Thursday, July 29, 2010

How Shopping Smart Can Help Your Favorite Charities

(StatePoint)  How do you shop? When faced with aisles of cleaners that all claim to do the same thing, electronics that play the same content or cars that all get you where you need to go, most people choose products based on quality and price.

But a new trend is developing as more consumers are taking into account a company's charitable contributions or standing in the community.

Now more than ever, shoppers want to buy products from good corporate citizens. Especially in light of recent worldwide crises, many companies are providing assistance quickly -- and consumers are taking note. For example, Wal-Mart financially supported Red Cross emergency relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake and sent pre-packaged food kits, helping to raise its standing in the eyes of many.

But corporate social responsibility isn't limited to international disasters. Many organizations contribute to their local communities daily, supporting such efforts as education, environmental sustainability, disease prevention, animal care and rescue, and safety programs.

If educational causes are important to you, for example, look for products from companies such as Honeywell or Toyota, that have long sponsored programs to assist teachers and students. By providing science education grants to teachers and scholarships to minority and disadvantaged students, Toyota is among many corporations helping enhance community schools, while Honeywell supports classroom safety programs.  

Here are some other tips for becoming a more conscientious shopper:

* Do Your Research: There are several publications that report on companies' corporate social responsibility, but you can also go straight to the source and check the Web sites for your most frequently bought purchases. Search "environment" or "corporate social responsibility" to learn what companies are doing to make the world a better place.

* Switch Teams: If a company doesn't give to any charities or causes, or you don't like the ones to which they give, switch products and start buying from a company whose charitable work you support.

* Start with the Cause: Instead of researching companies, you can research causes and organizations to learn which companies are supporting them. You can usually find this information on a nonprofit's Web site or in its annual report.  For instance, by visiting the National Safety Council's Web site, you can find lists of corporate partners and the initiatives they co-sponsor, such as free teen driving programs.

* Participate: Take part in corporate-sponsored events. For example, National Public Lands Day is the largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance U.S. public lands, and has been made possible by a 10-year sponsorship from Toyota. In 2009, 150,000 volunteers built trails and bridges, removed trash and invasive plants, planted trees and restored water resources. If you're interested in attending this year's event, visit

Remember, actions speak louder than words. Buying products benefiting causes and charities close to your heart is more powerful than talking. With every purchase, you can change your community or even the world!
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MetLife Foundation Announces Grants to Twelve Local Food Banks

/PRNewswire/ -- MetLife Foundation today announced grants to twelve food banks. The grants, which total $450,000, will help the food banks respond to increased needs in local communities around the country. Since December 2008, MetLife Foundation has contributed $900,000 to food banks nationwide.

"Food banks and their partners play a critical role in meeting the needs of communities' most vulnerable residents - children, older adults, and the economically disadvantaged," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "We are pleased to support their work, which is vital to community health and well-being."

The food banks receiving MetLife Foundation grants are:
-- Atlanta Community Food Bank (Atlanta, Ga.)
-- Community FoodBank of New Jersey (Hillside, N.J.)
-- Feeding America Tampa Bay (Tampa, Fla.)
-- The Foodbank, Inc. (Dayton, Ohio)
-- Food Bank of Central New York (East Syracuse, N.Y.)
-- Food Bank for New York City (New York, N.Y.)
-- Foodshare, Inc. (Bloomfield, Conn.)
-- Greater Boston Food Bank (Boston, Mass.)
-- North Texas Food Bank (Dallas, Texas)
-- Northern Illinois Food Bank (St. Charles, Ill.)
-- Rhode Island Community Food Bank (Providence, R.I.)
-- St. Louis Area Food Bank (St. Louis, Mo.)

MetLife Foundation was established by MetLife in 1976 to carry on its longstanding tradition of contributions and community involvement. Grants support health, education, civic and cultural programs. For more information about the Foundation, visit

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Extremely Active Hurricane Season Looms - American Red Cross Launches New Disaster Relief Fundraising Drive

/PRNewswire-/ -- The American Red Cross has launched a new fundraising drive in anticipation of a very active hurricane season that could be made even worse by the Gulf Coast oil spill.

"We are worried about predictions of a severe hurricane season and the possibility that people will need to evacuate their homes for longer periods of time, given the oil in the Gulf," said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the Red Cross.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts three to seven major hurricanes this year. Major hurricanes are those Category 3, 4 and 5 storms that do the most damage -- such as Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita and Wilma -- with winds of more than 100 mph.

These predictions bear an eerie resemblance to the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, when multiple major hurricanes, including Katrina, struck the United States. More than 35 million people live in regions vulnerable to Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, and many in the Gulf Coast region are already experiencing hardship as a result of the oil spill.

