Category Archives: Happenings

SuperFood Drive

Woman checking food labellingIn the next few weeks we will be surrounded by food drives. Although all of them are important, a non-profit organization called SuperFood Drive is changing the way we think of donating to the hungry.

To simultaneously combat the epidemics of hunger, malnutrition, obesity, and chronic disease, SuperFood Drive works with and supports food banks and food pantries around the world to transform them into healthy hunger relief organizations.

“Our goal is to fill all food banks and food pantries with nutrient dense foods so those in need get the food that is critical to living a healthy and active life,” says Ruthi Solari, founder and executive director of SuperFood Drive.

Over the years, many products have been donated to the one in six Americans struggling to keep food on the table. Unfortunately, filling empty stomachs with unhealthy, non-perishable food is not enough. Often it does not satiate the recipient’s hunger. Even if it does, it can lead to health problems down the road that will present yet another financial obstacle.  

bellaweb1SuperFoods are foods with the most nutrient-density per calorie. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and they are what we all should be filling our bodies with to get healthy. Some of us have the choice to purchase them for ourselves. For those that do not, it is important that they are given the same opportunity to be healthy as everyone else. By transforming every food drive into an opportunity to collect healthy, nourishing food for those in need, obesity and its related diseases will fall by the wayside in this highly susceptible population. SuperFoods have been proven to help prevent, and in some cases, reverse the well-known effects of aging, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers.

SuperFoods also has a program focused on educating the next generation called SuperKids for SuperFoods. It provides two options: a quick and fun educational engagement called SuperKids OlympiKs or, for a more in-depth approach, a six-week service-learning program that combines nutrition education with community service to engage youth, ages 11-18, as community leaders and food equity advocates. In addition, SuperFood Drive provides resources for the community on how to host their own SuperFood Drives.

To find out more about SuperFood Drive or to find out how to host your own SuperFood Drive please visit www.superfooddrive.org.

Reduce Tailgating Waste

tailgating

Tailgating at your favorite sports events is almost as big a draw as the game itself, with lots of food, lots of fun – and, unfortunately, lots of waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, large college stadiums can generate 100 tons of waste per game. But you can help reduce game day waste by taking a few simple steps, such as choosing the right packaging, recycling everything you can, and using tailgating essentials made with recycled plastics.

Here are some tips for minimizing waste at your next tailgate:

* Airtight: Choose airtight plastic packaging, such as zipper bags, factory-sealed pouches, cling wrap, and reusable storage containers to help keep food fresh and free of contaminants that could cause spoilage. This can help reduce the likelihood that food will need to be thrown out.

* Minimalist: Recent innovations are leading to new, minimalist packaging designs that help protect food with less material, helping reduce packaging waste. Look for thin, lightweight pouches and bags for game day foods, such as nuts, cheeses, and deli meats, just to name a few.

* Lightweight: Look for beverages sold in lightweight plastic bottles and containers – they’re shatter-resistant which contributes to safety, they typically use less material than alternatives (resulting in less packaging waste), and they’re accepted for recycling in most communities.

* Recycling: Place clearly labeled bags or bins at your tailgate to remind everyone to recycle used plastic packaging and other recyclables. More and more everyday plastic bottles and containers can be recycled in curbside programs, including beverage bottles, ketchup and mustard bottles, containers for sour cream and dip, deli containers, caps and lids, and more. Even plastic bags and wraps – grocery bags, zipper bags, bread and bun bags, wraps for cases of water and soft drinks – can be returned to participating grocery and retail stores for recycling. Check your community’s website or visit www.iwanttoberecycled.org or www.Earth911.com to find out how to recycle as much as possible in your community.

* Recycled: Finally, seek out products made with recycled plastics. Thanks to increased plastics recycling, it’s never been easier to find tailgating essentials made with recycled plastics, such as coolers, serving utensils, plates, cups and bowls.

Fighting Breast Cancer

Think of eight women you know and love. It shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with eight. Now, think of women who are simply friends and acquaintances. Women who may have families, children, and other people who love them. Did your list get longer? Ours did.

Here’s a sobering thought to accompany that list: about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Those who have regular exams will have a better chance of catching it early and beating it, but until a cure is found, we will continue to lose mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends to the disease.

By raising awareness and working towards a cure together, we can be apart in changing these sobering statistics. October is the month set aside for breast cancer awareness, but it is something we should be thinking about year round. Too many women (and men), of all ages, have lost their battle with breast cancer in our area and worldwide.

In their quest to help find a cure, the Blue Ridge affiliate of Susan G. Komen has raised more than 1.5 million dollars for local and national breast cancer programs and research.

Lisa-and-MJ1Their October ribbon report spotlight features Lisa and her dog, MJ. Lisa and MJ were both diagnosed with cancer in the late months of 2013. Lisa explains when she feels weak she just looks to MJ for motivation, “I have learned so much from MJ. Sometimes I think about my cancer and how I might die. Then, I watch MJ. She wakes up everyday happy. Having cancer does not depress her or ruin her days. So, my advice is to live everyday like MJ!”

Lisa is one of many people living with breast cancer, and every penny donated, every hour volunteered, every mile walked is one step closer to finding a cure. That means every person giving whatever they can is contributing to a day when Lisa does not have to think about her cancer and the chance that she could lose her fight. They are helping her work towards happiness and hope– and another day to wake up happy, like MJ.

If you or someone you love are facing a similar battle and have questions or concerns, you are encouraged to call 1877-GO-KOMEN, a free breast cancer hotline offering professional support. For those wishing to donate their time or money to finding a cure, please visit www.komen.org.

