student to teacher ratio is 57 to 1. Students share one desk with two other pupils, meet in three short rotating shifts, and have classes in make-shift outdoor learning areas that must be cancelled when it rains too badly. Most of the kids who attend the school live in slums. To many, their school is like another home and the only means of escaping poverty through education.

If you'd like to meet Christian Capin, a first grader at Sto. Nino, his photos of his home and school life can be found at: http://www.aurashouse.com/christian_philschool/pages/01christianstudiesathome.htm

Aura's House has raised over $20,000 to date for housing, health, and education projects for needy families in Central America, India, Zambia, and the Philippines. They work through the US charity, Children International who oversees all building projects.

Please feel free to check out our current and past projects at: http://www.aurashouse.com and consider donating. Every bit helps, even $1. All donations are 100% US Tax deductible.
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[01 Nov 2005|03:45pm]


I feel like i might be overstepping my boundaries, and might loose this person as a friend for posting part of a "friends only" entry, but i can't sit idly and do nothing. This entry from a friend broke my heart and i need y'all's help. This entry is screened from her so she can't see any of your comments.

My mom is about to start chemotherapy in the next few days, she's depressed and scared, I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that in a few days, My mom will not have hair, will be losing weight, getting sick as a dog and been even more depressed and I don't know if I have the strength to not cry when I see her that way. I know I have to be strong for her, but who the hell is being strong for me? *sigh*

Me and (name ommitted for privacy) are fucking living off the little bit of food we have every week, until it's gone, then buying more of the cheap things that can make alot of sandwiches and cheap quick meals. I haven't had any meat in over two weeks, let's up it that way, unless you include tuna. We have 2.45 in our bank account and have since last Friday and will again until this Friday. We run out of stuff, we just don't have it period for awhile. I am so sick of being broke enough where we can't even buy one extra fucking thing that's even only a dollar because that may have to buy us a loave of breaad to have to eat on all week long. I'm living in a nice expensive townhouse and eating like a poor person literally :(

We will not have a Thanksgiving since we have no extra money for a turkey or a ham, and my mom will most likely been really sick still, so she won't be able to be home more than likely to have a dinner with us, so what's the point? I doubt we will even have a Christmas for that matter, but that's a little ahead to say I guess. No gifts though, that's a certain thing and not certain my mom will be well by then either

Me and (name ommited for privacy) have been having arguements bad enough where I told him I'm dealing with enough, if he can't stop wanting to put more stress on me and just be here for me like a husband should, he can leave. I have enough I'm dealing with that I don't need his shit right now too. He has been being a pure asshole and I am just fed up.

So far this week, we've had our microwave that broke, I almost choked on a piece of plastic, our neighbors are being bastards beyond belief, we barely made it where we had enough for rent by $1, my mom is going through hell and back with this cancer, Michael decided to leave my mom yesterday because he can't deal with it all...literally went to the hospital and handed her his ring back like a fucking chicken shit, and I am just about to fucking lose my fucking mind.

I can't take anymore.

I; myself am putting together a food care package for Amy, but she is still in alot of need for help. She doesn't have gas money to go and see her mom in the hospital, she is (as you can tell) emotionally distraught and could use a pick-me-up. My idea was to generate some donations to be able to send her a gas card and also maybe a gift certificate for dinner and a movie for her and (name ommited here) to add some much needed spark back to their marriage. If y'all could just donate like a dollar (or whatever you can) to this "special fund" i would greatly appreciate it, and i'm sure Amy would. I knwo i posted on her behalf a few entries ago, but i only got one response. I'm hoping that y'all can find it in your hearts to help Amy out. You can email me for my address to send donations if you don't already know it. Also, i will have Amy send out thank you cards, so y'all can rest assured that this is not a "scam" ... not that those of you who know me would think i would do something like that.

Please, Please, Please post this to your journals to futher the word. Please. And one more for good measure... PLEASE.

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hope i am doing this right-need help offer ,service for it ,thank you [03 Apr 2005|04:30pm]

[ mood | hopeful ]

Hello My name is Raven I live in highpoint ,NC,206 Rankin place,27265-I have had a hard time lately ,I need help with certain things and need an array of items and offer services like laundry washing for it,and art work for it .

this is my problem :I'm quite ill I have a lung tumor(that is thank god in remission ) and ,bad immune problems ,rheumatoid arthritis and am recovering from a very complicated broken leg . before I got ill and left my ex-fiancee of 3 years and had to move ,my finances at this point are more than meager ,so I need help with the following :I rescued a lot of pets before I got ill with the move and my ill ness ,I need a few things to get settled and a little help till i am better .

I need 8 doghouses for my rescue dog's and material to fix the fence around the house so they can play out side unsupervised .I need dog and cat toys you don't need .

If you live near me and would need help walking and training and playing with the dogs Till I get better .That would be awesome because since i have become sick they do not get the exorcise they are used to .

If you would like to help go shopping because it is hard for me to get anywhere of late and i don't have a car that would be wonderful too .

My offer is : I can wash and dry laundry for you at my house as long as you supply me with the bleach and powder ,Pay would be either dog food or cash or help with shopping ect .

I am an artist if you need a mural or something like that i am who you want ,any Type of work i can do sitting down I can try to do .

,Please help us ,thank you !

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help [06 Mar 2005|06:32am]

Once upon a time we were in love and things were good. We lived together and things were nice. Over the years things began to break down. She one day found someone else.
I eventually found myself caring for someone I should hate and supporting her at the same time.

I recently was able to end things and am now starting my life over again.

Unfortunately now, I found out that my first rent check is about to bounce. I am not sure how it happened, but I have only a few days to come up with $150.

Help if you can would be greatly appreciated. I don't normally do this kind of thing, but am not sure what else to do.

