Jennifer’s February Column in Savvy Family Magazine

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Sister Mary Rose McGeady was said “There is no greater joy nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone’s life.”  Giving back is really important to me, my employees, and my family. There are so many needs in our community and often it’s hard to decide how to best help organizations in need. My favorite way to give to charities is to give them the gift of organization.

At the top of my list of favorite local organizations is the BJC Hospice Pediatric Friends of WINGS program (friendsofwings.com). WINGS is a non profit organization that provides clinical, emotional, spiritual, social and practical support and services to children from newborn through 21 years who have progressive, life threatening or life limiting illnesses or conditions, regardless of their ability to pay.

For the last couple of years, Saint Louis Closet Co. has collected art supplies at Christmas time to support their art therapy program. My staff, our clients, colleagues and friends have been incredibly generous to the Friends of Wings program and have helped a lot of individual children and their siblings to have supplies for their art therapy.  In 2008 we are planning on getting their storage closet organized to hold even more supplies.

I am proud to have been the Honorary Chair for the last 2 years for the Friends of Wings Big Bear Brunch.  Families enrolled in the program are invited to come and share in delicious food, great activities and a truly supportive environment.

The St. Louis Crisis Nursery (crisisnurserykids.org) was another organization we enjoyed helping this year. They are committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and provide emergency intervention, respite care and support to families in crisis. We donated a walk-in closet for their baby clothes drop-off. They had some good systems for their drop-off, but now they are organized and ready for lots of donations of clothes.

Since I live in Kirkwood, I enjoy supporting local organizations in my community. We had a great time donating, designing and installing the entire teen area at the Kirkwood Public Library (kpl.lib.mo.us). If you’re in Kirkwood, stop by and see how great their teen area looks.

Another Kirkwood organization that is near to my heart and my two children is The Magic House (magichouse.org)..  We had fun helping organize their coat closet for visitors. The Magic House engages children in hands-on learning experiences that encourage experimentation, creativity and the development of problem-solving skills. They are one of the most attended children’s museums in the country and we enjoyed designing closets to fit all of their winter and rainy day needs.

There are a lot of St. Louis charities and organizations that need your help. A great start is to go to the website www.charity-charities.org/charities/MO/StLouis.html. Another great website is www.charitynavigator.org (type in St. Louis). They both contain a complete list of local charities. Figuring out what you have to offer is the first step, whether it’s time, money, services or products. Then, get busy helping.

There is no better way than to start off the New Year organizing your thoughts and your budget as to how you can help and give back.  

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