It’s been a rough year. We can all agree on that. And yet, the amazing work of those serving vital causes continues. Even in the toughest times, great people at great organizations always step up to lend a hand to those in need.
So, we felt it was as important as ever to take this Thanksgiving to give a huge shout out to some of our favorite causes, which we’ve had the pleasure of spending time with or supporting in 2020. It certainly wasn’t as easy for us to get out there in person this year, but our team members tried to find small ways to support causes they love, like the following:
“Blessing Bags” for the Homeless
Early in the year, our KC office took part in making “Blessing Bags,” a grassroots concept devised a number of years ago as a way to help the homeless get the essential items they need. The best part is, anyone can do it! It just involves gathering basic supplies and toiletries that most of us take for granted, and combining them into resealable plastic bags that can be given out directly. Some great items to include are: hand warmers, a first aid kit, gloves, socks, a hat, hand wipes/sanitizer, toiletries like toothbrushes/paste and shampoo/bodywash, and packaged foods like trail mix and beef sticks. It’s also helpful to include a list of homeless shelters and organizations in the area (and any applicable information).
So, our team ordered all the supplies, set them all up at a conference-room table, and ultimately filled around 40 bags! Each member then took around three bags to offer to any person they came across who was in need.
Give Essential pairs donors with essential workers in need due to COVID-19. The workers fill out a form stating what they do, what they need, and how they’ve struggled as a result of the pandemic; donors then put together a care package and ship it directly to the worker they were paired with. Items include things like masks, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene/care products, female hygiene products, kids activities, and grocery/gas station gift cards.
LI matched its employees’ donations, and Give Essential paired us with eight essential workers from all over the country – two worked in healthcare, two at a superstore, one in construction, one in pharmacy tech, an ICU nurse, and a third-party company who worked with social workers. Some were students whose hours had been cut due to COVID; others were parents trying to support their home-confined kids while also working overtime (or having their hours cut in half).
Our team broke out into groups of four and gave each group two workers to shop for. Using video chat while we shopped online, we could all feel like we were shopping together!
After The Harvest / St. Isidore’s Garden
In May, Amy volunteered with After The Harvest. It’s an organization the LI team has previously volunteered with, and Amy enjoyed it so much she went again for her birthday! Along with her two girls, she helped set up tomato cages and plant tomatoes at St. Isidore’s Garden.
“After the Harvest rescues nutritious fruits and vegetables from going to waste and donates them to agencies that serve hungry people, primarily in Greater Kansas City. Our volunteers glean after the harvest, picking what’s left in farmers’ fields and picking up already harvested leftover produce.”
“St. Isidore’s Garden was established in 2011 on Missouri River bottom land owned by St. Gabriel Archangel parishioners Norman and Edith Van Booven, as a project for the parish Youth Group to help feed the hungry in Kansas City. Since then, it has grown into a partnership with After The Harvest.”
Innocence Project / Know Your Rights Camp
In June, Nick helped put on a “Be The Change” fundraiser benefiting the Innocence Project and the Know Your Rights Camp. It took place the week after Juneteenth and was motivated by the recent policing/racial-equality movements. In total, it raised over $3,000 to split between the two organizations. Volunteers served meals to-go to people who donated money to these causes.
“The Innocence Project‘s mission is to free the staggering number of innocent people who remain incarcerated, and to bring reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.”
Know Your Rights Camp’s mission is “to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.”
USLAW Women’s Connection / METAvivor / Girl Up
In July, Merrie Jo participated (and came in 12th overall with miles walked) in a month-long charity walk event, which raised over $8,000 for METAvivor and Girl Up!
“During the month of July, A Celebration of the USLAW NETWORK Women’s Connection participants laced up their sneakers in support of METAvivor and Girl Up through a Celebration Charity Miles initiative that promoted health and wellness. METAvivor relies on donations to fund the research that may one day save the lives of those living with metastatic breast cancer. Girl Up is a gender equality initiative of the United Nations Foundation and helps girls access their inner power to advance the skills, rights, and opportunities of girls everywhere.”
Unleashed Pet Rescue & Adoption
Jennifer B. and her husband volunteer with Unleashed Pet Rescue & Adoption year-round as foster parents! In 2020, they fostered 33 puppies/dogs, which includes giving them a safe home to land after being rescued from either overcrowded shelters or abandoned/abusive situations. They work with the shelter to ensure the dogs are vaccinated and spayed/neutered before finding a loving, permanent home. (This year, they also ended up adopting two of their fosters, growing the family to four dogs and one cat – all adopted from shelters.)
Here are just a few of the adorable dogs they fostered in 2020:
“Unleashed Pet Rescue is a licensed, non-profit animal shelter founded in 2011 that works to save the lives of homeless pets and strives to improve the image of bully breeds in society. We work daily with local high kill shelters throughout the area to pull “unwanted” pets to safety. We work to find homes for pets of all ages, health, temperaments, and history. Each adoptable pet is given the opportunity to thrive. […] When a pet comes into our care, we know that they will be shown love and attention while they wait for their forever family.”
River Hill High School
While Christina normally spends a day each year in a Baltimore Public School talking about jury service and the importance of serving to ensure a diverse and representative jury, it wasn’t possible this year. Instead, she agreed to serve as an advisor/mentor for a graduating high-school student in Clarksville, MD, who was working on a year-long independent research project and corresponding Senior Paper. The student’s final paper was entitled, “A Partially Impartial System: Implicit Bias & Effects in the Courtroom and on Juror Decisions” (and it’s great!).
An additional special mention to the following organizations, to which LI or its team members were blessed to be able to provide supplies or contributions:
1kforKC “was created to support families in Kansas City who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing relief by giving selected families up to $1K per month to help with housing expenses.”
Big Shifts Foundation “is dedicated to making generational lifestyle changes by providing young people (5-30 years old) with safe places and resources to enable their whole health” – including physi-cal and mental well-being.
Project 1020 “provides shelter, support and compassion to all homeless adults while helping them utilize community resources to achieve their goals.”
No Kid Hungry “helps to end childhood hunger and gives kids healthy food they need to thrive.”
Melissa’s Second Chances “is a 501(c)3 non-profit animal rescue in Shawnee, KS. [They] find homes and safe refuge for animals in need of a second chance to be a beloved family pet.”
National Federation of the Blind “coordinate[s] many programs, services, and resources to defend the rights of blind Americans, provide information and support to blind children and adults, and build a community that creates a future full of opportunities.”
At the least, we hope that this tragic pandemic can serve as a reminder of how we can come together – even if not physically – to support each other and appreciate the tireless work of organizations like these. If you’re interested in learning how giving back can be a win-win for your team, please check out our related blog!
We at Litigation Insights wish you a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.