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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: giving, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 24 of 24
1. You're B.A.C.K. (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness)

by Sally Matheny

Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindess
     Kindness breaks through barriers. One act of kindness can turn a person's day around. Just one thoughtful deed has the potential to open up a whole, new life for someone.  

     This week I'm reposting an article I wrote about this time last year. It prompted an overflowing of two-way blessings. I thought it would be beneficial to post it again.  

     There are many stories about random acts of kindness. One account is of a family waiting until their neighbors went to work. Then, they secretly placed a festive welcome mat at their front door. The children especially liked giving in secret; much like that St. Nicholas fellow did long ago.     

     Not expecting anything in return, not even recognition, keeps the giver humble, and focused on the giving.

    Kind deeds are a great way to help us concentrate on other people rather than ourselves. Children, who are constantly adding to their wish lists, are prime candidates for this type of family project.

     You can find free downloads of cards and tags on the internet to print and leave for the recipients of your random acts of kindness.  
     However, for my family's secret giving, I wanted to create a different kind of tag. I desired to add a twist of faith—something that told about the ultimate act of kindness—that of Jesus Christ. The result is a card that begins: “You’re B.A.C.K.! (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness). The card ends by sharing about God's greatest act of kindness and how it isn't random at all, but intentional.

Read more »

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2. What’s in Your Attic? What the Items You Save Say About You

by Sally Matheny

Attic Stairwell by Van Gogh, courtesy of wikimedia
I’m thankful for many things, however, I have too many things.
Are you a collector?  I’ve reduced my collections. My Santa figurines are long gone, and my angel assembly has reduced to three or four—if you include the one that sits on top of the Christmas tree. Although I’ve held onto my collection of teacups, I no longer scour second-hand shops for another lovely addition. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized these things take up too much room and too much time dusting. So, I stopped collecting these things. Sounds liberating, doesn’t it? It sounds like it. Yet, I still cringe when I look in my attic. I’d die if you saw my attic right now. Even though, I stopped collecting items years ago, I still have too much stuff. I’m not a hoarder, but maybe I’m holding onto some things which I need to let go. This week I went to the attic and considered long and hard why I’ve saved the items I have.  Perhaps what I am learning will help you determine what the items you’re saving say about you.
Read more »

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3. Giving…. NIV God’s Word

Matthew 6:3-4
3.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4.so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

1 John 3: 17-18
17.If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18.Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Hebrews 13:16
16.And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Philippians 4:19
19.And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
6.Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7.Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Romans 12:13
13.Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Acts 20:35
35.In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “

Luke 6:38
38.Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Proverbs 22:9 9.A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.


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4. Where Autumn Never Comes

On Saturday, a box arrived at my door, and I remembered that an old friend from back home in Indiana had recently asked me for my address. The package was fairly large and I pondered perfunctorily what could be inside; the box felt as light as air in my hands.

Curiously, I tore off the tape and peered inside. On top of a pile of various and vibrant shades of autumn leaves rested a note that read:


I read a post of yours about missing the fall leaves of the Midwest & I thought I could help with that! I hope these bring a smile to your face and you’ll enjoy them for a little while!

Love & Miss Ya!


One lone tear rolled down my cheek. I was surprised by how overcome I was with raw emotion. The gift was more thoughtful and meaningful than anything ever given me by a friend. It was a gift so powerful that it left me forever touched, because it was so simple. Regina knew I was a bit homesick for the Midwest and sent me a piece of HOME – vivid, reminiscent hues from my youth – all packaged up nicely and left waiting for me on my doorstep by the mailman on an average, sunny day in California.
Where Autumn never comes.

Regina’s gift is a reminder that giving isn’t about spending or going through the motions; giving is about getting personal and evoking feeling from the recipient as a result of the kindness of the gesture. If the gift is heartfelt, it will surely be richly treasured, in a way much like I felt about my wonderful, crisp pile of leaves.

As for me and my colorful treasures, I will discover fun ways to use them this fall. And, when autumn first turns to winter, I will seal them back up in Regina’s box and use them again for another reason in a different Autumn season.



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5. A Twist of Faith on Random Acts of Kindness

by Sally Matheny
A Twist of Faith on Random Acts of Kindness
      Kindness. Its’ one thing universally understood. One act of kindness can turn someone’s day around. Sometimes, just one thoughtful deed has the potential to open up a whole, new life for someone.  

     There are many articles about random acts of kindness. Cute tags are available on-line to attach to surprise treats. One recent variation of the tag states: “You’ve been RACK’d.” It means someone received a Random Act of Christmas Kindness.

     One family recently waited until a neighbor went to work. Then they secretly placed a festive welcome mat at her front door. The children especially liked giving in secret; much like that St. Nicholas fellow did long ago. Not expecting anything in return, not even recognition, keeps the giver humble and focused on the giving.

    Doing kind deeds for others is a great idea to help us focus less on ourselves. Children, who are constantly adding to their wish lists this time of year, are prime candidates for this type of family project.

