Monthly Archives: November 2012

Max and the Moon

By Cameron Crane



This year, after a very special camping trip, eleven-year-old Max Boddington entered his essay “When I Look at the Moon” in the Creative Writing Competition of the 2012 Marin County Fair.  His touching story, about losing his parents and his desire to meet Neil Armstrong, was awarded a blue ribbon and Best of Class.
When his mother, Janet, read the essay, she was inspired to send it on to Mr. Armstrong.

When I Look at the Moon

By Max Boddington

Sometimes when I look at the moon, I wonder if my Mom and Dad are watching me. Grown-ups have told me many times since my parents died that they are angels looking down on me, and I believe them, I guess. So, I always wonder, especially when the moon is full and bright, “Can you see me, Mama? Are you looking, Daddy? Are you watching me?”

Space is a mystery, just like death. It can be dark and lonely, but it can be beautiful, too, if you know how to look at it.

On those nights when I gaze at the moon, I think about a lot of things. I imagine space travel is like that. It takes your mind to another dimension, when time and place stretch and merge into one feeling. I like to sit outside with my new Mom and Dad on full moon nights. We make a regular habit of it. We have barn owls that screech and tree frogs that sing. Sometimes, we fall asleep on blankets under the moon and breathe that cool air all night long. During the night, I sometimes roll over and peep out to see where the moon has moved to. It travels across the sky until the early morning. When we wake up, the moon is gone, and the sun is there. But, as we know, the moon is not really gone. It just went to another place. Like my Mom and Dad. I know they didn’t mean to leave me. They had to. They went to another place.

When my new Mom and Dad signed me up for Camp Erin, I was afraid to go. I didn’t want to go. I had never been away from them overnight and I didn’t know anybody there. Why couldn’t I just stay home? But they said I might enjoy it, so I went, even though I didn’t want to. Sometimes life is like that.

The registration for camp was very hectic with lots going on. I saw some boys that I might want to play with, but I wasn’t about to rush into anything. We put all of our camp stuff in a pile. When I saw the big bus arrive to pick us up, I got excited. I was ready to say goodbye and get on the bus to go to Camp Erin. That weekend made me see that I can say goodbye even when I’m scacared. Being with kids who know how I feel gave me some courage for the future. We had fun playing games and singing silly songs. We had a campire and I looked at the moon. Camp Erin gave me the opportunity to believe in my future.

My dream is to meet Neil Armstrong, the world’s #1 space hero. He lives in Ohio and I want to go there. He is eighty-one years old, but that’s okay. I want to ask him some questions about the moon.

To both Janet and Max’s delight, they received a response from the usually-elusive space hero. This is what his email read:

Dear Mrs. Boddington,

Thanks for sharing Max’s essay with me.

It is very poignant and surprisingly eradite for an eleven year old.

Tell Max that I also went to camp when I was his age.

I learned a great deal from being with other boys about my age who came from different towns and had different backgrounds.

Tell Max I send him my very best wishes for good luck and success.

Sincerely,

Neil Armstrong

We could not agree more with Mr. Armstrong’s sentiments. Thank you, Max, for sharing your story with us. 

Max and the Moon

By Cameron Crane



This year, after a very special camping trip, eleven-year-old Max Boddington entered his essay “When I Look at the Moon” in the Creative Writing Competition of the 2012 Marin County Fair.  His touching story, about losing his parents and his desire to meet Neil Armstrong, was awarded a blue ribbon and Best of Class.
When his mother, Janet, read the essay, she was inspired to send it on to Mr. Armstrong.

When I Look at the Moon

By Max Boddington

Sometimes when I look at the moon, I wonder if my Mom and Dad are watching me. Grown-ups have told me many times since my parents died that they are angels looking down on me, and I believe them, I guess. So, I always wonder, especially when the moon is full and bright, “Can you see me, Mama? Are you looking, Daddy? Are you watching me?”

Space is a mystery, just like death. It can be dark and lonely, but it can be beautiful, too, if you know how to look at it.

On those nights when I gaze at the moon, I think about a lot of things. I imagine space travel is like that. It takes your mind to another dimension, when time and place stretch and merge into one feeling. I like to sit outside with my new Mom and Dad on full moon nights. We make a regular habit of it. We have barn owls that screech and tree frogs that sing. Sometimes, we fall asleep on blankets under the moon and breathe that cool air all night long. During the night, I sometimes roll over and peep out to see where the moon has moved to. It travels across the sky until the early morning. When we wake up, the moon is gone, and the sun is there. But, as we know, the moon is not really gone. It just went to another place. Like my Mom and Dad. I know they didn’t mean to leave me. They had to. They went to another place.

When my new Mom and Dad signed me up for Camp Erin, I was afraid to go. I didn’t want to go. I had never been away from them overnight and I didn’t know anybody there. Why couldn’t I just stay home? But they said I might enjoy it, so I went, even though I didn’t want to. Sometimes life is like that.

The registration for camp was very hectic with lots going on. I saw some boys that I might want to play with, but I wasn’t about to rush into anything. We put all of our camp stuff in a pile. When I saw the big bus arrive to pick us up, I got excited. I was ready to say goodbye and get on the bus to go to Camp Erin. That weekend made me see that I can say goodbye even when I’m scacared. Being with kids who know how I feel gave me some courage for the future. We had fun playing games and singing silly songs. We had a campire and I looked at the moon. Camp Erin gave me the opportunity to believe in my future.

My dream is to meet Neil Armstrong, the world’s #1 space hero. He lives in Ohio and I want to go there. He is eighty-one years old, but that’s okay. I want to ask him some questions about the moon.

To both Janet and Max’s delight, they received a response from the usually-elusive space hero. This is what his email read:

Dear Mrs. Boddington,

Thanks for sharing Max’s essay with me.

It is very poignant and surprisingly eradite for an eleven year old.

Tell Max that I also went to camp when I was his age.

I learned a great deal from being with other boys about my age who came from different towns and had different backgrounds.

Tell Max I send him my very best wishes for good luck and success.

Sincerely,

Neil Armstrong

We could not agree more with Mr. Armstrong’s sentiments. Thank you, Max, for sharing your story with us. 

‘Appy Holidays: 10 Holiday Apps For Children

By Cameron Crane

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner. This year, as you comb through your family’s gift list, don’t forget to think digital! If an iPad is on your list this winter, or if you already have one, interactive holiday apps can be wonderful additions for your children. Whether you are looking for a great game to keep your children entertained during holiday travel, or a new way to experience your favorite winter stories, these iTunes apps provide holiday fun that the whole family can share.

