What happens when you bring together more than 300 kids and parents from 14 school communities on a Sunday morning to do random acts of kindness, create care kits for the homeless, make superhero capes for sick kids, beautify local parks and much, much more? MAGIC, I tell you, just pure MAGIC! And JOY. And INSPIRATION.
On par with my 2017 motto, “Believe in the magic,” once I truly started believing that serendipity and coincidence really are just the universe guiding you to where you need to be, things have started to flow. No more doubts, just a deep belief that this Community Heroes path, with its twists and turns along the way, is the one on which I’m meant to be.
This past Sunday, March 5, we held our 4th Annual Community Heroes Day of Giving (hosted again by Marin County Office of Education and Superintendent Mary Jane Burke) with a standing room-only crowd eager to take part in a fun-filled day of giving back. People love this day and look forward to it all year. Like many others have expressed, Sun Valley School principal Julie Harris calls it one of her “favorite days of the year.” What a testimonial!
The Tangible Impacts
- 120 shelter comfort kits assembled for domestic violence and homeless shelter residents benefiting Center for Domestic Peace, Downtown Streets Team, Marin County Veterans Service Office, St. Vincent’s, and California Reentry Institute. Speakers from Downtown Streets Team, Marin Veterans rep Sean Stephens and Gina Vucci of Joy Love Serve shared stories to shed light about the intricacies of homelessness. Marin Academy student and project partner Macie Millstein also shared about how her family-run organization, The Backpack Project, works to provide local homeless with supplies and make in-person, human connections on the street.
- 150 colorful superhero capes made for hospitalized youth at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals of San Francisco and Oakland. This project was led by Marin Academy junior Kathryn Ezeoha who planned, fund-raised and implemented this smoothly-run project. She was joined by a team of Marin Academy friends (Maggie Alter, Ingrid De La Rosa De Leon, Devi Johnson, Katie Sisson, Audrey Whitten) who assisted younger students in making capes and thoughtful accompanying cards and also helped fill in for other projects as needed.
- Random Acts of Kindness — More than 200 beautiful paper flowers were created and delivered to unsuspecting senior citizens living at AlmaVia of San Rafael. Students interviewed the residents about their lives and made their day brighter! Turns out one of the residents, Joe Saccone, 103, was brought to tears. He also happens to be the founder of United Markets, one of our loyal Community Heroes sponsors these past several years. A true full circle moment!!!
- A dozen reading mats created from recycled T-shirts to donate to Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s Center.
- More than 70 volunteers braved the storm clouds and spent two hours doing tough, physical work restoring habitat and cleaning up at McInnis Park, in cooperation with Marin County Parks.
- 40 volunteers assisted Global Book Exchange to sort, label and help distribute thousands of books to benefit underserved children.
Beyond the many service activities that exposed our participants to an even richer array of ways to give back, this year we also featured two wonderful social enterprises:
Moeloco, an awesome Australian company run by Kathy Wong, an entrepreneur with a huge heart, uses the BUY ONE, GIVE ONE model. Buy a pair of their flip-flops that leave inspirational messages in the sand and they donate a pair of sneakers to an impoverished child so they can go to school.
Catch Some Air, the happiest clothing brand on earth that “helps kids feel happy when they’re feeling crappy,” started in a hospital room by sister-founders Kristine and Brianna Tesauro.
As Community Heroes grows into our next phase, we will continue to build partnerships with these innovative social enterprise companies and welcome new partners to join us!
Event and post-event RIPPLES
Too many to count! A couple of examples:
After the event, two Sun Valley Elementary students, Angela and Elena, urged their mom to go to Target the very next day to purchase care kit supplies to keep in their car to offer to anyone they see on the street who might need a little help.
Then this lovely story from Sofia, a seventh grader who was among our first class of ComHeroes five years ago:
“When I was in kindergarten, I met my pen pal Emma, a girl two years older than me living in rural Kenya. We’ve kept in touch over the years and now email regularly. Emma shares so much of her life with me and recently told me something troubling. Her family is split up because they can’t afford to live together. Because of this, Emma was not able to afford her school fees. This made me very sad so my family and I wanted to find a solution. I found out about a company called Asante, which finds sponsors to help smart, capable students living in Kenya and Tanzania attend school they couldn’t afford themselves. Because of Asante, my family is now sponsoring Emma, securing her an education. But although our story is inspirational, there are still millions of kids who are not at school because they can’t afford it. That’s why I was so excited to meet Kathy Wong at the Community Heroes’ Day of Giving. Kathy works with Moeloco, a company doing good in India. Moeloco sells uniquely designed flip-flops that when purchased, provide a pair of shoes for a kid in India, something children need to go to school. I’m excited to see what good we can do together.”
The Intangible Impacts
There were so many smiles, connections and ripples at this joyous, one-of-a-kind community event that brought together preschoolers, elementary, middle and high school students from public AND private schools, their families, teachers, principals, administrators, cool companies and about a dozen local nonprofits. After all our hard work, we see a path forward to get to our next phase. To do so successfully, we now need YOUR HELP!
What’s Next and How You Can Help
We’ve been building a beautiful movement, all of which started five years ago with one pilot school lunch club and has now grown into so much more. To go any further, we really need to focus on building our infrastructure as an organization so we can:
1. Build out our communications platform sharing stories and impact;
2. Develop a flexible curriculum framework and toolkit for facilitators and
3. Expand our partnerships with educational, service and corporate partners.
That’s where you come in. Please help in any of the following ways:
- VOLUNTEER your professional services through grant writing, donor development, branding and marketing, or lead our upcoming crowd-funding campaign
- CONNECT with corporate sponsors or foundations with aligned missions to become a SPONSOR
- DONATE to help support our work to groom the next generation of compassionate community heroes
Please help us keep our momentum going to bring more of the Community Heroes magic into this world.
Yours in kindness,