Tag Archives: creative giving

STE{a}M & Stuff Book Drive

Book Drive through May 25, 2016

Each year, the Heart of Florida United Way hosts a book drive to support summer reading loss initiatives and Day of Action literacy events in our local community.

And each year, BE. members contribute fun math & science themed books to the United Way’s book drive efforts.  Share fun stories like Flatland, Fantasia Mathematica, the Cartoon Guide to Physics, and In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat with at-risk youth in our community.  What STEM fiction inspired you in your youth?

Visit our book drive page for participation information, statistics on summer reading loss,  links to STEM book lists, Diverse Book resources, and more.

Drop off books at any BE. Orlando event during the month of May or contact us – we’ll be glad to schedule a pick up at your central Florida place of business.



Book Drive Home Page (updates will be posted here)



PSA: Thank Your Mentor Day

Thank you to everyone in our group and in our community who has served as a mentor – your impact makes a difference in the lives of others!

This annual day of reflection and gratitude is a great opportunity to think about the impact of mentorship, show appreciation to those who have mentored us, consider ways to become mentors, and to encourage youth in our lives to think about finding mentorship and becoming mentors themselves.

Thinking about mentoring or finding a mentor?  Do a search for mentorship opportunities in your local community today, and be part of this network of kindness that is transforming lives.  There are mentoring programs for at-risk youth, otherly abled individuals, peer mentorship, young professionals, women professionals, international students, reverse-mentoring for young folks to help (us) older professionals with technology and changing culture, and more.

As a highlight of National Mentoring Month 2016, Thank Your Mentor Day™ will be celebrated January 21. On that day, many Americans will reach out to thank or honor those individuals who encouraged and guided them, and had a lasting, positive impact on their lives.

Simple ways to thank a mentor:

• Contact them directly to express your appreciation;

• Express your gratitude on social media with a message and use #SomeoneWhoMatters and #MentoringWorks;

• Pass on what you received by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;

• Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program in your mentor’s honor; and,

• Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the Who Mentored You? website.

• Bring a youth group together to write thank you cards to mentors to reinforce the importance of mentorship, and inspire them to be mentors themselves.

You can download a thank you card and other Thank a Mentor Day marketing materials.

*Thank Your Mentor Day™ is an initiative of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Anyone can benefit from a mentor – many individuals in professional fields gain personal and business advantage through working with peer and professional mentoring.

But for those of you who have taken the initiative to be a mentor to youth, here is some of your impact:

Young people who were at-risk for not completing high school but who had a mentor reported higher educational aspirations and matriculation into post-secondary education, as well as greater engagement in positive activities. They were:

•55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.

•81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities.

•More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.

•78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

•Nearly nine in ten respondents who had a mentor said they are now interested in becoming mentors


Follow-up: World Humanist Day & the Wolves

bannerBE. Orlando celebrated World Humanist Day by hosting a service project:  volunteers brought art and wolves to at-risk children in our community.

The Artist Heroes project of BE. Orlando brings volunteers to work with children decorating custom colouring pages of the residents of In Harmony With Nature Animal Haven and other wolf-art projects.  Participants receive an Artist Hero certificate.

Read the original article, World Humanist Day & the Wolves, for more information.


…to Orion, the ambassador wolfdog puppy, who came to greet the children.  Handler Jane Kerr brought the In Harmony With Nature resident pup and talked to the audience about Orion, wolfdogs, and the sanctuary.  The kids had some great questions and enjoyed meeting a wolfdog in person;

…to Wanda Ortiz, professor of art at UCF, and her graduate students, for teaching techniques in drawing, sketching, and scraping art;

…to the Coalition residents who shared an afternoon with us drawing – and learning about – wolves;

…to the volunteers of BE. Orlando for investing an afternoon to make a difference in people’s lives.

Click here for event photos!

Artist Heroes Project


Stamp Out Hunger – 23rd Annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive!

stamp out hunger

Update 5/9/15 – Reminder – Please put out your donations for the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive today!

Saturday, May 9th, is the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive!  This is a national effort that collects billions of pounds of food – your donations impact your local community.

This food drive occurs during an important time of the year when most school programs are about to close for the summer, leaving millions of children to find alternative sources of nutrition.

Visit the Second Harvest Food Bank information page for more information & needs list!

We will be volunteering with Hands On Orlando at the food sorting event to make sure all of your donations are organized & distributed to those in need in our local community!  Visit the Event Page to see if there are spots open – join us!!


Diversity-Friendly Nonprofits in Central Florida

BE involved!

We’re asked all the time for recommendations of diversity-friendly charities for volunteering and donating in our local community, where policies and practices are inclusive of all aspects of diversity including LGBTQ+ and Humanist individuals. We give recommendations predicated on personal experience, but that is a limited and imperfect list.  We want to develop real relationships with inclusive charities and build a comprehensive list of local agencies everyone can feel good about supporting.

The Diversity Advocate Board will meet for the first time on Tuesday, December 30th, at 11:30 to discuss this project and make plans for moving forward in 2015. Everyone interested in taking an active role in this initiative is welcome – RSVP on our group site or email BEOrlando@live.com for details.

