Open House/Donation Drive on Nov. 17!

“I wanted to thank you and your organization for the household and baby items we received on Saturday! Special thank-you to Ms. Jen! She was such a great help assisting my mom and my 2-year-old (he got two toys and he loves them). The items are such a blessing to have to start out with. Thank you!”

 

“Thanks for the birthday items. The boys are very pleased! [A.] is ready to go to GameStop to use his gift card. [T.] is admiring his new book bag and goodies. [S.] is already snuggled in his throw watching the game. Thanks again for everything, including the furniture!”

Our open house is Sat., Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. We hope you can stop by the warehouse to chat, grab a bite to eat (including sandwiches and salads generously donated by Newk”s Eatery in Kennesaw), meet some clients and talk about our mission.

kennesaw
Thanks, Newk’s!!!

The open house coincides with a donation drive as well.

“We’d like to encourage everyone who comes by to spend some time at the warehouse meeting others who are a part of SNGA,” Brenda said. “It’s also a great opportunity to visualize what we do for our community and how you can be involved. Those who take the tour always learn something new about our programs.”

In addition to outdoor winter wear 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:Kitchen garbage cans, bath rugs, DVD players, dish sets (no random dishes needed), crockpots, toaster ovens, baking pans/cookie sheets, large serving bowls, shower curtain rings, trivets, water pitchers, hand towels, 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 cable-ready TVs (nothing too large and heavy).

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.

If you can’t make it on Nov. 17, we’ll have drives next month on Dec. 1 and Dec. 15.

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

We hope to see you there!

Additional donor resources:
SNGA client Amazon Wish List
Our updated list of client needs

A FEW THANK-YOUS!
Donors and volunteers are the heart of Simple Needs GA. Thanks so much for everything you do for people in need in our community! Here’s a sample—incomplete for sure—of some recent contributions to SNGA’s clients.

Oct. 13 was the Local Day of Service for the Marietta First United Methodist Church, 56 Whitlock Ave NW. Thanks so much to the volunteers who stopped by our Marietta warehouse to help with a variety of tasks. In other news, the church’s Open Door Sunday School class recently supported SNGA’s clients by collecting cleaning kits (pictured) for clients of our Simple Household Needs program. The kits are a huge help for our clients. Thanks so much!FUMC Cleaning Kits

The ushers at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centrecontinue to support SNGA in amazing ways! We are so grateful! Most recently, they held a donation drive for us that brought in a huge number of items (pictured, below).

Did you know that Cobb Energy Centre is always looking for volunteers who have a strong interest in serving their community and some extra time? Those with previous volunteer experience in this field are especially welcome to apply. For more information, contact the Centre by phone at 770-916-2828 or by email at rstevens@cobbenergycentre.com. Written inquiries can be mailed to 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339. Download an application here.Cobb Energy Center dinner donations

Little Helpers is at it again! Last month, these awesome volunteers (pictured, below) collected 350 new pairs of socks and 350 pairs of underwear for SNGA. It was all part of Little Helpers’ Trevor’s Toes and Tushies Socks and Underwear Drive. As noted by the Marietta Daily Journal, the drive honors Little Helpers’ member Trevor George, who passed away at the age of six in August 2014. When they delivered the items, members of Little Helpers wore superhero outfits and mismatched socks, which were Trevor’s trademarks. They also sorted donations, made no-sew blankets and did other helpful tasks. You can read more about Little Helpers in our blog post about this fantastic organization. LittleHelpers

Thanks so much to the volunteers from the American Medical Students Association of KSUfor their help at our warehouse on Nov 3. This organization helps people studying to become doctors, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, dentists and more. Members lobby on various issues as well. So nice of them to volunteer their time to help people in need in their community!

Members of Boy Scout Troop #797chartered by The Episcopal Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Marietta (East Cobb), helped to organize and move donations and assembled about 75 toiletry kits at our Marietta warehouse on Nov. 10. Thanks to Belinda Vogel, a Troop Committee member, and Scoutmaster Chris Durkee for their help during the event. Troop 797 participates in a variety of volunteer activities, including Eagle Scout projects at local schools, churches and parks, and conservation projects such as working with the Trail Club at Kennesaw Mountain. “Eagle projects can include a wide range of activities, such as building picnic tables at Chattahoochee Nature Center, constructing a retaining wall at our sponsoring church, and most recently building a food pantry for a Cobb elementary school,” Belinda said.

