Giving Back

This page is devoted to collecting stories about how others are giving back to their local community.

Project Linus Spreads the Warmth

posted Dec 6, 2016, 5:45 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Dec 7, 2016, 3:54 AM ]

During a career break, I joined my local Project Linus (projectlinus.org) chapter to meet like-minded individuals who love to make blankets and have a passion to help others. Every month my chapter contributes 300+ handmade blankets to local charities including Children's Hospital in Washington, DC. It's been a wonderful opportunity to expand outreach and contribution efforts. Pictured on right: Karen Huffman, Blanketing DC, and Melissa Wilson, Children's Hospital Volunteer Coordinator.


Opportunities with "Journey to Action" Tours

posted Jun 28, 2016, 1:03 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Jun 28, 2016, 1:06 PM ]

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) lssnca.org is an amazing organization that I've grown to care deeply about through two life intersections:
  • Refugee resettlement: In the mid-1970s as part of my church's outreach program, my family hosted and befriended a Vietnamese refugee family until housing could be provided. Only a pre-teen I didn't really understand all the ins and outs of refugee resettlement, but my time with the Quan family -- especially the first weeks with just Than Hsieh, the eldest daughter -- is one of those moments in life I reconnect with even as an adult as I realize now that we were an important step in helping a family find hope in a new country.

  • Blankets donations: My charity "Blanketing DC" dcblankets.cybersailors.org has been donating blankets for the last eight years, offering comfort for the people LSS/NCA serve as well as other local DC-area charities. Last year December when I dropped off the blankets, there families waiting for assistance and immediately gravitated towards some warm and cozy for their homes. I realized how many people just want some of the essentials and so glad that a blanket can bring some comfort.

LSS/NCA has developed a one-hour program called Journey to Action Tour that features stories about the people they’ve served. The stories told by their new CEO Christine Connell, wonderful staff members, and dedicated volunteers illustrate the work LSS/NCA does to strengthen lives, create families, and engage communities.

I highly recommend inviting LSS/NCA to your church or organization to hear more about the services LSS/NCA provides including adoption and foster care; refugee and immigration services; youth haven camps and retreats; and caregiver support services. If interested, contact Meagan Chevalier, LSS/NCA's Philanthropy Manager | Phone: (703) 698-5026, ext. 105 | Email: ChevalierM (at) lssnca.org.

Artlifting Provides Homeless & Disabled Individuals with Dignity

posted Jan 31, 2016, 6:44 AM by Karen Huffman

Artlifting (www.artlifting.com) is a benefit corporation that provides homeless and disabled artists the opportunity to earn their own income. It "empowers homeless and disabled artists through the celebration and sale of their artwork." After seeing a news blurb on the Today Show, I was in awe of the idea behind the development of this company that empowers homeless and disabled individuals. Visit their website to learn more about their founding / business model and to purchase some amazing pieces of art!


Pay It Forward: Baby's Bounty

posted Nov 16, 2014, 8:08 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Dec 13, 2014, 6:53 AM ]

"There are few things more daunting than becoming a new parent. Now imagine doing so without the ability to provide for your newborn's basic needs. That is the focus of this 'Pay It Forward.'"

"Do you remember at any point during those first few months of your child's life where you went: 'Oh my, what have I done?' To say having a new baby at home is overwhelming is an understatement."

"But if you are lucky, you had the people and the things to help get you through."

"Well, one mother we met was so grateful to her network that she decided to provide one for those who don't have one."

Read more about Baby's Bounty of Maryland's Montgomery County, follow them on Facebook, and/or contact them to make a donation.



Keeping Dreams Alive from the Inside Out

posted Oct 26, 2014, 5:03 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Oct 26, 2014, 5:18 PM ]

http://www.thefeltonvilledreamcenter.com/
Fayette Coppock and Christian Winters started The Feltonville Dream Center in Philadelphia for children in the area to experience the joy of dance who otherwise might not have the opportunity. The video on the left offers an overview of the Dream Center. The video on the left was featured on the Meredith Vieira Show. W
ith the help of CapezioLeon in the "Pick Me Up Truck" made a special surprised delivery with dance essentials and donation of $5,000. Heartwarming story of people doing what they love to provide an opportunity and build a community from inside out.

Feltonville Dream Center


Pick Me Up Truck's Special Surprise!

It's About Making Connections

posted Jan 12, 2014, 3:47 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Jan 12, 2014, 4:26 PM ]

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9vp3xCDtKjuMDVkZWxpVHpvOTFJYXJzVjJMNk5UTDRNaEY0/edit?usp=sharing
A few year's back, I featured Cherine Whitney in an article "Why the Crazy Hats?" The Rhode Island newspaper The Chariho Times featured a story about her efforts on Thursday, April 26, 2012, that I thought was worth a re-post on local stories and people's compassion. So when asked why care / make connections with others, Cherine said... 
  • "Just to be able to really help someone in need, when most people seem to run away from situations like that," she continued, "and being a source of love and compassion, it’s my gift that I can offer."
  • "Just a gentle presence, which means being absolutely quiet and still," she said. "I will hold hands and whisper in patients’ ears, just to let them know that somebody is there with them."

