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Megan Carter and Sheree Lane of Christian Relief Services distribute information and recruit runners for a fundraising marathon during a recent Non-Profit Tuesday at the Arlington location. District Busboys stores provide low-cost rental space for nonprofits' events.
June 16, 2009

CITIZEN JOURNALISM: Good works on menu

By Liz Essley THE WASHINGTON TIMESMegan Carter and Sheree Lane of Christian Relief Services distribute information and recruit runners for a fundraising marathon during a recent Non-Profit Tuesday at the Arlington location. District Busboys stores provide low-cost rental space for nonprofits' events.

Two workers from Christian Relief Services sat behind a table most of one afternoon, brochures spread out before them. They were there to take advantage of an opportunity – Non-Profit Tuesdays at Busboys and Poets in Arlington.

The restaurant gives nonprofits space to share information about their work and donates 5 percent of the evening’s dinner proceeds – usually between $200 and $400 – to the day’s nonprofit.

Megan Carter, program assistant at Christian Relief Services, said this kind of service is unique for a restaurant.

“Busboys is the only place I know that actually has one day of the week dedicated to helping nonprofits, which is awesome,” she said.

Christian Relief Services (CRS) used the space to raise awareness about the organization and to recruit runners for its 26.2-mile fundraising marathon.

The Tuesday event fits into the mission of Busboys – part-restaurant, part-bookstore, part-community-gathering-place.

“The whole idea behind Busboys was to create this space to promote peace and social justice. We’ve tried to let that permeate every aspect of the business,” said Kat Hansen, director of marketing and events.

Barbara Moller participated in two Non-Profit Tuesdays last year with her initiative Paper to Pearls, which importChristian Relief Services' staff distribute information about the charitys jewelry made of recycled paper by poverty-stricken women in Uganda. Through jewelry sales and the donated dinner revenue, the two Tuesdays raised a total of $1,248 that went directly to the Ugandan women. Ms. Moller said the project fascinated Busboys customers.

“People are always interested in the project, particularly at a place like Busboys, being a progressive type of environment,” Ms. Moller said. “I was a big fan of Busboys before this, and now I’m a really big fan of Busboys. It’s a great contribution to the nonprofit community.”

Busboys’ two locations in the District offer significant discounts on room rental fees to nonprofit organizations. The Arlington location does not have rooms to offer, so it created Non-Profit Tuesdays instead. It also offers a large space in the back with a projector screen to nonprofits that want to give presentations or show films.

The event, which Busboys has hosted for more than a year, focuses on local organizations and usually draws two nonprofits a month. Ms. Hansen said they are still working on creating awareness about the opportunity.

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New shoes to chidren without

Giving supplies to children in need(continued) Families living on American Indian Reservations and in Appalachia –a region extending from New York to Mississippi –face extreme poverty. It’s not a matter of uncontrollable spending, but of homes without running water or electricity, families without food, and children without warm clothes, shoes and access to basic health care.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, funds several programs on the most impoverished Indian Reservations. The program supplies basic school supplies like back packs, pens, paper, pencils, scissors, crayons, erasers, glue, rulers, sharpeners and notebooks to children in need. In 2007, Running Strong donated school supplies to 2,625 children in seven states. Running Strong’s Back-Pack Food Program at the Takini School on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation makes sure that children do not go hungry on weekends, when they don’t eat a meal at school. Every Friday, volunteers fill 200 children’s back packs with food. During the Summer when school is out, we provide lunch meals every day.

In Appalachia, Christian Relief Services’ affiliate, Americans Helping Americans® takes children shopping for new shoes. As a result, over 1,212 children enjoy a warmer, safer walk to school. Parents shopping for back-to-school supplies might want to consider using last year’s lunchbox or back pack, and trying to donate a similar amount to one of our partners working to improve the lives of America’s most impoverished schoolchildren.

For more information, visit www.indianyouth.org or www.helpingamericans.org or make a Donation to Christian Relief Services in support of our American Indian Programs or our Domestic Relief and Self Help Programs.

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Holiday Distributions

Christmas 2008-    Our partners were hard at work this holiday season bringing holiday cheer to American Indian youth across the country. A total of 3,520 toys were delivered on Indian Reservations across the country this Christmas along with thousands of blankets, new winter coats and new shoes! Holiday DistributionsThese turbulent times strained many families this holiday season, making presents and parties seem like an impossible luxury, but with your help we were still able to make Christmas miracles. For many children, the gifts they received from our programs at Christmas were the only presents under the tree if they were able to afford one. We are always amazed to hear how your generosity multiplies on the reservation. One of our programs in Montana said it best when describing their visits to local elementary schools with a gift for each student, “Of course the kids are happy to get a present, but I can see it in their little faces that their spirits are uplifted. Some of the kids tell us that they want to give their present to a parent.” This simple wish of a child to share their feelings of joy with others reminds us what the season is all about.

This Christmas we distributed toys to:
The Crow Reservation, Montana – 500 toys
The Navajo Reservation, New Mexico – 400 toys
The Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota – 300 toys
The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota – 700 toys
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and surrounding areas, South Dakota – 1620 toys
That’s 3,520 toys!

In addition to presents, Running Strong and Christian Relief Services are making sure children stay warm this winter with brand new hooded coats, shoes and war woolen blankets! Overall we distributed 3,100 coats, 2,676 shoes and 2,974 blankets to families in Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota.