Next donation drive: Sat., Oct. 20

“I want to thank you and your volunteers so much for such wonderful gifts for my son. He really enjoyed his books! May all of you be blessed for putting such a big smile on his face on his birthday!”

–furniture client after one of her sons received his presents from our My Birthday Matters program.

“You really outdid yourself! I’m so grateful and happy for everything! I love everything!”

–former shelter resident whose family received a delivery from our Simple Household Needs volunteers.

NEXT DONATION DRIVE IS OCT. 20!
A chill is in the air! Time to start collecting winter outerwear once again. Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse.

If you can’t make it on Oct. 20, we’ll have drives next month on Nov. 3 and Nov. 17 (Nov. 17 is also our open house). Mark your calendars!

In addition to outdoor winterwear for people of all ages and sizes, our clients need:

BRAND NEW: mops and brooms, boy’s socks for ages 5 and up, books for tweens, small “shopping” bags to put smaller items in for kids who are in pre-K or younger (older kids get backpacks), Amazon Fire 7 tablets (when you see them on sale).

NEW OR GENTLY USED:Curtain rods, DVD players, dish sets (no random dishes or glasses needed), crockpots, toaster ovens, toasters, pots and pans, baking pans/cookie sheets, large serving bowls, shower rings, kitchen scissors, pot holders and trivets, can openers, water pitchers, measuring spoons and cups (small or large), hand towels, bath rugs, sheets (esp. full), blankets of all sizes, comforters (esp. twin, queen, king), air mattresses, mattress pads (all sizes esp. queen).

CURRENT FURNITURE NEEDS (NEW OR GENTLY USED): mattresses and box springs, kitchen tables and chairs, dressers or chests of drawers, TV stands, nightstands, coffee tables, end tables, small desks and bookshelves.

If you would like to donate larger (essential) furniture, please email photos to brenda@simpleneedsga.org. If you can deliver, GREAT! If not, include address as well  (Cobb County only).

One of our goals for our furniture clients is for them to not spend too many nights sleeping on the floor. We do not receive enough donations of mattresses and box springs, so we often need to purchase them.We welcome financial contributions toward the purchase of those. Donate here.

Additional donor resources:
SNGA client Amazon Wish List
Our updated list of client needs
List of what SNGA clients are offered

A WARM GIFT FROM THE DAVIS ACADEMY
The Davis Academyin Sandy Springs recently collected more than 160coats of all sizes, as well as bags of hats, scarves, gloves and socks, for Simple Needs GA’s clients. Check out our blog post to read more about this fantastic donation, which will go a long way toward keeping our clients warm and cozy this winter!

A VERY SPECIAL (ANONYMOUS) DONOR
A steady stream of boxes has been showing up on the doorstep of Brenda Rhodes, SNGA Founder and Executive Director, for the past few months.

The items for SNGA clients have included floor lamps, sheets, crockpots, pillows, ironing boards and irons, kitchen garbage cans, vacuums, toasters, shower rings and curtains, cutlery, toys, stuffed animals, craft books and even Amazon Fire tablets. “We’re not just talking about one or two of each item,” Brenda said. “There were 16 floor lamps!”

And they all came from the same donor. “This particular person has been ordering almost every needed item I’ve posted on Facebook lately,” Brenda said. “She’s just amazing.”

While the donor wants to remain anonymous, we thought we’d thank her in the newsletter, anyway! We also wanted to share her story.

In 1977, the donor was four years old when she moved with her family from India to Canada. Her parents, whose business in India had recently gone under, arrived in their new country with just $80 in their pockets. The donor, who now lives in East Cobb, says she will never forgot the generosity others showed her family during its time of need. “We lived with my aunt and uncle for four or five months when we came to Canada,” she recalled. “I remember people donating used furniture and mattresses to us when we moved into our first one-bedroom apartment.”

Her parents, she says, taught her the value of hard work and stressed the importance of education. “Now they can retire very comfortably,” the donor explained, “and I feel like it’s my time to give back.”

Thanks so much to this donor—you know who you are!—for your incredible generosity. You’re making a real difference in the lives of our clients!

DIAPER DAY REMINDER
Diaper Day is Mon., Oct. 29. Please consider helping out! See their Amazon Wish List. SNGA is one of the agencies that receives some of the diapers.

GO KIWANIS!
The board for the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, Golden K, recently voted to sponsor Simple Needs GA in a major way. “We will be getting $4,000 per year from the club to support our programs for children and families in need in Cobb County,” Brenda explained. “They have donated to us in the past, but we were floored when Pat Abbott contacted us to tell us about the quarterly, $1,000 sponsorships. We are truly honored!”

At SNGA, we’re huge fans of the great work our local Kiwanis clubs do in the community. It includes things like supporting the Georgia Special Olympics Winter Games in Marietta or the Lost Mountain Golf Tournament, awarding scholarships, supporting educational programs and, of course, donating to local nonprofits.

Brenda is a charter member of the Mountain View Professionals Kiwanis Club, a so-called 123 Club that meets in the evenings. The group recently got together to make no-sew blankets for SNGA’s My Birthday Matters program.

Kiwanis Mountain View 2
Left to right: Matt Bearden, Matthew Ellis, Brenda Rhodes, Ginny Braswell, Kelly Ellis)

Way to leverage your connections, Brenda! 😀

Thanks again to the wonderful folks at Kiwanis!

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL HOA DAY
On Oct. 6, we had another fantastic Hands on Atlanta Daywith volunteers from First Data(a regular contributor to SNGA) as well as new volunteers from Imerys S.A., a French multinational company that specializes in the production and processing of industrial minerals.

“The volunteers got a lot done—from the many Comfort Kits they put together, to the cleaning kits, to clothes-sorting, program supply organizing and much more,” Brenda said. “It was especially great seeing the ‘repeat offenders.’ ”

“The First Data team really enjoyed volunteering at Simple Needs GA and was so impressed with all the amazing work that you and your team do for so many people in Cobb County—simply amazing!” said Katie Lefebvre, Vice President, Relationship Executive. “We were honored to play a small part in this great effort. We look forward to the next opportunity to work with you and your fine team.”DSC_0084

The feeling is mutual, Katie! Thanks so much to all of the volunteers and board members who came out on Oct. 6. You can watch a short YouTube video with some pics here.

BIG BLANKET HAUL—THANKS TO RACETRAC!
Under the leadership of CEO Allison Moran, locally based c-store chain RaceTrac is a strong supporter of a wide range of charitable causes. This past September about 50 employees at RaceTrac’s Store Support Center in Smyrna spent a couple of hours putting together dozens of new-sew blankets for the homeless children who receive them via our My Birthday Matters program.

Wilson Wood, Specialist (pictured), Marketing Partnerships & Projects, delivered the blankets during our donation drive and volunteer day on Oct. 6.

“We were so excited to get those blankets!” Brenda said. “In fact, some of our volunteers who were working on birthdays didn’t quite have the right blankets until Wilson saved the day with the big delivery. We can’t thank RaceTrac enough! We really appreciate their ongoing support!”RaceTrac Blankets2

EAGLES AT THE WAREHOUSE
Another shout out goes to the 14 Georgia Southern University alumni(pictured) who volunteered at our Marietta warehouse on Sept. 22 as part of GSU’s National Alumni Day of Service.

The former Eagles sorted donations, organized blankets, prepared birthday gifts and prepped Comfort Kits. It was their first time volunteering with Simple Needs GA, said Emily McDonald, who learned about SNGA because her church is involved with the Family Promise of Cobb County shelter program.

SNGA collaborates with Family Promise by supplying Comfort Kits for its residents as well as celebrating kids’ birthdays. When the families find a new home, they become furniture clients as well.

