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Warm the Homeless 2024 – Campaign Update

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Warm The Homeless campaign! Because of you, we were able to raise $300 to help people get through the roughest parts of winter. This year, we partnered with Ellie Elle, a kind soul in Pennsylvania who took it upon herself to help people without homes in her area.

warm the homeless

Some of our Missouri VIA volunteers were also able to distribute blankets and coats to people in their area. Check out the photos from the campaign!

Again, a big “thank you” to our regular donors, and those who contributed specifically to this campaign. We can help people because of you!

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Warmth for All: A Call to Action for Winter Coat Donations

As winter’s icy grip tightens, millions of people around the world face the harsh reality of cold weather without adequate protection. While many of us take warmth for granted, there are countless individuals, families, and children who struggle to stay warm during the coldest months of the year. This is where our collective compassion and generosity can make a profound difference.

At Voluntaryism In Action, we want to help everyone stay warm during the cold months, regardless of their circumstances. That’s why we’ve launched our annual Warm The Homeless drive, with the aim of providing essential winter coats to those in need. Through the generosity of donors like you, we can ensure that vulnerable individuals and families have the warmth and protection they need to thrive during the winter season.

The need for winter coat donations is especially critical for marginalized communities, including the homeless, refugees, low-income families, and individuals living in poverty. For them, a warm coat isn’t just a comfort—it’s a lifeline against the biting cold and a safeguard for their health and well-being. Without adequate protection from the elements, they are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and other serious health complications.

By donating to our winter coat drive, you can directly impact the lives of those in need. Your contribution will enable us to purchase high-quality winter coats in various sizes, styles, and colors to accommodate individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Whether it’s a child walking to school, a senior citizen navigating icy sidewalks, or a homeless individual seeking refuge from the cold, your donation will provide essential warmth and protection to those who need it most.

Moreover, donating to our winter coat drive is not just about providing physical warmth—it’s about showing compassion and solidarity with our neighbors in need. It’s about recognizing our shared humanity and standing together to support one another during challenging times. Your act of generosity will send a powerful message of care and compassion to those who may feel forgotten or overlooked by society.

Here’s how you can make a difference:

  1. Donate Financially: Your monetary donations allow us to purchase brand-new winter coats in bulk at discounted prices, maximizing the impact of your contribution.

2. Donate Gently Used Coats: If you have gently used winter coats that you no longer need, consider donating them to your local shelter, food bank, or other charitable organization—even handing them out to people yourself. Your pre-loved coats can provide warmth and comfort to someone in need.

3. Spread the Word: Help us raise awareness about our winter coat drive by sharing our campaign on social media, talking to friends and family, or organizing a coat collection event in your community.

4. Volunteer: If you’re passionate about helping others, consider volunteering your time and skills to assist with coat distribution, fundraising events, or other aspects of our winter coat drive.

Together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need it most. As the cold weather sets in, let’s come together as a community to ensure that everyone has access to the warmth and protection they deserve. Thank you for your generosity and compassion. With your support, we can provide warmth for all this winter and beyond.

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Holiday Food Drive 2023

With massive inflation caused by the government printing more money, it’s become difficult for people to take care of themselves, let alone be able to help others. Nevertheless, we received about $200 in donations to our Holiday Food Drive. Rather than divide it up, we gave your donations to a family who has been suffering acutely. Their story is below. 

In May of 2023, Miss Stacey’s young daughter was diagnosed with a diffused midline glioma. DMG is a very aggressive, rare tumor that typically occurs in young children, and is considered terminal if it cannot be removed. Unfortunately, this tumor has been deemed inoperable due to its location near her brain stem. Since being diagnosed, she has completed one round of radiation which was 5 days/week for 6 weeks.

 While receiving radiation, her doctors worked hard to see if she would qualify for a clinical trial that, if successful, would allow important medication to cross the blood-brain barrier and attack her specific type of tumor. Even though she didn’t meet the age requirement to participate in the trial, Miss Stacey remained hopeful as they waited for a decision to be made. Shortly after completing radiation, Miss Stacey was told that her daughter was 1 of 3 children across the country who were accepted into this trial. 

The clinical trial would require her daughter to receive a series of 8 “vaccines” that would be administered once every two weeks. While the trial study has come to a close, her battle with DMG is far from over. The tumor has grown slightly since its original measurement post-radiation, but it has not grown throughout participation in the trial study. The hope is that this new treatment will prevent further growth of the tumor but continued monitoring is required to ensure that any change in size is attacked with additional radiation as long as her little body can manage the treatments. 