Here are the 10 holiday apps we admire for children this year:

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Shoe the Goose LLC

Ages: 9 & up

Developer: PadWorx Digital Media

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Steve Glinberg
Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Tangorang Labs LLC

Ages: 3 & up

Developer: TouchArcade
Ages: 3 & up

Developer: Chillingo LTd.

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Loud Crow Interactive Inc.

Ages: 5 & up

Developer: Electronic Art, Inc.
Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Kids & Apps

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Auryn Apps
‘Appy Holidays, everyone!

‘Appy Holidays: 10 Holiday Apps For Children

By Cameron Crane

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner. This year, as you comb through your family’s gift list, don’t forget to think digital! If an iPad is on your list this winter, or if you already have one, interactive holiday apps can be wonderful additions for your children. Whether you are looking for a great game to keep your children entertained during holiday travel, or a new way to experience your favorite winter stories, these iTunes apps provide holiday fun that the whole family can share.

Here are the 10 holiday apps we admire for children this year:

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Shoe the Goose LLC

Ages: 9 & up

Developer: PadWorx Digital Media

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Steve Glinberg
Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Tangorang Labs LLC

Ages: 3 & up

Developer: TouchArcade
Ages: 3 & up

Developer: Chillingo LTd.

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Loud Crow Interactive Inc.

Ages: 5 & up

Developer: Electronic Art, Inc.
Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Kids & Apps

Ages: 4 & up

Developer: Auryn Apps
‘Appy Holidays, everyone!

Paid In Kind(ness)

by Audrey Lintner
Illustration courtesy of stock.xchng

If you listen to the news, you might think that the Golden Rule has become, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” Nastiness seems to be the norm, and greed lurks in all corners. Fear not! The news is wrong. Turn off the set and ditch your paper, because we can make reality a far cry from the media’s madness. Consider the possibilities of giving back and paying it forward.
  • ·         The Coffee Shop Effect – Who hasn’t heard a variation of this one? A fellow steps up to buy coffee, only to learn that someone has already paid his tab. He decides to pay for the next person in line, who does the same, and so on. The beauty of this one is its versatility. A cup of coffee, a meal, ten bucks at a department store; you’re limited only by your imagination.
  • ·         The Returned Favor – An easy and always appreciated maneuver, the returned favor offers a number of options. Say your neighbors help you replace your saggy porch railing. You can repay this kindness with similar labor, or (if you’re like me) you can play to your strengths and surprise them with a cheesecake.
  • ·         The Inspiration Initiative – Remember the story of Nico Castro and his quest to share Hallowe’en with hospitalized children? Well, one of the best things about a feel-good story is just that: it feels good. People who hear about such generosity are inspired to be a part of it. They give to the cause or start up their own local version, and pretty soon there’s a veritable giving chain linking people around the world.
  • ·         Give and Let Give – There’s something especially endearing about the generosity of a child. They often have so little, and yet are so eager to share it. A favorite example of mine is a local girl who shared her birthday with tigers. In lieu of presents, she asked that guests take the money they would have spent on gifts and give it to the big cat sanctuary. Since the sanctuary is funded entirely by donations, you can imagine the reaction of the all-volunteer staff.
  • ·         The Ripple Effect – Much like Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson’s dolphin friend, we all have one commodity that never expires, always fits, and is easy to exchange. A smile! Just watch what happens the next time you’re walking down the street or waiting in line. Smile at the folks around you, and pretty soon, they’ll start to smile back. Brightening someone’s day with a cheery greeting is a great way to pay your own happiness forward.
These are just a few examples of the zillions of ways that people help each other on a daily basis. Want more inspiration? How about signing up for Pay It Forward Day, coming up in April? Now celebrated in over fifty countries, PIFD proves that giving is more than just a word; it’s a way of life.
Are you ready to make it yours?

Paid In Kind(ness)

by Audrey Lintner
Illustration courtesy of stock.xchng

If you listen to the news, you might think that the Golden Rule has become, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” Nastiness seems to be the norm, and greed lurks in all corners. Fear not! The news is wrong. Turn off the set and ditch your paper, because we can make reality a far cry from the media’s madness. Consider the possibilities of giving back and paying it forward.
  • ·         The Coffee Shop Effect – Who hasn’t heard a variation of this one? A fellow steps up to buy coffee, only to learn that someone has already paid his tab. He decides to pay for the next person in line, who does the same, and so on. The beauty of this one is its versatility. A cup of coffee, a meal, ten bucks at a department store; you’re limited only by your imagination.
  • ·         The Returned Favor – An easy and always appreciated maneuver, the returned favor offers a number of options. Say your neighbors help you replace your saggy porch railing. You can repay this kindness with similar labor, or (if you’re like me) you can play to your strengths and surprise them with a cheesecake.
  • ·         The Inspiration Initiative – Remember the story of Nico Castro and his quest to share Hallowe’en with hospitalized children? Well, one of the best things about a feel-good story is just that: it feels good. People who hear about such generosity are inspired to be a part of it. They give to the cause or start up their own local version, and pretty soon there’s a veritable giving chain linking people around the world.
  • ·         Give and Let Give – There’s something especially endearing about the generosity of a child. They often have so little, and yet are so eager to share it. A favorite example of mine is a local girl who shared her birthday with tigers. In lieu of presents, she asked that guests take the money they would have spent on gifts and give it to the big cat sanctuary. Since the sanctuary is funded entirely by donations, you can imagine the reaction of the all-volunteer staff.
  • ·         The Ripple Effect – Much like Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson’s dolphin friend, we all have one commodity that never expires, always fits, and is easy to exchange. A smile! Just watch what happens the next time you’re walking down the street or waiting in line. Smile at the folks around you, and pretty soon, they’ll start to smile back. Brightening someone’s day with a cheery greeting is a great way to pay your own happiness forward.
These are just a few examples of the zillions of ways that people help each other on a daily basis. Want more inspiration? How about signing up for Pay It Forward Day, coming up in April? Now celebrated in over fifty countries, PIFD proves that giving is more than just a word; it’s a way of life.
Are you ready to make it yours?

