Posts Tagged ‘ charitable acts ’

Teaching Kids About Tornadoes and Helping Others

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Chances are if you’ve been keeping up with the news about the tornado damage following yesterday’s twister that caused widespread devastation in Moore, Oklahoma, your kids are probably asking questions about tornadoes. It’s a great time to seize upon the teachable moment for a science lesson about tornadoes and to talk about ways your family might be able to help those affected.

What is a tornado? The definition of what a tornado is should depend on the age of your child. According to Weather WizKids, a tornado is a “violent rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.” Younger children need simple explanations with concrete examples so illustrate this by rotating a household funnel. National Geographic Kids has an easy to understand video for kids called Forces of Nature: Tornadoes 101. Older children will want more in-depth information and may have questions about tornado-related vocabulary that can be answered through the glossary of tornado terms on EnchantedLearning.com.

Are there different types of tornadoes? Yes, there various kinds and shapes of tornadoes. Tornadoes can also appear to be different colors! The different or kinds of tornadoes and their cousins are described on The Weather Channel Kids! and pictures of some types of tornadoes can be found on ThinkQuest.org.

How does it form? Tornadoes form in complex weather conditions, usually when two large air masses of varying temperatures collide. RiaNovosti has a great graphic showing tornado formation but younger ages will probably understand the animation of formation and destruction of a tornado on ThinkQuest.org.

What’s more dangerous? A hurricane or a tornado? According to Scholastic.com, hurricanes take days to develop whereas tornadoes tend to develop quickly but it’s hard to determine which is more dangerous.

Will a tornado hit where we live? It depends. According to National Earth Science Teachers Association’s Windows to the  Universe site, 75% of tornadoes happen in the United States. Most of these occur in the Great Plains, a place that weather watchers call “Tornado Alley.” Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana comprise Tornado Alley and while tornadoes are common in these states, it does not mean that they can’t occur in other states.

Are we safe? It’s always a good idea to make sure everyone in your family knows your emergency plan for any disaster that could strike. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready.gov page on tornadoes has information about how to prepare before a tornado, what to do if your area is under a tornado warning, and what to do after. Ready.gov’s Family Emergency Plan is a free, printable PDF that can be filled out so family member’s names, healthcare information, etc. is in one place and easiy accessible.

How can we help? Not only is a great time to teach your kids about tornadoes and review your family emergency plan, but it’s an excellent time to reinforce charitable acts by figuring out how you can help. Type A Parents’ How to Help the Oklahoma Tornado Victims by Kelby Carr shares ways families can offer assistance. Talk as a family and choose a method that works well for you or come up with a strategy to raise money for those affected.

Tornado about to make damage via Shutterstock

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Mom of Washington, D.C. Third Grader uses Facebook Events to Share Daughter’s Winter Glove Drive with Worldwide Audience

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Photo credit: Dan Gross, The Gazette

After forgetting her gloves during a December walk with her parents, 9 year old Melia Gayaldo of Silver Spring, Maryland decided to start a glove drive to benefit the area’s homeless. Her original goal was to obtain a pair of donated gloves from each of the 50 states but she quickly surpassed that goal thanks to social media. To date, Melia has collected 449 pairs of gloves for men, women, and babies from all 50 states and 10 countries on four different continents for her self-named Warm Hands, Warm Hearts initiative that was shared on Facebook.

To spread the word about Warm Hands, Warm Hearts, Melia’s mother, Liz, set up a Facebook event called Melia’s Warm Hands, Warm Hearts in mid-December with a brief description. She also encouraged others to invite their friends to join the charitable act.

“My mom sent it out to her friends and they sent it to their friends and they sent it to their friends,” Melia explained.

Since one of the goals was to obtain a pair of gloves from each state, the Facebook page was instrumental in updating participants. Liz used the Facebook event as an electronic message board and let donors know that their gloves were received by tagging them in comments. She also regularly updated the event page to share which states were missing gloves. When a state was listed on Facebook, friends reached out to those they knew to ask them to send a pair.

It didn’t take long before multiple packages of gloves started to arrive in the mail daily, sometimes from complete strangers. Gloves were also given to her in person from community members such as her elementary school’s Assistant Principal who donated four pairs.

As the glove count went up, Melia had to move her donated items around the house. “At first we kept them in my room and then we put them behind the dining room table,” she said. By the time she was ready to donate the gloves to Shepherd’s Table, a local nonprofit that works with the area’s homeless, Melia had collected 327 pairs of gloves.

“We had 5 different boxes full of gloves and they were gigantic boxes of gloves!” Melia exclaimed during a phone interview. As gloves arrived, the third grader sorted them by type. Melia said she had piles of gloves for men, women, children, and babies.

While Melia has delivered donated items to Shepherd’s Table, she is continuing to collect new and gently used gloves for men, women, kids, and babies throughout the cold winter months. She plans of handing out some of the items in person around her hometown and nearby Washington, D.C.

Melia’s parents are proud of their daughter’s initiative to start Warm Hands, Warm Hearts since the Gayaldos make a point to take action to help others on a regular basis.

“I think we have always tried to focus on the fact that we’re fortunate and then when you can help someone else, you should,” said Liz. “If the opportunity is there we go for it if we can.”

Liz said that as a baby, Melia would be in the car while she would give things away as they drove by people in need.

“We still drive around on wicked hot days and pass out cold water. When it’s cold I get hot soup and throw together little lunches and give that away,” Liz shared. “Instead of giving cash, which we do sometimes too, I will buy someone food who is asking for money.”

How does Melia feel about the success of the movement she started because her own hands were cold during that December walk?

“It feels really cool and they’re still coming,” she said. Melia mentioned during our phone interview that she just came home from school and hadn’t opened the packages that arrived that day.

Melia is already planning a warm weather campaign to collect white t-shirts “because they’re reflective of the sun.”

For more information about Melia’s glove drive, visit the Warm Hands, Warm Hearts Facebook Event.

Photo credit: Dan Gross, The Gazette

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