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What About the Roads? Boone County Voluntarily Funds and Fixes Infrastructure

Times are harder for many these days. Perhaps that is felt most in small town, rural America. This story of self-reliance and voluntary solution can be traced back to the 1980’s. Boone County Nebraska was affected quite negatively by the farming crisis of the time. Many viewed living a life and raising a family there as an undesirable goal. A large amount of the teenagers and young adults of that time would leave once they got their high school diploma in hand to settle and pursue careers elsewhere across the country.

This left a lot of questions and very few answers for how this county and its small towns would survive future generations if the trend continued. Jay Wolf, a local rancher, recalled a quote he heard from his father, “As my dad used to say, it wasn’t a place you chose to live necessarily.”

Even during these rough times in the 80’s the county showed signs of life by being able to keep the local hospital in town, which today employs the highest number of workers in the area. The hospital continues to steadily grow and succeed. The county began to come back to life in the 90’s when it began a community foundation. They were able to focus the energy from this foundation to help jump-start a community looking for hope. They constructed a brand new fitness center with its main feature being a swimming pool and spin classes that are quite uncommon in rural towns.

By the time the early 00’s rolled around the community was already feeling more optimistic. Local teachers, students, and citizens raised the funds to renovate the town’s historic theater in 2002. That theater is now showing blockbuster films on the weekends and mostly employs local high school students, giving them a sense of pride and community as they begin to enter adulthood.

A handful of years later the town decided the senior citizen center was in desperate need of a renovation. The biggest challenge was finding a way to raise the 2.5 million dollars that were required to pull it off when they had never funded something at even a fraction of the cost. Jay Wolf said about the project, “We had never raised even 250,000 for anything in this town.” That didn’t stop them from trying. Not only did they raise the 2.5 million they needed, they managed to double that once they realized the senior center needed much more help than was thought before.

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Hundreds of attendees from across Nebraska and the region attended a recent cattle show at the Boone County Agriculture & Education Center in Albion. (Photo courtesy of the Boone County Agriculture and Education Center)

The proof was now in the pudding, so to speak. This county can and will survive with the help of its charitable citizens. Not long after fixing the senior center, they fixed up their local public swimming pool. After that, they got a 2-mile-long hiking trail funded and built. With this momentum, the county, and Albion, the main city of the county, has continued to invest in itself through charitable donations. It has found new life, and people now want to live and invest there.

They now proudly have breweries, new restaurants, a beautiful golf course, a renovated hospital, and an overwhelming feeling of optimism that can be felt throughout Albion and Boone County. Lindsay Jarecki who moved to the town with her husband, who began a law practice in his hometown, has noticed big changes in the decade they’ve been there. “It seems like when one person takes a risk, it nudges someone else on the edge and they do it too. So much of this stuff simply wasn’t here when we got here… You can practically feel the confidence building.”

Confidence booming, Albion and the county took on its biggest challenge to date, trying to renovate the agricultural center/fairgrounds and build a brand new childcare center for families in the area. Childcare was severely lacking in this rural area, as it is in most rural areas. The importance and size of these tasks were daunting on their own but to attempt both at the same time was bold to say the least. “There was fear, so we had to come together. We decided we were gonna support each other no matter what…We trusted each other…and the community trusted us.” Jackie said about the idea.

Boone County’s citizens delivered. They raised a vast majority of the funds for the childcare center within county lines. The agricultural center and fairgrounds project raised nearly all of the money needed through local donors and county funds. Kurt Kruse, owner of Kruse Farms recalls how amazing it was to see the community rally behind both causes and their importance, “One cool thing that happened is a lot of people gave to both projects. But the ag building also attracted some rural people who hadn’t previously given. Both these things…will help the area grow. They will bring people to town.”

The agricultural building and fairgrounds is now a hotspot for tourism in their area, hosting many exciting events. Barrel racing, rodeo, junior rodeo, livestock shows, horse riding, and other events draw in large crowds from all over Nebraska. Some folks come from as far as 100 miles away. These opportunities and events just were not possible before the community rallied to build a place for them to exist. Now it is hosting events featuring commerce and people from over a handful of states such as, concerts, bull riding, and dog shows.

