Monday, December 31, 2012

Paint Brushes, Sketch Pads and Glue, Oh My!: Donation Provides Supplies for Arts Classes

It isn’t unusual to hear happy sounds coming from the children at the Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club. (Except, perhaps, during homework time.)

But recently, those sounds were loud squeals of delight when the children watched representatives from JPMorgan Chase roll in a huge dolly overloaded with art supplies. They scrambled to get a closer look at the goodies that were being donated – reams and reams of paper, paint brushes, paint, crayons, markers, colored pencils, beads, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, yarn and more!

All talking at once, they were listing the many projects they were anticipating that would come from the gift – collages, paintings, drawing, paper mache – and on and on.
But the children weren’t the only ones with smiling faces. Kristin Bohanan, Analyst, Commercial Bank and Tulsa Volunteer Leadership Group Chair, David Stratton, Market President, Tulsa Commercial Bank and Aaron Massey, Vice President, Private Bank, all from JPMorgan Chase, couldn’t help but grin at the children’s’ reactions.

“It was fun to see how excited they were,” Bohanan said. “I wish all of our employees who donated could see the difference they’ve made with their gifts.” 

Collecting the supplies was an activity of JPMorgan Chase’s employee volunteer leadership group. The nearly 200 Tulsa area employees had the opportunity to fulfill the Mabee Center’s art supply “wish list.”

“Our employees really responded to this,” Bohanan said. 

Their gift will be put to good use. Nearly 50 children come to the Mabee Red Shield Club on a regular basis for fellowship, character development, and educational and recreational opportunities.
As with the six Boys & Girls Clubs located in the metro Tulsa area, every location is a fun place for people of all ages. Each club provides a positive place that kids can look upon as their home away from home.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Angel Tree with the Least of the These

My daughter is a 'least of these'. She's actually my foster daughter and has been in DHS custody for over a year; she and her younger brother have been with my husband and I since July of this year. They were placed with us about a week after I started my job as a grant writer here at Salvation Army. These kids are hilarious, fun, exhausting and challenging; we love it, but we are finding that we have to be very intentional about teaching them "Life Lessons,"while we can.

My husband and I have always shopped for Angels off the Angel Tree in the past, usually one for him- a boy- and one for me- a girl. This year, we have 2 little ones to buy for already, but I was loathe to give up tradition. So this year, I decided to include our foster kids.

We made it out to the Angel Tree kickoff at Promenade Mall. At age 5, Miss M (as we call her in blog-land) was unimpressed with the kickoff in general--too loud. But she did like the girls' singing group, MP3, in their matching outfits and "shiny hair."
MP3 girls group at the Angel Tree Kickoff (11/17/12)

After Kickoff, we picked out a Angel from the big tree, just her age, named "Lisbeth" and set off to pick out some gifts for "her Angel."

At first, she did a great job of picking out toys. She "ennie meenie mineie mo'd" between which Baby Alive doll 'Lisbeth' was to get- Hair Salon Baby Alive or Magic Meals Baby Alive.

Hair Salon, duh.

But she struggled a bit with stocking stuffers, as we picked out Hello Kitty stickers and pencils and Disney princess playing cards. I gently asked her if she was picking out things for herself or for Lisbeth, and she admitted they were for her. But soon we were back on the right track. 
Miss M's letter to her Angel.
Every time we added something to the bag, we would talk a little about what we were doing and why. In my own blundering, non-parental way, I tied to impress on her how it is important to share what she has, to be grateful for those who love her and that there is always someone who has less than you do. 

Miss M is pretty smart, but I think the literal and logistics of the Angel Tree, may have gotten blurry during our conversations. She asked me, the day I went to take the Angel Tree bag in to work, "How will she get them {the toys}, up in Heaven?" I stifled a giggle and tried to explain that our "Angel" was a real girl, just like her, and that she needed extra toys and we were like her personal Santa! How fun!

Santa, she understood.

And boy, I felt like Santa, when I went to check in shelve the Angel bag. I walked past row after row of shelves, 3 levels high, with toy bags packed in, till I found Lisbeth's family bag.

Turns out, she's the youngest of 4 girls. And her bag was the last one to be added to the families' bag. Those lovely little girls would all get all their hearts desired, thanks to people they didn't know.
As I marked the bag tag with a big "C" for  "Complete," I felt the warehouse dust prick my nose. And eyes. Lots of tear-inducing dust in the warehouse.
 And I don't know about you, but I've been near tears many times since (including today, as I wrote this post), thinking about the poor babies in Newtown, Connecticut. So close in age to Miss M and Lisbeth and so many of my friends' kids. So close to Christmas. Lodged in our hearts and the back of our throats.

But as a donor said to me this afternoon, as I took her donation for the Angel Tree over the phone, "it's the least I can do for kids in need, especially this Christmas."

So, do what you can. Shine a light in the dark. There is always someone more in need than you. Miss M can attest.


Friday, December 14, 2012

A Special Thank You to a Special Group of People

 “ I really appreciate all that you do, and I’ll do what I can to help to make sure you help as manypeople as you can.  There are a lot of people who need what you have to offer.”