Written by Kristi Hall

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. An issue that impacts millions of people around the world, most domestic violence incidents are never reported. It’s time to change that.

The Aspire News App is a way for victims to speak out. The app is sponsored by the Robin McGraw Foundation and offers several features to help those dealing with domestic violence.

Aspire is a free application that disguises itself as a source for top news stories, sports and entertainment updates. By clicking on the ‘HELP’ feature, users can take advantage of the safety applications. The app is designed to appear like any other smart phone app, allowing it to be downloaded and used in secret.

One of the features of the app is a system where you are able to create pre-written text or voice messages to be sent to designated numbers (911 or other contacts in your phone). The app’s “go button” starts recording to capture the details of the domestic violence encounter, so you have proof of the attack.

aspireThe app is not designed to be a replacement for emergency services; you should always call 911 in situations where you feel like you may be at risk.

Aspire News app has had more than 127,000 downloads and has been recognized as one of the most beneficial apps in 2014 to fight the end to domestic violence.

You can download the app for free in the ITunes store and at www.whengeorgiasmiled.org

 

Written by Kristi Hall

Craftsmen’s Classic Art & Craft Festival

Looking for something to do this weekend? Check out this year’s Craftsmen’s Classic at the Berglund Center on October 10, 11, and 12!

MakingKScopeThis event features original designs and work from hundreds of talented artists and craftspeople from across America. See the creative process in action as many exhibitors demonstrate throughout the weekend. There is something for every style, taste and budget with items from the most traditional to the most contemporary.

Visit their website for more information or call 336-282-5550.

Those That Mourn Must Not Give Up

As we remember and celebrate the life and accomplishments of Robin Williams, it is important to take a few things away from his tragic death.

Suicide. Depression. When did these words become so taboo that those being crushed under the weight of such thoughts felt forced to deny them? To be so ashamed of their illness that they could not reach out for help?

In reality, those who ignore their cries or expect them to “be strong” are the ones who should be ashamed for creating a culture where it is expected of everyone to wear their socially accepted mask in public and face their demons alone—behind closed doors.

We must re-examine our expectations of everyone we interact with on a daily basis. Do you want to make a difference in this world? Stop judging people based on their appearance, sexual preferences, past addictions and life circumstances. Stop making them feel weak when they ask for help.

Sit down and LISTEN to them. Sometimes, all someone needs is for another human being to see their struggle without sitting in judgment.

A lot of celebrities and news outlets are expressing that they are “heartbroken” in the wake of this announcement. Although they have every right to feel this emotion, we must remember that Mr. Williams, and the millions of people suffering from depression around the world, are often so well acquainted with that feeling that it does not even shock them anymore. In fact, it lives behind every smile, every laugh and every mask they wear.

If you take anything away from the death of Robin Williams, perhaps it should be that we are all facing struggles—even those who appear to have everything. Remember that we are all human, and sometimes we all need a helping hand. Be a friend.

Finally, if you are battling depression, the most courageous thing you can do is tell someone. There is nothing shameful about reaching out for help. If you are uncomfortable speaking with someone you know, I encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Fall Bike Ride for a Great Cause

Virginia Tech is hosting a Veterans@VT Combat Cancer Bike Ride on October 12! The ride is fun activity for families and friends to participate in together as an effort to get outside and enjoy some beautiful fall weather.

In addition, proceeds from registration and donations will benefit the Blue Ridge affiliate of Susan G. Komen and student veterans at Virginia Tech.

Unlike most rides where riders choose one of several distances, this height-of-foliage season ride will feature a 20 mile loop that individuals or teams are invited to ride as many times as they like. This allows the ride to cater to all ability levels and ages, and makes it a fantastic family activity.

The ride will begin at 8am, rain or shine, and will remain open until 4pm. There will be bike shows, food stands, and a live band at the finish for your entertainment. So grab a bike and a friend and head to the Veterans@VT Combat Cancer Bike Ride on October 12 at Floyd Eco Village in Floyd, VA!

Register for the ride now at www.veteranscombatcancer.org. Registration is only $45, and it includes a long sleeve technical tee and a ticket for the chance to win some great prizes (including a bike)! You can also like them on Facebook by following this link.

 

Written by Eleanor Haeg.

Your Time Could Change a Life

wings6Gleaning for the World is announcing their new women’s program, WINGS. Around the world, women are forced out of their schools, jobs and society because of their monthly cycle. Annually, these women lose months of education and income because they do not have access to feminine hygiene products. It is devastating and abandons so many to violence, exploitation and prostitution.

These desperate women resort to any means available for help. They walk to landfills to get newspapers, dirty rags, corn cobs and even bark. In places where taboos are the worst, some women are forced to sit on dirt mounds or above holes for hours at a time.

This new program is an incredible solution. These kits provide all the supplies women need for their monthly cycle and can last for up to three years. That is an extra nine months of education, income and freedom. What’s more, it helps improve their self-esteem and empowers them to reclaim their future. No longer do they have to hide each month or dig through garbage to find makeshift supplies.

“I have been to some of these communities and met these women,” says WINGS program spokeswoman, Danielle Sarchet. “I have seen the happiness on their faces when they realize what they have, and it moves me to know that the volunteer efforts of women in Virginia will change these women’s lives.”

These kits are assembled by volunteers in Central and Southwest Virginia. Due to the donation of supplies and volunteers, they are produced at far below retail price. Fifteen dollars will produce and ship one kit to a woman in the developing world.

If you would like to volunteer to produce these kits (in part or in whole), contact Danielle Sarchet, WINGS and GFTW Volunteer Coordinator, at Danielle@gftw.org or call (434) 993-3600. For more information on what you can do to help, visit gftw.org/wings.