Our Big Blog

Volunteering - The Perfect Antidote?

While we are BIG on Community Outreach and making a difference in the lives of others, we also believe in attaining personal goals and growth toward becoming the best we can be as individuals.  While we think of volunteering as helping others, did you know that we actually help ourselves, emotionally, socially, professionally and physically when we volunteer? 

An article published in the Huffington Post confirms the personal benefits of volunteering. ” Volunteering Could Boost Happiness, Decrease Depression and Help You Live Longer: Study” by Sara Konrath, Ph.D. provides some interesting information from scientific studies regarding volunteering. An excerpt from that article reads as follows:

“A new paper by Dr. Suzanne Richards and colleagues at the University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK, reviewed 40 studies from the past 20 years on the link between volunteering and health. Published today in BMC Public Health, the paper finds that volunteering is associated with lower depression, increased well-being, and a 22 percent reduction in the risk of dying.”

“…Researchers in the Interdisciplinary Program for Empathy and Altruism Research at the University of Michigan, which I direct, are doing some detective work trying to figure out the two big mysteries that remain:

First, why should volunteering be good for people's health? 

 Any activity is good activity. Volunteering means getting off the couch and out of the house, so it makes us stronger and more physically fit. More physically fit people tend to deal with stress better, which can help them live longer lives.

Social connections can be good for us. We are hard-wired for face-to-face contact that includes lots of touch, eye contact, and smiles. Such interactions release a hormone called oxytocin, which helps us bond and care for others, and also helps us handle stress better. Volunteering is a good way to meet others, make friends, and bond over common beliefs and goals.

 It just feels good. Volunteering can give us a deep sense of happiness, which is also associated with longer and healthier lives."

“Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits” at is also a resource that outlines the benefits of volunteering and is well worth the read.

So, feeling a bit depressed and not quite up to par? Step up and out to the field of becoming a volunteer. It could just be the perfect antidote!


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Big Wheels Keep on Rollin...

Through rain, sleet, snow and every other weather condition we can name, trucks travel the highways and byways in an effort to deliver freight.  It is not always an easy job meeting those important deadlines and destinations.  Truck drivers spend up to 11 hours a day driving, and up to 14 hours a day engaged in various duties (including driving time) such as fueling, filling out paperwork, obtaining vehicle repairs and conducting mandatory vehicle inspections. Long-haul drivers often spend weeks away from home, spending their time off and sleeping at truck stops or rest areas. Driving is relatively dangerous work, as truck drivers account for 12 percent and the highest total number of all work-related deaths, and are five times more likely to die on the job than the average worker.

The importance of trucking is communicated by the industry adage: "If you bought it, a truck brought it”.  Retail stores, hospitals, gas stations, waste disposal, construction sites, banks, and even a clean water supply depends entirely upon trucks to distribute vital cargo. Before a product reaches store shelves, the raw materials and other stages of production materials that go into manufacturing any given product are moved by trucks.  

Over 80 percent of all communities in the US rely exclusively on trucks to deliver all of their fuel, clothing, medicine, and other consumer goods. The trucking industry employs 10 million people in jobs that relate directly to trucking.

 Truck Drivers keep our country running, quite simply, in every way. 

In 1983, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company launched “The North American Highway Hero Program to honor acts of valor performed by truck drivers. This program was created to “improve the public perception of responsible and heroic drivers from the trucking industry”.

“… The North American Highway Hero Program was launched by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to locate, honor and publicize those truck drivers who clearly qualify for the rare label of ‘hero.’”

The four intrepid men nominated for the 30th North American Highway Hero Award placed themselves in harm’s way and took courageous action to save the lives of others. The winner of the Goodyear Tires event, Kevin Harte, was announced on March 21 during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. He received a plaque, a special Highway Hero ring and $5,000, according to The three other finalists received a plaque and cash award. The nominees were:

Chad Dickey – Wadena, Minn., Tony’s Transfer

One night while driving near Chattanooga, Tenn., Dickey encountered the debris of an 18-wheeler strewn across the highway. He stopped his truck and investigated the scene with his flashlight. The beam illuminated the tracks that lead to a nearby ditch. A truck driver, Lewis Boyd, was strapped to the 18-wheeler’s seat with a massive laceration in his leg. Suffering from rapid blood loss and passing in and out of consciousness, Boyd was kept alert due to Dickey’s actions. Dickey mitigated the bleeding by applying a tourniquet to Boyd’s leg for 30 minutes until rescue personnel arrived on scene. Boyd was subsequently airlifted to a local hospital, where he remained for more than a month to recuperate from his injuries.

David Williams – Angier, N.C., Schneider National

During a rainstorm in Wilmington, N.C., Williams happened upon a disabled car facing oncoming traffic. He set safety cones around the car and directed traffic away from the site. A pickup truck suddenly approached him at an unsafe velocity. Williams leapt from the speeding pickup’s trajectory and narrowly missed being hit. The pickup struck the back of Williams’ rig and combusted. Williams pulled the truck’s passenger from the fiery wreck while the driver escaped. He then assisted to extinguish the pickup’s flames.

