CONTENTS 3 A Very Classy Christmas Volunteer Year in Review 5 Must Ministries Christmas Toy Shop 6 Gift Wrapping with Blankets of Love 7 Blankets of Love A Volunteerâ€™s Perspective 8 Toys for Tots Tis the Season for... Giving Back 12 Mingle & Jingle Work Hard, Play Hard
Issue 9 December 2015 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
LaShanda Pitts EDITOR AT LARGE
Janine Lattimore CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Tarrah Gales Eboni Brown Nikki Blakely-Simmons Alia Thompson CREATIVE DIRECTOR
LaShanda Pitts PHOTOGRAPHY
Jason Byrdsell (www.enphocusphotography.com) DESIGN DIRECTOR
Simone Darlington (www.tamlyndesign.com) BE A PART OF THE NEXT CLASSY CHRONICES
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Volunteer VOLUNTEERYear YEARinINReview REVIEW Volunteerism is truly a founding principle and growing staple of Classy Living Society, LLC. Rounding the corner to our second anniversary, CLS is a social organization with a committed volunteer driven purpose that promotes and encourages member volunteer participation through community outreach opportunities - planned and promoted - by a team of committed leaders to attract volunteers, highlighting a spare 1-2 hours a month is all that is needed to support local charities and make an impact on worthy causes. We believe ourselves to be innovators in volunteerism because we take a unique approach to giving back focusing on the direct and immediate impact of our efforts on the communities we serve. CLS also takes pride in our ability to meet and exceed the growing challenges faced by small nonprofit organizations as we strategize to fulfill even the most urgent and often time sensitive requests for help. In 2015 we have partnered with a number of charities to support worthwhile causes and fight for those who are unable to step foot in the ring. As I look back on the remarkable work of CLS for this year, my spirit is full and I am humbled by knowing we have accomplished such a great deal in a short time; and mostly that our work and the work of giving back and making a difference has just begun! Oh how we serve an awesome God and we have a lot to be proud of and grateful for â€“ 2015 has been an amazing year! n Tarrah Gales
Our 2015 Classy Community Partners A Friend’s House www.afriendshouse.org
Just B Girls www.justbgirls.com
Atlanta Community Food Bank(ACFB) www.acfb.org
Atlanta Children’s Shelter http://www.acsatl.org/ Atlanta Day Shelter for Women & Children www.atlantadayshelter.org Atlanta Mission (My Sister’s House) www.atlantamission.org Atlanta Track Club www.atlantatrackclub.org Blankets of Love Outreach, Inc. www.blanketsoflove.org Books for Africa www.booksforafrica.org/volunteer Cheerful Givers www.cheerfulgivers.org C.H.O.I.C.E.S Center www.choicesforkids.org City of Refuge (Kindred Spirit) www.cityofrefugeatl.org DUNIA: Women of South Sudan www.duniawomenwalk.org Educated Girls Rock www.educatedgirlsrock.org Families First www.familiesfirls.org Hands on Atlanta www.handsonatlanta.org Habitat for Humanity http://www.atlantahabitat.org/ Heifer International www.heifer.org Historic Freight Depot www/railga.com/Depots/atlgarrfreight Inspired Mom www.inspiredmom.org
Keep North Fulton Beautiful www.keepnorthfultonbeautiful.org Kory Foundation, Inc. www.koryfoundation.org MUST Ministries: Summer Lunch Program www.mustministries.org MUST Ministries: Toy Shop www.mustministries.org Nicolas House, Inc. www.nicholashouse.org Operation HOPE www.operationhope.org Our House, Inc. www.ourhousega.org Partnership Against Domestic Violence http://padv.org Senior Connections www.seniorconnectionsatl.org
The Salvation Army (Ray & Joan Kroc Center) www.kroccenter.org Toys for Tots www.toysfortots.org Trees Atlanta www.treesatlanta.org West End Urban Garden www.communitygarden.org
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are often the ones who do. ~ Steve Jobs
CHRISTMAS TOY SHOP
Classy Living Society and MUST Ministries are reunited again. This past summer, CLS supported MUST Ministries’ Lunch program with a Giving Campaign in which 200 sack lunches were donated. This program provided lunch to students who otherwise would have gone without during the summer. The opportunity was presented to join MUST Ministries during the holidays and volunteer with the operation of their Christmas Toy Shop. This growing program is now expanded to three locations within Metro Atlanta. Children in Cherokee and Cobb Counties receive toys, fleece blankets, hats, scarves, gloves, school supplies, underwear, socks and a family game. The ladies of CLS volunteered in the Smyrna location, at Fair Oaks United Methodist Church serving as Christmas Elves. The Toy Shop was setup to mimic a small department store in which there were several positions available for members to volunteer. The overall mission of the program was to give the parents a shopping spree without worries of cost or hardship.
