Category Archives: Charity

Toys for Tots – Alive and Well in Central Florida

As a parent and teacher, I know that creating empathy in children (especially as they grow into teenagers) is not the easiest thing to do. Some children that are generous by nature when young, may become possessive and clingy later on; others seem to have self-centerdness invade as they grow. However, this is all the natural development of a child as he or she discovers himself and self-identity is explored.

However, that doesn’t mean we quit trying to reinforce the necessity of helping others, and this time of year presents a wonderful opportunity for children to “have to” give a little.  By modeling to children that sharing and giving is the right thing to do, that helping others also ultimately helps ourselves, then little by little, they will internalize this. The Marine Corps Toys for Tots provides an excellent springboard for this lesson.

Park Maitland School recently teamed with some local businesses to help drive a hugely successful toy drive.  Parents and teachers spent time discussing helping those less fortunate and how the students could make another child happy on Christmas day.

This is a concrete example that almost all children easily understand without much teaching: Toy = Happiness.

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The Top 5 applauds all the schools in the area who are busy teaching Central Florida’s children more than just letters and numbers, but are teaching them to become responsible, serving citizens… awesome!

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Filed under Charity, family, Seasonal

Invest Locally, Central Florida

With 2010 quickly wrapping up, I find myself counting my blessings.  I still have a job, my family is safe and healthy, I have a coat and boots for when it is cold, and although I don’t cook, I have food on the table for every meal.  This is far more than many Central Floridians can say this year.

I think back over the news of the economy this year, and reflect on the number of workers who have been laid off here…NASA, Sea World, fellow teachers and public relation specialists are some of the companies and titles that come to mind of friends that have lost their jobs. My thoughts are with them!

This time two years ago, my family was grieving the passing of my brother, who left behind three young children. I know the pain of losing a family member and realize time does not make it better, only more bearable.  He is one of the main reasons the Top 5 supports the American Lung Association – Central Region.  Along with my brother’s passing, my niece who has special needs has caused me to also support the Special Olympics of Florida. Both are worthy organizations that reach out to others. My thoughts are with anyone who is suffering or trying best they can to make their way.

I often see pleas from the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida for winter coats, blankets, etc., asking for people to donate these items.  Last winter my son used his money to buy blankets to donate; perhaps he will be moved to do it again this year. Those in need never end, and my thoughts are with them, especially during this unusually cold winter!

And beyond the physical comforts, food banks like Second Harvest are always providing a necessary service, so my thoughts are with those who are not only donating food, time, and money, but also those who find it necessary to rely on the food bank for their daily bread.

Thinking along these lines, I asked my Twitter followers which local organization they supported, and I was pleased with the large response:

Nathaniel’s Hope

Mercy Drive Ministries

Hadassah

Susan G. Komen of Central Florida

Children’s Home Society

Harbor House

Pet Rescue by Judy

The Russell Home

New Hope for Kids

Give Kids the World

Orlando’s local humane societies

Relay for Life (all around the Central Florida area)

Valencia Giving

B.A.S.E. Camp

Salvation Army

Girls on the Run

BETA Center

Orlando Union Rescue Mission

I certainly hope you will take the time to click each link to see what each organization is about. And, if you know of a worthy organization that is not listed here, please add it in the comments.

The wonderful thing about living in Central Florida is the people themselves; let’s invest in each other… because together we can overcome anything!

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Filed under Charity, family, General Info, Non-profit, Orlando

Central Floridians Are Good at Giving Back

I just saw a tweet from Christie Hyde (@ChristieSays) saying she was volunteering at a cold weather shelter tonight, when the temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. I must admit I was impressed with her. In fact, I am impressed with anyone who goes out of their way to help support others, especially those less fortunate and in need.

Volunteers from Darden’s Specialty Restaurant Group painting Coalition for the Homeless’ Center for Women and Families.

And while you may not be inspired to actually drive some place to physically volunteer, perhaps you might be moved to give a little financially. Here is a way you can help right now:

Second Harvest Food Bank is partnering with the Give Back Central Florida Fund to announce the “Give Back Central Florida Challenge.” Before the year ends, Central Floridians will be challenged to make contributions to the Food Bank. Those who do so will see their Dollars Doubled thanks to the Fund’s philanthropic commitment of a matching grant for $500,000.

Last year, about 25 percent of the Central Florida population received food assistance … that’s 732,000 people – nearly 300,000 were children. Nick Gregory of the Give Back Central Florida Fund hopes to inspire donors through his matching grant to make much-needed year-end contributions to help fight hunger throughout the region.  To qualify, gift amounts must be between $1,000 and $50,000, and be received by December 31, 2010.

For more information on the campaign or to make a donation, contact  Greg Higgerson at 407-843-5009, ext. 21 or email Greg at ghiggerson@foodbankcentralflorida.org.

Even if you cannot afford to donate that large of an amount to be matched, any amount would be most welcomed and put to good use. Give yourself a gift this season, by knowing you helped someone in need!

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Filed under Charity, Non-profit, Seasonal

Bikinis in 9-Degree Weather? Oh My!

