‘Much more than a chair’ (plus the latest news from SNGA)

Who would have thought a donated chair could make such a difference for a family in need?

Black_ReclinerThe client who received the black recliner from Simple Needs GA’s Simple Household Needs program burst into tears a couple of weeks ago when sharing the details of her situation with SNGA founder Brenda Rhodes. “When I delivered some things her kids had requested–like a backpack and some underwear and socks–she shared the story of how her dad is suffering from COPD and dying of cancer,” Brenda said. “The client needed the chair because her dad cannot sleep in a bed anymore. He needs to be elevated now.”

Brenda, whose mother died of lung cancer in 2011, was there to listen. “This client really didn’t have anyone else to talk to about what she was going through,” Brenda said. “I reached out to a social worker, who got the client some further help in the form of counseling. It would be so easy to look at that recliner and think ‘it’s just a chair,’ but it was much more than that.”

Small acts of kindness can have big effects. Thanks for your generous support of Simple Needs GA!

Below is a quick Q&A with Brenda about some of the latest happenings at SNGA…

SNGA recently expanded its Simple Household Needs program, which provides cleaning kits, furniture, beds and other items. What’s been happening with that program?

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Storage unit across from Roswell St. Baptist Church

Lately we have had a lot of activity with Simple Household Needs—pretty big increases in donations as well as requests from clients. Our new storage facility across from the Roswell Street Baptist Church will fill up and then empty, fill up and then empty! We’re always looking for help with the furniture component of this program, in particular. Logistically, it can be a challenge for us. We’re getting great help from Danielle, Yolanda, Rick, Jay, Greg and other volunteers but can really use some more help with picking up and delivering furniture.

How about the Cobb Community Foundation grant?

We owe a huge thanks to the Cobb Community Foundation and the Cobb County Board of Commissioners for honoring us—for the second year in a row—with a $10k Impact Grant.

We are so excited because this grant will go a long way toward helping us expand our programs into more schools and otherwise help more people and children in need.

Funds from the grant will be allocated toward five of our programs. It will help us expand My Birthday Matters through our new partnership with Communities in Schools, a nonprofit that works to reduce school dropout rates and help kids succeed. The grant will also help us provide birthday gifts and other items for the children of our furniture clients. Even though these families are not technically homeless (which is our target population), they are typically unable to afford the birthdays that they would like to give their kids since they just got back on their feet. We’re using the grant to expand our Uniforms for Excellence program, which provides schoolchildren with required school uniforms, and the money will also help us provide children with new shoes via their school social workers. We’re adding nail clippers to the Comfort Kits that we give to people checking into local shelters, and we’re also using $2,000 in grant money to support a program at the First United Methodist Church of Marietta that gives backpacks full of food for the weekend to children in need.

You recently graduated from the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Leadership Cobb program. Could you talk about how that could help Simple Needs GA?

Being accepted into Leadership Cobb was a huge honor. It really is a tremendous program which I highly recommend. For nonprofits, it can dramatically increase your network of potential donors and volunteers. To give you an example, one of the CFO sessions was at RaceTrac with owner Allison Moran. Allison then donated some toiletry kits her daughter had put together for the homeless and this month, RaceTrac will be doing a corporate volunteer day at our warehouse.

Simple Needs GA just received its first car donation? How did that come about?

A very generous donor, who has given to our furniture program, surprised us by donating a 2003 Ford Expedition with just 89,000 miles on the odometer. We sold the vehicle, and this yielded $5,200 for our programs!

Another new development is the use of SignUpGenius. Could you talk about how that has helped SNGA?

SignUpGenius-squareWhen you make in-kind donations to nonprofits, you sometimes don’t know if what you’re giving is needed. Our SignUp Genius page is proving to be a great way for our supporters to find out about specific items that our clients need. So far we have posted items needed for several programs, in particular My Birthday Matters and Simple Household Needs, plus some needs for agencies with which we collaborate. A huge thanks to those of you who have already donated via this tool!

Anything else that you would like to share?

