SpitzerCares.org hopes to fund a million meals in 2012 through food pantries, shelters, kids’ cafés, and backpack programs. For every dollar it earns via community car washes, donations, and fundraising events, SpizerCares.org can provide four meals to northern Ohioans in need. Patrons can keep up with the organization’s progress online as a ticker shaped like an apple tallies the number of meals SpitzerCares.org has shelled out so far this year.
Jeremy Cares, Inc., was founded in 2011 by the family of Jeremy George, a cancer survivor who underwent a stem-cell transplant at age 17. The organization aims to enrich the lives of children dealing with serious illnesses and aid their families during a difficult time. It runs a variety of programs to help diminish stress levels and create positive experiences for these families. Among other initiatives, the group sponsors a family room at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland and organizes an annual Super Bowl party for the oncology floor at the hospital. During the holidays, Jeremy Cares, Inc., also donates gifts to hospitalized children and their families.
Berea Animal Rescue Friends (ARF) started in a family garage outside of Cleveland after a small group of animal lovers recognized the desperate housing and healthcare needs of homeless animals in the area. Now, 20 years later, ARF continues to help stray and abandoned animals by providing shelter, food, and medical necessities—as well as loving care and companionship—in a more formal facility for as long as needed. In addition to traditional adoption services for cats and dogs, ARF also runs temporary foster-care programs and partners with a correctional facility to operate a prison foster program in which dogs receive basic obedience training.
2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Wallace allows amateurs to feel first-hand how an open-wheeled race car rumbles as its tires scorch a professional speedway. Participants can either ride shotgun with an experienced driver or hop behind the wheel to tackle the track themselves. For more of the genuine experience, drivers don the full array of safety gear before climbing or vaulting through the window, including a sleek racing suit, helmet, and HANS neck-protection device.
Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio (DCNEO), which builds confidence, respect, and self-esteem through the practice of social dance, aims to help youth break down social barriers and learn to communicate with a new set of behavioral skills. Teaching artists lead classes of fifth- and eighth-grade students through 10 weeks of ballroom-dancing lessons that are held twice a week during the normal school day. To make lessons accessible and ease children into a new endeavor, they incorporate pictures and stories and connect dance terms to food, transforming feet into chopsticks and dance frame into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In addition to dance, DCNEO also enriches children’s education with opportunities to create visual artwork, poetry, and original songs. At the end of the course, students showcase their dancing skills and other projects completed during the program at a performance for friends and family.
Through its Food Folks program—a comprehensive nutrition education series—Children's Hunger Alliance teaches children from low-income families about the importance of a nutritional breakfast, better fast-food options, and understanding nutrition labels. Kids get to enjoy healthy snacks in each lesson, and learn to cook their own healthy food. The series also includes a Family Night, where students get to flex their new skills by preparing a healthy meal for their families. On average, more than 85% of participants demonstrate improvement in their nutritional knowledge during the 12-week series, according to surveys taken before and after the program is completed.