Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We Love All The Orphans in the Whole World...

We have decided as a family to spend a week with Dando Amor, a local charity organization, working to help abandoned and abused children in some of the poorest orphanages in Ecuador. We will be headed to South America for this service adventure in March, 2013. We could not be more excited!

We chose to become involved specifically with Dando Amor because we personally know and admire the people involved in this impressive nonprofit organization. We have had enough experience with them to know that they mean what they say when they claim that 100% of donations go to directly meet the needs of orphans.

For example, not only does everyone involved pay their own travel expenses, they are also asked to raise additional funds to support the group's projects, as part of the price of the trip. Through this grassroots model, they were able to raise more than $100,000 in their first year alone, every cent of which was used to directly help the needy orphans. Of course, there were also many, many hours of hard work donated by participants, and that work continues to grow.

If you would like to join us by making a donation to help support this worthy cause, please donate directly to Dando Amor by clicking on the "Chip In" link to the right. We give you our full assurance that whatever you give will be used to help needy children, and for nothing else. Dando Amor is a registered (501c3) nonprofit organization, so your donation is fully tax deductible. You can donate using your PayPal account, or any credit card.

The donate link might not be visible or work well from a mobile device, such as an iPhone, but should be fine from any desktop with any browser.

Many of the participants, including Travis, are professional photographers, and they publicize the group locally and on the web through their wonderful photos.
Photo by Rachel Elkind
As support for the organization grows, they are immediately able to use all funds to do more and more good, because there are absolutely no administrative costs. No one is compensated for their time, or for management, or supervision, or accounting, or fundraising, or anything. That is a charity model we can really get behind!

Lori and I made this decision while trying to decide together what to get our kids for Christmas this year. The more we thought, and discussed, the more uncomfortable we became with a single, simple truth: Our kids don't really need anything. As a matter of fact, they don't really even want anything, and neither do we. We have been so blessed, that it is hard to even come up with something to buy for Christmas! We have every material thing we need already, and more, so why buy something just for the sake of it - for a date on the calendar that somehow has come to demand it?

Photos taken by Dando Amor participant Jennie Moss
As we pondered these things, we came to the realization that buying something, anything, for our kids for Christmas, just for the sake of fulfilling a materialistic obligation was not just a waste of money, but also a waste of opportunity. We began to feel strongly that serving others during Christmas time would allow us to better fulfill two important stewardships - sharing our abundant blessings with those in need, and raising moral, responsible, charitable, and kind children. We realized that the best thing that we can give to our children, and to ourselves, this Christmas, is to reach out to those in need.

We were already somewhat familiar with Dando Amor and the incredible needs of Ecuadorian orphans through our association with Travis Gugelman, a local photographer, and Rex Head, MD, a family physician in our community. Both of these guys are local heroes whose passion and love for these forgotten children had inspired us. Over the past couple of years, we had attended some fundraisers, shed a few tears, and made some small donations. We had said to ourselves on more than one occasion, "Wouldn't that be a great experience for our kids, someday?" We cannot express how good it feels to have decided that 'someday' is now.

Our Christmas tree this year
Of course, we had concerns about safety, taking the kids out of school, and the costs of traveling so far. We worried that Ayla was too young to appreciate the experience, and about taking our three young, sheltered girls into such a rough, "real world" environment. We worried about parasites, spiders, and diarrhea. While we still worry a little about these things, we believe that the benefits to our souls and characters will be more than worth the risks or discomforts involved. We hope that the experiences we will have and the memories we will make will fuel a stronger and stronger desire within each of us to reach out and serve our fellow man.

One thing that we concerned ourselves with needlessly was our children's reaction to this decision. We prepared a special Family Night, and convinced Travis and his family to help us "sell" this Christmas to the kids. Two of our kids knew what was going down as soon as Travis showed up, and were visibly excited about the prospect. It took all of about twenty seconds to get the other two on board. How gratifying it was to see their excitement at giving up Christmas presents, and Santa's goodies, and everything, all for the chance to work hard, raise money, and spend a week on our least luxurious vacation ever! They weren't disappointed, or mad, or annoyed, or any of the things we had feared they might be. Each of them was excited, and motivated, and eager to help! In fact, by the end of the evening, the first $100 or so to be put into the family's Ecuador fund had been willingly donated in quarters, dimes, and pennies from their various piggy banks. The next day, unbeknownst to their parents, two of our daughters and their friends were out going door to door, asking neighbors if they would like to donate money for the orphans in Ecuador! They raised $40 with nothing more than their smiles!

Ayla with our family 'donation can'
We will plan to use this forum and facebook to keep those interested up to date on how our project unfolds as we prepare, raise needed funds, and finally carry out this exciting trip. We have some exciting and fun fundraising events being planned, and hope to have as much participation as we can get!

Yes, we will shamelessly ask anyone who can to donate money to help these most needy and vulnerable children. While asking for donations is not something we are accustomed to, we are committed to devoting ourselves as a family to making a difference. Not only are we eager to help as much as we can, but also to share with you all the joy and excitement that we feel being able to help in whatever small way we can. Please join us!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

FREE to Good Homes

Since we finally got some winter weather in Rexburg, I decided to do some Spring cleaning! I was just going to drop all this stuff off at DI, but then I thought that maybe somebody might want some of it, so I'm making it available for a week or so to any of you locals who might want to claim it. Don't feel obligated, of course.