Throughout all of her appointments and treatments, Miss Stacey worked hard to maintain normalcy for her family, especially her young son. She talked to her son about her daughter’s illness but knows that he doesn’t quite understand the seriousness. Because of this, she continued to take her son to his soccer and baseball games, ensuring she spent time with friends and family, taking turns having special 1 on 1 outings with him and doing everything to keep his routine as normal as possible.

 Miss Stacey and her husband alternate their time away from work but both of them have needed a significant drop in work hours to spend time together as a family and ensure Abbey is at every appointment. Stacey is currently working through intermittent FMLA and her husband is about to head into snow plowing season, which he does during his offseason from construction work.

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to our Holiday Food drive for helping provide Miss Stacey’s children with a wonderful Christmas while taking the planning and financial strain away from Miss Stacey and her husband.

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Donors Assist East Palestine

Header Image credit: Gene J. Puskar / AP file

Remember when the government deliberately dumped and burned hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals from a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio? The residents sure do—they’ve been struggling with water contamination issues ever since. Despite assurances from the government that the water is clean, the residents believed otherwise. Independent testing bore that out, finding carcinogenic compounds from the chemical spill at levels the government tests had been set too insensitive to detect.

A black plume rises as a result of a controlled detonation of part of the derailed trains in East Palestine, Ohio. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / AP file

Thanks to the generosity of you and other VIA supporters, we were able to help relive suffering caused by this crisis. Over $2000 was sent to The Way Station to aid their on-the-ground, community-focused efforts to aid the people who had their lives upended by the government.  

With your help, food, clothing, water, hygiene products, diapers, cleaning supplies and gift cards were provided to those in need. Thank you for your contribution! Together, we’re showing the world that the way to do things is voluntarily.

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Winter Care Packages 2023

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to our Winter Care Packages charity campaign! Thanks to you, we were able to raise enough money to purchase hundreds of hygiene kits, warm socks, blankets, and winter coats for homeless and needy people.

This year, we distributed through First Fruits, an organization founded and staffed by Missourian Jeffrey Moore. Moore started his efforts by purchasing extra food and taking it to people in shopping bags. As the years passed, he formed partnerships with local businesses, eventually forming into a 501C3 nonprofit.

winter care packages
VIA Volunteer Jeff loading donated items into Moore's van. Moore declined to appear in photographs, saying "It's not about me."

Although a 501C3 sounds fancy, it’s still just Moore giving out donated items to people. He estimates that there are >3,000 homeless people living between Kansas City and Butler, MO. Now, thanks to your generous donations, he has more coats, socks, gloves, and more to give out to people suffering in the cold Missouri winter. More people helped…because of your voluntary giving! Here’s hoping that next year’s Winter Care Package drive will let us help even more people.

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Saving Garden Seeds

The article “Saving Garden Seeds” is a guest post by Roger Perry.

Saving garden seeds is an easy, fun, and inexpensive way to grow your favorite garden plants from year to year. Seeds are designed to withstand many natural problems such as heat, cold, drought and fire. Some can even survive being eaten by birds and animals. Many seeds can be dried out, saved, and planted the next year with some success, but for best results, follow the steps below.

Before you plant, consider how the plants are pollinated. Self-pollinated plants have flowers that pollinate themselves and grow true to the parent plant. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas are good choices. Cross-pollinated plants are pollinated by a separate plant of the same or closely related variety. The seed from these plants may not be true to the parent plant. Sweet corn can be pollinated by popcorn. Cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins and gourds can all pollinate each other.

If you’re interested in saving garden seeds of cross-pollinated plants, you should not plant more than one variety that may cross with the parent. If you plant one variety of cucumber–do not plant any melons, squash, pumpkins or gourds. Hybrid plants are produced by professionals. They combine two different varieties under strict pollination conditions to produce the best features of both plants. The seeds of hybrid plants will not be the same as the parent plant. The home gardener should not try to save the seeds of hybrid plants.

saving garden seeds

Obtain seeds, cuttings, transplants from a reliable source. Seeds should be fresh, clean and disease-free. Seeds can be obtained from commercial sources, community outreach organizations, seed exchange groups and fellow gardeners. Observe plant growth and  development and crop results (size, quantity, and quality), as you only want to save seed from the best plants.

Most seeds are not ready to harvest until after the peak for eating, so be sure to mark what you want to let ripen for seed so that it doesn’t get picked and eaten. Tomatoes and cucumbers have seeds that are coated with a gel. This should be removed by fermentation. Squeeze or spoon the seed mass into a waterproof container-jar, glass or cup. Add enough water to cover the seed mass, cover lightly and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Stir at least once a day. The good seed will begin to sink to the bottom. The bad seeds and white mold will float on the surface. After five days all the good seed will be on the bottom. Pour off the accumulation on the top and wash the seeds in clear water several times Lay the seeds out to dry for several weeks.