Thanks for listening.
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[02 Jan 2005|04:14pm]

Hi everyone, i am new to this community. After spending my fall semester researching brain cancer at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda I came home to witness my best friend's uncle lose his battle with cancer. As I will no longer be able to contribute to searching for a cure through research next semester as I will be back on campus I want to continue to help fight agianst cancer and for a cure. I design jewelry which is available on my website E.T.C.creations. In 2005 I am donating a portion of all my proceeds to the American Cancer Society through my "craft for a cure" campaign. I just want to encourage everyone to do what ever they can for the cause. After being immersed in the research and actively searching for a cure, I am ABSOLUTELY hopeful, that in the future there will be very effective ways to combat cancer. Every little bit helps and not act of support is too small.


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

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[31 Dec 2004|05:35am]

Hi… My name is Laura and I’m here to do something I was given advise to do… Basically, ask for help… I am in a position as a new mother and as much as I love my daughter with every part of my heart, it’s obvious that it would have been better for her and I if I would have waited. Aside of my beautiful daughter, the father was obviously someone special enough to me for me to move in with him (in which the baby was conceived) back a couple years ago when I was lonely, depressed, and brainwashed that no one would ever love me – I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship with a very cruel guy. After living with my daughter’s father for sometime, I became pregnant. Although he was happy about becoming a father, he had and still has emotional/mental problems. Back then he was hanging out with “the wrong crowd” who were the kind of guys that are extremely manipulative instigators. By him hanging out with these people, it took a nasty turn one day and I was left home alone at the apartment (pregnant) and throwing up and crying all night and he never came home. He is not the kind of person to do that so I was so extremely terrified and upset. It turns out he was out with his friends taking so many pills, he didn’t even know who he was anymore, literally. It’s not like him at all to even do drugs in the first place. He ended up going to jail and my life was a mess not knowing what was going to happen. Since he was in jail and not going to work, we had no money to pay the apartment bills and I couldn’t have a job because I had such horrible morning sickness and I was anemic in my first trimester. To make an extremely long story short, we ended up getting evicted and now we owe the apartment $5,000 for ridiculous left and right charges covering every part of the eviction or else we have to go to court and get a lawsuit and what not…

I’ve always tried to be as independent as possible. Independent to the point I try so hard to make others happy and put myself last, and all I do is go and go and go using so much energy to do what’s right, I end up just breaking down from stress. Because I am the kind of person who tries so hard to be independent, I could never swallow my pride to ask for help from other people. I was talking to a friend the other day who gave me the advise to just swallow my pride for once and ask for help from people who seem to reach out to others.

I don’t know if I’m wasting my time and I do feel kind of dumb asking strangers for help but I decided to at least give it a try for what it’s worth. If there’s anyone out there who wouldn’t mind helping me in anyway – I don’t even know what specific type of help I’m asking for – please e-mail me at gtarpley88@yahoo.com.

Also, please do not feel bad in any way if you decide you are unable to help me out.

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Please, read this. [12 Dec 2004|01:51am]

[ mood | in despair ]

I saw something tonight that made me so incredibly sad..

This woman. She had the most beautiful kids I'd ever seen, and one of her little girls at merch asked if she could have something with her tickets, and the mom just went off on her. She was like 'I'm going to beat the fuck out of you!' Right there in front of so many other kids and people. She kept pushing her around and she was screaming at her... and the little girl put her hands up over her face and then I knew...

I just knew that the mom had to be beating her kids at home. It just made me so sad because I felt so helpless. My eyes welled up with tears and I had to just.. go.

I know that I joke around a lot about how annoying kids are, but no kid EVER deserves to be treated like that. I had to go in the back of the store because I was crying so hard. Anytime someone would ask what was wrong, I couldn't explain it to them because of how hard I was crying.

It's just not fair.

Please, please, please if you ever see a child being treated like this, do something about it. Imagine how the rest of their life is going to be spent if something isn't done. And imagine how guilty you'll feel if you sit around and do nothing.

You can't save everyone, but at least let someone know who can do something about it.

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[07 Dec 2004|06:37am]

Holiday Train

This is the sixth year that CPR's Holiday Train will be taking the rails to raise cash, food and awareness for hunger relief efforts in North America. This December, two freight trains, each decorated with thousands of festive lights, will visit more than 25 locations in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest and 50 Canadian communities.

Both trains will be staging live holiday music shows.

CPR will donate more than $225,000 (Cdn) to local food banks in addition to the food and money collected along the way.

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Unforgetable moments [21 Nov 2004|06:13pm]

[ mood | happy ]

I made somebody smile today. Someone I had never seen smile.

He's one of the many homeless in Harvard Square. He sits there day after day, month after month, year after year. I used to sleep outside with him. We'd lay there at night trying to stay warm looking at the stars, talking until we fell asleep. He'd often cry himself to sleep.

He's been really down lately. He's dying. He's refused treatment because he doesn't know what's worth living for. I sit with him alot for a few minutes here and there so that he isn't always alone. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we sit in silence watching as people pass by. It just feels good to not sit alone.

I found a small giftbag when I was cleaning, a new travel toothbrush and some toothpaste. It put it in the bag, wrote a note and brought it with me to the square. I needed to get laundry money so I went to CVS to buy something on my debit card to get cash back. So I got a bottle of water, and a marshmellow santa claus and put it in the bag for him.

I walked over to his usual spot and sat down next to him. I told him, "I brought you something," and handed him the bag. He looked at it, pulled out the santa candy, and looked me in the eye and smiled.

That was the first time I had ever had eye contact with him. He always looks at the ground. I've never seen him give anyone eye contact. I've given him stuff before- soda, cocoa, coffee, water, sandwiches, etc. He says thank you but never looks at me.

I sat with him for a minute and told him I had to go meet up with someone, but that I wanted him to have a good day.

His eyes glistened with tears as he looked at the santa candy as though it brought back some sort of memory for him. When I walked by a few minutes later, he was slowly nibbling it- as if to make it last forever.

