AAM’s Pay It Forward Project, Inspired by Marg Helgenberger, in Honor of Her 60th Birthday
Every year we like to team up with our fellow fans to do something special in honor of Marg’s birthday. In the past we have created videos, designed books filled with fan letters, created musical playlists inspired by her, and for the past couple of years, we have done a fundraiser for Stand Up To Cancer, a charity that Marg actively supports. The idea behind each of our activities has been to come together, share our love for Marg, and, most importantly, to thank her for being such an inspiration to us all.
While keeping with the same basic theme of showing Marg how much she inspires us, this year I decided to let those who wanted to participate choose their own way of showing how Marg inspires them. My only criteria was that they take that inspiration that they get from Marg and pay it forward — channel it into doing at least one deed or act of kindness, no matter how big or how small, that sends some good vibes out into the world to offset some of the negativity that seems to constantly surround us these days. I also wanted fans to choose something that was important to them and encouraged them to look around their own communities for ways they could help.
I got a late start on planning this year’s activity because of some family issues I was dealing with and was a little worried that no one would participate, but as always, Marg’s fans came through like the rock stars they all are. (You guys are the best!)
So, without further ado, I’d love to share the good deeds that Marg has inspired her fans to go out and do in honor of her birthday.
The Pay It Forward Project: “No Act of Kindness, No Matter How Small, is Ever Wasted.”
Jeyce P. from Brasil decided that she wanted to focus on doing what she could to support children who are fighting cancer in her country so she chose to make a donation to NACC (nucleo de apoio a criança com cancer). NACC offers support to needy children who are being treated for cancer and their families. Some of the services they offer include the following: transportation assistance, food support programs, dental care, physical therapy, psychosocial support, and more.
Kris S. from North Carolina chose to participate in the ADOPT-A-NATIVE ELDER program. This non-profit program provides food, simple medicines, clothing, fabric, yarns, and more to help traditional Elders who desire to remain on their Lands and in their traditional lifestyle. Most of these Elders, who range in age from 75-100, live in remote portions of the Navajo reservation, with many living in traditional Navajo housing with no running water and some have no electricity. As they get older, it becomes more difficult for the Elders to support themselves in the traditional way of life and this is where Adopt-A-Native tries to help.
Sunni F. from Minnesota turned her focus to our furry friends who also need assistance and she chose to make a donation to HOPE ANIMAL RESCUE OF IOWA. Hope Animal Rescue is a no-kill rescue whose mission is to rescue, protect, and provide hope as they search for loving homes for stray and neglected animals.
Nicola B. from Liverpool, UK, has many friends and family members who have been affected by cancer, so she chose to make a cash donation to MARIE CURIE, a charity organization in the UK that is committed to offering vital services for people living with a terminal illness and their families. Their focus is on providing expert care, guidance, and support for anyone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, whether it’s cancer, dementia, motor neuron disease, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, or any other illness.
Nicola was also inspired by Marg to donate to the LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT FOUNDATION in support of the Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters who have been working tirelessly to contain the fires across southern California. In Nicola’s own words: “Although it’s far away from home for me, the footage of the California fires on the news and online was horrifying and heartbreaking to watch. So when I saw that Marg had retweeted a link to donate to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, I was inspired to donate and happy to do so.”
Laura W. from Winchester, Kentucky, chose to do an act of kindness for the elementary school students that she teaches. Here, in her own words, is what she chose to do in honor of Marg’s birthday:
“In honor of your 60th Birthday, I purchased $60.00 worth of children’s books & have placed them in 2 book boxes in my classroom, one for K-2’s, one for Gr 3-4. After each class, 1 student gets to select a book to keep. Our homeless population has been increasing, 60% of our students qualify for free/reduced lunch, & our school library was flooded this summer, losing over $12,000.00 worth of books which insurance has yet to replace. Books are a definite need, & some of the books purchased in your honor are already in a child’s hand. Thank you for using your voice for good, for standing up to injustice and for spreading positivity. I hope you have an absolutely amazing birthday! Blessings, Laura W., Winchester, KY”
Pari N. from Ohio also chose to dedicate her good deed to helping get more books into the hands of young readers. Pari donated some wonderful brand-new children’s books to a LOCAL BOOK DRIVE that was collecting books for young people in her community.
Jen G. from Michigan was very health and wellness-minded in her choices for good deeds. Through her workplace, she helped to raise over $200 for a group called VITAMIN ANGELS. Vitamin Angels is an organization that helps get vitamins, prenatal care, and various other health and wellness resources to developing countries all over the world. Their goal is to end childhood malnutrition.
Jen also went a step further and, also through her work place, partnered with a local high school earlier this month to be a part of their HEALTH AND WELLNESS FAIR. The fair was an opportunity to educate the community about health and wellness, and Jen took part, handing out helpful literature and free samples, as well as answering questions for anyone who might be thinking about starting a journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Sharon B. from Massachusetts was a busy bee when it came to doing good deeds. In anticipation of the approaching cold winter months, Sharon focused her attention on keeping those in need warm. Through her workplace, she donated to the NORTH READING WINTER COAT DRIVE/FUNDRAISER, which is a local event that raises money and accepts new and gently used winter coats to help keep kids in need in the North Reading, MA area warm for the winter.
