by Miss December 2016, Lacie Ring
Depending on where you look, GIVING has many different meanings. My favorite definition that I’ve found of the word giving is…”to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow.”
I want to share with you some ways of giving back in Arkansas that you may overlook.
If you read my introduction post, you know I have been very involved in PTO. Volunteering has been a large part of my life for the past 6 years. As a stay at home mom, it was a luxury I could afford. That’s because it doesn’t cost a dime to volunteer, just a little time and effort. Seeing the smile on a child’s or teacher’s face is so extremely rewarding. Ok, so there may be a little payback with those rewarding smiles.
Teachers receiving free #teachtotes from PTO Today while doing the Mannequin Challenge.
There are so many aspects of volunteering. Fundraising is a big one. The only way the PTO can purchase things such as new playground equipment, books, school supplies, or technology items is through fundraising. The Greenbrier School District hosts a Fall Festival fundraiser every year. I had the honor of chairing this event in 2012. We raised over $100,000 in less than 2 months. That was my first experience in asking for donations. Boy, did I learn a lot. I’ll never forget getting Best Buy to donate an IPad for our raffle. I felt like I conquered the world.
I recently learned about a fundraiser that you may not be aware of yet. It’s through our very own Little Rock Gourmet Popcorn Store the Pop Pop Shoppe. For every dollar spent, they give back 40%. That’s amazing! Plus, there are no upfront costs and they package everything so you don’t have to sort a thing. If you are looking for a fundraiser, check out the Pop Pop Shoppe. Fundraising is a large part of giving back to our schools. It’s a community effort and every dollar makes a difference.
Just remember, even if you can’t volunteer in person, you can help in other ways. When you receive those letters from your children’s school or PTO asking for help, that’s the time to give back.
Our local school food banks are another amazing way to give back. I recently attended an award ceremony at The Greenbrier Middle School. The Principal mentioned “the kids can’t meet their full learning potential unless their basic needs are met.” This really resonated with me. During the ceremony, I was reminded of a competition to stock the food bank that had taken place and my friend, Amy Crum, helped set this up. I called on my friend to get more details. The information poured out of her like a proud momma talking about her baby. I can’t even tell you in words how excited she was of this amazing program. Amy was in awe of how the teachers got behind this cause. She spoke highly of Mrs. Foster’s and Mrs. Shaw’s homeroom classes for sending in the most food and winning the competition. Check out the trophy that the winning classroom received.
Amy expressed that it wouldn’t be possible without Hope Johnson’s help and the donations from the Greenbrier Nazarene Church. The church donated 50 dinners for Thanksgiving including a turkey and all of the fixings. Our local Harp’s and McDonald’s donated the prizes for the competition. It’s always amazing to me when a big company like McDonald’s helps such a small (on the scale of things) project. Amy was super impressed at how easy it was to get support. She went into our local McDonald’s, asked for a donation, was given a main office phone number for our area, made the call and was given the donation. This is why we put our big girl pants on and ask for what we need. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s a complete circle of giving.
Keep in mind when you are eating your regular dinner or taking a normal shower, someone else might not have that luxury. Think about your children’s’ friends and what they may need. Their best friend or a friend of a friend may be the person that needs a helping hand. Sometimes, in our daily lives, we tend to forget that others need a little help. Donating to your local food bank or food pantry is an amazing way to give back. Not only does our food bank need food around the holidays but it relies on donations throughout the year. Please let us know if you would like to contribute and help families in need with this effort to give back by emailing me at easypeasypleasyblog(at)gmail(dot)com.
Another amazing way to give back in Arkansas is through Rhea Lana’s. Did you know that after every sale, you can donate your unsold items? One of my good friends Melissa Polk owns the Rhea Lana’s of El Dorado Franchise. So, naturally she was my go to contact for more information. Melissa told me that, since 1997 Rhea Lana’s has made giving back a major focus of what they do. With 80 franchises in 26 states, giving back through Rhea Lana’s reaches far wider than just Arkansas. Melissa stresses, it’s all because of the very generous consignors. Their generosity is making lasting changes in communities across America. Thousands of items are donated at the end of each event.
The donations go to local non-profits such as local foster families, school guidance counselors, pregnancy crisis centers, community clothing closets, etc. Not only does Rhea Lana’s make sure those items get into hands of needy families after the sale, they also make giving back a priority all year long. Specifically, in El Dorado, Melissa with Rhea Lana’s has partnered with Hope Landing for each event to provide other items besides clothes for the Hope Box.
In an upcoming event in the spring they will be partnering with The Call in Union County to host The Arkansas Heart Gallery. Melissa proudly says we are moms helping moms. I love that! Make sure and check with your local Rhea Lana’s to see how you can make a difference by giving back.
Have you ever thought about the lottery as a way of giving back? The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has helped provide close to $700 million for scholarships to Arkansas students since 2009. That’s a lot of giving back to our children. More than 92 cents of every dollar spent goes to prizes, scholarships, retailer commissions, and other expenses. Did you know that over 235,000 students have been awarded the Academic Challenge Scholarship? I checked it out and there have been over 10,000 scholarships awarded in my county alone. That definitely gives me hope for my kiddo to receive some financial help when it’s his turn to attend college. Go out and purchase Arkansas Scholarship Tickets this holiday season to help give back to our students. Make sure and use #GiveInstantJoy if you post any pictures on Social Media.
Last but not least, let’s not forget about the Arkansas Women Bloggers and The Women Bloggers. I wouldn’t be anywhere in blogging without this whole community of wonderfully supportive women. Stephanie Buckley’s support is never ending! Next time you get an email or social media message from Debbie Horton Arnold, Julie Bulissa Kohl, Ashley Ederington, or Rhonda Bocock Franz asking for help in an unpaid capacity, that’s your chance to give back to this community. It takes a village to raise this baby we call the Arkansas Women Bloggers and together we are that village.
My hope in writing this post is to bring awareness to ways you can give back that you may not know about while supporting our own. My motto is…”Give what you can every chance you get whether big or small.”