Heartland for Children coordinates the Annual Rudolph Round-Up Holiday Toy Drive to benefit local children who have experienced abuse and neglect and are receiving services through the foster care system. Last year 1,410 children and teens were able to be served through generous donations from our local community. Our goal for the 2016 12th Annual Rudolph Round-Up Holiday Toy Drive is to help to ensure that at least 1400 local children who have experienced abuse and neglect have holiday gifts and joyful celebrations. Our greatest need each year is for child wish list and toy drive donors for children ages birth to two and teens, ages 13 to 17. It is through the continued and valued support of individuals, groups, organizations, faith communities and businesses - Rudolph Champions - that the children’s holiday wishes come true!
Now that April Child Abuse Prevention Month has come to a close, we wanted to first and foremost thank our entire community for their support of the Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign here locally. Hundreds of individuals wore their pinwheel lapel pins, displayed the blue and silver pinwheel, distributed parent resource guides, displayed signage and bulletin boards, and shared the message about the importance of child abuse prevention. Many of our community leaders, Mayors, and Commissioners proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month as well.
I began looking around, and saw something amazing. A group of people, all completely different, had found a place where they could be themselves, build relationships with other parents, let their children learn valuable social behaviors, and know that they aren’t doing this alone. A mom in pajamas just happy to be there, a dad whose wife passed away before their child was a year old, a grandpa wanting to spend some time with his grandchild, a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home dad, along with many other parents and caregivers, all had found a place to belong, sharing the one thing they had in common, caring for that child.
I left class that day in tears. Tears of joy. Joyful because I had seen families strengthened to take on the rest of their week.
Heartland for Children was pleased to host three film screenings of the much anticipated documentary, Paper Tigers, here in Lakeland, Sebring, and Winter Haven in November 2015. HFC partnered with Prevent Child Abuse Florida to bring this film to our community. Paper Tigers intimately examines the inspiring promise of Trauma Informed Communities – a movement that is showing great promise in healing individuals struggling with the dark legacy of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Through their partnership with Heartland for Children’s faith-based initiative, Grace Bible Church, under the leadership of lead Pastor Dustin Woods, has been instrumental in impacting the lives of children and families throughout Circuit 10 – Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties.
For the second year, Grace Bible Church committed to being Rudolph Round-Up Champions and through the generosity of the church and its members, hosted a toy drive to specifically benefit teens who are receiving services through the local foster care system. The toys and items donated through the Church-sponsored toy drive exceeded expectations and helped to meet the holiday wishes of our teens in care.
Waypoints Financial has been a wonderful partner in our community, opening their hearts to helping children in need through Heartland for Children’s Rudolph Round-Up Toy Drive.
For several years, the staff at Waypoints Financial has committed to being Rudolph Champions, purchasing specific wishes for teens and hosting a toy drive to specifically benefit children and teens who are receiving services through the local foster care system.
Thanks to the generosity of all the donors who chose to be Rudolph Champions in 2015, contributing financially, purchasing items from children’s wish lists and/or sponsoring one of over 60 toy drives in our community, we were able to not only meet our goal, but exceed it!
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Heartland for Children will be bringing you information and resources throughout the month of October on how you can help prevent domestic violence or get help if you are in an abusive relationship. However, if you or someone you know needs help right now, there are many resources available locally to help you today.
Watch the 2015 ABC Action News Taking Action Against Domestic Violence Prime Time Special here.
We can't believe that the 2015-2016 school year is already just around the corner! Here are some local resources and important information to help get your back to school planning go off without a hitch.
Today our family celebrates my daughter officially becoming a teenager! She turns the ripe ole age of 13 today. In fact, that teenager is already acting like a teen, sleeping in after a late night sleepover with good friends, talking about who is “dating” whom, downloading music and the newest “approved” apps for her phone. There are multiple birthday celebrations planned for her and so many things to be happy about.
The one thing she is most excited about, however, is finally getting to ride “shotgun” in the car.
While some of you are busy planning your best and most epic April Fool’s Day pranks today, we wanted to take a minute to remind you that today is also the first day of the Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign celebrating Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Heartland for Children is a proud supporter of this national campaign and will be promoting it throughout the month. Please display your pinwheels, share our posts and participate in our events taking place throughout Polk, Hardee and Highlands County. We want everyone to know how they can be a part of the solution.
After researching, reading, and researching some more, I was amazed to find that many fathers have benefitted from learning to use infant massage with their babies. By implementing the techniques taught in an Infant Massage Instructional Class, these fathers had created a one-on-one bonding experience with their child(ren). This study highlights that the stress level of the fathers who participated was greatly reduced after implementing an infant massage routine.
Looking back, many teenage girls would admit to dancing in their mom’s high heeled shoes as young girls, wearing sheets as robes, and practicing to curtsey in front of the mirror. They were princesses, and one day they were going to marry Prince Charming and live happily ever after. There were Cinderellas, who were abused and neglected, holding out for their invitation to the royal ball. Then, there were Sleeping Beauties, born into royalty, but eventually life happened, putting their dreams on hold.
I am strong, intelligent, determined, focused, funny, sassy, and energetic. Well, at least that is how my family and friends describe me. I specifically asked them to describe how I was as a teen and young adult, as opposed to now, over 20 years later, and their answers were much the same. I can remember how I felt back then, and I believed all these things about myself (perhaps because I was lucky enough to have family and friends who wholeheartedly believed those things, too). I also knew I was loved and supported by my family and friends and that if I confided in them that I was in trouble, they would have done anything they could to help.
It is that time of year again. High school football teams are playing with an intense passion, hoping that their team can still make the playoffs, NFL teams have found their rhythm and are working their way through injuries, and people of all types have embraced a bold and bright pink as part of their normal wardrobe.
