Traditionally, families gather around the Christmas tree to open presents––but at the American Cancer Society Christmas Fantasy House, individual traditions are magnified. The 2009 house, for example, featured not one but five Christmas trees, each draped in ribbons and white lights. Other years' open houses have featured a jolly Santa Claus, dining room chairs hung with pinecone wreaths, and flower-festooned light fixtures. Visitors not only peruse the Christmas-themed home for charity, they can also shop for sweets or enter holiday-themed raffles.
Proceeds from the event go to the American Cancer Society, a volunteer-based program that reaches 3,400 communities nationwide. The ACS supports research, education, advocacy for all types of cancer, and helps a large number of cancer patients, offering phone counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Will Allen has worn many hats in his lifetime. The son of a sharecropper, he founded his urban farming foundation Growing Power in 1993 after a brief career in professional basketball, going on to earn a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and a spot on Time magazine's Top 100 of 2010 list. From Milwaukee to Chicago, his city farms thrive, tended by a volunteer team of all ages who gain the all-too-uncommon satisfaction of knowing the "who, when, where, and how" of their vegetables’ origins. Besides providing the seeds, tools, and educational resources to green the thumbs of any willing student, the farms also foster community bonds by filling the pantries of select local restaurants and locavore squirrels.
The UEC/MVP Project Inc.'s Menomonee Valley – From the Ground Up program aims to improve the valley’s ecological health to counteract public-health concerns and environmental contamination. The program also plans to expand the Hank Aaron State Trail and enhance science-education for local youths and families. Part of the project includes installing native, noninvasive plants to restore the riverbank landscape and combat erosion. This program will transform the 24-acre former rail-switching yard into a park with an Urban Ecology Center and outdoor science classroom. In the redesigned green space, local residents can enjoy the park and learn about natural science in the Urban Ecology Center. Volunteers will plant trees and shrubs and monitor water quality to ensure a continually safe and lush environment.
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Journey House’s 2010 basketball program engaged 67 students who ranged in age from 13 to 18 years old, and the organization's five middle- and high-school teams competed in both spring and summer leagues. Athletes are required to adhere to a curriculum designed by coaches that imparts positive skills and values such as goal setting, sportsmanship, and individual responsibility. Players must prioritize academics above athletics, and are required to participate in Journey House's scholastic programs, such as Reading Scholars and Math Academy. Journey House would like to outfit its basketball players with new uniforms to help instill a sense of teamwork and pride in its student athletes and present a unified front during competitions.
Two young participants of the PAL program pair off with a shelter dog, which they train to become a well-mannered member of an adoptive family. During training, children are empowered with the responsibility of caring for the animals, learning to respect them and better understand their behavior. Children can then teach their peers about the need to prevent animal guardians from practicing cruelty and neglect. WHS requires additional funding to purchase supplies for dog training, as well as transportation and snacks for PAL participants.