Monthly Archives: October 2014

Charitable Contributions: Taking It to the Next Level

Have you ever had a good cause that burned in your heart like a raging wild fire?  I have.  Recently I really got to thinking about world hunger and it was a thought I couldn’t get out of my mind.  I cannot imagine the feeling of being hungry with no way to get food.  How horrible the thought!  The passion to help set a fire in my heart.  I had to do something to help.

I am not a wealthy person so what I could actually donate was limited.  I gave what I could but knew that ware but a drop in the bucket.  I had to do more.

That is when I begin to get creative.  I used my imagination to come up with the ways and means to come up with funds that I could donate to the cause.

First, I found an organization of which I would make the contribution.  It had to be one I trusted so I researched all and found that World Vision was a Christian group with a great track record.  With that having been accomplished, I began to collect ideas of things I could do.

One fun idea was a raffle.  I first collected a list of businesses that might donate something to my cause.  I called restaurants and asked them to contribute a gift certificate of their choosing.  Some gave away a dinner, others opted for an entrée or discount.

I called other places too like retailers and service providers.  I came up with oil change coupons, entertainment vouchers and lots of other great gifts.

The wonderful thing about this project is that it was a win-win deal.  I would get items to raffle off and the businesses would have a tax deduction for donating to a non-profit cause.

After I had accumulated a nice collection of things to raffle, I sold tickets to it.  I called businesses and organizations and individuals as well.  I got tons of people to purchase one or more tickets.

I held the actual raffle at a local park.  The weather was nice so it was a great turn out.  I did make it to where the winners did not have to be present to win so some were there and some were not.  It was a huge success and I was able to make a nice donation to World Vision.

Another fund raiser for world hunger that I put together was a bake sale.  Some close friends and I made up some goodies like cookies, breads and cakes.  We got permission to set up outside a large retail chain and proceeded to sell our delicacies.  Again, the sale went extremely well and another nice contribution was given.

There are lots and lots of ways that you can help in a capacity you probably never dreamed possible.  You can sponsor a local talent show and use the money from ticket sales for your donation or order a bulk of a product like flowers, candy or gift wrap paper and sell them door-to-door, online or set up at a physical location.  There are even fund raising kits you can order.

Remember to offer those who donate a tax-deductible receipt as an incentive and give them as many details about the cause you are supporting too.  Alone, we are limited but, with a little imagination and a good bit of determination, your heart can go a long, long way.

Help the Hungry

There is no manner in which a well-fed person can understand starvation. Us lucky ones are more concerned about things like the best scale for weight loss. There is no way on earth a healthy adult can understand a child with insufficient nutrition. The world is riddled with a plague that is ignored by those so affluent that they cannot bear a pang of guilt, and so they turn away. Perhaps they don’t deserve reproach for their unwillingness to confront reality; but it would be an earthshattering turn of events if they did.

There is enough wealth in the world to feed every hungry soul on every continent. It is a hopeful thought indeed. If we could just find a way to call upon each and every citizen of the world to do their part to fight hunger, we could resolve it indefinitely. We can coordinate delivery efforts and find the resources. We just need the funds—not one time, but regularly and with consistency.

Those who enjoy three hot meals a day do not know deprivation. They cannot fathom pangs of hunger that turn into aches so deep that it makes one faint. What do they know of starvation? World Vision can show them how to understand it and how to destroy it. It can call attention to what makes people turn away in fear. They are afraid of the consequences of their inability to take action. They are afraid of the truth.

It only takes a small donation to World Vision from millions to have an impact. If you think that you are only one among a multitude and that there is nothing you can do, then you are wrong. There is a balance that is off kilter in the world today. Imagine a giant set of scales with one side the third world and the other the “haves.” The weight is tipped in one direction. It is as if a million heavy stones, each representing a hungry child, is in one giant bucket. If slowly but surely we can remove even one a day, in no time the balance will return to normal.

The discrepancy between those who can eat at will and those who cannot is unimaginable; hence people simply do not think about it. But it must be brought to the surface and given a spotlight focus. Think of this blog today as an appeal to your humanity and conscience. Think of it as a first call to awaken you to a reality that you can actually affect. It is the responsibility of those who are not in need to assist those who are. Why not become a role model in your community and help lead the way.

The situation will not take care of itself. It will persist. It will not allow itself to become smothered by ignorance. It will rear its ugly head and shake its angry fist in your face. Don’t become inured to television ads with starving youthful faces and say to yourself that someone cares and will help. You, my friend, are the target. There is no one else.

The History of the Brass Band: Gone With the Wind?

The History of the Brass Band

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a brass band concert.  The event was a fund raiser for the Christian organization World Vision that fights world hunger and helps in disaster relief and various other goodwill measures and humanitarian missions.

I didn’t expect to be in for such a treat.  I was so impressed by the rich and powerful, moving sounds of the brass band that I set about to find out more about brass bands, beginning with how and when the band got their start.

Way back in the 1830’s and before, brass bands were playing.  It wasn’t exactly the notes we enjoy now.  Some of the instruments like the cornets, trumpets and horns did not have valves as they do today so it put restrictions on what they could play.  But the sounds were still appreciated, mostly in the company of other instruments and not so much on their own but sometimes they were singled out or in a band with solely brass players.

In the 1830’s though, came to invention of valves to brass instruments.  That greatly improved the sound and the range of note which could be played so they became much more popular.   The era of the brass band had begun.

Bands played in concerts and people flocked to see them.  They traveled and toured and were appealing to the middle class and not just upper class.  Towns and communities took pride in putting together brass bands all their own that generally had eight to ten members.  The country and even the world was loving the sounds of brass.

