NCIS: Los Angeles star Chris O’Donnell has joined with The ConAgra Foods Foundation’s Hunger-Free Summer program to raise awareness for kids who depend on free or reduced lunch meals during the school year. Now in its fourth year, the initiative has delivered over 2.5 million meals and snacks to children struggling with hunger over the summer. The goal is to reach at least 25 percent more children in need during the summer than before, over the course of five years.
We spoke with O’Donnell about the program, his career, and what it’s like to raise five children.
How do you manage raising so many kids? Do you ever have peace and quiet? On a normal day, peace and quiet doesn’t begin until the last one goes to sleep, which gets later and later as they get older. My wife Caroline and I do try to find time for just the two of us, run out for a glass of wine or a quick dinner. The noise feels like the new normal at this point. If it gets too quiet, that usually means trouble.
What’s the best part of having a big family?
In terms of our children, we try to encourage each of them to explore their individual interests since they are each so unique. It is fun watching them as they dabble in all types of sports and extracurricular activities.
You took time off from your acting career to focus on your family. Was that a scary decision to make?
I had a couple moments early in my career where it was more about re-examining my life. I started young and had a lot of success out of the gate. I would go movie, to movie, to movie, and would never see the people I worked with again. I was really getting burnt out on a personal, emotional level. And that’s just not who I am. The road I wanted to go down was to be married and have a family.
Did raising kids ever get easier for you? By the time you were on the fifth baby, did you feel like you had a handle on things?
I think going from two to three kids was the most difficult, but it does get easier. The older kids start to behave and help out, and we are more experienced as well. We don’t stress out over small things that may have freaked us out in our first couple years as parents.
What’s your best advice for busy parents out there?
From my perspective, it’s important for parents to set a good example for their kids, and impart on them that they should think about and help others.
Why is the Hunger-Free Summer Program particularly important to you?
I was shocked to learn that one in five children in the U.S. faces food insecurity—and that the situation only becomes more worrisome during the summer months. It can be an invisible issue, so as a father of five, I want to do something to help.
Want to help O’Donnell and the Hunger-Free Summer initiative? Check out www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com and watch O’Donnell’s message below. For every video viewed and shared, ConAgra will donate one meal to Feeding America, the country’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
Is your little one outgrowing her shoes so quickly that you now have a pile of sneakers she no longer wants or needs? Instead of throwing them away, consider donating them to the “Big Hearts, Little Shoes” initiative instead. This shoe drive is a joint effort between The Little Gym, a chain of learning and physical development centers for kids, and Soles4Souls, the world’s largest provider of shoes to families in need. Outgrown shoes can be dropped off at Little Gym locations, even if your child does not attend classes there. And don’t worry if the shoes are worn out from lots of playtime, because Soles4Souls will still find a use for them by recycling the materials. This way, you clear off some extra space on the family shoe rack and children in need benefit from your donation. Plus, your kids will learn about charity and helping others. It’s a win-win. Find your nearest drop-off location and start spreading the love now.
Want to get in on the cause? If you regularly buy juice for your family, consider picking Juicy Juice—from now until August 31, the company will provide one piece of fruit to Feeding America’s National Produce Program with each purchase. If, like me, you’re not a big juice-drinking family, you can also help out by playing weekly challenges on Juicy Juice’s website, or by using Juicy Juice to try out some juiced up recipes, like these on Parents.com. It’s a yummy way to support a good cause no matter how you look at it—and I’ll drink to that!
As part of the coverage of the 2012 Presidential election, Yahoo! News has debuted “Remake America,” a webseries profiling six families as they try to reclaim the American dream. Each week, another five-minute episode puts a personal spin on issues like unemployment, foreclosure, and the mounting healthcare costs that are so common in today’s economy. But they’re not going it alone—each family gets help from career gurus, personal-finance experts and medical professionals as they fight to make ends meet. Viewers can connect by sharing their own experiences on dedicated comment threads or voting for which step each family should take next. Check it out below.
Do you think these videos paint an accurate picture of America today? How are these issues affecting your family?
Deciding whether or not to breastfeed is a personal decision moms have been making for decades. But in recent years, the topic of breastfeeding has become a battleground. Proponents for both sides often attack one another so harshly that they forget that they’re all moms just trying to do what’s best for their babies.
Which is why we love Sherry Petersik’s blog post “14 Months Of Breastfeeding.” When Petersik’s daughter, Clara, stopped breastfeeding, the transition was much easier for baby than it was for mom. Petersik’s breastfeeding post is not about persuading other moms to breastfeed: “Whatever works for you & your ducklings = my mantra as a parent in general,” wrote Petersik. Her post is about the joy she got from sharing an intimate experience with her daughter and the sadness she feels now that young Clara’s needs have already changed. It’s a story that all moms can relate to, no matter what their opinion of breastfeeding.
Read all of Petersik’s post at young house love, where she and her husband, John, write about their DIY home-improvement efforts. They – and their beautiful nursery – were featured in the August 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.
Did you decide to breastfeed? If so, tell us how long you were able to and how you felt when it came to an end.
Last March, we lost my daughters’ longtime and beloved babysitter to breast cancer.
Juliana had inflammatory breast cancer, a relatively rare but particularly aggressive kind, and she faced an uphill battle. Yet with every new treatment and surgery, she never gave up hope and was blessed to be surrounded by loving family and friends. In her memory, we had a plaque put on a bench in the park where she and all the kids loved to play. I thought it would be a concrete way for my 5-year-old, Jane, to know that Juliana would never be forgotten. One day, we invited their friends to put flowers on the bench (that’s them, at right); as heartbroken as Jane was, she told me, “This was one of the best days of my life.”
This month, there are so many ways you can support the effort to cure breast cancer, help provide treatment to underserved women, reach out to women who have been diagnosed, and protect your own health. Here are five:
3. Make sure you know the most thorough way to do aself breast exam. If you are over 40 (or over 30 and in a higher-risk group), don’t put off getting a mammogram.
4. Show your support for women who lack the resources that we have in the United States by uploading a photo on this Global Photo Mosaic. Somewhere in the world, a woman dies of breast cancer every 69 seconds. Or make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which offers free mammograms to American women in need.
5. Shop pink (is it your daughter’s favorite color too?). When you’re buying, look for products who are giving back to beat breast cancer.
A shocking statistic: One in every four women will suffer abuse at home at some point in their lives, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. As women, and especially as moms, we need to stand up for one another. Cosmetics company Mary Kay is leading the way with their latest initiative: From now until September 15th, $1 from the sale of their Beauty That Counts crème lipsticks will be donated to the Mary Kay Foundation, which aims to put an end to domestic violence. The lipsticks come in pretty pink and red shades, go on creamy, and have a light vanilla flavor. We think it’s more than a good reason to treat yourself to new makeup. To find out more, check out www.marykay.com.
Tom's of Maine is looking for community projects across the U.S. The goal is to get every state involved in finding and voting for five projects to fund with $20,000 each. Called 50 States for Good, the program is taking applications now through August 30. So even if you can't spare the cash to donate to your favorite cause, you can nominate them and spread the word! Click here for details.