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HHR Newsletter – July 2011

July 19, 2011

Our bi-monthly newsletter brings you the latest information from Helping Hand Rewards and our socially responsible partners. This issue includes:

  • Sewing with a Common Purpose – Meet our Newest Partner!
  • See Helping Hand Rewards at the ASI Show in Chicago
  • Spotlight on Fatemeh Hasani from Common Thread
  • New Product Feature – Men’s Shaving Kits from  Pure Eden Spa Products
  • HHA Products Debut on “The Joe Show”

To view the newsletter, click here.

See something you like? Suggestions? Or, perhaps you have a story idea for a future issue. Leave a comment below. We appreciate the feedback!


Participant Spotlight: Sherri Thornton, Women’s Bean Project

July 18, 2011

Sometimes the past stays in the past – and sometimes it follows you. Sherri Thornton, a 2011 Women’s Bean Project graduate, knows that your past stays with you, but with hard work and perseverance one can achieve despite those setbacks.

Sherri moved to Colorado from Texas in 2009 in order to be close to family. She hoped to gain employment as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant as she had in her home state. However, she was unable to land a job because of felony records that were more than 20 years old. Sherri came to Women’s Bean Project in May of 2010 and quickly established herself as a hard worker and leader on the production floor. She worked tirelessly to re-establish herself and and set a goal to regain her CNA license in the state of Colorado. With the support of our generous donors, Women’s Bean Project was able to pay for Sherri to go to CNA school and gave her continuous employment while she worked toward this goal.

“Sherri has been a great example for other program participants. She has modeled our philosophy of doing anything we can to help women who are willing to help themselves,” says Bob Macdonald, Program Director.

Now, Sherri has set new goals for herself and her children. She wants to eventually open up a group home for people with disabilities, like her son Rashad. As for advice for new program participants, Sherri says, “If you have a positive outlook and do what you need to do to change your life, the Women’s Bean Project will help you achieve your goals.”


(Sherri’s story was originally told in the newsletter of the Women’s Bean Project, Beanstalk. Since 1989, the Women’s Bean Project has been helping women break the cycle of poverty and unemployment. They are a nonprofit organization that teaches job readiness and life skills for entry-level jobs through employment in gourmet food production and handmade jewelry manufacturing businesses.)

Ben & Jerry’s Tweets for World Fair Trade Day 2011

May 5, 2011

Mix Ben & Jerry’s with World Fair Trade Day and Twitter and you’ve got yourself one delicious socially-responsible sundae. The creative brains behind Ben & Jerry’s social mission have done it again! Their newest initiative allows Twitter users to “put their unused Twitter characters to good use.”

The Fair Tweets campaign automatically inserts a Fair Trade message at the end of a user’s tweet to spread awareness about World Fair Trade Day on May 14. It’s a pretty cool concept! To join the fun, simply visit their website (, type in your Tweet and they automatically fill in the rest! In our example below, we typed the black message and they filled in the rest with the green message.

Unfamiliar with World Fair Trade Day? It’s an initiative of the World Fair Trade Organization and is supported by thousands of citizens, Fair Trade Organizations, social and environmental movements, producers and consumers all around the planet.

On May 14, millions will celebrate World Fair Trade Day. This year’s theme is “Trade for People – Fair Trade Your World.” It encompasses the need to put people and the environment at the heart of trade and consumption.

The World Fair Trade Organization is the global network of Fair Trade Organizations around the planet. It represents more than 400 Fair Trade Organizations from more than 70 countries with highest geographical outreach.

What are you doing to celebrate? Leave a comment and let us know!

HHR Newsletter – April 2011

April 15, 2011

Our bi-monthly newsletter brings you the latest information from Helping Hand Rewards and our socially responsible partner organizations. This issue includes:

  • Pure Eden Spa Products Opens for Business
  • New Product: Eco-friendly Moda Purses (made from pop tabs)
  • Vendor Day Kits Available
  • Spotlight on Melissa Warren from Bright Endeavors

To view the newsletter, click here.

See something you like? Suggestions? Or, perhaps you have a story idea for a future issue. Leave a comment below. We appreciate feedback!