    These are very kind words from a woman who has been a loyal Salvation Army donor for several years. I got the pleasure of meeting her at the Donor Thank You luncheon held at the Tulsa Area Command in late November. 

    We want our donors to know how much their generosity helps our mission. Whether it’s a $5 donation or a $5,000 donation, all of our donors get a thank you card.  We also send thank you cards from Advisory Board members and staff to those who give a large donation. But we wanted to do more. That’s why our Donor Relations Committee, made up of eight Advisory Board members, wanted to do a Thank You luncheon. 

Arletta Robinson, Executive Director of the Center of Hope

    We invited a small group of donors to Area Command for a holiday meal, followed by a quick program. Arletta Robinson, Executive Director of the Center of Hope, told the crowd about her case workers.  These men and women deal with people needing help the most, hearing story after story that would break the hearts of many.  

The luncheon concluded with a tour of the facility, including our Joy Center, which is full of toys and food that we will hand out to thousands of people next week. One of the donors even shed a tear during the tour, getting a better idea of what we do, and who we help. 

    The luncheon was not a fundraiser, just a simple way to say thank you to those who make it possible for us to do our work. It’s always interesting to find out why people give and important to us to let them know that they’re appreciated too. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Celebrate the Holidays with Alliday!

I love handmade stuff. In fact, I've called myself a 'craft maven' on more than one occasion. I love to DIY home decor and art and I've tried my hand at sewing pillows, curtains, even purses.

But I also recognize that I can't make everything myself (clothes, psssh) and therefore love hitting up a good craft show to see what amazing things other people make. 

One of the best craft shows around is Alliday- and I'm not just saying that because they are sponsoring a Toy Drive for us.
This year is the 3rd annual Alliday show and frankly, I'm excited to have an excuse to swing by on Saturday. Doors open at 9am on Saturday, Dec. 15th until 5pm. The Alliday Show is located at the Ford Truck Exhibit Hall at the Fairgrounds (21st and Yale) in Tulsa. Show details available on the show's website or  Facebook page.

Show organizer, Briana Shipley, is a seasoned crafter and blogger over at Bifftastica. She's also a new mom, so major kudos to her for pulling this whole thing off!

Brianna also keeps a great Alliday blog, in which she features a new show vendor each day, building up to the event. It's pretty cool. So far, she's featured candle makers, painters, silversmiths and...fudge makers. (YUM). Check it out. 

As I mentioned, Alliday is hosting a Toy Drive, benefiting the Salvation Army's Forgotten Angels. 
Angel Tree angels are due today (12/12) and at this writing, over 2,500 Angels have yet to make their way back to the Joy Center. 

We expect a tidal wave of toy bags tonight, but believe it or not, there will be Angels who don't get returned. These are the Forgetten Angels. The numerous toy drives throughout the city (14 at last count) this season will go to fill the bags of the Forgotten Angels.

The Alliday Show on 12/15 is literally the last opportunity to contribute a toy, as gift distribution will begin on 12/18. You can also bring all that change you have been holding on to because a Red Kettle and bellringer will be posted outside all day. PLUS, there is a match for funds raised in kettle on Saturday so $1 becomes $2! (Thanks to Tulsa Gold & Silver)

BUT, to sweeten the pot, if you bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Alliday Toy Drive, you can enter to win a prize pack of goodies from the artists of Alliday! Contributions from half a dozen artist and counting!

So, come on out, bring a toy, buy some awesome handmade stuff and maybe win a great prize pack! See you Saturday!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Spirit of Giving

When you work for the Salvation Army, it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. You’re surrounded by people who willingly work extra hours and spend their own money to help those who need it most this time of year. 

Although this is only my second Christmas with the Army, I’m constantly amazed at the generosity of others. 

I’ve been receiving endless amounts of phone calls from people wanting to donate anything from $25 to $2,500. 

There’s also an abundance of companies and groups wanting to do their part to help.  This list includes:
  • ORU Students & Faculty – Donated 1,270 toys and canned foods through their 5th Annual Bring Good Cheer Toy Drive
  • Jimmy’s Egg – Providing a warm breakfast for our bellringers later this month.
  • QuikTrip – Donated hundreds of coupons for our bellringers to get a warm sandwich after spending several hours in the cold weather, ringing that bell.
  • Panera – Donated bagels throughout November for our bellringers.
  • Queenies – Donated muffins, fresh out of the oven, for our bellringers earlier this month.
  • Mod’s Coffee & Crepes – For four consecutive Thursdays (November 29th, December 6th, 13th and 20th), Mod’s is donating 25% of its sales from 4pm-10pm to help get donations for our “forgotten angels.” These are angels on our angel trees that are either left on the tree, or not returned.
  • JC Penney – When shoppers check out to pay for their gifts, they’re asked if they want to give their change to the Salvation Army to help with our programs.
  • AAON and Tulsa Gold & Silver – Both companies are Matching Kettle sponsors. Aaon matched all kettle donations up to $5,000 on Saturday, December 8th. So far, December 8th has been our biggest return for donations – likely because of the kettle match. Tulsa Gold & Silver is taking it a step further, pledging to match up to $10,000 on Saturday, December 15th and $15,000 on Saturday, December 22nd.
  • Dilly Deli, Tulsa Oilers, Merritt’s Bakery, Incredible Pizza, Regal Cars, Air Power Systems, 1stStarBank and Miss Jackson’s – All of these are having toy drives for the Salvation Army. This is greatly needed, considering we have 1,000 more angels on our angel tree.
This is just a few of the many, many acts of kindness shown to the Salvation Army this holiday season. We appreciate all of these people, group and businesses for showing what this season is really about by getting into the spirit of giving! 


