Saturday, December 17, 2011

What's Been Going On?

A  lot, that's what!  Donations have really ramped up this past week! We've had girl scout troops make donations, the drop boxes throughout Catonsville have been full, emails are coming in asking about how to make donations, other groups have been collecting and then delivering to TLC and so much more.  But, earlier this week TLC learned of one very special person who has made it his mission to collect as many pillow pets as possible for the children that benefit from TLC.

Meet Jackson.  He is a 5th grader at Westchester Elementary School and is part of the student council's Pillow Pet Committee.  He made it his personal mission to collect as many of the pillow pets as he could to help other children.  What an incredible act of compassion and kindness!  From what we understand, Jackson reached out to family and friends and the pillow pets started pouring in for him. As you can see from the picture below, he is surrounded by the cute animals!  And that's only part of what he has collected.  Pretty awesome, huh?  What one person can do is truly amazing.  At last count, he was nearing 50 and hoping to go higher.  This one little boy will have a huge impact on 50 other children (or more), helping to bring smiles and comfort to them.

Jackson not only has collected the Pillow Pets, but was very eager to be "hands on" and helped when we delivered 168 pillow pets to Sinai Hospital. 

It’s a very selfless act and TLC is humbled by his desire to help others.  Jackson is a shining star with some “far-reaching hospitality” to dish out.   Way to go Jackson! 
 

Jackson and his "pets"


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Community Involvement

Just heard recently from two organizations, The Catonsville Stars and St. Agnes Girls Basket Ball that they have made TLC their charity for donating to this year!  Both organizations will be working on collecting donations of Pillow Pets that goes hand in hand with the Pillow Pets for Pediatrics Holiday Drive! 

I love that children will be helping out other children!  Kudos to both. 

TLC is honored they have chosen our organization to support this holiday season!

Many blessings to both.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This year's Catonsville Times' article on our Pillow Pets Drive!


Catonsville Woman Aims To Comfort Children Not Just During Holidays

Foundation provides Pillow Pets to sick children at five area hospitals

 
Touching Lives with Comfort Foundation's Michele McFarland
Catonsville resident Michele McFarland, who created the Touching Lives with Comfort Foundation, is surrounded by the Pillow Pets she will be donating to young patients at five area hospitals. The foundation will have a bin for donated Pillow Pets outside the Santa House Saturday, Nov. 26, when the annual Catonsville tree-lighting ceremony takes place on Frederick Road next to the Catonsville fire station. (Photo by Noah Scialom / November 21, 2011)

A year after distributing 250 Pillow Pets to patients at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Michele McFarland said she plans to triple that number this Christmas.

Already in charge of an army of 1,400 of the plush stuffed animals, the Catonsville resident said she intends to amass a large enough reserve so she can give them to young patients at five area hospitals no matter the season.

"We've been very busy in the last several months trying to figure out how to make this a year-round program," said McFarland, who started the Touching Lives With Comfort Foundation with her husband, Brian.

"Because of this goal, my husband, Brian, and I felt that the establishment of a foundation would create more credibility when reaching out into the community to obtain donations."

McFarland noted the foundation likely would give her more credibility as she seeks donations and when she goes to hospitals.

McFarland has committed to distributing Pillow Pets to children at Johns Hopkins, Saint Agnes Hospital, University of Maryland Children's Hospital, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital this holiday season.

"We're finding that they're going to go really fast," added McFarland, who has two children, Chloe, 8, and Liam, 5. "We've got some stock. We want to keep that momentum going."

Much of the stock, McFarland said, came in September from CJ Products, the manufacturer of the $15 toy.  CJ Products told McFarland that they would donate 1,400 Pillow Pets to her cause if she became affiliated with a nonprofit organization.

McFarland teamed with the Casey Cares Foundation in Arbutus, an organization that provides special programs to critically ill children.

"Michele contacted us because she's working to get nonprofit status for her charity," said Erin Ritter, a program development director at Casey Cares. "It's a very cool partnership because we wouldn't have requested this kind of donation because it just didn't dawn on us."

Ritter noted that she has 20 boxes of 12 Pillow Pets in her office, and they take up so much room that she places sticky notes on the boxes to remind her of meetings.

Ritter said Casey Cares has given out about 50 of the Pillow Pets so far and will give out more at its holiday party on Dec. 10.