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The donor wall at the Boone Beginnings Early Childhood and Family Development Center. The child care center opened in November after a group of town leaders raised $4.5 million – most of it local donations – to build it. (Photo by Darin Epperly, Flatwater Free Press)

The childcare center, Boone Beginnings, is also a major success and has relieved the stress for dozens of families of having to find affordable and quality childcare. Many families were anxious about finding childcare for their little ones. Now that worry is gone and the local parents and families couldn’t be more excited.

Albion and Boone County still have pressing needs, but have shown the resilience needed to face them through voluntary charity locally. Their main problem now is the one facing all of America: housing. It’s simply too expensive to build nice middle-class homes, and that’s their next target. Boone County and Albion have about 7 million in reserve in the Boone County Community Fund and other similar charities. Estimated costs put the needed total to be somewhere around 30 million to achieve its goals.

It sounds like a steep ask but it may not be too difficult with a town raring to grow and provide for itself. The extra money and wealth being brought in will go a long way when paired with the sense of community that is now felt throughout Boone County. “My sense is that, in the last 20 years, the conversation has shifted dramatically in Albion. We work with a lot of places that have one or two successes. In Boone County they now have almost a dozen things they can point to and say, ‘Look at that. We did that.’” Jeff Yost, CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation, who does work with 270 communities in Nebraska as well as Albion.

What a remarkable story from this rural county in fly-over country. This city and county took it upon themselves to address dire needs and solve them. I have little doubt that they will continue to find ways to thrive with the giving and caring spirit that has gotten them this far. Not only did they face issues that city, county, state, and federal level governments try to fix and struggle with on a routine basis, they did it through voluntary means. That’s a big reason for its success, if you ask me. That type of fundraising and charity creates a real sense of pride, joy, and love not only for yourself but your neighbors and community as well.

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Betty White’s Legacy of Charity

Hours before the year 2022 began the world lost one of, if not it’s most loved celebrity. Betty White passed away New Year’s Eve at the age of 99 years old and mere weeks from hitting the century mark. White was an actress best known for her roles on Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but perhaps her greatest role was one behind the cameras. Betty White’s legacy of charity was built over many decades of using her fame to bring awareness and raise money for animals in need.

White became a trustee for the Morris Animal Foundation in 1971 and stayed in that role through 2013. She also served as the Canine Division Vice President for nine years before becoming Board President for three years. The Morris Animal Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on medical science for animals. Funding research to develop lifesaving and altering cures and treatments for diseases in animals.

President/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, Tiffany Grunert, remembers Betty White and what she meant to the non-profit, “It is hard to imagine a world without Betty in it. She was a tremendous animal advocate who tirelessly supported the work of Morris Animal Foundation to improve the health of animals globally. All of us at the Foundation are mourning the loss of this amazing woman.”

“We will miss her wit, her intelligence and, most of all, her love of animals and commitment to advancing their health. She was a true inspiration to our staff, her fellow trustees and all of our supporters.”

White was heavily involved with the Morris Animal Foundation for nearly 50 years. Besides the roles she filled in an official capacity she offered her services in other areas such as, hosting and appearing at events and sponsoring specific health studies for a wide variety of animals. She dedicated a lot of her personal time and money to the non-profit.

White was considered to be the heart of the foundation by some. According to the wife of Dr. Mark Morris Jr. and Board Trustee member, Bette Morris, “Betty was always an active participant in our scientific review process. She often said that our scientific advisory boards were the engines that drove Morris Animal Foundation. If they are the engines, then she certainly was our organization’s heart.”

Her whole life she was looking to help animals and hopefully ease as much suffering for them as possible. She did this by continuing to work with and support the Morris Animal Foundation. She also began the Betty White Wildlife Fund in response to the Deep-Water Horizon oil spill in 2010. The fund’s main goal is to provide necessary help for animals in emergency situations. “Betty always put the animals first.

