Brian And Mary Lohse, Iowa lottery winners, to bring much-needed grocery store to their hometown
Some lottery winners like to live large, but Brian and Mary Lohse aren’t ordinary lottery winners. Instead, they just want to make sure local residents have a grocery store.
In September, the Bondurant, Iowa, couple won $202 million in the Powerball lottery. A chunk of that, $3.5 million, will go toward the town’s first grocery store.
“Since I have been elected mayor, one of the things people have been asking for is having a grocery store put in,” Bondurant Mayor Keith Ryan says in the AOL video above.
Currently, residents must visit one of the town’s two gas stations to buy required items, according to KCCI. Alan Perry, who lives near Bondurant, has to travel outside the town to purchase food.
“It’ll just be a little mom-and-pop type shop that will focus on some unique things,” Lohse said of the store, which is expected to open in late April on Brick Street.
The Lohses made news in December when it was announced that they’d given $3 million to their son’s high school for a new football stadium. They requested that the stadium visitor’s locker room be painted pink.
Another lottery-winning couple from Missouri has also used their winnings to help their community. Mark and Cindy Hill gave their town more than $50,000 to buy land for a new sewage treatment plant and to build a firehouse.
A sweet piece about a girl who started an organization that goes into hospitals to do kids’ nails.
A 12-year-old Dayton native was featured on The Ellen Show today as the volunteer organization she founded continues to grow.
Alanna Wall, founder of “Polished Girlz,” said she started the organization to help ladies in hospitals feel more “polished” by painting their fingernails.
The nail sessions, which include a friendly visit and hand washing education at area hospitals, can range from plain painted nails to fancy designs.
“We usually just choose children’s hospitals or the Ronald McDonald house or any special needs group that we can polish at,” Alanna told News Center 7.
Alanna said she began “Polished Girlz” at 10 years old to lift the spirits of sick girls, and the nonprofit organization has since grown to have chapters in Illinois, California, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C.
“I want to be worldwide. I want to be everywhere,” Alanna said. “We’ve already gotten emails from places as far away as the Netherlands and Columbia; so that’s super cool.”
Alanna and her organization have been named United Way Volunteers of the Month receiving a proclamation from the mayor of the city of Dayton for the work they do.
Ellen teamed up with CoverGirl to give Alanna an entire line of nail polish and a $10,000 check to help her grow the nonprofit.
“I enjoy what I am doing because I get to make girls smile and feel special,” Alanna, who attends Richard Allen Elementary School in Dayton, told the Dayton Daily News in 2011. “I also love that I get to teach them about how important hand washing is and that it can keep them from being sick as often.”
Water for water: Tapping bottled water sales for Third World
Most people get into business to make money. Not Guy Futi (above, left.) Well, at least not with any intention of enriching himself.
Mr. Futi is the affable Gabon-born, Montreal-based founder of Maji Water Inc. The company sells bottled H2O to retailers and uses a dedicated portion of the gross profits to provide water for people in the developing world. It’s a deceptively simple business idea: You buy the blue-labelled water here. Maji’s staff and its hired hands build the wells there.
Growing a social enterprise, however, has been anything but easy for the 29-year-old former bank employee. Mr. Futi is still trying to navigate the contradictions.
For Maji, bottled water is a means to an end. But the fact it sells the product means it has to play in what is a hyper-competitive industry, trying to carve out space in shopping carts against beverage heavyweights such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
It also happens to be a for-profit company that’s main purpose is charitable work. But it rejects the traditional markers by which charities are measured. “People always want to know the numbers. ‘Are you giving away a lot or are you not giving away anything?’ ” Mr. Futi explained recently over coffee with his business partner Christian Eid, 27.
“That thought process is antiquated. It’s not about how much money is being thrown around. It’s about the impact of the mission [overseas] and how many people’s lives have been changed for the better. The barometer for Maji is not in dollars but in lives improved.”
There are, however, some basic business realities that make Mr. Futi and Maji much more interesting interview subjects now than three years ago when they first drew media attention.
For one, the company has locked in a deal with New York City-based airport food and beverage operator OTG Management to supply Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, as well as eight U.S. airfields. It will also supply Loblaw Cos. Ltd. stores in Quebec on a trial basis starting in June.
