First we made sleeping mats for Haiti in 2010.
Then some of the mats stayed in OK and were donated to the Volunteers of America’s “Project Warmth” in Tulsa in March of 2011. We were interviewed by Channel 6 when we made the donation to Project Warmth. Here is a link to that story:
Next, in May 2011 we started working to help children who had lived through natural disasters–at this time tornadoes.
We began by helping a couple of families in Chickasha, OK who lost their homes when the wedge tornado hit on 5.25.11. Skye has 3 other children (including Caleb who she was pregnant with at the time) with toys, clothes and gift cards.
We made another trip to take more stuff for Caleb and met Skye’s Mom & brother, Dusty half-way in Stroud OK.
Then we learned about the tornadoes that devastated Alabama on April 27, 2011 and began planning a trip to Tuscaloosa, AL. We reached out on Facebook and our website–heart4childrenministries.org and received donations on our PayPal from as far away as California and received a box of donations from Columbus, OH. Then we held a benefit garage sale and raised funds from not only the sale of items but from donations. We also received funds through our PayPal , checks and cash donations with which we were able to buy packages of underwear, socks and flip flips for each of the 125 care packages we made. The boys got a comb in their box, the girls a brush and either nail polish or body spray with the Bath and Body gift cards that were donated.
With the donation of a $50 Dollar Tree gift card, we were able to get all of the brushes, some of the combs and nail polish as well as inexpensive things such as kites, glider airplanes, checkers, crayons and coloring books to give out as well. The coloring books and crayons were added to the 50 books and coloring books that were donated along with a donated case of sidewalk chalk.
We loaded up the donations into a U-Haul and left Bartlesville, OK for Tuscaloosa, AL on July 27, 2011.We were thankful that some of the cost of the U-Haul as well as gas for the truck was donated and we were blessed that God helped us raise $1000 in donations plus gift cards to fill 125 care packages for the kids!
We arrived in Tuscaloosa on July 29th and were blessed to have a place to stay for the 29th and 30th. We left for Snow Hinton Park about 9 am on the 30th as we were to start giving out the goodies at 10 am. Being able to help 125 children was wonderful and to see the looks on the children’s faces after they waited in line in 90 + degrees was priceless.
Since we already had a U-Haul and Toys 4 Alabama was closing their storage unit they offered us the opportunity to take whatever we wanted back with us so we loaded up the U-Haul.
In August 2011 we headed to Joplin, MO to take 25 children who had lost everything in the May 22, 2011 tornado shopping at the Joplin Walmart. We were able to get those 25 children adopted by a volunteer and each one got a new pair of shoes, a package of socks, a package of underwear and an outfit. It was such a blessing to meet their parents and then take the children shopping. Here is a link to the post of that story and a video of the shopping trip.
This little girl went shopping with us earlier in the day and was one of the 3 children adopted by 3 Nails Disaster Volunteers (28 children in all were adopted and went shopping that day!)
Totes and boxes of toys for the children to choose from
September 16, 2011 we partnered with Kathy’s Cowboy Angels in Joplin for a giveaway–clothes and other needed items–for the tornado survivors only. We brought coats and other items leftover from the benefit garage sale we had for Tuscaloosa. It was a joy to watch the parents look through the baby and children’s clothes that we brought.
We stayed in Joplin at one of the churches that was housing volunteers as we had plans for Sept 17th and 18th. On September 17th we went shopping for one family that was not able to go shopping with us last month as the children were sick. We ended up going shopping at the Joplin Walmart without the family again as their mom had to work but we had fun shopping with Annie Dill (with the group Help Us Help Joplin: Familes Helping Families) someone we met for the first time that day and together we got clothes and shoes for the kiddos. Since the mom was working, we got the sizes from her and sent pictures of items that we picked out to see if she thought they would like them. Once we picked out and paid for the stuff for her kids then we delivered them to her where she worked. On the 18th we sponsored a birthday party at the Joplin McDonalds for a little girl who was turning four that we had also taken shopping in August (pic below). Donations for her birthday presents came as far away as Alabama.
October 3rd through the 10th in 2011 we went back to Alabama for the second time to kick off the Alabama Book Drive a drive that will continue until the libraries that were destroyed by the tornadoes re-open. All pickup locations were notified that the books would be picked up no later than 10.7.11 in time for them to be delivered to University Place Elementary and Alberta Elementary (both in Tuscaloosa) and Hackleburg K-12 in Hackleburg, AL. Once the books were all collected there were sorted in Katrina Brannon’s kitchen and that is when Katrina was asked if she would like to become part of H4CM since there was so much recovery still to be done in Alabama. She said yes.
- The van packed to go to the K-12 School library in Hackleburg! (See pic below) We believe there were approximately 27 boxes and guesstimate about 3,000-5,000 books. Most of the books were donated to North Alabama Disaster Relief Ardmore by folks who live in Ardmore, TN.
On October 29, 2011 we again teamed up with Kathy’s Cowboy Angels this time for Paint The Town Orange and Black a Trunk or Treat for the children who had survived the tornado in May. We took candy as did many others and we had had a small balloon machine donated and we were able to use it and made lots of balloons to hand out to the kids. We also purchased paint for Face Painting and were happy that Tasha Duncan and Brittnie Merritt agreed to paint some faces.
Mikaela made another trip back to Alabama on April 25, 2012. She and Katrina were able to deliver 24 pairs of shoes to University Place Elementary School in Tuscaloosa on May 2nd to the children who had lived through the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. They also had some brand new books that had been donated and took them as well for the ongoing Alabama Book Drive.
On May 8th after helping Katrina sort through some things in the warehouse, she headed north to Hackleburg, AL where she handed out 31 pairs of shoes in the K-12 Hackleburg cafeteria.
