Our biggest donation day yet!

Hi, everyone.
As you might know, Simple Needs GA has been collecting in-kind donations once a month at our Marietta warehouse. These are great opportunities to volunteer as well by doing things like putting together our Comfort Kits for people checking into local shelters, or sorting in-kind donations of household items, new toys, school uniforms and more.

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A few volunteers from Saturday.

On Sat., July 18, we had the busiest Donation Drive to date! Typically, we get just a few donations (sometimes none), but on Saturday we had ten generous donors bring in a wide variety of useful and uplifting donations for people in need. (The pic at left is just a few of the folks who came by. A special thanks to Sandy, in particular, who continues to show inspiring dedication to SNGA!)

Our warehouse lacks air conditioning, so these stalwart volunteers are also to be thanked for their willingness to sweat! Do your donations of gently used items and clothing really make a difference? Absolutely. During the donation day, for example, one of our furniture clients came to pick up dishes, linens, a TV set and more. She was thrilled when she left our warehouse with so many needed items for her family. Thanks so much to those who helped her pick out what she needed!

Our monthly donation days are held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. If you have items in good condition that we can use for our specific programs, or would just like to volunteer, please join us. Email info@simpleneedsga.org for our address and any other information you need. Find out more about our current needs by visiting our wish list.

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Stuffed animals for My Birthday Matters.

And of course, we’re always in need of direct financial contributions to fund our programs. In celebration of our 5th anniversary, in fact, we’re hoping to add 50 new members to Simply Caring, our monthly giving program, over the next five months. Joining is easy. Just click the donate button below to make a PayPal donation and then select “Make This Recurring (Monthly)”!

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If paying online is not your thing, we do accept snail mail! You can mail a check each month to the following address:

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

If you prefer to donate by check, just email us at info@simpleneedsga.org so that we can count you as one of our wonderful Simply Caring members.

Thanks for your support of people in need!

Simple Needs GA salutes the Girl Scouts!

Greetings, all.
I wanted to let you know about the inspiring support Simple Needs GA (SNGA) has received over the past few months from local Girl Scout troops!

It started in January at a badge-a-thon event organized by local Girl Scout leaders and volunteers. At the event, a group of Daisy Girl Scouts (kindergarten and first grade) put together gift bags for SNGA’s My Birthday Matters program, which brings brand-new toys, school supplies, a no-sew blanket, underwear and socks, and other useful items to homeless schoolchildren celebrating their birthdays. About 200 Girl Scouts showed up for the day of fun, learning, sisterhood and earning badges.

Linda Vogt GS donations Feb 2015-2
Linda and Elisabeth Vogt

Then in March, Brownie troop 14404, which includes children from Marietta’s Devon Oaks subdivision, cohosted a cookie booth and lemonade stand, with proceeds donated to SNGA.

In April, Girl Scout Troop 14435 (from Still Elementary in Powder Springs) gave yet another boost to My Birthday Matters: “The girls were excited to give away small gifts to put a smile on the face of another child who may not be as fortunate as they are,” wrote parents Mandy Harris and Lisa Hendrix, in an email to SNGA. “They learned about the needs of homeless families in the community and found it particularly interesting that some people live in tents because they do not have homes. They were thoughtful as they considered the fact that some kids, possibly in their own class at school, leave school with no food to eat for dinner or no real place of their own to sleep.”

Also in April, a group of almost 35 Girl Scouts from the kudzu service unit gathered for a community service lock-in at a local church where the activities included making 25 no-sew or fleece-tie blankets for SNGA’s My Birthday Matters program.

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Girl Scout Troop 13412! 😀

During the lock-in, I had the opportunity to talk with the Girl Scouts about the various programs SNGA offers. The group included members of Daisy Troop 14409, Brownie Troop 14404, Junior Troop 13413, and Cadette Troop 2401.

Linda Vogt, co-leader of Brownie Troop 14404, learned about SNGA during this past Christmas season. “Elisabeth, my 2nd-grade daughter, and I were inspired by the organization’s dedication to helping families and children in need,” Linda said. “Elisabeth asked if she could make some blankets for My Birthday Matters. What started as something just the two of us worked on during winter break quickly became a crafty activity for Elisabeth and some of her friends. I’m so proud to watch Elisabeth and her sister scouts strive to make the world a better place and to help families in need by supporting SNGA.”

Thanks again to the Girl Scouts for all their help. I’ll definitely be buying some cookies this year!--Brenda Rhodes
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‘A Moving Gesture’: TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® gears up to help Simple Needs GA!

two-men-truckMoving is no simple task. In addition to muscle power, it requires valuable commodities such as time, a good sense of direction, skill in driving an oversized truck and — perhaps trickiest of all — the ability to coordinate pickups and deliveries among multiple parties with hectic schedules.