In the 1990s, White suggested pain management should be an area of future research and funded the first few studies. Today, if a veterinarian performs an elective surgery, like a spay or neuter without using pain management, she/he could face a malpractice charge. You can thank Betty White for that revolutionary change in the way we practice all phases of veterinary medicine today.” Said Dr. Rob Hilsenroth, who once served as Executive Director for Morris Animal Foundation.

Naturally, the passing of someone as universally loved and adored as Betty White elicited many emotions from the general public. With her passing happening only a few weeks before her birthday, many targeted that date to try and figure something out to honor her. Her work with animals seemed like a no brainer to many. Once White’s birthday rolled around in January fans made a big statement: local animal shelters, charities, and groups began seeing an influx of donations being made in memory of Betty.

The viral movement grew thanks to the Internet making it one its many “challenges,” this one branded the #BettyWhiteChallenge. The challenge called on people to make five-dollar donations in her name. While the true numbers will never be known, the challenge raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a remarkable impact in honor of a life of charitable work.

Betty White was many things and loved for even more reasons. She will forever be known for her iconic roles as an actress. Beyond that she will be remembered in the hearts of millions as a caring, sweet, funny, and talented human being that always cared for others.

While it’s hard to imagine a world post-Betty White, we hope her legacy of giving is one that will persist as strongly as the one she left behind in acting. We know the world will always be a better place because of Betty White’s legacy.

 

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Children’s Hospital Receives Thousands of Donations Following Epic Playoff Game

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in overtime, in what many consider to be an ‘instant classic.’ The game itself had everything you could ever want from a playoff game: many lead changes, last second scores, and of course overtime.

While the game will likely be remembered for a long time, one of the most amazing things about the game came long after the final whistle. It has become a new age tradition in sports for fans to show respect and support for an opposing team or player after a hard fought game by donating money to that player’s or team’s charity. That is precisely what happened following the playoff win by the Chiefs, according to a report by WKBW News.

A Facebook page called ‘Chiefs Kingdom Memes’ made a post on Monday night calling on fellow Chiefs fans to donate to Patrick Mahomes’ (starting quarterback of the Chiefs) charity, “Patrick Mahomes’ 15 and the Mahomies”. He requested that donations be made in $13 increments in honor of the game tying 13 second drive, orchestrated by Mahomes and the Chiefs offense to send the game into overtime, eventually allowing the Chiefs to win the game over the Buffalo Bills.

Brett Fitzgerald who runs the Facebook group recalled talking about the post with a buddy of his, Alex Irvin. The two were messaging back and forth when Irvin mentioned that Bills Mafia (The nickname for passionate Buffalo Bills fans) would likely also have done a similar thing and raised money for Josh Allen (starting quarterback of the Bills) and his foundation.

Fitzgerald said, “…I’m like, I like that idea. So, instantly went and found Josh Allen’s foundation. Donated $13 to it, so basically switch the $13 over to Josh Allen’s foundation. Made a quick meme about it, posted it on there, posted a screenshot of my donation and deleted the other one from Facebook and Twitter recommending the Mahomes’ foundation. I said, ‘this is better.’” Within 24 hours of making the post asking fellow Chiefs fans to follow his lead and make donations to Allen’s foundation rather than Mahomes’, Oishei Children’s Hospital found itself receiving thousands of donations.

The Patricia Allen Fund was created in November of 2020 after the passing of Josh Allen’s grandmother. It all started when fans began donating $17, for Allen’s jersey number, to Oishei Children’s Hospital. They originally raised over 1 million dollars for the hospital at that time. The hospital now has a wing named after Allen’s grandmother to honor her. This time though it was fans of an opposing team showing their love for Allen by donating money to the children’s hospital. Andrew Bennet, vice president of the hospital was quoted saying, “Any kids that are growing up, whether they’re playing sports or not, sportsmanship and courtesy and integrity are lifelong lessons and this is a great example of sportsmanship.”

