4 ways to give back to your community this holiday season

give back to your community
Help us stock the pantry at St. Augustine Hunger Center on Nov. 23!

During the holidays, many of us reflect on the things we are grateful for, and how we can use our resources, time or skills to help those who are less fortunate. Whether you’re looking for a way to celebrate Giving Tuesday on Nov. 29, or want to give back to your community more often, below are just a few of the ways you can make a difference.

4 ways to give back to your community during the holidays

1. Food

According to Feeding America, nearly 2 million Ohio residents were food insecure in 2014, including more than 600,000 children. Each dollar donated to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank can provide four nutritious meals to someone struggling with hunger through over 800 different programs in six Northeast Ohio counties. Contact your regional food bank or local food pantry for information about making a donation or volunteering at a facility.

2. Clothing

Many agencies generate funds for programming and operational expenses by selling donated clothing items in thrift shops at prices accessible to low-income community members. This method of donating is helpful in the long-run, but there are a variety of options for donors who wish to make a more direct contribution.

According to Cleveland’s Community West Foundation, socks are “the item that’s most requested by anyone living outside.” Donate money or new socks to the Foundation’s SocksPLUS program, or contact a local shelter to find out which types of donations are accepted.

Operation Warm provides new winter coats to 300,000 children across the country each year, and Coats for Kids collects new and gently used coats of all sizes at these locations in the Greater Cleveland area.

Career Gear and Dress for Success help impoverished men and women achieve economic independence by distributing gently used professional attire for job interviews and empowering them during their transitions into the workforce.

3. Funding

No organization would turn down a qualifying material donation, but in many cases monetary donations are much more helpful. These types of gifts give agencies more flexibility and the option to direct the funds to the programming areas where they are most needed. The donation process is also more convenient for donors, who can simply mail a check, submit a donation online or set up recurring gifts.

Before donating to a cause, do your research and familiarize yourself with the organization to ensure your dollars will reach those you are trying to help. Many nonprofits post financial statements and annual reports on their websites. These documents often disclose information about the percentage of funds directed to programming. Learn more about reliable charity evaluation systems and how to detect charity scams.

4. Time

You don’t need money or material items to make a difference in your community. Many charities and nonprofits rely primarily on the work of volunteers to accomplish their missions.

Contact local organizations for information about current volunteer opportunities, or use sites like Volunteer Match and All for Good to find opportunities related to your interests.

Catchafire and Taproot+ allow community members to contribute at an organizational level through skill-based volunteering and pro bono work. Projects range from one-hour consulting calls to multi-month projects, and can involve marketing, web design, legal and financial expertise, and a variety of other professional skills.

Some of our firm’s favorite causes include Cleveland Clinic Children’s, The Gathering Place and St. Augustine Food Pantry.

How do you make a difference in your community? Tell us about your favorite charities and nonprofits in the comments!

Upcoming Ohio Events: 2016 Fall Festivals, Events & Attractions

The fall months are a favorite time of year for many Ohioans. The changing colors of the fall festivals and eventsleaves, pleasant weather and a variety of seasonal events offer opportunities to enjoy the outdoors before winter arrives. Whether you’re looking to view the beautiful scenery, or attend a family-friendly festival, one of these upcoming attractions around the state could be for you.

2016 Ohio Fall Festivals, Events & Attractions

Bob Evans Farm Festival | Oct. 14 – 16

The 46th Annual Bob Evans Farm Festival offers unique arts and crafts, demonstrations, live entertainment and children’s activities. Guests are invited to sit down at the original Bob Evans Restaurant and enjoy popular fall foods and desserts. Country singer Craig Morgan takes the stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, followed by a fireworks display at 9:30. Tickets for the concert can be purchased online for $15.

Cleveland Metroparks Fall Hayrides | Oct. 15 & 22

Tractor-drawn hayrides through Mill Stream Run Reservation are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and leave every half hour between 6 and 10 p.m. No reservation is required for public hayrides, and group hayrides may be reserved for $175 per wagon. Cost is $9 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 11. Children under 2 are free, and must sit on an adult’s lap on the wagon. Admission includes line and square dancing, face painting, balloon twisting, a scavenger hunt, crafts, games, prizes and more.