This is precisely why picking up donations and delivering the items to people in need is one of the biggest challenges we face at Simple Needs GA (SNGA).

So we were absolutely thrilled recently when Robyn Christopher, Marietta Sales Manager for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, called us out of the blue to offer the company’s services for free! Over the past few weeks, Robyn’s team has helped SNGA’s Simple Household Needs program pick up sofas, lamps, tables, beds, chairs, and more from our generous donors and deliver them straight to people in need or to our storage unit.

“We strive to team up with local 501(c)(3) organizations to help out in any way we can,” Robyn said. “The owner of our franchise has multiple locations within the state of Georgia, and all of the sales managers at these locations regularly work with nonprofits.”

In fact, it’s all part of a company-wide trend. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchisees all over the country frequently dedicate both time and money to area charities, though it’s not a requirement, said Robyn.

two-men-and-a-truck-logo“The founder of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, Mary Ellen Sheets, has spent her entire life volunteering and is a longtime supporter of many organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, United Way of America, and the YMCA,” Robyn said. “When she started the company 30 years ago, Sheets and her sons made a $1,000 profit in the first year. They decided to give it all away in the form of $100 donations to 10 different local charities. Giving is a huge part of the company culture, which is part of what attracted me to TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.”

Robyn’s team plans to continue helping SNGA with pickups and deliveries as scheduling permits. We can’t thank them enough!

Donor Spotlight: Wells Fargo gives back

Did you know that over the past six years Wells Fargo has given more than $1.5 million to nonprofit groups in Georgia through its “Days of Giving” campaign? On Oct. 29, we at Simple Needs GA (SNGA) were honored to receive a $1,000 grant from the bank at a celebration in Marietta. All told, the bank’s team members recognized some 240 other groups across metro Atlanta as part of the program.

Wells Fargo Area President Jim Lawrence led the ceremony. “To some a $1,000 grant may seem small, but we know each of these great groups will be able to make a huge difference with this,” he said. “And collectively this will have a major impact in our community.”

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Brenda Rhodes (left) and Michelle Lee

Through the program, Wells Fargo branch managers nominate nonprofits in their communities. Michelle Lee, manager of the West Marietta branch at 761 Powder Springs St. Marietta, GA, nominated SNGA after reading about our work online.

When I got the call from Michelle, I was so excited. We can’t thank Michelle and Wells Fargo enough for making us a part of this program!

Wells Fargo’s Days of Giving benefits thousands of people across the United States, Michelle noted. “Our branch managers look to recognize local groups that are strong on community involvement,” she said. “Sometimes we even build longer-term relationships with these groups. For example, my team is now eager to come out and do some volunteer work with SNGA.”

A big thanks to Wells Fargo for supporting untold thousands of people in need over the past six years!

–Brenda Rhodes

Thankfulness Doesn’t End after the Holidays

logo6568507_lgNow that the holiday season is over, life feels like it is getting back to “normal.” The one thing I miss, though, from the holiday season, is the many posts from people being thankful. The holiday season seems to put people in a reflective mood. They remind us to acknowledge the things we are grateful for…everyday things that we can provide our families. If you run out of laundry detergent or toilet paper, you just put it on your grocery list. When you see your child has outgrown yet another pair of shoes, you go to the store and get new ones.

The truth is, some of us are so used to having the everyday necessities we might not always put them at the top of our list of things for which we are thankful. I’m pretty sure I won’t hear someone say they are thankful for toilet paper or shampoo or shoes. My friends and family have the means to take some of these things for granted. Simple Needs GA (SNGA), however, helps to provide some of these everyday items that we take for granted to children and families that really need help filling in the gaps.

In working with SNGA and helping to develop some of its programs, I have become more aware of all the blessings–small and large–I can be thankful for. For example, I am thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives–and for the many people who believe in our organization and support our mission, from members of our board, to a wide range of donors, volunteers, counselors, local agencies and others who are dedicated to helping people in need.

mbmI am so grateful that we’ve been able to develop a program, My Birthday Matters, to help families celebrate birthdays. This is my pet project. When I was a kid, we lived on one very modest income. My family lived paycheck to paycheck with no extra to cover emergencies, never mind something like birthday presents. If I was lucky enough to have my birthday fall on a Friday or Saturday when a new paycheck was cashed, I would get a little present and maybe a cake. But if it fell on a Wednesday or Thursday, when funds were very low, it almost never even got mentioned. My parents were proud people and wanted to provide everything for their children but when they couldn’t, well, it was best to not mention it.