I can't tell you what it did for me today to see that man smile. He is someone I really care alot for. My heart breaks everytime I see him sitting there so alone. I've always wanted to do something to make him smile. Or to at least let him know that he's loved. I didn't know that all it would take was a 49 cent santa shaped piece of chocolate. 49 cents for the chocolate, the smile on his face was priceless.
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Christmas for Homeless Youth [24 Dec 2003|07:35pm]

[ mood | accomplished ]

okay. I'm crossposting this to several communities, so if you see this twice, I'm sorry...

but I thought I'd share with you about a project I did this Christmas for my friends....
some of you know me and/or read my journal, but for those of you who don't I'll re-introduce myself....
I'm crystal, I'm 22 years old and I've been homeless since Feb 2003. I'm in the boston area, I've stayed in 11 shelters as well as the streets this year... I'm homeless because I can't hold a job due to a brain injury from a car accident nearly 3 years ago (see my journal for more details). I'm currently a volunteer at Childrens Hospital, Boston as well as Ronald McDonald House in Boston. I'm in the writing program at Harvard Extension School (the night school at Harvard University)... And I go to a program called Youth on Fire- a drop-in center for Homeless Youth age 14-24.

I wanted to do something special for my friends for Christmas, so I decided to make 27 stockings out of fleece (it's easy) and stuff them to give to the youth at the drop-in on Christmas day. I have over 1000 people that read my journal regularly so many of them were willing to contribute to the project... Some mailed me packages of stocking stuffers, others contributed money, a few helped sew the stockings and other LJ friends helped shop for supplies and stuff them. it was a lot of hard work and organizing, but it was well worth it...

Here are links to the posts of the project in stages (lots of pixs)

Sewing the Stockings
stuffing the stockings
Other Donations for the Youth Drop-in Center
Everything wrapped and ready to be delivered....

I posted this article in my journal a while ago: The Spirit of Giving. It was written about me 3 years ago. I was 19 and ran a non-profit reaching out to families of sick kids. Christmas of 2000 I made 150 stockings out of fleece (like the above ones) and stuffed them and brought them to Childrens Hospitals in 5 states... it was a lot of fun. Hard work, but worth it when I saw the kids faces. :)

I particularly enjoyed doing it this year for homeless youth. the stuff we got was so practical, and I think the kids will really enjoy them... I can't wait til tomorrow to see them open their stockings!

Just thought I'd share this, and pass the idea along... other things you can do year round would be grab bags, stuffing shower caddies (for those in shelters) sack lunches etc... it's a lot of fun!

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Off-topic: Please describe your job to help others choose one. [20 Dec 2003|09:33pm]


If everybody would pick a job in which they felt fulfilled and truely happy, I think the world would be a better place. Unfortunately, it's not easy to pick the right job.

I just started a new community, aboutmyjob, where I invite all of you to post your thoughts about your current or past jobs. I'm hoping my community will help young people to answer that very difficult question "What do I want to be?".

Please check out the description via the link above. If you want to post, there's no need to join the community, you can do so right away.

Thanks in advance for sharing, and helping.
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[27 Nov 2003|12:58pm]

Hello all. Things have been a bit quiet lately, but in breaking news, Natalia (internautte) has been accepted as a volunteer for the Amity Institute. The Amity Institute is an organization that places volunteers as teachers in countries that need assistance. Natalia needs sponsors to help with costs associated with her involvement in the programme. You can read her request for small donations here.
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[22 Jul 2003|03:25am]


During the Blogathon, people update their websites every 30 minutes for 24 hours straight. For this, they collect sponsorships. Pledges can be a flat donation, or a certain amount for every hour the blogger manages to stay awake.

So how exactly does this work?

Easy: you sign up to sponsor a blogger. On July 26th, watch your blogger go for 24 hours straight. When the event is over, you'll receive an email asking you to donate directly to the charity for which your participant was blogging.

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volunteering. [13 Jul 2003|04:31pm]

[ mood | busy ]

I've introduced myself on this community before, but since I'm posting again I'll reintroduce myself for newer members.

I'm a homeless 22-year old female. But just because I'm homeless that hasn't stopped me from doing volunteer work. Instead of hanging out in the shelters all day at at programs for the homeless I spend my time volunteering at various organizations in my area- including Ronald McDonald House and a local children's hospital. I've done a lot of work with kids with cancer after my best friends 4-year-old daughter, Carissa died of AML (leukemia) nearly 4 years ago. Below is Carissa's story. And I’m posting 3 other posts related to volunteering with kids with cancer. If any of you have done similar volunteer work I'd love to hear about it!

If you are interested in volunteering with the homeless in your area, feel free to read my journal, being_homeless. I frequently put suggestions in there related to volunteer work.

Also- have any of you ever volunteered for Food Not Bombs? I may be working on a newspaper article for my local homeless paper on FNB, and would love to hear stories of FNB all over the country and around the world!

Enjoy the posts! (I'm crossposting to a few communities, so sorry if you end up reading these more than once…)

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knowing carissa [13 Jul 2003|04:31pm]

[ mood | contemplative ]

Knowing Carissa
It was 7 years ago this week that I met her. She was a beautiful child. She had big blue eyes, blonde curls and a huge smile. When I met her she was laying in her crib watching Barney. She was just barely 17 months old. But from the moment Carissa and I met, I knew she was a special little kid. Little did I know that over the next 3 years this little girl would change my life.

carissa slide

Carissa, age 2

By the end of July 1996, just three weeks after I met her, Carissa was diagnosed with AML- a type of leukemia. By August, her blonde curls were gone. The little girl began losing weight and was hospitalized for weeks at a nearby children's hospital. Carissa's mom and I became good friends during this time. She was a young, single parent and didn't have any family support. It was just her and her baby. She was 70 miles from her friends… she was very alone. I used to drive up to the children's hospital to go visit her and bring her basic groceries, toiletries and stuff to do since I knew she was lonely. She had lost her job when her baby got sick since she had to stay with her child. She had no income. I tried to do what I could for her, but I was only a teen myself…

Carissa went into remission a few months later. Her parents had another baby in 1997 in hopes that the baby would be compatible with Carissa for a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, the baby wasn't a match, but her parents had the baby's cord blood saved incase it could be used later. Shortly after her brother was born, Carissa relapsed again with AML followed a few months later by a brain tumor. In June 1998 I made her an outfit with a matching hat. Carissa had just gotten out of the hospital after being diagnosed with a relapse of her AML (leukemia) and was once again on chemo. As I walked up to the door, I was greeted by a cheery little 3 year old. She was smiling from ear to ear as she was hanging out the door waiting for me to come up the steps. As I came up onto the porch, Carissa looked at me and said, "Don't mind me I'm having a bad hair day." I figured that it didn't seem to bother her much yet that she had no hair at all, but I pulled out the outfit and hat I made her. Carissa was ecstatic! She wore it for a week straight, refusing to take it off so her mother could wash it.