Giving Back Is My Favorite Topic

by Melanie Jones

For me, giving back is magical, initiating a series of contagious reactions. It begins with one person and a simple “Yes.” Saying yes allows the magical process to unfold.
There is undeniable evidence of how giving back can shift and change those around us and even the world. No matter what age, we have the ability to change lives by giving back. Whether it’s paying a bridge toll for a stranger, letting someone go ahead in the grocery line, or volunteering our time, each decision to give back most definitely keeps positive energy flowing.
Recently I was asked to describe my core value. I didn’t hesitate to say giving back, making a difference in my professional and personal life. The person then asked where my core belief came from. In my mind, I thought it was an obvious choice, the right thing to do. Yet, for the first time, I thought about where and why I believe so deeply in giving back. She stared at me intently while I thought. I must admit, my mind was blank and I began to get a little nervous. Then I realized, it was my experience of being a foster child. How did I miss that?
My foster family profoundly touched and enriched my life. They gave me complete acceptance wrapped in unconditional love. From this experience, I learned the value of giving back and how powerful we are as people. My foster mom taught me that it just takes one person to make a difference in the life of a child. She was correct. 
Seeing how my foster family made a difference in my life left me with a desire to give back. In 1999, I took a leap of faith and left a corporate career to found a non-profit organization for children called Speak To Children. Speak To Children’s mission is to provide education and support to parents, teachers, and children by reinforcing basic values that foster self-awareness and character development in the child.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng



Over the years, I have had a front row seat to watch miracles big and small happen. For example, in Fishkill, New York, I was teaching children how to make their dream come true. The class was ending, and we had time for one more comment. A ten-year-old autistic boy named Mario, who never spoke a word, looked up at me and softly said, “You need love in your heart to make your dream come true.” We were all astonished; the children’s jaws dropped to the floor as I tried to compose myself. Before I could respond, Mario went back into his world. He never spoke again. Holding back my tears, I looked at the class and said, “Yes, Mario is correct. You do need love in your heart to make your dream come true.” Mario’s comment reminded me why I taught these children from the Bronx in Fishkill, New York for one month without pay, in a camp sponsored by the Fresh Air Fund. That summer I was reminded giving back is the highest payment I could receive. My core value, to give back, was once again reinforced.
Every choice I make to give back promotes a supportive response from the universe. For me, giving back ignites a deep loving feeling and a sense of joy, and the combination is overwhelmingly beautiful; words can’t describe the feeling. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to see how my actions have impacted someone, but for me, it’s not the immediate gratification; it is the act of giving back that feels so darned amazing.
I know my actions are touching someone because we are all connected; love connects us as our actions maintain the beauty of giving back while promoting the flow of love. Giving back sends a flow of love to you, me, and back to the world.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Melanie Jones is an inspirational speaker, children’s book author, and founder of the non-profit organization Speak To Children. You can visit her website for more information. 

Giving Back Is My Favorite Topic

by Melanie Jones

For me, giving back is magical, initiating a series of contagious reactions. It begins with one person and a simple “Yes.” Saying yes allows the magical process to unfold.
There is undeniable evidence of how giving back can shift and change those around us and even the world. No matter what age, we have the ability to change lives by giving back. Whether it’s paying a bridge toll for a stranger, letting someone go ahead in the grocery line, or volunteering our time, each decision to give back most definitely keeps positive energy flowing.
Recently I was asked to describe my core value. I didn’t hesitate to say giving back, making a difference in my professional and personal life. The person then asked where my core belief came from. In my mind, I thought it was an obvious choice, the right thing to do. Yet, for the first time, I thought about where and why I believe so deeply in giving back. She stared at me intently while I thought. I must admit, my mind was blank and I began to get a little nervous. Then I realized, it was my experience of being a foster child. How did I miss that?
My foster family profoundly touched and enriched my life. They gave me complete acceptance wrapped in unconditional love. From this experience, I learned the value of giving back and how powerful we are as people. My foster mom taught me that it just takes one person to make a difference in the life of a child. She was correct. 
Seeing how my foster family made a difference in my life left me with a desire to give back. In 1999, I took a leap of faith and left a corporate career to found a non-profit organization for children called Speak To Children. Speak To Children’s mission is to provide education and support to parents, teachers, and children by reinforcing basic values that foster self-awareness and character development in the child.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng



Over the years, I have had a front row seat to watch miracles big and small happen. For example, in Fishkill, New York, I was teaching children how to make their dream come true. The class was ending, and we had time for one more comment. A ten-year-old autistic boy named Mario, who never spoke a word, looked up at me and softly said, “You need love in your heart to make your dream come true.” We were all astonished; the children’s jaws dropped to the floor as I tried to compose myself. Before I could respond, Mario went back into his world. He never spoke again. Holding back my tears, I looked at the class and said, “Yes, Mario is correct. You do need love in your heart to make your dream come true.” Mario’s comment reminded me why I taught these children from the Bronx in Fishkill, New York for one month without pay, in a camp sponsored by the Fresh Air Fund. That summer I was reminded giving back is the highest payment I could receive. My core value, to give back, was once again reinforced.
Every choice I make to give back promotes a supportive response from the universe. For me, giving back ignites a deep loving feeling and a sense of joy, and the combination is overwhelmingly beautiful; words can’t describe the feeling. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to see how my actions have impacted someone, but for me, it’s not the immediate gratification; it is the act of giving back that feels so darned amazing.
I know my actions are touching someone because we are all connected; love connects us as our actions maintain the beauty of giving back while promoting the flow of love. Giving back sends a flow of love to you, me, and back to the world.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Melanie Jones is an inspirational speaker, children’s book author, and founder of the non-profit organization Speak To Children. You can visit her website for more information. 

Thanksgiving From the Heart: A Year of Miracles

by Audrey Lintner

The words were delivered gently, but they landed with the impact of bricks.

“We’ve found a very large mass in your liver.”


It was Easter Sunday of this year when I drove my husband to the hospital. Larry had been suffering from flu-like symptoms for several weeks, but kept insisting that he’d “be better soon.” When I realized that Larry was too weak to get out of bed and watch the kids hunt for eggs, I couldn’t close my eyes to his illness any longer.

The list of symptoms was baffling: fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, severe dehydration, dangerously high blood pressure. In a flash of inspiration that was part desperation, the doctors decided to order a CAT scan.

That was our first miracle.

The scan disclosed a tumor the size of a football, which we would never have known about until it was too late. A series of further miracles followed.

·         A biopsy revealed that the tumor was not liver cancer, but a very treatable lymphoma.  

·         Larry suffered almost none of the usual side effects of chemotherapy.

·         We were accepted into a Federal insurance program for pre-existing conditions.

·         Our entire community came together in support, sharing food, prayers, and donations of all kinds.

·         Larry’s co-workers voted to donate their sick leave, which allowed him to collect a paycheck every week until he was able to work again.