One noteworthy thing to mention is the growth of our My Birthday Matters program. We have been doing birthdays left and right lately. This program was the brainchild of our board member Kasey Litt, who had felt neglected and sad as a child when her financially struggling family was unable to give her anything on her birthdays. What a fantastic thing to see Kasey’s vision become a reality for so many children in need! Over the summer, things will be a little slower for MBM because we won’t have school social workers sending us as many birthday recipients. However, we will still be working with local shelters and already have a few summer birthdays on the schedule. As I mentioned, we will be doing birthdays for furniture clients as well.13248433_1055624061139956_4550091847099542904_o-2

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Brenda (l) with Kristin Hanfland

 I want to give a heartfelt thanks to the incredible generosity of the parents of our board member Melanie. They have been major supporters of SNGA and came through again for us in 2016 to honor her on her birthday. Lastly, we were honored to receive a 2016 appreciation award from the Marietta City Schools! That was very exciting, and it felt great to know that the school system appreciates what we do.

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Next donation drive is Sat., May 21

‘Thanks so much for the toiletries. We greatly appreciate and use them daily. It makes us feel special—like being at a hotel! God bless you all and keep you.’ – thank-you letter signed by nine guests at a local shelter who received Simple Needs GA Comfort Kits.

 

‘Thanks for all the help with my children’s birthdays! It brought them so much joy. My son wasn’t really going to get a good birthday this year due to financial issues. God bless all who made this possible!’ – mom of children helped by Simple Needs GA’s My Birthday Matters program.

Greetings, everyone!
Can you believe summer is almost here? It’s a perfect time to do a final round of spring-cleaning. You can bring gently used items to our monthly donation drive on Sat., May 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Marietta warehouse. Of course, you could also head to the store and pick up some new items for people in need as well. A great way to find out about specific needed items is to visit our SignUp Genius page. We have also updated our online list of needed items here.volunteer_final

We’ve been helping quite a few families with furniture and household items lately. We’re running low on kitchen and bath essentials, in particular.

Just email me at brenda@simpleneedsga.org to get the address for Saturday.

If you have a large piece of furniture, please email me about that as well so we can discuss the details (and please include photos).

Thanks for your help of people in need!

Update, donation drive and more!

The difference you’re making—one family at a time

Before I tell you about our upcoming donation day on April 16 and some other Simple Needs GA news, I wanted to share a story that illustrates how your support is truly making a difference in the lives of families in need.

Last year, we helped a woman and her family by providing them with beds and furniture and also giving her daughter birthday gifts. Later, the mom told us about her super-sweet, 15-year-old son: He was about to go back to school, she explained, but was embarrassed because his clothes and shoes were so old. Our supporter Jody provided the funding, and Lauren did the shopping and delivery—and so this young man was able to go back to school with his head held high.

When it was time for his birthday in February, we provided him with the electronics and other gifts he wanted but, again, could not afford. (Thanks so much to Bobbi and Kim for buying those!) Later, we helped the young man get a uniform so that he could participate in the track and field team at his school (thanks to Melanie!).

What if we hadn’t been there? I typically try not to think too hard about all the tremendous need in our community. Here at Simple Needs GA, we always wish we could do more, but of course we can’t do it all. Still, it really is wonderful to think about the help we are able to provide to individuals and families in Cobb County. On a material level, yes, it’s about meeting specific, concrete needs. On a deeper level, though, it’s about showing love and kindness in ways that create lifelong memories for givers and receivers alike!

Thanks so much for all you do for Simple Needs GA!

Our next donation drive is Sat., April 16!

Simple Needs GA’s next monthly donation drive is Sat., April 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at our Marietta warehouse. We would love it if you could join us!

A great way to find out about specific needed items is to visit our new SignUp Genius page. So far we have posted items needed for several programs (plus some needs for agencies with which we collaborate). We’re using the page to coordinate specific gift purchases for our My Birthday Matters program, geared toward children and teenagers who are homeless.

For our Simple Household Needs program, we are seeking additional donations of gently used furniture with no damage. In particularly, we need full and queen mattresses; twin box springs; any size frames; dining tables (with or without chairs); couches and loveseats; nightstands; end tables; coffee tables, and desks. We can take other furniture as well, but we do have some storage space constraints. If you have a large piece of furniture you’d like to donate, please email brenda@simpleneedsga.org (include photos) so we can discuss the details.

Other needed items include pillows (new), silverware, queen and king sheets, blankets, microwaves, washers/dryers, vacuums, trashcans and computers.

You can see an updated list of all of our needed items here. More details on our Simple Household Needs program are available here.