In preparation for this hurricane season, the Red Cross has already spent $30 million training and preparing volunteers and pre-positioning equipment and materials and is gearing up to provide 1 million meals a day, shelter for 350,000 people a day and deployment of 50,000 volunteers.

"Practicing what we preach on preparedness, we are asking the public for their support in advance, rather than after a disaster strikes," said McGovern.

"Contributions to the fundraising drive will support our readiness to the 70,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year, whether they are hurricanes that affect millions of people, floods that affect thousands, or a house fire that drives one family from their home," added McGovern.

While media attention has focused on the Gulf oil spill and on Haiti, the American Red Cross has responded to 29 significant disasters in the U.S. so far this year. These have included floods in Tennessee, North Dakota, the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, tornadoes in the South and Midwest, and major fires in communities across the country.

As part of the new disaster response fundraising effort, kicked off just before the height of the hurricane season in August and September, the Red Cross is airing television ads, sending targeted fundraising appeals, using social media and making public appeals for disaster donations.

"Red Cross chapters across the country will be asking for help for disaster relief, and we hope people will respond," McGovern said. "Please click, text or call to donate to the Red Cross to help people affected by disasters. Every single donation brings hope to those in need."

People who want to make a contribution can go to or call 1-800-REDCROSS to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief -- or text REDCROSS to 90999.

The Red Cross spends about $450 million a year responding to nearly 70,000 disasters across the country -- floods, hurricanes, wildfires, tornados and home fires.

You can help people affected by disasters like floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Major Trail, Rail Corridors get Boost from Norfolk Southern

/PRNewswire/ -- Employees of Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE:NSC) are teaming up with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and local trail-maintaining clubs in a one-day "Spruce-It-Up" campaign to clean and improve one of the nation's longest and most popular scenic trails.

The 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail roughly parallels the 2,500-mile Crescent Corridor, a multistate freight rail network that Norfolk Southern is improving with the help of local, state, and federal partners to create green jobs, stimulate local economies, and help relieve highway congestion.

"These two initiatives - the Appalachian Trail and the Crescent Corridor - demonstrate how the employees of Norfolk Southern share and support our corporate commitment to responsible sustainability practices that are good for communities, customers, and stockholders," said Blair Wimbush, vice president real estate and corporate sustainability officer of Norfolk Southern. "The Appalachian Trail is adjacent to a large portion of our operating territory, and many of our employees are avid hikers and outdoor sports enthusiasts."

Members of the company's official employee volunteer organization, The Thoroughbred Volunteers, are pooling resources in four locations on Saturday, July 24, for the "Spruce-It-Up" campaign. It's the biggest single volunteer project taken on by the organization, founded in 2006.

"We're delighted that Norfolk Southern employees have joined the ranks of volunteers who are dedicated to preserving the Appalachian Trail," said Jeanne Mahoney, volunteer resources coordinator for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. "The trail is a natural resource to be treasured and forever preserved, and this effort helps us achieve our mission."

NS employees will work on the Appalachian Trail at three locations, and another group will work at a seaside state park.

In Atlanta, employees will work with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club to transport lumber and other materials for refurbishing the Plumorchard Gap Shelter in North Georgia, one of more than 250 backcountry shelters located along the AT.

A group in Harrisburg, Pa., will work with the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club, clearing brush from the AT at Pine Grove Furnace State Park and spreading stone in a nearby parking lot.

Roanoke, Va., employees, working with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, will clean culverts and ditches and cut back tree overgrowth at AT landmark McAfee Knob near Catawba, Va.

Norfolk, Va., employees will assemble at False Cape State Park on the coast in Virginia Beach, working with the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club to remove trash and debris. The Tidewater club helps maintain the AT as well as the park.

Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal and industrial products.

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Sodexo's 'Feeding Our Future®' Program Provides 13,000 Summer Lunches to Atlanta Children

/PRNewswire/ -- Leveraging a $20,000 "Feeding Our Future®" grant from the Sodexo Foundation, the Sodexo account at UPS Headquarters and The Coca-Cola Company celebrated serving 13,000 free lunches to Atlanta's children. Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young acknowledged volunteers for their efforts during a special barbeque held for city youth yesterday at the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA. Sodexo's Feeding Our Future program provides school children who rely on free and reduced-price meals during the academic year with nutritious lunches during the summer break.

"With nearly one in four children living in households that find it increasingly difficult to put food on the table, there are bound to be additional challenges when the school doors close for the summer," said Stephen J. Brady, president of the Sodexo Foundation. "As the leading food service provider to public schools throughout this country, we understand the needs that exist and we are determined to make a positive impact that leads to the elimination of hunger in this country."