The rules:
1) You have to pick it up. I am willing to bring it to work, but that's as far as it goes. I like you, but not that much.
2) Once you take it, it is yours. Don't even try to boomerang it! I don't want to see it again.
3) I'm not going to answer a bunch of questions about this stuff on the blog. I'll describe the items below; that's all I know about them. Take it or leave it.
4) First person to leave a comment on the item is the proud new owner! 

After a week or so, anything not claimed will get dropped off at DI, and from there, no doubt, will make its way to the Island of Misfit Toys to audition for a part on a new reality show.

What you see below is a treadmill that I singlehandedly dragged across the snow in my backyard, and heaved up in to the bed of my truck. Best exercise I ever got with it! But, by the time that was done, I wasn't about to stand it up for photos. If you want to see photos of a similar machine that some schmuck is trying to sell on eBay for $1, plus $299 for shipping, (good luck to him), click here.

It is a NordicTrack EXP 1000 S that I have owned for maybe 10 years. It is entirely functional, save for one flaw, depicted below. I'm going to miss it, as I trained for 2 half-marathons and a Grand Canyon hike on it. No, I have not washed my years of collective sweat off from it, and I'm not going to. No idea how much longer the vital organs will last (mine, or the treadmill's).
Here you can see a near-complete crack in one of the frame welds. Another half-inch, and the whole machine implodes. (Obviously, at some point, some fatty snuck into my house and ran on my machine, causing overload to this weak point.) So, if you want to use this as more than decoration, you will need to get someone to fix that weld. It isn't remotely safe otherwise. Obviously, I am not responsible for any accidents or injuries that may occur. Except, of course, for that part where I laugh at you, really hard.
Good luck trying to make sense of this photo. I will mention here that the treadmill is a "space saver" model, which means it folds up to stand in the corner of a room. This feature also makes it more convenient when it is your turn to get rid of it. Not to mention that, when folded securely away, it makes a nice, decorative statue for the front room (if you're into abstract art).

The belt is nice and wide, and the motor and console seem to be in good shape. The motor cover has come off, and so you will have to figure out a way to gerry-rig it back on. The breaker switch malfunctioned eons ago, and I have substituted a standard automobile fuse for it ever since (without any Josh Powell-esque incidents, I might add, with apologies to anyone with any sensitivity at all, who obviously doesn't run in my circles).

It also states that it has a special, "quiet drive." It is quiet, too, if you consider the sound of a platoon of fully-geared firefighters trundling up an old staircase "quiet."
This is an old TV/DVD combo that works just fine. You can see the 10-inch screen just fine, if you get really close and squint. On the plus side, it only weighs about 167 pounds.

Check out these beauties. The purple one is a CD/FM radio combination player, and the blue one is a rare portable CD player, designed specifically to wear while doing jazzercise to Jane Fonda. Leg warmers not included.

This is a perfectly good Logitech wireless keyboard and infrared mouse. Somebody's gonna want these. The mouse will need new rechargeable AA's.
Here are a bunch of computer parts that I invented, but couldn't get patented. Useless unless you happen to wear thick glasses taped together in the middle. (If you build computers, you might want the boxes.)
Perfectly good computer speakers. Adjustable volume. Woot!

I think that most of the printers you are about to see work just fine. I replaced them for various reasons over the years, such as expensive ink, networking issues, or the fact that I got ticked at the Indian guy on the tech support line that couldn't even speak Hindi very well, let alone English. In retrospect, however, that was good training for dealing with eClinicalWorks support. Those guys always ask me which province I'm from.

Anyway, this one is a hp J6450 All-In-One.

Lexmark X7170 All-In-One.

hp Officejet 6110 All-In-One

HP Deskjet 932C. This one was my favorite printer. It comes with a USB cable, and also, as a bonus, a gigantic serial port cable in case you're still using an Apple IIe. I only quit using it because it doesn't network. Great for home computing, kids' projects, etc. if you don't need to print from multiple machines. No idea if they still make drivers for it.

Random Cordless phone. I think it works.

This one is a Linksys cable modem, model CM100. Not the latest equipment, but works well, and is reliable. If your Internet is through Cableone, you can substitute this for the one they are renting to you for $12/month. That's what I did.

JBL 5.1 surround speakers, with their associated wall mounts/stands. The center speaker is missing, but other thatn that, it is a nice set. The subwoofer is awesome!

A couple of DVD RW drives that work. I think one of them doesn't write very well, but both would be passable DVD players for just about any computer.
17 inch flat screen monitor, the old school kind. It works fine, good picture.

This wall-hanging whiteboard calendar has been replaced by updated technology (i.e. the smartphone and Google Calendar). It comes with magnetized eraser, and the black squares are permanent. Very Pottery Barn-ish, if you're into that sort of thing.
Well, there you have it. One person's trash...

If you want anything on the list, just make a comment to that effect below. If somebody has already commented, you can still make a claim in case the first person dogs me. Include how you want to do the handoff in your comment. Anything not claimed and taken will probably go to Deseret Industries on Saturday, 2/18.