Carissa 6-98 lg

the outfit I made for Carissa

In July 1998 The Make-A-Wish Foundation sent Carissa and her parents to Disney World because the 3-year-old "wanted to meet Pooh bear". Before her trip I made her 2 more hats and another outfit to wear at Disney World. At the same time, they were able to find a compatible match for Carissa, so a Bone Marrow Transplant was scheduled for September 1998. The Children's Hospital near Carissa's home didn't have the facilities to do bone marrow transplants (BMTs), so Carissa and her mom packed their bags and went to an out of state hospital where they would spend the next 4 months. Children with BMTs are usually in strict isolation for the first 12+ months after their transplant, and if they are far away from home, they usually cannot go right home. They need to spend the first few months near the hospital. So Carissa and her mother spent those few months in a studio apartment at the local Ronald McDonald House designed for families of BMT patients.

After returning home things went okay for the first few months. But Easter weekend 1999 we found out that Carissa's AML had returned despite the BMT. At this point there was nothing more that the doctors could do. They gave her low-dose chemo again and regular blood transfusions to prolong her life as much as possible. Week after week I spent the night at her house staying up through the night with her so her mother could try to sleep. Carissa started to call me "Mom2." I guess that’s how it seemed to the little 4-year old- like she had 2 moms. We tried not to cry in front of her. To be honest in those 5 months I only remember crying once in front of her. The rest was done behind closed doors. We didn't want to upset her.
carissa dress up lg

Carissa- august '99- all dressed up 'pretty' for a trip to Walmart

There were many long nights. Nights where we didn't think she was going to make it until morning. Every other day we drove her an out and 15 minutes to the hospital for a blood transfusion. it was the only
thing keeping her alive and she knew it. she got Social security money and it was rightfully hers so her parents gave her the money to go where ever she wanted and to spend it how she wanted before she died. She didn't spend most of it on herself. She would buy things for others. I remember a day at Wal-Mart when
she saw an old lady and thought the lady looked 'sad' so she bought her 4 red roses. We were like 'okay
Carissa, if that's what you want to do then that’s fine.' she brought them to the lady. It was then we found out that the lady's husband had recently died... Carissa was good at picking up on people's emotions.
Often she bought toys for children she'd see in the store that Carissa thought 'might not have many at home.' She was very giving. I don't remember her ever to be selfish.

During our many trips to Walmart she started buying items like salt and pepper, mouthwash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, clothes that were much to big for her, tampons, pads, deodorant, tools, food- you name it she bought it. She'd bring it home and put it in her room and tell us not to touch it. It just sat there. One day at the end of the summer she bought a suitcase. It was practically the size of her. That night she started packing all those items she had been buying into the suitcase. It was then we realized what she was doing. She was packing to move to heaven. The bought all those things cuz she knew they were things you use when you get 'bigger.' She knew she would be going to heaven with 'God and the angels' and had asked us if there were stores in heaven and when we said we didn't think so that's probably when se decided to start her little shopping spree.

A week or so later I was playing Barbie's with her one night (at 3am). all the sudden she said we were going
to play heaven. I know how to play house, but I've never played 'heaven' so I asked her to show me how.
Carissa told me to get all the girl Barbie's and dress tem as pretty as I could. In the mean time she put a suit on Ken. She took the Barbie's from me and picked up a 'Kelly' doll. She explained 'Ken is God, and Barbie's are the angels. And Kelly is me. When I get to heaven the angels are going to meet me there. I'm going to have hair (she lost hers from Chemo) and I'm going to be able to walk again. The angels are going to take me for a walk on streets of gold and they are going to bring me to meet God. I'm going to give God a
big hug and ask him lots of Questions.' (Carissa actually had a list of questions to 'ask God' when she
got there).' Then her eyes started to fill with tears. it was the first time I had seen her cry over the
issue of heaven. She said, "you and mommy and daddy and baby Ryan (her brother) are going to be sad, but its okay. I'm not going to be sick there. Michael (her friend with cancer who had died 3 days prior) will be there to play with and I'm sure I will make some new friends. And the angels will take care of me." What could I say to that? Carissa just came and sat on my lap and cried herself to sleep.

A few days after, I said my last goodbye and left the state for college. Carissa called me every day. I'd talk to her family 3 times a day. 2 weeks later Carissa announced that she didn't want any more blood transfusions. she knew that without them she would die. we reminded her, and she told us 'I'm tired of traveling to the hospital. I just want to be at home and get stuff done. I don't want any more blood transfusions, but I'm not going to die yet. I have more stuff to do." she knew and we knew that without blood she would keep bleeding internally and would die within 3-4 days. A week went by. She was still hanging in there. About that time these 'friends' as she called them started coming for visits daily. She'd be sitting in the living room watching TV or playing computer games and start talking to these 'people.' She was the only one that saw them. She'd tell them what she wanted them to 'tell God.' She would hold conversations with them. But we only heard her side. Some days she'd cry, and keep telling the person she 'was okay.'