Kasey Litt
Kasey Litt

To a child, however, that is like saying they aren’t special enough. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to help children celebrate their special day. My Birthday Matters currently delivers birthday presents to elementary school children in the Marietta City School District, some additional elementary schools in Powder Springs, and some children living in local shelters like MUST.  These children are classified as homeless and could be living in a hotel, shelter, a friend or relative’s house or even in a car.

We send every child some essentials which include a handmade blanket, markers, pens, pencils, crayons, socks and underwear along with some special gifts like an art set, football or Lego set. We recently got a thank you from a mom who has a special needs child.

To see the look on his face…because of his autism he loved the markers and crayons and the blank paper. He was up till midnight making pictures. And when I asked him to go to sleep he got the blanket and turtle he also received and slept with them both, and every night since. Thank you guys SO much. He was the happiest little boy I had seen in awhile.

Whenever we receive a little note like this or we see the child grinning ear-to-ear opening their presents, I feel really special. Every package we deliver makes me feel like I’m celebrating my lost birthdays. What better way to help your children understand how fortunate they are than by allowing them the opportunity to share their birthdays with others?
–Kasey Litt, founding board member, SNGA

2014: A year of progress for SNGA

Happy New Year to you and yours from Simple Needs GA (SNGA)!
Thanks to your kindness and generosity over the past year, we made good progress toward our mission of helping even more people in need in our community. We also laid the groundwork for a productive 2015.

Here are a few highlights:

EXPANDING OUR PROGRAMS
Over the past year, SNGA expanded its Comfort Kits project to add four new shelters—Family Promise of Cobb County, The Extension (men and women), the YWCA of Northwest Georgia and Zion Keepers—in addition to our longstanding relationship with MUST’s Elizabeth Inn.

Our Shoe Them Love program provided, via either $25 gift cards or through in-kind donations, enough pairs of new shoes for more than 275 very grateful kids!

We recognized even more children’s birthdays—50 in 2014—through our My Birthday Matters program. Many of these homeless or disadvantaged children would otherwise have received nothing on their birthday.

In addition to our volunteer days, over the past year SNGA also helped at least 50 families who reached out to us for assistance. These included a single mom with two kids coming out of homelessness; a single dad with three kids; families that had lost everything due to fires and floods; and a woman with five kids (two with special needs).

GROWING SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
SNGA is still a small, locally focused organization, but our reach is growing thanks to our volunteers’ and donors’ generous support of us on social media sites. For example, our website simpleneedsga.org received 7,400 unique views in 2014. We have 614 ‘likes’ on our growing Facebook page and have just dipped our toes into the ‘Twitterverse’ waters with a new Twitter account: @simpleneedsga.

In 2014, we also created an attractive, easy-to-share brochure. It’s available in digital format at this link.

Lastly, board member Kasey Litt created our first informational program video, which you can watch here.

GROWING OUR FUNDRAISING
Late last year, we decided to apply for our first major grant in a request for $10K. We are still seeking matching funds, which will boost our odds of winning this grant significantly. All pledges due by late January. For more information, email us at info@simpleneedsga.org.

We also teamed with Kroger Community Rewards, GoodSearch and AmazonSmile to supplement our fundraising efforts. Individuals helped us as well. For example, an anonymous donor approached SNGA and offered to match the size of any donation (up to $2,500 total) during the month of March, which we dubbed “March Madness.”

On Georgia Gives Day on Nov. 13, we raised $2,780 toward our goal of $5,000, with a total of 27 donors contributing. Thank you so much!

Bowling20142KICKING BACK WITH FUN EVENTS
We had a nice turnout and a lot of fun at our Simply Bowling event on Sept. 28. (We’ll be holding two bowling events in 2015—stay tuned.)

On Oct. 18 of last year, we held our first Volunteer & Donor Appreciation Open House. We dined on some good food, gave tours of our space, met new friends and reminisced with old ones. Our “Gifts in Kind” award winner was Piedmont Graphics (owner of our warehouse space). “Volunteers of the Year” were Scott Denton (photography), Karen Hamilton, Sandy Dame and Darlene Andrews. Our invaluable “truckers” were Jay Schneider, Rick Perry and Yolanda Kingsberry (Yolanda recently joined our board). We also gave a special “thank you!” to Melanie Booker for being on our board since day 1.

In 2015, we plan to continue growing our programs and helping greater numbers of people in need. We would also love your help with our efforts to form specific committees in support of: My Birthday Matters, Shoe Them Love, Comfort Kits, public relations/community outreach, and special events.

GROWING OUR VOLUNTEER DAYS
Over the past year, we were thrilled at the strong attendance during our periodic volunteer days. On Hands on Atlanta Day on Oct. 18, for example, 65 volunteers—most of them from UCB and TSYS—helped out at our Marietta warehouse by assembling Comfort Kits, wrapping presents for My Birthday Matters and doing many other tasks. It was the most volunteers we have had at one time at our Marietta warehouse!