The volunteers did a great job and were a joy to work with, Brenda said. “We were so lucky to have their help,” she said. “The Eagles are welcome back anytime!”GSU Group

NEXT OPEN HOUSE IS NOV. 17
Mark your calendar—the next open house at our Marietta warehouse will be Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We hope you’ll stop by the warehouse to chat, grab a bite to eat, meet some clients and talk about our mission. We’re also planning to have a very special holiday event—giving our clients a chance to have their kids photographed with Santa for free! 😀

Email Brenda@simpleneedsga.orgif you have questions or need the address!

We hope to see you there!

SNGA WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBERS!
Please join is in welcoming two awesome new members of Simple Needs GA’s Board of Directors: Nancy Riley and Jen Sypeck. “Both Nancy and Jen have been incredibly helpful to Simple Needs GA as volunteers and are a joy to work with,” Brenda said. “We’re thrilled to welcome them to our board. Their broad volunteering experience and diverse skills are already coming in handy. Thanks so much to Jen and Nancy for pitching in as part of our board!”

UH OH. OUR FURNITURE RENT HAS TRIPLED.
Our rent for furniture storage space has more than tripled—but in a good way.

Due to the large increase in furniture clients, Brenda explains, we are spending much more money on truck rentals and labor than we did last year. The long and the short of it: We need to ramp up our donations to offset these costs. One great way to do that is through monthly or otherwise recurring donations from regular contributors. You can support SNGA by setting up a monthly donation, either electronically or by check. We call it our Simply Caring campaign. For info on how to donate, click here.

 

A Warm Gift from The Davis Academy

The Davis Academy in Sandy Springs recently collected more than 160 coats of all sizes, as well as bags of hats, scarves, gloves and socks, for Simple Needs GA’s clients.

“Our students were particularly concerned and alarmed to think of kids their age and families like their own not having warm clothes for winter,” said Rabbi Micah Lapidus, Davis Academy’s Rabbi and Director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies. It’s the largest Reform Jewish day school in the country and the largest K-8 academic organization in Georgia.

“The need for winter outerwear in our community is always high, and it’s fantastic to get so many high-quality items this early in the season,” said SNGA Founder and Executive Director Brenda Rhodes. “Now we’re all set to give warm clothing to our clients who come by for household items. We’ll also be sharing these donations with our collaborating agencies such as LiveSAFE Resources. Any new hats, gloves and scarves could be used for our Spirit of Christmas program as well. Thanks so much to everyone at The Davis Academy!”

The SNGA drive, which ran Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, coincided with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The school, Rabbi Micah explains, strives to have a social action component to all of its holidays. “We want our students to understand that no holiday celebration is complete unless we think about others and take action toward making the world a better place,” he said.Leah and Eva 4 web

The drive was a collaborative effort involving the parent teacher organization, as well as the year-old Tzedek (righteousness) committee. “This committee is responsible for planning community service programs throughout the school year, giving our school community an opportunity to get involved and to give back,” Rabbi Micah said. (Davis Academy parents Kathleen Hoff, Celia Chase and Leah Golub (pictured, with her daughter Eva) are the committee organizers for 2018-19’.)

According to Rabbi Micah, the school believes communities are stronger when people work together. “We pride ourselves on lifting up and supporting the work of organizations like SNGA,” he said. “We want our students to understand how we make a difference in this world so that they can carry on this legacy themselves.”

Thanks again to The Davis Academy for its support of people in need!

Donation drive this Sat., Sept. 15

“Thank you from me and the girls for all of your help! We really appreciate your kindness and generosity. Our place feels so much better, especially being able to sleep comfortably.”

 

“I didn’t expect all of this. Thank you so much!”

–Clients who recently received furniture and household items from SNGA’s Simple Household Needs

“Every time I volunteer there, I am reminded how good I have it.”

–recent Simple Needs GA volunteer

UPCOMING DONATION DRIVE
Greetings, all!

Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. See list below for some of our most-needed items.

If you can’t make it on Sept. 15, we’ll have drives next month on Oct. 6 and Oct. 20. Mark your calendars!

Hard to believe it, but it’s time to start collecting winter outerwear once again for people in need. We’re collecting new and gently used coats, jackets, sweaters, hats, gloves, mittens, long underwear, earmuffs—any outerwear that could help keep someone warm. We’re collecting items for people of all ages and sizes.

In addition, our clients are in particular need of:

  • vacuums
  • kitchen trashcans
  • irons and ironing boards
  • mattress covers
  • comforters (queen and king especially)
  • blankets (all sizes)
  • new backpacks
  • pot holders and mitts
  • kitchen towels
  • hand towels
  • birthday paper for boys (especially older)
  • books for tweens and teens
  • new stuffed dinosaurs and
  • new stuffed kitty cats

Our clients always need what we call “small items.” When clients come to our space, they get to choose dishes, bedding, small appliances and SO much more. Here is a list of what they are offered.

If you have any of these to donate or could purchase some of these items new, we would be most grateful.

We are, of course, always collecting furniture as well. If you would like to donate larger (essential) furniture items, please email photos/phone to brenda@simpleneedsga.org. If you can deliver, GREAT! If not, include address as well. Note that we only pick up in Cobb County.

One of our goals for our furniture clients is for them to not spend too many nights sleeping on the floor. We do not receive enough donations of mattresses and box springs, so we often need to purchase them. Therefore, we welcome financial contributions toward the purchase of those.

For a full list of needed items, please click here.

OUR NEWEST PROGRAM IS SIMPLY FUN!
Simple Needs GA is in the early stages of planning a new program that will help families in need attend uplifting cultural events. For more info, check out our blog post on what we’re calling Simply Fun!

9-YEAR-OLD CELEBRATES HER BIRTHDAY—BY GIVING BACK
At Simple Needs GA, we’re always so impressed when children take it upon themselves to celebrate their birthdays by giving back to others. On several occasions, we’ve had kids donate all of their presents to children in need.

Recently, a local 9-year-old named Sadie once again donated her birthday gifts (this year, in the form of a $100 Target gift card) to Simple Needs GA. (Sadie and her sister have donated for their birthdays for the past three years running.)

Sadie Birthday Target Card
Order left to right Ali, Isabela, Jamie (mom), Sadie and Amelia

 

And Sadie is still at it! In lieu of lemonade, Sadie began hunting and selling golf balls at the beginning of 2018—all with the intention of donating the proceeds to Simple Needs GA.

What terrific kids!

 

 

MAKING RECURRING DONATIONS THROUGH OUR ‘SIMPLY CARING’ PROGRAM
Did you know that recurring donations are one of the most important sources of support for nonprofits across the United States?

You can support SNGA in a major way by setting up a monthly donation, either electronically or by check. We call it our Simply Caring campaign. For info on how to donate, click here.

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
Facebook fundraisers (example) can be an easy and efficient way to support our mission. Feel free to leverage your social media peeps! 😀

Donate online here. Donations can be sent to Simple Needs GA, Inc., P.O. Box 670265, Marietta, GA 30066.

To volunteer as an individual, company, church or other organization, contact us at brenda@simpleneedsga.org. Visit our volunteer page for more info.

smile.amazon.com is a great way to support SNGA. Just sign up for the program and choose Simple Needs GA from the list. After that, AmazonSmile will donate to SNGA each time you make a purchase! Just remember to go to the smile.amazon.com portal before you do your shopping!

Check out how you can support us in similar fashion by signing up for Kroger Community Rewards!

Bike Donation EDITED

5 yr old boy Sept 2018 edited

Our new program is…Simply Fun!

“This is the best day of my life!”

That’s what a little girl said to her mom after watching a matinee of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” this past June at a children’s theater in Marietta.

She was one of 13 children and nine adults who had been invited to From the Top Theatrics to watch the show and enjoy a pizza party with cast members dressed as Disney characters. The delighted VIPs were all clients of Simple Needs GA who had faced challenges such as homelessness or domestic violence.Programs

The little girl’s comment made an organizer cry. It also sparked SNGA’s newest program—“Simply Fun.”