     Inspired, my family decided to do some secret giving. However, I wanted to create a different kind of tag to leave behind. I desired a twist of faith—something that told about the ultimate act of kindness—that of Jesus Christ. The result is a card that begins: “You’re B.A.C.K.! (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness). The card ends by sharing about God's greatest act of kindness and how it isn't random at all, but intentional.

      Perhaps your family would like to bless someone secretly this time of year. I’m providing a free download of the “Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness” cards. The selection of wording allows year-round use of the card, not just for Christmas.

     I purchased an inexpensive, bulk pack of foam angels. After printing out the card, I trimmed it to fit, and glued it on the angel. You may want to leave yours as it is and print it on card stock or decorative copy paper. Children can add drawings or stickers.

     Decide who will receive the blessings. How will your family bless them? Some ideas work better with people you know well. While other suggestions work well for use with strangers.

     What will your blessing be? If you know the person, consider things they need or enjoy.

     Is it a new mom? Consider leaving a bag of paper products for fast and easy cleanup.
     Is it a single parent? Perhaps baked Christmas cookies and the ingredients for homemade icing would be fun for the parent to do with the kids later.
     The college kid? Surprise them with a small, artificial tree with ornaments sitting outside their dorm room or pre-pay for a pizza and have it delivered to them.
     The waiter? Double the tip
     The cashier or grocery bagger? Warm gloves or give a gift certificate.
     Someone who recently had surgery? Craft supplies, movies, music, books

Here are a few more ideas:
Concert or movie tickets
Coffee mug with a sampler pack of coffee
A roll of quarters
A devotion book
Gift certificates
Something hand-made
Rake their leaves while they’re at work
Hang a wreath on their front door
Leave flowers or a potted plant, candy or a gift basket
Mail a sheet of Christmas stamps 
     If you own a business, consider leaving gift certificates under the windshield wipers on various cars in a parking lot. With the Christian Kindness card, you can include a note to bring the card to your business for a free _______. (a cupcake from the bakery, a sandwich from the deli, a car wash, a haircut, etc.) 

     You can tell the recipient the gift was pre-purchased by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.
     My family is excited about secretly blessing others in the weeks ahead. If you decide to do this, I’d love to hear how this project affected the hearts in your family.


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6. Self-Absorption, Reflection, and Giving (moving your marketing goals from you to your audience)

There’s a great article at Boost Blog Traffic. It’s by Jon Morrow and it’s on unleashing your power. The article was posted on Thanksgiving and what grabbed me about it was the words ‘gluttony’ and ‘selfishness.’ I’ve long been concerned about today’s ‘me’ attitude. I know people who consider their birthdays a week-long event. Who even take off from work on their birthdays. I know a

0 Comments on Self-Absorption, Reflection, and Giving (moving your marketing goals from you to your audience) as of 12/30/2014 2:48:00 AM
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7. A Little More Hopeful

"Peaceful, Snowy Christmas" by B, December 2008

Every December for the past three years, my son has gone to the ‘Share’ drawer of his allowance box and retrieved a collection of one dollar bills that has been growing over the course of the year. This year, his younger sister was inducted into the fun with her own, slightly smaller, collection of bills.

The sum doesn’t amount to anything earth-shattering - maybe thirty to forty dollars. We then head out on what has become one of our favorite shopping trips of the year.

We look for puzzles, drawing paper, colorful pens, pencils, and crayons, play-doh, sporty Hot Wheels cars (for the boys!), Hello Kitty jewelry (for the girls!), cozy socks, and whatever else strikes us as something that might be fun or useful for the patients at one of our local children’s hospitals or for the kids that will be chosen as part of Operation Christmas Child.

Our children get to choose the cause. And, while we may gently guide them to certain aisles of the store or give them little ideas, it is their money and, ultimately, their choice of gifts.

Every day, I give thanks for two healthy children and pray for children whose health, wellness, and safety have become battlefields they face daily. The little friend who is on his eighth round of chemotherapy for a brain tumor; the young classmate who lost all of her beautiful curls to the poisons trying to kill the leukemia; and the innocent toddler who can’t yet defend himself against a parent’s anger and lack of self-control.

I feel helpless. I can’t take the cancer away and I can’t shield them from being hurt by someone who is supposed to protect them. So I pray … alone, and then with my children, so they gain a sense of appreciation for being healthy and safe, and a desire to help those who are struggling with the opposite.

That desire to help is what our shopping trip is all about. After they have made their purchases, we drive to the hospital or the designated Operation Christmas Child drop-off site, where they pass the treasures along to a representative of the organization.

We don’t get to see any of the children that receive the toys, but we hope the gifts bring smiles and glimpses of joy to their faces on Christmas morning. Our gifts may be small in number, but they are a tangible way of feeling just a little less helpless and a little more hopeful. And, they are a way to celebrate love and generosity … the true spirit of Christmas.

19 Comments on A Little More Hopeful, last added: 12/4/2009
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8. We Give Books

Donate a book through a literacy organization by reading online one of these children's book titles from Penguin and DK.

