Hope for the Hungry + Giveaway

I remember reading an article in a local newspaper roughly four years ago about the rising homeless population in my county … for youth. At that time, when someone mentioned the “homeless”, I had a stereotype in my mind, and it certainly wasn’t sixteen to twenty-one year olds. Back then, the number of homeless youth was estimated at 500 in our county alone. Now I’ve read estimates that put the homeless youth population at around 700!

Reading that article, and then finding several more news stories all talking about the same problem, is what birthed the idea for my new release, Hungry for Home.

And thankfully, that news also prompted others to take action as a group of local citizens banded together to figure out what could be done to serve the youth. The idea for Hope 4 Youth was conceived in November of 2012, and by March 2013, the doors were opened!

Right now Hope 4 Youth serves as a place where homeless teens can drop in to get a hot meal, a warm shower, a place to play, learn, and just be a kid. The facilities also have a food pantry and clothes closet and they provide for all the basic everyday needs most of us take for granted.

They currently don’t have overnight shelter, but that’s in the works. In the meantime, the organization provides resources for the youth to help find shelter, including a host family network that takes in the youth. Otherwise the youth end up on the streets, couch hopping, sleeping in cars, tents, parks, abandoned buildings, sheds, anywhere they can get out of the elements. And you can imagine how severe those elements are in Minnesota during the winter.

Hope 4 Youth has many areas where people can get involved, including meal serving. It’s truly an opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Matthew 25:35


One small way I hope to raise awareness about the homeless youth problem is with Austin Lang’s story in Hungry for Home. You have an opportunity to win an autographed copy of this novel by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.

Hungry for HomeHere’s the back cover blurb for Hungry for Home, now available at Amazon | B&N:

Hungry for HomeAfter a troubling encounter with a pregnant teen, Sheila Peterson-Brooks hurries from the crisis pregnancy center into the frigid Minnesota winter where she is mugged and left for dead. After a frantic search, Richard, her husband, finds her, and the police quickly nab the mugger …

A hungry, homeless teen.
The brother of the pregnant girl Sheila had just counseled.

The girl pleads for her brother, and Sheila and Richard choose not to press charges. Instead, they open their home to the boy, a move that could cost them their possessions, and their hearts.

And, in the process, teach them the true meaning of home.

The contest runs from Sept. 14 to 12:00 am on September 26. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, answering the question:

“What charity (or charities) are close to your heart?”

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Homegrown Charity

There are many worthwhile charities in this world and anymore giving is only a click away. To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or help the needy all we need do is Google a favorite charity and most have a button to send money. I don’t blame charities for making it as easy and painless as possible.

But I have always felt that to really give you should be invested, and not just monetarily. Although there is nothing wrong with just sending money to a cause you feel strongly about, I have never felt the same as when I am involved from beginning to end. So one of the things my family does is grow extra in our garden and give our excess to others.

Dawn’s garden

Our local food pantry recently began accepting produce from farmers around the area to share with those in our community who are in need. The first time I brought vegetables to be dispersed, I was stopped and thanked by someone who was not physically able to grow a garden anymore. This woman had tears in her eyes as she recounted her childhood spent on a farm helping her parents to grow a large garden that they used to can and freeze produce for the whole year.  Her parents were both gone and it had been years since she’d had a fresh picked zucchini.

Who knew a zucchini would be that important to someone? I had tears in my own eyes as I drove away, glad for the opportunity to serve.

Don’t forget we are having a give away of our very own Brenda Bryant Anderson’s Hungry for Home, officially releasing TODAY!!!! Whoo-Hoo!

Here’s a little about Hungry for Home:

After a troubling encounter with a pregnant teen, Sheila Peterson-Brooks hurries from the crisis pregnancy center into the frigid Minnesota winter where she is mugged and left for dead. After a frantic search, Richard, her husband, finds her, and the police quickly nab the mugger …

A hungry, homeless teen.
The brother of the pregnant girl Sheila had just counseled.

The girl pleads for her brother, and Sheila and Richard choose not to press charges. Instead, they open their home to the boy, a move that could cost them their possessions, and their hearts.

And, in the process, teach them the true meaning of home.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Different Kind of Charity+Giveaway

Since we’re talking charities this go-round, I tried to come up with an organization to write about. There are so many good ones, and we all have our favorites. But instead of writing about who I’d give my money to, I’m going to talk about a form of charity many of us have trouble with (at least I do)–accepting charity ourselves.

Have you ever had a time when a friend offered to help with a task and you said something like “No thanks, I’ve got it?” Or maybe a stranger offered to help load something heavy into your car and you assured them you could take care of it yourself. I know I have. Though I’m thankful for the offers of help, I don’t want to bother anyone with something I can do myself—even if it takes me three times as long.

I’ve also been on the opposite end of the spectrum and had my offers of help rejected. Though I’m in no way offended, I will admit that I feel a bit of joy when someone does accept my offer, because you know, I don’t usually offer to help unless I really want to and I like that feeling of appreciation, even if it is for just a minute.