Learn more:

Happy Hour Holiday Party

UPDATED 12/14/2014

This event is open to the public – so please share and plan to join us there!  RSVP on Facebook!

Picture1Happy Hour Holiday Party
Sunday, December 14th, 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Keg n’ Cork, 1566 W. Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park
Music by John Lazar
Attire: Creative, fun holiday spirit! (Great prize!)

Join members of the Happy Hour Meetup (and other groups) for a holiday celebration at Keg & Cork with live music by John Lazar.  There will be raffles, prizes, food, live music, live comedy, art, and other surprises – and good company.  Food & Needs Drive (see lists below) and all proceeds benefit the pantry & residents at SafeHouse of Seminole.

AWESOME RAFFLE ITEMS (click for sneak-peek!)

Flyer to share

This adult night out event is free to attend (self pay for food and drink) and open to the public – feel free to share with other groups.

Consider bringing an item to donate to SafeHouse.

New items only, please. If you have questions about donations, please contact BEOrlando@live.com.

QuickList: nonperishable food items including juice boxes, canned goods, spaghetti & sauce, paper towels, toilet paper, all-purpose cleaner, and pots, pans, spices, utensil sets, gas cards, towels, pillows, adult bicycles.  Grocery or gas gift cards and cash donations will also be accepted.

Special Lists:  Pantry and Urgent Needs  |  Holiday Wish List
Can’t be there?  Consider donating online to the First Nights Campaign – When women and children leave home home suddenly to find emergency shelter, they take almost nothing – that first night, many things are needed. You can help.

Consider hosting a drive at your place of business or with a team, social or family group the week before and bring the items to the event.  BE. Orlando can provide local pick-up service for businesses on Dec 13 & 14 (sat & sun) to take to the event – BEOrlando@live.com for info.

A representative of SafeHouse will be IN THE HOUSE from 6:30 to 7:30 to provide materials, accept donations, and answer questions about SafeHouse and the need in our area for the services they provide.


Donated by PintClub.org – Yo-Ho-Ho Rum Basket for the raffle – value $120

Raffle Item donated by PintClub

One of the many raffle items to raise money for SafeHouse of Seminole at the 2014 Happy Hour Holiday Party at Keg & Cork, 12/14/14.

Special thanks to our friends in the Happy Hour Meetup Group for choosing to support SafeHouse of Seminole as the beneficiary of a needs drive and fundraiser!  This happy hour holiday party with a twist of positive impact is a great example of how groups in our community can find creative ways to raise awareness about social issues and engage their members in drives, fundraisers, and volunteer activities that make a difference.  Allison, Galina, and other co-coordinators for this event set an inspiring example for all!


Update – The Warmies Project

It is hard to imagine, but it will soon be getting cold, even here in beautiful central Florida.  We host a special initiative to bring smiles and warmth to people in need in our community – the Warmies Project(tm).

This is not a typical blanket & coat drive. The Warmies Project collects handmade items, each with a hand-written note from the fiber artist to the recipient, that is packaged in ribbon as a gift and donated to children’s hospitals, homeless and domestic violence shelters, youth programs, hospice agencies, and more.  We collect items all year, and make deliveries when it starts to get cold.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaking it personal makes all the difference. A local artist recently submitted two items – a beautiful scarf and hat – and her Warmies note says, “May this keep you warm when the world is cold.”  Thank you, Anjella – what a beautiful gift and note!  Some artists include brief notes, others have written letters of encouragement or included cards.

We look for gift-quality cozy-warmies that include quilts, scarves, hats, blankets, sweaters, lap blankets, gloves, and more.  Recipients include men, women, and children.  Please don’t forget the men! Did you know that one in four of our local homeless men are US veterans?  We don’t accept items for pets in general, but if you would like to make a coat for a greyhound, we will donate it to local greyhound rescue agencies.  Greys are always brrrrrrr-cold.

The Warmies Project will be visiting the Orlando Distaff Day event on January 10th.  Last year, this amazing group of fiber artists welcomed us to their event and donated 98 items in support of the project!!  Thank you so much to Jody and all of the organizers of Orlando Distaff Day for providing such a wonderful event for local artists to network and collaborate and for including the Warmies Project!  Orlando Distaff Day is open to the public – for more information, please visit their website or Facebook event.

If you would like to volunteer with The Warmies Project during delivery season, or if you would consider donating ribbon or gift bags, please contact us at BEOrlando@live.com.  If your organization would like to be on the recipient list for deliveries, please visit our Warmies Page and fill out the request form – we’ll do our best to warm up your cold folks!

Note about Warmies Messages: These items will be donated to the diverse public, so your message should be meaningful to anyone who might receive it. We ask that all notes be respectful of diversity and not include political, religious (or non-religious), or other references that are personal choice. Remember that not everyone in need shares your worldview or faith / non-faith perspective – be inspirational to everyone.  Also, messages cannot be sealed and may be reviewed by agency staff before distribution (especially for children’s programs).