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9. Peanut Butter and Jelly at it's best

Do you remember Summer stories and snack times? How about running in to have a sandwich cut just right waiting for you when you were finished playing? I recall times like this with fondness. I also remember the people who helped me to be able to enjoy such luxuries. When I was young we had to rely on foodbanks from time to time to get us through the summer. Light House of Oakland County was one of the banks that contributed to our family in great detail. They helped us with food, toys and more. I remember when I had to rely on them with funds for a special class that I needed. I was a teenager but I recall vividly the feeling of gratitude in my heart. I looked the cooridnator in the eye and said to her that one day I would help them out...the day has come!
You can help too! This summer we are having PB&J drives at many area businesses and drop-off locations. We also are including a special storytime series for those who give back. Are you interested in giving bread, jelly or peanut butter? How about raisins? Let us know and you might just be featured on this blog!
Let's make this a fun summer for those in need!
Read something great!

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10. Ivy Loves to Give


Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood

Ivy is a little girl who loves to give gifts.  She gives a snail a shoe, glasses to the dog, tea to the hen, and a pacifier to the cat.  Wait, that doesn’t feel right.  Sometimes she does get it all right.  The baby gets his pacifier.  Her mother gets her tea, now with an egg in the cup.  Her grandmother gets the glasses.  Her father gets his shoe.  But there is one thing that Ivy doesn’t want to give away, even though it’s not hers to keep.  But she has just the right gift to say thank you for something given to her.

Blackwood keeps this book short and very sweet.  Her brief lines of text are ideal for toddlers who will understand both the love of gifting and the love of keeping all wrapped up together.  While the concept of the book is simple and will have children laughing at the mix-ups, Blackwood nicely ties the end together with something a bit more complicated.  Handled very successfully, the topic of giving and taking is secondary to the family relationships we see at work in the book.

Blackwood’s art is done in pencil and watercolor, giving it a beautiful softness.  The layout of the book is done with attention to the way it will read, offering plenty of white space beyond that needed for the words themselves.  This expansive feel makes the book feel welcoming and warm.  Her colors are vibrant and work to create illustrations that will function well with a group.

A solid choice for toddlers, this book is appropriate for ages 1-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

Also reviewed by:

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11. Ivy Loves To Give

Ivy Loves to Give. Freya Blackwood. 2010. Scholastic. 24 pages.

Ivy loves to give.
Sometimes her presents are the wrong size,
don't fit properly,
taste funny,
or feel strange.

I really enjoyed Freya Blackwood's sweet story of an exuberant giver. I liked Ivy. In very few words--perhaps mainly through the illustrations?--we learn about Ivy and her family. It is a sweet story, a funny story. And it's not a story without twists! My favorite twist being that sometimes she likes to keep.

I enjoyed both the text and illustrations. It's definitely a story where you need to pay attention to the details for the full story!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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12. Why Ninja Zombies Rule

I've been following Carrie Harris for a long time, from back in the days when Twilight parodies and Slayer (of Bees) stories debuted, people at the gym freaked us all out and Richard Simmons made regular appearances on her not quite so fancy blog. I still have emails from when she got her book deal and the fabulous prizes she sent after I zombified her two years ago.

But nothing could have prepared me for the awesomeness that is The Night of the Giving Dead. Not only is this woman funny, she's generous too.

To celebrate the release of her debut YA novel, Bad Taste in Boys, Carrie is hosting an auction to benefit the Giving Library at the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital, a hospital that serves about 70,000 kids. Yeah, totally worthy recipient, right?

Here are just a few of the items you can bid on:

(Just, y' know, don't outbid me on the items I've bid on...pretty please! ;P)

But check out the grand prize drawings:
  1. A Kindle preloaded with Bad Taste in Boys  OR
  2. A 6-month mentorship with Carrie herself
Even if you've already been to The Night of the Giving Dead, check it out again. New items are added as they come in so the lists keep growing.

Help sick kids, get cool stuff -- it's a win-win for sure. The auction only runs through July 25 so make sure you make your bids before time runs out.

And just so you know, tomorrow night while Carrie vicariously attends the midnight showing of Harry Pott

12 Comments on Why Ninja Zombies Rule, last added: 7/16/2011
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13. Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bourgeis

4Stars Franklin loved Christmas.  He could name all of Santa’s reindeer.  He could ties ribbons into bows and play “Silent Night” on his recorder. Franklin liked to give presents and receive them.  But this year he couldn’t decide what to give to the Christmas toy drive. Each year, Mr. Owl’s class donates new and gently [...]

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14. Meet Keondra

I want to tell you a story about Keondra.

In a few days, Keondra will start second grade at Harrowgate Elementary School in Chester, Virginia. She cannot wait to be back in the classroom.

Kyle Zimmer at a First Book event (Note: This is not Keondra! But we do love this picture.)When she began elementary school, Keondra was a reluctant reader. She struggled academically. And then she had to repeat first grade.

But Keondra’s teacher recognized her potential and turned to First Book. Thanks to the support of our generous donors, she was able to give Keondra a new book to take home and read every month.

That’s why I’m invite everyone to join First Book’s Monthly Book Club. Your monthly gift is easy to make and provides an ongoing supply of new, high-quality books to kids like Keondra.