Scouts at SNGA
Troop 797

The Scouts were impressed with the services SNGA provides—particularly My Birthday Matters. “It felt like a productive service project; we did a lot in a short period of time,” Belinda said. “As a leader I appreciate that it’s a project a Scout of any age can assist with. If we returned with either a larger or smaller group of volunteers, we could be helpful and not run out of things to do.”

BRENDA WINS ‘EAST COBB CITIZEN OF THE YEAR’
Just in case you didn’t see it on Facebook, last month the East Cobb Area Council of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce named Brenda its “East Cobb Citizen of the Year” (PICTURED:Brenda with Cobb Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Mason, left, and East Cobb Area Council chair Tammy Palmgren.) You can read all about it in articles in The Marietta Daily Journal and the East Cobb News. “I was thrilled and honored to receive the award, but I accepted it on behalf of all of the dedicated volunteers and donors who have made SNGA possible,” Brenda said. “This was really about all of us and the work we’re doing on behalf of others! Thank you so much!”

BrendaEastCobbCitizenAward

 

 

Next donation drive: Dec. 15!

I’ve been in tears all day knowing my children will get gifts for Christmas thanks to your organization.”
–Mom whose kids will be getting gifts through our Spirit of Christmas program

“Thank you to the people of Simple Needs GA for helping me furnish my first home with furniture and appliances. You took such a big load off my shoulders! I am so grateful for your help!”
–SNGA furniture client who just moved into a house built by Habitat for Humanity

NEXT DONATION DRIVE IS DEC. 15!
Greetings, all.

We’ve had such a rewarding and busy couple of months, with our open house, Santa visit/pics for clients’ children (see article below), a huge GAgives/Giving Tuesday event, ramping up for our Spirit of Christmas program and more. Did we say Christmas? See our article below on how you can sponsor a child!

Let’s keep the momentum going: Our next monthly Donation Drive is Sat., Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse.

If you can’t make it on Dec. 15, we’ll have drives next month on Jan. 5 and Jan. 19. Mark your calendars!

In addition to winter outerwear for people of all ages and sizes, our clients need:

BRAND NEW: kitchen garbage cans, 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: microwaves, DVD players, baking pans/cookie sheets, large serving bowls, hand towels, bath rugs, sheets (esp. full and twin), blankets and comforters (all sizes), air mattresses, mattress pads (all sizes esp queen), dish sets (no random needed), water pitchers, shower rings.

CURRENT FURNITURE NEEDS (NEW OR GENTLY USED): mattresses and box springs, kitchen tables and chairs, couches, dressers or chests of drawers, TV stands, nightstands, coffee 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 (pick up in 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.

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

SANTA DAY AT SNGA!
All of us remember going to the mall and having our pictures made with Santa as a kid. This year, we thought it would be great to give our clients’ children the same opportunity. On Dec. 8, local Santa Dean Rowan dropped by our warehouse to pose for pictures with client children of all ages. Everyone had an absolute blast, said SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes. “Our Santa was amazing, the decorations were beautiful, and the client families really enjoyed themselves doing arts and crafts, eating some food and seeing Jolly St. Nick,” she said. “We definitely want to do this again next year and welcome those who would like to come by and experience this wonderful event!”

Special thanks to Scott Denton, our photographer, as well as all of the volunteers who made Santa day happen. Several of our regular volunteers helped out as well as some of Brenda’s Leadership Cobb C16 classmates. And a shout out to Lisa Majeski for the wonderful and creative decorations!