For another, Mr. Futi has brought in Mr. Eid, a sales specialist he met while studying at Concorda University. Together they’ve revamped the revenue model completely — dropping their previous focus on smaller retailers such as Montreal grocer Supermarché PA in favour of big chains that can deliver big volume. Their hope is to sign on one major customer in each retail specialty, from drug stores to hotels.
“As much as we don’t want to admit it, water is sometimes treated like a commodity,” Mr. Futi said. “You need to push a lot” to make a return on your time and investment.
For one tractor-trailer load of water, Mr. Futi estimates Maji would have had to sign up 80 mom-and-pop stores to make it worth it. Chasing those small volumes, and educating customers about their business each time they won a new client, became problematic.
So they switched their energies to larger opportunities, offering major retailers a unique proposition: Carry our water and we’ll commit to doing a specific well-building mission together in a specific country. So Maji builds the well project in the name of the customer.
“It got the retailers really hooked on the concept,” Mr. Eid said, adding that Maji has become a kind of extension of their customers’ corporate social responsibility departments. “They make the same amount of money as any other brand they carry for water. But at the end of the day, it gives them the recognition that they’re doing something good.”
Maji will earn $1-million in top-line revenue by the end of summer 2013, Mr. Eid estimates. And if new opportunities materialize, the tally will be four or five times that.
The company currently has three employees, including Messrs. Futi and Eid. There’s no head office and no money for things like plane travel. When the two men meet with prospective customers, they drive.
A recent trip saw them travel from Montreal to Toronto, then New York City and back home in 24 hours, a distance that would have most North Americans pitstop for pillow-rest at the nearest motel. They didn’t want to spend the money.
“We’ve always managed to make ends meet and that’s how we’ve had success this year,” Mr. Eid said. “Finally we found a recipe that works for everybody. For us, for the mission, for the cause and for the retailers.”
That recipe breaks down as follows: Maji sources its water from a natural spring in the Laurentian Mountains tapped by Naya Waters. Each 500ml bottle costs Maji about 17¢ to source and bring to market. The company sells the bottle to retailers for between 40¢ and 50¢. The retailer then marks it up, to a sale price anywhere between 79¢ and $3.50.
From that gross profit, Maji earmarks 15% for its foundation, which does the well-building missions. It uses the rest to pay salaries, marketing, retail displays and other expenses.
Working on a gross profit basis ensures money goes to wells before the partners pay themselves, Mr. Futi said. Each well can cost between $5,000 and $12,000 to build.
Unlike other organizations, which give away the money they raise to front-line field workers, Maji does the front-line work itself. Mr. Futi picks the places to go, gathers intelligence on who to hire to help him locally, and gets his hands dirty with hard labour.
He’s done missions to Nicaragua and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Preliminary plans are underway for well work in Uganda and Haiti. In all, the objective is to do four missions a year in the next four years.
In completing those two missions before his company was on consistent financial footing, Mr. Futi shunned the traditional profit-before-societal-giveback approach. He says his commitment built credibility for Maji it would have otherwise lacked.
“The [bottled water] market is brutally competitive,” said Robert Carter, executive director of foodservice at market research firm NPD Group. And it’s become even more so in recent years as giants such as Coca-Cola plow more resources into juices and waters amid a shift away from soft drinks.
Still, Maji may have a natural niche, he said. So-called millennial consumers, people roughly aged 18 to 34, are the largest consumers of bottled water in the country by demographic, according to NPD research. They also happen to be highly sensitive to social causes.
The test will come soon in North American store and shop aisles. Maji is being positioned between the cheapest water and the high-end product. Meanwhile, the needs for fresh water in the Third World continue to grow.
“We want consumers to understand that to support a cause, you don’t have to go out of pocket,” Mr. Eid said. “It just has to be a conscious decision.”
Waste crops put to good use
A new volunteer network has been set up to distribute free food to those in need, from unsellable farm crops that would otherwise go to waste
Up to half of the world’s food production is going to waste, according to a report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineering published earlier this month. However, the new network is hoping to help combat this in the UK with the help of volunteer gleaners.
The Gleaning Network, set up by anti food waste group Feeding the 5000, aims to save some of the thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables that are wasted on UK farms every year. It will then pass the food on to charities that help the 5.8 million people in the UK who, according to Feeding the 5000, cannot afford an adequate diet.
