A good use for those used backpacks

United Food Bank is asking kids to donate gently used backpacks to help kids in need.

From now until the end of June, children who donate their backpacks will receive a free ice cream and a special certificate recognizing their good deed. The backpack drop-off location is from 8am to 4pm Monday through Friday at United Food Bank, 245 S. Nina Drive in Mesa.

The Backpack Program gets nutritious food to kids who are at risk of going hungry over the weekend by sending them home from school each Friday with a backpack full of food. This program is extremely important for children who qualify for free or reduced lunch at school but have little to no access to food over the weekend.

United Food Bank provides more than 500 backpacks every single week during the school year; many rip, get lost and need to be replaced.

“It may be hard to imagine this, but one in four children in Arizona do not know where their next meal is coming from,” said Lisa Goin, United Food Bank’s Chief Development Officer, in a press release. “We hear from parents who thank us for this food, saying that without this program, their child would literally just be eating the free lunch provided at school. It’s an unfortunate reality for so many people that there isn’t a single morsel of food in the house.”

For more information about donating a backpack or joining the Kids Lunch Bunch, visit unitedfoodbank.org or call 480-926-4897 ext. 207.


Gifts for mom that give back to great causes

Photo courtesy of Phoenix Flower Shops.

A better way to buy flowers

Purchase Mother’s Day flowers and gifts through Phoenix Flower Shops (delivery nationwide) and Children’s Action Alliance receives 10 percent of the purchase price.

CAA also operates an e-store where you can purchase beautiful pottery pieces created by local youth artists. Though it’s too late to have items shipped in time for Mother’s Day you can still pick up pieces from the Phoenix office. Contact Amy Kobeta at 602-266-0707 x202 or akobeta@azchildren.org.

CAA advocates for the health, education and security of Arizona children at the state capitol and in the community.


One of four card designs from Maggie’s Place.

Honor the mothers you know with special Mother’s Day cards and/or charms from Maggie’s Place. Phoenix-based Maggie’s Place provides houses of hospitality for expectant women who are homeless or alone and who wish to achieve their goals — for themselves, and for their child — in a dignified atmosphere. Learn more.

[NOTE: We published a story about Maggie’s Place in our May 2009 magazine; coming in June 2012 is an update on new developments at the growing nonprofit.]

The YWCA offers a Mother’s Day eCard that offers a particularly convenient option for those of you who wait until the last minute. There are many styles to choose from and you can personalize your message. A suggested tax-deductible donation of $20 provides financial education classes for one woman, making a difference in another mother’s life. Learn more.

A celebration of moms and theatre

Nonprofit Theatre Artist’s Studio will present a special event on Sunday, May 13, in celebration of Mother’s Day. “Music and Musings in Celebration of Mothers” will feature popular songs from Broadway and the great American Songbook and amusing and poignant readings about mothers by Studio members and others.

No ticket is required; pay-as-you-can donations will be accepted at the door. Advance reservations are recommended. Special reserved seating and program recognition will be provided for anyone who would like to donate a minimum of $100 to the “Spring for The Studio” Challenge Grant Campaign in honor or memory of a special woman.

The Studio is located on Paradise Village Parkway East, two blocks north of Cactus. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. 602-765-0120 or thestudiophx.org.

Make strides against breast cancer

What better way to honor mothers, grandmothers and all women than by signing up for this year’s American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk?

The walk will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Tempe Beach Park. Mothers lost to breast cancer will be remembered and survivors will be celebrated. Learn more at makingstrideswalk.org/phoenixaz.

Take a chance and help another family

Maybe you want to take a chance on something really magical happening. Enter Mesa United Way’s Happiest Sweepstakes on Earth for a chance to win a Disneyland Vacation Package from Get Away Today. You don’t have to make a donation to enter the sweepstakes, but even the most modest contribution will help:

$10 will provide 50 meals for the hungry. $50 will provide a week’s worth of diapers for four infants in a shelter or feed a family of four for 19 days. $100 will provide a foster child with a backpack filled with school suppies,shoes,and clothing.

You get the idea. Even if you don’t win, you win. The contest ends May 16.

Know of other community-minded Mother’s Day gift ideas? Please log on and comment to share with the rest of us!

Adopt a pet during PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekend

Photo courtesy of PetsMart Charities.

Looking to add a pet to your family this spring? PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekend starts today and runs through Sunday, May 6.

Thousands of healthy pets are up for adoption by more than 2,000 local animal welfare organizations in all PetSmart stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Your pet adoption will benefit these local shelters and rescue agencies, including Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC), which operates an adoption center inside the PetSmart store at 4380 N. Miller Road in Scottsdale. MCACC will receive $35 in adoption-reward grants from PetSmart Charities for every pet they adopt during the event.

“Adoption is one of the key ways to save pets and end pet homelessness, not to mention enrich our own lives with a loving companion,” said Susana Della Maddalena, executive director of PetSmart Charities, Inc., in a press release.

