Monday, May 9, 2011

Giving Gifts of Love and Happiness

When buses arrived at South Coast Plaza retail center after business hours on December 10th, 350 homeless and motel children from around Orange County, CA stepped out to join a gathering of happiness, charity and holiday cheer.

A collaborative effort hosted by Festival of Children Foundation, South Coast Plaza, YPO Southern California Chapter and The Happiness Project, “Gifts of Love” gave children a chance to be a VIP this holiday season. As each child departed the bus they were matched with a volunteer helped them navigate the various activities. From visits with Santa to unlimited rides on the reindeer carousel, to arts and crafts and delicious food provided by Wahoo’s Fish Taco and Z Pizza, the children were given the Christmas they truly deserved. A teen lounge equipped with video games and music was available for the older children, and every child in attendance received a special gift bag tailored to their age group and gender.

“The opportunity to host this event and visit the shelters and motels has opened our children’s eyes to the very real issue of homelessness here in Orange County. Hopefully this holiday experience of giving to others will motivate children and adults alike to continue to make a difference in our community throughout the year,” said Brian Murphy, President of Athletes First and a member of YPO Southern California Chapter. We graciously thank the 200 volunteers who gave of their time, and the dozens of individuals and businesses that came together with donations and financial support to provide a magical evening for children in our own community.

Spreading Holiday Cheer From East to West

What do you get when you send Julius the Monkey on a cross-country tour to spread a little holiday cheer? Milk, cookies, candy canes, and hundreds of books for kids who need them the most! Festival of Children Foundation partnered with Paul Frank Industries this holiday season on a six-stop tour, where patrons got to enjoy holiday treats, as well as a 20% discount in the store with a donation of any new or gently-used book. We then distributed the collected books to our member charities that promote literacy in those six cities:
•Edgewood Center for Children & Families (San Francisco, CA)
•First Book (Las Vegas, NV)
•Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center (Santa Ana, CA)
•Screen Actors Guild Foundation (Los Angeles, CA)
•Children of the City (New York, NY)
•Working in the Schools (Chicago, IL)

The Fundamentals of Grant Proposals: A Seminar

When Festival of Children Foundation brings together executives from 29 different charities in one room to discuss the fundamentals of grant proposals, ideas are developed, friendships are made, and valuable information is shared freely. Fundraising expert Melissa Brown joined us from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University to lead the collaborative discussion as part of our Executive Training Seminar series. She provided valuable information pertaining to the steps of proposal development, including linking project goals to community need, matching projects to funders’ interests, preparing a budget, and writing effectively for proposal review.
Nonprofit executives left feeling energized and empowered to approach the often overwhelming world of grant writing. “I feel confident that what Melissa taught me today will make a ‘leaps and bounds’ difference in my ability to write grant proposals for our organization,” wrote Marie Gentosi of Assistance League Newport-Mesa.
The seminar was provided at no cost to member organizations, thanks to the generous support of The Allergan Foundation.