Farmers are often forced to leave crops unharvested and ploughed back into the soil if produce fails to meet retailers’ cosmetic standards or if excess is produced.
Several tonnes of British produce – enough for thousands of meals – has already been saved by Gleaning groups in Kent, Sussex and Lincolnshire. New groups are currently being formed in Manchester and Bristol.
[photo source: www.gleantexas.org]
L.A. Lawyer Loans House (Rent Free) To Homeless Family For 1 Year
Tony Tolbert, 51, will move in with his mother while the new family takes the year to get back on their feet. Tony told CBS News that his giving spirit comes from his dad who always opened the family home to those who needed a place to stay. In fact, Tony says he could not remember a time there wasn’t someone extra living with the family.Now, Tony is taking the step to carry on his father’s spirit of generosity in a major way. He reached out to the Alexandra House, a homeless shelter for women and their children. There he found Felicia Dukes, the woman to home he offered to loan his home. “They had a young man that wanted to donate their house to you for a year,” Dukes recounted. “And I’m looking at her, like, what? Like — Are you serious?”Dukes was sharing a single occupancy room at the shelter with three of her children, but it was for kids only. Another problem was that her older son could not join them, so Dukes was truly in a bind before taking Tony’s offer. “My heart just fills up and stuff, um….I’m just really happy,” Dukes said tearfully.
Tony also gets emotion when talking about how generous his father was and how important he feels it is to carry on his legacy.
“Kindness creates kindness. Generosity creates generosity. Love creates love,” he said. “And I think if we can share some of that and have more stories about people doing nice things for other people, and fewer stories about people doing horrible things to other people, that’s a better world.”
Muslims and Catholics team up for Holiday food drive in Ontario
It was a first for both the church and the mosque. And it worked out beautifully.
In a partnership built on the true spirit of giving, members of the London Muslim Mosque have helped a Roman Catholic church drive gather enough food to help nourish more than 100 families this season.
“I feel extremely pleased and grateful, looking around this room,” Moe Lacerte said as he surveyed the donations that had been brought in to St. John the Divine Catholic Church.
“We’ve never had so much to give. We will have extra; we’ll be able to replenish our food bank here.”
Larcerte, the volunteer president of the St. Vincent de Paul conference at the church, said he reached out to the mosque for the first time this year when asking for donations.
“We all want the same things: peace and respect, and I see this as a beginning of working together.”
Mosque members welcomed the request with joy, said Ali D. Chahbar, who helped organize the drive with Zeba Hashmi, head of the outreach committee.
“To us, the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of brotherly love, and why wouldn’t we want to be a part of it?”
Chahbar said he noticed the spirit this week as he left a shop with items for his daughter to make a gingerbread house.
“It is so nice. People are really different. They are nicer and you notice it,” he said. “I wanted to get a megaphone and shout ‘Can we keep this going all year, people?’.
“We are not Christians and don’t celebrate Christmas but we are engulfed by the spirit and . . . any time there’s a jubilant harmonious feeling, whatever creed it is under, we thrive on it,” he said.
Chahbar said most of the 30 boxes of food donated by the mosque were collected by children at the Islamic School.
“It was fantastic, amazing,” he said. “Within the blink of an eye, they had boxes and boxes.”
Lacerte had a similar reaction to the food collected by members of Western University’s Muslim Student Association.
“We filled a pickup truck, and my van is filled to the gunnels,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”
Daniel Wilson’s family didn’t have enough money for a high-tech prosthesis, so two engineering students found an ingenious way to create one for less.
Arizona woodworking club gears up for season of charity
The Sunshine Club at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center will begin its charity woodworking projects for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children this October.
Seeking scrap wood and tool donations, the woodworking group makes toys and other keepsakes for children at hospitals, schools, and churches among several other organizations.
The woodworking club started in 1979 at the recreation center and moved to its current site, a building tucked just behind the main center, in 1987.
Nearly 100 members strong, the club has worked on projects as small as toy cars to as big as a 20-foot-long, 8-foot-tall cage for a condor at Liberty Wildlife in Scottsdale.
But for each project going to a good cause, the members are happy to help.
“It’s amazing, and everyone has their own niche,” said Theresa Goldstein, a Child Life Program assistant at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
On a regular Thursday morning, a few of the woodworking members trickle in to begin work on their projects. Everything from table saws to small tools can be found in the shop that holds several heavy-duty machines and two workrooms.
