Calgary Food Bank Changing Lives

I've had the privilege of attending many media functions and events in Calgary over the past 17 years.  The Calgary Food Bank has always been an organization near and dear to my heart.  

About a month ago I participated in the Annual Mayor's Food Drive in support of the Calgary Food Bank.  This year, we were introduced to a young man who touched every one's heart.  His name is Jeret. Here is Jeret's story in his own words as he kicked off the event. 

"Hello my name is Jeret Holt and I am a volunteer at the food bank I feel very fortunate to be here today. I also feel very fortunate to be where I am in my life and am able to give back to an organization that gave my family more than just boxes of food. Growing up, even in a middle class family, times can be tough. I grew up with an alcoholic father that was on occasion abusively violent to my mother.

There was no getting around the fact that, as strong as my mother was, there was no way she was going to better our situation without support. I cannot image the added worry and struggle any mother must go through especially this time of year. Wanting nothing more than to see her children safe and smiling.

That’s why I said, "it was always more than just boxes of food." In those boxes was hope.  Hope that my mother had made the right choices no matter the struggles. Self confidence, to help focus on what was coming next. To ease ones burden and create help and grow opportunity.  In those boxes was a means for my mother to instil a better life in her three children, and she did.

After utilizing the food bank around Christmas for several years we were all able to persist forward. My mom now owns a successful house cleaning company and the girls are getting University educations. As for me, I am a freelance cinematographer that shoot’s TV and film across North America. That’s why I feel fortunate to be here and have the time…a story and a skill, to give back to the Calgary food bank. My family’s struggles are over but still for so many they are still just beginning."   

Thank you Jeret for allowing The Brighter Side to share your inspirational words and experiences.  For more information on the Calgary Food Bank, visit their website at http://www.calgaryfoodbank.com

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Visit Jeret's website www.calgarycameraman.com

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Made By Momma

Not long ago, Role Mothers introduced me to an outstanding Non for profit organization called Made By Momma.  They are a group of mothers helping other mothers.  And as a mother of 2 boys under the age of 5, I know how hard it can be at times to just catch your breath. I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed at times. But what I don't know is being a mother recovering from illness and injury. And that's why getting involved with Made By Momma was important.  

I'll admit, there are times when I do think I'm Super Mom!  But once reality settles in, I too needed a helping hand.  We all need that extra hand from time to time.  So where do you turn when you need help?  Family, friends and colleagues are a great resource, but not everyone has those options.  

Made By Momma touched my heart.  They deliver baked goods and hot and frozen meals to mothers recovering from illness and injury, mothers experiencing situations of adversity and women who need some extra time while establishing breastfeeding or bonding with a new baby.  They provide other services as well to help mothers the best they can.  

Sugar Cookies
So, my friend Jo Jo and I came up with the idea for a Made By Momma Recipe Exchange.  Bring food to donate, have a get together with friends, and you go home with the new tasty recipes to test in your own kitchen.  Being the middle of December, several people were too busy to attend the party, but that didn't stop them.  They dropped off meals and baking to my home, until the baskets were full!  

Ready for Made By Momma
Here was the final Made By Momma Party count:
42 cupcakes  
 9 dozen cookies
12 muffins
 5 banana loafs
 2 brownie mixes
 2 dozen granola squares
 4 sheppard's pie
 1 lasagna
Packed and ready to deliver
 1 butter chicken with rice
 2 meat sauces
 6 veggie burgers
and... a whole lotta love!

Thank you Jo Jo, Melissa, Lisa, Shanna, Kathy, Laurie, Kim, Lindsay, Danielle, Pam, Carolyn, Erin, Kelly and Cindy.  As Made By Momma said, "Women helping women, it's one of the best and strongest support systems that has ever existed".  

Made By Momma is always looking for women with kind, generous hearts to help out!  They know that women are multi-talented and whatever your "gift" from preparing meals, baking, knitting, artwork, dog walking or providing breastfeeding support or advice, you will be a welcome addition to their care team.  

Please visit http://www.madebymomma.org for more information.  
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A different way to donate this year

Homeless Partners
A Different Way to Donate This Year

Giving money or donating clothes to homeless shelters each year is helpful, but for a group of people who decided to add some creativity to the cause, it now has a personal touch.

Homeless Partners is a non-profit, self-funded program that changes the way you can give to those less fortunate this year. By visiting the website below, you can select a recipient in your chosen city, read their story, and review their Christmas wish list. Items range from blankets to bus tickets, making Christmas comfortable, or perhaps life changing for those in need. 

To participate is simple! Visit the website and create an account. Select your chosen city and shelter, and select a recipient. Click on the gift box next to their wish, then pledge your gift. Wrapping and deposit instructions are also included on the website, making the donation process easy.

Homeless Partners is unlike any other organization, creating such a personal way to give. Each individual has their own story to tell, and you can get to know them by reading a little bit about their life, then selecting an item from their wish list that would mean the most to them.

Click the link and get to know someone in your area. Giving them a chance to unwrap a personal gift from you could make a difference this season!


The Brighter Side wishes to thank Marlana for sharing this story with us.  I quickly went to the link and in Calgary you can grant wishes for those at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre.  I was in tears reading the wish lists.  Simple things that mean so much to them.  For example there was one wish for an eye exam and glasses, the other was as simple as a jacket.  It's just a click away.  If you've been wondering where to help this holiday season, THIS ONE IS A MUST SEE!

Blessings to you and your loved ones this Holiday Season.

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It Make Scents

It Makes Scents
Anti-Itching Cooling Spray 
Marlana Prowal

If you frequently go to bed with itchy skin, a few things can be a factor. It could be the type of laundry soap and fabric softener that may not agree with your skin type, or it could simply be this dry time of year where we become good friends with our wooden back scratchers.Using anti-itch lotions leave a mess, and usually don't last long on the skin. So why not use a powder? Even better, why not make your own?