I have much to be thankful for, especially this little guy.
Photo courtesy of Darrick Bartholomew

Perhaps the most stunning display of support came in the form of a fundraiser. Since Larry is a musician, some of our friends hit on the idea of a benefit concert to help with the bills. Although we were still uninsured at the time, the money raised by the near-capacity crowd was enough to keep our medical bills paid until the Federal program kicked in.

Am I thankful this year? You bet. I live in a comfortable house with a devoted husband and our beautiful son. We have food, clothing, and too many friends to count. We also have the most recent statement from Larry’s oncologist.

“According to the latest PET scan, the lymphoma is gone.”


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 

Thanksgiving From the Heart: A Year of Miracles

by Audrey Lintner

The words were delivered gently, but they landed with the impact of bricks.

“We’ve found a very large mass in your liver.”


It was Easter Sunday of this year when I drove my husband to the hospital. Larry had been suffering from flu-like symptoms for several weeks, but kept insisting that he’d “be better soon.” When I realized that Larry was too weak to get out of bed and watch the kids hunt for eggs, I couldn’t close my eyes to his illness any longer.

The list of symptoms was baffling: fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, severe dehydration, dangerously high blood pressure. In a flash of inspiration that was part desperation, the doctors decided to order a CAT scan.

That was our first miracle.

The scan disclosed a tumor the size of a football, which we would never have known about until it was too late. A series of further miracles followed.

·         A biopsy revealed that the tumor was not liver cancer, but a very treatable lymphoma.  

·         Larry suffered almost none of the usual side effects of chemotherapy.

·         We were accepted into a Federal insurance program for pre-existing conditions.

·         Our entire community came together in support, sharing food, prayers, and donations of all kinds.

·         Larry’s co-workers voted to donate their sick leave, which allowed him to collect a paycheck every week until he was able to work again.

I have much to be thankful for, especially this little guy.
Photo courtesy of Darrick Bartholomew

Perhaps the most stunning display of support came in the form of a fundraiser. Since Larry is a musician, some of our friends hit on the idea of a benefit concert to help with the bills. Although we were still uninsured at the time, the money raised by the near-capacity crowd was enough to keep our medical bills paid until the Federal program kicked in.

Am I thankful this year? You bet. I live in a comfortable house with a devoted husband and our beautiful son. We have food, clothing, and too many friends to count. We also have the most recent statement from Larry’s oncologist.

“According to the latest PET scan, the lymphoma is gone.”


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 

Halloween Hero: A Story of Giving

by Toan Lam, Founder of Go Inspire Go

When you hear about Nico Castro, a courageous 6-year-old boy from Northern California who, despite his battle with brain cancer, brought Halloween to his friends in the hospital, you can’t help but want to help this real-life super hero.

“Even though he’s worse off than some of these other kids in the hospital, he’s worried about them– they can’t go trick or treating and they can’t get candy,” said Marlene Castro, Nico’s mother.

After Nico was diagnosed with brain cancer last fall, he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to celebrate Halloween, his favorite holiday. Thanks to a break in treatment, this caped crusader was given the all-clear. “He likes being Batman because it covers his bald head. He’s self conscious,” Castro said, holding back tears.

But the news was bittersweet. Nico was sad his friends in the hospital wouldn’t be able to experience Halloween. “What about the other kids?” Nico’s Father, Raul Castro said, “Can we go to Target and get costumes for the kids?” But with the mounting hospital bills, it was impossible for the family to buy 50 costumes and goodie bags for 50 of his friends at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.

They came up with an idea: start a costume drive to bring Halloween to the hospital. This Halloween hero’s goal was to collect 50 costumes and goodie bags. Since Go Inspire Go (GIG) is about featuring everyday heroes, leveraging social media to build community, and sparking civic engagement, we had to tell Nico’s story and multiply his good deed. Nico’s tight knit community pitched in and were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from viewers around the country.

Watch the video that sparked a nation wide movement: 
 After GIG shared his story, Nico quadrupled his goal and collected more than 200 costumes. Additionally, supporters sent him more than $1,500. The local and nationwide media has ensued. The producer at NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams called me the day after we uploaded the video. I invited them to join us as we produced a follow up of Nico dropping off costumes to his bed-ridden friends in the hospital.

Check out our follow up video: 
Garvin Thomas and his local NBC affiliate “Bay Area Proud” segment contacted me to feature GIG and Nico’s cause.

“I’m so honored to be his mom. God really did bless me by making me this little boy’s mother. He adds so much love and so much light to our eyes and it’s great to see that he’s able to touch and impact others lives as well. It’s inspiring for all of us,” said Castro.

I will always remember the image of Nico walking down the halls of the hospital as he delivered costumes and goodie bags to his sick friends. As he put on his sanitary mask – a fire fighter’s costume clenched in one hand, the other clasping his older brother’s hand – my heart sank. But that feeling didn’t last long. As soon as the parents and children saw Nico, their eyes filled with joy and smiles widened. Their spirits were lifted. WOW.

Jackie Jumper’s daughter received a witch costume and coloring book from Nico. “It’s all very overwhelming for me. It’s overwhelming to be here with Anne, but it’s more overwhelming that a child who is so sick can think of other children at this time and what they need… It’s not just a costume or a coloring book. It’s about children being happy around these wonderful holidays that they enjoy so much. I remember Halloween growing up and it was one of my favorites. It’s just special to these kids… It’s very heartwarming and special for him to do that,” Jumper said.

The ripples of kindness continue to expand outward. Sydney Burnett, a 14-year-old who was given a costume from Nico couldn’t stop smiling. “It makes me think I don’t have it so bad. He’s worse off than me and he is giving back. It makes me want to do something to help someone else,” Burnett promised.

What can YOU do – to give back to someone in need?

Special thanks to everyone who responded to our calls for donations: Green Apple Books, Sparky’s Balloons, Amanda Rivas and the Rivas Family, DayDreams and Nightmares and Amy Pankratz, founder of Wonder Capes, for making super hero capes for Nico and his brother and sister.

Nico has collected 70 NEW costumes & 60 USED costumes. You too can take action:

(1) Contribute to Make-A-Wish: Wish.org.
(2) Brighten someone’s spirits. Volunteer at your local hospital or cancer center.
(3) Share this story with a child in your life and encourage them to take action.

Halloween Hero: A Story of Giving

by Toan Lam, Founder of Go Inspire Go

When you hear about Nico Castro, a courageous 6-year-old boy from Northern California who, despite his battle with brain cancer, brought Halloween to his friends in the hospital, you can’t help but want to help this real-life super hero.