“Bills Mafia was the catalyst in this and we’re just following their lead on it.” Fitzgerald said. As of today, fans have raised over $173 thousand dollars since the playoff game. For Brett Fitzgerald, Allen’s foundation being focused on a children’s hospital is a cause he can relate to and is appreciative of. His 7-year-old boy suffers from asthma and also lives with autism so he spends more time than a parent would like at children’s hospitals. “I have a son with autism. So, he does go to the children’s hospital.”

Donations have slowed down but they are still coming in. This is a trend in the sports world that will hopefully continue and gain momentum as time goes on. Sports are often about bringing people together and community, and few things are better examples of those than charity. Fitzgerald isn’t the first and won’t be the last but his efforts will change the lives of countless children and that’s more amazing than even the greatest playoff games.

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Students Spend Snow Day Shoveling

Franklin County Ohio was placed in a Level 1 snow emergency when a snowstorm rolled into the area. The Level 1 emergency meant that schools were closed and students got to enjoy a snow day. Two teens took the unexpected day out of school as an opportunity to spread some love through the community, according to local news. Jayden Watters, a 15-year-old student at Briggs High School, spent the day with his cousin, Kenny, shoveling sidewalks and driveways for members of the community who needed the extra help.

Jayden decided that morning that he would offer to help shovel snow for people. He had his mom, Ashley, make a post to Facebook to reach out to those who were in need of his services. Jayden quickly found himself with a full day of helping ahead of him and his cousin. Ashley said, “Yeah, when I put it on Facebook my phone started blowing up.”

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Jayden and crew hard at work. Photo credit 10WBNS.

Before that afternoon the two teens had themselves 8 requests followed by more as the day went on. The three of them spent the day going around the local area and helping clear snow for neighbors. Jayden’s mom recalls the day saying, “I’m just out being his free taxi mom to help him help the community…I’m proud, I raised him up to help others, especially the older people. So, I’m happy.”

Jayden and Kenny offered their services free of charge. Of course, some wouldn’t go for that, offering the two young men tips for their efforts on the day. When Jayden was asked about doing this, he said: “[It feels] really nice. We get done fast, so they’re really appreciative.” According to his mother, “He’s kind-hearted. He’s a big, soft teddy bear.” He hopes that he and his cousin were able to not only help others, but also inspire some to lend a hand as well. “If you can, yeah. It’s always good to help out,” Jayden was quoted saying.

What an awesome gesture and sacrifice this was by these two teens. Willingly giving up a precious snow day to go help the community instead was a wonderful thing. It doesn’t get much more selfless than that! Ashley is right to be a proud mom of such a caring and thoughtful young man. Jayden, Kenny, and Ashley now have a day full of memories all while making the day brighter for others around them. This was a beautiful example of voluntaryism in action, if you ask me.

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Free Pizza For Stranded Canadian Motorists

A thousand or so motorists were stranded in British Columbia after heavy rainfall led to major flooding and mudslides cause highways to shut down. Local hotels and motels immediately filled, leaving no vacancy available for many of the people stuck due to the storm. This left those who could not find or afford a place to stay to live in their vehicles for days. Soon hunger and thirst became real concerns for many. That’s where a local pizza shop owner stepped up—with free pizza.

Rupinder and Dewan Davesar, owners of Hope Pizza Place, took matters into their own hands and began addressing the situation the best way they could. Left with only one working gas oven due to power outages, they fired it up and began cooking free pizza for the stranded motorists. They gathered a group of volunteers to assist them in their efforts to venture out in the rain to bring free pizza and other hot food to those in need of a meal. According to the National Post, Rupinder said “We could have made lots of money but we have other days to do that. We take the blessings from the people today. I think that will pay off in the future for us.”

The weather itself was a rare occurrence and called an “atmospheric river.” The amount of rainfall from it broke local records and initiated a response from the military to get aid to others. Helicopters were brought in to airlift people out of harm’s way. Teams were put together to help dig out vehicles buried by mudslides and to save any potentially buried victims. It was a slow process, and with over a thousand people stranded, concerns from the motorists became very real.

