How to raise a charitable child + generationOn’s campaign to raise $1 million worth of donated toys

Here’s a double-decker of a post for those of you who try to encourage your kiddos to volunteer and be charitable individuals.

I got this message just this morning, but the content starts back before Thanksgiving. ‘Tis the season for such things.

Enjoy!

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Take a flashlight tour through ‘Haunted Hollow’

This Thursday, Oct. 18, the little playground in downtown Missoula will be haunted.
How do I know? A Carousel for Missoula told me so. In fact, they’re looking for volunteers to help with the haunting.
That involves turning Dragon Hollow into Haunted Hollow and giving guided flashlight tours through spooky mad science labs, an obstacle course and a dragon’s lair (apparently the dragons of Dragon Hollow are sticking around for this!).
The transformation promises to be good fun, and it’s for a good cause – a fundraiser for A Carousel for Missoula. Kids 12 and younger can get in for $4 and older kids can check it out for $6.
The haunted flashlight tours will take place on Oct. 18-20, and Oct. 25-29. Each evening will be broken into two segments, with the earlier one (from 6-8 p.m.) offering a less-spooky version of Haunted Hollow for younger kiddos to enjoy, and the later time (from 8-10 p.m.) getting full-on scary!
Interested in volunteering to help out? Call volunteer coordinator Ray Davis at 523-9803.
For more information about A Carousel for Missoula, go to www.carouselformissoula.com or call 549-8382.

This Thursday, Oct. 18, the little playground in downtown Missoula will be haunted.

How do I know? A Carousel for Missoula told me so. In fact, they’re looking for volunteers to help with the haunting.

That involves turning Dragon Hollow into Haunted Hollow and giving guided flashlight tours through spooky mad science labs, an obstacle course and a dragon’s lair (apparently the dragons of Dragon Hollow are sticking around for this!).

The transformation promises to be good fun, and it’s for a good cause – a fundraiser for A Carousel for Missoula. Kids 12 and younger can get in for $4 and older kids can check it out for $6.

The haunted flashlight tours will take place on Oct. 18-20, and Oct. 25-29. Each evening will be broken into two segments, with the earlier one (from 6-8 p.m.) offering a less-spooky version of Haunted Hollow for younger kiddos to enjoy, and the later time (from 8-10 p.m.) getting full-on scary!

Interested in volunteering to help out? Call volunteer coordinator Ray Davis at 523-9803.

For more information about A Carousel for Missoula, go to www.carouselformissoula.com or call 549-8382.

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Youth Service Expedition program pays teens for volunteering

I just read the announcement that the Montana Conservation Corps is accepting applications from teens ages 15-17 to join its Youth Service Expedition program.

The program puts these kids to work in teams that tackle outdoor projects four four weeks over the summer. It “combines outdoor adventure, education, job skills training and fun!” according to the Governor’s Office of Community Service.

What’s more, each teen will get a $200 Service Award for participating. Which begs the question: Is it still considered volunteering if it results in payment? Even a payment as tiny as $200 for four weeks of work?

Montana Conservation Corps President and CEO Jono Kinney has this to say about the program: “The summer Youth Service Expeditions are a terrific opportunity for young Montanans to get outside and reconnect with values that make Montana great – values like hard work for quality results, service to community, stewardship of our public lands, and working together in common purpose.

“I see a lot of big smiles when these kids return from a month with the corps. They know they’ve done something great,” he added.

Here are more details:

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Teen philanthropists bring tales of Brazil’s orphans back to Missoula

Speaking of good parenting, somebody is sure raising these kids right. The five members of the Missoula Youth Philanthropy Club recently returned from a 10-day visit to Brazil, where they hung out with some 200 fellow teenagers at the Betel Orphanage.

They did so with a big boost of community support thanks to the Missoula Community Foundation. And along the way, “the club raised $6,800 for the Horses for Orphans program, which also operates similar programs in India and Mozambique.”

The club is looking for new recruits to replace the members who will be graduating this spring. AND it is also looking for worthwhile projects on which to bestow grants of up to $1,500. So if you know a teenager who might fit the bill, encourage him or her to look into the youth philanthropy club. And if you know of a good group that could use a grant, encourage its members to apply. The current application process will be open through April 1. Here’s where to find more information.

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Time to sign up to become a court-appointed special advocate

Court-appointed special advocates, or CASAs, have been under discussion in Montana a lot recently in part because of the movement to create a statewide set of guidelines for guardians ad litem (GALs).

These are the folks charged with representing the interests of children in court cases and custody battles, and their work as volunteers is badly needed and vitally important.

Now’s your chance to learn more and sign up to become a volunteer. The new spring training series for Missoula and Mineral county will begin March 15; that’s in less than a month.

Here are the details:

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Be a role model for a kid who has witnessed domestic violence

“Many people don’t realize how much kids are affected by the violence they see in their homes. However, domestic violence has a huge impact on children,” says YWCA Pathways Director Bridget Hanna. “These kids are in need of adult role models who can show them alternatives to violence in a safe and caring atmosphere.”

And where can these adult role models be found? Why, right here in Missoula. They are you, if you agree to volunteer and attend some training, courtesy of the local YWCA. The first orientation session will be held next Thursday, on Feb. 17 (5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.), followed by another orientation opportunity on Tuesday, Feb. 22 (4 p.m.-5:30 p.m.).

The orientation will give you an overview of what to expect if you decide to go ahead with volunteering to be an advocate for women, men and children who have experienced crisis. Then, there’s “a 45-minute training session starting March 9 to prepare them to take shifts at the shelter, advocate for survivors of violence, and/or answer the 24-hour crisis line,” according the YWCA, after which, “Volunteers join the YWCA’s team of staff advocates in providing crisis intervention and emotional support to women, men and child survivors of domestic and sexual violence.”