“Even though he’s worse off than some of these other kids in the hospital, he’s worried about them– they can’t go trick or treating and they can’t get candy,” said Marlene Castro, Nico’s mother.

After Nico was diagnosed with brain cancer last fall, he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to celebrate Halloween, his favorite holiday. Thanks to a break in treatment, this caped crusader was given the all-clear. “He likes being Batman because it covers his bald head. He’s self conscious,” Castro said, holding back tears.

But the news was bittersweet. Nico was sad his friends in the hospital wouldn’t be able to experience Halloween. “What about the other kids?” Nico’s Father, Raul Castro said, “Can we go to Target and get costumes for the kids?” But with the mounting hospital bills, it was impossible for the family to buy 50 costumes and goodie bags for 50 of his friends at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.

They came up with an idea: start a costume drive to bring Halloween to the hospital. This Halloween hero’s goal was to collect 50 costumes and goodie bags. Since Go Inspire Go (GIG) is about featuring everyday heroes, leveraging social media to build community, and sparking civic engagement, we had to tell Nico’s story and multiply his good deed. Nico’s tight knit community pitched in and were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from viewers around the country.

Watch the video that sparked a nation wide movement: 
 After GIG shared his story, Nico quadrupled his goal and collected more than 200 costumes. Additionally, supporters sent him more than $1,500. The local and nationwide media has ensued. The producer at NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams called me the day after we uploaded the video. I invited them to join us as we produced a follow up of Nico dropping off costumes to his bed-ridden friends in the hospital.

Check out our follow up video: 
Garvin Thomas and his local NBC affiliate “Bay Area Proud” segment contacted me to feature GIG and Nico’s cause.

“I’m so honored to be his mom. God really did bless me by making me this little boy’s mother. He adds so much love and so much light to our eyes and it’s great to see that he’s able to touch and impact others lives as well. It’s inspiring for all of us,” said Castro.

I will always remember the image of Nico walking down the halls of the hospital as he delivered costumes and goodie bags to his sick friends. As he put on his sanitary mask – a fire fighter’s costume clenched in one hand, the other clasping his older brother’s hand – my heart sank. But that feeling didn’t last long. As soon as the parents and children saw Nico, their eyes filled with joy and smiles widened. Their spirits were lifted. WOW.

Jackie Jumper’s daughter received a witch costume and coloring book from Nico. “It’s all very overwhelming for me. It’s overwhelming to be here with Anne, but it’s more overwhelming that a child who is so sick can think of other children at this time and what they need… It’s not just a costume or a coloring book. It’s about children being happy around these wonderful holidays that they enjoy so much. I remember Halloween growing up and it was one of my favorites. It’s just special to these kids… It’s very heartwarming and special for him to do that,” Jumper said.

The ripples of kindness continue to expand outward. Sydney Burnett, a 14-year-old who was given a costume from Nico couldn’t stop smiling. “It makes me think I don’t have it so bad. He’s worse off than me and he is giving back. It makes me want to do something to help someone else,” Burnett promised.

What can YOU do – to give back to someone in need?

Special thanks to everyone who responded to our calls for donations: Green Apple Books, Sparky’s Balloons, Amanda Rivas and the Rivas Family, DayDreams and Nightmares and Amy Pankratz, founder of Wonder Capes, for making super hero capes for Nico and his brother and sister.

Nico has collected 70 NEW costumes & 60 USED costumes. You too can take action:

(1) Contribute to Make-A-Wish: Wish.org.
(2) Brighten someone’s spirits. Volunteer at your local hospital or cancer center.
(3) Share this story with a child in your life and encourage them to take action.

Showing Gratitude to our Newest Customers

By Cameron Crane

“I love walking into a bookstore. It’s like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.” ~ Tahereh Mafi
Image Credit:  Children’s Books 2009 (John Coulter / For The Times)
It is always exciting to have Little Pickle Press books welcomed into a new independent bookstore. We know that each and every one of our customers provides a unique and special home for our titles, and we are grateful for every opportunity that we have to fall in to the hands of a parent, educator, or child.
This November, we are showing our gratitude to our newest customers, listed below. If you are located near one of these fantastic booksellers, we recommend that you drop in to browse their wonderful collections for your holiday shopping!

1313 N.E. Danforth

Edmond, OK 73034

577 High Street

Dedham, MA 02026

Stuyvesant Plaza

Albany, NY 12203

2724 Post Road

Stevens Point, WI 54481

42 E. State Street

Doylestown, PA 18901

98 Harbord St.

Toronto, ON, M5S 1G6 Canada

432A Main Street

Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

2610 North Federal Highway

Boynton Beach, FL 33435

2838 E. Douglas Avenue

Wichita, KS 67214


513 Octavia Street

New Orleans, LA 70115

2200 North Westmoreland Street #101

Arlington, VA 22213

31 Main Street

Warwick, NY 10990


Do you have a favorite independent bookseller in your area that we should know about? Do you know of an amazing bookstore that would have an interest in Little Pickle Press? Please let us know!

Showing Gratitude to our Newest Customers

By Cameron Crane

“I love walking into a bookstore. It’s like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.” ~ Tahereh Mafi
Image Credit:  Children’s Books 2009 (John Coulter / For The Times)
It is always exciting to have Little Pickle Press books welcomed into a new independent bookstore. We know that each and every one of our customers provides a unique and special home for our titles, and we are grateful for every opportunity that we have to fall in to the hands of a parent, educator, or child.
This November, we are showing our gratitude to our newest customers, listed below. If you are located near one of these fantastic booksellers, we recommend that you drop in to browse their wonderful collections for your holiday shopping!

1313 N.E. Danforth

Edmond, OK 73034

577 High Street

Dedham, MA 02026

Stuyvesant Plaza

Albany, NY 12203

2724 Post Road

Stevens Point, WI 54481

42 E. State Street

Doylestown, PA 18901

98 Harbord St.

Toronto, ON, M5S 1G6 Canada

432A Main Street

Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

2610 North Federal Highway

Boynton Beach, FL 33435

2838 E. Douglas Avenue

Wichita, KS 67214


513 Octavia Street

New Orleans, LA 70115

2200 North Westmoreland Street #101

Arlington, VA 22213

31 Main Street

Warwick, NY 10990

Do you have a favorite independent bookseller in your area that we should know about? Do you know of an amazing bookstore that would have an interest in Little Pickle Press? Please let us know!