The Orlando Polar Bear Club (Yes, there is such a group!) braved the 9 degree weather inside the Gaylord Palms.  Sans parkas and opting for bikinis and swim trunks instead, the group of slightly extreme thrill-seekers made their way through the ICE! exhibit.

 

Photo from the Gaylord Palms.

So, why did these polar bears take a “plunge” down ice slides today? A portion of the ticket sales benefits the Children’s Miracle Network, so we think this is pretty cool! <— Yeah, you know you liked our pun!

 

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Filed under Charity, Fun, Just Plain Weird, Seasonal

Movember – How Cool is Your ‘Stache?

Did you know 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? That number is alarming, but fortunately this cancer can usually be detected and treated early.  However, I love the idea of an awesome annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer: Movember! (Changing the Face of Those with Prostate Cancer…literally!)

The idea? Grow a mustache – don’t shave for the month of November.  Don’t laugh, it is a major world-wide fundraiser and partners with the LIVESTRONG foundation.

So, why am I posting this? (Besides it being just a totally awesome fundraiser!) Because I am supporting a Central Florida native Mikhael Ser in his last few days of mustachedom:

 

Day 1

 

 

 

Day 26

Mikhael is part of the Military Mo’s Network, which supports military men who have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. They have raised $29,185 to date, and I’d love to boost them to $30,000 before Movember is over. Might you be a part of this awesomeness? And perhaps next year, other Central Floridians may be sporting a mustache of their own for a great cause!

 

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Filed under Charity, Fun, Just Plain Weird, Out of Orlando, Resident done good

Central Florida is LivingStrong!

Congratulations to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando for being named the recipient of not just one, but two LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project awards! These awards will bring cancer support programs to patients in Central Florida, and are funded by LIVESTRONG, the organization founded by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

I have long been a fan of Lance Armstrong, and indeed, one of my very first blog posts was about Lance returning to ride in the Tour de France just after a short retirement.

So, when I heard that Central Florida was in the running for one of his great programs, I Facebooked, tweeted, and blogged to get people to vote. I am so proud it paid off, as I feel it will be a true benefit to cancer patients as well as local artists. (FYI: Over a two-week period, more than 260,000 votes were cast and M. D. Anderson – Orlando was among the finalists. WOW!)

“This is a tremendous opportunity for M. D. Anderson – Orlando and we are thrilled to be named as a recipient of these awards,” said Clarence Brown, III, MD, president and CEO, M. D. Anderson – Orlando. “We want to give special thanks to LIVESTRONG and to everyone who voted in support of this program here in Central Florida. We are very excited to move forward and provide these programs to our patients.”

For the first program, United Arts of Central Florida will work with The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program and will allow patients to explore, absorb, and express themselves creatively as they endure diagnosis and treatment. The program will work bedside as well as in small group settings with men, women, and children.

“Through the generosity of LIVESTRONG, United Arts is proud to facilitate in bringing local artists to M. D. Anderson – Orlando as the fight against cancer continues,” said Cory Warren, events manager, United Arts of Central Florida. “We are honored to continue the success of The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program locally by coupling the arts and medicine in the full spectrum of the healing process.”

The second program, The Cancer Transitions is designed to support, educate and empower people with cancer in the transitional period after treatment is over. By incorporating support groups, education, nutrition and physical exercise, as well as addressing other medical management, a survivor’s psychosocial and quality of life issues will be discussed.

M. D. Anderson – Orlando was selected as a recipient for the $20,000 in LIVESTRONG grants following a national online voting campaign involving more than 170 hospitals and cancer centers.

Congrats and use it well!

More LIVESTRONG News:  “The 28 Can’t Wait.”

You can support the LIVESTRONG foundation even more by buying really, really cool yellow gear. (Yeah, there are other colors, too, but yellow is the really, really cool one, no?)

Between now and midnight on November 30, all LIVESTRONG gear will be 28% off in honor of the 28 million survivors who are fighting this disease.

Get your LIVESTRONG gear today, and use the discount code THE28 to get 28% off! Click here to shop now.

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Filed under Celebrity, Charity, Contest, General Info, Non-profit, Orlando, Out of Orlando, The Arts

Top 5 Central Florida Videos Weekly Round Up

We are thinking about doing a new weekly feature, where we show the Top 5 youtube videos of events from around Central Florida, all uploaded within the past week.

It should give a great snapshot of all the different things happening. (And you can give us a shout out if you post a great video. Who knows, it might be featured on our Weekly Round Up!)

So, let’s get started with this week’s videos:

Car races:

From Attractions Magazine:

Light Up UCF:

From Disney Parks – Mickey becomes a Magic Player:

Building of Legoland:

Bonus videos–yeah, we couldn’t decide on just 5 this week!

From NBCActionNews, because this was just so darn crazy!

Singing, because we loved Spring Awakening when it was in Orlando:

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Filed under Amway Arena, Bob Carr, Broadway at Bob Carr, Charity, disney, Non-profit, Only at a Theme Park, Orlando Magic, Top 5 Video Round Up, UCF