Why is this important? I’ll let the the YWCA’s call for volunteers explain:

Kathy never thought it would happen to her. Domestic violence was something she saw in old Lifetime movies, not in her own living room. That’s why it took her five years to gather up her 4-year-old daughter and finally leave her husband. When Kathy called the YWCA crisis line and spoke to an advocate, her shoulders relaxed as she let out a huge breath of air – for the first time in five years, she felt safe.

For more information, including applications, visit the YWCA website (www.ywcaofmissoula.org) or send Pathways volunteer coordinator Bradley Seaman an e-mail at bseaman@ywcaofmissoula.org.

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Montana Mentor of the Year dies

Del KeyDel Key played an instrumental role in the lives of untold numbers of Missoula kids. While a relative newcomer to the area, having moved to Missoula only six years ago, his time here made a big impact.

He spent hours upon hours at Russell Elementary School, where he volunteered in several different capacities. Del Key was especially irreplaceable in the school’s homework club. And he also volunteered at other organizations around town, including the Missoula Food Bank and Missoula Aging Service.

But it was his work at Russell that earned him the statewide honor of being named Montana Mentor of the Year.

Last Friday, Jan. 21, Del Key died at St. Patrick Hospital, and all of Montana is poorer for this loss.

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Help make the holidays special for kids going through a tough time

The Missoulian’s Tandy Khameneh put it beautifully in her Thanksgiving Day “We Care” column: “Sometimes children are not able to be with their families, but you can help make them feel special during the holiday season.”

There are many ways to show kids who belong to needy western Montana families – or who find themselves apart from their families this winter – that they are part of a community that cares about them.

Yesterday’s “We Care” column, for one, provided a wish list for the current residents of Watson Children’s Shelter, an emergency shelter for children ranging in age from newborn to 14 years old who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment or other family crises. Give the shelter a call at 549-0058 to find out which wish list items have been filled and which are still needed.

In Ravalli County, some 250 children have pinned their holiday hopes upon the angel tree inside the Prudential Montana Real Estate office in downtown Hamilton. The organizers of this gift-giving effort are urging anyone interested in buying a present – or perhaps several presents – to bring them in by Dec. 10 so that they can be wrapped and delivered in time for Christmas.

“I know it’s a really hard time for everybody this year, but if we band together as a community, we can get this done,” organizer Carolyn Corter says.

As much as I dislike shopping, it’s always fun to buy presents for kids. You really don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a child feel special. A box of new crayons and a journal-style book of blank pages only costs about $2 – but the lift it gives the recipient is absolutely priceless.

– MM

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Superman is a regular at Missoula Taekwondo Center

How lucky we are – all of us in Missoula – to have a teen like Michael Graef living in our community. Thanks to today’s story in the Missoulian, we all know what makes 16-year-old Graef so special through the eyes of 8-year-old Dylan Helms. To Helms, Graef “is Superman.”

The Hellgate High School junior helps Helms, who has a rare genetic disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia, participate in twice weekly tae kwon do classes by providing “physical and emotional support.”

As uplifting and inspiring as it was to see this story on the front page, it was quite the downer to read this article directly below it on the fact that Missoula schools are seeing an increase in hungry and homeless students. The story notes that 200 students at Franklin Elementary alone are lugging home a week’s worth of food, courtesy of the Missoula Food Bank and its generous donors, to help feed their families.

Here are the numbers:

Districtwide, the percentage of children on the free-and-reduced lunch program rose steadily from 2007 to 2009, but seems to have peaked in 2010.

From 2007 to 2009:

  • the percentage of K-5 students on the program rose from 40 percent to 46.5 percent.
  • the percentage of grade 6-8 students on the program rose from 30 percent to 40 percent.
  • the percentage of high school students on the program rose from 24 percent to 31 percent.

“It’s the biggest demographic change I’ve seen in my entire life, and I’ve been doing this for 33 years,” said Valerie Addis, supervisor of food and nutrition services at MCPS.

Sounds like this town could use a few more Supermans. Anyone feel like following Graef’s example? Volunteer, or donate cash or food, to the Missoula Food Bank at 219 S. Third St. W. The number to call is 549-0543. Also consider WORD‘s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance program, which could also use volunteers to help tutor homeless students. The number to call for that is 543-3550, ext. 227.

– MM

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Love a good argument? Sign up to be a speech and debate judge

The Missoula County Public Schools Garden City Invitational Speech & Debate Tournament approacheth! And “hundreds and hundreds” of community volunteers are needed to act as judges for the Missoula meet.

Seriously, it’s a fun way to spend a couple hours on a Friday or Saturday. This year’s meet will take place Nov. 5 and 6, and volunteer judges should plan on attending a preparatory clinic on either Nov. 1 or 3 at 6:30 in the cafeteria at Sentinel High School.

You can find all these details plus a judges’ handbook online, at www.judgeforensics.com/missoula. There’s even a big handy-dandy “Sign Up” button right there on the webpage! Or, contact Sentinel Speech and Debate Head Coach – and World Languages Department chair and French teacher – Libby Brunell Oliver at 360-5295 or lmoliver@mcps.k12.mt.us.

According to an e-mail from Oliver, help spreading the word would be much appreciated: “We could really use everyone’s help!  It takes hundreds and hundreds of volunteers to do this.  Please consider and sign up right away!  Thank you!”

Big Sky High School will host the debate rounds and the speech rounds will take place at Sentinel.

“Thanks to those of you who have signed up to judge already!” Oliver writes. “As you know, we can’t do this event without community volunteers!  Our kids are amazing and if you haven’t done this already, please consider giving an hour or so of your time to judge.  It is not hard and we will train you!”

So there – it’s fast, it’s easy and it’s fun. Go give it a whirl!

– MM

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