In addition to taking part in the coat drive, Sharon also donated a generous assortment of warm clothing to her local church. The church collects all such donations and delivers them to area homeless shelters.
Sharon rounded out her good deeds by making a donation to STAND UP TO CANCER. This is an organization that Marg actively supports and one where 100% of your donation goes to support SU2C’s collaborative research program.
I’m going to take a minute here and toot Sharon’s horn a bit. She and I were traveling together in NYC just a few weeks ago and we were taking a tour in Lower Manhattan. One of the stops on the tour took us to the Federal Hall National Memorial. As our tour group exited the building, we found ourselves faced with a set of surprising steep stairs with minimal handrails (see photo below). A lot of people were sitting all over the stairs as well, which made descending more challenging than I would have anticipated.
We gradually worked our way over to the far right side of the stairs so we hold the handrail and descend safely. When I got to the bottom, I looked around for Sharon and couldn’t find her. I looked back up the stairs to find that she had stopped to help an elderly lady on the tour with us who was having difficulty navigating the stairs. Sharon held her arm and stayed with her until she made it all the way down safely. It was a spontaneous random act of kindness and all I could think while watching her is how lucky I am to have such a wonderful person in my life. (Are you blushing yet, Sharon? LOL!)
Jenn R., also from Massachusetts, chose to focus on helping those in Puerto Rico. Jenn participated in a fundraiser organized by actress Lana Parrilla where proceeds went to TODAY, I’M BRAVE – 100 ROOFS PROJECT. This project is a joint humanitarian effort with HEART 9/11 focused on aiding Puerto Ricans who are still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In addition to sending professional carpenters from New York to Puerto Rico, 100 Roofs is also training local men and women how to become professional roofers themselves through an apprenticeship program.
Sara V. from France chose to donate to the environmental organization GREENPEACE. In her own words: “I’m an environmentalist and I’m quite worried when I see that we don’t protect enough the only home we have. Greenpeace fights a lot to preserve the environment, tries to fight lobbies and to protect endangered species, that’s why I wanted to support them.”
Sara also made a second donation, this time to LES RESTOS DU COEUR, a French association that gives free food to people living in the streets and to people who have a home but can’t afford it. Sara chose this organization because she thinks no one should be starving and that access to food should be a basic right for everyone.
Sheena from Clipstone, UK regularly donates items to the local TURNAROUND charity shop in her community, and for our birthday celebration, she gave them three bags of donated goods, including clothing for boys, clothing for women, as well as toys. The shop, which is run by a local church, donates all of the profits to good causes. They seek to support local, national, and even international communities, with their goal being to focus on things that “turn around” lives both locally and overseas.
Through her workplace, Sheena has also actively been collecting donations for a local women’s and children’s hospice. Sheena has been actively collecting donations by encouraging fellow parents to donate to the cause, and she has been donating items herself – clothing, toys, and any other items that the hospice would find useful.
Isa from Portugal was inspired by Marg to make a donation to LIGA PORTUGUESA CONTRA O CANCRO, the Portuguese League Against Cancer. This is an organization that is committed to supporting cancer patients, promoting health education with an emphasis on prevention, stimulating and supporting oncology training and research, and defending the rights of cancer patients and survivors.
Jen B. from Somerset, England devotes her time as a care giver in her community. She provides assistance to elderly residents that allows them to stay in their own homes for as long as possible rather than move into assisted living facilities or nursing homes. In addition to providing vital services to her elderly clients, Jen also likes to do whatever she can to make their days brighter so doing a random act of kindness for this project came very naturally for her. One evening recently one of Jen’s clients was watching Dancing with the Stars and reminiscing about how she and her late husband used to always go ballroom dancing together. When she mentioned that she hadn’t danced at all in years and talked about how much she missed it, Jen helped her up and they waltzed around the room together for several minutes. The client thanked Jen and told her she had just made her day. 🙂
And finally, here are my deeds. I’m Suzanne W. from Virginia and this year I was inspired by Marg to focus my attention on helping the homeless. I made donations to the UNITED WAY in my area because they are dedicated to providing vital services to help the homeless and to do whatever they can to help get them back up on their feet. They have also added programs in recent years to assist those families who are living on the edge, from paycheck to paycheck with no savings, and who find themselves in dire need when hit by an unexpected major expense.
I also made a donation to a RISE AGAINST HUNGER fundraiser that one of our local churches hosts every year. Their goal this year was to put together 75,000 meals to feed the homeless.
Lastly, I let my son choose something that we could do together and he came home with a flier from school advertising the school system’s annual ROCK OUT KNOCK OUT HOMELESSNESS DRIVE. They collect donations for basic necessities like soap, detergent, socks, underwear, shampoo, diapers, and more to bring awareness as well as support for students and their families who are homeless in Spotsylvania County.
My husband had taken a photo of my son and I actually handing all of our donations to the school employees who were working the event, but it was dark and the photo turned out so badly that you couldn’t even tell what we were doing. So, instead, here’s a photo of our cart as we were shopping for items that were on their wishlist.
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And that’s all folks! Thanks so much to everyone who took part in this year’s project!
Happy Birthday, Marg! We hope that you have a day that is as wonderful as you are. Thanks so much for all that you do to inspire us every day. We love you!
Sending huge birthday hugs across the miles! xoxo
Suzanne & Sharon
All About Marg