McFarland said she has already found "homes" for 1,000 of the Pillow Pets she received.

They are an especially nice treat for children who can't leave the house because they have weak immune systems, Ritter noted.

"When it's difficult to provide an activity, it's nice to give them something," Ritter said. "It really is a great pick me up."

"The 3-year-olds love the Pillow Pets, but we have 15-year-olds who couldn't have been more excited to get a Pillow Pet," she said.

To Annie Beatson, a child life specialist at Johns Hopkins, McFarland's Pillow Pets benefit more people than just children.

"Having that amount is really something that we'd never be able to do ourselves," said Beatson, who noted the hospital has 140 beds. "(It's) really special in the terms that it can provide a positive memory for our patients and families."

Since Pillow Pets come in a variety of forms, including puppies, ladybugs and pandas, Beatson said the pets allow patients to express their personality along with brightening up the sterile environment of a hospital room.

McFarland's motivation in pursuing this project is simple.

"They're going through a difficult time," McFarland said of the patients. "(The Pillow Pets) provide them with a little bit of comfort. It gives them a little smile. It helps them feel like kids."

The Touching Lives With Comfort Foundation may soon offer more than just Pillow Pets.

McFarland said she is considering providing gift bags for young patients and starting Kapes for Kids, which would allow the patients to pretend to be super heroes.

"We want to make it bigger and reach out into the community more," McFarland said about her foundation.

The first place many Catonsville residents will see the foundation's reach into the community is at the tree lighting on Nov. 26.

The foundation, McFarland said, will have a bin next to Santa's house where people can donate Pillow Pets to the cause.

The foundation will also have bins at Catonsville Gourmet, Catonsville Hair Company and McFarland & Masters law firm on Frederick Road, McFarland said.

Donations can be sent by mail to 920 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD 21228. Checks should be made out to the Touching Lives With Comfort Foundation.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/baltimorecounty/news/community/ph-ca-pillow-pets-1123-20111121,0,2872787.story

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pillow Pet Holiday Drive Kick Off

Saturday, November 27th, was an exciting evening for TLC and our Pillow Pet Drive.  We were invited to speak at the Christmas Tree Lighting in Catonsville and opening of the Santa House.  Santa Arrives via fire engine.  It's such an exciting evening for children and adults alike.  It's a great family event in Catonsville. 

Before Santa's arrival, I was able to get up on stage with my little helpers ( my children and some of their friends joined me on stage with some really cute pillow pets to show the crowd) and promote TLC's pillow pet drive.  The crowd was the largest yet, and that was probably due to the weather.  It was an extremely warm evening.  A friend was distributing fliers to those in the crowd as well to help spread the word. 

All truly went well- I felt like it was success.

Now let's just hope we can meet our goal of obtaining 750 pillow pets or close to.  Time will tell. 

Since our official kickoff we've received 13 pillow pets.  Our total received is 24 to date, so we have a long way to go. 

Do you want to know more?  Our drive will run through December 18th.  We will be accepting donations of new pillow pets or monetary donations.  We have drop boxes throughout the Catonsville Community (Catonsville Gourmet, Catonsville Hair Co., McFarland & Masters, The Santa House and Paradise Hair Salon). 

Monetary donations can be made payable to Touching Lives With Comfort Foundation and mailed to 920 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD 21228.

Questions?  Contact Michele at www.touchingliveswithcomfort.org

Many Blessings to all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Distributing Pillow Pets

We've been diligently at work locating homes for the current pillow pets that we have, and are finding that it won't take long to deplete our current stock.  We have  approx. 1000 of them accounted for already, and it wouldn't surprise me if we have the last 400 accounted for in the next few weeks. 

Therefore, continuing our Holiday Drive is of the utmost importance so that we can continue to give pillow pets to hospitals and foundations as the need arises throughout the upcoming year!

Last year we donated to Johns Hopkins Children's Center only; this year our locations of donations seems endless.  It is very exciting for us.  We've grown from one hospital to 7 hospitals and several foundations, and we are still adding. 

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Busy, Busy and Even Busier

A lot has been going on to prepare for our Pillow Pets Holiday Drive.  WES Student Council's Pillow Pet Committee has been busy at work making fliers to distribute throughout the community, and many other things to help make this drive a success. The kids did such a great job on the fliers-they are adorable. 