It wasn’t uncommon in those days for well-to-do companies to sponsor a brass band.  There were bands that represented things like the fire department, police department and even non-profit organizations.  These bands offered a great resource to generate funding for these causes too.  Then, those who donated could experience the pleasure of hearing the bands and contribute too, just like I did.

Brass bands have experienced their share of waxing and waning in the years gone by.  They rose to popularity and then people lost interest in the early 1900s, preferring the softer sounds of the concert bands that often featured woodwinds rather than brass.

But in the past century, brass bands have been resurrected.  The love for brass is once again sweeping the nation.  Even those who would have never imagined they would like the bands are steadily becoming fans, like me.

Sometimes it’s the accidental exposure to a brass band that gets you hooked on the joy of it all.  I learned that.  I would have never ever gone to see a brass band had it not been for the “good cause”.  For me, it was a win-win all the way around.

Brass band have been around a long time.  They have been wildly popular and they have been overlooked.  No matter what the pulse of the world is, whether the general population into brass or preoccupied with another sound, brass remains.  Appreciation may rise and fall and at times may seem to be gone with the wind, but for fans like myself, brass bands will never go out of style.

Blowing the Horn on Ebola

Brass Band Aid is an organization that supports World Vision

Ebola is bad news.  The deadly virus is sweeping through West Africa, killing many. The current death toll stands at over 2,500 and is rising each and every day.  Somebody should do something to stop it!

Now we all can help.  A Christian humanitarian organization called World Vision is working on the problem right now.  They are supplying medical gloves and other sanitary medical supplies so the virus won’t be as likely to spread.  They are also donating food and water too.  In addition, they are on a mission to educate the public about Ebola, both in the affected nations and worldwide.

So what does that have to do with you?  Yeah, I wondered the same thing.  Turns out, it’s actually really cool how it all works.

Brass Band Aid is an organization that supports World Vision.  I couldn’t believe that donating could be so painless and pleasurable, actually.  All I had to do was to purchase a ticket to the concert event and I had contributed to the cause.  Plus, I got to hear a fantastically awesome concert too.

Have you ever been to a brass band concert?  I hadn’t.  I must admit, I was leery to go.  I’m not sure what I really expected.

I figured it would be loud and boisterous and most likely something only a brass enthusiast would enjoy.  I had half thought of just skipping out on the concert.  I had done my part to purchase it so what did it matter?   But, I knew I could leave at any time and had nothing better to do so I went ahead and attended.

Wow!  Was I ever surprised!  I have always been a stringed instrument kind of gal myself.  I hadn’t paid too much attention to the sounds of brass until I was front row and center before them.

Talk about good vibrations!  The sounds of the brass is unlike anything I had ever heard.  It was a powerful and moving experience.  The fine mix of the tuba, trumpet, horn and all the other glorious brass made for a heavenly noise.  Most of the concert was really upbeat and fast which was a real treat.

Concert tickets, sales from CDs and donations from the bands themselves all make up funding that goes to World Vision to blow the horn on Ebola.  Not only that, World Vision does much more than Ebola projects.  They work in near 100 countries in such areas as disaster relief, feeding the hungry, providing medical supplies, donation of safe drinkable water and public education.  They are making a huge difference in so many areas of concern worldwide.

I am really happy that I attended the brass band concert.  It has opened up a new passion for me.  I have since gotten very into the brass sounds and am even thinking of learning to play one myself.

You can easily find concerts and events that are working in conjunction with World Vision.  Take it from me, do not just purchase a ticket and miss the show.  You will love the sounds and knowing that your attendance is a win-win all the way around.  Trust me, if you’re like me, you’ll be absolutely blown away.

A Poor Man’s Restroom

I bet you haven’t seen a really poor man’s toilet. Consider yourself lucky and privileged. You won’t die of a dreaded infectious disease or be hampered in any way, shape, or form. This is not so for the less fortunate. In many parts of the word, toilets are not even in real segregated restrooms which would elevate their status quite a bit. They may be a euphemism for a hole in the ground with maybe some kind of temporary surface on which to place one’s feet—maybe metal or ceramic tile at best. Outhouses and sheds are all too common, the likes of which we have not seen in the west for one hundred years. Maybe you remember one of these as a kid when you went to camp, but it must have been a budget one for sure! Most will not remember hearing of the nasty-smelling chemicals that were used for odor control.

Hygiene is an issue we all care about, but the poor are helpless to take action to improve it. They might not even have a true kitchen with running water and have to shower outside or communally. Hot water would be a precious luxury. Ill health is a sad repercussion of poor facilities. You may laugh when in a country (perhaps in Africa) that does not boast of the latest models of toilets and say to yourself “how quaint.” This is not funny to those in need who have to live with the worst of circumstances daily. Children suffer from rashes and boils. They do not grow up properly and poor hygiene only adds to the problem of insufficient nutrition.

You may balk at the idea of a world in which such toilets exist, and this is the first sign of salvation for the third world. People everywhere need to care about and address the problem even though it doesn’t darken their doors. Now something perhaps can be done at last. Local governments may be remiss but we can seldom change policies. We can fund building, however, by supplying expertise and materials. We can consult on technology pertinent to a given area and provide meaningful solutions. It is our duty and our responsibility and I ask you to spread the word.

It is a crime that primitive toilets exist at all. They are such a basic necessity of life. It is bad enough that bathrooms in some regions of the world are often filthy and disease-ridden. They are little shops of horror. It is worse if no facilities are there at all. Nature is not the answer. We cannot survive as a people if we revert to practices that are centuries old and were intolerable even then. Man is meant to evolve and not stagnate.

Now you know one of the great tragic issues of our time and have no excuse for turning away in apathy. It is hard to confront such things in this day and age. It is not what we expect in the modern world. We have international digital communication, sophisticated technology, smart phones and ipods; but no universal hygiene. It is a plague in the true sense of the word.