Circleville Pumpkin Show | Oct. 19 – 22

This pumpkin-themed agricultural exhibit and street fair has attracted crowds each fall for more than a century. From parades and live music, to unique pumpkin-flavored foods and massive pumpkins weighing more than 1,600 pounds, Circleville Pumpkin Show offers something for everyone. More than 20,000 pumpkin pies and 100,000 pumpkin donuts are sold during the four-day festival, and one local bakery displays a 400-pound pumpkin pie in honor of the event. View the full festival schedule.

Tom’s Corn Maze | Select dates through Oct. 30

Guests are challenged to find 12 puzzle pieces while exploring this 8-acre maze. It is open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays, and noon to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is just $8, and children under 5 are free. Cost includes access to the maze, Punkin’ Chunkin’ Cannon Demonstrations, farm animal displays and much more. Bring these coupons to receive $1 off admission and $2 off a pumpkin purchase.

Boo at the Zoo & HallZooween | Select dates through Oct. 30

During the month of October, many zoos host Halloween-themed events for children and families. Learn more about the upcoming attractions at your local zoo:

• Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

• Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

• Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

• Akron Zoo

Which festivals and events are you looking forward to attending this fall? Tell us in the comments! 

10 Things You May Not Know About Stipe Miocic

After defending his Heavyweight Championship last weekend, we wondered what fans might not know about the Cleveland hero. Here is our list:

 

1. He is a stand-out athlete in several sports.

sports
Photos courtesy of Cleveland.com and Travecca Nazarene University

Before Stipe became an MMA fighter, he was a nationally ranked wrestler for Cleveland State University and also played third base for the Vikings. He transferred to Trevecca Nazarene University in Tennessee to play baseball. After his win in May, he hit two homeruns during a Cleveland Indians batting practice.

 

2. His back tattoo means…

Stipe back tattoo
Photos courtesy of Ken Pishina and Stipe Miocic

According to Stipe, it means “Strongstyle fight family,” and “Passion.” He trains out of Strongstyle Mixed Martial Arts Training Center in Independence, Ohio, which he says is “the best gym ever!” They recently wrapped their gym in his Championship photo.

 

3. His favorite movie is Deadpool.

“I wish I could be him.”stipedeadpool
We can see it.

 

4. He has two dogs, Mia and Primo.

Mia (left) and Primo (right) (courtesy of Stipe Miocic)
Mia (left) and Primo (right) (Courtesy of Stipe Miocic)

Awww. You can actually follow Primo on Instagram at @primomiocic

 

5. He is a fireman at two fire stations.

(Photo courtesy of DVN Photography)
Photo courtesy of DVN Photography

While training, he is able to pick his shifts to work at Valley View Fire Department and Oakwood Fire Department. His co-workers enjoy messing with him, and even made him stand on the street and wave at people while wearing his belt.

 

6. His mom works here at Elk & Elk.

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That’s how we know him! After his win in May, he came to see the entire office and take photos. He is a self-proclaimed mama’s boy and calls his mom his hero. She has his gloves and signed photos up at her desk.

 

7. He is hilarious on social media.

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His personality really comes through as he responds to the “haters” on social media. He often retweets an insult and makes a joke out of it. His two title wins say more than enough to the trolls. His accounts are all under @stipemiocicufc. Give him a follow!

 

8. After he defended his title last weekend, he ate…

“Breakfast food and pancakes. The ultimate feast!”

 

 

9. He can take a nap or sleep at any time of the day.

Photo courtesy of Stipe Miocic Facebook
Photo courtesy of Stipe Miocic Facebook

“My napping skills are sharp.”

 

10. He is extremely active in the community.

Photo courtesy of Stipe Miocic Facebook
Photo courtesy of Stipe Miocic Facebook

Aside from his service as a fireman, he supports any charity that helps animals or children. He credits his victories to not only his team and his close support system, but the entire city of Cleveland. He is always willing to take a photo with fans or sign autographs.

Bonus: Stipe’s nickname?

Twitter Screenshot
How to Pronounce Stipe Miocic

We are Proud to be on Team Stipe Miocic.

Everything Earned Athletic Award Program Recognizes Local Teams

Elk & Elk launched the Everything Earned Athletic Award Program last fall.  The program recognized high school teams throughout Northeast Ohio who excel in their sport and in the classroom, and display a passion for making a difference in the community. Teams were nominated by their school’s athletic director, and each month a winner was selected to receive $1,000 for their program courtesy of the firm.