Interview with Kelly Gallagher: Hope for a Thousand Hills

By Cameron Crane

November is a month of gratitude, and a month of giving. As we look at the importance of giving thanks and giving back, it is also important to acknowledge the wonderful programs that allow us to do so. Today we welcome Kelly Gallagher, who serves on the Board of Directors for Hope for a Thousand Hills, a non-profit organization focused on the restoration of the Cyimbili Coffee Plantation in western Rwanda.

Welcome, Kelly. Hope for a Thousand Hills sounds like a fantastic program. How did you first get involved with the organization and in what capacity are you involved?

I first heard about Hope at our local church from a presentation they made. I was later asked to travel with a team to the Cyimbili Coffee Plantation to offer assistance in business development and training. As my involvement deepened, I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors.

Of all the philanthropic opportunities, what aspects of the Hope for a Thousand Hills mission resonated with you?

I believe strongly not only in their mission of caring for all aspects of people through economy, community, and eternity, but also in the way in which they drive toward self-sufficiency and contextualization of the effort for the local community. This is more than just a funding projectis focused on truly bringing hope to communities where none or very little existed, especially in a place that has lost much hope as in Rwanda. This is done not only though generous donations, but also by taking teams to Cyimbili, Rwanda to engage with the community first-hand-business leaders working with the staff, teachers assisting with ESL training, or folks working with the local women’s group on setting up micro finance loans. The biggest driver though, of course, is establishing the coffee trade, as no other commodity can offer a local community the potential like this can. 



In the summer of last year, you made an incredible trip to Rwanda. Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing there?

This was my second trip to Rwanda–I was asked specifically to begin consulting with the local team to develop a plan for when the plantation becomes fully-functional and independent. We also focused on some of the key infrastructure needs, including the introduction of electricity to run the machines needed to process the coffee, as well as (and most importantly) determining how to bring clean water to the plantation. Right now, the entire town, school, and coffee plantation are dependent on a local stream for their water. Unfortunately, this stream is not only full of silt, but also is polluted from local sewage. Best efforts are being made to clean the water through rudimentary filtering, but it is not sufficient either for the coffee or for the people of the community. So our role was really two-fold–to help the economy through business training, and to work with the community to improve sanitation and plan for clean water.

What were your three major takeaways from the experience?
  • Rwandans, and especially the people of the town of Cyimbili, are amazing people! While the scars of the genocide still have not faded in many ways (e.g. many of the adult workers are women who lost their husbands to the genocide and war), the spirit is resilient. They want so much to improve their conditions and are willing to put in the hard work to do so.
  • Coffee is something that can be used to bind people together who live thousands of miles apart.
  • It is always a reminder when you travel even to ‘emerging world’ countries like Rwanda just how well we live here in the USA or other ‘first world’ countries. Giving becomes so much easier when you see the impact it has first hand.

How can somebody interested in helping or contributing to Hope for a Thousand Hills get involved?

This is an effort requiring both unique skills and financial support. If you are able to offer either, please check out the website to make a donation or send us an email if you want to get more deeply involved.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your participation that you would like our readers to know?

One of the reasons this project has strong local backing is that it is being locally managed by an incredible organization called ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries). Many of these types of projects fail when trying to manage and support them from afar. We are thankful to this tremendous organization, and for the fact that we can play a part in a BIG dream to bring hope back to the people of Rwanda and the town of Cyimbili on the shores of beautiful Lake Kivu. 

Interview with Kelly Gallagher: Hope for a Thousand Hills

By Cameron Crane

November is a month of gratitude, and a month of giving. As we look at the importance of giving thanks and giving back, it is also important to acknowledge the wonderful programs that allow us to do so. Today we welcome Kelly Gallagher, who serves on the Board of Directors for Hope for a Thousand Hills, a non-profit organization focused on the restoration of the Cyimbili Coffee Plantation in western Rwanda.

Welcome, Kelly. Hope for a Thousand Hills sounds like a fantastic program. How did you first get involved with the organization and in what capacity are you involved?

I first heard about Hope at our local church from a presentation they made. I was later asked to travel with a team to the Cyimbili Coffee Plantation to offer assistance in business development and training. As my involvement deepened, I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors.

Of all the philanthropic opportunities, what aspects of the Hope for a Thousand Hills mission resonated with you?

I believe strongly not only in their mission of caring for all aspects of people through economy, community, and eternity, but also in the way in which they drive toward self-sufficiency and contextualization of the effort for the local community. This is more than just a funding projectis focused on truly bringing hope to communities where none or very little existed, especially in a place that has lost much hope as in Rwanda. This is done not only though generous donations, but also by taking teams to Cyimbili, Rwanda to engage with the community first-hand-business leaders working with the staff, teachers assisting with ESL training, or folks working with the local women’s group on setting up micro finance loans. The biggest driver though, of course, is establishing the coffee trade, as no other commodity can offer a local community the potential like this can. 



In the summer of last year, you made an incredible trip to Rwanda. Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing there?

This was my second trip to Rwanda–I was asked specifically to begin consulting with the local team to develop a plan for when the plantation becomes fully-functional and independent. We also focused on some of the key infrastructure needs, including the introduction of electricity to run the machines needed to process the coffee, as well as (and most importantly) determining how to bring clean water to the plantation. Right now, the entire town, school, and coffee plantation are dependent on a local stream for their water. Unfortunately, this stream is not only full of silt, but also is polluted from local sewage. Best efforts are being made to clean the water through rudimentary filtering, but it is not sufficient either for the coffee or for the people of the community. So our role was really two-fold–to help the economy through business training, and to work with the community to improve sanitation and plan for clean water.

What were your three major takeaways from the experience?
  • Rwandans, and especially the people of the town of Cyimbili, are amazing people! While the scars of the genocide still have not faded in many ways (e.g. many of the adult workers are women who lost their husbands to the genocide and war), the spirit is resilient. They want so much to improve their conditions and are willing to put in the hard work to do so.
  • Coffee is something that can be used to bind people together who live thousands of miles apart.
  • It is always a reminder when you travel even to ‘emerging world’ countries like Rwanda just how well we live here in the USA or other ‘first world’ countries. Giving becomes so much easier when you see the impact it has first hand.

How can somebody interested in helping or contributing to Hope for a Thousand Hills get involved?

This is an effort requiring both unique skills and financial support. If you are able to offer either, please check out the website to make a donation or send us an email if you want to get more deeply involved.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your participation that you would like our readers to know?

