Like most 6-year olds, Jack O'Neil enjoyed playing with toys; unlike a typical 6-year-old, though, he played with his toys in the hospital. Jack was gearing up for corrective limb-lengthening surgery, a process that affected him long after his successful recovery. Once he was healthy, Jack wanted to make sure other hospital-bound kids had toys to play with. Jack began holding charitable lemonade stands, using the proceeds to buy toys. Over time, his pastime morphed into his current charity, Little Hands Make A Big Difference. Powered by fundraisers such as an annual 5K, the kid-run organization delivers Build-A-Bears and other toys to sick tots, fueling their play and filling their imaginations with geometric shapes. For more information, see the organization’s blog.
Founded in 1884, the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is among the oldest community music organizations in the U.S., inviting patrons into its halls year after year to support and experience the excitement of live music. The center is home to the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, which won the 2011 award for Best Chamber Orchestra from the Illinois Council of Orchestras. The group of in-residence musicians keep fans of classical music thoroughly entertained with concerts throughout the year and tag-team wrestling matches between the string and brass sections.
Comedy has come a long way since Trog the Cavemedian and his side-splitting act that involved making the audience watch him skin a moose in a funny way. See the progress for yourself with today’s Groupon for one ticket to Greg Giraldo’s stand-up at The Improv Comedy Club, which is conveniently located downtown. The value of your Groupon also includes an appetizer. Like most comedy clubs, The Improv chooses your seating, enforces a dress code, and requires an additional item purchase.
With targeted, ongoing mailings, SuperSibs! recognizes shadow survivors’ feelings, helps them realize they are not alone, and comforts them with inspirational letters, activity books, wristbands, a SuperSib! courage trophy, and other support materials. These comfort and care packages inform and inspire shadow survivors with messages of strength and hope during their tough times. More than 25,000 children receive SuperSibs! support, and every year the organization expands its outreach by 25%. SuperSibs! materials and mailings reduce depression, anxiety, and grief and promote emotional healing and self-esteem, helping siblings function socially and share their feelings.
The faculty of Jane Addams School is proud of the environment it fosters. Focusing on instilling knowledge, skills, and independence, it educates elementary-age children for the 21st century. And that student population hints at the diversity the future will likely hold. From various neighborhoods and socio-economic backgrounds, the student body is roughly two-thirds hispanic and one quarter white with significant populations of black, asian, and Native American children. Together, they learn about the world and academics in a safe setting, participating in academics, a Lego robotics league, and sports teams.
Founded in 1921, Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) is an open-admission shelter that cares for approximately 7,000 animals every year—including companion animals, exotic species, farm animals, and injured or orphaned wildlife. It accepts all animals regardless of age or health condition. In 2003, DCHS partnered with the University of Wisconsin's School of Veterinary Medicine to become the first organization to treat ringworm, an infectious disease once thought untreatable in animals, and has since saved the lives of more than 650 cats.
Every animal that enters DCHS’s facility receives necessary medical treatments. After being microchipped and evaluated for behavioral issues, companion animals are placed with permanent families. The organization also helps rehabilitate ill, injured, or orphaned wildlife through its Four Lakes Wildlife Center program. When not working directly with animals, DCHS advocates for humane animal laws and provides outreach programs to teach people about animal welfare.