The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), a nonprofit health agency dedicated to combating muscular dystrophy and related diseases, has more than 200 offices across the country, including a location in St. Louis. To help combat neuromuscular dystrophy, the MDA sponsors 200 medical clinics and supports more than 300 research projects across the globe, and is the nation's largest nongovernmental funder of scientific research to seek cures and improved treatments for more than 40 neuromuscular diseases.
Along with research and public-health education, the MDA works to improve the quality of life for people with muscular dystrophy and related diseases through a variety of efforts including its national advocacy program, summer camps for children, and support groups.
Annie’s Hope sponsors a teen retreat in which small groups of bereaving teens interact with empathetic peers, explore their concerns about a recent death, and work toward healing. Group and individual activities encourage teens to develop coping strategies by expressing themselves through arts and crafts, journaling about complicated feelings, and creating mementos of their loved ones in a candle-lighting ceremony. Annie’s Hope requires additional funding to cover the costs of its next retreat, including transportation to and from the retreat site, meals and snacks for the weekend, lodging, arts-and-crafts supplies, candles, and a nursing staff.
Operation Food Search’s Operation Backpack program distributes nutritious weekend meals to chronically hungry children, as identified by their teachers or administrators. Each Friday for 32 weeks during the school year, each child enrolled in the program discreetly receives a backpack filled with simple recipes, nutrition information, and nutritious food that they can easily prepare and eat at home. Each backpack contains canned fruit, canned vegetables, two cereal items, two entrees, a dairy item, and two healthy snacks, providing enough wholesome food for two days' worth of meals.
Cornerstone Corporation aims to provide new roofs and weatherproofing for two houses to ensure a warm, dry winter. The homes accommodate two single-parent families and a third cornerstone resident. The current roofs have been patched many times and are still weathered and leaking. A group of volunteers will tear off the existing roofs in preparation for Republic Roofing to install new ones. Cornerstone Corporation is in need of funds to purchase tools, tarps, and supplies and to rent dumpsters so the volunteers can remove the existing roofs.
The astronauts deftly dodge the oncoming trickle of rocks and debris from the meteor shower, and as the rubble clears they see the Moon up ahead. It is at this site that they’ll soon establish the first permanent human base. Though it sounds like science fiction, novice astronauts attempt this feat daily at Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis. Part of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education—a nonprofit founded by the families of the astronauts who died in the 1986 Challenger space-shuttle mission—the center educates visitors in science and teamwork with its space simulators. Whether navigating a spacecraft or abetting astronauts at a Mission Control modeled after NASA’s Johnson Space Center, student, community, and corporate groups must maintain a cooperative spirit while rocketing to Mars, assembling a probe, or stealing one of Saturn’s rings.
In 2010, 2-year-old Ella McPheeters was diagnosed with autism. Her parents, Hope and Sam, soon became frustrated with the long waiting lists for behavioral-therapy programs and other services and decided to do something about it. They rallied the local community and won a Pepsi Refresh Project grant to found Ella's Hope for Autism. Ella’s Hope aims to raise awareness of autism and increase the availability of therapeutic resources for young children with autism-spectrum disorders. Working with the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Ella's Hope also sponsors scholarships for families and maintains an autism lending library.