“These kids had never been to a live performance in their lives,” said Brenda Rhodes, founder and executive director of SNGA. “It made me realize that they weren’t just missing out on things like new clothes or other material necessities. Their families don’t have the money to take them to the kinds of uplifting and entertaining events that other children get to go to all the time.”

Simply Fun aims to change that, one family at a time.

The program focuses on enabling Cobb County families and children in need to attend plays, concerts, sporting events and more. “The ‘gift’ here is for these families and their kids to have experiences that put smiles on their faces and create lasting memories,” Brenda said.

In addition to referring its clients to the program, SNGA will work with local social workers and referral agencies to identify families in need.

To get the program started, the Marietta-based nonprofit is now seeking the following help from donors, volunteers, corporate partners and local creatives.

  • donations of event tickets from Cobb County family entertainment venues of all types and sizes
  • financial donations for tickets and for things like soda, popcorn, souvenirs and transportation to and from events [Donation information here]
  • assistance from individuals willing to act as coordinators/team leads for the program
  • ideas and suggestions for fun, uplifting and entertaining events

“We are in the early stages of planning Simply Fun and are totally open to everyone’s ideas for how to make this program a big success for our clients,” Rhodes said. “If you have contacts at local venues or among local creatives, or if you just have some thoughts or questions, we’d love to hear from you!”

For more information, or to donate to Simply Fun, email info@simpleneedsga.org.

 

Donation Drive on Sat., Aug. 18, from 10-1

Greetings, all.
Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. See list below for some of our most-needed items.

If you can’t make it on Aug. 18, we’ll have drives next month on Sept. 1 and Sept. 15. Mark your calendars!

Within the past week, we added six new families to our list of those who are emerging from homelessness and need furniture and beds. Just to help these families, we’re seeking—in good shape (no stains, damage or excessive wear and tear):

  • three twin mattresses
  • five twin box springs
  • one full mattress/box
  • two queen box springs
  • bed frames of any size
  • three armchairs/recliners
  • two small kitchen table sets (we have plenty of larger tables but they won’t fit in their apts)
  • two sofas
  • three TV stands (or very small entertainment units)
  • one dresser

If you have any of these to donate, please email photos/phone to brenda@simpleneedsga.org. If you can deliver, GREAT! If not, include address as well. Note that we only pick up in Cobb County.

In addition to furniture, we are running very low on what we call “small items” for these clients. Each client comes to our space and gets to choose dishes, bedding, small appliances and SO much more. Here is a list of what they are offered. Next trip to the Dollar Tree or Walmart, please consider picking up a few things from the list.

We welcome financial contributions toward the purchase of mattresses, box springs and other household essentials as well.

For a full list of needed items, please click here. Specific needs for our My Birthday Matters program (very recently updated!) are posted on our SignUpGenius.

‘LITTLE HELPERS’ MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE
Thousands of children have rolled up their sleeves to help people in need over the past eight years thanks to a service organization called Little Helpers. It all started in 2010 when founder Tran Bui Smith had an epiphany.

“It just happened one day,” she said. “I’m looking around at all of the stuff that was in my house—all of the kids’ toys—and thinking ‘This was not how I grew up.’ ”

Click here to read more of our blog post on a fantastic organization that is all about teaching children the value of hard work, gratitude and giving back. We’re so grateful to the volunteers and donors at Little Helpers for the help they have provided to Simple Needs GA and for the overall vision of this organization!

LittleHelpers

BARNES & NOBLE—A CONSISTENT SNGA PARTNER
Last year, Brenda was strolling the aisles at Barnes & Noble Cumberland (2952 Cobb Pkwy.) looking for nifty toys and books for the homeless schoolchildren who are recipients of Simple Needs GA’s My Birthday Matters program.

“Since it never hurts to ask, I decided to tell the folks at Barnes & Noble about our nonprofit mission and programs,” she said. “Right away, Barnes & Noble Cumberland donated some great toys and books to Simple Needs GA—all brand-new and ideal for our clients.”

BarnesandNobleCumberlandTo Brenda’s pleasant surprise, the store has continued to contribute to SNGA ever since. “They’ve contacted us several times to make donations of a wide variety of toys, books and collectible items for kids,” Brenda said. “In addition to providing us with items that entertain and educate our clients, these donations also help us stretch our limited financial resources in ways that benefit more people in need in our community.”

Thanks so much Barnes & Noble Cumberland! You are A-OK in our book! 😀

WE’RE THRILLED TO BE LINKED UP…WITH LINKED UP CHURCH
When Claudia Manigault reached out to Brenda regarding Marietta-based Linked Up Church’s Serve Day on July 14, Brenda knew it would be a great collaboration. “Claudia has volunteered with us several times with her employer UCB as well as on her own,” Brenda said. “We love her!”

Linked Up Church did a drive and brought donations of many boxes of toiletries to SNGA, and plans to do more in the future! Thanks so much to Claudia and Linked Up!

BACK TO SCHOOL SPURS DEMAND FOR UNIS
Now that your kids are back in school, are their required uniforms getting a bit snug? Feel free to donate them to Simple Needs GA’s Uniforms for Excellence program, which helps schoolchildren in Cobb County “dress for success” by providing them with required school uniforms their parents struggle to afford.

In support of Uniforms for Excellence, donors provide gently used khakis, skirts and polo shirts that meet the requirements of individual schools. Alternately, they fund the purchase of brand-new uniforms.UniformsforExcellence

SNGA opened and continues to supply a school uniform closet at the Powder Springs United Methodist Church, where social workers can find the uniforms that specific children need. As we collect unis year-round, we either add them to the closet or distribute them to the Marietta City and Cobb County school uniform closets.

If you’re interested in helping us with this, keep an eye on clearance racks at discount-oriented retailers like Walmart. On one trip, we found 10 pairs of khakis for just $7 or $9 each, along with 30 polos at just $3 each!

DONATION DRIVE BY SGS GETS AN A+
This past July, about 50 employees from Marietta’s Southern Graphic Systemsdonated a hefty amount of much-needed school supplies for clients of Simple Needs GA’s My Birthday Matters program. Thanks so much to SGS and Project Coordinator AnDreka Jones!

The donations included at least 30 Ziploc bags full of school supplies along with backpacks, toys, books and more. SGS reached out to Simple Needs GA as part of the packaging and marketing company’s ongoing efforts to give back to the community, AnDreka says.Andreka Jones 2

“We thought SNGA was a great fit for us,” she said. “In particular, we loved the idea of helping kids who don’t really get to celebrate their birthdays because of their living situation. We were just there to be able to put that smile on a child’s face.”

SGS enjoyed the experience so much, in fact, that the company plans to continue working with us, especially as our Christmas program cranks up in November. “This is the beginning of something that is going to be great for us,” AnDreka said.

And for SNGA, too! Thanks again to the awesome folks at SGS!

SHOUT OUT TO OUR FACEBOOK FUNDRAISERS
We just wanted to say thanks to those of you who have used Facebook to raise money for Simple Needs GA. One recent example is Rob Bruce’s birthday fundraiser, which brought in $290 (out of a goal of $200). As Matt Harper and other SNGA contributors have learned, Facebook fundraisers can be an easy and efficient way to support our mission. Feel free to leverage your social media peeps! 😀

Rob Bruce Fundraiser Pic

 OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP SNGA
Donate onlinehere. Donations can be sent to Simple Needs GA, Inc., P.O. Box 670265, Marietta, GA 30066.

To volunteer as an individual, company, church or other organization, contact us at brenda@simpleneedsga.org. Visit our volunteer page for more info.

smile.amazon.com is a great way to support SNGA. Just sign up for the program and choose Simple Needs GA from the list. After that, AmazonSmile will donate to SNGA each time you make a purchase! Just remember to go to the smile.amazon.com portal before you do your shopping!