Peppers can be cut open and the seeds brushed off the center stem onto a plate or screen. Set them aside to dry for several weeks. Always wear plastic gloves, wash your hands and be careful where you touch when working with peppers.

Squashes, pumpkins and gourds can be cut open and the seeds removed by hand or spoon. Wash them under cold running water, rubbing carefully to remove stringy membrane. Put them on a plate or screen and set aside to dry for several weeks.

Peas and beans should not be picked until the pods are thoroughly brown and dry. They may be left in the pods or shelled for storage. In either case they should be set aside to dry for several weeks.

Lettuce and greens also produce seed pods; however, they tend to shatter as they dry out. To prevent them from shattering either tie a paper bag over the flower heads or pick the dry pods daily. Treat the seeds like peas.

Melons can be cut open and the seeds removed by hand or spoon. Wash the seeds under cold running water rubbing off any stringy membrane with your fingers. Put the seeds in a waterproof container and cover with water. The good seeds should sink to the bottom in a couple of days. Pour off the bad seeds and water. Rinse the good seeds again and set aside to dry for several weeks.

Biennials, such as cabbage, beets, carrots, cauliflower, onions, parsley, and turnips, do not produce seed the first year. They can be left in the ground and protected from winter cold or dug up and stored over the winter and then replanted the following spring.

Once your seeds are completely dry they can be stored in any dry secure container placed in a cool dry area. More than one type of seed can be stored together, but each type needs to be separated in its own packet. Each packet or container should be clearly marked with the name and variety, date harvested and any other information you feel will be helpful next spring. Now you know everything you need for saving garden seeds.

 

This article is a guest post by VIA volunteer Roger Perry. Roger has more than 40 years’ experience with gardening. He has worked with all kinds of plants from potatoes to passion fruits, and is happy to share his expertise with the VIA community.

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Planting Seeds

Freedom from the state and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand. One of our latest projects here at Voluntaryism in Action, “Rooted in Voluntaryism,” aims to assist more people to increase their self-sufficiency through gardening.  A VIA follower and volunteer, Roger Perry, is a master gardener with a lifetime of experience.  Below, he offers a basic explanation for planting seeds.  We hope this will be a helpful accompaniment to your seed starter kit if you signed up for our program, or that you’ll share with friends interested in starting their own vegetable gardens!      

Planting seeds is less expensive than buying nursery plants.  A packet of seeds may cost between $1.00 and $3.00 (check out the options from our friends at True Leaf Market) and will produce more plants than the average home gardener can use. Seeds can sometimes be received free at garden shows, food banks, and other community resources.

A packet of seeds may also be shared between family, friends, or neighbors reducing the cost to almost zero. Planting seeds allows you to extend the growing season as you can plant seeds indoors several weeks before it is safe to plant outdoors.

Before you start to planting seeds, it is important to take a look at the seed packet for important information about the seeds.  The front of the packet has general information such as:  the company name of the seller, cost, name and variety of the seed.  It may also show things like:  number of days to harvest, if it is suitable for growing in a container, if it is NON-GMO (not modified genetically), and the weight of the seeds. 

The reverse side will have a general description of the item, planting instructions, a map of the United States and four climate zones (this is kind of small and hard to see), and the year for which the seed was packed (although seeds are packed for a specific year, they will normally be viable (able to grow) for at least 2-3 years).

When planting seeds indoors you will need a growing container of some type.  Almost any container will do.  It should be fairly shallow, have drainage holes in the bottom, and a plate to catch the water.  It may be covered to retain moisture and warmth.  Recycled nursery containers (see below) are perfect.   They are shallow and have plenty of drainage holes.  They can sometimes be obtained from nurseries, friends, or from items you have purchased. 

planting seeds
Two examples of nursery containers, and a makeshift nursery container from a margarine tub.

You can also use recycled household items (below). 

planting seeds

Clamshell type items can be cut in half (below). 

planting seeds

Put drain holes in one part and use the other as a plate to catch the water (below). When putting holes in the containers be careful not to injure yourself!  

planting seeds

A cover is not necessary, but if you want one you can use plastic film, a plastic bag, or top of a plastic clamshell.  Put a few small holes in the plastic cover to prevent mildew or overheating.  Even with the holes, remove the cover for a few hours a day and make sure the plastic does not touch the soil.

You do not need to buy a special soil mix for planting seeds.  Most yard soil will do; however, if your soil is especially heavy and wet, you will have better results if you can add some potting soil and or sand.