Nearly 3 weeks went by since her last transfusion. No one could understand why she was alive. She kept saying I'm not ready to go to heaven yet. Finally the day came when her 'friend' came for her next to last visit. Carissa talked to her. By that point her mom and the nurse that was staying (a family friend) with her since I left, realized it wasn't 'from the morphine' there was really someone visiting Carissa. You could feel it in the room. You could see it in Carissa's face. She was always calmer when this 'friend' was around. Carissa told the 'friend' "tell God I'll be ready in the morning. I've just gotta do a few things tonight." Shortly after Carissa called me to say goodbye. I knew it really was time. We had along chat. She reminded me of the many promises I made to her about what I would do when she died. She told me she loved me and then passed the phone to her mother. Her mother had nothing to say. Just that she would call me tomorrow.

The next morning, September 29, 1999 Carissa's 'friend' came for a final time. The bags she had packed full of supplies were nearby ready to go. Carissa gave each of her parents a hug. Kissed her baby brother. She said 'I love you mom and dad.' She took one last breath, and then closed her eyes. It was 8:46 that morning. I'm sure she got her hug from God and she's probably running around on the streets of gold, her blonde little curls bouncing in the breeze. She isn't in pain anymore. She's in a much better place.
carissa candy-lg
In Memory of Carissa
February 5, 1995 ~ September 29,1999

Facts about Childhood Cancer

More than 11,000 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer every year.

Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, affecting more than 2,000 American young people each year.

More children die from cancer than from any other disease.

Fortunately, with medical advances, the cure rate for childhood cancer has improved dramatically. Now, 70% of children will survive the disease that used to be a death sentence.

One out of every 800 twenty-year-olds is now a survivor of cancer.
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Volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation [13 Jul 2003|04:31pm]

[ mood | accomplished ]

Make A-Wish
Fulfilling magical Wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation
It was September of my Senior year of high school. I had been assigned my first writing assignment of the year. I was to interview someone that I thought had done something significant and then write a paper about it. Most of my classmates interviewed family members that had been in the military, elderly people in our church, or even their parents. But I wanted to do something different. I was usually the kid who would turn around and do something outrageously big when assigned a project. I wanted to be original and didn't want to look like I was 'snowballing' my assignments… I'd sit through study halls trying to figure out someone I knew who had done something significant… but I was a sheltered kid. I went to private school at my church. The only people I knew were the people my classmates all knew… so no luck there.

I was laying in bed one night when the idea stuck me to interview the guy that sponsored Carissa's wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The majority of 'wishes' are sponsored through corporations. But the guy that sponsored Carissa's wish was unique. He organized a statewide run that took 10 days- and he pushed his 2 year old daughter in a stroller the whole way. His original goal was to sponsor a child's wish, which meant raising $4,000-$5,000 dollars. Before his run in July 1998, The Make A-Wish Foundation told him that he would be sponsoring 'Carissa's Wish'. A journalist for one of the local papers was going to be traveling him the whole 10 days, and every day there was an article in the paper about the mans run written by the journalist. By the end of his state wide run, he ended up raising about $22,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation- enough money to cover Carissa's Wish as well as wishes for 4 other children. During the 10 day run, he ran through Carissa's hometown and got to meet the little girl for the first time.

I knew what town the man was from and was able to contact him the next day. He agreed for me to interview him for my writing assignment. I talked to him for several hours. And turned in my writing assignment. The teacher gave me a 105% on my paper because of the amount of effort I put in it.

But even though my English assignment was over, my interest in the Make-A-Wish Foundation had just begun. A month later, in October 1998 I contacted the foundation. I told them I wanted to sponsor a child's wish too. They told me to come to the office to fill out paperwork for volunteering. When I went, they tried to enforce that sponsoring a child's wish take at least $4,000. I understood that. They told me I could raise money like other kids did to help fund a child's wish, but sponsors were usually big corporations. After hearing that, I was more determined to prove them wrong and sponsor a child's wish at age 17. So for the next few weeks I laid in bed every night scheming up ways to raise $5,000 that wouldn't take months or years to do.

I was your 'typical' high school kid. I was smart, but not the top of my class. I was just like most other teens, but when I had an idea in my head, there was nothing stopping me from accomplishing my goal. Not my teachers, not my parents… no one. I was often told I 'couldn't do things.' But the more I was told I was 'too young' or 'incapable' the more I wanted to prove that wrong. So sponsoring a child's wish was the one thing I was most determined to do.

My first fundraiser was on Halloween or '98. I had contacted the local Walmart, and asked permission to do 'face painting' in the store as a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They said it was okay. So I went out and bought some facepaints and 2 clown costumes- one for me and one for a friend who knew how to juggle and do magic tricks. I expected to raise maybe $50-$100 dollars that day. I was up til 4am the night before making posters. I put Pictures of Carissa during her Disney trip on it, and cut up Make-A-Wish Foundation Newsletters with other 'Wish Kids' as well. The theme I chose for the fundraiser was "Kids Helping Kids." By the end of the day I raised about just under $500. I was shocked. I didn't expect to raise so much. But as I volunteered, many people started coming up to me and just handing me $1 here and $5 there. I met other families who were helped by the Make A Wish Foundation too. It was a rewarding day.

Wal-Mart was shocked at the funds I raised. Most of the time when kids do fundraisers or stand collecting money for local scouts teams or sports teams they raise $50… not $500. But the lady at Wal-Mart told me I was welcome to come back any time. So I arranged to come back weekly for the next 3 weeks. Over the next 3 weeks I averaged $500-$800 a Saturday standing at the entrance collecting money in a can. I had info on the foundation as well to pass out to those who were interested.

The first weekend of December I rented a booth at a big craft fair and all the proceeds of my projects went to the Make A Wish Foundation. I raised another $500 that day between donations, and selling my crafts. (I had tons of random things I had made- ornaments, doll clothes, small quilts, etc). I had raised over $3,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation since October 31. By this point, my friends, family and the Make-A-Wish Foundation had stopped laughing at the fact that I was determined to sponsor a child's wish… I had raised over $3,000 in 5 weeks, I had less than $2,000 more to go before I reached my goal.