Christopher Burgess – Ravenna, Ohio, Independent

Burgess was driving down a steep hill in Akron, Ohio when, after picking up 15 tons of sand when the truck’s brakes failed. Struggling to remain in control of the vehicle, which was speeding toward a busy intersection at approximately 50 miles per hour, Burgess flailed his arms and honked the truck’s horn. He adeptly steered though the intersection, avoiding all automobiles and pedestrians. Burgess maneuvered between two occupied buildings and drove toward bushes and trees. After his vehicle struck the tree, it dropped into the river below. Burgess did not survive the accident.

Winner: Jason Harte – Rogers, Ark., Sammons Trucking Driver

As Harte drove down a Wyoming interstate, he witnessed a pickup truck push a minivan off the road which then struck another car and pushed it onto the highway median. After dialing 911, Harte rescued a trapped man, woman and their six-month-old baby from the van. To rescue the three other children from within the van, Harte utilized his past EMT experience. He pulled out the most accessible child, and then began performing first aid on the second child from the van’s back hatch. He rescued the third child by pulling apart seats and cutting seatbelts. Even after rescue crews arrived, Harte tending to the victims’ injuries until ambulances hauled them away.

Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems director of marketing, Gary Medalis, commented on Jason Harte’s heroic deed, as stated on “Jason’s decision to offer assistance is a powerful example of the selflessness exhibited by professional truck drivers. Because of his actions, lives, in all probability, were saved. For this, Jason has earned the right to be called a hero.”

 Just a recent as this week, we have witnessed truck drivers in Atlanta, GA assisting stranded motorists just as they did here in Texas during the ice storm.  Not only do these hardworking individuals help keep our economy moving, many are truly angels in disguise. 

If you know a trucker, or just happen to meet one, tell them thank you, for the depths of their sacrifices and acts of service to us may go largely unacknowledged. They are TRULY the wheels that keep us all MOVING FORWARD.


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Baby It's Cold Outside...

"America is set for the coldest month of the century as weather forecasters predict yet another freezing blast of Arctic air - putting Super Bowl Sunday in jeopardy. Teams have been warned to stay on high alert for changes to the scheduling of the first Super Bowl to be played in an open-air stadium.

Temperatures have already hit record lows, at times making parts of the U.S. colder than the North Pole, and are expected to continue to plunge." 

However, if we think we have it bad, let’s take a look back to the wintery days before electricity, telephones and the lifesaving amenities we know today.

Did you know that...

In October of 1880, snowfalls so deep in the Northern Plains reached the second floor windows of two story homes. Blizzard after blizzard occurred, the first one known as “The October Blizzard”.  No one was prepared for the deep snow so early in the season and farmers all over the region were caught before their crops had even been harvested, their grain milled, or with their fuel supplies for the winter in place. By January the train service was almost entirely suspended from the region. Railroads hired scores of men to dig out the tracks but it was a wasted effort: As soon as they had finished shoveling a stretch of line, a new storm arrived, filling up the line and leaving their work useless.

There were no winter thaws and on February 2, 1881, a second massive blizzard struck that lasted for nine days. In the towns the streets were filled with solid drifts to the tops of the buildings and tunneling was needed to secure passage about town. Homes and barns were completely covered, compelling farmers to tunnel to reach and feed their stock.

The well known "Children’s Blizzard" of 1888 was preceded by a snowstorm on January 5th and 6th, which dropped powdery snow on the northern and central plains and was followed by an outbreak of brutally cold temperatures from January 7 to 11. What made the storm so deadly was the timing, the suddenness, and the brief spell of warmer weather that preceded it. In addition, the very strong wind reduced visibilities on the open plains to zero. The death toll was 235. Travel was severely impeded in the days following.

Two months later, on March 11, another severe blizzard hit the East Coast. This blizzard was known as the "The Great Blizzard of 1888" and the worst in American history. It hit the Northeast, killing more than 400 people and dumping as much as 55 inches of snow in some areas.

And now, for one more thought to ponder while we are thinking of cold weather:

Did you know that, due to the lack of available lumber on the Northern Plains, most homes and buildings, from the 1850's until 1920, were built from primarily from sod?

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Check the deck for Queens...

And for a few random facts, did you know that...

There are 293 different ways to make change for a one dollar bill. If you have 3 quarters, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

The reference "boxing kangaroo" originates from the animal's defensive behavior, in which it will use its smaller forelegs to hold an attacker in place while using the claws on its larger hind legs to try to kick, slash or disembowel them. This stance gives the impression that the kangaroo appears to be "boxing" with its attacker. During World War II the boxing kangaroo became a national symbol in the Royal Australian Air Force.

It is believed that playing cards were invented in China and date from at least 1294. The earliest authentic references to playing-cards in Europe date from 1377. Europe changed the Islamic symbols such as scimitars and cups into graphical representations of  Kings, Queens, Knights and Jesters. Different European countries adopted a different suits system. Even today, playing cards for some countries do not have Queens.