One woman, Angela Howard, was stranded with her two children in their vehicle. She had rigged up plastic bags outside the car to catch rain in order to provide the family with the basic necessity of water. Angela had to keep a close eye on her car’s gas in order to provide needed heat to keep her and her children warm from the cold. She recalled the experience, “They are getting scared. My heart breaks listening to my kids (ask) for water and food and I have nothing to provide for them.”

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Abandoned transport trucks are seen on the Trans-Canada Highway in a flooded area of Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 16, 2021. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP.

Another motorist, Melanie Forsythe, was driving home to Hope from Vancouver with a couple friends and ended up stranded for 18 hours before being helicoptered to safety. “We all had moments like, ‘Is this it? Is this the last time we’re going to see our kids?’ We were talking to our parents and our families, but it was just a scary situation,” she said of the situation.

The size and scope of the storm was massive and left a very dangerous situation. Considering all the risk, it was quite amazing of the Davesars and fellow volunteers to do what they did: not only cooking and giving away free pizza but risking the trips out to the stranded motorists. It’s another of countless examples of the lengths people will go to help others for no gain of their own. Voluntaryism is all around and happens every day. Some examples are extraordinary like the one set by the Davesar family, and the use of their pizza shop and local volunteers.

             

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Seattle Govt Orders Volunteers to Stop Giving Aid to Homeless

We Heart Seattle is a volunteer team that decided it was time to take action in addressing issues facing the homeless population in the city of Seattle. The efforts started off small. They were mostly aimed at picking up the large amounts of trash left by and around homeless settlements. The group claims to have picked up over 320,000 pounds of litter and garbage. They’ve also been able to get nearly 70 people the resources needed to get off the streets and turn things around. Unfortunately the city of Seattle does not approve of the group and their efforts and they have been told to stop giving aid to homeless people.

Andrea Suarez of We Heart Seattle got invited to a zoom meeting with Seattle Councilmember Dan Strauss and a number of other city leaders. Suarez said, “Having cleared more than 100,00 pounds of trash and housing at least five people from (Strauss’) district, I assumed the call would be to thank our volunteers and include us in further outreach efforts.”

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Friendly volunteers helping clean up their community. Image courtesy of We Heart Seattle.

Instead she was caught off-guard by the ambush, as she puts it, from the government. She was even told by REACH officials that her group’s efforts were “disruptive and confusing to the hard work of REACH and the Human Services Department has already been doing in Ballard Commons and Shilshole Avenue.” “I’m still asking myself, ‘when did volunteerism become disruptive?’” Suarez said in an interview with The Dori Monson Show.

The city’s main complaint was that the effort violated protocol and local laws on how camps should be handled and essentially destroyed. Suarez also points to union turf disputes between Seattle Parks and Seattle Public utilities about who picks up what trash from where. These disputes lead to the large accumulation of trash found in and around homeless encampments.

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Despite the city coming down on her and her group she has no plans on stopping the good work she is doing for the homeless of Seattle. “I’m going to keep volunteering.”, she said. Her efforts cost nothing from the state or taxpayers while the official preferred response costs millions and have managed to lead to very little assistance reaching those who need it.

This is far from the first time the state has ordered volunteers to stop giving aid to homeless people in need. There are countless stories every year about people being harassed, fined, and even facing jail time simply for helping others without going through the state and its bureaucracy.

We’ve highlighted a couple of these previously here at Voluntaryism In Action. One is a story about the government stalling food donations in the middle of winter. Another about a carpenter in Toronto who was building shelters for free for the homeless being told to stop what he was doing. 

We here at Voluntaryism In Action firmly believe the world would be a much better place if the state would simply get out of the way of the people, especially in their efforts to give aid to those who need it the most.

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Charity Vending Machines

Header Image Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sponsoring a unique twist on holiday gift-giving: charity vending machines. The Utah-based church has a yearly initiative to “Light the World” during the holiday season, and this year’s theme is “Light the World with Love.” The big red “Giving Machines” are an effort to bring light and hope directly to people in need.