With each month and each new book, Keondra became a stronger reader. Her grades improved – from D’s to B’s. She fell in love with books.

A new school year is about to begin, and there are millions of kids like Keondra who urgently need to be transformed by a love of books before it is too late. Please consider joining today.

The post Meet Keondra appeared first on First Book Blog.

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15. The Moral Force of Majority Rule

Adrian Vermeule, author of Mechanisms of Democracy and co-author with Eric Posner of Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts, is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. (The article below draws upon material in Chapters 3 and 4 of Adrian Vermeule, Mechanisms of Democracy: Institutional Design Writ Small, and upon Adrian Vermeule, “Absolute Majority Rules,” forthcoming in the British Journal of Political Science ( Cambridge University Press, October 2007)).

Many institutions, public and private, use non-majoritarian voting rules for many issues. Supermajority rules, which require more than 50%+1 of the votes in order to change the status quo, are familiar; an example is the filibuster rule in the United States Senate, where 60 votes are necessary to force “cloture,” that is, to close debate on an issue. (more…)

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16. Pet Art Prints for A Place To Bark

I read about A Place To Bark on one of my favorite artist's blogs. Claudine is giving away a work of art, plus some books, so head on over there to donate and be entered in her drawing!!

I was so inspired by Claudine's generosity and sharing that I decided to do the same. I'm giving away 10 archival, signed pet art prints in a drawing. To be entered in the drawing, please make a $10 donation to this wonderful cause.

Please read the FULL DETAILS here on my pet portrait blog.

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17. Review: Give a Goat

This true story of a fifth-grade class that raised money to donate to Heifer International was written by the daughter of the organization's founder. Jan West Schrock grew up in a house where philanthropy and community were integrated into family life. As a career educator, Mrs. Schrock had many opportunities to travel and work with children around the world and to see in person the impact of "passing on the gift."

Investing in families by giving them a goat (or a cow or chickens or...) provides them the opportunity to feed their families and improve their situation. "Passing on the gift" requires that the family pass on a baby goat or chicks to another family and so on throughout the community until all the families have increased their standard of living. From a tiny idea, Heifer has now helped more than 8.5 million people in more than 125 countries - even in the U.S.

The idea that even "regular fifth graders" can change the world is an inspiring story that deserves to be shared with young children so that just like Mrs. Schrock, they will grow up with an understanding of the importance of helping others and building communities.

Watercolor illustrations by Aileen Darragh complement the story by bringing the kids and their journey to life realistically and with a dose of humor.

At the Tilbury House website, there are curriculum activities and lesson plans that will help teachers integrate this book into a larger unit on global issues, world poverty and hunger, philanthropy, and the importance of helping others through service learning.

This is a terrific story of how anyone and everyone can make a significant difference in our world - an increasingly important message as we prepare our students to become 21st century global citizens.

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18. Holiday Present Sketch

Hi Everyone-

I loved the prompt this month and wanted to participate with Posey! Here is my initial sketch... in it Posey is coming home from some holiday shopping and notices one of her bird friends looking a little chilled up in her nest. So, I wonder what Posey might come up with as the perfect gift for her feathered friend? I just rec'd a new set of inktense watercolor pencils and am looking forward to working on this comp. with them.
Hope everyone is handling this busy holiday season - I've missed keeping up with you all! =)

4 Comments on Holiday Present Sketch, last added: 12/11/2008
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19. Seven ways to give

A huge thank you to [info]jamarattigan for the Kreativ Blogger award. I feel honored, especially because my blogging consistency is spotty at best.

Tonight, I blog as I'm about to enter my 38th year. I know. Just a baby you say and in some ways I know you are right. Jama says that this award entitles me to share seven things I love. She also says that I can be "kreativ" so in light of the new president and his call to service, I present seven ways to give. Giving is one thing I love.

1. Become involved with an organization that interests you. It doesn't have to be a huge bunch of your time. Volunteer to help with a mailing, stuff folders, or pass out papers. (Be careful, once you say yes to one opportunity you are bound to be asked for more. It is okay to say no.)

2. Share your knowledge with others who are new to your area of expertise. You'll find that as much as you give in this area, you will undoubtedly receive new friendships and unexpected knowledge. A huge thank you to [info]kellyrfineman for her awesome poetry posts. I've learned so much from them.

3. Do Pro Bono work. It is difficult to say how much to give in this area because ultimately, you want your work to be compensated fairly. However, building a base of people who know and respect your work is money in the bank, and recommendations on the website. (I know, I haven't updated mine in a while.) I find this to especially true of school visits. Teachers talk to each other.

4. When in doubt, give food. When I had my first child, my friends gave me dinners to freeze. This was the best thing they could do. If you are willing to organize such an effort, more power to you. If not, fire up your crock pot and invite a friend over for a meal. Or freeze your leftovers for someone who needs the extra time at night. 

5. Give when others are done giving. As previously mentioned, when I had my first child, my friends gave me dinners to freeze. When I had my second child, everyone figured I knew what I was doing. That's when I needed their help the most. Ask for help when you need it. 