One of the reasons this project has strong local backing is that it is being locally managed by an incredible organization called ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries). Many of these types of projects fail when trying to manage and support them from afar. We are thankful to this tremendous organization, and for the fact that we can play a part in a BIG dream to bring hope back to the people of Rwanda and the town of Cyimbili on the shores of beautiful Lake Kivu. 

Raising Awareness About U.S. Foreign Aid and Asking For Your Voice

By Rana DiOrio, Founder and Chief Executive Pickle of Little Pickle Press

Feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders

My recent trip to Ethiopia with a delegation of ONEMoms (and ONE Mums) affected me profoundly. I went to Ethiopia at a very pivotal time in my life. I was feeling the full weight of my responsibilities as a single mother of three young children with no member of my family proximate to help me to raise them. I was raising capital for my growth stage company, which while exciting is extremely taxing. I was exhausted on a cellular level having worked 6-7 days/week since the inception of my company in 2009. In all honesty, I was feeling alone with my challenges, and I welcomed the trip as an opportunity to change my perspective. And that it did.
The breathtakingly beautiful video
If you are curious about what the ONE Moms did in Ethiopia, I invite you to watch this powerful and moving video created by Ryan Youngblood, the gifted filmmaker who traveled with us and captured the essence of our experience so poignantly.

At the 2:25 minute mark, there is a brief frame of a ONE Mom’s hand on her notebook, my hand. It rests on a page upon which I had written personal commentary vs. factual observations. It says, “Messages I’d like to convey: You are not alone. You are loved.” The single mothers we met in Ethiopia needed to hear these messages, and so do we from time-to-time. So did I at that time. With each field visit, the ONE Moms forged meaningful connections between the Ethiopian experience and our own.
The gift of perspective 

What I realized upon my return home is that my problems, while very real and challenging, are surmountable and relatively benign. I realized that I have been blessed with so many gifts and resources and that I what I really need to be doing is applying them more directly to helping those much less fortunate than me, the mothers and children in Ethiopia. I understood that by connecting myself to the single mothers of Ethiopia, I would feel less alone and more loved. I also realized that I can effect positive change by using my voice as opposed to my checkbook, and so can you.

The call to action
I am a giver, and I don’t often ask for things. I am asking you, however, to read and consider signing this ONE Campaign petition. Here’s why:
Photo Credit: Karen Walrond/ONE

  • The U.S. spends less than one penny out of every dollar on foreign aid.
  • The programs we fund are sophisticated, well-conceived, well-executed, and they deliver astonishingly positive results impacting millions of people;
  • The programs are designed to be turned over to the private sector and local governments once they have demonstrated their intended outcomes [NOTE: For example, during our meeting with the USAID Ethiopia delegation, I learned that the Mary Joy Association
  • was once a USAID-funded program and now is funded and run through a collaboration among private sector donors and the Ethiopian government.] 

  • If we cut the budget earmarked for U.S. Foreign Aid, hundreds of thousands of lives will be at risk, and the likelihood for political instability in the regions we’ve helped becomes very real. If allies, such as Ethiopia, become unstable then there may arise a need for military involvement or support, which will cost us orders of magnitude more, money and U.S. human capital, than the financial aid we give currently.
  • If we cut the budget earmarked for U.S. Foreign Aid, there is also a strong likelihood that China will swoop into these regions and exploit them for their own economic gain. [NOTE: For a more detailed discussion of conservative arguments in support of U.S. Foreign Aid, please click here.]
  • We are helping nations like Ethiopia to become healthy and economically self-sufficient. We are not giving handouts. Our assistance is not creating learned helplessness. Quite the contrary, we are helping these countries to overcome extreme poverty, become fiscally independent, and one day even become trading partners and importers of U.S. goods and services.
  • Extreme poverty is a nonpartisan issue, and the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties have underscored the importance of this issue.
  • The season of Thanksgiving is an ideal time to reflect upon all of your blessings and to lend your voice to help those who most need your help, such as the beneficiaries of U.S. Foreign Aid.
Photo credit: Diana Prichard


Thank you for investing your time to learn more about our trip and how you can help the people of Ethiopia and other regions of the world gripped by extreme poverty. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +  
I have recently returned from Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and malnutrition, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that save lives. While there, I traveled with a group of parenting bloggers to observe how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia.ONE doesn’t ask for your money, just your voice. Should you choose to add your voice by signing the petition, your information will remain confidential.

Raising Awareness About U.S. Foreign Aid and Asking For Your Voice

By Rana DiOrio, Founder and Chief Executive Pickle of Little Pickle Press

Feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders

My recent trip to Ethiopia with a delegation of ONEMoms (and ONE Mums) affected me profoundly. I went to Ethiopia at a very pivotal time in my life. I was feeling the full weight of my responsibilities as a single mother of three young children with no member of my family proximate to help me to raise them. I was raising capital for my growth stage company, which while exciting is extremely taxing. I was exhausted on a cellular level having worked 6-7 days/week since the inception of my company in 2009. In all honesty, I was feeling alone with my challenges, and I welcomed the trip as an opportunity to change my perspective. And that it did.
The breathtakingly beautiful video
If you are curious about what the ONE Moms did in Ethiopia, I invite you to watch this powerful and moving video created by Ryan Youngblood, the gifted filmmaker who traveled with us and captured the essence of our experience so poignantly.

At the 2:25 minute mark, there is a brief frame of a ONE Mom’s hand on her notebook, my hand. It rests on a page upon which I had written personal commentary vs. factual observations. It says, “Messages I’d like to convey: You are not alone. You are loved.” The single mothers we met in Ethiopia needed to hear these messages, and so do we from time-to-time. So did I at that time. With each field visit, the ONE Moms forged meaningful connections between the Ethiopian experience and our own.
The gift of perspective 

What I realized upon my return home is that my problems, while very real and challenging, are surmountable and relatively benign. I realized that I have been blessed with so many gifts and resources and that I what I really need to be doing is applying them more directly to helping those much less fortunate than me, the mothers and children in Ethiopia. I understood that by connecting myself to the single mothers of Ethiopia, I would feel less alone and more loved. I also realized that I can effect positive change by using my voice as opposed to my checkbook, and so can you.

The call to action
I am a giver, and I don’t often ask for things. I am asking you, however, to read and consider signing this ONE Campaign petition. Here’s why:
Photo Credit: Karen Walrond/ONE

  • The U.S. spends less than one penny out of every dollar on foreign aid.
  • The programs we fund are sophisticated, well-conceived, well-executed, and they deliver astonishingly positive results impacting millions of people;
  • The programs are designed to be turned over to the private sector and local governments once they have demonstrated their intended outcomes [NOTE: For example, during our meeting with the USAID Ethiopia delegation, I learned that the Mary Joy Association
  • was once a USAID-funded program and now is funded and run through a collaboration among private sector donors and the Ethiopian government.] 