Sawdust covers the floor, and most of the members.
“I enjoy the camaraderie,” said Roman Ertelt, who has been volunteering at the club for more than 10 years.
For the kids at the hospitals receiving the trinkets and toys, the result is usually comforting.
The Child Life Program helps patients and their families with learning how to cope with fears and anxieties of leaving home or school.
“(The woodworkings) are keepsakes because they are so substantial,” said Goldstein. “When we bring a wood piece into the kids’ rooms, rather than a piece of paper or paint, it’s a big difference.”
For the Child Life Program, the woodworking club members make the toys or keepsakes ranging from star-shaped jewelry holders, prayer boxes, Mancala game sets, cars, and birdhouses and sends them with an unfinished surface.
The kids then can decorate the toys how they want, provided with paint, glue, glitter and other things.
“It’s more personal,” said Sandi Hutson, wife of the El Zaribah Shriner’s president, J. “Hut” Hutson.
The Shriners hospitals, which have treated about 1 million children throughout 22 states, have received donated woodworkings from the club for two years.
“Not only are (the kids) getting treatment, but they get something special to take home with them,” Sandi added.
On the local scale, the same effort is constantly in demand.
“This will always be needed,” Goldstein said.
A homeless 13-year-old Filipino last week won a very prestigious award for his commitment to improving the lives of fellow street kids.
Business News Online reports that Cris “Kesz” Valdez, who lived off a trash dump and slept in an open tomb for the majority of his childhood, was awarded this year’s International Children’s Peace Prize in The Hague on September 19, receiving $130,000 in prize money.
“You are wonderful,” Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, who awarded this year’s prize, told the resilient teen.
Valdez survived by scavenging off a dumpsite since the age of two; he was viciously abused and was forced to seek help after he was badly injured, according to Global Post.
However, he had a remarkable idea to help other homeless children.
At the age of seven, Valdez founded “Championing Community Children,” a charity that raises funds to hand out necessities to street kids in Cavite City.
GMA reported that Championing Community Children has handed out more than5,000 gifts, including sandals, clothes, candy and toys, to poor children living in the slums around Manila.
To date, Valdez has been able to help more than 10,000 at-risk children, reports GMA News.
According to Business World Online,246,000 Filipino street children are subject to abuse, violence and child labor every day.
Valdez’s message to children around the world: “Our health is our wealth! Being healthy will enable you to play, to think clearly, to get up and go to school and love the people around you in so many ways.”
Most of the prize money will go directly into the charity. But Valdez hopes to someday realize his dreams of getting an education and becoming a doctor.
Man buys new laptop for teen found using his stolen computer
When Boston graphic designer Fran Harrington had his third computer stolen from his apartment, he didn’t get even. Instead, he bought the teen found using it a new computer.
In an interview with CBS News affilate WBZ-TV, Harrington explained that he caught the teen using security software that allowed him to track activity on the Macbook Pro.
“I watched for about four days,” he said, explaining that he found the computer being used at the home of a family in the South End’s Cathedral Public Housing Complex. “I was giving information to police, and the whole time he didn’t know this was going on at all, that I could see what he was doing,” Harrington added.
It turns out that the teen also didn’t know that the computer he was using was stolen.
“I found out it was bought by a family that had no idea they were buying a stolen computer,” Harrington told the news channel. The family had purchased the computer for their son who was heading off to college.
Instead of pursuing legal action against the teen, Harrington took to fundraising site Indiegogo to help raise money to purchase the family a new computer. As of Thursday he had surpassed his $900 fundraising goal.
Howard Cooper, retiring Ann Arbor car dealer, gives employees $1,000 for every year they worked for him
Back in April, when Howard Cooper of Ann Arbor, Mich., announced he’d be selling the car dealership he’d owned for 47 years, employees were no doubt relieved to learn that the deal stipulated all 89 of them would keep their jobs. Little did they know that Cooper had a whole lot more in mind.
This week, Cooper, 83, handed out checks to each of his employees amounting to $1,000 for each year they’ve worked at his dealership, Howard Cooper Import Center, AnnArbor.com reports. Some of the gifts will be substantial; Mechanic Bob Jenkins has worked there for 26 years, bookkeeper Sandy Reagan for 46.