Since it was December, the Salvation Army had taken over my spot by the door at Wal-Mart, so I had to find a new location. Coming from a small town meant that there weren’t many options. Finally, Sam's Club agreed to let me fundraise there until my goal was met. So I spent my final 2 weeks of fundraising at Sam's Club. The weekend before Christmas I reached my goal. At age 17 I had raised $5,000 to sponsor a sick child's wish. I turned all the funds into the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Shortly after they told me that the money I raised was going to be used to send a 17-year old girl with lymphoma to Dawson's Creek as an extra on the show. And 6 months later I was presented with a huge plaque with a picture of the girl I sponsored and Dawson (James Van Der Beek). (the girl I sponsored did well with her treatment. She relapsed a year later but is currently still in remission and now volunteers for the 'Kids Helping Kids' program- overseeing young volunteers- at the Make-A-Wish foundation).

After that, I helped the Make-A-Wish Foundation with several other events and fundraisers. And the weekend after Carissa died I went back to the Wal-Mart I did my fundraisers at and helped start an annual craft fair in memory of Carissa for the Make A Wish Foundation. This fall will be the 5th annual craft fair, and the proceeds of the past 4 craft fairs has helped sponsor several children's wishes.

I babysat regularly in high school, and for the remainder of my senior year I saved all the money I earned babysitting and went and got tons of coloring books, small games, crayons and other activities and donated them to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to be used to stuff 'backpacks' for the kids as carry-on’s during flights for Disney Wishes as well as presents for some of the 'Wish Kids' that were in the hospital. One of the little girls I babysat for regularly during those months was later diagnosed with ALL (leukemia) and ended up going to Disney through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I am currently looking into volunteering again for my local Make-A-Wish Foundation for fundraisers, writing articles for their newsletters and helping around the office. When I get out of the shelters and into my own place I want to become a 'Wish granter'- the person who makes the arrangements for a child's wish.

share the power of a wish

Volunteer Positions For the Make-A-Wish Foundation
Wish granting
Development and fund raising
Special events
Marketing, public relations, and advertising
Translation services
Medical outreach
Web site design
General administration
And much more
If you are interested in Volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation visit http://www.wish.org to find a chapter near you.
Other ways of helping the Make-A-Wish Foundation include:
Donating your frequent flier miles for "wish trips"Tax-Deductible Donations
In-kind donations (contact your local chapter to see what is needed)

Wish art: drawn by 'wish kids'
disney mickey happy girl genie surf

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Carissa's Wish [13 Jul 2003|04:30pm]

[ mood | satisfied ]

carissa 6-98

This is the first hat and outfit that I made for Carissa

Where it all began
It was winter of my senior year when I started "Carissa's Wish." I didn’t plan to start it. It just kind of happened... It started as an assignment for speech class. It was probably about January 1999 when my speech teacher assigned us a ’demonstration speech.’ We had to come up with a topic on ’how to do’ something. Some of my classmates were demonstrating how to cook something, others something sports related. Of course, being the type of person I was, I wanted to do something original. Something with more meaning then just baking cookies (not that I could cook), or demonstrating how to make a ’lay-up’ in basketball, or a wrestling move. I was making a real ‘Madeline hat’ for Carissa one night out of yellow fabric with a black bow when the idea struck.- Why don’t I go buy more fabric and demonstrate ‘how to make a hat’- then donate the hats to other cancer patients by giving them to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation when I was done with the speech. The speech had to be 12- 15 minutes in length. I figured that if I made about a dozen hats in different stages then I’d have ‘models of each step’ in the process of making a hat. So I went to the store and bought all different types of cool ‘kiddy prints’ and solid colors to make the hats. Then went to work sewing the hats, leaving each one off at a different stage to be able to use it for demonstrating the steps.

well, when I bought the fabric to make the hats, I based the yardage off of how much the back of the pattern said I needed. But I discovered after bringing it home that if I turned the pattern pieces slightly I could get twice as many hats. So I figured what the heck, I’ll make 12 finished hats as completed models and then have 12 hats showing the stages... It ended up that I never had to do the speech. The week before it was due, my pregnant speech teacher was put on bed rest. So I had no formal speech teacher for the rest of the year. (I went to private school and they had no one else to teach speech)...

Instead, I finished all the girls hats. It was a lot of fun. But when they were done, I got to thinking “um, what about the little boys with cancer?” So... I went to the store, got more fabric and made a dozen and a half ‘bucket hats’ in all sizes for the boys. Some were denim, others were corduroy, knit or plain cotton.

When all the hats were complete, I brought them to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation. They didn’t last very long there. All the hats quickly found a bald little head to belong to. Then the foundation called me several times saying, “do you mind making a hat for a ___-year-old patient? ____ blank is his/her favorite color.

"Carissa's Wish"
In the meantime, I was busy balancing my time between making hats, working 2 jobs and finishing my senior year. It was also around this time that we found out that Carissa was ‘terminally ill.’

I decided that it was more important to spend time with Carissa, and that I could worry about making hats for other kids later on, but all summer Carissa had told me over and over, "I want you to make hats for all of the other kids and tell them about God so they can go to heaven too." Every time we went to a fabric store, Carissa would point out fabric that she thought her friends would like as hats. The night before she died we talked for about 20 minutes. And one of the last things she said to me was 'you didn't forget about the hats for the other sick kids, did you?' I told her I didn't forget.

And I didn't. Three months after she died, I went to the fabric store and got enough fabric for another 30 hats (including some of the fabrics she pointed out to me several months prior). I got to work sewing. Not long after, her mother and I decided to register as a Non-profit organization. So at age 18 I was running a non-profit out of my bedroom. The first name of the organization we picked caused confusion because there were 2 other states with non-profits registered under the same name, so we changed our name to Carissa's Wish.

It started first as strictly hats for cancer kids, but over that year (2000) we started reaching out to other kids including AIDS patients, cardiology patients, neurology patients, children in group homes, and orphans.

Reaching out
Summer 2000 I traveled on a mission team to Mexico. Before the trip I collected small toys to bring over to the street kids and orphans we would work with there.