Check out how you can support us in similar fashion by signing up for Kroger Community Rewards!

 

‘Little Helpers’ Makes a Big Difference

Thousands of children have rolled up their sleeves to help people in need over the past eight years thanks to a service organization called Little Helpers. It all started in 2010 when founder Tran Bui Smith had an epiphany.

“It just happened one day,” she said. “I’m looking around at all of the stuff that was in my house—all of the kids’ toys—and thinking ‘This was not how I grew up.’ ”

After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Smith’s family fled Vietnam as part of the mass exodus by sea of up to 800,000 South Vietnamese. The refugees braved overcrowded, rickety boats—not to mention typhoons and pirates—to escape execution or imprisonment by the communist government. Tens of thousands died trying to reach safe havens such as Australia, the United States or Hong Kong.

“My parents were in their 20s, and my sisters were one and two,” Smith said. “The pictures that you see of people running and escaping by boat—that was us. We were boat people.”

After living in refugee camps, the family eventually settled in Arkansas. From an early age, Smith tackled household chores and cared for her younger siblings while her parents worked. Her early life was tough, she says, but it taught her many lessons—especially the importance of gratitude.

Smith wanted to make sure her children, who were two and five years old at the time, appreciated their abundant material and other blessings, she says. Already a longtime community volunteer, she approached two friends with an idea.

“I said, ‘What do you think about starting a group where we all volunteer once a month? We can just schedule an event, put it on the calendar and go,’ ” she recalled. “I feel like we schedule all of these things for ourselves and our children, whether it is sports or the gym or going out with friends. Why not make service a priority, too?”

After launching the first Little Helpers in Memphis, Tenn., Smith and her family moved to Rochester, N.Y., and started a chapter there as well. Today, Little Helpers has 17 chapters all over the country, with more starting this fall. A former TV news reporter, anchor and producer, Smith is a freelance video producer. She founded the Metro Atlanta chapter of Little Helpers in 2015 after relocating to Roswell. “I have families who come from all over the Atlanta area—from places like Acworth, Woodstock or Lawrenceville—to volunteer with us,” she said.

LH LOGOFor the past couple of years, Little Helpers has generously supported Simple Needs GA through both volunteer hours and in-kind donations. On June 16, about 30 children and adults from Little Helpers gathered at SNGA’s Marietta warehouse to sort and organize inventory and donations, assemble Comfort Kits, put together no-sew blankets, and more.

“They’re a fantastic group of volunteers,” said SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes. “It is so inspiring to see kids of all ages working alongside their parents to give back to their community.” Little Helpers’ donation drives have also benefitted SNGA’s clients in a major way, Brenda says. “Last October, they donated a huge pile of socks and underwear for our clients, and they’re planning to organize another drive for us this fall,” she said. “They’re amazing!”

35381736_2014812881894018_6264241017038307328_oSince 2010, Smith and the Little Helpers volunteers have cleaned parks, visited nursing homes, made sandwiches for the homeless, walked dogs at a rescue center and planted flowers at a shelter for abused women, to name just a few service projects. They deliver treats and thank-you notes to first responders in remembrance of 9/11 and routinely collect food, toiletries, backpacks, school supplies and other items for people in need. The group’s “Appreciation Station”—a table that volunteers sometimes set up at local festivals—is all about gratitude. “We put out cards, markers and pens and get people to stop by and write a thank-you note to someone who has been kind to them,” Smith explained.

Today’s conflict-ridden and social media-obsessed world can seem dark and chaotic, Smith notes, but when young people engage with their communities they are more likely to see the good in themselves and in others. That, in turn, can lead to lasting changes in their character. “I have seen it over the years,” she said. “It becomes a part of who you are.”

Now Smith’s children Ava, 10, and Jackson, 13, treat others with kindness all on their own, she says. “To me, this is as important as making good grades, staying healthy, having a good spiritual relationship, whatever it is,” she said. “It’s a big priority and a big commitment, but it is worth it. It is good for your heart.”Little Helpers Oct 21 2017 in action

Occasionally, Smith concedes, part of her would rather sleep in on a Saturday than head to another service project, but the feeling never lasts long. “I have never, ever left a service project and thought ‘Boy, that was a waste of my time,’ ” she said. “You might go somewhere doubting whether you’ll really make a difference and then something powerful will happen. Maybe you’re the only person who sees it or experiences it. That’s all it takes to change you.”

For more information about Little Helpers, email tranbsmith@gmail.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/LittleHelpersofAtlanta/

20180616_102341
Little Helpers volunteers @ SNGA’s warehouse

 

Next donation drive: Sat., July 21!

“I just moved out of a homeless shelter. I was approved for my own apartment, but I have no furniture or household items at all. Please let me know if you might be able to help.”
—recent email to Simple Needs GA

 UPCOMING DONATION DRIVE
Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., July 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. See list below for some of our most-needed items.

If you can’t make it on July 21, don’t forget that we have added a Donation Drive (same time and location) on the first Saturday of every month as well. Next month that first-Saturday drive will be on Aug. 4, followed by the regular third-Saturday drive on Aug. 18. Mark your calendars!

Right now we’re very low on some much-needed items for our clients (gently used items or new, please; no stains or damage.). These include:

  • dish sets, larger pots and pans, casserole dishes
  • silverware, vegetable peelers, pizza cutters
  • comforters, blankets, mattress pads, queen and full sheet sets
  • full/queen/twin mattresses, box springs, beds/frames
  • small- to medium-sized dining tables (or card tables)
  • new brooms and mops
  • DVD players
  • diapers size 4
  • irons and ironing boards
  • boys’ underwear
  • birthday wrapping paper for teen boys
  • backpacks for boys and teen boys

For a full list of needed items, please click here.

Email brenda@simpleneedsga.orgif you have anything to donate at this time. For large furniture, please email photos; we will arrange for you to drop off or for us to pick up (in Cobb County). Thank you for your support!

‘LITTLE MERMAID JR.’ PERFORMANCE DELIGHTS SNGA CLIENTS, CHILDREN
A children’s theater company performed “The Little Mermaid Jr.” for a special audience of VIP guests—clients of Simple Needs GA who have faced challenges such as homelessness or domestic violence.programs.jpg

During the June 30 matinee at From the Top Theatrics, the audience included 13 children and 9 adults invited by SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes. Afterward, the families had a pizza party with the “Little Mermaid Jr.” cast—still dressed as characters like Ariel, Eric, Ursula and Sebastian—and some Disney princesses, too. The children also opened Lego sets, sports balls, nail polish and other presents provided by From the Top Theatrics and SNGA’s My Birthday Matters program.

“It was like having a well-known production company put on a production just for us,” said an SNGA client who brought her son, daughter and niece to the show. “The colors and everything were amazing. The kids had an awesome time and are still talking about it.”20180630_172908

Founded in 2015 by Jessie Curtis, Cara Jollie and Jenn Loudermilk, From the Top Theatrics always donates a portion of its ticket sales to a local charity (the organization’s slogan is “a play in charitable acts”). Its first production (“Aladdin Jr.”) raised $1,134 for the Rally Foundation to fight childhood cancer. Its second (“Once on This Island Jr.”) brought in $575 for Camp to Belong, which reunites brothers and sisters separated in foster care.

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” was From the Top’s third production. It took in $1,125 to support My Birthday Matters and other SNGA programs!

“We were just thrilled with the generosity and talent of the amazing cast and crew,” Brenda said. “Our client families don’t get to go to shows like this, because they just can’t afford it. For them, it was an incredibly special day.”