Feel free to bring smaller items by our warehouse on April 16! If you have any questions or need the address of our warehouse, email brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

Kids’ birthdays can be a lesson in giving, too.

In parts of Cobb County that are blessed by prosperity, birthdays can be … well, a little much. The parents throw a party at someplace like Andretti’s or Monkey Joe’s and invite 10, 15 or even 20 kids to join the fun. Naturally, the parents of these invitees all feel obligated to buy presents—typically, brand-new toys—to bring to the party. But of course, the birthday boy or girl is already getting lots of stuff from Mom, Dad, the grandparents and other relatives. The result? Way too many presents. (Kids might argue with this idea, of course.)

Bryce March 26 2016 delivering to WHRecognizing that this situation can be a bit imbalanced, some parents have chosen to work with their kids to use their birthdays as an opportunity for giving back. Check out our recent blog post about how six-year-old Bryce made a big contribution to Simple Needs GA. If you’d like to do the same with your child, email brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

Thanks!

Does your company give?

To increase our chances of winning the Cobb Community Foundation Impact Grant, we are asking for donations to match that amount. We need $ 6,000 more matched by September 30, preferably in the form of larger donations of $500 and up. If your company, or you personally, can help us out by donating (or pledging) funding that we can count toward that $10K, we would truly appreciate it. It’s really like doubling your gift!

 

Ways you can help: giving via Kroger and Amazon

Just by using their Kroger Plus Cards, a total of 15 households are now contributing to SNGA each time they shop for groceries. (This added up to $50 for the last quarter. Not bad.) The cool thing is that this costs Kroger shoppers nothing at all–the donation comes from Kroger. Click here for instructions on signing up for Kroger Community Rewards. What a great program!

Ce0MdVRXIAA20XS.jpg-largeAlso, 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! BTW, check out our Twitter feed to see our recent contributions to AmazoneSmile’s #StartWithASmile campaign. It highlights the work of nonprofits from all across the country. Huge thanks to our dedicated volunteer Allison Sternberg, a social media specialist, for helping us become a more active voice on Twitter. Very cool!

Thanks so much for your support of people in need!

 

Six-year-old donates his birthday presents to kids in need!

Most kids think of their birthdays as a time to receive. What could be better, after all, than hanging out with your friends, eating cake and ice cream and unwrapping lots of toys, video games and other fun stuff? For six-year-old Bryce of Roswell, a kindergartener at Tritt Elementary School, birthdays have always been about gratitude and giving back, too.

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Six-year-old Bryce kindly donated brand-new presents and other useful items to kids in need. Thanks, Bryce!

When Bryce was two years old, his parents began choosing charitable causes for his friends to donate to in lieu of birthday gifts. “Between my husband and me as well as his grandparents, Bryce gets plenty of birthday presents and doesn’t need an additional 20 more coming from friends,” explained his mom, Lynn. “We thought this would be a great way to teach Bryce how great it is to give back–even on your special day. It’s also a way to introduce Bryce’s friends and their families to giving and to spread the word about particular charities.”

For his third, fourth and fifth birthdays, Bryce chose the same charities his older sister had assisted on some of her birthdays. For example, he handed out new books and activity books at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and brought food to the Pet Buddies Food Pantry, which works to keep pets with their families (and out of shelters) during hard times.

This year, Bryce chose Simple Needs GA as his birthday charity after some kind folks on Facebook heartily recommended us. We were so pleased and honored to be a part of this special act of kindness! It was great to meet Bryce and his family at our warehouse, where Bryce learned all about our My Birthday Matters program. The toys he donated will go straight to kids in need who might otherwise not have had any presents to open on their birthdays. What a wonderful way to add some depth and appreciation to a child’s birthday!

Thanks so much to Bryce and his family for their support of Simple Needs GA!

Simple Needs GA loves your support!

“I wasn’t able to purchase any gifts for my son. He really wanted that basketball goal and when he saw it he started screaming and dancing around.”
–mom of two-year-old My Birthday Matters recipient

“I just have to tell you once more how thankful I am for what you have done! My sons haven’t had a bed in two years. They were either sleeping together on an air mattress or on blankets on the floor and now they have their own beds!” — a mom whose family received beds and furniture from our Simple Household Needs program.

At Simple Needs GA, we are making a difference, one family at a time. And it is all thanks to your support! In particular, we wanted to take a moment to recognize two local organizations that have been very helpful to us of late.