On March 15, a total of 45 people from all over metro Atlanta—including members of local high schools, MUST Ministries, Family Promise, JLL Atlanta and IBM—helped us pack 320 toiletries bags (“Comfort Kits”), assemble shelves, put together a birthday package for a homeless child, organize our My Birthday Matters room, take inventory and more. Then on March 19, approximately 100 volunteers from JLL Atlanta put together 300 duffel bags for us at JLL Atlanta’s office in Buckhead. They even drove the bags to our Marietta warehouse! As a corporation community donation, JLL Atlanta ordered and paid for $4,700 worth of supplies for SNGA’s Comfort Kits program. Largely as a result of this, we were able to expand that program and deliver full-sized toiletries to more than 300 more people living in four additional local shelters. Likewise, volunteers from Foresters, the not-for-profit fraternal benefit society, braved some seriously hot weather in August to put together nearly 150 birthday kits for My Birthday Matters at Six Flags Over Georgia.

Throughout 2014, we received donations and/or volunteer help from a wide variety of organizations, including UCB, TSYS, Wells Fargo, Foresters, EPIC Response, JLL Atlanta, Casa Montessori, First United Methodist Church in Marietta, Piedmont Graphics, IBM, Cakes by Avion, Kroger, and ushers from the Cobb Energy Center, to name just a few. TSYS chose SNGA as the beneficiary of its holiday campaign, collecting donations of items as well as many gift cards. Wells Fargo gave SNGA $1,000 through its Day of Giving program.

COLLABORATING WITH OTHER AGENCIES
At SNGA, we see our work as a collaborative, community-based effort, and so we work hard to help other agencies whenever possible. Over the past year, our donors helped us provide the Cobb/Douglas Community Services Board with all kinds of gently used household items, from bed and bath items to TVs and microwaves, for people coming out of homelessness. Our donors gave lightly used children’s books for distribution by MUST Ministries; provided pet food for a local teenager who has a mission of helping lower-income folks who own dogs and cats; and donated useful items for the Children’s Room at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia. We also collected coats and clothing for the YWCA as well as the Marietta city school district’s clothes closet.

Overall, we had a great response last year from our supporters, who generously provided in-kind donations of winter clothing, camping supplies, bicycles, household items and much more. (See this page for details on the in-kind donations we’ll be collecting in 2015.) By the way, our monthly donation drive is this Saturday, Jan 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact us for details and our address. We are currently in need of furniture (larger furniture should not be brought to our space; email us and we’ll coordinate pick up if needed and delivery).

If you’d like to get more involved, just email us at info@simpleneedsga.org. You can also reach us via our Facebook page or on Twitter through @simpleneedsga.

Finally, here are a few quotes from people and organizations we helped over the past year:

“It is difficult to describe how much it means to a person with a mental illness, especially one who has not had his or her own place to live, or who has been completely homeless, to not only be offered a place to call home, but to also be given necessary household items that had been donated by complete strangers!” — Mary Robeck, Cobb/Douglas Community Service Board.

“My daughter said she is beyond excited about her gifts. I mean she looooves her gifts, especially the blanket. Thank you for this; I am so grateful.” — mother of a 9-year-old girl who had a great birthday with help from our My Birthday Matters program.

“It’s the small things sometimes that make a difference. Love and compassion can be shown in so many ways. I want to thank you.” — shelter resident who received a duffel bag of full-size toiletries via our Comfort Kits program.

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF PEOPLE IN NEED! 

 

Children to help SNGA’s ‘My Birthday Matters’

A big shout of thanks to the Sope Creek Elementary Rise Up! 4 Christ chapter! They have chosen Simple Needs GA’s ‘My Birthday Matters’ program as their Compassion Challenge beneficiary. I attended their chapter meeting on Friday to talk about SNGA and MBM.

10382743_796683367034028_8078294000419924980_nRISE UP! is an after school program for elementary-aged children with the purpose of teaching Biblical applications in a creative and fun environment that allows each child to feel Christ’s unconditional love. The Compassion Challenge gives $1 to each student, asks them to identify an area where they are talented and use those talents to turn that $1 into more money throughout the month of December.

“I heard that one Sope Creek family already did their Compassion Challenge by hosting a basketball tournament at their home this weekend and raised over $300 for SNGA,” said Kim Miller, one of the organizers of the Sope Creek chapter. “We are praying for more great results in the weeks ahead!”

We are honored and excited to be a part of this effort!

Thanks to you for your support of people in need.
–Brenda Rhodes