Now you are ready to plant!  Wet the soil and let it drain.  Follow the instructions on the packet for how deep to plant.  Try to allow more space between seeds than the packet indicates to make it easier to transplant when the time comes. If you are planting more than one variety of seed, it would be a good idea to add a marker with the kind of seed and the date they were planted. 

Planting outdoors may be easier and less troublesome.  Whether you are planting seeds or transplanting your seedlings, the process is about the same.  Prepare the soil.  Again, most soils will do without adding costly, processed amendments.  If your soil is especially heavy clay, you may want to add sand, compost, or other organic matter. 

Using a shovel, hoe, trowel, etc. dig the soil up, breaking big clods and adding any amendments as you go. Rake the soil smooth.  Water lightly and let it drain.  Plant seeds according to package directions. Plant seedlings at the same depth as they were in the seed bed.  Adding a light mulch will help retain warmth and moisture and will deter weed growth.

Now, water and weed as necessary until your crops are ready to harvest!

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Self-Sufficiency through Gardening

Freedom from the state and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand. One of our latest projects here at Voluntaryism in Action, “Rooted in Voluntaryism,” aims to assist more people to increase their self-sufficiency through gardening.  A VIA follower and volunteer, Roger Perry, is a master gardener with a lifetime of experience.  Below, he offers some basic tips for beginners.  We hope this will be a helpful accompaniment to your seed starter kit if you signed up for our program, or that you’ll share with friends interested in starting their own vegetable gardens!      

 

Before beginning your home garden let’s take a look at some of the basics.

Climate Zones

 There are two main organizations that have developed a series of climate zones covering the entire country.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Publishes one list, and The Sunset Western Garden Book (Sunset) publishes another.  They are based on different information and so their zones do not overlap—you must be sure that you know which one you are using and which one a catalog, store, or label is using.  They are both widely available at garden stores, libraries, online, seed catalogs, and other sources.  These climate zones give you general guidance as to a particular plant’s adaptability to your general area.  Along with your climate zone you should also be aware of your microclimate—the things affecting your specific garden location.  Will the garden be on the north side of a building?  Is it shaded by trees?  Is it at the bottom of a hill?  Is there a river or lake nearby?  All these factors can influence a plant’s ability to grow in a specific location.

Growing Season

This is basically the number of days above freezing weather.  It starts with the average last day of frost in the spring and ends with the average first day of frost in the fall.  This is just a guide; there are plants that will survive in freezing weather and others that cannot tolerate any cold.  The growing season can be extended by starting seeds indoors, using plastic or blankets to cover plants, using plastic to cover the soil, or by using raised beds.

Soil

Soil is dirt, plain and simple.  You can plant your vegetable garden in almost any common soil and get good results.  There are a few things to watch out for—heavy clay soil, boggy wet soil, extremely sandy soil, acid/alkaline imbalance, lack of basic nutrients.  Clay, boggy, sandy soils can be improved by adding organic material—compost, sawdust, lawn clippings, purchased garden soil.  With boggy soil look for the source of the water to see if it can be diverted.  The general acid, alkaline, or nutrient status of your soil can be checked using a simple soil test kit purchased from a nursery or plant store, or you can send or take a soil sample to a soil testing lab.  These can be located through plant nurseries, local college/universities, or online.

Water

Quality of water is not usually a problem.  If you want your water tested, most municipal water providers, local college/university, or testing labs can do so at a minimal charge.  A bigger concern is with managing the water to ensure it is in the right place at the right time and the right amount.  This is called irrigation.  Plants require regular watering.   Newly planted seeds or plants should be kept slightly damp, but don’t soak them.  After they have become established, water deeply and then do not water again until the soil begins to dry out.  Small gardens can be watered using a watering can, a bucket, or a common water hose. Larger gardens need a water hose or a system of pipes, hoses, sprinklers that all may be hooked up to an electric timer.  A system of ditches, dams and pools can help collect and direct the water.  Mulching can help keep the soil moist.

self-sufficiency through gardening
Even with limited space, a small garden is possible. Here VIA volunteer Jeff has cleared some rocks and planted a pumpkin vine in the small border next to the backyard fence.

Mulch

Mulching is the process of adding organic material (Lawn clippings, leaves, sawdust, bark chunks) around plants growing in the garden.  The mulch helps retain moisture, keep plants cool, blocks weeds from growing, and adds nutrients and organic material to the soil as it breaks down.  As decomposing mulch takes nitrogen from the soil, it is a good idea to add nitrogen when you add the mulch.