When I got home from Mexico I moved in with a kind lady I had met who offered to let me stay with her since I had no place to live. She was cool with my non-profit so she didn't mind me using my bedroom to run it out of. She had a 12-year-old daughter who helped me with many projects as well as a 16-year-old exchange student from Germany.

That fall, once a month we went to a childrens hospital on a Sunday and hosted parties in the play rooms. We made goody bags for the patients as well as the patients siblings (siblings are often left out when a kid is sick). We would bring hats for the cancer patients as well. Local businesses would donate baked goods for the party, and for the Halloween party the local hallmark donated 12 Halloween stuffed animals. (the owners daughter had leukemia and I had made a special trip to the hospital she was in to visit her).
boy with ghost girl with bear

Below are pictures of some of the cancer patients at our "Harvest Party" in October 2000. The 3-year old in the middle picture was so excided about her new hat that she took off on the elevator to visit another floor and show the cardiology nurses her new hat! (fortunately they quickly figured out what floor she ventured off from by her bald head and she was returned to the floor quickly!) The Halloween hats were a big hit!
boy spider on hat mom, girl and hat little girl black girl little boy

Here is a picture of the playroom at one of the hospitals decorated for a Veggie Tales theme party.

Christmas 2000
In November 2000 we were trying to plan what theme we should do for December. We knew most of the hospitals would be overcrowded with volunteers for the month so we decided to give December a different twist. Our funds were high from donations, so I got the 2 teens I lived with to help me make 150 stocking out of fleece and collect donations to stuff them. For a month and a half we ran all over the state collecting donations from businesses. Many McDonalds Donated cases and cases of happy meal toys, we placed donation boxes at 8 locations in 3 different counties to collect hats and donated new toys, activity sets, beanie babies, blankets and other gifts to bring to the hospitals. Several toy stores donated gift certificates so we could pick out puzzles, games, books, and activity kits to bring to the hospital. Before I knew it, my large bedroom was piles floor to ceiling with toys, games, stocking stuffers, and hats…

Early December all the stocking stuffers had to move. I had no way to walk across my bedroom. So the lady I lived with let me store them in her 2nd living room (she had a big house). Ooops…. Before I knew it, the living room was also overflowing in donations. I thought she was going to kill me! She kept saying, "Honey, Christmas is 3 weeks away. Are these really gunna sit here for 3 more WEEKS? Well, we couldn't make Christmas come sooner, so more stuff got relocated to the extra bay in the garage…

Two weeks before Christmas the statewide newspaper came to interview the 12-year old and me. The news reporter's eyes got big when I pointed out all the stuff that was part of the donations… needless to say, The article made the front page of the Sunday paper.

We had so much stuff I couldn't simply drop it all off at one hospital, so I ended up taking a road trip the week of Christmas. I visited 8 children's hospitals/pediatric units in 5 different states- including 3 Christmas day. By the day after Christmas I packed my mid-sized car (including a storage container on the roof) and took off to visit the last 2 states. I think I put a total of 1400 miles on my car in 10 days traveling to all the hospitals. At the end of that week I made a visit to a group home where I dropped off all the remaining toys for those kids. (I still has plent of donations at my house to last for a few more months.
Future Projects
January 2001 I made my last major trips to 3 hospitals with more donations. In February 2001 I was in a car accident and broke my neck in 2 places and ended up with traumatic brain injury and seizures. I haven't been able to really pick up the non-profit since (especially since I can no longer drive due to my injuries). But I've done little things for individual kids since. Someone donated 2 American Girl Dolls, and I have 4 other 18" dolls similar to the American girl dolls someone purchased at Target for me. So I've worked on making complete wardrobes for the dolls over the past 2 years. (my attention span is now too short due to my brain injury to it down and sew for hours like I could once do). I'm saving those dolls for a few 'special' little girls. I'm not sure yet who they will go to, but I know I'll find a special home for them someday.

I've made several hats as well, and have about 15 to finish, but I don't have a sewing machine (I always borrowed other peoples for all the projects). But when I get housing I plan to start working on hats and other projects- especially since I currently have so many contacts with cancer patients. I also wanna find the socks to make 'sock monkeys' out of. They would be a fun gift for a little boy or a little girl in a hospital. And they are easy to make (they can be made without a sewing machine). I'll probably re-register in the state I'm in now as a non-profit again so people can donate and use it as a tax write-off.

Starting a Non-Profit
Starting a non-profit organization is hard work. You have to deal with the IRS, have a board of directors, follow state guidelines, and be able to write well. I spent countless hours writing letters requesting donations from businesses, making newsletters, making arrangements with hospitals, and running errands like trips to Kinko's, etc. It is very time consuming. Fortunately I had the time in 2000. I was only working part time, living rent-free in exchange for services, and in physical therapy after a car accident in August 2000. It's difficult to run a non-profit alone. But if you have a group of friends to share responsibilities with it makes it easier. I got a youth group at a local church involved. Some of them would tag along monthly to the hospitals with me, they helped stuff the 150 stockings, and came shopping to pick out the toys and activities we would spend the gift certificates on. I wanted to involve other youth as much as possible.


In Loving Memory of Carissa

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Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House [13 Jul 2003|04:30pm]

[ mood | productive ]


The house that Love built
Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House was something I had always wanted to do, but it wasn't until I became homeless this past year that I actually found myself close enough to a Ronald McDonald House to actually be able to volunteer there.

The house I volunteer at is strictly for families of children under 22 with cancer. It is the same house Carissa stayed at after her bone marrow transplant. Some of the Ronald McDonald Houses are strictly for cancer patients while others are for anyone with a sick child. All of the cancer patient homes are set up to accommodate a child in isolation after a bone marrow transplant. They have studio apartments for the families so they have a kitchenette and a private bathroom. The rest of the house is set up with bedrooms for the families and several families share a bathroom.

This house is only one of over 217 houses in 20 countries- United States, Brazil, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Hong Kong, Sweden, Argentina, Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, Spain, Finland, and Japan. Currently there are over 5,000 rooms available around the world each night to house families of sick children.

