It seems the #GivingTuesday hashtag has found its way into my email as well as my Instagram and Facebook accounts today. After Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, I really thought we’d seen the end of specially named days for a few weeks, but apparently this year, Giving Tuesday has really caught on as a day to give back.

Donations of money and time supporting thousands of organizations have been highlighted throughout the day. However, every Tuesday is a giving Tuesday in Ocala as dozens of volunteers come together each week at First United Methodist Church Ocala to assist the homeless population of our county.

It was also a day of volunteers decorating the church’s sanctuary for Christmas.


Teams of volunteers will decorate not only on Tuesday but throughout the week.


#GivingTuesday is a good idea to get people to think about giving as a way to change the world, but if you missed participating today, I’m sure your help will be appreciated on any of the remaining 364 days of the year. Make any day a giving day.

The Bucket Challenge

I know what you’re thinking – she left out the word ICE in the title. Well, no, that was intentional.

First, I LOVE the ice bucket challenge! I’ve enjoyed watching videos of friends, relatives, strangers, celebrities, and college presidents taking the ice bucket challenge. I click on the link to every video despite the fact they’re all pretty much the same and each one brings a smile to my face.

We’ve lost three family members to ALS in the past decade. My dad’s cousin’s husband, Howard, my mom’s uncle, Condit, and John’s cousin’s husband, Gary all suffered with this disease and lost their battles.

In addition, two neighbors have been diagnosed with ALS and seeing the changes in Jim has been heartbreaking. I’m delighted at the publicity and donations rolling in to such a worthwhile organization.

However, the reason I left out the word ICE is because I’m taking a different challenge. My daughter Sarah issued the following challenge:

photoand I accepted as did her sister Emily. (In fact, you should read what Emily posted on her blog about the #icebucketchallenge.) Of course, Emily challenged her Dad, and since both girls knew their sister, Meghan had already contributed $100 to our team for next month’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, she wasn’t called out!


What a great thing the ice bucket challenge has been! It’s started conversations about ALS. It’s encouraged people to donate to the A.L.S. Association; but it’s also started an even bigger conversation about the numerous organizations that need our support, both financial and as volunteers.

So, to the A.L.S. Association, yes, the check is in the mail. And on Saturday, September 6th, I’ll be walking to end Alzheimer’s. Our team can use your help! Click here to donate.

And instead of calling out any individual to accept the ice bucket challenge, I’d like to challenge everyone who reads this to make a contribution of time or money to any organization you feel passionate about. No ice required, but heck, it’s August and the “Feels Like” temperature is 100°, icy cold water may be just what you need to cool off.



Strawberries, Paint, and Habitat for Humanity

IMG_3193Last Saturday’s 1st Annual Habitat Strawberry & Craft Festival in downtown Ocala drew thousands eager to enjoy a warm, sunny March day while eating strawberry shortcake, chocolate dipped strawberries, pancakes topped with sliced berries, and other berry treats.

Entertainment on two stages, a car show, craft booths, as well as the Saturday farmer’s market kept festival goers busy and best of all raised thousands of dollars…in fact more than $30,000 of the $40,000 needed to build their next Habitat house.

John and I prepared strawberries for the festival last Friday, but mostly, we ate strawberries in support of the Habitat for Humanity cause. Meanwhile, Meghan, Jon, and several of their friends painted a habitat house in New Smyrna on Saturday.

Saturday’s volunteer crew painted the exterior of a house that will soon be occupied by my nephew, Matt. He’s been working on other habitat projects in Volusia county to fulfill his “sweat equity” requirement, attending budget workshops, and squeezing in time at his own future habitat house around his hectic schedule working two jobs; so a team of seven, paint brushes at the ready, was a welcome sight.

ImageMatt (third from the left) with his volunteer crew: Jonathan, Meghan, his brother, Dylan, Erica, Jay, Devin, and Kevin.

Another team of volunteers arrived this morning to continue working. I can hardly wait to see the pictures after Emily and Brent, two more of Matt’s cousins, Emily’s husband, Brian, and their friends put in another day’s work!

Looking for a productive day of volunteering? Consider Habitat for Humanity or shop at one of their Restores to financially support their mission.

Habitat’s Mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.


Sarah: Volunteer Extraordinaire!

IMG_0881Last Saturday Sarah surpassed the 100 hour mark of volunteering at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. For the past five months she’s been going in weekly updating the database of food served at the hospital making sure that nutritional information for all recipes is up-to-date and accurate, an important task to insure patients receive meals appropriate for their dietary needs.

While going to Florida State, Sarah volunteered weekly for Meals on Wheels delivering lunch every Friday to elderly clients on a route in Tallahassee. She and her roommate delivered meals each week throughout their final year at FSU. Quite a commitment!

Due to her schedule of classes, an internship, and part time job, Sarah’s put her volunteer work on hold for the remainder of the summer, but I’m sure she’ll return to Mayo or another organization when time permits. The Mayo Clinic and Meals on Wheels are lucky to have Sarah as a volunteer. So proud to be her mom!

Give Back

One way to have a better day is to give back or do something for someone else. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life going to work or school, cooking dinner or doing laundry, grocery shopping or paying bills. Then you need to find time for friends and family while trying to take care of yourself. There seems to be so much to do and so little time.


However, it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a difference in the lives of others. Of course staying in touch with family and friends is a good start especially when you know that someone is dealing with a stressful situation. Making a phone call, sending a text, bringing over a meal, or providing some R & R can make a world of difference. Even when you don’t know what to say or do, just knowing that you care can brighten someone’s day.

But beyond helping family and friends there are so many ways you can help others. One way to do this is to make a donation to support a cause you believe in. You may want to help the American Heart Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, St. Jude’s, or any number of organizations that support medical research. You may donate to the United Methodist Children’s Home, Salvation Army, or the American Red Cross. Participating in a run, walk-a-thon, or some other activity is a terrific way to support a cause. You can even become a member of your local NPR or PBS station or make a donation to your alma mater. Worthwhile organizations with financial needs seem to be endless.

Remember you can also donate things other than money. Donate clothes, furniture, or other household items to the Rape Crisis Center,  the Humane Society Thrift Store, or Dress for Success. You may also donate food to a local food pantry or to an organization like the Boy Scouts who organize a food drive. And if you’re very brave, you can donate blood. I was rejected on my only attempt to give blood, but I’m determined to give it another try.

Finally, you can donate your time to an organization you want to support. This type of “giving back” certainly can be the most rewarding. You can give a few hours of your time participating in a one day event like a river clean up or serving a meal at a homeless shelter. This is probably the most practical way to volunteer since there are so many opportunities to participate in one day activities. Or you can devote time weekly or monthly to serve a need you are passionate about. Of course you can volunteer at your local library or hospital, with a youth group or a political campaign, the choices are endless.

From Points of Light website: www.pointsoflight.org
From Points of Light website: www.pointsoflight.org

Over the years, I’ve volunteered with children’s programs at church, coached, assisted with fundraising drives, and helped sports leagues. I’ve volunteered at runner’s club events, cross country and track meets, and have been a perennial driver for various teams. However, I haven’t consistently volunteered. There have been times when I should have done more to give back. Now that I’m committed to giving back regularly, I know I’ll always be involved in volunteer activities. I’m sure the organizations will change over the years, but giving back is now an important part of my life.

I know each of you are giving back, but I just wanted to remind you that these acts are important and make your communities a better place. Thank you for helping others and remember as your life gets more hectic, continue to find time to give back. You can and do make a difference.