The charity vending machines operate like a standard vending machine, but people can select a charitable item from dozens of local and global charity organizations.  Global charities include CARE, Church World Service, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF and WaterAid. More than 40 local charity sponsors are also participating.

The charity items include clean water, produce, meals, cooking supplies, eyeglasses, vaccines, skills training and educational supplies. There are even livestock options — like goats, pigs and chickens.

Donors choose items at the Giving Machine in Denver, Colorado, on November 3, 2021. Image copyright by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Elder Vaiangina Sikahema, a leader in the church, helped his granddaughter buy chickens to go to a family in need in another country. He said it was an easy first choice. “As a boy in Tonga, we ate chicken for Christmas. So I figured, someone could get three chickens — and it’s a good price, too,” he said.

The charity vending machines have raised almost $9 million for charities since they first were unveiled in 2017. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to each charity, with the Church covering all expenses, including credit card transaction fees. Since November, the red “Giving Machines” have been available in 10 cities in the US, from California to New York and even Hawaii:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada – Downtown Summerlin Mall
  • Nashville, Tennessee – Bridgestone Arena
  • Honolulu, Hawaii – Pearlridge Center
  • Orem, Utah – University Place
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – City Creek Center
  • Oakland, California – Temple Hill
  • Gilbert, Arizona – Water Tower Plaza
  • Denver, Colorado – Writer Square
  • Kansas City, Missouri – Crown Center
  • New York, New York – Rockefeller Center 
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Kansas City Chiefs mascot KC Wolf helps open the Giving Machine at Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri, on Nov. 30, 2021. Image Credit: Valerie Anderson for Church News

Elder Sikahema says that the spirit of giving is at the very essence of what it means to Latter-day Saints to be a Christian. The charity vending machines are available until 1 Jan 2022. If you live near one, consider giving it a try. After all, when people help each other voluntarily, everyone is better off.

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AirBnB Will House Afghan Refugees

The Taliban is consolidating its hold on Afghanistan after 20 years of failed American intervention. Meanwhile, refugees continue to flee in hope of a better life elsewhere. The total numbers could be 400,000 to up to two million refugees. But where the government has continuously and catastrophically failed, charities and generous companies are stepping up. Particularly noteworthy is AirBnB, whose Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky said that AirBnB will house Afghan refugees at no cost.

“Starting today, Airbnb will begin housing 20,000 Afghan refugees globally for free,” Chesky wrote on Twitter. “While we will be paying for these stays, we could not do this without the generosity of our Hosts. If you’re willing to host a refugee family, reach out and I’ll connect you with the right people here to make it happen!”

This is especially interesting since Airbnb has been regularly demonized by everyone from conservatives to socialists, and blamed for everything from rising property prices to gentrification. If the people who think they know what’s best had their way, Airbnb would not exist or would be regulated into obscurity. But the loss wouldn’t have just been the valuable service that Airbnb provides. Without Airbnb, 20,000 refugees would still have no place to live.

AirBnB Will House Afghan Refugees

Granted, housing 20,000 people is helpful, but won’t solve the refugee crisis, let alone the crisis of those who remain in Afghanistan. But if the past 20 years in Afghanistan have taught anything, it should be that the government and those who pretend to know best usually don’t. When the state and its appointed experts try to force their will on society, the results are never good.

When one central authority imposes their will on everyone, people can’t respond to everyday life—let alone to crises—in ways that are appropriate for themselves and their situations. In contrast, when people are free then there are millions of potential solutions. The government and their experts had their way with Afghanistan, and now the country is shattered and hundreds of thousands are fleeing. They had their way with the COVID crisis, and millions of lives were shattered. If they had had their way with Airbnb, the current crisis would have one less solution. It’s one more reason to get the government out of the economy

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Garage Food Pantry Project by Vermin Supreme Institute

Chris Rogers of the Vermin Supreme Institute, a 501c4 organization based out of Texas, is leading the way for a new food pantry project. Rogers recently started a new “Garage Food Pantry” project.