6. Give to the people closest to you. You're probably saying that you do this all the time. Laundry, dinners, rides, support. Sheesh how much could you possibly give? I can only speak for myself and unfortunately, I've been giving my family a lot of "not now's" and "why can't you just's" and "I'm busy's". That's okay sometimes, but sometimes I need to stop and give them a hug, a story, and attention. 

7. Don't forget to give to yourself. Time. A pat on the back. The permission to celebrate you. An hour to exercise. A nap. It's all good. 

There's my seven with this addendum. Give honesty and honestly.

Hope it wasn't too hokey and sappy. 

I guess I need to nominate others for this Kreativ Blogger award. I have to go with those who I always feel I have to catch up with when I'm out of the industry for a while. [info]jbknowles , [info]cynthialord , and  [info]kellyrfineman 

Thanks ladies.

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20. Interview with Marek Wysoczyński, inspirational initiator and director of Project Smile

All about Project Smile – the international goodwill outreach to children and their families.

Jennifer: Hi All! I am interviewing Marek Wysoczyński, Director of the Bureau for the Promotion of Culture, Gdansk, Poland. Marek, would you tell my readers something about yourself and your background, your experience with large scale exhibitions leading up to Project Smile?


I studied law at the University of Gdansk where I received my Master of Arts in History degree. I was an actor in the German language Theatre Logos and also a teacher of German. I was a history guide in the Central Maritime Museum, an archivist, teacher of history and a manager for special events. At that time, I created a series of concerts entitled “Music on Water” which have been presented by me on a regular basis since then. I was the director of the Baltic Centre of Culture. I organized the Millennial Concert for Emma Kirkby. I was awarded a Gdansk Millennial Medal. I created the Franciscan Centre of Culture in Gdansk and organized music festivals called “Musica Mariana”.

Marek Wysoczynski generating smiles globally!

Marek Wysoczynski generating smiles globally!

As for now, I am  director of the Culture Promotion Office and organize various concerts and novel exhibitions all over the World. I was a co-organizer of the Festival of Culture of Europe in Georgia and organized an Opera festival in Dubrovnik. Every year I organize special carol concerts in Palestine and Jerusalem and, last year, I organized one in a Turkish bath in Skopje. The Office, together with the Goethe Institute, organized a series of Polish song concerts sung in German in Paris and Alexandria. My artists performed Ave Maria concerts in various languages (including Arabic) in the Cathedral in Cairo and also in churches in Turkey, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia. They also sang for SFOR soldiers in Bosnia and NATO soldiers in Kosovo. There was also a concert for the Jordanian princess and a Russian song concert organized by the Russian Embassy and the Polish Embassy in Tunisia. The Office promotes musicians, actors and international co-operation in the field of culture.

I organized an exhibition of 1000 autographs as a part of the Millennial Anniversary of the City of Gdansk. That was the start of the idea to collect autographed smiles for Children’s Hospitals and also for other Institutions.

Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, creating a Smile for Marek's Project Smile

Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, creating a Smile for Marek's Project Smile

The exhibition presented annually during the Polish Films Festival in Gdynia and in Perpignan, in the Institute of Polish Culture in Budapest and during the Festival of Good Mood in Gdansk. The exhibition was also presented in Chelmno in the Town Hall. In May, 2008 the exhibition was presented in Insurgentes Gallery in Mexico and in June in the Children’s Hospital named after Maria Curie Sklodowska in Romania and in Children’s Museums in Italy and in Poland.

Jennifer: In the midst of a very busy position, you have managed to inspire others with a ’brainwave’, the simple but wonderful, empowering concept of an exhibition of ’smiles’ from celebrities of all ilks from all over the world! What started it all? How did you come up with Project Smile?

The Prime Minister's Smile!

The Prime Minister's Smile!


When, in 1980, I received my first autograph, that of Kalina Jedrusik, I never thought I would have over 1000 of these footprints of human existence – small pieces of art, as I call autographs, because people often draw something near their signature.

Whilst collecting autographs, I was also thinking about sharing my joy of life with the community and comparing it with the transient keepsake that comes from contact with personalities. The first time I managed to show them was at the Millennial Anniversary of Gdansk, when they were shown at the exhibition entitled “1000 autographs for the Millennial Anniversary”. I observed the people visiting the exhibition and saw their joy and surprise. Generations – grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren, all together, explaining to each other who was who. Young people did not know older actresses and the older generations had no idea about rock musicians.

Smiles & autographs

Smiles & autographs

After the Gdansk exhibition I began to dream about sharing my passion, about sharing my joy with others. Then I got the idea of collecting autographs accompanied by the picture of a smile. The first idea was to show “Project Smile’ in children’s hospitals, but it soon appeared that smiles drawn by the Jordanian Queen, Krzysztof Penderecki or Liza Minelli pleased adults too. What is more important, adding a smile also pleased the people whom I ask to draw them. A smile is possible to create in a moment, even in the most difficult times. When we look at a child’s smile, even if we are in mourning, are ill or in trouble, we smile instinctively.