  • If we cut the budget earmarked for U.S. Foreign Aid, hundreds of thousands of lives will be at risk, and the likelihood for political instability in the regions we’ve helped becomes very real. If allies, such as Ethiopia, become unstable then there may arise a need for military involvement or support, which will cost us orders of magnitude more, money and U.S. human capital, than the financial aid we give currently.
  • If we cut the budget earmarked for U.S. Foreign Aid, there is also a strong likelihood that China will swoop into these regions and exploit them for their own economic gain. [NOTE: For a more detailed discussion of conservative arguments in support of U.S. Foreign Aid, please click here.]
  • We are helping nations like Ethiopia to become healthy and economically self-sufficient. We are not giving handouts. Our assistance is not creating learned helplessness. Quite the contrary, we are helping these countries to overcome extreme poverty, become fiscally independent, and one day even become trading partners and importers of U.S. goods and services.
  • Extreme poverty is a nonpartisan issue, and the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties have underscored the importance of this issue.
  • The season of Thanksgiving is an ideal time to reflect upon all of your blessings and to lend your voice to help those who most need your help, such as the beneficiaries of U.S. Foreign Aid.
Photo credit: Diana Prichard


Thank you for investing your time to learn more about our trip and how you can help the people of Ethiopia and other regions of the world gripped by extreme poverty. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +  
I have recently returned from Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and malnutrition, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that save lives. While there, I traveled with a group of parenting bloggers to observe how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia.ONE doesn’t ask for your money, just your voice. Should you choose to add your voice by signing the petition, your information will remain confidential.

Thanksgiving Unplugged

by Audrey Lintner

Let’s pretend, shall we? Close your eyes and imagine that it’s Thanksgiving. The turkey is done to a turn, the marshmallows are melting on the sweet potatoes, and the table is set with plates that actually match. Pondering the merits of green bean casserole, you turn to engage one of your tablemates in conversation.
He’s too busy sending text messages to notice you.
In our plugged-in world, the habits of electronic isolation have become commonplace to the point of being ingrained. Social media is changing (many would say damaging) the way we look at social behavior. Can we fix it?
Yes! With the help of nationally-respected etiquette experts Thomas P. Farley and Diane Gottsman, people across the country are taking the pledge to turn off the electronics and tune in to their families. After encountering too many scenarios like the one described above, Farley teamed up with Gottsman to create Thanksgiving Unplugged, a campaign to reclaim Thanksgiving from digital distractions.
When you visit the Thanksgiving Unplugged website, you can sign up for a newsletter and receive a free guide to setting the perfect Thanksgiving table. There’s even a special download called “My First Place Setting,” designed for kids seven and under.
Most importantly, you can print out and sign the Thanksgiving Unplugged pledge, a promise to put your focus on another kind of PDA: People Dining Alongside.
Also known as “Mister Manners,” Farley is enthusiastic about sharing his message with people of all ages. “I think it’s important for both adults and kids to know that being mannerly doesn’t entail memorizing long sets of rules,” he says. “It often means simply thinking twice before you act.” To this end, he and Unplugged co-founder Gottsman are encouraging schools and corporations to get involved with the pledge.
Participating schools and companies will be featured on the Thanksgiving Unplugged website, and students have the opportunity to take part in the Thanksgiving Unplugged 2012 Art Contest. Drawing on the logo for inspiration, kids can create projects that capture the spirit of the campaign. Photos will be posted on the Thanksgiving Unplugged Facebook page, and the winning school will be announced after the holiday.
Not sure how to share the concept of being present with your little ones? Get your copy of What Does It Mean to be Present?, written by Chief Pickle Rana DiOrio, and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. Free lesson plans are available to enhance the messages in this award-winning book.

For more information about Thomas P. Farley, Diane Gottsman, and the Thanksgiving Unplugged campaign, seek them out through the following links:
Thomas P. Farley
Diane Gottsman
Thanksgiving Unplugged

Thanksgiving Unplugged

by Audrey Lintner

Let’s pretend, shall we? Close your eyes and imagine that it’s Thanksgiving. The turkey is done to a turn, the marshmallows are melting on the sweet potatoes, and the table is set with plates that actually match. Pondering the merits of green bean casserole, you turn to engage one of your tablemates in conversation.
He’s too busy sending text messages to notice you.
In our plugged-in world, the habits of electronic isolation have become commonplace to the point of being ingrained. Social media is changing (many would say damaging) the way we look at social behavior. Can we fix it?
Yes! With the help of nationally-respected etiquette experts Thomas P. Farley and Diane Gottsman, people across the country are taking the pledge to turn off the electronics and tune in to their families. After encountering too many scenarios like the one described above, Farley teamed up with Gottsman to create Thanksgiving Unplugged, a campaign to reclaim Thanksgiving from digital distractions.
When you visit the Thanksgiving Unplugged website, you can sign up for a newsletter and receive a free guide to setting the perfect Thanksgiving table. There’s even a special download called “My First Place Setting,” designed for kids seven and under.
Most importantly, you can print out and sign the Thanksgiving Unplugged pledge, a promise to put your focus on another kind of PDA: People Dining Alongside.
Also known as “Mister Manners,” Farley is enthusiastic about sharing his message with people of all ages. “I think it’s important for both adults and kids to know that being mannerly doesn’t entail memorizing long sets of rules,” he says. “It often means simply thinking twice before you act.” To this end, he and Unplugged co-founder Gottsman are encouraging schools and corporations to get involved with the pledge.
Participating schools and companies will be featured on the Thanksgiving Unplugged website, and students have the opportunity to take part in the Thanksgiving Unplugged 2012 Art Contest. Drawing on the logo for inspiration, kids can create projects that capture the spirit of the campaign. Photos will be posted on the Thanksgiving Unplugged Facebook page, and the winning school will be announced after the holiday.
Not sure how to share the concept of being present with your little ones? Get your copy of What Does It Mean to be Present?, written by Chief Pickle Rana DiOrio, and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. Free lesson plans are available to enhance the messages in this award-winning book.

For more information about Thomas P. Farley, Diane Gottsman, and the Thanksgiving Unplugged campaign, seek them out through the following links:
Thomas P. Farley
Diane Gottsman
Thanksgiving Unplugged