Sandy Relief: NYC-ready, Generosity of Others Has Helped Me Pack!

It’s official.  Any grown man who kindly chuckles when you refer to the industrial strength push brooms inside a Home Depot as, “elephant toothbrushes,” should probably be nominated for sainthood.  Or at least get some kind of Newbery Medal or something.  (Oh calm down, I know what the Newbery Medal is… and seriously, I believe that push-broom humor is way better than Across Five Aprils – just sayin’).

the only feasible use for such an item is cleaning the teeth of an elephant.

What the HECK am I rambling on about? The final hours of prep are behind me and I’m all but ready to hit the road and head down to NYC and pitch in where I can to help with any Sandy Relief efforts.  I’m a little bit loopy (last night’s all-nighter is catching up with me, yes) and a lot excited.  The past week has been a really amazing time for me… and for humankind.   In just a few short days my idea to help a little with the Sandy Relief efforts going on downstate have evolved into a full out movement, with support coming in from so many directions.  Strangers and loved ones alike have been digging deep to give all that they can, trusting me to make wise choices and do as much good as possible, the most humanitarian bang for their buck.   And here we are… it’s just about go time, and I’m simply dazzled by the goodness of people and the love all over this.

I mean, I know it’s not all rainbows and puppies, of course.  I have kept in mind why on earth I’m doing all this in the first place.  Hurricane Sandy was a whopper.  And while she was slamming the coast, and in her aftermath, there’s been the entire gamut of human emotion left in her wake.  We’ve heard some stories in the news, on social media, and through the grapevine about people being pretty nasty to one another (and well, it’s election day tomorrow – so we’ve been hearing about the worst of humanity in smear campaigns for months now)… but right now I want to pay attention to the shinier side of that coin.

Tonight friends, this is a story about hope. 

(And even if it’s kinda wordy and long, I think it’s really a good read.)

This is a story about the kindness and heart of people who want to help, and who mean well, and who are willing to do good.

I really had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I volunteered to start pooling together donations.  Truth be told, I thought I’d be shipping some boxes downstate and that would be that.  But now as I know I have a car chock full of love, a new friend for the journey, plenty more to meet before it’s all said and done, and a race against time and mother nature to do as much good as we can – I’m just honored to be a part of this.

Skip is the man I was talking about up top.  He’s a saint.  He just so happened to be working his usual post in our local Fredonia Home Depot tonight when I came in with a long list of ideas and very little clue about the specifics of what I needed.  When I was on the phone asking silly questions about the kinds of masks and what type of broom, Skip decided I needed some help.  He grabbed a cart, did all the heavy lifting, and walked back and forth across that Home Depot with me so many times.  And when I made my ridiculous jokes, he had the wonderful decency to laugh.  He downright chuckled a couple times, like when I suggested splurging on the hot pink duct tape and letting the homeowners deal with it.  Heh.

After Skip helped me to find the best deals, and explained to me the subtle differences between hand cleaners and crow bars, and plastic vs wood handles on tools – I had to sprint out to the parking lot.

skip, helping me shop with good natured patience

 

skip is the best!

 

Because, simultaneously, as I was getting goods at Home Depot to help in the hard labor (all covered through donations, mind you) – out in the parking lot I was meeting up with an Angel.  Kathy, from a local Catholic church in town, went so far out of her way to help me.  I called around to churched today to see if any places had stores of clothing or blankets, and while mane did not – a lady who happened to be working at one such place offered to do me one better.  “I can clean out my house when I get out of work tonight.”  She brought EIGHT  GARBAGE BAGS… yes, EIGHT full bags of winter clothing, boots, and more.  Kids sizes of all kinds, and stuff for teenagers and adults too.

Yup.  Kathy and her family are going down for Sainthood as well.

kathy, thank you so much! tell your kids we appreciate their work and generosity as well!

And this, she explained to me, was her just getting started!  She said she could do more with some extra time… (speaking of which, hold that thought, we have some ideas in the works for long-term projects to keep taking care of those hardest hit long after the media circus dies down and their lives are still left in pieces).

Skip and Kathy are just two of the amazing people who are making this journey possible.  The kind and generous owners, Edward W. Pagano, Jr. and his wife, of our Fredonia Sears hometown store – they’re sending me to Staten Island with 50 pairs of work gloves, and at least 30 dust masks, water bottles, and more.  Sears as a company already donated to Sandy, this is from two small-business owners in the community, just wanting to do their part to help.  The folks at Smith’s True Value in Irving donated a lot as well, gloves and masks too, plastic sheeting, and other supplies.

the first store to get into the spirit and donate to me

peeking into one of the bags from smith’s true value

 

My friends have been putting money into my paypal account, offering to help in any way they can.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE, Y’ALL.

And just being at the epicenter of so much love, hope, teamwork, and true humanity is honestly one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever experienced.  