SCD_0649

[PICTURED: SNGA board members Jen Sypeck (with Santa) and Alicia Putnam (elf ears) and Brenda (antlers)]

VOLUNTEERS AND DONORS NEEDED NOW FOR ‘SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS’
Our Spirit of Christmas program relies on referrals from school social workers and others to make the holidays brighter for children and families in need. We’re kicking into full gear now with a burst of activity that will last right up until Christmas Eve. That’s because we help families that, for any number of reasons, were unable to sign up for other programs earlier. We want them to experience the Spirit of Christmas just the same. In 2017, we supplied Christmas gifts to 158 Cobb County kids from 54 families, and these numbers will likely climb again this year.c8e39e82-0301-41b0-8f19-61662e6c95a5

Our goal is to provide children with three or four gifts worth $100 per child in total. Each child will also receive a hat, gloves and a scarf. Every family will receive at least one board game suited to the number of children/ages of the kids. And the parent(s) receive a $25 Walmart gift card.

Here’s this year’s SignUp Genius link for needed presents for clients!

You as the sponsor of the child or family can provide these additional items, or Simple Needs GA will. Or for a $100 donation, you can sponsor a child and we’ll do the shopping.

Click here for a rundown of how you and/or an organization that you’re a part of can help! Email Brenda@simpleneedsga.orgfor more info.

THANKS FOR SUPPORTING US ON GA GIVES/GIVING TUESDAY!
We were blown away on Nov 27 when 64! donors stepped up to support Simple Needs GA during the annual ‘GAgives on #GivingTuesday’ event. Our Facebook fundraiser brought in $7,415 (including $2,500 from the incredible parents of one of our board members) to support people in need in Cobb County. The fundraiser started by our board member Jen reached $460, we raised $495 on the GAgives website, and another $400 came in via PayPal on our website at SimpleNeedsGA.org. That’s a whopping $8,770 to provide our clients with birthday presents, new shoes, full-sized toiletries, cleaning kits and so much more! Thanks again for your amazing generosity!

KID POWER!
We love it when children get involved in SNGA. Recently our friend Becca’s daughters [PICTURED: Ella (left) and Savannah] made a large number of no-sew blankets for children in our My Birthday Matters program. So thoughtful! Thank you so much, girls! These blankets will definitely be greatly appreciated by the kids who will be receiving them!Ella on left and Savannah

THANKS TO MELANIE FOR A FANTASTIC OPEN HOUSE!
Founding SNGA board member Melanie Booker did a fantastic job organizing our highly successful open house this past Nov. 17. We can’t say thank-you enough to Melanie for her hard work on the food, decorations and logistics. A big shout out as well goes to all of the volunteers who helped us in so many ways. They whipped the warehouse into shape, gave tours that Saturday, and made our guests feel welcome.

By our count, we had record attendance with at least 75 guests stopping by, plus several clients (five adults and 13 children) who were there to talk about how we made their lives better. We made short work of the sandwiches and salads generously donated by Newk’s Eatery in Kennesaw, along with donuts, coffee and other goodies.

Special thanks to Krista Williams for the awesome design job she did on our new signs, which looked great hanging in different spots at the warehouse, and for the professional printing of the signs by our board member Mike Yalen.

We were also excited that two government officials from Powder Springs—City Councilmen Henry Lust and Patrick Bordelon (Mayor Pro Tem)—were kind enough to stop by the warehouse to learn more about what we do.

“I was very impressed with your group of volunteers and the kindness which they bring to their efforts,” Bordelon said. “It is important to continue to raise awareness of the needs of those members of our community who may have fallen on hard times and can use a little help getting back on their feet.”

Slated to serve as President of the Cobb Municipal Association in 2019, Bordelon even invited SNGA to speak at an upcoming meeting of the group, comprised of all the elected city officials in the county as well as the city managers and clerks. We’re greatly looking forward to it!

Thank you so much to these elected officials for taking an interest in our nonprofit!

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HOLIDAY SHOPPING? DON’T FORGET ABOUT AMAZON SMILE!
No doubt about it—ecommerce is bringing about huge changes in the way people shop during the holidays. Fortunately, there’s a great way to support SNGA as you sit on your couch and knock out your Christmas shopping on your iPad. Just go to smile.amazon.com, 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.comportal before you do your shopping!AmazonSmileImage

RECURRING DONATIONS – BE PART OF OUR SIMPLY CARING PROGRAM
If you regularly make donations to Simple Needs GA (or would like to!), we’d love it if you would consider making your donation automatically recur each month. Just go to SimpleNeedsGA.org, click one of the “donate” buttonsand then check “make this donation recurring (monthly).”