Currently he is running it out of his personal garage every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month as a trial run. He’s also doing this to personally see what will be needed for the project to successfully grow. The main goal is to have one set up within walking distance of every urban community, granting easy access to millions of people in need. To ensure their success and accessibility of food and items needed they would be set up as a network. Allowing nearby garage pantries to help each other maintain necessary supplies.

In Rogers’ opinion, the biggest difference between the garage food pantry project and other pantries is its goal of being 100% privately run, meaning there would be no state funding and no tax breaks taken. There would also be no requirements for those who come to shop at the garage pantry. No names, reasons, or inquiries about why the people who show up are there. People in the community who need assistance would show up, get a basket, and then proceed to shop for their needs and/or wants.

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Cally Rogers is ready to help those in need with her garage food pantry. Image credit: Chris Rogers

It’s been quite a hit within Rogers’ community. He believes that the neighbors knowing who is running it helps encourage them to participate and contribute to the success of the pantry. The immediate sense of community is making a decided impact on their ability to do what the community needs.

Rogers has also noted that many who have come for assistance have also shown up to help improve the pantry. Turning it more into a mutual-aid situation as opposed to a basic charity operation. For example, one couple started coming to his garage pantry regularly due to it being within walking distance, whereas before they would have to travel miles to get to one. They’ve also donated a significant portion of unneeded food from the other pantry that was given to them in pre-made packages. A man who has been living out of his car mentioned how impactful stocking can openers is for the homeless who may be in need of canned goods but don’t have a way to utilize them otherwise.

Overall, Chris Rogers believes the trial run for this outstanding voluntary solution of getting food to those who need it has been a raging success—from many helping stock the pantry after receiving help themselves, to neighbors volunteering to work and assist the pantry in other ways. From what he’s seen, there’s not only enough food to bring this to every community but also enough will from people who just want to help others.

All in all, this brilliant idea of the garage food pantry project has all the tools and love behind it to make a real impact on people’s lives, and show countless people that there is always a better way than looking to the state for help. That voluntary aid is not only preferable, but feasible.

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Unmasking the Face Cloths

We’ve all heard it before: “Masks are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19!” Or sometimes they say “Masks are for protecting others!” Or sometimes it’s for protecting the wearer. But despite flip-flopping recommendations from the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the WHO, and others, anyone who questions the masks is immediately denounced as a “science denier.”

But is the scientific evidence and data supporting the wearing of masks really as airtight as government and mainstream media propagandists want it to be? The truth is that despite (presumably) well-meaning recommendations from the CDC and others, the evidence does not support their assertions about masks. Taking an honest look at the research is enough for unmasking the face cloths.

Research regarding the efficacy of the cloth face coverings that are typically used as masks is far from conclusive. In 2013, Chugtai et al showed that the evidence did not demonstrate that cloth masks stop the transmission of respiratory disease. Things did not improve with time. In 2020, Jain et al published a literature review concluding that face cloths did not protect health care workers, but maybe they could reduce infections in the general population as a last resort.

Not everyone was so generous—Dr Hardy wrote a review article in 2016 concluding that although they are intended to prevent against airborne infections, “face masks are incapable of providing such a level of protection.” Incidentally, that article was removed in 2020—not because it violated scientific principles or had been disproved, but because it “is no longer relevant in our current climate.” Unfortunately for the censors but fortunately for people who like science, the article is still available at archive.org. But sadly, a similar fate has met many scientists who have tried unmasking the face cloths.

Some studies do show a small decrease in infections with mask use, such as Larson et al who found that “there was no detectable additional benefit of hand sanitizer or face masks over targeted education on overall rates of [upper respiratory infections], but mask wearing was associated with reduced secondary transmission.” Some studies show that masks have no effect at all, and others even show an increase in infections with the face cloths.

If that doesn’t seem at all like the “settled science” preached by the media and governments, you’re right. As Perski et al stated in a May 2020 evidence analysis: “Available evidence from [randomized controlled trials] is equivocal as to whether or not wearing face masks in community settings results in a reduction in clinically- or laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections.”