Support Bright Endeavors with a Groupon Purchase

April 6, 2011

Groupon allows you to try new places and experience new things – all for a fraction of the price. But did you know they also allow you to make a difference? Through April 7, you have the opportunity to purchase a Groupon that will support Bright Endeavors, a non-profit that bolsters at-risk young mothers and their children with essential life services. With a $15 donation, you’ll receive $30 worth of eco-friendly Dreambean products. Plus, each donation will be matched, up to $10,000!

Through the manufacture of its Dreambean home- and bath-product line, Bright Endeavors provides young mothers with jobs handcrafting and packaging eco-friendly vegetable-wax candles in recycled glass containers, as well as calming bath products fashioned from natural botanicals. Participating in Bright Endeavors’ manufacturing and marketing program helps young women transition into economic self-sufficiency by building a store of personal and professional achievements that will translate into job skills in future careers. Additionally, all proceeds from Dreambean products go to support job training, mentoring, and permanent job placement with local employers for the young mothers who create them.

Expires Oct 8, 2011. 100% of purchase goes directly to Bright Endeavors. Limit 1 per person, may buy 3 additional as gifts. Limit 1 per visit. Not valid for Moda Esperanza products. Donations are automatically applied.

Ping Pong for Social Good?

March 2, 2011


How are tech geeks using the game of ping pong to inspire a social good initiative?

A group called TechiesGiveBack, a nonprofit that looks for ways the tech community could give back, launched an event called BackSpin2011. The idea was to raise money for a charity organization called Child’s Play. No, not the creepy Chuckie movies. Child’s Play is a non-profit organization that provides books, games and video game consoles to hospitals across the country.

So what was BackSpin 2011?

Using Xbox’s Kinect, TechiesGiveBack provided a fun atmosphere with their ping pong tournament. Several tech companies around the NYC area took part in the action, including, Google, The New York Times and Foursquare. Some of the players competed on team levels while a few competed individually. In addition to the virtual table tennis game, TechiesGiveBack also provided an open bar, MCs from CollegeHumor and even some crazy costumes in the mix. Using a virtual tournament provided a more level playing field for everyone involved than hosting a real ping pong tournament.

Was the event a success? Absolutely. The half party/half networking event raised $12,000 for Child’s Play. Who says helping out can’t be fun? More info about the tournament can be found at Mashable.

Chicago Lighthouse Profile: Rita McCabe

February 25, 2011


She estimates that she has made nearly one million clocks.

One of her proudest moments was presenting her mom with one of those clocks that has lasted more than 25 years.

She has been quoted nationally about her work in the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Meet Rita McCabe, one of the employees on the assembly line at Lighthouse Industries, a program of The Chicago Lighthouse that holds the official contract for manufacturing clocks for the U.S. government.  Indeed, clocks made at the Lighthouse are displayed in federal offices across the country and around the globe.

A native of Minnesota, Rita, who is totally blind, first came to the Lighthouse in the mid 70s while a member of the Salvation Army.  She joined the agency in 1979 and has been an employee there ever since.

“I enjoy my job,” she smiles.  “I appreciate being able to support myself plus have an opportunity to work with so many wonderful people!”

Rita goes about her daily tasks with much precision a she assembles the clock from components that include the body, movement, dial, hour and minute hands.  She assembles clocks of various sizes and styles, and then places the sub-assembly on the assembly line where the remaining components are assembled.  The end product is fully tested for accuracy, boxed and shipped to destinations far and wide.

In a given year, the Lighthouse, which will celebrate its 105th anniversary in 2011, manufactures between 160,000 and 200,000 clocks per year.

For employees like Rita, this program has provided steady employment at a time when people who are blind cope with a jobless rate that hovers near 70%.

“She is a fantastic member of our team,” states Jean Claude Kappler, vice president of Lighthouse Industries who oversees the clock-making operation.

“Like so many of our employees who are blind or visually impaired, Rita has a strong work ethic and brings a craftsmanship-like quality to her job.”

He adds that the quality of Lighthouse clocks is one of the reasons the program has been able to thrive for the past 30 years.

When Rita checks out of the factory for the day, she turns her attention to her other interests including volunteer work at her church and rooting for her favorite teams, the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and her beloved Chicago White Sox.

A resident of the city’s south side, she makes no bones about being a big White Sox fan.

Asked about her resolutions for the coming new year, Rita responds with a chuckle, “I never make resolutions because I know I can’t keep them!”

Though, she looks forward to making even more clocks in 2011.