Kindness Rocks Campaign Update!

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

Mother Teresa

That is exactly to purpose of #KindnessRocks. Share positivity everywhere, everyday. I may not be an artist, but I have loved leading this campaign because it not only passes along compassion in a ripple effect, but it also gets our creative juices flowing and encourages us to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors!

I think it’s safe to say I adopted painting rocks as my newest hobby, but my favorite thing about #KindnessRocks is seeing what YOU all come up with! My fellow Outstanding Teens have done a fantastic job spreading kindness throughout New Hampshire!

Keep up the great work! I want to see YOUR creativity! Tag your creation to #KindnessRocks @maoteennh to join us in celebrating compassion!

Keep Kids Reading

Every Saturday is story time! My virtual story time program on YouTube is still going strong! Check it out, so far I have read The Bad Seed, Dragons Love Tacos, The Lady With the Alligator Purse, Fish Out of Water, Buttercup the Clumsy Cow, When I Grow Up, When the TV Broke, Belle’s Secret, and my personal favorite, What Do You Do with an Idea! My mission is the Keep Kids Reading while they are out of school, so be sure to share these videos with anyone you think will enjoy! Nearly 350 New Hampshire schools have received the links, along with a few local dance studios and day cares! There are many more videos to come, so like, subscribe, and stay tuned for a new story (or two!) every Saturday!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiMCyr0_DBJN3mkgf-8QAlA

Together from Home

WMUR, New Hampshire’s ABC affiliate, held an incredibly successful fundraiser for the New Hampshire Food Bank on Friday and it was truly an honor to be able to participate.

Friday night was a great celebration of New Hampshire. Celebrities from around the the state, including Adam Sandler, Recycled Percussion, Alex Preston, Seth Myers, Ryan Griffin, Matt Bonner, and so many more gathered to raise money for our fellow Granite Staters in need during this crisis. It was an evening of music, fun, and most of all, hope.

Almost 750,000 dollars were raised, providing nearly 1.5 million meals! This was a true testament of our CommUNITY, and I am so grateful I was able to contribute.

#ForTheKids

Last week, we celebrated Children’s Hospital Week in honor of the over 10 million brave children who enter a CMN Hospital every year.

Now, more than ever, we must remember that #KidsCantWait. The millions of children already in a hospital cannot wait for a cure, the curve to flatten, or an economic boost, so it is up to us-those who are lucky enough to wait, to do our part. By simply staying home, we are saving lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I am so grateful the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization has given me the platform to advocate for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. If school were still in session, I would be busy working with administrators, teachers, and fellow student council members to plan our Dance-a-thon fundraiser for Boston Children’s that was scheduled to take place in only a few weeks. Just because we can’t hold our even doesn’t mean we can’t help. Do your part and stay home for those who can’t.

Kindness ROCKS!

Looking for a way to spread some smiles in your community while also staying your distance to keep everyone healthy?

This weekend I decorated a few rocks with positive messages and designs. I chose to paint the one pictured in honor of my organization, Seeds of Hope. I left it at the peak of New Hampshire’s Joe English hike!

I loved doing this because it was such a fun way to share positivity and enjoy the fresh air! Now, I want to see you get your creative juices flowing and make someone smile with your rock. Personalize it however you want (don’t forget to keep it colorful!) and leave it somewhere for the next person to find. Post your rock with the hashtag #KindnessROCKS so we can spread kindness from coast to coast, because kindness really does rock!

“Dragons Love Tacos” and other stories with Miss NH’s Outstanding Teen

Lots of people know that I love literature… reading, writing, even the history of literature! What a better time to share that interest than during this period of social distancing?

I started a Youtube channel and on it, you will find my first ever virtual story times! I began with books “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin and “A Bad Seed” by Jory John. My goal is to keep kids reading while they’re out of school, so these videos are available to anyone interested! They have also been sent to a few local preschools, elementary schools, and dance studios as we all make the transition to a remote lifestyle.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to subscribe to Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen on Youtube so you never miss a story!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiMCyr0_DBJN3mkgf-8QAlA

Apart, not alone!

“Individually we are just one drop, but together we are the ocean.”

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

Hope is not pretending troubles don’t exist, or assuming they will just blow over, it is believing that they won’t last forever. There is no refresher of hope like seeing the community come together and lend a hand to our neighbors.

One of the food pantries I work closely with, a chapter of the national End 68 Hours of Hunger Organization, diligently provides school aged children who rely on school lunches with adequate food each weekend. Since the transition to remote learning, their job has become even more vital and they suddenly had a great need for help.

I quickly gathered a few boxes and kicked off a social distancing food drive with safe drop off locations in two different towns. I then turned to social media and almost immediately we had our first donation.

By the end of that first day, both of the two boxes had been packed with the food pantry’s most needed items. The pattern continued in the following days, but instead of each box filling up just once, they were beginning to overflow, fill up twice, and even fill up three times a day!

I believe there is no force stronger than that of hope, and I am endlessly thankful to live in a community that proves that to be true. In just a few days, we were able to restock the shelves of the food pantry and feed the children of our state. Once again, I am so impressed by the outpouring compassion of Granite Staters but not the least bit surprised! Teamwork and a little hope is truly all it takes.

Do you believe in unicorns?

I do!

It is no secret the covid outbreak is changing lots of things about our daily life. My good friend, Lennon, felt the impact when her fifth birthday had to be cancelled for safety measures. A princess like her deserves a super special day, so her mom turned to social media and got all of her friends to virtually wish her a happy birthday! The day before her birthday, I went shopping for her gift and I picked out a book called “Uni the Unicorn”. On the way home from the store, I happened to see- what else- a real life unicorn!