I’m sure the people offering to help me feel the same way. Maybe I should learn to show a little more humility and let that person, friend or stranger, experience their two seconds of joy by helping me.

Phillippians 2:3 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

The way I see it is the best charities work both ways.

~~~
Don’t forget about our giveaway of Brenda S. Anderson’s newest book, Hungry for Home, available now for preorder and everywhere September 22!

Hungry for Home

Hungry for Home front cover (373 x 600)Here’s the back cover blurb for Hungry for Home:

After a troubling encounter with a pregnant teen, Sheila Peterson-Brooks hurries from the crisis pregnancy center into the frigid Minnesota winter where she is mugged and left for dead. After a frantic search, Richard, her husband, finds her, and the police quickly nab the mugger …

A hungry, homeless teen.
The brother of the pregnant girl Sheila had just counseled.

The girl pleads for her brother, and Sheila and Richard choose not to press charges. Instead, they open their home to the boy, a move that could cost them their possessions, and their hearts.

And, in the process, teach them the true meaning of home.

The contest runs from Sept. 14 to midnight on Sept. 26. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, answering the question, “What charity (or charities) are close to your heart?”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christian Charity + Giveaway

I work in a downtown area, and a coworker and I like to take walks in the middle of the afternoon when the weather is nice. It’s nice to take in the fresh air while stretching our legs and soaking in some vitamin D.

However, like most metropolises, Omaha has its fair share of homeless people, and a lot of them frequent the downtown area. It’s not uncommon for my friend and I to be approached by a person asking for money, change, anything we can spare. We usually just say sorry and keep walking. Sometimes we even cross to the other side of the street if we see someone out asking for money.

I often feel a niggling squirm of guilt, but then I make the usual excuse to myself to justify my behavior: I don’t have any cash (which is often true), I’m a vulnerable female in her 30s, the person might just take any money I give them and blow it on booze or drugs, the person might try to mug me while I’m getting out money, etc.

Now, I’m not saying these aren’t all legitimate scenarios. But as I thought about what charity I should write about, I began thinking of plain, simple Christian charity. Despite our fears or prejudices, Christ calls us to help the poor and the needy.

I was once downtown with my dad when a man in dirty, tattered clothes approached us. He asked us if we could spare a dollar so he would have enough money to buy a bus ticket at the terminal a few blocks away. I immediately averted my eyes and gave the man a mumbled sorry, and began walking away. But then my dad did something that I won’t forget.

He stopped, looked the man in the face, and told him he could give him ten dollars, but in order to get the money, he had to allow my dad to pray with him. The man was a little taken aback but agreed. As I watched, my dad took the man’s hands, asked him his name, and prayed that God would bless this stranger and give him a safe journey on his travels. He then gave the man the ten dollars.

Good Samaritan I asked my dad about it later, and he said he tries to keep a ten dollar bill, or a few bucks in his wallet for just this kind of thing. He said he won’t just give the money away, but he asks to pray for the person he’s giving it to. Some people have said no, but more often than not, they say yes.

It brings tears to my eyes to know I am so selfish and scared that I more often than not refuse to help someone out. I’m just like the “righteous” people in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, those who passed the poor beaten and robbed man by, only to be cared for by the last person he expected, a Samaritan. How can I be a living example of Christ’s love for others when I can’t even do that for one of God’s children?

That’s the kind of charity I want to be living, and in fact, need to be living.

~~~

Don’t forget about our giveaway of Brenda S. Anderson’s newest book, Hungry for Home, available now for preorder and everywhere September 22!

HappyBook Birthday!

 

The contest runs from Sept. 14 to midnight on Sept. 26. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, answering the question, “What charity (or charities) are close to your heart?”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All in the Family

There are so many worthwhile giving and volunteering opportunities, it’s difficult narrowing them down. Do I talk about New Life Family Services, an organization that helps women and men through every aspect of an unplanned pregnancy? Or what about The Literacy Site, a site where you simply click the Click Here to Give button, and you’re automatically donating money for books? Oh, and I can’t forget Go Red for Women, an organization that raises awareness about heart disease in women (the number one killer among women! February 1 is National Wear Red Day).

But, I digress.

Perhaps the most rewarding volunteering I do is with the family. One activity we participate in every year is Operation Christmas Child, an organization that collects shoe boxes that individuals, families, and others fill with gifts for needy children. Our family organizes this event in our church by advertising it, giving out empty shoe boxes, and collecting and delivering the full boxes to an area collection site.

Click <here>  to watch a brief video showing one of our church techies having a little bit of fun with the empty shoe boxes.

Whether your family simply fills a shoe box or works in an OCC distribution center, it’s a great way to show your children how blessed we really are, and how important it is to give back.

One fun and easy way for the entire family to give back is by donating time to area food packing organizations such as Feed My Starving Children or Kids Against Hunger. You get to pack nutritious meals to send to the poor in your area and around the world. The packing events are always a lot of fun and go by too fast. It would be a great way to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or other significant events, or even just because. Both organizations are looking for donations and volunteers. (For those of you in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area, I need to put in a plug for the Omaha Kids Against Hunger run by my very good friends Kelly Jo and Nick Yaksich.)