2015-2016 Everything Earned Athletic Award Winners

Lutheran East Boys Basketball

As the first recipients of our Everything Earned Athletic Award, the Falcons set the bar for the program. The team’s impressive season, dedication to their studies and participation in Lutheran East’s annual Service Day exemplified the values we sought in our winners. The team contributed the $1,000 from the award to ongoing gymnasium renovations.

Max S. Hayes High Swimming

The Lakers took home this year’s Senate Athletic League title after an outstanding performance at the championship meet. The school’s valedictorian and several students enrolled in advanced placement courses compete on the team. Learn more about how these students go above and beyond in the pool, the classroom and the community.

James F. Rhodes Boys Cross Country

The Rams overcame the odds to earn their award. Despite the fact that only two members of the team had ever run a mile prior to joining the school’s cross country team, their hard work paid off with a Senate League Championship. While the team’s achievements were remarkable, a good deed they performed during the season caught our attention.

Willoughby South Girls Volleyball

When the Rebels discovered their coach’s 3-year-old great niece was battling cancer, the team organized a “Princess Night” fundraiser and brought their community together to raise $5,000 in honor of Bella’s Special Wish. In addition to the $1,000 award for the volleyball program, Elk & Elk made a $1,000 donation to A Special Wish Foundation in the team’s name.

Westlake Girls Soccer

The Westlake girls soccer team has competed in 11 of the past 13 district finals. The Lady Demons have been recognized 11 times as a 1st Team Scholastic All-American Team, and every player carries a GPA above 4.0. The team put the money from their award toward the purchase of soccer shelters for the upcoming season.

Euclid Football

The Euclid Panthers have showed no signs of slowing down since the conclusion of their 10-3 season and appearance in the OHSAA Division I playoffs. Twenty-five of the team’s seniors will continue their football careers at the collegiate level, and every player in the Class of 2016 is pursuing a college degree or entering the military.

Elk & Elk intends to expand the Everything Earned Athletic Award Program in coming years. Like Elk & Elk’s Facebook page or follow @elkandelk on Twitter for updates about the campaign.

5 Things You Should Know About The Gathering Place

The Gathering Place - Race for the Place 2015
The Elk & Elk team at Race for the Place 2015 in support of The Gathering Place.

Since opening its doors 16 years ago, The Gathering Place has provided Northeast Ohio with a much-needed support system for those whose lives have been touched by cancer. More than 35,000 people have received emotional, physical, spiritual and social empowerment through the wide variety of programs and services.

Each year, Elk & Elk joins The Gathering Place in celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day at Race for the Place. The annual 5K race and 1 Mile walk is one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers, attracting thousands of participants each year.

Whether you’re a long-time supporter of The Gathering Place or learning about the organization for the first time, here are five things you should know:

1. All resources offered by The Gathering Place are free.

A cancer diagnosis often creates a huge financial burden for individuals and families. To help those affected focus on their battle, The Gathering Place offers all programs and services free of charge. The organization supports these efforts with the help of generous donations from the community, The Cleveland Foundation, local businesses and fundraisers like Race for the Place and Warehouse Sales.

2. It’s not just for those who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Gathering Place recognizes that children, family members and friends of those battling the disease are also in need of support and empowerment during the difficult journey toward recovery or after the loss of a loved one. Learn about the variety of programs and services offered by The Gathering Place.

3. The Gathering Place is easily accessible for both East and West siders.

Locations in Beachwood and Westlake make it convenient for anyone in the Cleveland area to take advantage of programs and services:

TGP East

The Arnold & Sydell Miller Family Campus

23300 Commerce Park

Beachwood, OH 44122

TGP West

800 Sharon Drive

Westlake, OH 44145

4. A full-time professional medical librarian is on staff.

Medical librarian Eileen Coan is on hand to explain pathology reports, locate clinical trials, make sense of alternative treatment options and much more. Eileen splits her time between the organization’s two locations, and is available to meet in person or by phone. She can also be reached with questions by email at coan@touchedbycancer.org. Learn more about the resources available in The Gathering Place libraries.

5. The Gathering Place has its own wig salons.

Hair loss is a difficult aspect of cancer treatment for many women, but medical bills and other expenses take priority over the purchase of a wig when budgets become tight. Any woman experiencing cancer-related hair loss has the opportunity to receive a free synthetic wig at the Regina Brett Wig Salons.