You can use your credit card or a PayPal account for these donations. However, if you plan to routinely donate online to SNGA, you might consider signing up for a PayPal Giving Fund account. PayPal Giving Fund charges no fees to enrolled charities, so all of your donations will go to SNGA!

Of course, you could also just mail a monthly check to:

Simple Needs GA
P.O. Box 670265
Marietta, GA 30066

THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF PEOPLE IN NEED!

 

 

Our clients need candles! Here’s why.

At Simple Needs GA, our supply of candles to distribute to people who live in the woods is running quite low. If you have extra candles at home or would be willing to buy some for us, our clients would greatly appreciate them! Consider suggesting a candle drive to your place of worship, school, business, book club, Girl or Boy Scout troop. Most any candle will do other than tea lights. The best are pillar and tapered.burning_candle_01

Why are candles so important?

People living in the woods have a difficult time keeping raccoons, rats and other critters away from their tents and campsites. Believe it or not, a burning candle or two will keep rodents away. In addition to emitting light, candles are also a surprisingly good heat source. Their warm glow is reassuring–a bit like having a little campfire inside your tent.

But of course, they don’t last all that long. People living in the woods tend to burn through them very quickly.

And the need is great: Hundreds of people shelter in tents in Cobb County. You might not see them because they deliberately pitch camp in wooded places that are out of view from the road. But most likely, when you drive up a ramp to I-75, someone is living close by. The circumstances in which these folks live can vary tremendously: Some work regular jobs and have spent years cultivating clean, safe camps. But a great many others have next to nothing–maybe a tent, sleeping bag and a few other possessions–and face all kinds of uncertainties and challenges.

To donate candles to our Simply Sheltered program, bring them by our space on the third Saturday of the month between 10 and 1. For the address, email me at brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

They also like candle holders of any kind, especially for the tall taper candles, and can make good use of coffee-type cans (clean only) in which to burn candles.

Our Simply Sheltered program also provides tents, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and other essential items to people living in the woods. In the winter, we collect and distribute underwear, hats, gloves, scarves and other cold-weather items. In fact, we’re running low on blankets right now and could use some more blankets, for sure!

If you’d like to make a financial contribution to help Simply Sheltered, just click this link!
You could also mail a check to:
Simple Needs GA
P.O. Box 670265
Marietta, GA 30066

All your contributions to our 501(c) 3 non-profit organization are tax-deductible. Any support is greatly appreciated and will help us improve the lives of those who are struggling.

Thanks so much for your support of people in need!

Tent1

GAgives? #GivingTuesday? What gives?!

If you follow nonprofits on social media, get their email blasts or surf their websites, you’re starting to see a lot of stuff about #GivingTuesday and GAgives.

It can all be a little confusing.

What’s the difference between GAgives and #GivingTuesday? Where should you go to make a donation? When should you donate? And what’s so special about Tues., Nov. 27?

GAgives is an initiative of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits that has raised more than $21 million since its start in 2012. The idea was to help nonprofits across the state by catalyzing donations during peak giving season.ga tuesday logo Fav 1

To participate in the GAgives campaign, nonprofits like Simple Needs GA set up a fundraising profile through GAgives.org. Our donation link is live now.

#GivingTuesday, on the other hand, was started by different organizations and bills itself as “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.”

Since #GivingTuesday actually happens during the GAgives annual campaign, the Georgia Center for Nonprofits a couple of years ago rebranded the effort as “GAgives on #GivingTuesday.”

If you use our GAgives link on Nov. 27, you can boost SNGA’s odds of winning prizes that could help us reach even more people in need. Info about the prizes is available here.

Another option—and possibly a better one for our clients—would be to make a donation to SNGA via a Facebook fundraiser on #GivingTuesday. That’s because Facebook is partnering with PayPal to match #GivingTuesday donations made on Facebook to nonprofits, up to a total of $7 million.

To participate, you can start a #GivingTuesday Facebook fundraiser for SNGA or donate to SNGA via our Facebook page on #GivingTuesday.

Facebook/PayPal will start matching donations at 8:00 a.m. on Tues., Nov. 27. The matching offer will expire when $7 million in donations is reached or at 11:59 Pacific time on Nov. 27.