A lot of work goes into this believe it or not.  I've been busy ensuring that all of the businesses that have agreed to have a drop box are good to go; purchasing boxes, copying fliers to distribute in the community to help promote the drive and get the word out before the kick off on November 26th; created a poster to hang at the businesses; wrote my first press release (with the help of a friend); posted the event on local websites; placing fliers in and throughout the community and just trying to get the word out.  Whew!  That's a lot.  I pray it all comes together without any glitches.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Ready To Promote Our Pillow Pets for Pediatrics Holiday Drive

It's hard to believe that next week is November.  We all know what that means.... the holidays will be upon us before we know it.  How can it be?  With that said, TLC will be busy working on promoting our Holiday Drive.  We've got to spread the word to family and friends as well as into the community.  We hope that our family and friends will spread the word as they did last year to their family and friends, and so on. 

Further, with the help of our kid's school student council they will be creating fliers and posters to be distributed in local businesses throughout the community to promote the drive which will "kick off" in the community the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We'll have drop boxes at several businesses in hopes to make it easy for someone to make a donation.  We will also be collecting monetary donations if one prefers to make a donation that way.  We'll use the money to purchase pillow pets at cost from My Pillow Pet Co., as we did last year, which allows us to stretch our money a bit further, providing that many more pillow pets reaching more children.

Last year we collected 250 pillow pets.  This year I would love to see that number triple!  Time will tell.  Of course any number that is donated is greatly appreciated. 

"Kapes" for Kids

Have you ever seen the super hero capes that are made for kids? Some are girly with  a flower emblem, or crown, etc.. some are boyish with lightening bolts, etc.  To me, they are super cute and would make a great gift for a child in the hospital.  These capes might let the children "escape" for a bit, and let their imaginations take them to places where they can be a super hero battling against the evil villains (disease and illness).  Truly, children who are battling a disease or illness are super heroes and deserve to have some fun even in the hospital.  We are able to purchase the capes from www.powercapes.com at a reduced rate per cape. It's wonderful when you can find a company to work with that value and understand children need to be children no matter what the circumstance!  Thank you PowerCapes!

 I would love to be able to purchase 100 to have on hand to gift to children.  If everyone who read this blog donated $7.00 we could make this idea become a reality. 

Making this "REAL"

We've been very busy at work at making TLC a go.  It has been a whirlwind over the last four weeks, but oh, so very exciting!  Brian worked diligently to get all the paperwork filed, and setting up the website for me to then edit, add and create!  We still have a ton of work (and paperwork) ahead of us; I feel that we are progressing steadily along at a good pace. 

We've got ideas for other programs and have made contacts with companies who are willing to work with us allowing us to purchase products at cost.  It's such a wonderful feeling knowing there are companies who are working to make a profit, but also care about the community at large and are willing to help charitable foundations.  My Pillow Pets/CJ Products is certainly one of them! They were so generous with their recent donation to us, and allowing us to continue to purchase at cost.  As well, we now have Power Capes on our side to help us purchase adorable super hero capes at a greatly reduced rate!  These two companies care about children.

The focus now is on getting ready for our 2nd Pillow Pet Holiday Drive!  We are reaching out into the community much more this year, and are happy that so many have been open and receptive to help us with the drive!

The desire from so many hospitals to have the pillow pets donated to them has certainly made me realize we have a ton of work to do.  I can only hope we can meet all of the hospitals wishes for the pillow pets now and in the future! 
This year we will not only be giving to one hospital but rather to five + hospitals and foundations in the Baltimore area.  This is truly exciting. 

We've got lots of work to do, but have secured the help of many, including our children's school student council.  They will be busy at work making posters and fliers and promoting the drive in the next few weeks.

More to come about the drive! Check back regularly! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gearing Up For This Year's Pillow Pets for Pediatrics Drive!

Late yesterday afternoon, with the help of so many great volunteers (great friends!!!), we were able to tag all 1440 Pillow Pets that were donated by My Pillow Pets for this year's drive.  With such an incredible donation from My Pillow Pets, and the kind assistance of Casey Cares Foundation, we plan on turning our Pillow Pets for Pediatrics project into year round giving!

Stay tuned for more to come.









Most importantly, thanks to all of those (including those not pictured) for helping out yesterday!  We knocked it out of the park in 2 1/2 hours. WOW!

We are truly blessed to have such great support and such great, caring friends!