The cooler weather brings with it the occasion of dressing up in costume. Some people do this on Halloween, and others dress up to go to their local church’s fall festival. Wearing a costume can be quite exciting. If you are anything like me, once the costume begins to take shape, my personality becomes that of the character I am portraying. It only happens once a year, so I make it count.
Ghandi expressed the essence of love when he made one of the most simplistic yet profound statements, “Love never claims, it ever gives” (Frank, 2001). This statement merely suggests: love that claims, isn’t really love at all. To claim something one asserts, declares, and alleges the item or person in question belongs to them for one reason or another. Many hold the belief that love is a choice, even among the cultures where arranged marriages still exists. In his book, The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis discusses some of the different loves described in Greek thought: familial or affectionate love (storge); friendship (philia); romantic love (eros); and spiritual love (agape) in the light of Christian commentary on ordinate loves.
We mentioned in our last blog that an estimated 90% of car seats are used incorrectly. Nationally, that statistic is around 75%, which means parents and caregivers in Florida need a little extra help when installing their car seats. There was a time in my life that I would have thought installing a car seat couldn’t be all that difficult, and I would have bet money that I knew how to install one. It wasn’t until my first experience with three, not just one, that I realized my worst nightmare had just come true.
In 2012, among children under the age of five in cars, an estimated 284 lives were SAVED by child restraints, also known as car seats. That is a lot of lives saved. Car crashes, however, are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-12. Our goal is to see the number of deaths decrease while the number of lives saved increases. Unfortunately, we also know that approximately 90% of child restraints are installed incorrectly, putting children at risk. In order for us to help increase the number of children traveling safely, we need your help.
After a suicide or suicide attempt there are many emotions that affect those that survive. There are the stages of grief we move through and it can come sometimes take quite a bit of time to move through a stage. I’ve heard comments full of regret such as “If only I’d known he was so sad” or “I wish I had known, I would’ve tried to help” and comments full of anger such as “That’s such a selfish act” or “How could he do that to the people who loved him”. Unless you understand the absolute despair that leads to the moment of an attempted or completed suicide, you will probably struggle with understanding the “why”.
As we continue our blog series for National Suicide Prevention Week, we felt it was so important to discuss the warning signs that may be present when someone is considering suicide, as well as explore the actions that can best help someone in crisis, as well as those reactions that are not helpful.
Suicide claims more lives than HIV and homicide combined...
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, and, Wednesday, September 10, 2014 is recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day. To show our support of this important topic, we are embarking on a series of blogs that should help others to be more knowledgeable about the risk and protective factors for suicide, along with what warning signs can be indicative that someone might be considering suicide. We will also equip readers with the knowledge of what to do when facing warning signs and what actions may not be helpful. Lastly, we will address the difficult topic of surviving suicide.
Find out what free back-to-school events are going on around Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties in 2014!
Swimming is one of the most popular summertime activities, and living in Florida, we are never at a shortage of bodies of water to swim in. Between pools, lakes, oceans and water parks, there are plenty of ways to cool off from the sweltering Florida heat. With the pool and beach season now upon us, it is important to be mindful of your family’s safety in and around water. (As my mom always reminded us... "SAFETY first!
Many children in school know how many days are left in this school year, and if they don’t know, they can always ask their teacher. Soon, they will have a lot of time on their hands, so parents are given the monumental task of helping them find ways to pass the time. If you’re like me, you know it won’t be long before you hear those two words that every parent dreads – “I’m bored!” What if I told you there was something you could put in their hands to help with that? I’m not talking about the latest smart phone, tablet, or video game controller; this is even better than that. I am suggesting that you put a book in their hands, and if you plan it right, they can actually have fun reading it!
As summer quickly approaches, children will be needing summer activities and parents will be seeking energy outlets and learning experiences each day to prevent boredom and unnecessary chaos. Children thrive on structured activities and new experiences. My five-year-old grandson vividly remembers the treasure hunt we had last year. Ironically, he was grounded from his bicycle, so I planned an activity that excluded his bike but offered him an outlet for his energy. His energy, most of the time, is twice that of mine. We went for a walk instead. While walking, I asked him to locate specific items such as flags, flowers, colored leaves, and different types of insects.
The best car seat will be the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle and the one that you will use correctly every time. If a car seat is not installed correctly, your child's safety could be in danger. Every car seat has different installation instructions. Here are key items to keep in mind when installing a car seat.
Parenting is often referred to as the hardest job anyone will ever have. You may also hear a parent say becoming a parent has been the best thing that has ever happened to them. So which one is it? Best job or hardest job?
Every business has a process for measuring their success. Car dealerships look at how many cars they sell. Schools know they succeed when their students get good grades and graduate. Police departments count tickets….oh, wait, no, that one is just a myth! All teasing aside, we know police departments, too, have many different data points to make sure our communities are safe, such as crime statistics, response times to emergencies, etc.
In the business of supporting families and helping them be successful, we, too, have a way to measure whether families are successful.
By the time a student finishes high school one third will experience some type of abuse in their relationships. Who does this happen to? Dating Violence can happen anywhere and to anyone. The only thing that victims of abusive relationships have in common is that they have nothing in common. Dating violence happens regardless of socio-economic status, geographic area, age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical size. Even men can be victims of dating violence.
We are fortunate to live in the tri-county area of Hardee, Highlands, and Polk Counties where local businesses are not only a part of the decorative landscape but their business practices demonstrates they believe in giving back to support and strengthen children and families.
Through your ministry you inspire and touch the lives of so many children and families. We are in need of leaders of faith based ministries throughout our local communities that will partner with Heartland for Children in implementing a faith-based initiative. This partnership will encompass both universal and targeted efforts to provide family and community supports that will build protective factors for the families within our communities.
Some people have to travel around the world for their missions; ours came to our home.