A Fresh Start to a New Year

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We hope that you have had a wonderful summer! With the beginning of the school year comes many stresses for families as they strive to complete all the tasks necessary. Paying school fees, buying new clothes, and getting the right school supplies are among these essential tasks to get ready for the year.

Our latest venture, Suit Up! was specifically created for this occasion to help relieve those stresses. We gave the children of disadvantaged families a gift card to use at an Old Navy for their personal shopping spree. It was our third time executing this event event and it was a rousing success! The stores, opened after-hours specifically for these children, filled up within minutes; the children, alongside their guardians, had a wonderful time shopping for new outfits and finding some great accessories. Each child was assisted by volunteers and they were able to choose items that they loved. This was our most successful Suit Up! yet; we gave the opportunity to 172 students to start of the year with some fresh clothes and a fresh start.

With Suit Up! now completed, we would like to invite you to begin thinking about our next initiative, the Helping Hampers campaign! This event will happen near at the end of December and will require much preparation and fundraising. We are expanding the project this year to more schools and more cities! We hope that in our efforts to expand this project we will see increased success and have a meaningful impact on a larger community. You can read more about Helping Hampers under the projects tab on our website.

From everyone here at the GEOMEER team we wish you a wonderful start to your school or work year and we remind you to always take the time to think of those in need.

It’s Time To Suit…Wait For It…Up!

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With classes starting in three weeks, back-to-school is coming too fast for many families. The return to school comes with many costs; families must pay for bus passes, school fees, new school materials, books and clothes. On top of this, regular bills must be paid and food for lunches must be bought. Suddenly, the piling up of expenses at this time of year becomes quite the daunting task for many families. For this reason, we at GEOMEER created the event Suit Up! to relieve some of the back-to-school stress on families living in poverty. This year, we will be collaborating with two Old Navy locations to provide an “after hours” clothes shopping spree for children in need. Families get to take their children shopping and these young students begin the school year fresh with new clothes that have chosen themselves. If you would like to support our event, please donate online through our Donate Now tab. Your funds will ensure that young students can go back to school with new-found confidence.

Suit Up is Back!

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With classes starting in three weeks, back-to-school is coming too fast for many families. The return to school comes with many costs; families must pay for bus passes, school fees, new school materials, books and clothes. On top of this, regular bills must be paid and food for lunches must be bought. Suddenly, the piling up of expenses at this time of year becomes quite the daunting task for many families. For this reason, we at GEOMEER created the event Suit Up! to relieve some of the back-to-school stress on families living in poverty. This year, we will be collaborating with two Old Navy locations to provide an “after hours” clothes shopping spree for children in need. Families get to take their children shopping and these young students begin the school year fresh with new clothes that have chosen themselves. If you would like to support our event, please donate online through our Donate Now tab. Your funds will ensure that young students can go back to school with new-found confidence.

Shine Some Light into the Lives of Others

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            Welcome back everyone to warm sunny days, dinners on the patio and the best months of the year. Spring has arrived in time to dry up the trails, grow the grass and prepare the beautiful landscape of the Whitemud Ravine for the participants of the 2013 Aspen Gardens Community Challenge.

This is the second year that the Fun Runs will provide you an opportunity to donate to charity while enjoying a sunlit day of activity and fun. The registration is very similar to last year: the 10 K Run/Walk Challenge is an individual entry for $40 and the Family and Friends Fun Run/Walk is a team entry of up to 6 people for only $40 per team. After the race, there will be food and entertainment including face painting, an inflatable obstacle course for all ages and more. Registration is easy, follow this link and you will be redirected straight to our personalized race page http://www.events.runningroom.com/site/?raceId=9153.

GEOMEER’s projects support families that are most often classified as “food insecure.” This classification means that they cannot access or afford healthy, sufficient and safe food. In 2011, the cost to feed a family of four for a month was $700. For families with a single parent trying to work, manage childcare and pay many other bills to maintain a house, food is a big expense coming out of their salaries. These numbers have undoubtedly gone up since first reported two years ago. The Edmonton Food Bank alone helps over 15,000 people receive food boxes every month. Approximately 40 percent of these people are children and they go to school hungry many days in the month.