An autograph itself is calm and quite like a fresh painting, as it  “reveals the mortal hand” not only in the poetical dimension but also in the dimension of common, fleeting life. At least it is the visible sign of our having passed by.

Smiles joined with autographs are something to introduce joy into our lives and into hospitals both for children and adults.

When I started collecting smiles I wrote:

A Smile, it is a drop of crystallized Joy
When a child smiles at us we smile, everyone, everywhere!
A child’s smile is pure holiness, a gift of life
Not to be sullied by the evil of unhappiness
When giving sick children our warm smiles
We return their own smiles to them
And remind ourselves of the smiles of our own youth!

A child's Smile

A child's Smile

We received from archdiocese Honiara a smile from the Archbishop of the Solomon Islands and his poetic quote:

Smile and the World smiles with you,
Cry and you cry alone.

Jennifer: At a time when the world is in the grip of an economic crisis with all its hideous far reaching effects for individuals and families globally, we needed this project. It is inspiring! Would you share with us some of the reactions you have received to the project?

Marek: A Smile is good at all times, for any kind of situation, even the ‘commercial’ smile of the stewardess in a plane, a smile puts people at ease, it welcomes.

As for a drawing smile for the project , all kinds are good and sometime the drawing of the smile brings the person to remembering deep into their past, sometimes with tears as they remember the bad and good times of childhood.

Children in hospital react very, very well. In Macedonia, in a Rehabilitation centre, a girl who was very seriously ill, drew a smile with her legs and told me : “the miracle is that I can do this before I die soon, to help other children …”

In other city, in Poland, I prepared that smile-performance with children. The Mayor of that city and his co-workers thanked me because he …was smiling himself, for the first time in 20 years.

Infectious Smiles!

Infectious Smiles!

Crisis is bad, but it will seem shorter, be alleviated somewhat when we all start to smile – I tell this to children in hospital : “children should start every day with a smile and finish the day with a smile”.  Smile, and the trouble will do not have time to become a problem, the same can be done in the world of politics and economics. Smile and the future will be better – the trouble will be smaller. A smile is the best sort of help because it is financially very good to receive….its costs only 1 second of your time to make and of course its “cost” =  a good tooth-brushing , LOL !

Jennifer: The collection is growing by the day. How many smiles have you received to date? On average, how many arrive daily?

Marek: Its depends , sometimes I get a whole package from  various countries, sometimes one envelope but with 20 smiles from a school of design where the professor set an examination task for students to create a smile.

Sometimes there is a day without a smile in the postbox , but there is a smile on my face ….to make that  “empty” day a better one!

The Smile that grew in to GRIN!

The Smile that grew in to GRIN!

My friends like to talk with me about the project. I sometimes think the exhibition idea is my wonderful life sentence. I have ambassadors of the smile-exhibition around the world.

I like also to collect smiles in person – as I organize cultural events. It provides me a good entrance to different meetings and, somehow, I can nearly always put myself behind the scenes.

What I try not to do is not to ask for a smile in restaurant venue…but then I eat slowly as does  the ‘star’, the evening’s special guest, and I hope to obtain a smile from them outside the venue when they finish…

Getting Polanski's autograph and the actress, Szykulska, and the children's hospital

Getting Polanski's autograph and the actress, Szykulska, and the children's hospital

Jennifer: You have not one but a number of ‘smile’ exhibitions planned. Tell us about them and what is involved in setting up such an exhibition in such far flung places?

Marek: The number of smiles is not limited; I think that it is already a part of my life. I hope very much to create a Smile Museum or Smile Gallery.

The idea is ongoing, one pilgrimage of smiles, because the plan has always involved the drawing of smiles by children in Poland for children in other countries and so on

The idea is to show this exhibition in children’s centres of all kinds, not only hospitals but also as a temporary exhibition in various institutions.

Smiles that lift the spirits!

Smiles that lift the spirits!

Jennifer: I understand you are hoping to produce a special catalogue/book of the exhibition to help raise funds for children’s hospitals in Poland. Can you tell us more about that?

Marek: That is good question, there are many organizations which help children in a financial way, our goal is “only” to make them smile ….

As the reports of doctors, psychologists and parents indicate, the exhibition is like a medicine, a tonic. It shows people all over the world care about sick children, children in pain. The children know they are not forgotten!

Also, what is very important, the exhibition of smiles helps “normal” people working in hospitals, not only doctors, but also cleaning teams and last but not least the parents visiting their children. It lifts their spirits!

The exhibition is also a good thing for festivals  and for other events.

Marek's Smile!

Marek's Smile!

The idea of a catalogue is always there, and we produced one as a booklet for the Polish Festival of the Good Mood, and when we visited children in hospital with a leading actress, the children were given one each.

In collaboration with Children’s Organisation, KIWANIS, we also produced a booklet in Polish and English. (You can see that catalogue on that website, where you can also find my smile.)

Jennifer: What is the most unusual ‘smile’ you have received so far? Are there limitations on the type, size or presentation of the smile and what happens to each submission to prepare it for exhibition?

