Ways you can help SNGA in October!

_SCD6763Greetings, everyone!

Our next volunteer day will be Sat., Oct. 5, from 9 to 12. We’ll be meeting at the warehouse to put together duffel bags full of toiletries for people experiencing homelessness. We’ll also be getting started (early!) on our holiday cards for SNGA supporters and taking inventory of toys and school supplies for My Birthday Matters. This SNGA program, which we launched over the summer, brings new birthday presents, school supplies and other useful items to homeless kids enrolled in the Marietta school system.

 Oct. 5 also marks the start of our fall toys and winter supplies donation drives! Please consider stopping by the warehouse on Oct. 5 to drop off winter items, and/or new toys and school supplies for My Birthday Matters!

For My Birthday Matters, we’re in greatest need of art supplies, board games, handheld electronic games such as “Bop It,” jewelry-and craft-making kits and generic sports equipment. We’re also making blankets for the kids, so we need bright-colored fleece—it would be great if people could donate two yards of print and two yards of solid—and lots of scissors and, especially, wrapping paper!

With regard to winter supplies, we’d like to collect blankets, sleeping bags, sheets, tarps, tents, camping supplies, coats, hats, gloves, scarves, candles, boots and long underwear to help those who live in the woods.

Oct. 5 also happens to be Hands on Atlanta Day. We’ll likely have a big turnout, and so it would be great to have some of our regulars at the warehouse to assist the HOA Day volunteers. (Kids 8 years old and older are welcome, but must be accompanied and supervised by an adult.) If you plan on attending on Oct. 5, please let us know by emailing us at info@SimpleNeedsGA.org, or letting us know via the wall on our Facebook page.

We’ve got another volunteer day planned for Nov. 9, so mark your calendar. And of course, we’re planning a lot more for the coming year as well. Please visit this blog and our Facebook page for regular updates.

Thanks for your support of people in need!

Fire-displaced families get help via ‘Simple Household Needs’

All of us shudder at the thought of our homes burning to the ground, but imagine what low-income families go through after they are suddenly displaced by a fire.

Over the the past few months in Marietta, 47 adults and 24 children were forced out of their homes by a blaze that destroyed 15 units at the now-condemned Marquis Place apartments, and another fire heavily damaged the Ashley Mill apartments, displacing all residents of the 90 percent-occupied building.cleaning_products

But thanks to your support of Simple Needs GA, some of these families received help in the form of cleaning kits provided through our new Simple Household Needs program. The kits included items that many of us take for granted, such as cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, toilet paper and other necessities. After assembling several dozen of the cleaning kits during a volunteer day at our warehouse, SNGA gave them to social workers in the Marietta school system, who distributed the kits to fire-displaced families with school-age children.

“With help from some great partners, we were able to provide some of these families with much-needed clothes, food and, thanks to Simple Needs GA, cleaning kits,” said social worker Kristin Hanfland. “It was nice to be able to add the cleaning kits to the food supplies we gave the families. Replacing, repairing and cleaning items can be a costly endeavor, and so the families were very appreciative to have the basic supplies needed to get started in their new locations.”

We occasionally assemble these kits during volunteer events at our warehouse in Marietta. For more information, email info@SimpleNeedsGA.org, or leave a note on our Facebook page. You can also support Simple Household Needs by making a financial contribution to SNGA. Each of the kits costs approximately $20, so a donation of just $100 can provide cleaning supplies to five families. To donate, use the PayPal link at SimpleNeedsGa.org, or send a check to:

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

Thanks so much for your support of people in need!

Bring shoes—and smiles—to kids in need!

When Milena Skollar handed a box of new shoes to a disadvantaged elementary school student, she was surprised at the little girl’s overjoyed response. “She opened it up in awe, as though I had just given her something precious,” recalls Skollar, a social worker in the Marietta school system. “She immediately took off her old shoes—theykids-shoes had holes on the bottom—and put on the new pair right there in the parking lot. Then she looked at us and said, ‘I am never taking these off!’ ”

Far too many children in Cobb County make do with hand-me-downs and never go to school with a new pair of clean, well-fitting shoes. But by donating gift cards from Walmart or Payless Shoes to Simple Needs GA’s “Shoe Them Love” program, you can give disadvantaged kids the uplifting experience of having new shoes of their own. Just a $25 gift card, in fact, will pay for shoes for a needy child.