Although it is hard to think of hard times and suffering while the sunny days are keeping our mood up we must remember that there are neighbours in our communities that cannot escape hardship. Shine some light into the lives of those who need it most and volunteer for a local organization or donate to a local charity that is trying to make a difference in your community. It is like a two for one: you help better the lives of your neighbours and your own life benefits as well!

 

References: Cavanaugh, S. 2013, What’s for Dinner?, Canadian Nurse, vol. 109, no. 3 p. 22-25

http://edmontonsfoodbank.com/about/

Be A Lucky Charm for Your Community

March is in! The days are getting longer, brighter and just a little bit warmer. We have been gearing up for the season by making some additions and planning out upcoming events. First of all, GEOMEER has added a governance board that will work on long term planning to ensure that we will continue developing with a purpose and a plan. Our GEOMEER executive team will continue to work on our yearly projects like Helping Hampers, Suit Up!, the Gala and the Fun Run to maintain quality service to families in need.

That brings us to our second announcement this month. The second annual Aspen Gardens Community Challenge will be taking place on Saturday, June 8th. If you missed it last year then you want to make sure to participate this time around. We have a 10 kilometer walk/run mainly in the Whitemud ravine trails as well as a 5 kilometer family fun walk/run. After the race, there will be food and a full day of entertainment and activities. You can access the registration page through the running room website under the races tab.

On another note, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and this is a time for celebration. We challenge you to celebrate the variety of charitable societies that exist in the Edmonton community and volunteer for a few hours. It could be anything from helping out at a Mustard Seed dinner to going for a walk with your family and cleaning up the neighbourhood of some litter. You might just find some leprechaun’s lost gold under the next piece of litter you pick up.

Cheers,

GEOMEER

A Celebration of Success

It’s February and you know what that means, it is the month of love. And, we will be sharing the love by hosting our second annual Gala for our sponsors and partners.  This evening gives us the chance to recognize the people who ran the Helping Hampers project at various schools and businesses and those who donated to support 105 families this year. This also gives us the opportunity to hear some feedback from the families to see the lasting effect of the hampers.

 

With February halfway gone, Valentine’s Day is here. This is considered THE day of love. This year, if you want to try something different, show your love by volunteering for an organization. It may not be the traditional fashion to celebrate this occasion but it will make for a memorable experience and can have a great impact on another’s life.

Have a happy Valentines Day and a great February from everyone here at GEOMEER!

A Great Cause for Celebration

It looks like we made it safely through 2012 and that is great cause for celebration. What should we celebrate about? Nothing more than the great success of this year’s Helping Hampers project!

This December, we took a big step and engaged not only with every Edmonton Public School but we also reached out to Calgary and began the project’s expansion to include Alberta’s “other” major city. With over 100 schools and businesses on board we managed to raise over $210,000 worth of food items, hygiene products, household supplies, and gift cards. In the process, the volunteers and students helped families have a happy holiday season complete with presents under the tree. In December alone, over 17,000 students engaged in a project that is not only educating them about the gravity of local poverty but also empowering them to put an end to it. Without the help of the students and volunteers this project would never be possible and we are grateful for their many contributions to our success.

Since our founding, GEOMEER has raised over $460,000 in hampers and provided hundreds of families with long term provisions and a chance to break out of poverty. This year we will continue our expansion and we aim to provide quality assistance to families in need. And that is only the hampers that we are talking about. This year will be the third time Suit Up! will be run. In August, just in time for back to school, this event will provide students living in poverty with a mini shopping spree so they can go back to school in style.