Loudermilk, artistic director and resident music director, said she was moved by the way the party and performance affected the children and families who attended. “One of the little girls told her mom ‘Thank you so much for this day. This is the best day of my life,’ ” Loudermilk said. “When the mom shared that with me, I had to walk away because I was starting to cry. Kids are the center of everything I do. I’m a teacher in the daytime, and then I teach music and theater here after school. It’s where my heart is, and it’s the heart of this organization.”

From the Top Theatrics features casts ages eight to 18. For more info, call 678-961-3867 or visit www.fromthetoptheatrics.org.

 

GREAT NEWS ON THE FURNITURE FRONT!
This past spring, we lost the 1,300-sq.-ft. space we were using to store furniture for our Simple Household Needs program. A generous donor stepped forward to help us afford commercial storage while we pounded the pavement to find a longer-term replacement. And we have some good news! We did indeed find a new space and moved in on Sat., July 14. We’ll provide more details later, but if you have furniture or mattresses in good shape (no stains or damage) let us know!Black_Recliner

Just email brenda@simpleneedsga.organd include photos, address and phone number. Thanks to all of those who worked so hard to help us in our quest!

 

 

SOME SHOUT OUTS!
Did you know that since 1972 Cobb County government employees have donated more than $2.3 million to local charities? It’s all thanks to a service organization called the Friendship Club, which recently donated $500 to Simple Needs GA! Thanks for all your great work, Friendship Club!

Thanks again also to the Cobb Marietta Harry Norman office, which held a yard sale on May 5 that raised $1,000 for Simple Needs GA. Brenda recently visited the office at 776 Whitlock Ave. NW to thank everyone for their hard work, speak a bit about SNGA’s mission and pick up the check! 😀

BELOW: Harry Norman’s Carson Wernz (l) and Lane McCormack present the generous donation.HarryNorman

We’ve been meaning to thank the awesome Kennesaw State University students [BELOW] who volunteered at our Marietta warehouse on April 14 as part of KSU’s Day of Service. We truly appreciate all of the help you provided and hope to see you all at the warehouse again! Thanks so much!

20180414_113500.jpg

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP SNGA
Donate onlinehere. Donations can be sent to Simple Needs GA, Inc., P.O. Box 670265, Marietta, GA 30066.

To volunteer as an individual, company, church or other organization, contact us at brenda@simpleneedsga.org. Visit our volunteer page for more info.

smile.amazon.com is a great way to support SNGA. Just sign up for the program and choose Simple Needs GA from the list. After that, AmazonSmile will donate to SNGA each time you make a purchase! Just remember to go to the smile.amazon.com portal before you do your shopping!

Check out how you can support us in similar fashion by signing up for Kroger Community Rewards!

 

 

Next Donation Drive: Sat., June 16th!

I went beyond the walls of SNGA’s warehouse today to deliver a birthday to a pre-k child with Brenda. We were welcomed with open arms. Each present was opened with a ‘wow’—claps, cheers and a lot of thanks—and ended in hugs from the grandmother, mother and child. Simple Needs GA is a beacon of love and joy, especially to displaced children in our community. When you give to SNGA, you’re giving more than just furniture, funds or your time at the warehouse; you’re giving hope and encouragement to the children and parents who need it most!
— Lisa, a volunteer who delivered My Birthday Matters presents to a family this past May

UPCOMING DONATION DRIVE
Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., June 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. We are in need of gently used or new microwaves or vacuums. Also, toasters and other kitchen items.

If you can’t make it on June 16, don’t forget that we have added a Donation Drive (same time and location) on the first Saturday of every month as well. Next month that first-Saturday drive will be on July 7, followed by the regular third-Saturday drive on July 21. Mark your calendars!

Right now we’re very low on some much-needed items for our clients (gently used items or new, please; no stains or damage.). These include:

  • dish sets, larger pots and pans, casserole dishes
  • silverware, vegetable peelers, pizza cutters
  • comforters, blankets, mattress pads, queen and full sheet sets
  • full/queen/twin mattresses, box springs, beds/frames
  • small- to medium-sized dining tables (or card tables)
  • dressers and chests of drawers
  • cable-ready TVs (not too heavy) as well as TV stands
  • new brooms and mops
  • DVD players
  • Diapers size 4
  • Irons and ironing boards
  • Boys’ underwear

For a full list of needed items, please click here. Specific needs for our My Birthday Matters program (very recently updated!) are posted on our SignUpGenius.

Email Brenda@simpleneedsga.org if you have anything to donate at this time. For large furniture, please email photos; we will arrange for you to drop off or for us to pick up (in Cobb County). Thank you for your support!

 A MEANINGFUL CONNECTION FOR SNGA
This past spring, about 100 students at Connection Pointe Christian Academy, a private school in Austell, raised a total of $500 for gift cards, brand-new household items, shoes and more for SNGA’s clients. It was all part of a lesson plan of sorts by kindergarten teacher Valerie High (pictured), who was keen on making sure the children (pre-k to the eighth grade) understood the value of service.

“The monies the kids raised were actually their offerings they brought in for our Chapel time, which we have every Wednesday,” she said. “It helped our students better understand what it means to give to others as an offering. We talked to them about how there were kids who did not have the same luxuries as they do, or even simple things like getting birthday presents or brand-new shoes.”

valerie-w-donations.jpg
Valerie High of Connection Pointe Christian Academy

The students were touched this past May when SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes visited the school to talk about My Birthday Matters, Shoe Them Love, Simple Household Needs and other SNGA programs, High explains. “I love the vision that Brenda and all of her volunteers have for helping the community,” she said. “Meeting those simple needs that people have can really make a difference when they are transitioning out of homelessness or are otherwise in need.”

High has experienced such challenges firsthand. “My husband and I, along with our three kids, had to live in our car for three months,” she said. “So I understand what it’s like to transition from not having anything to finally getting back to a place where your needs are met. It’s part of why I like Simple Needs GA’s mission so much.”

High launched the giving program for the 2017-2018 school year with the blessing of principal Teresa Cannon. “All of the teachers here were very supportive of the giving program and helped make it a success,” High said.

Thanks so much to Valerie and the awesome students and teachers at Connection Pointe Christian Academy!

CINCO DE MAYO MAGNIFICO—GRACIAS TO FORESTERS FINANCIAL!
Foresters Financial has been a consistent supporter of SNGA going all the way back to August 2014, and the not-for-profit fraternal benefit society came through again on May 5 during a volunteer day at SNGA’s Marietta warehouse.

“In addition to donating about $500 of supplies for My Birthday Matters, the volunteers (pictured) did things like assemble men’s duffel bags for our Comfort Kits program, conduct inventories, help us sort the steady stream of incoming donations and organize some of our storage rooms,” Brenda said. “Every time Foresters Financial has volunteered with us, they have brought us much-needed supplies, either for the projects they are helping us with or just things from our most-needed list. They’re amazing!”

Foresters for June email
Volunteers from Foresters Financial

Foresters pitches in to help SNGA once or twice a year in events put together by Jessica Heidish, Foresters’ Member Coordinator. “We love Simple Needs GA’s mission of filling in the gaps where other organizations aren’t able to provide these services,” Jessica said. “SNGA has so many great programs. It is not just a one-size-fits-all organization, and our members just love volunteering there.”

KIWANIS CLUB APPEARANCES
At SNGA, we’re huge fans of the great work our local Kiwanis clubs do in the community. These contributions include supporting the Georgia Special Olympics Winter Games in Marietta and the Lost Mountain Golf Tournament, donating to local nonprofits (SNGA included), awarding scholarships, funding educational programs and much more.

KiwanisClubSo we were delighted when two local Kiwanis organizations invited Brenda to speak about SNGA’s mission this past spring. Brenda spoke to the Metro Marietta Kiwanis Club on March 19th at the First United Methodist Church, and to the Golden K Kiwanis (a repeat performance) on April 5th at the East Cobb Senior Center. “It was an honor to be able to talk about our programs, show them items we give to our clients such as a cleaning kits, Comfort Kits of full-sized toiletries, and school uniforms,” Brenda said. “I also shared some examples of the items we give to homeless kids celebrating their birthdays via our My Birthday Matters program.”

