Inspired by Mother Teresa, Catholic T-Shirt Club Urges Recycling to Bless Others

Catholic T-shirt Club Mother Teresa
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

As we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta today, the Catholic T-Shirt Club found two ways to honor this contemporary saint.

First they designed a T-shirt featuring St. Teresa’s words: “Intense love does not measure. It just gives.”

Then they found a creative way for customers to reuse the mailing boxes from their T-shirts to bless people in need. Whether you choose to keep these boxes in your car or donate them to shelters or other agencies that help the homeless, blessing boxes such as these are easy to make and an excellent way to involve the whole family in helping others. Finding small ways for everyone in the family to help the vulnerable is a beautiful and simple way to carry on Mother Teresa’s work in our own part of the world.

What can you put in a “blessing box”? Mine will include:

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • travel-size mouthwash
  • socks
  • pack of wet wipes
  • band-aids
  • travel-size deodorant
  • tissues
  • water bottle
  • granola bar

Later in the year, warm gloves will be added to the boxes I put together. I’ll also be enclosing the toiletry items in a ziplock sandwich bag to ensure that any leaks don’t ruin the food items in the box. And look at the side of the box–there’s a Mother Teresa quote front and center.

Catholic T-shirt club Mother Teresa
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

This T-shirt is my favorite design so far from the Catholic T-Shirt Club. I prefer designs with quotes rather than pictures of faces on a T-shirt, and I love that the shirt’s designer referenced the signature blue-striped garb worn by Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in the heart design on the shirt. The card inside the box featured one of Mother Teresa’s most famous quotes, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier,” but the lesser-known quote on the T-shirt is not only a conversation starter but food for my own meditation as well.

I’m a fan of the way Catholic T-Shirt Club has turned an evangelization tool into an opportunity to help those in need.

Catholic T-shirt Club Mother Teresa
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
I received a free Mother Teresa box from the Catholic T-Shirt Club in exchange for my honest review.

Women on Writing Book Tour: Nina Guilbeau’s God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same

WOW Women on Writing logoToday’s stop on the Women on Writing Book Tour is a novel that reads like a memoir. I had to look twice at the author’s information to make sure this wasn’t a true story. Author Nina Gilbeauu has graciously provided a guest post today on the subject of helping those in need, no matter what the time of year.

Would you like to WIN a copy of this book? Keep reading to find out how you can win!

Helping Those in Need All Year

Author Nina Guilbeau
Author Nina Guilbeau

by Nina Guilbeau

I started my volunteerism by mimicking Janine, a character in my novel God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same. She asked a homeless woman her story, something I had often thought about, but never did. After finishing my book, I went out in search of stories and ended up staying on at one of the volunteer centers. I give of my time, but I am in awe of those volunteers who have given more time for longer. There is always a natural ebb and flow of volunteers, but nothing like what happens right before, during and after the holidays.

At the lead up to our winter holidays, there is a flurry of articles written about how to help the needy. Although special help may be warranted due to the holidays, it also seems to imply that helping others is seasonal. Organizations receive an abundance of helping hands that trickle down to next to nothing as soon as a new year begins. However, the needs of those less fortunate do not dissipate, only the inclination of others to help. Often, for those who really want to help, the question is “What else can I do?” especially when time is limited. Well, here are a few ideas of what we can all do, even with limited time, in order to continue to help all year long:

1) Create a volunteer team
If you want to volunteer your time but have concerns about making long term commitments, chances are, you’re not alone. Find five friends, neighbors, church members or others who share the same desire to help and start a volunteer team. Once your charity organization has been selected, take turns volunteering. Many organizations have a great need for extra hands once a week, which translate to once every six weeks for each member of your team. Feel free to offer your time in other areas or on other volunteer teams. As long as you keep your scheduled team commitment(s) throughout the year, you will never leave the charity shorthanded.