I’m meeting a brand new friend tomorrow morning at about 6:00am.   Her name is Kate, and she’s going on this adventure with me! About forty miles from here she’s been experiencing the good of her own “village,” getting donations and all kinds of items ready to go as well.  She’s keeping me company on the ride down and then we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.

Others have called to talk about rides if I go again, or more items I can bring back next time.  I’ve been asked where to send things to, and people have just been WANTING to help.  It’s all so… AMAZING.

Don’t get me wrong.  Hurricane Sandy and the destruction she’s brought to this state, the coastline, and our nation is just jaw-droppingly devastating.  We didn’t stumble upon a gold mine of warm fuzzy feelings unprovoked;  I’m sure that tomorrow as I set eyes on the aftermath for myself, it’s going  to take all this positive energy that’s been percolating to keep me going.  I’m sure there will be tough times to come, and for so many of our fellow brothers and sisters living in the thick of it all right now – they are in some of their darkest days.

All together though, we’ll help brighten things up.

With the thoughtfulness of the Skip, and the encouragement of Eddie (another Home Depot worker who was really kind and helpful, wishing us the best), with the love and nurturing of Kathy, and the warmth from Mary (a local church lady who’s donated some gorgeous handmade blankets for me to bring down)… the resourcefulness of Edward Pagano, Jr., his wife, and the folks at Smith’s True Value for finding so many items they could afford to spare, with the planning of my pal MJ who’s organizing street teams in Staten Island to get the work done… with all these efforts combined, and added to the countless other acts of love, giving, help, thoughtfulness, support, and hard work we are able to create our own force of nature.

home depot = success!

 

from handmade blankets to gas cans, tools, water, boots, and more – the buick is packed full of donations to hand out

We’re leaving very early in the morning, so I’ll just end things on a fabulous and inspiring note for now.

To everyone who has pitched in: THANK YOU, it means so much to me, and I KNOW it will mean so much to the countless lives we’re going to help as best as we can once we’re down there.  If you’ve been hard hit by the storm and you’re at your wit’s end… know that we love you, we’re thinking of you, and there are so many people – people you’ll never know and will never meet – that are doing all they can for you, and will keep at it until your needs are met and life as it should be, is restored. 

and here i am tonight, whizzing out of home depot – an excited (and yes, very very blurry) bundle of happy energy

Still interested?  We haven’t even left yet – gas and other costs are certain to come up.  Just simply wire me some funds via paypal using happyhippierose@gmail.com.  Any donations are appreciated, and I’ll make sure to post about how the money is spent and how much we’re able to do once we get into the hardest-hit areas.

Good night, God Bless, and tune back in to find out more about how this project all plays out!  I’ll post better pictures of what we’re brining when it’s light out tmrw, and of course you can always track me down on Fb or Twitter!

XOXO, HHR 

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30 Days of Blogging Honesty – Day Nine

It’s Day Nine of the 30 Days of Blogging Honesty

Well, it’s day nine for me here at happy hippie rose!  I kinda tend to work at my own pace, huh?  The 30 Days of Blogging Honesty is a writing event, created by Tom Baker and Cherlyn Cochrane; you can check out the rules and see all of the prompts right here.

Day 09 — When the cashier gives me this amount of money for change I know it’s too much money to dump in the charity bucket…

(stand by for a bunch of possible answers.  go figure!)

-Quarters. 

If there are a bunch of quarters in the change I’m handed, I like to keep those!  Actual quarters are so useful, and once you get ’em, you need to hold on the them.  They’re the only things parking meters take, for one example.

Idk, I just always consider quarters to be legit coinage, a piece that’s useful and worth lugging around and allowing to crazily jingle jangle away in the abyss of my purse.

-Or, anything more than a few bucks?

I mean, I’m not trying to throw $20 into a random charity jar.  Or am I?  These kinds of things are what I just go with the flow on.  If the mood strikes me, I’ll toss all my change in.  If I’m distracted, or in a rush… or just whatever, maybe I won’t?

My husband and I are not rich, far from it.  But we do make great efforts to give as much as we can, as often as we can.  I honestly think we’re pretty generous.  So if I happen to skip some charity jars here and there, I don’t feel so bad.  I know that we help out and do lots of good.

-Or, depends on what else I need cash for, how broke we are, for what charity the money in the jar is being collected.

Yeah, there are a lot of factors.  If I had a twenty and I’m about to make another stop for which I need that cash – then I hold on to it!

And, I’m picky about the charities I’ll donate too.  I can be really picky, sometimes.  I have certain things I look for in an org when I’m going to give them moolah.

There’s always a few things that go into making these kinds of choices.  Sometimes it’s willy-nilly, sometimes it a well thought out decision that I’m making.