But before the excitement of Suit Up! is upon us we have two exciting events. In February, we will be hosting our annual gala once more for all of the businesses and sponsors that have supported us throughout the past year. After our gala there is a temporary reprise as we prepare for the second annual Fun Run. This is our biggest fundraiser and it is a chance for you to become involved. Similar to last year there will be a 5k and 10k walk or run designed for families followed by an afternoon of fun activities. You can get some fresh air, exercise, fun and best of all you can talk with all of your favourite GEOMEER members. We hope to see you there.

This is also the anniversary of our GEOMEER blog and we want to thank you for being loyal readers. We will continue keep you informed and inspired with our monthly blog.

As you can see, this year is going to be busy and we are anxious for it to begin. Challenge yourself this year and see how you can make a difference. Because Community Matters.

Helping Hamper Feedback – 2011

Hello everyone! With the majority of the Helping Hampers campaigns underway in Alberta high schools, junior high schools, and businesses, we thought we would share some feedback that we received from last year’s campaign. We hope it will inspire and motivate all the good people who are working hard to make this year an even bigger success!

Family #1

The family has shared that the hamper has continued to bring their family joy. Mom has not had to worry about deciding what essential items or groceries need to be left off the list because they are still enjoying the hamper in February!

The daughter was especially thrilled that her mother could relax about money issues. Her mother is a single parent and full time student. Her six-year-old brother loved his teddy bear – it was so soft and cuddly. He always sleeps with this toy. The mother said her daughter went ‘ballistic’ when she saw her stuffed ‘turtle’. She has appreciated her gym shoes – she really needed them. One of the gifts was really important – she loved her books and has read them all! She loved Phantom in the Sky and says reading is one of her passions.

She says her family has enjoyed the gifts for the last two months and they still have items left! This is a wonderful project. You are changing their lives!

Family #2

WOW!!  The family was thrilled with the hamper they received. They were grateful for the food, as well as the personal items. When asked about their hamper, each family member had an item that they really enjoyed. The beautiful bracelet delighted the mother. She said that she had always wanted one and that the one she was given was amazing! She felt really special receiving such an amazing gift. The nerf gun and farting putty made a hit with the boys. The art set was perfect for the daughter as she really enjoys art. The gift cards were great and useful. The three-year-old boy loved his mega blocks.

The generosity and compassion of this hamper is overwhelming. To have such thought put into not only the gifts given but also into the care shown through the wrapping of the gifts not to mention the amazing leadership of the students who delivered the items to the school……inspiring!

Family #3

Thank you once again for coordinating this amazing event.  The parents were completely overwhelmed.  They had no idea that the help would come in such volume and range of support.  The young boy that is in our school could not stop grinning and joyfully helped carry the packages into the house.

After the 4th or 5th trip to the truck and back the mom and dad just kept saying “Oh my gosh, there’s more?”  By the end they were speechless and mom was in tears.

She said, “I had pretty much lost hope in the thought of communities helping in this manner and that when you are struggling you are always on your own.  This changes everything.”

They offered us a can of pop, and gave us a thank you card, which simply said,  “Thank you for the much needed help.”

One of the significant side effects is that the boy at our school has now had an opportunity to witness and experience, first hand, the Gospel message of hope and joy from those who believe that faith and love is an action, not just something written in a Bible and talked about in religion class.

On behalf of the family, and all good people doing good things, Thank you students and staff for making a difference in a big way, one family at a time.

Thank you, one and all, very much and God bless you and abundantly!

Family #4

I can’t even begin to express to you and your students the impact that the “hamper” had on the family from our school. I was moved to see what the family would be receiving – not just enough for Christmas but enough to sustain them through the year. What a wonderful gift to a very deserving family!

I spoke with the mother after the delivery in the morning and she was brought to tears when I explained just what she would be receiving. When I mentioned there were also some Christmas gifts for the children, she was speechless.

PLEASE pass on our sincerest gratitude for the work your students have done to pull this all together.  What a difference they are making in our community!