Marek: The smiles have no limitations ever. We have made a smile

*    in a children’s garden in Lodz

The variations and varieties are endless as imagination!

The variations and varieties are endless as imagination!

*      on paper on whole floor area,

*     the sportsmen put their smile on t-shirts,

*      but also on a boxer’s hand,

*      we got a sculpture of smile and

*      a smile on glass –

Each and every smile is very unusual … very individual!

But maybe the most touching was a smile by a child in Macedonia …with her mother drawn without face because she was left by her mother

Very different smiles – maybe I would mention the autoportrait  by  regisseurs Jerzy Skolimowski and Roman Polanski  or a Bishop’s smile-picture which reminds of one  of Picasso’s works….

The Picasso-style Smile

The Picasso-style Smile

Jennifer: There must be all sorts of stories of how you met celebrities like Polanski and other AMAZING people! How did you persuade them to give you ‘a smile’?

Marek: When I started the collection, I asked people in person for ‘a smile’. I still do if the opportunity presents. The meetings with notable folk can sometimes be very funny but sometimes very short!

In the case of Jose Cura, I was at the opera in Berlin and, after the show, I got to the backstage door and knocked on the garderobe. He answered himself and told me “come in”.  He was under the shower. So I backed out and waited.  After some minutes, he came out and, with a big smile on his face, he drew a ‘Pagliacci’ ….he had sung Pagliaci in the opera that night.

In Berlin I had also a “tragic” meeting….can you imagine, I was in the same restaurant as Lauren Bacall…but it was a very prestigious restaurant such that if I had asked for a smile/autograph they would have made a security photo of me and then I would have been blacklisted there and in other such places as well!

Smiles layered on Smiles

Smiles layered on Smiles

As for Roman Polanski – he was opening a sculpture in Sopot – he was on the redcarpet. Nobody was allowed to put a foot on that carpet, but I did! That is how I got a selfportrait of him!

At the same festival Faye Dunaway was also a special guest, but by then I was 1000 km away. However, my wonderful mother is also very supportive of the smile project. She asked, in her broken English, and, yes, I have the smile drawn by Faye Dunaway!

The security guards of First Lady of Poland, Maria Kaczynska, were very “unhappy” that I asked her to draw a smile. But she told the strong men, to stop and let me be, “it is for a good goal”.

All the time the people, when I ask them to draw a smile, I get the answer, ‘oops I am not good at drawing’. My answer is always, ‘it’s for children and children are not judging the art’.

The Polish MP, Iwona Guzowska, is a former boxer. She liked the smile project so much that she even created a parliamentary group in the Polish Sejm – Parliament “smile group”. She collected smiles on sports items.

It's the SMILE not its artistic style, that matters! Winning Grinners!

It's the SMILE not its artistic style, that matters! Winning Grinners!

The smile project – the collection – it is growing into a very special collection – one of a kind in the world. It is also unique, because smiles are made using a variety of methods, and they are not only on paper, but also as pictures, on music programs, on film posters, on books, cd or on very curious paper types. Children from round the world send me smiles for the project. This is very special because of the very different types of smiles from children, for example, from India or Moldavia. Yet, amazingly, these same smiles sometimes match up, the same exactly, the same type of smile as if it was made by one and the same hand, even though it is a smile from a Polish child or from Mexico. As for Mexico, the smiles are made there by children with Downs Syndrome who are taught by Professors of Art Academy from Mexico City.

Smiles, inspiring more smiles!

Smiles, inspiring even more smiles!

The collection is for children, especially sick children, to make them smile and so help them heal!

Jennifer : Marek, tell us what the Smile project is achieving and continues to achieve:

Marek: I hope very much to be involved in a number of a smile exchange exhibitions, a pilgrimage of smiles.

I think there is a good idea to connect smiles made by celebrities and those by children  – the children are encouraged and inspired by the  interest and support for the project by the celebrities.

For children in “western” countries creating smiles  for a poorer part of world bring them closer to those with less advantages, fewer opportunities than they have and fosters  a caring attitude and brings knowledge.

For poor children, it is maybe their first possibility to give somebody something – this brings dignity and feeling of being able to contribute; this is empowering.

And for children from harsh, very problematic parts of world this also provides a very interesting way to help others, help, in return,  a part of world from where the help is coming to them; it brings a sense of reciprocity that might not come any other way. It brings a sense again of dignity and achievement.

Smiles from East and West!

Smiles from East and West!

I think such exhibitions – such exhibitions exchange is a very unusual project for helping and informing people about the plight of sick children worldwide, for bringing artists, writers, musician together with also opportunity for promotion of their work and for sponsors to bring their product before the public in a way that promotes them as a company that cares and is involved in more than just making money, but also in giving back to those in need – the use of a company logo could be connected with a ‘smile’ by being  included in a special promotional logo.

Jennifer: Marek, what are you plans for the future, what is your next big project?

Marek: Dear Jennifer ….of course asking you to help me to show that exhibition in your city ….my very simple dream, which is an ever evolving, growing plan, ….to show the smile exhibition and to draw smiles around the world!

Jennifer: Finally, how can people get in touch with you to find out more about the project and give support?