My Birthday Matters gifts for a two-year-old staying in a shelter.
My Birthday Matters gifts for a two-year-old staying in a shelter.

Cobb EMC, which is very generous to many agencies, again donated 1,000 sports water bottles for distribution to people in need through our Comfort Kits program! Thanks, Cobb EMC! When new guests arrive at shelters, they often have only the clothes on their backs. Our Comfort Kits include hygiene and other useful items that help people feel more comfortable–and enable them to destress a little.

We also want to give a shout out to the Woodstock/Marietta location of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, which has been a huge help to us in recent weeks by picking up and delivering donated furniture for us. Their crews have burned a lot of calories moving mattresses, box springs, chests of drawers, sofas and other household items for recipients of our Simple Household Needs program. It is hard to put into words how big a difference it can make for families who have next to nothing in a home or apartment to suddenly have beds, furniture and useful household items all their own. The need is great, however, and we struggle at times to work out the logistics of all those pickups and deliveries. We owe a big debt of gratitude to Ryan Dieck, manager of the company’s Woodstock/Marietta location, for his amazing willingness to help us–free of charge.

Let’s keep the momentum going! In fact, our next monthly donation-drive is Sat., Feb. 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at our Marietta warehouse. We would love it if you could join us!

While it might be 70 degrees one day and below freezing the next (!), our clients still need winter-weather items such as long underwear, hats, gloves, coats and blankets. We’re also collecting children’s outerwear and winter clothing for distribution to clients and a local clothes closet. We received a request from a local shelter for suitcases in good shape, and a family in a shelter needs a good double stroller. Other needed items (all in good condition) include pillows (new), silverware, queen sheets, blankets, microwaves, washers/dryers, vacuums, trashcans, mattresses/box springs (especially queen) and computers.

If you have any of these items you could donate, please bring them by our warehouse on Feb. 20! [Click here for a full list of other needed items]

If any questions or for the address of our warehouse, email brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

Does your company give?
SNGA is about to apply for a grant from the Cobb Community Foundation for $10K. To increase our chances of winning that grant, we are asking for donations to match that amount. If your company — or you personally — can help us out by donating (or pledging) funding that we can count toward that $10K, we would truly appreciate it. It’s really like doubling your gift! We need to have your commitment by February 25 if you’d like to help in this way.

You could also help SNGA by becoming part of our Simply Caring (monthly donor) campaign. We’re trying to boost the number of monthly donors contributing to SNGA. To do so is a snap: Just go to our donate link, set the amount of your monthly donation, and check the ‘make monthly’ box. Alternately, you can mail us a check each month. The address is:

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

Thanks so much for your support of people in need!

Thanks TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®!

Those men were great that picked up my furniture. Will recommend that business to everyone. God bless them. — one of our furniture donors, after a pro-bono pickup from her home by TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.

If you’ve ever helped a friend move, you know it isn’t an easy task. But imagine picking up and delivering furniture from eleven different families in one day!

That’s precisely what deliverymen from the Woodstock location of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® did for Simple Needs GA (SNGA) on Wed, Jan 13. A huge shout out to Kevin and Brendan for being so professional and efficient as they picked up, and later delivered to our storage space, multiple mattresses, box springs, chests of drawers, sofas and other household items for recipients of our Simple Household Needs program.

And of course, we also owe a big debt of gratitude to Ryan Dieck, manager of the company’s Woodstock location at 100 Arnold Mill Rd. Mr. Dieck has kindly agreed to periodically help SNGA with pickups and deliveries. This is a huge help to us. We love giving furniture to families in need. However, the logistics of this is one of our biggest challenges, in part because we don’t have a box truck of our own.

“We strive to team up with local 501(c)(3) organizations to help out in any way we can,” Ryan 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.

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. 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 at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.”

Isn’t that cool? We can’t thank them enough!

We need candles for our clients. Here’s why.

Most of us have a few unused candles lying around in our homes. Did you know that candles are actually one of the items people who live in the woods need the most?

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. Now happens to be a great time: You can really get good deals on candles thanks to after-Christmas sales. Just about any candle will do other than tea lights. The best candles 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 from getting into their tents at night. (I sometimes joke that raccoons know how to work a tent zipper!) Believe it or not, a burning candle or two will keep a tent rodent-free. 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.

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!