Friday, December 7, 2012

Kettle Matching Saturdays: $1 = $2!

    When you walk by a red kettle on Saturday, it’s more important than ever to throw in whatever change you may have with you. Why? Because that change will be doubled on the next THREE Saturdays!

    We couldn’t do this without the generosity of two businesses:
 Aaon and Tulsa Gold & Silver.

    Aaon has pledged to match every kettle donation on Saturday, December 8th up to $5,000. This means if you put in $1, it will turn into $2. When I went to thank the people at Aaon, I noticed the company also has an angel tree in its lobby to encourage employees to adopt an angel this season. Aaon definitely has the spirit of giving. 

    Tulsa Gold & Silver has taken their kettle match to the next level. The company will match kettle donations on December 15th up to $10,000 and on December 22nd up to $15,000!! Tulsa Gold & Silver has been a big supporter of the Salvation Army and has really helped our kettle campaign in the past.

 Rachel Davis, whose husband John owns Tulsa Gold & Silver, has a special connection with the Salvation Army: her parents are former officers in the Army! 

    So spread the word! If you see a red kettle, donate what you can. We have more people to help this season and we want to make sure everyone has a smile on their face when they wake up on Christmas morning!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ring A Bell, Bring A Toy, Get A Deal On A Nutcracker Ticket

Photo from
Watching the Nutcracker ballet is a tradition in my family. Every December, since the age of 4, I have put on my best holiday dress and watched the wonderful tale of a fairyland Christmas.  This year, I’m taking my 5-year-old niece!

You have a unique opportunity to watch the Nutcracker FOR FREE while also helping the Salvation Army.  We are partnering with Tulsa Ballet this Christmas to help bring cheer to the community. 

The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to ring a bell in front of the Performing Arts Center before and after every Nutcracker performance.  The volunteers will get a free ticket to the Nutcracker and will be able to enjoy the show in between ringing the bell. Bellringing will start an hour before the show and 30 minutes afterward. So for just a few hours of your time, you can enjoy a great holiday show. 

There are eight performances:

  • Saturday, December 8th -2pm   TAKEN
  • Sunday, December 9th- 2pm
  • Saturday, December 15th- 2pm  TAKEN
  • Saturday, December 15th- 7pm  TAKEN
  • Sunday, December 16th- 2pm
  • Saturday, December 22nd- 2pm TAKEN
  • Saturday, December 22nd- 7pm TAKEN
  • Sunday, December 23rd- 2pm TAKEN

Contact Jenny McElyea, Volunteer Coordinator, for volunteer opportunities, via email or phone- 918-587-7801.

In addition, Tulsa Ballet is also holding a Toy Drive for the Salvation Army. If you bring a toy by the Tulsa Ballet building – located at 1212 E 45th Place South (near 45th & Peoria), you will get $5 off a ticket to the Nutcracker! This is a great way to get a discount, while also helped the 8,570 angels on our Angel Trees. 

Thanks to the Tulsa Ballet for helping the Salvation Army make this a happy holiday for everyone!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Getting It": Pre-teen Discovers Holiday Spirit

   “Look, Mom! This angel has my name and is exactly half my age!” My son had been scouring the Angel Tree at Woodland Hills Mall after the Kickoff ceremonies, looking for an angel of his own to adopt. Now 12, he announced he was old enough to pick his own angel and asked if he could spend some of his savings to buy the presents for his angel. This proud Mom said yes and gave him a big hug.

I was thrilled that he “got it.” He understood that while we might not be rich financially, we could help a child (six-year-old Riley) have Christmas presents under the tree that he wouldn’t otherwise have. (Did I say I was proud?)

Saturday, The Tulsa Area Salvation Army officially opened the Angel Tree programs at Promenade and Woodland Hills Malls. More than 12,000 angels will be up for adoption. The children and elders the paper angels on these trees represent are counting on people like me, my son, and you, the generous citizens of the Tulsa area, to help them have a Christmas. Not a great Christmas, not even necessarily a good Christmas, but a Christmas at all.

Will you join my son and me in this small act of kindness?  We’re going shopping for our angels this week so we can get them back to The Salvation Army by the deadline of December 12. 
We hope to see you out there too! 
 - DJ

Photos of the event, by DJ Morrow. 

Cash and Carry from K95FM and Lee Ann Taylor from KTUL/Channel 6 talk Angel Tree withMrs April Taylor at Woodland Hill Mass on Satursday, November 17th.

Girls Quintent "MP3" sang at both Promenade and Woodland Hill Mall Kickoff events.

Iconic Salvation Army brass band spread holiday cheer for all to hear!