Please know that your efforts made a significant impact in the lives of the family that received the hamper. The recipient family had recently gone through a traumatic change in the family and the mom was feeling overwhelmed with her emotional state. She struggled to shield her three children from her own emotional despair. Your gifts not only provided a reprieve from financial demands, your gifts also provided a wonderful cushion from extra emotional strains as well. The mom of this family had tears in her eyes when she saw the baskets filled with items.

This act of true generosity was most valued. Please know of the big embrace mom shared as a thank you.

Upon receiving the gifts, one of the children in the family commented the next day saying, “It was you, wasn’t it, Principal? You were the Santa who came to our house.” I told this young girl that actually there were a lot of great Santas in the world!

Thank you!

 

Good luck to everyone with their campaigns!

Helping Hampers 2012

GEOMEER has just launched its third annual Helping Hamper’s campaign!

Students across central Alberta are busy painting posters, handing out flyers and divvying up their Donation Lists for this year’s collection. Soon the campaigns will begin and the donations will mount. Why the excitement? How does GEOMEER motivate our local teenagers to bring in food items, toiletries and household goods?

It’s simple: these students know that their donations will change the lives of a family who could be living within their own neighborhood.

Here’s a quick peek at what’s taking place in our Edmonton schools right now:

Large high schools such as M.E. LaZerte, Jasper Place and Harry Ainlay are gearing up to each bring in 10 hampers. That’s over $20,000 from each school! W.P. Wagner, J.Percy Page, Lillian Osborne, Ross Sheppard and Vimy Ridge are preparing to each complete 5 or more hampers. And ever our smaller schools like Queen Elizabeth, Academy at King Edward, Victoria, McNally, Keyano, J.D. Bracco, Eastglen and Vernon Barford are all doing at least a hamper each.

The goals for Helping Hampers this year are outstanding, and the community impact will be immense. I’ll keep you posted as the campaigns continue to launch over the next couple weeks!

Your school isn’t part of the project this year, but you still want to make an impact? What to do?

Donate now to GEOMEER and your proceeds will go towards one of the 105 families who need a helping hand this year. GEOMEER is completely non-profit, all staff are volunteers and every donation (big or small) will go towards one of our events for needy families.

Winter is Finally Here

 

At last, winter is graciously falling upon us with layer upon layer of snow. This marks the beginning of many new and exciting activities: skiing and snowboarding, tobogganing, skating and more. However, it is also the beginning of the hardest struggle for families living in poverty. Though it is hard to believe, a report from the Edmonton Social Planning Council states that in 2009, 279,000 Albertans were living in poverty. The number of children that were living in those conditions increased 40% from the past year. Even more shocking is that 47%, almost half of those families, had one or more members working full time all year round.

Although the report is 3 years old, the conditions today are similar. These figures are surprising and saddening, and are why GEOMEER is so determined to provide a solution to the problem. Our charity, staffed entirely by volunteers, works with families, children in the school system, and parents in the work force – all people that are trying their best to maintain a normal life but simply cannot keep up.

Because the hampers that we supply are worth about $2,000 each, we are doing our best to give Albertans hope for the future. Currently, the Helping Hampers campaign is about to kick off in over 100 schools and businesses across the province. It is an exciting year as we have teamed up with even more schools, businesses and community partners in Edmonton, Calgary and rural Alberta. The lists have been upgraded, several new staff have joined the team, and we are making new connections every day. We have high hopes and our new goal is to raise over $215,000 in monies and goods.

These are big goals but we are confident that we can reach them. We are always looking for donations and it is easy to give through our website under the Donate Now tab. Rest assured, that all of the funds raised go straight towards the hampers to make them last as long as possible.

We hope that you will continue to follow us as the campaign gets underway and we will be sure to keep you updated with new reports, videos and anything else in the news about this year’s campaign. We will do everything in our power to help these families get back on their feet, and we sincerely hope that you will continue to join us in this endeavour.

 

References:

http://www.edmontonsocialplanning.ca/content/view/1174/1/