Every day, an estimated 17 million U.S. children rely on school breakfast and lunch programs as their only guaranteed meals. When schools shut down for the summer, federal meal programs feed only about three million, leaving 13 million children at risk for hunger. To help bridge this gap, the Sodexo Foundation, the independent charitable organization of Sodexo, Inc., has provided free lunches to children through its summer feeding program, Feeding Our Future, since 1997. The Sodexo Foundation provides grants to local Sodexo accounts to purchase food for the meals and local Sodexo employees prepare the meals each day.

In addition to Atlanta, Feeding Our Future will be providing more than 300,000 summer lunches in 19 other cities in the United States: Boston, Mass., Buffalo, N.Y., Camden, N.J., Chattanooga, Tenn., Chicago, Ill., Denver, Colo., Detroit, Mich., Fort Worth, Texas, Honolulu, Hawaii, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, Calif., Miami, Fla., New York, N.Y., Oklahoma City, Okla., San Jose, Calif., St. Cloud, Minn., St. Louis, Mo., Terre Haute, Ind. and Washington, D.C.

Feeding Our Future is a program of the Sodexo Foundation, an independent charitable organization supporting hunger-related initiatives that focus on eliminating the root causes of hunger in the U.S. Sodexo pays all administrative costs of the Foundation to ensure that all money raised is directed to those in need.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Walk to Cure Diabetes: JDRF Georgia Chapter and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ga. Need Your Help

/PRNewswire/ -- As the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's (JDRF) largest and most successful event, the Walk to Cure Diabetes brings together corporations, families, friends and schools to walk three miles in support of the three million Americans living with type 1 diabetes. This year's event will take place Saturday, October 16, at Centennial Olympic Park and Sunday, October 17, at Johns Creek Technology Park.

For the second year in a row Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGA) will team up with JDRF as the Presenting Partner of the 2010 Walk to Cure Diabetes. "JDRF is immensely appreciative of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia's continued participation," said Clanci Jordan, Executive Director. "With the support of our partners, the 2010 Walk to Cure Diabetes is expected to once again exceed $2 million dollars to bring us one step closer to the ultimate finish line-a cure for type 1 diabetes."

"It was important for us to sponsor the Walk to Cure Diabetes again this year," said Monye Connolly, President, BCBSGA. "It is our mission to have a direct impact on the well-being of the customers we serve and the overall health of our communities, and JDRF helps us in achieving this mission."

There is still time for additional companies to become a part of the Walk to Cure Diabetes and help find a cure for the more than 400,000 Georgians living with this disease. JDRF will host a Corporate Recruitment Breakfast at the Buckhead Club on Thursday, July 15, 2010, at 7:15 a.m. For more information on this opportunity or to attend, call 770-395-5957.

Additional Partners of the JDRF Georgia Chapter Walk to Cure Diabetes include, Aflac, AGL Resources, Belk, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Crunchmaster, Delta Air Lines, Geico, Medtronic, Mohawk, Novo Nordisk, Siemens Energy and Andretti Indoor Karting and Games.

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes National Sponsors are: Advance Auto Parts, Delta, Ford Motor Company, LifeScan, Marshalls, Turner and Walgreens.

For further information on JDRF or the Walk to Cure Diabetes visit or call Angie Hammond at 770-395-5957.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Thousands of Metro Atlanta Children to Get a Head Start on School This Saturday

Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Drive, Orange Parking Lot
Saturday, July 10, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

/PRNewswire/ -- Did you know that more than 3,000 of Atlanta's children will start school this year without the basics - school supplies, health screenings and clothing? Every year Hosea Feed the Hungry & the Homeless (HFTH) identifies children in desperate need and provides them with the means to have a healthy and successful school year at the Back to School Jamboree.

As a family-oriented, community event, the Jamboree will host self-empowerment/mentor workshops, dental and health screenings, diabetes screenings, the National ID program, fun activities, games, special guests and family entertainment, including Ronald McDonald, the Black McDonald's Owners Association Wheels of Dreams Youth Foundation, the Braves Mascot, and actor, Afemo Omilami.

This year's Presenting Sponsor is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and this year's co-sponsors, include The Braves Foundation, Cox Enterprise, Aaron Rents and Amerigroup - which will lend on-site support.

WHO can receive supplies, health screenings and clothing? Any child with a need can receive a backpack, health screening and clothing. The event is FREE and families are welcome to participate in the activities.

Witness hope on children's faces as they receive backpacks, school supplies, health screenings and clothing. Families engaging in wholesome entertainment.

HOW can you help? This year, due to the tough economy, HFTH needs the community's assistance more than ever. To make a donation, please visit and click on the Jamboree Donation icon - a stocked backpack costs a mere $20 and will ensure a child starts school fully prepared.

You can bring school supplies (pencils, paper, rulers, scissors, crayons, T-180 calculators, backpacks, etc.) directly to our facility at 1035 Donnelly Avenue SW, Atlanta, GA 30310. For additional sponsorship info, please contact the HFTH offices at 404-755-3353.