When most of us think of the plight of the poor, we imagine what it would be like to be without food or to live in a car or a shelter. But Kristin Hanfland, a Marietta City Schools social worker, says new shoes are among those simple needs that struggling families often must do without. This is particularly true when they have suffered hardships such as losing a job or being made homeless as a result of an eviction or a fire.

“When families experience these hard times, the ‘extras’—shoes being one—often get put aside,” Hanfland says. “When the choice is, ‘Am I going to pay my rent/utilities or can I get my child a new pair of shoes?’ the immediate needs get prioritized. It’s not that these families don’t care that their children’s shoes are too small or have holes; they simply have to focus on keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table.”

Donating to Shoe Them Love can therefore help to ease the burdens of struggling parents. “It means they don’t have to feel badly for not being able to provide those ‘extras,’ ” Hanfland said.

New shoes also happen to make kids happy and boost their self-esteem. “In a perfect world, kids wouldn’t be judged on what they wear to school, but we know that is simply not always the case,” Hanfland explains. “Kids notice differences; they notice the kids whose shoes have holes; they notice the kids whose shoes are too dirty, too big, or too small.”

And as social workers see firsthand, the positive effects on the child’s mood can seem much larger than the gift itself. “It really can make a huge impact on a child,” Hanfland said. “Besides, it’s just fun! There’s nothing like a brand new, never-been-scuffed-up pair of shoes. How awesome it is to open a box, pull back the paper, and slide into a pair of shoes that are all yours! Brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.”

Hanfland and her colleagues will be working to identify kids who could benefit from Shoe Them Love during the 2013-2014 school year, which begins Aug. 7. Please consider buying $25 gift cards to Payless or Walmart and mailing them to:

Simple Needs GA, P.O. Box 670265, Marietta, GA 30066. You can also make a direct donation via Paypal at SimpleNeeedsGA.org. For more information, call 678-266-3344 or email info@SimpleNeedsGA.org

Thanks for your support of people in need!

Update and volunteer day!

Hi Everyone!
We just wanted to give you an update on some of the latest happenings at Simple Needs GA, including some new programs for homeless/disadvantaged children and their families!
• For starters, our next volunteer day is Sat., April 27, from 9 a.m. to noon at our Marietta warehouse. This will be the kickoff for our new Simple Household Needs program. Volunteers will put together care packages with cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, toilet paper and other necessities for needy families. We’ll also be packing duffel bags filled with full-sized toiletries for people experiencing homelessness. If you plan to join us or have questions, email us at info@SimpleNeedsGA.org. Children eight and older are encouraged to help out with their families!
• Coming soon: This summer (date and location TBD), we’ll be holding our inaugural fundraiser—a bowling event—for My Birthday Matters, our new children’s program which aims to help brighten the birthdays of kids experiencing homelessness in Cobb by providing presents, parties and simple necessities. Details to be announced, but we encourage you to join us and bring a gift for a child—things like soccer balls, footballs, books and games. In exchange for your donation, you will receive raffle tickets for a chance to win prizes.
• Far too many children never have the uplifting experience of heading to school wearing a pair of new, well-fitting shoes. Donating a gift card of $25 from Walmart or Payless Shoes is another great way to help children in need. Please consider supporting our new shoe program by mailing a gift card to SNGA at P.O. Box 670265, Marietta, GA 30066. Or bring the card(s) to one of our events such as our bowling event!
• If you’d like to connect with SNGA in other ways, consider “liking” us on our Facebook page and subscribing to this blog. We’re always looking for corporate and other sponsors to help us assist those in need. You can make a fantastic contribution to SNGA simply by sharing links to this site and our blog and Facebook posts with your own network of colleagues and friends. You can also support us by using Goodsearch.com. Enter “Simple Needs GA” as your charity of choice, then every search you make turns into a donation to SNGA!
Lastly, we’re still getting inquiries about our furniture program. Unfortunately, we were forced to discontinue this in June 2012 when we lost our donated warehouse space, after two years of helping more than 325 individuals and families. At some point, we may consider reestablishing that program.
Thanks so much for your support of those in need!

Teens help SNGA provide toiletries to people in need

Thanks so much to the Teen Community Service program at the Marcus Jewish Community Center for helping SNGA pack 85 duffel bags last weekend for people in need!
DSC_0014a On Sun., March 24, nine volunteers from the program, which provides Jewish middle and high school students with hands-on service opportunities throughout metro Atlanta, worked together to pack full-sized toiletries and other useful items into 60 men’s bags and 25 women’s bags. “The teens had a great time learning about SimpleNeeds and felt their work really made a difference to those in our community,” said Amy Helman-Darley, TCS Coordinator.

