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Updated Sunday, November 3, 2013   *   4:56 PM

Background, Suggestions, Links and FAQs for

Pennies from Heaven

      This section offers background, guidelines, and suggestions to help you and your young people organize your own "Pennies from Heaven" campaign.  The Pennies home page has all the basic information you need, but this page hopes to stimulate thought and action.  It also describes Pennies' history briefly.  Those who choose to share news of their own campaigns are invited to do so over the Geotrees open e-mail groups.

      Some Helpful Organizations:  The second half of this page offers links to several organizations, most with local activities in behalf of children in pain or in need.  Contact them directly if you'd like to help.



      Pennies is simple and direct enough to embrace creative activities from individuals, schools, congregations, businesses, clubs, etc. of all kinds and sizes.  It can include and unite people of goodwill from throughout the community.  Campaigns can confine themselves to family and friends.  They can have outreach to the community with varying levels of fanfare, reflecting the community's life in many ways.  Or they can work anywhere in between.  We'll share ideas and news of such activies as they become available.
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All Pennies campaigns follow four basic principles:

  • FIRST - Each is all-volunteer, community-based and -run, and independent.

  • SECOND - Children and young people are personally involved in the activities.

  • THIRD - Each youth campaign has a responsible adult mentor and point of contact.

  • And FOURTH - All campaigns donate 100% of funds collected to a nonprofit charity or good cause, which it identifies publicly during the campaign. (These may include their own, such as a school's scholarship fund or a community arts project.)
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      A "Pennies from Heaven" campaign obviously benefits the recipients of the donation.  But it will also benefit an ever-widening circle of others, throughout the community and perhaps beyond:

  • The participating children themselves will gain valuable skills and experience in at least nine important areas.  1) Their natural idealism and compassion will be affirmed and validated by their own deeds.  2) Each one will feel his or her ability to do something, personally, of real benefit to others - they will experience their personal capability to bring real good and enwholement into the world.   3) They will see how the value of that experience multiplies when they work together, in groups.   4) They will learn leadership, initiative, responsibility, and cooperation - with one another, and with adults.   5) And in so doing, they will help build understanding and respect across generational lines.   6) While engaging the public, they will become more self-confident.   7) Over the course of a campaign they will learn planning and patience.   8) They can develop artistic skills by creating their own signs, collection jar labels, badges, and more.   9) And by looking into possible recipient organizations, they can begin to learn research and analytic skills.

  • The adult mentors will experience the satisfaction of guiding the growth of young people in compassion and active involvement, and developing themselves as role models.

  • Supportive community groups, organizations, and businesses will gain new visibility and respect in the eyes of the public at large, who in turn will be inspired to a new awareness of compassion, generosity, and civic responsibility.

  • And people of different backgrounds, situations and circumstances can come into closer contact, building stronger bridges of understanding in these difficult and divisive times.  Pennies campaigns have great potential for bridging intercultural, interfaith, and intergenerational divides.

Pennies looks forward to posting the stories of how your campaign benefits those it touches.
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      In an era stricken with xenophobia and strife, areas with diverse populations have a special opportunity.  If, for example, groups of children from Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and secular communities get together for a common campaign, and join to make a single, combined contribution to a worthy cause, they would serve as inspirations and edifying role models for many of their elders.  Geotrees would be especially pleased to share news of such campaigns.
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      Pennies from Heaven arose in reply to the extraordinary suffering of a number of children, two from Baltimore in particular.  It also draws on the continuing needs of children worldwide as reflected by Trick or Treat for UNICEF since 1950.  It is offered with great respect and great love to the happiness, the enwholement, and the wellbeing of all children, born and unborn, and to the possibility that all of us - young and not-so-young - can bring upliftment into the world through simple deeds.

      The foundational inspirations and origins of Geotrees.Com's version of Pennies lie decades deep, and come from three main sources. 

      Earliest on, Pennies draws on the Forestville/ Great Falls,Virginia United Methodist Church of the 1950s and its response to a world full of hungry children in the wake of World War II.  This church mobilized the children, and parents, of its community to participate in energetic and successful Trick or Treat for UNICEF campaigns, giving those children perhaps their first exposure to the difficulties facing many of their peers in the larger world.  (UNICEF continues such campaigns to this day.  Please see the links later on this page to contact them.)  In fact, these campaigns' basic activity - collecting change - became the model for Pennies itself.

      Second is the powerful story of a compound tragedy that overtook a young family in Northeast Baltimore in the 1960s, and to a transforming act of love, courage, and trust that emerged from it.  That story is the spiritual "big bang" and root source of Pennies.  In the late 1990s, that community's St. Michael the Archangel Church was the first site of activity for what would become the Geotrees model.

      And third is the horrific experience of seeing children, one child barely out of infancy in particular, struggling for their lives in the pediatric burn unit of Baltimore's then-Francis Scott Key Medical Center in 1977 into 1978. 

      Most of us have heard difficult stories of children and young people, and have wished for ways to help ease their burdens and help build a world that respects and cares for its vulnerable ones, children in particular.  So it is a pleasure to offer Pennies as one way that almost anyone, especially the young themselves, can bring some love, joy, respect and relief into their lives, and into the world.

      Additional inspirations include the work of the Shriners Childrens Hospitals everywhere; the Helzberg Foundation, home of the "I am Loved" button; Giant Foods' Richard Tubbs and his "Have a Heart" campaign of the 1980s; the hospice work of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; and the lives of Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, and Anne Frank.