At the holidays, of course, I like to sling money around more than usual.  We try to give as much as we can.  When we give away, it blesses us!  Giving is good and it’s fun, and it’s very important.  So I love to help whenever I can, and my hubs is the most generous dude I’ve ever met – he loves to as well.

But, we have our own limits, and we have to be careful not to literally go broke by giving away too much to others.

We’re big tippers.  We always make sure to give at least 20% when we eat out.  We tip food delivery folks, the baggers at the commy, the valet.  Everyone, we tip!  I’d say we’re probably stingier with the random charity jars than tipping  – just because if we’re going out or using a service that merits a tip, we make sure to tip.  We don’t always budget out a charity jar being by the register, and like I’ve already said – sometimes I’m picky about the specific charity.

-Or… we don’t have cash! So nothing. 

I’m a plastic gal.  I hardly ever have cash on me.  In the past when I’ve worked in restaurant and bar jobs, I’ve exclusively used cash.  But usually it’s the ole debit card that I have on hand.  So there isn’t even any change to consider.  Sorry ole charity jar!  That’s why using instant pay online is a great way to give to charity.  It’s deliberate, quick, I can look up the org before I push “send,” and I don’t have to have actual hard money on me.

As always, thanks for reading!  xoxo, hhr

Having fun reading these?

I’m loving the 30 Days of Blogging Honesty!  It’s been a hoot, that’s for sure.

Check out the other folks playing along: Cherlyn CochraneJenn MikoLJMelanieLast Civilized WomanPrincesa MusangPrimadonna ZelCarolineKoiAurathenaTerriblethinkerSleep and SalamiMarliz3ePrysmatiqueDLonelyStarAnonymousBurnNicoleSylvia GarzaMarianaNenskeiMyNakedBokkieBluefiadiarriesVeehCirra,BannatreasuresSajeevHappyhippieroseTheFerkelTom Baker*Sofia*Everything Love & Lust*TemptingSweets99, Sites with an * contain NSFW material. If erotic or sexual material is offensive to you, please do not visit these three blogs.

christmas crafting!! care packs, con’t; cards and more cards (and a CUTE lil’ surprise)

Here’s the final rundown of the rest of our Christmas Crafting.  Enjoy!

More Christmas Care Packs!

So, I posted a pre-Christmas look at one of the boxes we sent out.  Now, that all of the gifts have been shipped and opened, and the big day is over: here dear readers, are the rest of the beautiful boxes we sent out to our families.

The McKay Box – sent to Long Island!

ta-daa! the mckay box

The other McKay box, sent to Tennessee!!

my christmas vertical poem, a real treasure (haha)

it got all bleached out by the lighting - but i sketched and colored in the ko'olau mountains for the hawaii and then drew some granite and pine tree kinda mountains for tennessee!

And the last care pack to show off, the Gioia box – that went to a whole ton of fam down in Florida:

Now… here’s the surprise I mentioned in the title.  So after we’d decorated all these boxes, to my great happy surprise, I open up one of the boxes sent to us from family, and what do I find?  A decorated box!! From my cousin (my differently aged twin), Nicole!

She is SO SWEET and ADORABLE:

I started opening it and saw the decor and i just squeeed with excitement!

she did such an awesome job!!

Nicole drew tie dye and a drawing of JJ.  Oh man, what an awesome gift.  Turns out that when she saw the box I sent to her and her fam (the Florida box), she opened it and said, “Hey! Rose stole my idea!”  hahaha.

She didn’t even KNOW I had decorated her box. How cool is that?!?! She and I are such twins, it’s almost freaky.  We always do stuff like that.

Cards!

We had SO MUCH FUN making the care packs, that we decided to crank up our hand-made card production.  I know I mentioned in an earlier post that we were making cards to bring/send to a VA hospital.  Well, that ended up not working out (not our fault, just logistics with the hospital) – so we decided to find another great place that some handmade cards could deliver smiles:  the local assisted living facility, Aloha Rehab Center.

On our way to Church on Christmas Eve, we dropped off the cards.  Hopefully, they spread some smiles.  We made Christmas, Hanukkah, and Happy Holiday Cards.

Our Cards:

these are the fronts, they look so great, yeah?

the backs - duggs did 100% of these,. by hand. amazing, yeah????

just a diff pic of some of them!

Sorry the photos are kinda crummy, I was rushing.   We crafted right up until the last minute!

Duggs started out just being the guy who cut out everything (my cut man).  But once the volume started ramping up, he started helping out so much more!  Thank you so much, honey, it was so fun to work on these with you – and for such a nice purpose.  I think we ended up making 30+ cards.  I never got a final count, as we were working down to the last minute.   (We want to make more cards for Aloha Rehab, and our next goal is 100 cards!).

Thirty may not sound like much.  But all of those little trees are hand painted, samesies with the snow flakes.  Yeah, they took longer than expected, but I’m so proud of the final products.