I look forward to volunteering at the house each week. I’m currently volunteering 2 days a week at the house. I've become 'buddies' with several of the kids at the house. Some families are there for a day or two for follow-up appointments, while others have been staying there for 2-7 months while their child is in isolation after a bone marrow transplant. Of all my current volunteer jobs this one is my favorite. I'm there to answer the doorbell, assist the families in whatever ways they need and to answer the phone. Over time I've started to develop personal relationships with each of the families. From blowing bubbles on the front lawn with bone marrow transplant patients, or reading books with a 10 year old from central America who is here after surgery for a brain tumor, to playing games with 4 siblings that are staying at RHMC over 1,000 miles from their home while their sister receives radiation for a tumor at a local hospital.

But volunteering at RMHC isn’t all fun and games. It can be tough. Week-to week there is different. Sometimes its quiet because all the families are at the hospital with their sick children. Other times it can be a very hectic place- especially when there are lots of siblings hanging around while their brother or sister is hospitalized. When the phone rings, its often hard to know what to expect. Sometimes it's a family calling for a reservation because their child is returning for treatment or follow up. Other times it is the pediatric oncology nurse calling looking for a room for a family of a newly diagnosed cancer patient. And then there are the calls we'd rather not have- when a family that’s stayed with us often calls to inform us that their child lost their battle with cancer.

For a family that has traveled miles for their child's treatment, we are often the only local support outside of the hospital. The volunteers and staff at RMHC often develop close friendships with families that stay often. The kids sometimes come to us and express their emotions regarding their illness with us because they need someone to talk to outside of their family. There are weeks that as I come to the house a little girl has been sitting out on the porch all morning waiting for me to show up because she got something new she wants to show me. Other times they sit and wait so they can tell me the exciding news: their treatment is over so they can go home!

Developing relationships with the parents can be very emotional. The volunteer at the desk is the first person they see when they come through the front door or RMHC. Often the parents have come by taxi right from the hospital and as they walk through the door they need someone to listen while they talk or just a shoulder to cry on. A volunteer is often the first familiar face the parent sees outside of the hospital after finding out that their child has relapsed, cancer is spreading, or that their child is terminal. They have had to hold in the emotions all day at the hospital because they are afraid to let on to their child that something serious is wrong (even though often the child already 'knows' they are sick again or going to die). I've often had parents come to me saying, "I found out today that the Bone Marrow Transplant didn't work for my daughter. What should I tell her? She is going to know that something is up when we stop the transplant drugs or start chemo suddenly. The doctors can't do anything more." Or "My son relapsed again. We have to go cross-country to another hospital. How do I explain to my kids what's going on with their brother?" It's tough. We are just volunteers, most of us aren't professional counselors. I think in a way that’s why many parents come talk to us. We can talk straightforward about things. They are less intimidated by us because we aren't medical professionals or have master's degrees. We are just a group of people who care enough to donate our time to help them. It's not our job- its just something we choose to do. We've heard the same questions over and over through time and can share how we've watched other families handle these issues. We also have a lot of books and resource binders that we've compiled over time that the families can look through for more info on their child's illness. In many ways RMHC is like a big support group for the families- they are all going through similar circumstances, but can help each other through the many issues they come up against.

Saying goodbye when a family is leaving is always a bittersweet moment for both the parents and the volunteers. The families are relieved to go home after weeks or months at RMHC but at the same time they will be miles from their child's doctor. They are nervous. When we say goodbye, we know we may never see these families again. Their child may do well and stay in remission for years. In other cases, the child may relapse a few months later and we might find them back on our doorstep looking for a place to stay while their child has to go through treatment again.

Volunteering at RHMC has been a wonderful experience. I've gotten to meet people from all over the world that have come to America for medical care for their child. Many of these families end up staying several months while their child is getting treatment, because they have to be stable enough to return to their home country where medical care isn't as good. These international families have so much to share with us- from cultural differences and customs, to cooking big meals for all the other families to try food from their country. Some come speaking very little or no English but over time we get to watch as they pick up English words and phrases. We get to watch as the children discover common American items that would be luxuries in their country such as toilet paper (one little boy used to run around one of the Ronald McDonald Houses dragging the roll behind him leaving toilet paper trails everywhere), indoor plumbing, microwaves and other common household items these children have never seen.

I look forward to the 2 days a week I spend at my local house. Each day there is different. Some are quiet and relaxed; others can be hectic or stressful. But no matter what the day there brings, I know I'm helping to make a difference in the lives of these families through volunteering.

RHMC logo

If you are interested in volunteering at a Ronald McDonald House, visit http://www.rmhc.com to locate the House near you.

Ways to help at Ronald McDonald House:
Volunteering your time
Helping with building repairs
Cooking meals for the families staying at RMHC
Giving a tax-deductible donation
Donating groceries, movies, kitchen goods, linens, cleaning supplies, toiletries (contact your local RMHC to see their specific needs)
Dropping change in the Ronald McDonald House Charities containers at your local McDonalds (not all the money goes directly to the houses- it's split between a few other McDonalds Charities as well. See their website for a list of other charities).

The house that Love builthouse
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A good cause [16 Jun 2003|04:41pm]

[ mood | optimistic ]

Hi, My name is Kim and I'm new here. The reason I'm here, in this particular community, is that I see a group of caring,concerned people. I would like to encourage you to visit my friend's Web page.

Suzanne has been going through some hard times - deaths, illnesses, accidents and a miscarriage. She has two wonderful children, both of whom have are her developmentally challenged.

She is trying to raise $3000 to help pay for therapies for her children.

If you can help financially that would be wonderful. If you can't at this time, please leave her a note of support.

Suzanne is a legitimate cause. I know you don't know me, but I can vouch for her need. But if that isn't enough, the Web site has also verified that her cause is legitimate.

I know I'm going out on a limb here by asking this of strangers. But I truly believe in the kindness of strangers and the fact that $3000 is a reasonable goal that WE could help the family reach.

Please visit the Web site. And thanks you for reading this.

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