Brenda is such a big fan, in fact, that she recently became a charter member of the newly formed Mountain View Professionals Kiwanis Club, a so-called 123 Club that meets in the evenings.

For more information, visit mariettakiwanis.org or https://www.facebook.com/mariettagoldenk/
https://www.facebook.com/MariettaMetroRotary/

‘DRIVEN’ TO HELP SCHOOLCHILDREN IN COBB
Thanks so much to dedicated SNGA volunteer Staci Bushey for running a successful drive for our Uniforms for Excellence program, which helps schoolchildren in Cobb County “dress for success” by providing them with required school uniforms that their parents struggle to afford.

Earlier this month, Staci used Facebook, email and the Nextdoor social networking service to collect four or five large bags of new and gently used khakis, skirts and polo shirts. She did so after social workers Linda Hobson and Monica Bright reached out to her for help with some specific uniform needs. “They mentioned that they had a need for uniforms for several of their schools, specifically in the South Cobb area,” Staci said.

Many public schools in Cobb require uniforms, noted SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes. “People think that it’s just private schools that require them, but that’s not the case,” she said.Uniforms

Eight or nine donors in and around the Wheeler High School area contributed to the drive. Staci drove house-to-house to pick up the items. “I love contributing to Uniforms for Excellence, because I know that I’m doing something that is fulfilling a specific need,” Staci said. “My plan is to do another drive using the same avenues about two weeks before school starts. That’s when people realize that the summer sun and water have made their children grow four inches. None of those clothes they bought them will fit anymore!”

If you’re interested in contributing, too, keep an eye on clearance racks at discount-oriented retailers. On one Walmart trip, we found 10 pairs of khakis for just $7 or $9 each, along with 30 polos at just $3 each!

FURNITURE-STORAGE UPDATE
This past spring we lost the 1,300-sq.-ft. space we were using to store furniture for our Simple Household Needs program. Fortunately for us, an unbelievably generous donor has stepped forward to give us $350 a month toward the cost of the commercial storage. This will help us keep the furniture program going at its present volume. We have some leads and are working as hard as we can to find a new furniture-storage space.

If you happen to know of any possible alternative storage options (commercial real estate contacts would be great!) in or around the city of Marietta, please let us know! The space needs to be big enough to store mattresses and furniture and should have enough access to accommodate box trucks. The key is that we’ll need to pay below-market rent.

If you have any ideas on a replacement space, please email brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

Thanks for your support!

 

 

 

Next Donation Drive is on May 19th

“I’m getting furniture today? That’s the best Mother’s Day present ever!”
–Sharon, furniture client

UPCOMING DONATION DRIVE
Each month, Simple Needs GA receives texts, emails and phone calls just like the one above. We cannot help everyone who contacts us, but these days we are able to help more clients than ever thanks to your generous donations of time, money and new and gently used items. Our clients are supported by an awesome community of people who care.

Let’s keep the momentum going. Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., May 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. We are in need of gently used or new microwaves or vacuums. Also, toasters and other kitchen items.

If you can’t make it on May 19, don’t forget that we have added a Donation Drive (same time and location) on the first Saturday of every month as well. Next month that first-Saturday drive will be on June 2, followed by the regular third-Saturday drive on June 16. Mark your calendars!

Right now we’re very low on some much-needed items for our clients (gently used items, please; no stains or damage.). These include:

  • drinking glasses and dish sets
  • full/queen/twin mattresses, box springs, beds/frames
  • small- to medium-sized dining tables (or card tables) and chair sets (or just tables or just chairs)
  • dressers and chests of drawers
  • cable-ready TVs (not too heavy) as well as TV stands
  • nightstands and coffee tables
  • small household items (see list of needed items for details)
  • new brooms and mops
  • DVD players
  • diapers, size 4
  • irons and ironing boards

For a full list of needed items, please click here. Specific needs for our My Birthday Matters program (very recently updated!) are posted on our SignUpGenius.

Email brenda@simpleneedsga.org if you have anything to donate at this time. For large furniture, please email photos; we will arrange for you to drop off or for us to pick up (in Cobb County). Thank you for your support!

STILL LOOKING FOR A NEW FURNITURE-STORAGE SPACE
We recently lost the 1,300-sq.-ft. space we were using to store furniture for our Simple Household Needs program. Last month, our patient and dedicated volunteers moved everything into commercial storage. The arrangement will work for now, but we cannot afford to pay such high rents over the long term. If we can’t find replacement space at below-market rents, we will have to scale back Simple Household Needs, at least when it comes to large furniture and beds.

If you happen to know of any possible alternative storage options in or around the city of Marietta, please let us know! The space needs to be big enough to store mattresses and furniture and should have enough access to accommodate box trucks. The key is that we’ll need to pay below-market rent.

The furniture is incredibly important for our clients. They are often sleeping on air mattresses that SNGA loans to them until they receive beds. It’s also not unusual for them to have no kitchen tables, sofas or chairs in their homes.

If you have any ideas on a replacement space, please email brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

Also, we wrote a press release about this situation to get the word out. If you’d like to download the PDF and share it with others, you’ll find it here.

BEST. OPEN HOUSE. EVER!
On April 28, we had our most successful open house yet, with a steady stream of nearly 74 adults and 12 youth. The group included volunteers, board members, clients and guests stopping by our Marietta warehouse to chat, munch on donuts or Zaxby’s and talk about our mission and momentum.

scd_0591.jpgSpecial thanks go to founding SNGA board member Melanie Booker for her leadership and hard work in organizing the event, and also to the terrific volunteers who helped us out as well. They not only answered newcomers’ questions and gave tours during the open house, but many of the volunteers also did a tremendous amount of cleaning, organizing and straightening (sometimes hiding things, too!) to get our typically chaotic warehouse space looking ship-shape prior to the event. (We’ll have to spend part of our next volunteer day un-hiding things!)

It was particularly heartwarming to see three of our clients, as well as their kids, stop by the warehouse to tell visitors about how much Simple Needs GA means to them. We hope to see you at our next one!

HELPING KIDS IN MARIETTA CITY SCHOOLS
SNGA’s programs help children and families across Cobb County, including in the 8,900-student Marietta City Schools (MCS) system, where about 350 kids are considered homeless. We recently sat down to interview two awesome people—MCS’s Ana Mateo and Brenda Espinoza—who work specifically with homeless children in the Marietta City Schools system.

Mateo(L) and Espinoza

Ana and Brenda told us all about the need they encounter on a daily basis. We hope you’ll take some time to read the blog post hereto learn more about what they and SNGA are doing to help MSC kids.

 

BIG THANKS TO HARRY NORMAN!
The Cobb Marietta Harry Norman office surprised and delighted us on May 5 by holding a yard sale specifically to benefit Simple Needs GA. More than two dozen real estate agents and their families donated children’s toys, baby equipment, house wares, furniture, sports equipment, lamps and more for the sale, which the office promoted via social media, newspaper ads and yard signs. It was held in the office’s parking lot at 776 Whitlock Ave NW.HarryNorman2

The event raised about $1,000 for SNGA, said Carson Wernz, the Harry Norman Realtor who nominated us to be the beneficiary of the event. “In the past, we have worked with MUST Ministries, Make A Wish Foundation, CURE Childhood Cancer, as well as smaller local charities,” he said. “We’re looking forward to presenting the check to Simple Needs GA at our upcoming sales meeting.”

The Cobb Marietta Harry Norman office has been in its present location for more than 30 years and employs nearly 70 agents. For more information, visit their website here.