So which approach is better for SNGA’s clients, the GAgives route or Facebook?

Our guess is that our clients will see more benefit through the matching funds provided by Facebook/PayPal.

In theory, if enough people give to Facebook fundraisers right out of the gate on Nov. 27, the $7 million in matching funds could run out early. So you might want to set a reminder on your phone so that you can give at 8 a.m. or soon after.

Of course, using our GAgives link on #GivingTuesday would be perfectly fine for those who would prefer to do that.

A third option might be to make two donations and split the gifts between a Facebook fundraiser and the GAgives.org link.

We hope all of that makes sense! Thanks so much for your support of people in need!

GAgives_rally2

 

Proud to be part of GAgives on #GivingTuesday!

On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, GAgives on #GivingTuesday provides a great way to keep the season of gratitude going by “showing your love” for your favorite Georgia nonprofits.

This Nov. 27 you can donate to Simple Needs GA by visiting the following link:

https://www.gagives.org/c/GGD/a/simpleneedsga/donate/

Last year, GAgives on #GivingTuesday raised $6.8 million for 3,000 Georgia nonprofits!
GAgives, an initiative of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, has raised more than $21 million since its 2012 start.Georgia Center for Non Profits, Ga Gives rally, Woodruff Park, Georgia Pacific Building

Our GAgives donation link is live now, and people across the state are already making GAgives donations.

However, by waiting to use the link until #GivingTuesday/Nov. 27, you can boost Simple Needs GA’s odds of winning prizes that could help us help even more people in need in Cobb County. Information about the prizes—Power Hours, Golden Tickets, Leaderboards and more—is available here. (Thanks to sponsors Cureo, Gas South and Arby’s Foundation for making them possible!)

Thanks for all you do to support people in need!

ga tuesday logo Fav 1

SNGA receives $5K grant from Wells Fargo Atlanta

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

SIMPLE NEEDS GA RECEIVES $5K GRANT FROM WELLS FARGO ATLANTA
–Generous disbursement of funds will help Marietta-based nonprofit support families and children in need across Cobb County.

MARIETTA, Ga. (10/23/2018) — The Atlanta office of Wells Fargo has awarded Simple Needs GA (SNGA) a $5,000 grant to help people in need in Cobb County.

The Human Services & Basic Needs grant will go toward SNGA’s Simple Household Needs program, which provides furniture, household items and cleaning kits to people transitioning out of homelessness or escaping from domestic violence.

“We are deeply honored to receive this generous grant from Wells Fargo’s Atlanta office,” said Brenda Rhodes, Founder and Executive Director of SNGA. “This will help dozens of children and families in need in Cobb. It will translate directly into people moving from the floor or air mattresses to real beds, or finally having kitchen or bath basics that most of us take for granted.”

The Atlanta office of Wells Fargo is proud to support SNGA’s commitment to the community, said Tai A. Roberson, Vice President, Senior Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo Government and Community Relations. Each year, she noted, local offices of the national bank provide similar grants to a wide variety of community organizations across the country.

“At Wells Fargo, we believe that grant-making decisions are more effective when made locally,” Roberson said. “That’s why Wells Fargo is actively involved in the communities where we live and work, and why our team members are leaders in helping our communities succeed.”

SNGA’s Simple Household Needs program provides all-new cleaning kits to help families sanitize and dignify their surroundings. The new laundry baskets are filled with more than a dozen cleaning products and tools—supplies not covered by food stamps. “Social workers help us distribute these kits to families,” Rhodes said. “They also go to our furniture clients and to several agencies who shelter clients in apartments, such as LiveSAFE Resources.”

Via the program, SNGA also relies on donations of household items, including dishes, linens, silverware, microwaves, vacuums and cookware for clients and collects donations of gently used furniture such as beds, tables and chairs, dressers and more. “It’s all the essential items you would need if you had nothing in a new home,” Rhodes families. “Struggling families are typically overjoyed when we drive up in the delivery truck and also when they see all the household items from which they can choose during their appointment at our space. Most leave with no room left in their car. This program helps them live with greater ease and dignity.”

For more information about SNGA or Simple Household Needs, email 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.

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

 

 

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