After all the Christmas crafting we did, I can easily say that making snowflakes is my most favorite to do! I think I got pretty durn good at it by the last one I made.

Finally, our card for this year: 

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

As always, thanks for reading!!  xoxo, hhr

Okay, okay.  One more surprise… here’s the card Duggs made for me!!

it's a christmas tree, made out of glitter paper. i found it on top of all my presents!

christmas in the pokey

I’m talking about bringing the holidays into the big house. Jesus’ birthday in jail. Holly Lock up! Jingle bells behind bars. And so on…

Incarcerated Christmas

the wccc in kailua

But seriously, all joking and cheap attention-grabbing aside, it’s been a good week with great acts of giving to chat about.

The Women’s group at my beloved church, Hope Chapel Kaneohe, aptly called the Women of Hope, recently participated in an interesting Christmas-related drive.  We collected hygiene items, basic toiletries, some chocolate and other simple, nice, feminine gifts to help supplement the holiday presents female inmates will receive this year at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.

I know that might sound weird to some.  In fact, a couple people have expressed to me how odd they find this idea.  But Prison Ministry is no new concept, and well, people in jail are still people.

A rant on my personal beliefs:

As an American, I believe in our corrections system.  I believe that jail can and should rehabilitate people so that after serving sentences they can return to society.  How is that to happen if incarcerated people are treated like lepers?  Aren’t given any love? What’s the motivation to get out and assimilate into law-abiding culture if the average American won’t touch you with a ten foot pole.

I believe that love goes a long way in the rehabilitation process.  And that it’s a necessary ingredient in creating well-adjusted citizens, in general.  We all need love.

Now, I know that folks are locked up for a reason.  They’re not all lily white and innocent.  I get that, c’mon, I’m far from dumb.  But people are people.  And people need love.

And pssst Christians, we’re called to love everyone!  Even those behind bars.

/soapbox.

Onto the gift giving:

I am so humbled and honored by the friends who came by my house and dropped off items to give, the people who literally wired money to me and sent me carepacks of toiletries.  I’ve literally been bowled over by the generosity I’ve witnessed this holiday season.   Even in the toughest of times, people are still finding a way to reach down and give out.  It’s so beautiful and amazing.  And I’m just honored to be a part of this.

There are roughly 300 women in the Kailua WCCC at any given time; currently there are about 260 lady inmates.  Every single one of them, even those in lock down units, will receive a gift bag this year for the holidays.  The donated hygiene items will be essential for many of these women.  And for too many, it will be the only gift they receive all year.

I am so spoiled with love.  I literally cannot imagine spending a whole year in a place as dark, scary and lonely as prison and then only being loved on once.   It breaks my heart and it makes me wonder about the crime cycle and the derivatives of criminal activity.  The optimist prime in me knows that love and kindness can break that cycle, and prevent people from going down that road in the first place.   I mean, I obviously have no study to cite on this one, but I just imagine how broken and angry, how lash-y out-y I’d be if I was relegated to a cell and ignored.

My friends gave me all kinds of goodies, shampoos and nice lotions.

salon samples of super high end products, nice!

kenny helped buy all of these bottles, thank you kenny! i think maggie's are in here too. you two ROCK!

We collected all the items at the Women’s event held on Monday, An Evening In December.  It was an awesome night of praise, worship, fellowship and a fired up message from guest speaker/local celebrity Dawn O’Brien, from FM 99.5 “The Fish.”

On Wednesday, Pastor Tami, the women’s pastor at HCKB, drove all of the goodies up to the WCCC where my friend Chiffon and I met her.  The two Pastors from the Correction Facility’s Chapel, along with a couple inmates came out to the car to get everything from us.

tami's car was stuffed!

We all held hands and prayed together in the parking lot.  Seeing the excitement and glee come over the faces of the ladies receiving these gifts was priceless.  That was my Christmas present right there.   They called me “sister,” and they asked God to Bless me.  I have no idea who they are, or what anything in their past could be…. but when they thanked me, and prayed with me and called me sister, I had never been more affirmed of the importance this type of giving, ever.

the entrance of the facility

chiffon and me, by all of the stuff!!

chiffon, one of the women's pastors, me, pastor tami from church, and pastor tami from the wccc

I’m also feeling really called to go work in the system, hopefully with women or at the youth facility.  Getting to meet the Pastors who work inside the jail and talk to them, and hear their excitement at new volunteers was really motivating too!

To everyone who bought items, gave money, brought things in: THANK YOU SO MUCH!  It was truly a successful drive, and the holidays of so many women will be blessed.  They also will use some of the items to gift to women when they get out, as they go to a halfway house or what have you, so these blessing will keep on going and keep on giving, all year long!

And for reading my little blog, as always, thank you!!

xoxo, hhr