There are essential oils that work best for calming itchy skin, and making your own powder to dust on your skin before bed, or sprinkle inside your night shirt could just be the most fun you have concocting your own treatment.

Cooling Anti-Itch Powder

In a bowl, sift and mix:
2/3 Cup of Arrowroot Powder (find at your local health food store)
2/3 Cup of Cornstarch
1 heaping Tbsp Baking Soda
Use a deep bowl because this powder mixture will get everywhere. On one cosmetic pad, add the essential oils (see amounts below). On second cosmetic pad, add a 1/2 Tsp of Tea (seed) oil or Jojoba oil. 
6 drops of Peppermint
4 drops of Eucalyptus
4 drops of Lavender
2 drops of Rose
2 drops of Ylang Ylang
2 drops of Tea Tree

Spoon half of the powder mixture in to a glass jar. Add the two cosmetic balls. Add the second half of the powder mixture. Screw the lid on and shake. This powder can be ready for use in one day, but to get a nicely cured powder, leave in the jar for at least three days (up to a week if you can wait that long), shaking the jar at least a few times each day. After a couple of days, you may want to put in two fresh new cosmetic pads with the oils. 

This is a very minty, cooling powder! If you suffer from itch that keeps you from sleeping, dust a bit of this powder on your bedsheets just before you go to bed. Keep this powder handy in the summer, as it also works wonders on irritating mosquito bites.

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Letter To Santa COOKIES!

Once the decorating starts, you have to finish until the end!  Every year we see the neighbours put up their lights the same way they did last year.  You hang the Christmas wreath on the door, just like you did last year.  And the tree goes up with the same decorations.  Well, except the new ones your kids made.  (If you forget those, you'll hear about it!!!)  Instead of doing the same thing year after year, why not kick up your holidays a notch with a Letter To Santa Cookie!

While surfing the tweets on Twitter, up came a link to Letter To Santa Cookies.  Intrigued, I clicked!  WOW!  What an awesome idea.  I love love love this idea.  The letter your child wrote to Santa is on a cookie!  What a wonderful, unique idea.  And they look delicious too!  But that's not all, the best part, besides having the coolest cookies in your neighbourhood, is that $1.00 of every cookie sold will go to an organization called Children Without Poverty.  If it wasn't for Bloomalicious, I would have never known about this fantastic group of people.  

The creator of Letter To Santa Cookie, chose this organization from her heart.  Having experienced first hand from her childhood, she felt the need to give back.  She remembers a time when she was in 6th grade going to school and her tummy was rumbling from hunger.  Back then, things were "tight" at home.  It's unfortunate that anyone goes through those experiences.  But it's those moments we remember, and those moments make us who we are today.  And today Bloomalicious can give back.  

Children Without Poverty provides mentoring, support and assistance to families moving from homelessness and poverty to a desired sustainable lifestyle.  Incredible! What a wonderful gift that would be.  Thanks to Bloomalicious and their support through the Letter To Santa Cookie, now you can make a small step towards helping these children.  To learn more about this local charity, visit their website www.childrenwithoutpoverty.com.

And on Christmas Eve, your child's face will light up when they see their letter on a cookie!  And during the rest of the year, be sure to check back with Bloomalicious for one of their custom made cookie bouquets!  Another Great Idea with Amazing people!  

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Give The Gift of Health

With the spirit of Christmas, comes the spirit of giving.  This is the time of year that everyone wants to see those less fortunate have a Merry Christmas.  But it’s not always about toys and food.  (But those are very good organizations that help out).  It can also be about health.  There is a way to give when it comes to health, and that’s where you can consider becoming a life-force donor of stem cells, by registering as a bone marrow donor.  If nothing else, pass along the information to anyone who you may think would like to do this. 

I recently received an email from a friend of mine who is looking for anyone who may be able to help out a friends 3 month old granddaughter Zoe.  Zoe is currently fighting for her life with a very serious rare blood condition called HLH.  Being a bone marrow donor might save the life of a child, just like Zoe. 
The best way to get started on the stem cell donor list is to go to http://www.onematch.ca/.  
On behalf of my good friend and this family, thank you for reading this and passing the information along.  Please spread the word, the more people who join the network means the more stem cells matches that are possible for sick kids here in Alberta and around the world. 

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Great Idea's for Dinner ~ Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

This is probably one of my favourite things to make.  It's quick and easy.  And the kids LOVE this too.

Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

2 chicken breasts (or Roasted Chicken from grocery store)
8 green tortilla wraps
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups shreaded mozzarella and cheadar cheese

Salsa & Guacomole
2 red tomatoes diced
1 orange pepper diced
1 yellow pepper diced
1/4 cup red onion diced
1/3 cup cilantro chopped
1 Tbsp chilie pepper flakes (optional if you want it spicy)

2 ripe Avacados mashed
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp Epicure Guacomole mix (optional)
2 Tbsp red onion diced (optional)

Cook chicken breasts through.  Cut into strips.  Brush olive oil onto bottom side of the tortilla wrap.  In a large frying pan on medium heat, place tortilla wrap oil side down.  Spread handful of cheese onto wrap, top with handful of chicken strips.  Top with more cheese, over chicken.  Brush olive oil onto top side of the second wrap and place oil side up over chicken and cheese.  Once cheese has melted, flip wrap.  Quesadilla is ready once it's been warmed through.  For those picky eaters who refuse to eat chicken, just add cheese.  Top Quesadillas with salsa, sour cream and guacomole!  Enjoy!

Chicken & Cheese
This meal is faster if you pick up an already roasted chicken.  Great for when you're on the go!!!

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