Generally, studies that purport to show the effectiveness of masks are conducted by measuring the filtering capacity of the mask in a lab. But randomized controlled trials conducted in real-world situations, such as this one, this one, and this one, usually show little or no practical effect of masks or face cloths in reducing infection rates.

Research has also shown that face masks become increasingly ineffective the longer they are worn. Kelkar et al showed that after 2.5 hours a person wearing a mask is actually shedding more infectious particles than they were before donning the mask. The only large randomized controlled trial to examine mask use in the COVID-19 setting found an insignificant 0.3% difference in infection rate between people who did and did not wear masks.

The information used to support mask mandates during COVID-19 has been of remarkably poor quality. For instance, a 2020 report from the CDC claims that mask mandates are associated with a 0.5-1.8 percentage point decrease in the growth rate of new cases. But in addition to this being of dubious clinical significance, the CDC did not control for other variables or examine the growth rate in areas without mask mandates. This means that the report cannot be used to draw the conclusion that mask mandates cause decreased infection rates.

Another CDC report examined data from Delaware in March-June 2020 and concluded that the state’s mask mandates and stay-at-home orders had contributed to an 82% reduction in COVID incidence. Again there was no control, so the CDC is assuming—not demonstrating—that the mandates account for the reduction. Also, the report excluded data from after June, when there were several large spikes in COVID cases in Delaware, despite the continued presence of the mandates.

unmasking the face cloths
Source: Covid Tracking Project – 7 Say Avg, Twitter @ianmSC

Another CDC report in February 2021 examined 10 states and had similar findings—and similar flaws (see below). Not to mention the inherent bias: isn’t it convenient that a government agency supported by government money found that the government’s measures were effective! These flaws are the rule rather than the exception in information that claims to support mask mandates.

unmasking the face cloths

When comparisons are made between COVID cases and/or deaths in areas with mask mandates and areas without them, there is no clear correlation (see below). Additionally, data show that compliance with mask mandates was been at 80-90% during the worst waves of the pandemic in autumn 2020, so the ineffectiveness of mask mandates cannot reasonably be blamed on noncompliance.

unmasking the face cloths

If the government, corporations, and hospitals are going to force you to wear a face cloth, there should be clear and unequivocal evidence that significant harm will occur if you don’t. Such evidence does not exist.

In fact, there is a large body of evidence, both research and raw data, which shows that masks are not effective at reducing respiratory disease rates in a population. Asymptomatic spread—a large driver behind the original push for face cloth mandates—has been shown to happen at a rate of <1% even among people living in the same house (i.e. not “social distancing”).  

When it comes to a straight examination of the numbers, it’s hard to beat Tom Woods and Ian Miller. Tom Woods’ COVID Charts Quiz makes clear that there is not any correlation between wearing masks and COVID-19 infections or deaths. Ian Miller has made amazing charts and articles documenting how the facts do not match the mainstream narrative on masks.

The idea that you might harm someone by not wearing a mask involves multiple theoretical possibilities: IF you come in contact with the virus, and IF it infected you, and IF that was an asymptomatic infection (you’d be staying home if you were sick, of course), and IF it was transmitted to another person, and IF it infected them despite them wearing a mask or being vaccinated (if they chose to), then there could be harm. Many of these “ifs” have a <1% chance of actually occurring.

When it comes to mask mandates in private businesses, there’s often the attitude that they can do what they like. It’s a private company, after all. But it’s a basic tenet of ethics that informed consent is necessary for a choice to be legitimate. When information is deliberately withheld, facts are distorted, and opposing viewpoints censored, the choice cannot be considered fully voluntary—it’s been engineered by those who control the information.

A person who is afraid of COVID-19 (or ANY disease) has no right to mitigate their fear by controlling your body, clothing, entertainment, or employment. The burden of proof cannot be on those who are attempting to live a normal life, but on those who want to restrict them. If face cloths work, there should be strong and clear evidence of it, and there is not. Belief in face cloths is just that: belief, or faith—and it is not a faith that you or I should be forced to participate in. 

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