Tag Archives: service

A Call for Books

My younger brother, Matt, runs the blog Relentless Pursuit of Acronyms, about his time as a 4th grade teacher in New Orleans with the Teach for America program. TFA places teachers in low-income areas of the US to bridge the Achievement Gap. I worked for them as a recruiter in college and convinced Matt to get involved with them as well.

In any case, you can imagine that the schools in New Orleans need some help. Matt’s school doesn’t even have a building post-Katrina; they meet in a series of trailers. There are a lot of things his students could probably use, but right now they are desperate for books. It’s difficult to teach reading when there is no classroom library, and we all know how vital to long-term success good reading skills are.

This holiday season, Matt is asking for donations of books. He lists a few specific needs, but he’ll take anything. And, if you have books outside of the 3rd-5th grade level that you would be willing to donate, Matt will make sure they get to other classes at his school, or into the hands of other TFA teachers in the area.

Matt will be making appearances in Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Ohio over the next few weeks and, depending on your location of course, might be able to arrange direct pick-ups. Please consider donating a book (or two or ten) to invest in these children’s future. You can contact Matt at his blog, or leave me a comment here and I’ll make sure that you two get in touch.

And please, pass this on to any friends you think could help. Let’s get his class and his school some great books!!!

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The Most Special Christmas

I talked recently about my favorite Christmas, but that post got me thinking about my most special Christmas, which was in 2006.

That fall was a busy time. My brother left on a mission trip; I was planning my wedding to my college sweetheart and filling out graduate school applications. Then, in a six-week period, my father died, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my brother became injured and had to return home.

Needless to say, I wasn’t really excited about the holiday. Christmas had been Dad’s favorite time of year and it just wasn’t going to be the same without him. Mom started chemo while I was taking finals. My brother was undergoing heavy physical therapy. We also had our good friends (a mom and her 5 kids) move in with us for the month of December while they were between houses. I just wasn’t in the mood to celebrate and I didn’t see how the holidays this year were going to be anything other than something to get through.

I wasn’t counting on Team Regina.

When Mom was diagnosed, some of her best friends at church created a website called Team Regina to coordinate any help that she might need during her treatment. During the holiday and after, this small group snowballed into something amazing. Pretty soon not only was our entire congregation involved, but most of our small town as well!

One woman helped us decorate for Christmas, since none of us were able to lift the heavy boxes from the basement up to the first floor. Another woman came in January to help put everything away. During Mom’s second chemo session, a lady from town came and decorated our living room pink and left us each a pink present. Other families brought meals, provided rides, knitted hats, and offered massages for Mom’s tired muscles. Someone did the “12 Days of Christmas” for us, leaving a little gift by the front door each day.

I’m sure I am forgetting other acts of kindness, but you get the idea. These families, some whom were dear friends and others whom we did not even really know, were angels on Earth. Never has the true Spirit of the season been so manifest to me and I hope God has blessed them all richly for their acts of pure charity and love.

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