Another organization our family supports together is Soldiers’ Angels. It’s a nonprofit that provides aid, support, and comfort to those serving in the armed forces. Through Soldiers’ Angels, we adopted a soldier several years ago who, at the time, was stationed in Iraq. All that was required of us was to write him a letter once a week, then send one to two care packages per month. They ask for a six-month commitment with no promise of returned letters.

We were greatly blessed by our soldier who loved corresponding with the kids and answering their myriad of questions. He’d send pictures and coins and other gifts. He even sent me a draft of a YA story he’s written.  He became like a big brother to our kids. It’s been wonderfully rewarding for our entire family.

As I’m writing this post, the Soldiers’ Angels website shows that 185 heroes are waiting to be adopted. I’m challenging our readers to click on the banner below and adopt a soldier. All that’s required of you is a few minutes a week spent writing a letter and then mailing a care package once or twice a month. Let’s leave no hero behind.

The Gift of Time

Christmas is a time of giving. It’s easy to remember to give to the less fortunate when we see Salvation Army bell ringers at every store, church outreach missions soliciting donations, community service projects in action, and other worthwhile charities requesting our contributions.

Though charities depend on the generosity of people in order to collect dollars for their individual causes, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we took things a bit further.

The definition of charity according to the Random House Dictionary is “generosity towards the poor.” I believe this goes beyond monetary gifts.

I’ll admit that there have been times in my life when I have felt uncomfortable when I’m “out of my league” in social situations. I would bet that the poor often feel the same way. As I thought about this, I came up with a few ideas that would force me to give a little of myself to someone less fortunate, as well as material gifts to my favorite charities. Here are a few ideas I came up with:

  • When possible I should offer my assistance to someone in need, such as  babysitting occasionally or driving someone to the doctor.

 

  • When I can afford it, I should consider hiring someone looking for work to do odd jobs for me, such as cleaning or yard work. Not only would it help them financially, it would help me keep my own life in perspective as I get to know them.

 

  • The elderly are often on fixed incomes. Gifts of a warm meal and a visit to their homes could make someone’s day. Many elderly persons live alone and find it hard to cook for one. I can think of several older friends, many who are still active, but would enjoy a home-cooked meal delivered to their door.

 

  • Many senior citizens don’t have the means to get out much. The next time I take a drive to my old stomping grounds I should ask one of my older friends who lived in the same area to ride along and reminisce.

 

  • Most importantly, as a Christian I should give the underprivileged the gift of friendship, just as I would want to be treated if the situation were reversed. A simple “hi” or an invitation to my house could mean the world to someone down on their luck.

Now comes the hard part—actually living out my own suggestions. Here’s where I need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to give me that nudge to remind me to treat others like Christ treats us. Especially the poor and down-trodden.

Charity–Love Put into Action

I Corinthians, 13: 4, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind;” KJV

Charity is love in action. Love in action is kind. To me, being kind in marriage is to think of the other person’s feelings. When I’m tired, stressed, or have a headache, it’s easy to take my discomfort or displeasure out on my husband. I mean, he’s not going anywhere. Even more reason to be kind. God gave me someone who sticks with me through thick and thin. He deserves my kindness.

If my husband is having a bad day or a problem at work, I try to support him, think of his feelings, and help get him through it. Now that he’s a full time pastor, at least he has fewer irritants. We have so much more together time and family time. A blessing, but it’s even easier to take our frustrations out on each other since we spend more time together.

Kindness is a good rule for life in general. Maybe the lady behind you at the grocery store with ten items in her cart scowled at you. You figure because your cart is loaded down and it takes too long for the cashier to ring up your items, even though your cart was half unloaded before the scowling lady got behind you. But consider what her life might be like. Maybe she has three kids at home and only enough money to pay for the ten items in her cart.

I learned this lesson of putting myself in other’s shoes a few years ago. I traveled with several people to a convention. One lady bragged about everything she and her children had done for the entire hour and a half long drive. After we dropped her off on the way home, I commented, “Is it just me or did she invent everything and if she didn’t, her kids did?”

A kinder lady than I, replied, “Maybe she has low self esteem, so she tries to build herself up in other’s eyes.”

Knocked me off my high horse. I felt about an inch tall. But I learned my lesson.

My son consistently complains about a kid in his life. The child experienced a life altering incident several years ago. When my son complains, I remind him what the other child has been through and ask him how he’d feel if that happened to him. Yes the child probably needs a spanking and nobody does it. Instead, they coddle because of what happened, but my son can still be kind.

So the next time, your spouse comes home railing about his or her day, the guy behind you lays down on his horn because you didn’t put the pedal to the metal as soon as the light changed, or the bank puts your deposit in the wrong account, try putting yourself in the other person’s place. Aren’t you glad you don’t have your spouse’s job? Maybe the guy behind you is taking his wife to the hospital because she’s in labor. Maybe the bank clerk is distracted because her sick child is with the babysitter instead of Mommy. Or maybe they’re just grumpy. Even so, love in action is kindness.