 Since June 2010, SNGA has provided duffel bags packed with shampoo, soap, deoderant, toothpaste, combs, dental floss and other items to thousands of new check-ins at a local emergency shelter. “The volunteers were a great help for us this weekend,” said SNGA founder Brenda Rhodes. “We had checked our storage space and were literally out of packed duffel bags for people in need. It would have taken one or two of us multiple hours to pack such a large number of bags ourselves. But the volunteers worked quickly and efficiently to pack 85 bags, which will make a real difference for the people who receive them. The volunteers did a great job of checking and rechecking the bags to make sure each one had all of items on the inventory sheet. Thanks again to JCC for all the help!”

Keep an eye out for more volunteer opportunities to come!


Voices of people in need

Can you imagine sleeping in the woods for eight years running? Or living in your car and lacking the money to give your children basic necessities like warm blankets, new shoes and enough to eat?
A few of us at Simple Needs GA recently met at MUST Ministries to talk with some of our clients–people who are facing daunting challenges such as these. Some had just checked into the shelter and were grateful to have received a duffel bag packed with full-sized toiletries and other useful items (SNGA donates about 1,000 bags a year). Others were living in the woods and making use of SNGA-donated tents, candles and sleeping bags, which several said had made a big difference in their lives.
Michael, a 56-year-old Cherokee County native, described living in the woods off of Cobb Parkway for the past few months. Prior to getting a new tent from SNGA, he had been living in a tent with a huge hole in it. Cold and rainy nights had been tough, he said. “It makes a big difference to have a new tent,” Michael said. “It keeps you warm and keeps the rain off.”
Wearing a denim jacket with Burger King patches on the front and back, Michael talked about his uphill battle in trying to find a job. He said he would be thrilled to work at a fast-food restaurant like BK if he could only persuade a manager to hire him. Michael, who has been on the street for a year and a half, is attending classes at MUST’s educational center. “I’m trying to teach myself how to read,” he said. “I want to better myself.” Despite these difficulties, Michael grinned constantly and was friendly and talkative. He chatted with one person after another before heading across Cobb Parkway to his camp in the woods
Another conversation underscored the reality that homelessness affects both young and old. Anthony, 33, and Valerie, 26, also described living in the woods in a tent supplied by SNGA. Receiving a tent had been a big help, explained Valerie, whose experience with homelessness began in April 2012 after she lost her job in Mississippi. “For us, what it meant was, it was like we weren’t really homeless anymore,” she said.IMG_1257
SNGA board member Kasey Litt was moved by the couple’s youth as much as their stories.  “Valerie took the lead,” Kasey said. “She spoke matter-of-factly about the circumstances they were in, as if their living conditions were as regular as getting dressed in the morning. Valerie walked with a cane and had some difficulty maneuvering the muddy grass where we were standing. Tony stood quietly in the background carrying a large trash bag that held all of their possessions. He comes from Mississippi and does not know anybody here except for Valerie. As I was taking pictures I could not help but feel that these were babies pushed out of the nest way too early. I wondered what their dreams were…maybe it was just to have someplace out of the cold.”

While SNGA board member Kevin Powell was glad to hear of the good things being done for Grady, Rhonda and Billy, he was also touched by the circumstances of their lives. “Grady, who was about 40 years old, had been living in his tent for three months about a quarter of a mile away from MUST,” Kevin recalled. “He said he was doing OK, but that he could really use one or two more blankets, and he sure could use some additional food. It was his birthday. He just seemed happy to be alive.

“Rhonda was married with two teenage boys, ages 13 and 14. She talked about how her two children are staying with friends for shelter while she and her husband live in their car. They were in need of two sleeping bags to make their lives more bearable. Rhonda has applied for disability due to her heart condition. She described how her 13-year-old has a learning disability and needs new shoes.

“Billy had been living in tents since 2005. He has done odd jobs at restaurants over the years but always finds a way of losing his job. He is in dire need of dental work and fears for infections coming into his bloodstream from his bad teeth. His spirits seemed good, but one can only imagine the hardships he faces, being locked in the cycle of homelessness for this long.”

Thanks to the generosity and compassion of our donors and volunteers, SNGA has been able to lighten the burden of hundreds of individuals, children and families over the past couple of years, and we’re eager to do more. Thanks so much for your help! All contributions to our 501(c) 3 nonprofit are tax-deductible. Any support is greatly appreciated! Please consider donating online or mailing a check to:

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

Thanks for your support of people in need!