“I wanted to thank my employees and that was a way I could do it,” Cooper told AnnArbor.com. “I hope it makes a difference in their lives like they have made in mine.”
In some cases, the checks represent more money than employees have ever had in their bank accounts, according to AnnArbor.com.
(click-through for full story)
Awesome Celebrity of the Day: Christian Bale’s Summer of Being Awesome continues with a heartwarming story out of Ohio. Four-year-old Jayden Barber, who has terminal bone cancer, received a superhero welcome August 23rd in his hometown of Boardman Township, complete with a Bat Signal, Bat Mobile — in the form of a $200,000 Maserati — and an appearance by the caped crusader himself.
In even more awesome news, Jayden’s cancer has since been declared to be in remission, which allowed the big screen Batman to fly him out to Disneyland — a trip which included lunch at the exclusive Club 33.
Two Salem ‘superheroes’ help the homeless
A couple times a month, Jeff Bronson and Steve Naylor dress up in costume and walk around the parks and streets of Salem, Ore. armed with clothing and food.
From the WALB news article, Naylor, with his black cape and white collar goes by “The Rev.”
Bronson’s favorite color, green, shows up in a face mask and matching armor and completes his persona, “Hazmat.”
These two don’t want to find crime; they just want to help out less fortunate people in their hometown. On Monday evening, the duo carried duffel bags filled with toothbrushes and bottles of water to give out.
They ran into a familiar face, a woman named Paula. She needs to eat five times a day because of her diabetes, so the ‘superheroes’ made sure she received a sandwich and something no one gives the homeless: social interaction.
Naylor, who used to be homeless, knows exactly how it feels for someone to come up to him and give him some time. He stated in the article, “I make eye contact and shake people’s hands because when I was homeless, people wouldn’t talk to me or look at me for days at a time.”
When the two aren’t dressed in superhero clothing, they work regular jobs. Naylor works in construction and Bronson has a security job.
Even though they get the odd donation, most of the supplies they hand out are from things they purchase with their own money.
San Fran’s Project Feed: Providing the homeless with PB&J sandwiches and hope
On multiple occasions President Obama has promised that American Muslims would be able to give their Zakat, a religious obligation to give to those in need. This in reference to numerous Islamic charities that have been shut down, their assets frozen indefinitely without due process. Since 9/11 Muslims have faced scrutiny from law enforcement, and even prosecution, for their charitable giving, leaving many afraid to donate. Estimates suggest that Muslim Americans still give over $10 billion a year in charitable donations, but a group of San Francisco activists has proven that direct action is another viable option.
On Sunday August 7th Project FEED observed its three year anniversary, and to celebrate they served over 2,000 brown bag lunches on the streets of the Tenderloin, known for its squalor and homelessness.
When Project FEED began three years ago a small group of dedicated students met in a small apartment making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Today it has outgrown its original space and several dozen volunteers from around the Bay Area make sandwiches in an assembly line at the The Islamic Society of San Francisco (ISSF), commonly known as The Jones Street Mosque. Now the group organizes primarily on their Facebook Page.
They begin at Costco, where a balance is struck between nutrition and cost. Fresh fruit comes from Cali Fresh Produce in Oakland, owned by Ibrahim Aeli, who offers them a discount to support the effort. A typically lunch contains a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a drink, and some kind of snack. Costing between $.75 and $1.00 per lunch, the entire project is funded by donations from the surrounding community.
The group makes an average of 750 lunches in a typical month, but during the lunar month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the daylight hours, there is a spike in both donations and volunteers allowing them to more than double their effort. At the mosque teams of volunteers make sandwiches, fill bags and load vehicles. Then they split up, carrying bags, boxes and even pushing dolly carts distributing the lunches around the Tenderloin.
Event organizer Fizaa Ahmed said, “the idea of Project FEED is far from novel. Our goal is consistency.” She added, “We hope to establish more of a connection with the people.”
I had a long chat with a homeless man who appreciated the meal, and he told me, “You can’t go hungry in San Francisco.” I asked him why and he said, “Because everyday there’s a Church, or a Mosque, or some nonprofit organization giving out food.” He started listing off names, locations and times of about a dozen.
So I asked him, “if enough food is available, what do people need?” He said, blankets, socks, hats, gloves and mental health assistance.