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Hats That Make Kids Smile

There are a lot of happy, smiling faces out there this week, as the beautiful and colorful Hats For A Purpose were distributed to our local schools to help warm the hearts and heads of kids who needed them.  This year’s effort by so many creative and skilled crafters almost doubled the number of hats from earlier years.  School administrators wanted everyone to know that some children never get anything new so receiving a handmade ‘just for them’ hat was a real experience and one they will never forget.  From one school nurse, “Thanks to everyone – the hats and scarves were beautiful.”

Here are just a few of the hats that made kids smile this week.  Love and appreciation to all of you who made this possible.

Bag of Hats (2)The Mad Hatter 002 (2)hats 2012 004 (2)Cyndi's Hats


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The Dictionary – Warm Coat Handshake

There’s something about the nip in October’s air that gets me to thinking about two of my favorite organizations: The Dictionary Project and Operation Warm.  With much in common including dedication to their core values., environmental concerns and furthering the health and education of children, I love telling their stories.

This is my 9th year working with The Dictionary Project through my Rotary Club donating dictionaries to every third grader in each of our four area schools.  This has become a legacy project since we are now meeting the brothers and sisters of our original group of 3rd graders.  Sometimes we are asked if online dictionaries have replaced the need for a paperback dictionary.  If you ever saw a little girl kiss her brand new dictionary you have your answer.  Although online resources have their place, third graders typically do not have their own computers; in school they share and at home they may not rank high on the need to use the family computer.  When you are writing a friendly letter for homework or completing a reading assignment and you need to look up a word, it’s easy to pull out your very own dictionary from your backpack rather than wait for computer time.  As The Dictionary Project says “Dictionaries are a necessity.”

This is my fourth year working with Operation Warm, again with my Rotary Club, providing high quality, new, warm winter coats to children at risk in our communities.  They believe, deeply, that a new winter coat enhances a child’s well-being and self-esteem while making it easier to go to school every day particularly when it’s freezing cold.  Founded in 1998 they have provided over 1,00,000,000 coats to children in the United States.

So why is this a handshake?  If a child has a warm coat chances are s/he will attend school and it is a fact that with better attendance children learn more and learn faster.  If they also have a dictionary as a resource chances are they read at a higher level with more understanding.

Consider a statistic from Jeff McQuillan’s research in the late ’90’s – one million children drop out of school every year costing our nation over $240 billion in lost earning, tax revenue and social services expenditures.  It seems to me a new coat and a dictionary are a small price to pay to keep our children in school.

The Dictionary Project and Operation Warm indeed have A Noble Purpose.

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The Mad Hatter

When you love to knit hats, it’s possible that your husband might refer to you as The Mad Hatter.  And that’s just what happened when my friend Cathie B, after a marathon session of making hats for a number of organizations including Hats For A Purpose., was lovingly tagged with this nickname.

Cathie’s hats are happy hats.  Vibrant colors, interesting designs, hats kids will love to wear.  Cathie makes her hats for the Northern Lake George Rotary Club who jumped on board last year when we first started making hats for children in need.

My thanks to Cathie and all the others who are knitting, weaving and crocheting hats again this year.  We are about halfway to our goal of 125 hats.  If you or others would like to help, please get in touch with me.  It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s for a noble purpose.

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When Women Are On The Team

It’s International Women’s Day and I’m celebrating and spreading the news that thousands of women on two continents play a major role in eradicating polio. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative tells the story of these female vaccinators and front line health care workers in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

And they are not working in hospitals or clinics, but in the field, traveling door-to-door, down back alleys to talk to mothers and grandmothers about the benefits of polio vaccine and then giving the vaccine to the children.  You can find them on National Immunization Days delivering oral vaccine, giving hand washing, nutritional and other health care information.  You can find them holding meetings with parents, particularly mothers, on the benefits of polio eradication.

The numbers are staggering.  In India alone, 80-85% of the 2.3 million vaccinators at every round of NIDs are female workers.  Of the 155,000 people who supervise these women, 70% are female.  Just think of how wonderful it is that these TWO MILLION women are working so hard to help their communities.  They are trained, they are skilled and they are respected.  In places where women are sometimes undervalued this is something to celebrate.  As many of you know, India has been polio free for over a year and the WHO has just removed it from the list of endemic countries.  Think there’s a connection?

This is an exceptional program and I’d like you to read the story about the Women Vaccinators and tell your friends.  Let’s find a way to start a thank you letter to these women – anyone have an idea how to do that?


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A Way To Take Action on World Polio Day

Request First , Explanation Second

Friends, Family and Followers – I’d like to ask if you could do something important on Monday, October 24th, World Polio Day.  The first is to watch this video by actor, Hugh Jackman talking about polio.  

Then re-post or retweet the information below.  Thank you for your support to END POLIO NOW.

And now the explanation:  October 24th is World Polio Day and a time for each of us to take some action to move us closer to eradication of this dread disease.  Not known in the United State for many years, I still meet people with relatives that had polio – some are still alive and in wheelchairs or with post polio syndrome.  And in the rest of the world there are still four countries endemic with the wild polio virus and re-transmissions in several other countries.  Until polio is wiped out forever all polio-free countries stand the chance of re-transmission.  Also think about the astronomical health costs to remain polio-free.

So what can YOU do to help eradicate polio?  Here’s a quick overview of what it is:

Polio is:

  • A crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, polio (poliomyelitis) still strikes children mainly under the age of five in countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
  • Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death.  Because there is no cure for polio, the best protection is prevention. For as little as US$0.60 worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life.
  • It can cause paralysis within hours, and polio paralysis is almost always irreversible.
  • In the most severe cases, polio attacks the motor neurons of the brain stem, causing breathing difficulty or even death.
  • Historically, polio has been the world’s greatest cause of disability.

If polio isn’t eradicated, the world will continue to live under the threat of the disease. More than 10 million children will be paralyzed in the next 40 years if the world fails to capitalize on its US$5 billion global investment in eradication.

The wild poliovirus (types 1 and 3) is endemic in only four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Nigeria has maintained a 95 percent drop in polio cases in the past 24 months. There has only been one case of polio in India since the beginning of this year.  Even though the number of cases in Pakistan has increased by 70 percent in 2011 compared to last year, only one case of type 3 polio has been reported.

Now let others know what you’ve learned about polio.  Check out these websites for even more information: Gates Polio Challenge, Global Polio Initiative and the Global Poverty Project.  I’ve signed the petition found on the Global Poverty Project’s site because I feel it is very important that ALL governments of the world take part financially in the eradication of polio.  The four endemic countries are not only committed financially but also doing everything possible to get polio vaccine safely to all areas of their countries, even those in remote mountainous terrain.

If you can, support a Rotary club fundraiser where the money goes to polio eradication or go to Rotary International and give.  Rotary International has a Four Star ranking at Charity Navigator.

Thank you.

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