Shortly after Mikaela left Alabama, Katrina delivered 57 pairs of shoes to Alberta Elementary School in Tuscaloosa, another school devastated by the tornadoes. Later she took 40 more pairs of shoes to University Place Elementary School for their clothes closet.
On the anniversary of the Joplin tornado, May 22, 2012, Mikaela made another trip to Joplin to take a family of 8 shopping at the Walmart there. Not all of the kiddos could come so their siblings helped their mom pick out the shoes.
June 2, 2012 Mikaela along with another Heart 4 Children Ministries, Inc volunteer, Linn Kane, and a member of the Blackwell Community Church, Tracey Clark, headed to Woodward, OK with toys for 41 children who had lost theirs in the April 15, 2012 tornado there. We worked with the Blackwell Community Church as they had raised money for Woodward as well. They purchased some of the toys and we purchased some of them and also had some donated.
After we gave out the toys at Living Word Fellowship Church in Woodward, we then headed to Mazzio’s Pizza in Woodward to meet Ty Cooley. Ty was severely injured in the tornado and lost his dad and two sisters. We were sponsoring a birthday party for him at Mazzio’s. We had a wonderful time with his family, Linn and Tracey. Below is a pic of him playing with one of his gifts. We were able to get him toys (mostly Lightning McQueen), a shirt, a pair of shorts and Lightning McQueen tennis shoes.
At this time we realized that we needed to add someone to the H4CM team to cover the central and western part of OK while Mikaela covered the northern sections. We asked JJ Francais (who had already agreed to be our Director of Fundraising) if he would be willing to add more responsibility and be our Central & Western OK Coordinator. He said yes!
In July Deborah McDonald, our Kids Assessment Manager for Jefferson, Walker and Winston Counties took shoes and clothes to a family of four children who were in desperate need of them in Jasper, AL.
In August 2012 we saw the need to help children who had lost everything in the OK Wildfires. We were so glad that we had JJ on our team as he took the helm for the needs and donations for the children who needed our help. We were able to help 13 children with toys, shoes and clothes as well as sponsor a birthday party for one of these children, Wy (see pic below). Everything for the party was donated by generous people like you. Of the 1742 items that were donated not all were given out, but we let those giving know that if they were not given to the children who survived the fires we would set them aside for any future children’s needs.
September 8, 2012 JJ and his wife Robin traveled to Woodward to give out shoes and clothes that were donated for them.
In October Katrina learned of a need for a family of four in Tuscaloosa, AL and between the three H4CM storage areas we were able to help the children with clothes and shoes.
In Oklahoma in October JJ, his wife Robin and Mikaela went to Mannford, OK to meet with a couple of the families that had lost everything in the OK wildfires. One of the families is still living in an RV at Keystone Lake with their two children. The other family (see pics below) moved out of the RV that they were living in at the lake and now live in a mobile home which they say is temporary. The day we brought the clothes, toys and books that were given to us for the kiddos they had just gotten their hot water turned on. The Barbie doll is the little girl’s favorite and the complete series of Percy Jackson novels was the young man’s favorite.
Currently there are drives going on in all the H4CM locations.
In Tuscaloosa, AL Katrina has a toy drive going on that she is partnering with Real Hope on and a collection drive for kids who survived Super Storm Sandy (see pic) that she received coasts, scarves, umbrellas, baby girl clothes, baby blankets, heavy blankets, toothbrushes, toothpaste (a bag of each), baby wipes and checks that total $125 in donations for just this week. She is still collecting diapers, baby food, baby wipes, nonperishable food such as granola bars, coats, gloves,hats and snow boots sizes.
In Jasper, AL our Kids Assessment Manager for Jefferson, Walker and Winston Counties, Deborah McDonald, has a Game Drive/Coat Drive in process. Her girls are helping with the game drive and several games have been donated. At this time I am not sure how many coats have been donated.
In Chickasha, OK our Central & Western OK Coordinator, JJ Francais has a drive going for the children who survived Super Storm Sandy. He is collecting baby items as they are in desperate need in NYC. Items such as diapers, baby wipes, baby food, formula and other baby items are in very short supply. Today he shipped out 600 diapers that are headed to Long Island New York to the Lighthouse Mission (see our story on the Lighthouse Mission).
JJ is also working with Mikaela on a Winter Preparedness Drive. The long range forecast for parts of OK is calling for ice storms and we want to be prepared to be able to help. Below is a pic of why we are preparing! He is also working with Mikaela on a Winter Preparedness Drive. The long range forecast for parts of OK is calling for ice storms and we want to be prepared to be able to help. What we are collecting for that:
- Heavy winter coats sizes infant to adult large (not all of the children we help wear children’s sizes)
- Winter clothes sizes infant to adult large
- Baby blankets
- Twin and full blankets
- Winter boots–snow boots and insulated hiking boots
- Non perishable foods such as Spaghettios, soup and granola bars
- Coloring Books
- Board games and card games
- Flashlights and batteries so the kids can see to color or play games in the dark
- Hot hands and Hot feet
In Bartlesville, OK Mikaela, President and Executive Director, has a drive going for children and infants that have survived Sandy and taking items for children up to age 18. She is collecting coats (newborn to adult large), hats, gloves, scarves, snow boots (size 10 toddler to adult large), nonperishable food such as Spaghettio’s and other lunch foods that can be eaten cold as well as foods like granola bars, graham crackers. She is also collecting the above items in the Bartlesville area for the Winter Preparedness Drive.
Next week JJ & Mikaela will be active in Olive, OK on a toy drive for children who lost everything in the recent wildfires.
We sure keep busy here at Heart 4 Children Ministries! We will do our best to keep you updated on what we are doing if you would like to work with us by volunteering or giving. Who knows maybe one of you will be coming along on our next adventure! ~Head Banana