Week 49: Toys for Tots Box!

Project: Toys for Tots Box

Time Taken: 20 minutes

So this week wasn’t really an hour of work at all, but to be fair, we only have been in town since Wednesday. We had to drive from Milwaukee to San Antonio this week, so they gave us an extra day to get here. (Usually we have to be here on Tuesday morning, but for this 1,900 mile/20 hour drive, they gave us until Wednesday.) So I’ve had a couple fewer days to get my act together for my hour this week.

I did managed, however, to get a Toys for Tots box set up in my theater. I made some cute flyers and put them up, and then wrapped an empty box like I’ve seen them done at the drop off locations, and set it out by our call board where we sign in.

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I had originally wanted us to do an Angel Tree and get specific gifts for specific kids in need, but I couldn’t find one in the area. I actually have a feeling I’m going to be turning the toys from our cast in a few days late (I won’t be able to drop them off until the 23rd of December!) but maybe they can get them to a few families this year, or keep them until next year?

I feel good that I got this going for us this week though. I put the flyers out on a Sunday, which is our last day before our day off when, I’m assuming, a lot of us will be Christmas shopping. Hopefully my cast and crew will throw an extra new toy in their basket this year for our Toys for Tots drive!

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Week 48: Signing for a cure

Project: Broadway Cares Poster Signing 

Actual Time Taken: 1 hour

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Twice a year, Equity theater casts around the country band together to collect money for an awesome cause, Broadway Cares: Actors Equity Fights Aids.

Since 1988, this amazing charity has raised over $250 million for not only AIDS research and charities, but for women’s health, dancers charities, HIV/AIDS education, and so many more. My cast helps out the cause by going out in to the audience after shows with buckets to collect money, as well as a few items for sale, such as beaded animals from South Africa, swatches of costume fabric, and autographed show posters.

But to get these posters to the public to raise money, they first have to be signed…. by everyone.

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A typical poster signing party between shows. 

And there’s TONS of them. We usually sign over 1,000 per season. Talk about hand cramps!

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Posters a go-go!

So this week, I plopped myself down with a sharpie and a stack of blank posters to sign and sign and sign for charity. Granted, we get slightly compensated in that the charity buys us lunch so we don’t have to go out between shows to eat (PF Changs, yum!) but I also make sure to go out and collect, smile, and try to get as many pennies, dollars, and checks for the cause as I can.

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Kendra (Left) and I in our Lioness costumes (My favorite)

I love going out to collect after shows. We usually don’t have much contact with the audience unless they are waiting for us outside the stage door, so when we have a chance to get out there after a show (and in costume no less) it’s always a treat. They are always so nice, telling me how much they enjoyed the show, or how pretty my costume is, or how great it is that we are collecting- all things we don’t get to hear when we are shlepping home after a show out of the back alley stage door.

We are about half way through our Broadway Cares ‘season,’ so I’ll be putting in a few more (undocumented, here) hours for the cause… but I’m trying not to repeat too many charities for my One Hour a Week goal… so silently I will sign (and collect) on for the next few weeks!

Week 46 & 47: An Invisible Horse and some Visible kids

Project: Horse Farm St. Jude card recycling (Week 46)

and speaking at a high school (Week 47)

Actual Time Taken: 1.75 hours

Week 46

Our first week here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I had every intention of getting up at 8:00 am to help clean stables at a horseback riding therapy charity. But life had other plans for me.

I woke up to a cold, snowy morning and a flat, flat tire. Whomp whomp.

So I had to cancel with these very nice horsey-type people. All I managed to get done for that week of volunteering was recycling all of my various plastic gift cards and forgotten hotel keys, and recycling card covers for St. Jude’s Hospital.

These two projects are super easy, and since the holidays are coming up where you’ll most likely get lots of both holiday cards and gift cards, here’s where to send them when you’re ready.

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Gift cards, hotel keys, keychain cards, oh my!

Why recycle those little plastic cards, you ask? Well, according to Earth911.com, these plastic cards are made up of PVC material, and the website states that 75 million pounds of PVC material enter the waste stream every year! While this material is infinitely recyclable, not many public recycling plants take them, so here’s what you can do!

