JR and Vanessa are at St Mary’s Food Bank lending a helping hand and saluting organizations that make communities stronger. With school just around the corner they begin with an organization that helps kids get ready to return to school.
Stitches of Love began in 1967 when the Salt River flooded in Phoenix. Christine Wilhelm, Stitches of Love volunteer, explains a lady and her friends began sewing clothing for children needing clothes after the flood. Today Stitches of Love has over 500 volunteers.
Every month throughout the year an open house is held for volunteers to select materials to be used for a sewing or crafting project. The next month the finished item(s) are returned and held in inventory until the Back To School Clothing Drive distribution the 2nd Saturday in July. It is exciting for the kids to get their backpacks and clothing and what they need to start school. It is important for children to feel confident about going back to school. To find out more out Stitches of Love go to backtoschoolclothingdrive.com/programs/stitches-of-love
The next organization making a difference is one fostering creativity and self-expression. Art Helping Kids can be life changing.
Free Arts AZ is changing lives. Professional teaching artist Ryan Ingram, dance instructor for Free Arts Hip Hop Camp, explains the intent of the camp is to introduce kids to the Hip Hop Culture. The camp gives kids the tools and avenues to express themselves creatively through music, art and dance.
This year the camp is held at ASU for a week in July. Campers come from all over the valley and from a variety of environments; forester homes, group homes and treatment centers. The camp gives them an opportunity to interact and hear each other’s story and to know they are going through similar experiences. One student has attended the camp four times and says the camp has become the family he never had. He explains it has increased his sense of confidence. Once a kid that retreated to the corner, he is more open and reaches out to others.
Ingram explains the camp helps kids find their voice. It gives them hope and opportunities they wouldn’t have – it helps them heal. Visit FreeArtsAZ.org for more information.
For more than 36 years Parenting Arizona has played a vital role in the community and throughout the state of Arizona. Erika Mendoza, Parenting AZ Director with Chicanos Por La Causa shares the mission of Parenting AZ. The mission is to prevent child abuse and maltreatment of children by empowering parents to thrive. Through the organization parents are given tools and techniques to raise healthy and successful children.
In 2014 CPLC directly served 5,000 families and provided outreach to 46,000 families throughout Arizona. Parenting AZ did a survey of parents participating in the programs and services and 98% of parents reported they have been able to better support their children. Of the parents currently being served 97% indicated knowing more about child development. The services are offered statewide and are free. To learn more and be connected to the right programs visit parentingaz.org.
After 14 years of Operation Santa Claus this August will introduce the first ever Operation Summer Claus. Summer Clause will support the four charities supported by Sanderson Ford’s Operation Santa Claus – Military Assistance Mission, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities Phoenix and St Mary’s Food Bank. Max Sirstins, of Sanderson Ford, recognizes the charities have needs year round, not just at the holiday season. He notes all of the charities are in Phoenix but they reach statewide. All the money donated stays here to help the local charities and communities.
David Kimmerle, CEO of Sanderson Ford, has dubbed Max the Father of Operation Santa Claus, an event that has grown year after. For Kimmerle giving back to the community has always been a part of Sanderson Ford’s 60 years of doing business. Sanderson employees are involved and the community is involved. Community helping community is a powerful thing.
August 3-9, OperationSummerClaus.com will begin accepting donations. A $10 donation is suggested but any donation is accepted and appreciated. Going on line and registering is an opportunity to be entered in a drawing to win a holiday trip to Ney York City. After August 9th the selection of a winner will be made. The prize includes airfare, four nights of hotel accommodations, $250 spending money and tickets to a Broadway show. This first ever Operation Summer Claus is a great way to help Sanderson Ford help these charities. These charities and Sanderson Ford have helped thousands of families. Visit OperationSummerClaus.com for more information on the Claus.
JR tips his hat to firefighters by putting on their hat.
Seeing what firefighters do on a daily basis is the purpose of JR’s visit to the Phoenix Fire Department Academy.
JR, along with Sonya Contreras, Phoenix Fire Department Academy Media Coordinator gives viewers a glimpse of what it takes to be a firefighter.
Shelly Jamison, Battalion Chief and 15 year Phoenix Fire Department veteran runs the Public Affairs Division. She explains that the Technical Rescue Team (TRT) handles very difficult rescues; high angle rescues, swift water rescues, tight space rescues, etc. TRT handles the events the regular trucks don’t do. She explains to JR that there is more to firefighting than “turning off” fires. Chief Jamison says the majority of calls are EMS, Emergency Medical Services.
All fire fighters are trained as an EMT, and many are paramedics. She notes that the trucks carry state of the art life support equipment.
Joaquin Torres, a multidiscipline firefighter, tells JR it is important to stay motivated and committed to accomplish one’s dream.
After putting on 75 pounds of gear and completing a course at the academy JR gains insight and appreciation for firefighters.
Volunteering their time at St Mary’s Food Bank was a way for Vanessa and JR to tip their imaginary hats to organizations that make communities stronger. They conclude the true heroes are those who do work on behalf of others.