"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Spotlight: Annie B. and Wags 4 Hope
My name is Annie Blumenfeld and I am a 17 year-old from Connecticut. I came across PGK's outstanding efforts in helping improve the lives of others, and I want to share with you something I am so passionate about. After rescuing my beloved dog from a high kill shelter in Texas as he was just about to be put down, Master Teddy tested positive for heartworm disease. Shelters are often too crowded and do not have the funds to pay for treatment. It broke my heart thinking about what Teddy had to endure being kept in a crate while arsenic went through his body.
Many animals so do not survive like Master Teddy, but heartworm disease (HWD) is avoidable with a monthly preventative. I researched and found HWD is in all 50 states (and beyond) and roughly 45% of dogs are not on any preventatives. In an effort to educate pet owners about pet responsibility and the importance of HWD, I founded Wags 4 Hope, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization. Through Wags 4 Hope, I paint commissioned pictures of animals and 100% of the proceeds are given to help animal shelters globally. I also work to spearhead change that can help animals, and I am so proud that CT is now the first state to have an animal wellness message on the CT dog license application. (I hope other states will follow!)
If you want to learn more about Wags 4 Hope, commission a painting, or find out how together we can help protect deserving animals, please check us out on Facebook or visit the Wags 4 Hope website at wags4hope.org!
Grounding Our Kids in Something Bigger
By Sara Schiff, PGK Board member, freelance journalist, and mother of three
I moved to Los Angeles from Toronto, Canada and my first impressions were - not surprisingly - how different it was from home. The weather, the car culture, the houses and the people, amongst other things. One of my biggest concerns though was, “How do I raise my kids in a city where the focus seems to be almost exclusively on fame, beauty and wealth?” I knew I would find people like me who were interested in more than that, but I was worried, nonetheless, that these influences which my kids were surrounded by would outweigh the grounding influence of family and close friends. So one December, in the midst of the holiday frenzy, when I heard a story on NPR about ways for families to give back to their community at a time when everyone was focused on what they were getting, I was immediately excited. After talking with PGK founder, Molly Yuska, I knew this was what our family needed to stay grounded in world of fleeting values. Since getting involved, we have packed bags of food for the homeless, sorted clothes for needy families, planted trees and cleaned up beaches. I have found that not only have my kids benefited from the numerous opportunities to volunteer, but my husband and I have as well.
The extreme gap between wealthy and poor in LA is so great and people live so cut off from one another that Los Angelenos tend to be very disconnected from anyone other then those who live in their immediate world. Volunteering has helped me and my family connect to people both in our community and outside of it, who we would otherwise not have had contact with. My kids also now have a better perspective on their own lives and how lucky they are, but also how similar people are no matter where they come from.
Raising kids is a constant challenge, especially given the pervasiveness of social media and the ways it is used to further bombard kids with superficial, selfish messages. So it’s clear to me that volunteerism needs to be a way of life and not just an occasional activity. PGK has helped my family consider our role in the world, and our responsibility to others, while also experiencing fun, family-bonding activities. My kids are still typical American kids at the end of the day, obsessed with their Instagram accounts and other social media, but at least every once in a while, they’ll admit that although getting a lot of “likes” is fun, at the end of the day, being good to others is what matters most.
Top Reasons to Make Service a Part of Your Child's Summer
By Rachel Hanebutt, Communications & Outreach Coordinator, PGK-Boston
Social and emotional learning. Empathy. Kindness.
All of these are “hot” topics in the news and also in recent child development research, but what makes them even hotter for this summer is how easy Project Giving Kids makes it for you and your kids to make giving back to others and learning these important skills a part of your everyday life.
Recent work from Harvard and other institutions has focused not only on how to improve kids’ achievement scores, but also on how to increase their social and emotional skills, some of which include being kind to other people. While kindness might not become the next video game or toy anytime soon, it is inspiring to think about how just talking about being kind with your kids might help to normalize giving back and being kind to others; they won’t think twice about doing something nice if it’s something they have always done.
Another reason to make service a part of your child’s summer is because summertime provides the mental break that kids need to actually enjoy giving back to others. Just as sleeping in and going to the swimming pool are that much more fun in the summer, doing special service activities and trying out new ways of helping people in the time off from school creates a great opportunity for kids to have fun while doing things for others.
While these reasons are not exhaustive, the most important reason for making service a part of your child’s summer is that it’s the right thing to do. With all of the suffering in the world today, every act of kindness and every service rendered is a step in the right direction towards a more just world.
Project Giving Kids makes summer service easy, simple, and most importantly, fun! Check out the PGK Activity Finder, which is great for figuring out what you can fit into your schedule and which activities your kids will connect with most.