2) Employer charity donations
Make the most of your volunteer time by checking to see if your employer has a charity matching program. Companies like WalMart will give donations to qualifying charities for which their employees volunteer. If your company does not offer this or any other type of program that gives back to the community, check to see if you can start one. It never hurts to ask.

3) Help in schools
Did you know there are homeless coordinators in many school systems? While the focus is often on test scores in our public schools, it is hard to imagine students doing their best when their basic needs of food and shelter aren’t being met. Contact the coordinator at nearby schools to find out the best way to help kids past the holiday season. Perhaps the gift of a daily lunch or sponsoring school supplies, shoes and personal hygiene products for individual children are simple things that may fit easily into your budget and go a long way in helping a child in need.

4) Donate public transportation passes
Many times getting to a place that can help those in need of food, lodging, counseling, job opportunities, domestic violence safe houses and healthcare means traveling across town. Unfortunately, women with children do not have such an option and must walk, often in unsafe areas. Donate bus or other transportation passes to outreach centers dedicated to identifying and engaging those in the most need within your community.

God Doesn't Love Us All the Same - CoverAbout the Book:

God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same is the touching story about Janine Harris who never really thought about homeless people. She barely even notices them as she passes them by on her way to work in downtown Washington D.C. All Janine can focus on is the shambles of her own young life, afraid that she will never be able to get past the painful mistakes she has made. However, all of that changes on a snowy evening in December when Janine unexpectedly finds herself alone with Vera, an old, homeless woman who seems to need her help. Now Janie wants to know what could have possibly happened to Vera to leave her so broken and alone.

As Vera shares her life story with Janine, the two women form an unusual bond and begin a journey that changes both of their lives forever. Reluctantly, they each confront their own past and, in the process, discover the true meaning of sacrifice, family and love. Although to truly move forward in their lives, they must fast the most difficult challenge of all – forgiving themselves.

Paperback: 254Pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Juania Books LLC (May 5, 2014)

God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon.

About the Author: Nina Guilbeau is the Siblings Editor for BellaOnline The Voice of Women and writes weekly family articles for online magazines. Her e-book, Birth Order and Parenting, is a popular pick with students studying the Alfred Adler birth order theory.

She is a member of the Florida Writer’s Association and the author of women’s fiction novels Too Many Sisters and Too Many Secrets. A winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award for her God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same manuscript, Nina’s work has been published in the short story anthologies From Our Family to Yours and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters. An excerpt from upcoming novel Being Non-Famous was published in the Orlando Sentinel as a Father’s Day tribute.

Follow Nina Guilbeau on Twitter

Visit Nina Guilbeau’s author

Here’s how to WIN! Just leave a comment on this post sharing a way you can help those who are homeless or hungry–regardless of the time of year.

A winner will be chosen at random from all comments left before 6 PM EDT on Thursday, October 30. Winner will be notified by email and will have 2 days in which to claim the prize, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Feeding the Hungry (and Allergic)

To the mom who was so apologetic about mentioning her daughter’s dairy allergy to me at dinner the other day:

Do not feel as if it is an imposition on me to tell me what I need to know in order to safely feed your daughter.

With a bit of advance notice and an opportunity to bounce ideas around with you, I can come up with safe alternatives. I don’t want you to have to feel like you need to send “special food” with her wherever she goes. (Or, at the very least, when she comes to dinner with us.)

tomato pieIt is both a corporal AND spiritual work of mercy to honor someone’s medical dietary needs.

The corporal part is obvious. I think the spiritual part falls under the category of “comforting the sorrowful.”

When your child has special dietary needs, it’s tough on parents. By comparison, I have it “easy” with a diabetic. We just need nutrition labels and insulin. It’s not that he can’t have something.

I get a lot of “what can he have?” from people who don’t know how diabetes works. That is an opportunity to gently educate (“instruct the ignorant” in a way). I do know that the people who ask me this question are acting on a generous impulse, and I appreciate it. I appreciate even more when they ask first, rather than investing in expensive special foods like sugar-free candies, which are much less diabetic-friendly than people think.