      An especially powerful campaign, conducted entirely independently and without knowledge of Geotrees, took place in Great Falls, Virginia, home of the seminal Methodist church mentioned above, in response to Hurricane Katrina in the autumn of 2005.  This campaign raised over $12,000, and was reported in detail in The Connection newspapers of northern Virginia.  Click here to read this inspiring story.



These links were tested and verified, or updated as needed, on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

      This section carries alphabetically-posted links to groups and organizations that specialize in activities for children or that young people themselves participate in, or both - charities that resonate strongly with Pennies, its values and mission.  Most are known to have activities in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area.  Such groups often have volunteer opportunities, especially as the late-year holidays approach.  Please contact them directly to learn more.

      Do you know of anyone in the area - school, congregation, media outlet, whoever - doing such work?  Please put them in touch, so that we can tell others about them.  Write us at pennies@geotrees.com.

  • The Helzberg Foundation:   The "I am Loved" page.   Verified Sunday, November 3, 2013.
          "Spread the Message of Love" with this foundation, home of the "I am Loved" button campaign since 1967, and key to "Pennies'" original inspiration.  An activity of the Helzberg Diamonds company, which is engaged in a number of charitable and service activities to benefit those young and not-so-young.  Thank you, Kathy...

  • The Annual "Holiday Hope Drive" of the Children's Law Center:
    www.childrenslawcenter.org/join-our-team/Holiday-Hope-Drive.   Updated Sunday, November 3, 2013.
          "Sign up today for CLC's Holiday Hope Drive.  We have more than 700 children who rely on the generosity of people like you in order to have a happy holiday.
          "For more than 10 years, Children’s Law Center has helped give the many children we serve a wonderful holiday season.  We hope you will choose to give the gift of hope to DC’s neediest children this year.
          "Each child in our Holiday Hope Drive has his or her own story: some live in foster care or group homes, some live in extreme poverty, some have been abuse or neglected, and some have never had a 'real Christmas.'  However, they have all benefitted from CLC services, and they all need your help to finish the year with a happy holiday."
          NOTE!  For 2013, the Center requests that you complete the donor sign-up form by Wednesday, November 20.  Please visit their site for details.
          For assistance, please contact the Hope Drive team by e-mail at hopedrive@childrenslawcenter.org or by phone at 202-467-4900, extension 699.

  • St. Baldrick's Foundation:   www.stbaldricks.org.   Verified Sunday, November 3, 2013.
          "St. Baldrick's is a whimsical twist on St. Patrick's Day - when brave volunteers agreed to shave their heads bald to raise funds for childhood cancer research. . .  In our first year together as an independent St. Baldrick's Foundation, we raised over $5.3 million. . .  St. Baldrick's began with three people who wanted to make a difference, and chose to help children with cancer.  Today, the St. Baldrick's Foundation unites thousands of volunteers whose shared mission - to shave the way to a cure - has captured the enthusiasm and devotion of people around the world."
          "Virtual shaves" are available for those who don't want to go "the full Monty."
          There are many events and participants throughout the Baltimore-Washington area, and they take place year-round.  To find one (or more) near you by Zip code and selected distance range, start with this link: www.stbaldricks.org/events/ and see "Find an Event" on the left of the page.
          Thanks to Steve Sheldon of the Old Brogue Restaurant and Pub in Great Falls, Virginia for the original information on St. Baldrick's.  The Foundation has many local organizers and contacts - please visit their home site to find one near you.

  • Santa Claus Anonymous:   www.santaclausanonymous.com/.   Updated Sunday, November 3, 2013.
          "A Baltimore area charity dedicated since 1934 to: 'Give a Child a Christmas' by providing anonymous monetary support in the form of gift certificates to parents or guardians of underprivileged children in Baltimore City and the following counties in Maryland: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard."
          Phone: 443-557-7000 or 410-456-9269;   E-mail: santa@santaclausanonymous.org.

  • Shriners Hospitals for Children:   www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/.   Verified Sunday, November 3, 2013.
          "Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of pediatric specialty hospitals, founded by the Shrine, where children under the age of 18 receive excellent medical care absolutely free of charge."

  • Toys for Tots:   www.toysfortots.org/.   Verified Sunday, November 3, 2013.
          "Mission: To collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.  Goal: To deliver, through a shiny new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders." 
          Very active in the Baltimore area for many years.  This is a nationwide organization; visit their home page to find your local points of contact.

  • Trick or Treat for UNICEF:   www.trickortreatforunicef.org/.   Verified Sunday, November 3, 2013.
          "The tradition of 'Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF' began in 1950 in the United States when Philadelphia school children first went door-to-door at Hallowe'en collecting money in decorated milk cartons to help the world's children."  The organization has activities year-round, including educational resources for teachers, parents, and others.

    The tradition continues...


Copyright © 2006-2013 by Geotrees.Com and the Apples 'n Oranges Intercultural Cafe.  Use freely, with attribution.

Dedicated with great respect and great love to Kathy, and her dad, and her mom, and her dog.

To Aaron, Bill, Chad, Chelsea, Chris, Debbie, Joel, Katie, Matthew, Nichole, Paul, Samantha, Steve, and Xia.
To every child who has passed through the Key/Bayview pediatric burn unit in Baltimore.

To Baby Rowe and to all children everywhere, born and unborn.

~   "Burn Slowly, the Candle of Life"   ~


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