Remi was this unicorn’s name, and she helped me wish Princess Lennon the most magical birthday ever! The next day, I got to safely celebrate the birthday girl with a socially-distanced visit and a wave from the driveway to her front porch.

My visit with both Lennon and, of course, Remi proves that even in crazy times like these, friends are forever, magic is real, and ANYTHING is possible!

Win Win

1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every single year, that is one third of all the food produced. Yet at the same time, over half of our population doesn’t have enough to eat.

Sunday night, I had the pleasure of attending a benefit dinner for Make-a-Wish, which raised $15,000 to grant a wish for a child here in New Hampshire! Although still an extremely successful fundraiser, many people backed out last minute but unfortunately the event was unable to be postponed.

The idea of so many meals being wasted was very upsetting to me, so I asked to speak with the event manager to see what we could do. I explained my concern, and asked if I could take all the leftovers from the evening and donate them in the morning. Even after explaining the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal statute that protects restaurants from all liability when they donate their extra food to charities, I was told there was nothing they could do, “house rules”.

Disney World, Olive Garden, and Long Horn are among the few restaurants who take advantage of this protection to feed the millions of Americans who struggle everyday finding enough to eat, while so many others contribute to the mass food production and waste everyday. I almost gave up and admitted there was nothing left I could do…keyword: almost.

The next morning, I woke up still thinking about all those meals going to waste. These dinners could be used in SO many amazing ways. One phone call changed everything, and after finally getting in touch with the owner of the Atkinson Country Club, I met with chefs, managers, and other employees as we stuffed my mom’s car full of food. Not only those left overs from the night before, but meals from other events. There were full course dinners, lunches, even desserts!

Our next stop of the day was at the Anne Marie House in Hudson, where we dropped off over a weeks worth of meals for the 21 children and their 10 families who reside there. The Anne Marie House is a transitional home for local families dealing with temporary homelessness for any given reason. Families can stay for up to a year, and while they are there they work hard to get back on their feet, whatever that means for them. Whether it is rebuilding credit scores, going back to school, or receiving mental health treatment, the Anne Marie House transforms futures for over 600 families annually.

I am so grateful that the Atkinson Country Club was able to get together so much food in such a short amount of time to make a great donation to the Anne Marie House. Although it was a rough start, the company really came through at the end, and all that matters is that we are yet another step closer to ending hunger. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million more times, tackling food insecurity is going to take some serious team work. I look forward to continuing this hard earned success and educating more of our state’s amazing local businesses about the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act to grow this new initiative. When over half of the people we share this planet with don’t have enough to eat, it is unacceptable for one third of our food to go to waste and that can no longer slide.

Because I will never lose hope for what I believe in- a hunger free world, I will do whatever it takes to get us there and I will refuse to let anything stand in my way. I might be stubborn when it comes to this stuff, but in the end it really was a win-win! No food was wasted, AND nearly 30 people have a weeks worth of food that they didn’t have two days ago. That is success to me.

Updates!

When you choose Hope, anything is possible.

Seeds of Hope has proven this to me time and time again, and everyday my hope for what is next continues to grow. I have been super busy lately, and in result, making huge strides toward ending food insecurity. Locally, nationally, and globally, this has been a great few weeks for my organization!

Most recently, I spent the day in the Epping 68 Hours storage unit, putting together bags of food for the children in the school district who rely on the free and reduced school lunch program. Nearly 30 kids need services from the organization to keep them full over the weekend, so I always enjoy spending a day in the food pantry to prepare for those kids. With the recent closure of many schools, the struggles that families are already facing has increased greatly as many kids no longer have the meals they receive at school, and even families already on Food Stamp Programs face troubles as benefits have a limit that is still not quite enough to cover three meals a day for the upcoming weeks. I was also able to spend a little time preparing extra backpacks for students on Pinkerton’s Backpack Program, but right now it is critical to remember that some of the devastation from this virus can not be avoided by washing our hands.

Seeds of Hope officially reached two new locations! After a very long journey, one shipment arrived at a church group in Haiti, where it will produce vegetables to not only nourish thirty children, but also teach them how to earn a profit and prepare them for sustaining life on their own. I love that one shipment can make such an impact and not only heal food insecurity today, but help prevent it in the future. In Puerto Rico, I brought some seeds as well as non-perishable food donations to a church, where they were distributed to many other organizations throughout the island. A huge thank you goes to the Seeds of Hope supporters who sponsored this donation, as the need in Puerto Rico is immense after the devastating earthquakes that recently struck the territory.

On a brighter note, I had total blast at the annual Steal Chef Challenge by the New Hampshire Food Bank. This event is always so much fun, and I love seeing SO many people get all dressed up and excited for such an important cause. It was also pretty cool to meet celebrity chef, Micheal Symon! My favorite part however was seeing my New Hampshire Food Bank family, because I remember how welcoming they have always been to me, ever since my first food drive for them when I was very young.

I also want to give a big thank you to the Miss New Hampshire candidates who generously brought canned food donations to their competition orientation! Although the event which these were planned to benefit was unfortunately cancelled, they will be put to good use once things clear up and I am able to get the inventory of a few food pantries throughout the state so I can make sure these donations are used to their highest potential!

I am so completely grateful for the outpouring of support I have gotten since I began Seeds of Hope. Truthfully, this organization has taken off more than I ever imagined in this short of a time period, and I couldn’t have done it without the kindness of my community. My work to end hunger means the absolute world to me, and I am so thankful to be able to make a lasting impact in my community and others around the world. This has been yet another great month for us, but there is SO much more in store! Stay tuned!