According to MUST Ministries, over 3,000 children were served in the Toy Shop this holiday season!
CLS members served in the following capacities: • Front Desk Elves: These smiling and friendly elves greeted clients and checked them in for their shopping experience. • Shopper Elves: These busy elves were on their feet assisting parents in the Toy Shop – walking with them, explaining the allotted number of items per child and assisting in the selection of gifts. • Stocker and Sorter Elves: These working elves sorted incoming toys/items and kept shelves stocked. • Runner Elves: These supportive elves helped families to their cars with gifts items. n Eboni Brown
A powerful, volunteer-driven organization, MUST addresses the basic needs of individuals, families and children with facilities in the Cobb and Cherokee counties and programs in numerous other counties. MUST brings people of many faiths together to respond to God’s challenge to minister to others with compassion and love, without judgement of the beliefs, background or circumstances of those who serve or are being served. MISSION - Serving our neighbors in need...transforming lives and communities to respond to Christ’s call. VISION - To become Georgia’s most respected Servant Leader - Restoring lives one person and one community at a time. DES7GNMGZ
GIFT WRAPPING with BLANKETS OF LOVE
n keeping with the holiday season, Classy Living Society joined Blankets of Love to put their gift wrapping skills to task. Blankets of Love Outreach adopts homeless and low-income families for the holidays. Families are selected based on referrals, emails and others are chosen from resources such as Angel Tree. The goal for 2015 was to adopt 20 to 25 families, focusing on those with multiple children as they are the families that struggle the most when it comes to receiving assistance. The organization provides each family with personalized wrapped toys.
CLS members spent Saturday afternoon sorting and
wrapping donated toys. The event was held in the early part of December in the Johns Creek area. Volunteers provided gift wrapping paper to distinguish between gifts for boys and girls upon donation. The wrapped presents were to be distributed the following week at Blankets of Loveâ€™s Annual Christmas Joy Event. It was an amazing day as CLS members joined forces with this wonderful organization to help wrap over 100 toys for boys and girls â€“ photos were taken, bonds were sealed, and memories were made. n Eboni Brown
The Blankets of Love Outreach Outreach organization is committed to improving the lives of the homeless and less fortunate. Homelessness is a huge problem in the Atlanta area, there are approximately 13,000 constant homeless persons in the metro counties. This year alone, 21,000 men, women and children will at some point find themselves homeless.
While it may be impossible to remove every person from the street, it is in fact possible to allow each person living on the street to maintain their dignity and self-respect. We at Blankets of Love also believe that homeless and hungry are not synonymous and therefore no person should go a whole day without at least one meal.
Our goal is provide the items necessary to maintain while on the street. And also provide resources such as education, access to job training, life skills coaching and information for permanent housing. Currently, we provide blankets, hats, gloves, coats and any other form of warm coverings in the winter. During the year, we will also provide basic necessities such as soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, towels, female and male specific hygiene products and clean clothes. Always during each distribution of the items mentioned we also provide a meal, counseling and hope.