Martin Luther King Day of Service (MLK365)

posted Apr 22, 2012, 3:12 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 4:51 AM ]

Life's persistent and most urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

On January 16, 2012, many local area groups planned ways to give back during the 17th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service. 

My friend Christine has organized the MLK Day of Service effort for the last 10 years at the French International School of Philadelphia. The school organizes a wide range of activities for students in the upper and lower schools to give back to others (including making blankets for "Blanketing DC with Love"). It's an amazing effort that involves all age groups -- students, teachers, parents, and extended and/or adopted family members such as myself! 

Resource links:

3,000 Shoes Collected for the Needy

posted Dec 5, 2011, 6:26 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Apr 23, 2012, 3:50 PM ]

There are so many ways to give back/make an impact. My niece, Laura, who was “crowned” Miss Vineland in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Vineland, New Jersey, created a way to give back by collecting 3,000 pairs of shoes from her community which were donated to the Salvation Army to help people in need.

The following was noted in Vineland’s TheDailyJournal.com on September 3, 2011:

With support from the community, Miss Vineland 2011 Laura Huffman collected more than 3,000 pairs of shoes, which were donated to the Salvation Army to help people in need. “I was so grateful for all the contributions and how the community of Vineland really came together and made a difference in the lives of the less fortunate,” she said. Above, Huffman has some fun as her father, Tim Huffman, uses a tractor to load some of the donations into a truck for transport to the Salvation Army.

“Pawing” It Forward. Living a Life for Others.

posted Dec 5, 2011, 6:16 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Apr 23, 2012, 3:40 PM ]

A dear friend shared this video with me. 

Surfer dog's trainer/owner said, “17 Nov 2009 … Her role changed to SURFice dog & she started to fund raise for quadriplegic surfer, Patrick Ivison, whom she met the night before this video …” This dog’s 100% passion in what she does speaks to the idea of finding what you are passionate about and figuring out how you can turn that into a way to help others. 

Mine is in the direction of making blankets to give to local charities. SURFice dog is in doing what she loves and has contributed to raising awareness and $ for individuals with disabilities. 

Enjoy the video (and don’t forget the tissues)!



Why the Crazy Hats?

posted Dec 5, 2011, 6:03 PM by Karen Huffman   [ updated Apr 23, 2012, 3:51 PM ]

Thus, my wearing hats, holiday, themed, colorful or WHATEVER, was encouraged, and I have continued  to wear them ever since. Why not?? After all, the first thing anyone sees when walking is your head. I have brought many a smile, smirk, and squirm with my hats — all of which gets someone, child and adult, to forget their pain, for even a little while. This is my passion and gift. I am feeding my soul.  The rewards working with local charities are priceless. I cannot find anything better than the healing power of laughter for any ills.  Karen, thanks for encouraging me to write about it. Thanks for doing what you do with Blanketing DC with Love!  Article by Cherine Whitney President of SLA’s Rhode Island Chapter, 2008-2010
I met this wonderfully, energetic woman who welcomed me immediately into her circle of friends and colleagues. I asked her once, “Why the Crazy Hats?” Below is my dear friend and colleague's story.
Why the “crazy” hats, I am asked. Well, it all started with pains, screaming in my body in late 2005. I finally listened to them in late winter 2006, deciding to find out why. I discovered that I was trying to make everyone happy, to be someone I did not want to be, to follow a path that was not leading to contentment. I turned my life around by doing two (2) major things:

1. Yoga (making time for something that I had done in 1998—I felt great, breathed better and slower, and was calm, and had a straight posture, all good stuff!).
2. Working at Hasbro Children’s Hospital as a volunteer, reading to children in the clinics — a desire from years before.

As a Hasbro Children’s Hospital Volunteer, I was in the “Read to me” program, a national program that has theme based books and crafts (butterflies, clowns, flowers, trucks, etc). A book is given to each child at their “well” visit. My first day was March 20th, honoring Dr. Seuss’s Birthday (albeit a little late). I wore the Cat in the Hat hat and bow, provided by the Child Life Department. Being my creative and innovative self, I provided my own funky cat earrings (I have quite a collection of earrings!). I was in my glory and element animatedly reading books that I love to very sick children in the Inpatient room. I captivated about 20 children hooked up to IV’s and other machinery, distracting them from their serious woes for nearly 30 minutes. At the end of this successful endeavor, I handed out brand new books to each child there and then visited other children in the rooms. On the way back to the Volunteer Office, the Family Resource Specialist involved in the program asked me if I had hats at home. I said yes. She said, enthusiastically, wear them!

Thus, my wearing hats, holiday, themed, colorful or WHATEVER, was encouraged, and I have continued to wear them ever since. Why not?? After all, the first thing anyone sees when walking in is your head. I have brought many a smile, smirk, and squirm with my hats — all of which gets someone, child and adult, to forget their pain, for even a little while. This is my passion and gift. I am feeding my soul. The rewards working with local charities are priceless. I cannot find anything better than the healing power of laughter for any ills.

Karen, thanks for encouraging me to write about it. Thanks for doing what you do with Blanketing DC with Love!

Article by Cherine Whitney
President of SLA’s Rhode Island Chapter, 2008-2010

1-10 of 11