SHOUT OUT TO THE EPSTEIN SCHOOL!
Thanks so much to volunteers from the Epstein Schoolfor tackling a host of tasks on Feb. 24 at our Marietta warehouse. Twenty-four people from the Sandy Springs school, which serves students from 18 months old to the eight grade, made Comfort Kits for people experiencing homelessness, moved heavy items to help us reorganize the space, and did lots of sorting during the volunteer day.

“Volunteering with Simple Needs GA was a fantastic experience—everyone in the family could participate from child to adult to senior,” said volunteer Jennifer M. Meyerowitz. “Not only did we feel great about putting together such useful and helpful bags for deserving people in shelters, we also enjoyed working together as a team, learning about the organization’s needs, and fulfilling a much-needed task. Everyone felt that their contributions were useful and very much appreciated.”Epstein School FEB 25

They certainly were! Thanks so much to these great volunteers for all their help!

Thanks so much for your support of people in need!

 

###

Donate online here. Donations can be sent to Simple Needs GA, Inc., P.O. Box 670265, Marietta, GA 30066.

To volunteer as an individual, company, church or other organization, contact us at info@simpleneedsga.org. Visit our volunteer page for more info.

smile.amazon.com is a great way to support SNGA. Just sign up for the program and choose Simple Needs GA from the list. After that, AmazonSmile will donate to SNGA each time you make a purchase! Just remember to go to the smile.amazon.com portal before you do your shopping!

Check out how you can support us in similar fashion by signing up for Kroger Community Rewards!

 

 

 

 

Helping Kids in Marietta City Schools

As they work to brighten the lives of homeless children enrolled in Marietta City Schools, Ana Mateo and Brenda Espinoza see some heartbreaking situations. On any given day, they might talk to an elementary school student who lives in an extended stay hotel and goes hungry on the weekends, or to a high school student who sleeps on a friend’s couch and lacks the support of a loving family.

Fortunately, their jobs are joyful, too: Mateo and Espinoza find satisfaction in connecting these students with resources that can make a difference in their lives. As District Homeless Liaison, Clerk, Strategy and Innovation, Mateo oversees counselors, homeless liaisons and social workers within the Charter school system. (The district serves more than 8,900 students at eight elementary choice schools, a sixth-grade academy, a middle school and a high school.) Espinoza is Family Resources Facilitator at the Marietta Student Life Center, which provides in-school services related to housing, job skills, job placement for students and families, college admission and psychological issues, and also offers tutoring, a food pantry and family and student counseling.

IMG_1994
Ana Mateo

All told, about 350 children in the system are considered homeless right now, Espinoza says, noting that the number tends to fluctuate due to transient living situations. Several Simple Needs GA (SNGA) programs routinely help this population of students and/or their families by providing furniture, cleaning kits, five-item toiletries bags, birthday presents and school supplies, and more.

SNGA recently asked Mateo and Espinoza to describe the needs they encounter in the district, as well as what the community can do to help.

For starters, Mateo says, many low-income students in the district struggle to afford new shoes. “A lot of our students wear the same, hand-me-down shoes for far too long,” she said. Simple Needs GA is doing its part to help: Each month, our Shoe Them Love program distributes at least 20 gift cards ($25 each) to four social workers in the system who use the cards to ensure that kids receive new shoes or boots in the styles and sizes they want. Shoe Them Love also accepts donated shoes, so long as they are brand-new. They are distributed from the school system’s clothes closet.

The families of homeless or low-income students also can have a hard time paying for required school uniforms, like khaki pants or navy blue polo shirts, Mateo says. In recognition of this need in Marietta and elsewhere, SNGA’s Uniforms for Excellence program collects gently used khakis, skirts and polo shirts that meet the requirements of individual schools. In some cases, our donors also buy brand-new uniforms for kids. For Marietta City Schools, SNGA distributes these uniforms to dedicated closets within the district.

headshot
Brenda Espinoza

According to Espinoza, lack of transportation among schoolchildren in the system is an underappreciated need. The district includes students who live in hotels, stay with other families or are enrolled in transitional housing or shelters. Sometimes, buses are available to pick them up and bring them to school, but this is only the beginning of their transportation needs, Espinoza says.

“Sometimes what can work better for students is to take Uber or Lyft to get from place to place,” she said. “Some of the students that I work with have jobs, so they might need help getting to those jobs. It’s a way to help them get back on their feet and sustain themselves so they are not falling further behind.”

Older teens may be able to ride Uber or Lyft with parental permission, while younger kids can travel with a parent. While school counselors, social workers and homeless liaisons can sometimes provide families with gas cards, the availability of these is limited, Espinoza says.

Simple Needs GA doesn’t have a specific program to collect Uber or Lyft gift cards, but if our donors and volunteers feel inspired to run drives or otherwise collect such gift cards, SNGA would be happy to distribute them to social workers within Marietta City Schools, says SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes. “Filling in the services gaps is what we’re all about,” she said.51Sh7XZQFHL._SX342_

In addition to transportation needs, the nonprofit-supported food pantries operated by the system are always in need of restocking, especially during off times like fall, winter or spring break, Espinoza says, and so donations of gift cards from grocery stores like Kroger or Publix could be hugely helpful. Here, too, SNGA would be happy to collect grocery store gift cards and distribute these to the school system, Brenda says.

The pantries can be extremely important for children and their families, Espinoza noted. “For example, Marietta High School’s food pantry often supplies not only the high school students, but also their families for the weekend,” she said. “Kids are always hungry. They are always snacking—after all, they’re growing kids. We try to give them as much as we can, but the pantries can empty quickly.”

Lastly, the families of homeless schoolchildren in the district often struggle to buy their children something most of us took for granted as kids—birthday presents. SNGA’s My Birthday Matters program brings brand-new toys, school supplies, a no-sew blanket, a stuffed animal, reading books, coloring books, underwear, socks, and other useful items to homeless schoolchildren in the district and elsewhere in the county who are celebrating their birthdays. We collaborate with counselors and social workers to identify those children who are considered homeless. (SNGA also helps children living in local shelters as well as the children of our furniture clients.)

Last year, My Birthday Matters helped 217 children across the county.

Mateo and Espinoza describe their work on behalf of homeless and low-income schoolchildren as life changing. Given that Cobb County has a reputation for affluence, it can be easy to forget that some children here face tremendous challenges. “We are dealing with students who want to come to school, do their best and get ahead,” Espinoza said. “They want to get back on their feet. We all go through really tough times in our lives where sometimes we need just a little bit of extra help. I know that what we’re doing here, in partnership with the community, is giving some of these kids hope and stability.”

Particularly important, adds Mateo, is finding a way to break generational cycles related to poverty, addiction or homelessness. The work starts with providing basic necessities, she says, but often includes providing access to psychologists, counselors and other professionals who can help children and families better cope with these difficult challenges. “My heart goes out to the parents that have not been able to get out of these situations,” she said. “They were probably in the situation themselves as children, and now it is carrying over to their kids’ lives. What can we do to help their children not fall into homelessness when they get older? There is a lot of emotion involved in our jobs. We always strive to be compassionate and to understand that every case is different.”

SNGA seeks storage space for furniture

For: Simple Needs GA
Marietta, Ga.                                                                           For Immediate Release

SIMPLE NEEDS GA SEEKS STORAGE SPACE FOR FURNITURE PROGRAM
–Marietta nonprofit loses 1,300-sq.-ft. space near the Big Chicken, seeks replacement for storage of furniture, beds and more for people coming out of homelessness.

MARIETTA, Ga. (05/08/2018) — Donors and volunteers from across Cobb County help Simple Needs GA (SNGA) bring furniture and household items to individuals and families coming out of homelessness. But the Marietta-based nonprofit’s Simple Household Needs program may need to be scaled back unless SNGA can find replacement storage space for these donated items.