When the gift cards are spent, wrap them up in an envelope and send them to :

Earthworks c/o Halprin Ind.
25840 Miles Rd.
Bedford, Oh 44146
As for all of those holiday cards, they are remade into new cards by the kids in the St. Jude’s hospitals and sold to “support our programs and services for abused, neglected and homeless children, young adults and families.” You don’t have to limit the kinds of cards you send to just holiday cards either- they take cards for all occasions and currently they specifically need birthday and thank you cards.
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I managed to get a few birthday covers in there too!
So rip off the fronts of all those cards you were just going to throw away after the holidays and send just the pretty front covers to:
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

 

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 The end result

I did all of this in under 15 minutes, so I didn’t quite make my hour goal this week… but there’s still a few weeks left in this year to hit that mark!
Week 47
This week we got to speak at a performing arts high school here in Milwaukee. The kids were all super stoked to ask us all sorts of questions, as most were seniors about to go off to various arts schools. Most already knew they wanted to have a career in the arts, and at the end one guy came up to us and shook all of our hands saying “I’ll be seeing you in two years.” with all the confidence in the world.
I love it. And I don’t doubt it.
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As professional as we always are…
~ ~ ~
Thanks to Earth911.com for the info on recycling gift cards!
Thanks to St Jude’s for the info on the card recycling!

Week 45: Kids and Kitties for one last week in Columbus

Project: Elementary School and Colony Cats

Actual Time Taken: 3 hours

It was our last week here in Columbus, and our last week is always a bit hectic. Between packing, finding a new place to live in the next city, and cramming all the things you meant to do before you left a city, I didn’t have enough time to hit all three places I’ve been volunteering here in Columbus. But the two I did get to were so much fun, and I’m so thankful that they were able to have me again!

I went back to visit my friend who teaches a class of autistic children at an elementary school in a Columbus suburb one last time. Her kids actually remembered me, which I didn’t expect, and one child said “Oh, the Lion King agaaaain?” when I walked in. I thought it was hilarious, replying that it was nice to see him too.

I didn’t have any coloring pages to bring, so I helped them with their afternoon activities on the iPad, played a few board games, made fun sand castles with some weird kinetic sand, and helped them with counting on the computer. I was so happy to see their completed Lion King gallery of watercolor works of art from the coloring pages I had brought them the last week. We had a great time, with one of them asking if I could “Come back in two days?” I replied that I so wish I could, and believe me, if I lived here, I would be in that class room every week. Those kids seriously stole my heart.

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Their Lion King watercolor art gallery

On the way out I got to pop into the teachers bathroom and was amused by the sensation that was clearly left over from my own elementary school years- I wasn’t supposed to be in there- only teachers are allowed in the teachers lounge! Oooooo, I’m gonna tell!!! (Some things never change, huh?) Hanging on the wall in the stalls were adorable white boards for the teachers to ‘talk’ to each other, which I found hilarious.

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Official teacher-bathroom ‘grafiti’

I also got to make one last trip to the Colony Cats, and I found that as I was cleaning, I kept looking out for that tiny little black kitten who was so in love with me last week.

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A fully occupied cat-tree-apartment

I made my way though the various rooms in the colony, cleaning as I subtly searched for Mario. I felt like a girl at a school dance, hoping that the boy I had a crush on was there, but not being overt in my search for him.

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No sign of Mario here in the nap room… (Who am I kidding- they’re all the ‘nap’ rooms)

As I went along I found evidence of the same shenanigans that my cat gets into at my house, including his fascination with rolls of paper, be it of the toilet or of the towel variety.

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<– Paper towel and toilet paper rolls

just aren’t safe here… —>

I still couldn’t find my little friend, so I went next door to where they keep the ill cats in quarantine, for their own healing and to mitigate their contagion from spreading though out the population. Each cage had a tag attached to it explaining the cat’s ailment or background and some of them were absolutely heart breaking. Some were ‘surrenders,’ from owners who no longer wanted the cat, and some had serious illnesses, such as one kitten who was battling cerebal palsy.

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  <— The quarantined kitties and their life stories —>

This side of the Colony was hard to see, but it was also really great to see what great care these cats are getting, even if they are being rescued while battling some kind of illness.

I looked high and low in both rooms of the Colony and couldn’t find the affectionate black kitten from last week. Finally, I asked one of the volunteers about his fate, and she cheerfully reported that he had been adopted out.

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Mario is at some loving home somewhere in Columbus now. What a lucky family to have such a love bug!

Part of me was terribly disappointed- I had already decided that if he was still at the Colony I would take him home. But another part of me was relieved. We really don’t have room in our lives for another pet right now, and I was so happy to hear that he had found a forever home with a  loving family. I mean, who could blame them- he was the cutest, most affectionate cat I had ever seen! Of course he was adopted. So I heaved a heavy sigh, perked up at the thought of him having a good home, and finished up cleaning the Colony one last time.

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Another super sweet kitty who needs a home!

I had such a great time volunteering at all the places I got to in Columbus- from petting bunnies to scooping litter to hanging out with some very special kids, Columbus was surprisingly fun for me, and I will definitely miss these very special non-profits when I leave at the end of the week!

All pictures by me!