BLANKETS OF LOVE
A Volunteer’s Perspective
On December 19, I had the honor and pleasure of volunteering with Blankets of Love Outreach, Inc., through the Classy Living Society. The Blankets of Love Outreach organization has a very important mission, and that is to improve the lives of the homeless and less fortunate. With homelessness affecting so many families nationwide, it is nearly impossible not to see how it impacts our very own neighborhoods and communities. Blankets of Love Outreach, Inc. is an organization that has taken notice of how the high rate of homelessness affects the Metro Atlanta area and, they have committed to effecting change and improving the quality of lives for many families for the past ten years. I had an amazing time assisting the Blankets of Love Outreach team members transform two rooms at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center into a Winter Wonderland filled with all kinds of goodies for families in need. In one room, we filled the tables with
food bags to feed 33 pre-selected families. The food bags included a rotisserie chicken, a bag of rice, four canned goodies, a loaf of fresh deli bread, a 2 liter soda and, a sweet, delicious pie. The walls were aligned with pre-wrapped (courtesy of CLS), extra-large gift bags filled with toys for the kids. There were also beautifully bagged toiletries, goodie bags for the kids, accessories such as pursues, wallets and jewelry, and several coat racks filled with gently used coats for the entire family. The display was carefully orchestrated to present a feel of warmth and love; displaying a real life, complimentary shopping experience that these families normally would not get to experience. The second room was filled with clothes, clothes and clothes galore! There were tables upon tables adorned with clothing for men, women and children. Everything from socks, shoes, shirts and pants were provided to the families that came out to be blessed this holiday season. There were also toys for the tots, educational books for all levels, and even five bicycles to be given away to five pre-selected children. I was simply in awe when I saw the U-Haul truck pull up loaded to the roof with all of these goodies.
for me was being able to work alongside the founder of this amazing organization – Ms. Denise Laing. Her sweet, gentle and loving spirit outshines that possessed by most -- she is funny, outgoing, and very passionate about her mission to combat the issue of homelessness in the Metro Atlanta area. As a life and business coach and professional speaker, my life motto is to “give a gift, save, change and transform a life”. Denise and her team have been doing just that for the past ten years. Congratulations to Blankets of Love Outreach, Inc. for a job well done, and for their continued commitment to loving and supporting homeless families in the Metro Atlanta community. We all know how difficult it is to remain a financially thriving and viable not-forprofit organization, as so much of the success of these organizations is based upon donations from the giving hearts of others. If you have not already, I challenge you to commit your support to Blankets of Love Outreach, Inc. -now and in the future -- and together let’s strive to “give a gift, save, change and transform a life”. n Nikki Blakely-Simmons
The most memorable moment
he Holiday Season is laced with concepts of extravagant spending, gift-getting, decorations, holiday parties, and food (mmmm, so much food!). Gone are the days when the reason for the season was in the forefront and the idea of the magical time of year meant giving selflessly, helping complete strangers, and strengthening family bonds. Well, those days are not gone for the members of CLS, in fact, our very existence as an organization is to bring these values back as vanguard in the minds of society -- not only during the Holiday Season, but throughout the year. Several Classy Ladies of CLS assembled at the Toys for Tots warehouse in Atlanta on December 19 to do what we do best: volunteer.
excited to sort toys that had been donated from individuals across Atlanta, knowing we were making a child’s holiday a little brighter. This was my first volunteer effort with CLS, as I only joined the organization last month. I brought my children with me; I want -- no, I need to show them that the life they have is not to be taken for granted. I don’t want my children (ages 9 & 10) to grow up with a sense of entitlement, nor do I want them to become adults that don’t understand the art of selfless giving, and the impact that it has on society. Selfless giving is contagious, and it is one way that CLS impacts our society.