Marek: I would like to be in touch with people, the more the merrier! They can talk to me and learn more about project smile at www.promocjakultury.pl

The best way to support project smile is to draw a smile and send us, to ask famous and /or interesting people to draw a smile and, last but not least, to invite our exhibition to their place – to the smallest children’s school, to the farming community, or to a big children’s hospital, to a film or other festival or to Sydney Opera House…..

Smiles to encompass the globe!

Smiles to encompass the globe!

Jennifer: Charles George Walker wrote a poem inspired by that famous old proverb, quoted by the Archbishop of the Solomon Islands,  and used it for the title. I think it reflects your belief in the joyous spreadability of a Smile:

Smile and the World smiles with you, Cry and you cry alone.

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.

When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner, and someone saw my grin.

When he smiled I realised, I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile, then I realised its worth.

A single smile just like mine, could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.

Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!

May your smile project spread like the sunshine it brings into others’ lives!

You can find my own smile in the exhibition and here on Sharing Books for free download.

Jennifer    :) )

1 Comments on Interview with Marek Wysoczyński, inspirational initiator and director of Project Smile, last added: 5/22/2009
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21. First Book

Help provide books to children in need.

0 Comments on First Book as of 6/4/2009 11:21:00 AM
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22. We are all "Party Animals" for A Place To Bark!

I recently took part in a truly wonderful art project. I, along with 20 other pet portrait artists, were invited to create and contribute works of art to be published in a uniquely themed art book.

It's called "Party Animals", and if you remember last years' benefit art book that I contributed to and blogged about ("Dogs Rule"), this one could be considered a "Part Two" of sorts. Jill Beninato of Sit Stay Smile is the responsible "party" for "Party" -- she spearheaded the "Dog's Rule" project herself and made it all happen! She came back at us with "Party Animals" this year . Once again it is an honor to be a contributor. Like last year, this years' book includes art images that were specifically created for the project by each of the artists. The interpretation of the theme of "Party Animals" was the goal, and each artist was given free reign!

(See "You Tube" video demo series of my watercolor painting for the "Party Animals" book)

This time though, the party is even BIGGER and more shareable (yes, that's really a word - I looked it up), because, unlike last years' project, ANYONE can enjoy a beautiful copy of this years' collaborative project because copies are for sale, with ALL proceeds - every nickel - going to benefit A Place To Bark. (Plus, your purchase is entirely tax-deductible.)

I can tell you first-hand that the quality of the printing and binding of this 'zine is gorgeous and lovely. I am proud to have my work in the book, and to be among so many other extremely talented artists who are not only each boldly unique in their own artistic voices, but who are also very generous and caring people who are all joined by our love and support of animal welfare. Because the entire monetary proceeds of the 'zine go directly to A Place To Bark, you know that your $20 purchase is making a HUGE positive impact. (The great art, beautiful printing, and inspiring words in this book make it truly gift-worthy as well).

If THAT isn't ENOUGH, the ORIGINAL ARTWORKS printed in the 'zine will be auctioned off on Ebay on October 15, with all benefits going to A Place To Bark. Mark your calendars!!

0 Comments on We are all "Party Animals" for A Place To Bark! as of 7/13/2009 5:15:00 PM
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23. "Party Animals" original art auctions are LIVE-- to benefit A Place To Bark!

My "Party Animals" original pen/ink/watercolor painting up for auction to benefit A Place To Bark

Hey all! I am very pleased to announce that the Party Animals original art auctions to benefit A Place To Bark are now LIVE and tick-tick-ticking away on Ebay! All auctions are five-day auctions only. All of them will end on October 20th. Plenty of great artwork to be had, and all of the auctions start at just $20! This is all-original art we are talking about, too! Very exciting, very fun, and ALL proceeds go to benefit animal rescue sanctuary A Place To Bark. The proceeds will go directly to taking care of and rehabilitating previously abandoned and abused animals.

There is not a better feeling than being able to helping another living being who desperately needs it. This is a wonderful way to give of your heart but also get something wonderful in return. All of the works were created with big hearts and a generous, giving spirit. All of the works of art were made expressly for the Party Animals project, and were made with positive intentions for the animals. Please find your favorites, and please bid!!!

> See all of the art auctions here

0 Comments on "Party Animals" original art auctions are LIVE-- to benefit A Place To Bark! as of 1/1/1900
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24. Heartfelt’s Holiday Season Gears Up with First Book

Heartfelt Charity Cards

The concept is simple: companies and individuals purchase their holiday greeting cards from Heartfelt Charity Cards, an e-commerce based retailer of charity greeting cards, and 10% of each card sale benefits First Book.

The result is significant: over the past five years, First Book’s alliance with Heartfelt has helped us to provide over 3,200 new books to children in need.

Heartfelt recognizes the role of its clients and customers in furthering First Book’s mission.  The purchase of a charity holiday greeting card demonstrates a strong commitment to improving literacy.

Check out www.CharityCards.com to view the selection of distinctive holiday greeting cards and be sure to choose First Book as the charity of choice.  Happy holidays!

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