“The 1,300-sq.-ft. space that we formerly used to store furniture for our Simple Household Needs program is no longer available to us due to an ownership change,” explained SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes. “We have moved the beds, chests-of-drawers, kitchen tables and other large items to commercial storage that, unfortunately, is just too expensive for us to afford over the long term.”

SNGA now needs to find comparable storage at a below-market rental rate by mid-June; otherwise, it will need to drastically reduce how many people and children its Simple Household Needs program can serve, Rhodes says.

“There are very few other furniture programs in this area and, as far as we’re aware, none like us that don’t charge any fees,” she said. Nonetheless, even if no replacement space is found, SNGA will continue to provide smaller household items such as dish sets, sheets, towels and more to as many clients as it can. “However, without additional space we’ll have to limit who we help with beds and other furniture to one or two families per month,” Rhodes explained.

SNGA’s other programs, which include My Birthday Matters, Spirit of Christmas, Comfort Kits, Simply Sheltered, Shoe Them Love and Uniforms for Excellence, are all going strong, Rhodes noted. “We can’t pay the high cost of commercial storage rental for our furniture program because this would eat into the budgets of these other programs, which fill important needs in Cobb,” she said.

SNGA welcomes suggestions on replacement spaces from donors, volunteers and community members. In addition to below-market rental rates, the space would need to be large enough to store mattresses and other large furniture and enable access for box trucks. It would need to be in or relatively close to the city of Marietta.

“If you happen to know of any possible alternatives in our area, please let us know,” Rhodes said. “The furniture is incredibly important for our clients. They, including the children, are often sleeping on the floor—or on air mattresses that SNGA loans to them when available until they receive beds. It’s not unusual for them to have nothing in their homes.”

SNGA’s Simple Household Needs clients have just transitioned out of homelessness or escaped domestic violence. “When we pull up with things like donated furniture, beds, tables and appliances, these families are overjoyed,” Rhodes said.

Tips may be emailed to brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

About Simple Needs GA (SNGA)
SNGA’s mission is to meet the simple needs of children, people experiencing homelessness, and others in need, while inspiring our community to do the same. The Marietta, Ga.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit offers several community-based programs. Donors and volunteers provide full-sized toiletries and other useful items to people living in homeless shelters. They furnish tents, sleeping bags, tarps and other essentials to those living in the woods or on the street, and supply families with furniture, appliances, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and other household necessities. Other initiatives include providing schoolchildren with required school uniforms; helping social workers buy kids new shoes via gift cards; bringing new presents and other items to homeless children celebrating their birthdays; and providing Christmas presents for children in need. For more info, visit SimpleNeedsGA.org.

####

Media contacts: At SNGA: Brenda Rhodes, Founder, Brenda@SimpleNeedsGA.org, 678-266- 3344.

 

 

Next Donation Drive is Sat., April 21

“A thousand thanks; I’ve been saving up to buy detergent and cleaning supplies. Now I can use that money for food.” — single mother of four who received cleaning supplies from our Simple Household Needs program. Her only cleaning supplies were some soap and an old broom.

 UPCOMING DONATION DRIVE!
Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., April 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. We are in need of gently used or new microwaves or toaster ovens. Also, toasters and other kitchen items.

If you can’t make it on April 21st, don’t forget that we have added a Donation Drive (same time and location) on the first Saturday of every month as well. Next month that first-Saturday drive will be on May 5(Happy Cinco de Mayo!), followed by the regular third-Saturday drive on May 19. Mark your calendars!

Right now we’re very low on some much-needed items for our clients (gently used items, please; no stains or damage.). These include:

  • Trashcans
  • New mops and brooms
  • drinking glasses and dish sets
  • DVD players
  • Shower curtains
  • Queen mattresses/box springs and twin mattresses (a $75 donation can buy a new twin mattress!)
  • Dressers and chests of drawers

For a full list of needed items, please click here. Specific needs for our My Birthday Matters program are posted on our SignUpGenius.

Email brenda@simpleneedsga.orgif you have anything to donate at this time. For large furniture, please email photos; we will arrange for you to drop off or for us to pick up (in Cobb County). Thank you for your support!

STILL LOOKING FOR A NEW FURNITURE-STORAGE SPACE
The space we use to store furniture for our Simple Household Needs program is, unfortunately, no longer available to us after this month. (The Marietta church that had been allowing us to pay below-market rent recently sold the property).

We have to move everything out of the furniture space by the end of this month. We are considering moving to a few larger storage units but that is financially prohibitive to do for too long.

If you happen to know of any possible alternatives in our area, please let us know!

The space needs to be big enough to store mattresses and furniture and should have enough access to accommodate box trucks. We currently have 1300 square feet. The trick is that we’ll need to pay below-market rent.

The furniture is incredibly important for our clients. They are often sleeping on air mattresses that SNGA loans to them until they receive beds. It’s also not unusual for them to have no kitchen tables, sofas or chairs in their homes. If you have any ideas on a replacement space, please email brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

SAVE THE DATE: OUR OPEN HOUSE IS APRIL 28
We’re having our Open House on April 28 and would be thrilled if you could join us. (If you did not receive the Evite, please let us know.)

Drop by our Marietta warehouse that Saturday any time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. We’ll be giving tours, while talking about our programs and what you can do to help our families. Some clients will be there to share their stories with you. And, of course, we will have some yummy snacks available.

If you have friends or colleagues who have expressed interest in our mission, it’s a great time to bring them by to learn more about how our work benefits people in need in our community.

THE BEST KIND OF SPRING BREAK PARTY…
When most of us think of college kids on Spring Break, helping others isn’t exactly what comes to mind! 😀

But that’s exactly what about 30 students from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., had in mind for their Alternative Spring Break this year in metro Atlanta. Over a period of three days, JMU students, all part of JMU’s Student Ambassador program, came to Simple Needs GA’s Marietta warehouse to help us with various tasks. They volunteered, not only with SNGA, but also with several other Atlanta-area nonprofits, having driven to Georgia in two 12-passenger vans. Very inspiring! Thanks JMU! IMG_0775

PROGRAM SNAPSHOT: SIMPLE HOUSEHOLD NEEDS (CLEANING SUPPLIES)
For most of us, household cleaning supplies are an afterthought—something we pick up at Kroger or Walmart and never stop to appreciate.

But think about what it would be like to lack these basics? It’s exactly what many people in need in our community regularly experience. As the opening quote of this newsletter makes clear, they often just don’t have the money to buy cleaning supplies, which aren’t covered by food stamps.Mt Zion 1

Our Simple Household Needs program is best known for providing people in need with furniture and small household items. But it also our supplies ‘cleaning kits’ to help families sanitize and dignify their surroundings. Our donors and volunteers buy or donate the components for the kits, which are new laundry baskets filled with paper towels, glass cleaner, Spic & Span, a utility pail, bathroom tissue, laundry detergent, Comet, a toilet bowl brush, sponges, dish detergent, a brush/dust pan, disinfectant spray, a dish brush, and toilet bowl cleaner.

Social workers help us distribute these kits to families. They also go to our furniture clients and to several agencies that shelter clients in apartments (such as LiveSAFE Resources).

Thanks all of your help with our programs. They really make a difference in our community!

###

Donate online here. Donations can be sent to Simple Needs GA, Inc., P.O. Box 670265, Marietta, GA 30066.

To volunteer as an individual, company, church or other organization, contact us at info@simpleneedsga.org. Visit our volunteer page for more info.

smile.amazon.com is a great way to support SNGA. Just sign up for the program and choose Simple Needs GA from the list. After that, AmazonSmile will donate to SNGA each time you make a purchase! Just remember to go to the smile.amazon.com portal before you do your shopping!

Check out how you can support us in similar fashion by signing up for Kroger Community Rewards!