So when I ask what your child can have, I intend to provide that. She’s singled out enough. You have to bring special food for her most, if not all, of the time. I wouldn’t offer to find something that works for her if I wouldn’t gladly do it. I am happy to find a way for her to enjoy the meal that all her friends will be sharing.

(And don’t worry–I left out the Parmesan on the tomato pie.)

Before there were Blogs

Before there were blogs, I had a cyber-lifeline. It was a group of moms on an AOL bulletin board. All of us stayed at home with our very young children. I think I found this board when Big Brother was a toddler.

At the time, we lived in a neighborhood that was primarily retired military. They were great neighbors; there was always someone at home (and out in their yards) during the day–but there was no one for Big Brother to play with and no moms for me to chat with.

That’s where the SAHMs came in–the Stay At Home Moms from the AOL bulletin boards. We had our own little meeting spot where we could stop in at any time and post a message; in no time at all, it seemed, someone would leave a comment for us.

We encouraged each other through births of children, infertility, deaths of parents, job losses, military deployments, potty training, temper tantrums, food allergies and health crises. And when we gradually moved away from AOL, we took our core group with us and formed an email list. That petered out after a while, but then along came Facebook–and magically, we’re all back in touch again.

Now it’s time to support one of our number, as we’ve just learned (via Facebook) that one of the SAHMs has suddenly lost her 20-year-old son. He was a college student, and an intelligent young man of many talents and great promise.

I request the kindness of your prayers for the repose of Mark’s soul, and for his parents and two brothers and many friends and relatives who mourn his loss.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. And may those he left behind be comforted.

Faint on Friday

We had a few errands to run this morning: stop at SAM’S to return a pack of socks that Big Brother said were “the wrong kind,” stop at the library to return books, stop at Chick-Fil-A for a promised lunch out, stop at Target for dramamine and a backpack for Middle Sister. Of course, none of these are too far away from each other, so there was a lot of “in and out of the hot car and into the cool store” with each of these stops.

We were just about done in Target (Middle Sister was looking for just the right ponytail holders) when Little Brother said he had a bellyache. Usually that’s Little-Brotherish for “I need to use the bathroom” so I told Middle Sister to wait for us in the ponytail aisle; we’d be right back. I took Little Brother by the hand and all of a sudden he was hanging off my arm–he had passed out right there in the aisle. (Good thing I was holding his hand, or he’d have hit the floor hard!)

I called to Middle Sister, while getting down on the floor and getting Little Brother into my arms. It took him a few seconds to wake up–not many, but it felt like forever, and he felt very hot.

There we were, in the main aisle of the store, drawing all kinds of attention from very helpful shoppers and store personnel. I handed Middle Sister my purse and told her to go buy Little Brother a bottle of water, so she took off to do that. Little Brother was completely confused about what had happened, but after he had some cold water, he felt cooler. We sat there together for a few more minutes, until I thought he was OK. Fortunately he’s a little guy, so I was able to carry him to the front of the store. If there had been a line I’d have abandoned the cart, but we didn’t have to wait, so Middle Sister loaded our purchases, I swiped my card and signed, and we were out of there, and around the corner to home.

I have never seen so many people in red shirts and tan pants all in one place. I think every single Target employee asked us if they could help in any way. I really appreciated everyone’s concern and offers of assistance–from the store associates as well as other shoppers. (As a side note, the shoppers who stopped were ALL moms with their children. Way to go, moms!)

Little Brother felt pretty punky for a while, but after about an hour he had perked up, and soon after that he was climbing all over Middle Sister and asking her to play dodge ball, tossing a ball around the living room and risking the Wrath of Mom. So my guess is, he’s fine–just overheated. I’ve been pushing rest and fluids this afternoon.

Middle Sister never got those ponytail holders. I’ll let her walk over there tomorrow and get them.