“We are excited to be part of PetSmart Charities’ National Adoption Weekend and have the opportunity to showcase our wonderful adoptable pets looking for their forever home,” added Dr. Rodrigo Silva of MCACC.

Animal-welfare organizations in all 1,210 PetSmart stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico will participate in National Adoption Weekend. The events are sponsored by PetSmart, Purina® Pro Plan® and Tidy Cats®.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and Saturday, May 5; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 6. To learn about the adoption center’s fees and guidelines, visit PetSmartCharities.org/adoption or call 877-473-8762.

Pop tabs help families facing a child’s hospitalization

Dick Paulin dumps one of 32 five-gallon buckets holding more than 717,000 pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House to recycle.

On Tuesday, 15 residents of Sunland Springs Village in East Mesa delivered 32 five-gallon paint buckets filled with 717,755 pop tabs to the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) in Phoenix. The tabs, weighing a whopping 566.5 pounds, will be recycled and all proceeds will benefit the House.

Since 2008, members of the master-planned active adult community, which is located near the Superstition Mountains, have collected 2,326,843 pop tabs and donated $3,940 to the House.

The project is organized by Dick and Karen Paulin, whose relationship with the charity began when their grandson was undergoing medical treatment at hospitals in Wisconsin and Paulin family members stayed at a Ronald McDonald House.

RMHC provides a temporary “home away from home” for families who must travel to the Phoenix area to receive medical treatment for their children and also supports programs that directly benefit children and their families in our community. Funds raised by the Sunland Springs Village community will help ensure that no family is ever turned away because they can’t afford the $15 nightly fee.

Want to see if your organization can beat the Sunland Springs record? Learn more about the RMHC’s ongoing pop-tab fundraiser. 

Dick Paulin (left), Karen Paulin (center) and Janet West sift through some of the 717,000 pop tabs Sunland Springs Village residents delivered to the Ronald McDonald House for recycling.

KOA Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend sends kids with cancer to camp

Photo courtesy of KOA Care Camps.

Pay to stay at a Kampgrounds of America site on Friday, May 11 and you’ll receive a free night of camping on Saturday, May 12 at any of the 400-plus participating KOA campgrounds throughout North American.

It’s part of KOA’s 9th Annual Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend, which also serves as a fundraiser to support KOA Care Camps for children with cancer. The event attracted more than 25,000 camping families in 2011.

KOA Care Camps is a network of 44 specialized summer camps nationwide that provide a safe — and free — summer camping experience for children undergoing or recovering treatment for cancer.

“We have found a wonderful way to invite out campers to begin enjoying their summer camping season and also allow them to help us support camps for children with cancer,” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers in a press release.

Last year, more than $500,000 was raised through camper donations. Find a complete list of participating KOAs.

Kampgrounds of America, founded on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana in 1962, is the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds. KOA has 485 locations in the United States and Canada. KOA.com.

Book donation benefits New Song Center for Grieving Children

The New Song Center for Grieving Children will be able to provide a special book related to a young child’s loss thanks to a $500 book donation from Libraries Ltd.

New Song Center provides grief support to families and children who have experienced the death of a loved one. The program helps children, teens and young adults cope with loss through the sharing of stories and experiences, as well as art, music and recreation.

Copies of three titles were donated. The books will go to children ages 5 to 11.

If Nathan Were Here, by Mary Bahr, illustrated by Karen A. Jerome, explores the grief of a young boy whose best friend has died. Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company, for ages 6-12.

Sweet, Sweet Memories, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, is about a girl who finds comfort following the loss of her grandfather in the stories and memories she and family members share. Hyperion Books for Children, for ages 6  to 8.

The Scar, by Charlotte Moundlic, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, is about a little boy responding to his mother’s death. Candlewick Press, for ages 5  to 8.

New Song Center is a program of Hospice of the Valley and was founded by volunteers in 1989.  It currently serves about 125 families throughout Maricopa County.  More information: 480-951-8985 or  hov.org/new_song_center.

Tucson-based Libraries Ltd. is a non-profit organization that works to promote literacy in children and teenagers, and targets underserved communities throughout Arizona. librariesltd.org.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The Drug Enforcement Administration will be hosting its fourth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 28 from 10am to 2pm.

Photo courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The event allows people to bring unwanted or unused prescription drugs they have accumulated to drop-off points, knowing the drugs will be disposed of in a safe and environmentally appropriate way.

The DEA’s last event, on Oct. 29, 2011, collected more than 377,086 pounds of prescription drugs from more than 5,000 participating locations in the U.S.

Participating locations are Valleywide. To find a location near you, visit the Collection Site Locator.

If you are unable to make it to the Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, the Food and Drug Administration offers suggestions for safe disposal of drugs:

  • Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, like used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
  • Put them in a sealable bag or other container so they don’t leak.
  • Before throwing away the medicine container, make sure all the information is scratched off, to protect your identity.
  • If you are unsure about anything, call your pharmacist for advice.

Erin Saltzman

Learn more

Time to clean out the medicine cabinet!