Ahhh, the Good Stuff. Each week I try to bring you the stories that made me laugh, smile, think, or maintain hope for the human spirit and our ability to help one another in our times of need. Every day we are bombarded with stories of doom and gloom. I don’t know about you, but I need a good story on a regular basis to combat the deluge of despair that dominates the national media. So, sit back and enjoy this week’s compilation of the Good Stuff….
First of all, I want to remind you of the local group of high school students who are organizing a chili cook-off to raise awareness and funds that will benefit brain cancer research. If you missed this post, please take a minute and read about how three Joplin teenagers are working to make their friend’s grand vision a reality.
Did you know that every day 19,000 children under the age of five die from preventable causes? Countless others will be abused, neglected, denied an education, forced into labor and/or prostitution, and excluded or ignored due to discrimination or poverty. Take a stand for children and help make the world a better, safer place for them by taking the UNICEF pledge. Visit their website to learn more about the efforts UNICEF is sponsoring to help children throughout the world realize their fullest potential without fear of harm.
Back in the 1970’s, when I was in middle school, I remember reading stories about people who lived in cardboard boxes outside of Mexico City. The images of families living in such squalor, without access to clean water or adequate shelter, still haunt me today. Even though my family never lived in a large mansion or even a two-story home, I felt guilty that I lived in a building with fresh water and indoor plumbing while others struggled to find a water source not tainted with feces or other trash. And, truthfully, most other U.S. families were at least as fortunate as I. This is why I am always shocked when I read about the plight of the homeless in our country today. Homelessness is an issue that pretty much every city must contend with, even Joplin. While it is difficult to determine the exact number of people who are homeless (for obvious reasons), estimates range from 1.3 million to around 3 million. In 2012 the U.S. Department of Education, based on reports from public schools across the nation, determined that there were over 1 million homeless students enrolled in schools. I don’t know about you, but I find these figures staggering, which is why I am thankful whenever I read about organizations that are successfully helping families and individuals find affordable, permanent housing. Recently TOMS shoes entered into the fight to end homelessness in the United States. The shoe company known for its “one for one” initiative – for every pair of shoes purchased it provides a pair of shoes for a child in need - teamed up with Shabby Chic to create a new line of shoes for the spring. Proceeds from this new line will benefit Shabby Chic’s partner, Upward Bound House. Upward Bound House is an organization that provides temporary housing and assistance to homeless families with children and very low-income seniors in the Los Angeles area. Check out the cute spring styles that TOMS has created for this very worthwhile cause. Not only will you help continue the successful efforts of Upward Bound House, but you will also provide a much needed pair of shoes for a child in need.
Finally, I want to leave you this week with a little something to chuckle about. One of the bestselling books this past year – for reasons still unfathomable to me – is Fifty Shades of Grey. Not surprisingly, many literary parodies of this poorly written (albeit highly erotic, so I’m told) series have emerged in response to the trilogy’s popularity. One of these books, Fifty Shades of Bacon, available on Amazon, claims to be a ‘tongue-in-cheek delivery of some great bacon recipes.” If your diet calls for more chicken than pork, check out Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook. Or, if tea is your thing, pick up your copy of Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: a Parody. I’m willing to bet that any of these publications will prove more entertaining and worthwhile than the original!
Now it’s your turn. What Good Stuff did you find this past week? Do you have any stories you’d like to share? Tell the truth: did you read Fifty Shades of Grey? How did you like it? Don’t leave without telling me your thoughts in the comments section below!