As the school year nears, HFTH will also dispense backpacks filled with schools supplies to selected schools within the greater Metro Atlanta area. This weekend merely kicks off their back to school supplies campaign.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

HUD Secretary Donovan Announces $190 Million in Homeless Grants

Funding supports unprecedented federal strategy to prevent and end homelessness

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced nearly $190 million in new grants to assist hundreds of local homeless assistance programs across the country. The funding will provide support to 550 local projects that will offer critically needed housing and support services to nearly 20,000 homeless individuals and families over the extended lifetime of these grants. For a complete listing of those local programs awarded funding, visit HUD's website.

Last December, HUD awarded nearly $1.4 billion through its Continuum of Care programs to quickly renew funding to 6,445 existing local programs. The grants announced today build on that investment by funding new projects, awarded by competition and funded through the 2009 Continuum of Care funds. In addition, the funding supports the Obama Administration's far-reaching and ambitious plan to end homelessness. Last month, Donovan and 18 other federal agencies unveiled Opening Doors, an unprecedented federal strategy to end veteran and chronic homelessness by 2015, and to end homelessness among children, families, and youth by 2020.

"This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration's new strategy to end homelessness in all its forms," said Donovan. "We know that these programs are critical in moving people beyond a life on the streets and placing them on a path toward dignity and self sufficiency."

HUD's Continuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local programs to meet the needs of their homeless clients Continuum of Care grants provide permanent and transitional housing to homeless persons. In addition, Continuum of Care grants fund a wide range of programs including important services such as job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care.. These grants also fund street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families (see attached summary of the funding awarded today).

HUD's homelessness grants are reducing long-term or chronic homelessness in America. Based on the Department's latest Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), chronic homelessness has declined by 30 percent since 2006. This decline is directly attributed to HUD's homeless grants helping to create significantly more permanent housing for those who might otherwise be living on the streets. It was also reported in the AHAR that the number of homeless families increased for the second consecutive year, almost certainly due to the ongoing effects of the recession.

In addition to the funding provided through HUD's Continuum of Care Programs, the Department allocated $1.5 billion through its new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program. Made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, HPRP is intended to prevent persons from falling into homelessness or to rapidly re-house them if they do.


Highlights of HUD's Homeless Assistance

HUD is awarding nearly $190 million to support 550 local programs throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.

$170 million is being awarded to 474 projects that provide permanent housing solutions for homeless families and individuals, including persons who are chronically homeless.

189 programs will primarily assist homeless veterans.

182 local programs will assist persons living with severe mental illness.

28 projects primarily serve victims of domestic violence.

123 projects provide services to chronic substance abusers.

12 local programs will offer housing and support services to persons living with HIV/AIDS

HUD's housing and service programs funded through the Continuum of Care competition establish the foundation for communities to serve many of the nation's most vulnerable individuals and families. Based on the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) released by HUD last month:

1.56 million persons spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing programs between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009; and

On a given night in January, 2009 approximately 643,000 people are homeless.

While the total number of homeless persons declined slightly between 2008 and 2009, the number of homeless families and the total number of persons in families increased for a second consecutive year.


HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Camp Hollywood Serves Special Needs Children and Siblings in Newnan

“Everyone is a Star” next week at new location at Cornerstone United Methodist Church

FOCUS,, a 27-year old non-profit that serves children with disabilities or medical conditions, announces an additional location for its “Camp Hollywood” series at the Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Newnan, Georgia Monday, July 12 through Friday, July 16 from 10 am to 3 pm. Each day at Camp Hollywood centers around the theme of a favorite children’s movie, and activities include art, cooking, science, music and recreation.

FOCUS offers ten Camp Hollywood locations throughout metro Atlanta. This is the first year that Camp Hollywood has been offered in Newnan, and FOCUS Executive Director Lucy Cusick explains, “We are delighted to offer a camp here in the Newnan/Peachtree City area where special needs children receive all the care they need and have all the fun all children should have!” Camp Hollywood accepts children from ages 4 - 21, as well as their siblings. Cost of the camp is $135 and includes all activities, snacks, and camp T-shirt. Special needs professionals serve as counselors at the camp, which is also staffed by volunteers from the local community. A trained nurse is also on hand at Camp Hollywood.

For more information and to register for Camp Hollywood, contact Lucy Cusick at 770-234-9111 or 404-273-0259 or


FOCUS was founded to offer emotional, informational and physical support to families of children with disabilities or ongoing medical needs. FOCUS has grown to reach almost 3,000 families in metro Atlanta through a variety of programs including summer camp, family camp, support groups, community respite, hospital support and family activities. FOCUS is committed to serving ordinary families facing extraordinary circumstances and providing a sense of community.