Tis the season for... giving back
“So what is CLS?” asked a fellow Toys for Tots volunteer. Of course there were a number of CLS sisters ready and willing to offer highlights of the organization, but more importantly, he was intrigued by our presence. “Who are these beautiful ladies who are devoting their morning so eagerly, excitedly, and in such large numbers while having fun at the same time?” is what his question translated to in my head. Members of CLS came to give of their time selflessly, and many brought children along so that they too could volunteer and foster the spirit of giving. Yes, we had fun; yes, we were beautiful; and YES, we were eager and 8
The Toys for Tots warehouse was saturated with toys, and it warmed my heart to see the goodness in all the people across Atlanta who donated to help children have a better holiday. There were all types of toys and stocking stuffers for boys and girls ranging from infants to over 11 years of age. Bikes, stuffed animals, electronics, sporting goods, dolls -- you name it and it was there. My children were overwhelmed with the amount of toys people donated for the children. CLS was tasked with either sorting the toys into appropriate age/sex groups, or bagging the toys so that they could be delivered to their destination. My heart was filled with joy as I observed my children hand-picking the toys they wanted to bag for “their child” to receive. A stranger, a child they’ve
THE ART OF GIVING
IT’S PERFECT. IT’S AMAZING. IT’S WHAT WE DO. The works of Classy Living Society could not be carried out without the dedication of our volunteers. Learn how you can join our movement: www.cls-volunteer.org. #MakingAdifference #clsonthemove
never met, yet already they’d assumed responsibility over the child’s holiday surprise, and wanted to make it special. Helping strangers, that’s what the holiday season is about, and that’s what CLS represents. Helpfulness shouldn’t be limited to the holidays, and CLS aims to make an impact by spreading our helpfulness to strangers nationwide, throughout the year. CLS had the largest volunteer group that morning, but more importantly, we were remembered by our presence last year. When the volunteer manager came to assign us to groups, she was excited that we returned; she remembered us from our volunteer efforts with Toys for Tots in 2014. We made an impact! As you enter into the New Year, consider carrying a genuine holiday season spirit with you all year long….and continue to make an impact on those who’s paths you cross, whether you know them or not. n Alia Thompson
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WORK HARD, PLAY HARD COATS FOR KIDS
fter all the hard work and dedication spent to achieve CLS’ 2015 goals, we could not let the year end without a holiday mixer where our founder and the Board could say “thank you”! It remains a priority that we continue to nurture the relationships within our sisterhood and our holiday Mingle & Jingle provided the perfect atmosphere. During this end of the year event, new bonds were formed and existing friendships blossomed while ladies were treated to an evening of good times, great food, and even better company in the heart of Midtown Atlanta at Apres Diem. The energy was high, the vibe was laid back and the ladies were festively chic donning personalized Santa hats. Entering the private space reserved for “Classy Ladies Only”, the unofficial reception area was bursting with brand new coats of all sizes for children from 3 months to 5 years old. Coats for Kids served as CLS’ final giving campaign of the year to benefit the Atlanta Children’s Shelter (ACS) where during the month of December, CLS collected over 100 new coats for well-deserving children. ACS was established as a centrally located childcare facility where homeless parents could bring their children while they searched for employment opportunities within the community. The shelter provides focused social services for families by helping them successfully navigate and overcome the issues that contribute to homelessness, including domestic violence and job loss. Setting itself apart from other Atlanta homeless shelters, the Atlanta Children’s Shelter focuses on long term self-sufficient of the family. n Tarrah Gales
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2016 & BEYOND: LOOKING AHEAD In 2016, Classy Living Society endeavors to continue building on its spirited momentum. In its unparalleled and dynamic style, CLS intends to create more unique ways in which to give back, through books, downloadable songs, awareness, fundraising, Earth-friendly activities and promotion and of course, our continuing presence in volunteerism. To date, CLS -- as a whole and through its volunteers -- has given over 102 hours serving the needs of 34 charities and organizations throughout the metro Atlanta area. Ways in which volunteers have spent time giving back include: • • • • • • • •
Providing in-kind donations for hygiene kits Organizing books for Africa Preparing meals for our senior community Weeding community gardens and planting trees Donating lunches for food insecure children during the summer Working on new homes for Habitat recipients Assisting with the execution of our annual fitness expo and fundraising events Sorting food for families in need…..
….and much, much more! We are thankful to each and every VOLUNTEER! Going forward, we continue to form what will become CLS’s global footprint on the world -- as the movement to educate, uplift and inspire forges ahead! n Tarrah Gales
THE CLASSY LIVING SOCIETY
NEEDS YOUR HELP.
As we work diligently to make a difference in the lives of others within the Atlanta, Georgia area, we are asking to find it in your hearts to donate to the movement. CLS’s continues to push forward in an effort to help those within our communities which are less fortunate and are in need of a helping hand. Your donations will allow for our “Foot Soldiers” to give back to others who otherwise would be neglected. By partnering with CLS and making a donation, you are taking a stand and helping to make a difference! Go ahead... make a difference today and let your actions speak volumes and please remember that no donation is too small.
Join Classy Living Society TODAY! www.cls-volunteer.org 16