Nutrients

Plants need nutrients (chemicals) to help them grow. These can come from inorganic (chemical) or organic (natural) sources.  Both types can be purchased to meet specific needs.  Organic fertilizers can also be found at home, although quantities and qualities are less precise.  Coffee grounds, eggshells, banana peels, and other kitchen waste (but no meat, fat, or bones!), leaves, lawn clippings, sawdust and other organic compounds can add some nutrients.  There are three main chemicals in fertilizer—Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Every fertilizer label lists the percentage by weight of these three ingredients (NPK) and then any other nutrients included.  If you use a chemical fertilizer, look for a balanced one.  These contain equal or nearly equal amounts of NPK fertilizer (10-10-10 or 15-10-8).

Composting

Composting is the process of breaking down organic material into soil.  This is done by building a compost pile (freestanding or enclosed).  Gather materials to be composted (lawn trimmings, leaves, kitchen waste—no meat, fat, or bones—and other organic material).  Shred or chop.  Dig a hole.  Put material in hole, cover lightly with dirt, mix it up, add some water, cover lightly with dirt.  In a few days dig the material, mix it up, water it, and add another light coating of dirt.  Continue this process until the composted material is no longer visible.  Now it can be added to other soil, used as mulch, or used for planting seeds.  If you don’t have the time or energy to turn it all the time don’t worry, it will eventually decompose on its own.  A simple way to compost small amounts is to take the daily kitchen scraps and bury them among the growing plants in the garden.  Be sure to remember where yesterday’s scraps are buried and stay away from plant roots.  Another easy way to compost is in the spring and fall when the garden is not planted, start at one end of the garden, and dig a hole.  When you have enough organic material, bury it in the hole.  Dig another hole and continue the process.  By the time you get to the end of the garden you can start again. 

Organic or Chemical?

Many people, especially those growing their own food, feel that organic is the way to go.  Others feel that proper use of chemicals is safe and easy.  The choice is yours.  There are organic fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides.  They may not be quite as fast or effective as chemicals, but they will not harm the environment, they allow for biodiversity, they provide “clean” crops, and they encourage you to be active in your garden.

 

Good luck in your gardening adventure! If you can’t afford starting seeds, be sure to visit VIA’s Rooted In Voluntaryism page to request help.

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November 2020 Organizational Update

As we close on the month of being together and thankful, we reflect on how far VIA has come since the beginning of this year. Despite everything unforeseen and lost in this year, we feel gratitude for the opportunity to serve and help. Voluntaryism In Action has indeed grown continuously, but we know this was a scary time for the individual and the success of any organizations, including non-profits. Our team, our engagement, and our community have grown, and for that we thank you.

We know times are tough for you and we thank you for the ongoing reminder that voluntaryists not only reach out with a helping hand when they have abundance, they also reach out when they have losses. Supporters of the state fully expect people to act selfishly in times of recession and panic, but voluntaryism proves them wrong.

Here’s what we’ve done this month with your support:

  • With the food drive, we helped over 30 families and delivered food to pantries in the Detroit and California Bay Area, offering around $2500, purchasing over 1500 pounds of food so far. Check out our official progress here.
  • We launched our annual toy drive with an initial goal of $5000. You can donate on our Facebook page.
  • Amanda Garvin joined our team to help with social media content.

Our family at the VIA Team wish our community happy holidays and thank you deeply for your continued love and support. May you have the joy of giving and receiving this season through continued voluntaryism.

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VIA’s Second Annual Holiday Food Drive–Part 1

One of our favorite holiday traditions here at Voluntaryism in Action—our annual fundraiser for holiday meals—was a huge success this year.  Our donors helped us almost double what we raised last year, and we collected almost $9k. 

Annual Holiday Food Drive
VIA volunteers deliver food to St Jude's in Detroit.

More families need help putting food on their tables than ever right now due to government encroachments on natural liberties, including the right to simply go to work.  Voluntaryists everywhere have proven their principles by stepping up to help while these basic difficulties are so widespread.

annual holiday food drive
Executive Director Logan Davies and a VIA volunteer deliver frozen turkeys to St. Moses in Detroit.

With these funds, the VIA team purchased essential items for food banks across the country, including St Jude Food Pantry and St Moses the Black in Detroit, Michigan and the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano in California (the only food bank operating in the entire Bay Area due to government restrictions).  Our team personally delivered over 1,500lbs of food!  On the individual level, through our website and personal referrals, we assisted 30 families with groceries in time for Thanksgiving.

Annual holiday food drive
An overflowing palletful of food from VIA donations from our holiday drive being taken to Contra Costa food bank in Solano County, CA.

Watch for our holiday meal assistance forms to re-open soon in time to help with meals for Christmas, Chanukah, and other festive December meals!

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