On January 7, 1927 the first transatlantic telephone service was established from New York to London..

In need of a fast growing privacy fence? Bamboo can grow up to 3 feet in 24 hours.


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Melt Down?

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” 
― Dr. Seuss

 Today is the first Monday of 2014.  Sometimes, a meltdown is inevitable...

 But it does look better with a smile...


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Bargain Shopping?

While we have previously highlighted Dress for Success, this is a "heads up" just to inform you of their current needs as well as to mention a wonderful event called S.O.S. scheduled in April, 2014. (There will be more on the S.O.S. event at a later date). 

This wonderful organization helps women do exactly what it says "Dress For Success".  Currently there is a high need for suits and interview appropriate clothing in size 16 and larger.  This is just a wonderful time to make a donation considering there are great sales and bargains at every department store and just who doesn't love the clearance rack?  Remember, however, that donations do not have to be brand new. If you are cleaning your closet, please note that donations should be gently used and dry cleaned.

The following  is a list of items that are in need. 

  • Interview-appropriate suits and related separates (the greatest need is for items size 16 and up)
  • Solid color blouses
  • Shoes that are suitable for the workplace. Our clients receive brown, black or navy shoes most frequently. Please no heels higher than 3 inches and no open-toed shoes.
  • Unopened hosiery
  • Unused undergarments (Note: Not all locations accept such items; please check with the affiliate closest to you before making this type of donation.)
  • Black tote bags, attaché bags or briefcases
  • Basic professional accessories (including jewelry, scarves, belts and handbags)
  • Unopened cosmetics
  • Coats and outerwear (Note: Not all locations accept such items; please check with the affiliate closest to you before making this type of donation.)

Check back with us for information on the S.O.S. project in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, however, keep it in mind and when you see a bargain, grab it!!  Make a difference in the life of one woman today!!

For more information regarding donations, volunteer opportunities and contact information for your local affiliate, please check out the following link:


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MaTcH iT UP!

“How can I be useful, of what service can I be?
There is something inside me, what can it be?


From Therapeutic Horsemanship to Hospice Volunteers and everything in between, there are TONS of opportunities to step up to the plate and give.  As we determine what our missions will be in 2014, let's not limit ourselves.  Be open minded to change, explore new avenues and make a BIG difference in the community. 

Not sure where to start?  There are some great resources available to help us all match our gifts with the perfect volunteer opportunities- so check it out!

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"Light Up the World" ~ Donate Life, 2014

Journeys of the Heart Float

 2013 Donate Life Float "Journeys of the Heart"
 Rose Bowl Parade

"The tradition of the Rose Parade is over a hundred years old in the city of Pasadena, California. On New Year's Day, floats decorated in flower petals, seeds, grasses and other plant matter are paraded down Route 66, also known as Colorado Boulevard. The floats represent cities around Southern California and various civic organizations and companies. The flower-laden vehicles are accompanied by the top marching bands and equestrian teams from around the country."

The Rose Parade

This event began as a promotional effort by Pasadena's distinguished Valley Hunt Club. In the winter of 1890, the club members brainstormed ways to promote the "Mediterranean of the West." They invited their former East Coast neighbors to a mid-winter holiday, where they could watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun. The abundance of fresh flowers, even in the midst of winter, prompted the club to add another showcase for Pasadena's charm: a parade would precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms. The Tournament of Roses was born.

Donate Life

"In New York, people are buried in snow," announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise." Volunteers are putting the finishing touches on the Donate-Life float to be featured in next month’s Rose Bowl Parade.

“I want them to take away the honor of life.  You know, even in a tragic moment, you can find joy in life in knowing that you given part of your loved one to save someone else,” said Trina Rothermel of Bakersfield.

Rothermel’s three-year-old daughter, Jaidyn is among the 72 people being honored.  The toddler died two years ago drowning in a pool.

“I had a lot of questions.  I was asking a million questions of the people that wanted me to donate because it’s a bitter sweet time but in the end I know that we made the right choice, that Jayden would want us to give life to someone if it was all possible,” she said.

Jaidyn’s loved ones joined other families recently helping design the Donate-Life float.  It’s the 11th year the group has participated in the parade becoming the world’s most visible campaign to inspire others to become organ and tissue donors.

“When somebody passes away and they have that opportunity to be a donor, do you know what its like saving somebody’s life who have not been able to be at their daughter’s wedding or son’s graduation? And so that’s what we want people to take away, the uniqueness of being brought together,” said Lori Malkin, founder of JJ’s Legacy.

22 percent of people living in Kern County are registered donors and group’s like JJ’s Legacy is hoping to boost that number with awareness.

“It’s such a tragic situation anyway and then you have to make this decision with what you want to do with your loved one so that’s why I feel its so important to educate and bring the awareness and to be able to do this,” she said. - Carlos Correa

*The 2014 Donate Life Float is entitled "Light Up the World". A floragraph has been placed on this year's float in honor of the late Brody Fleming who saved lives through organ and tissue donation. Brody is the son of our leaders, Jim and Carrie.

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Not jumping the gun...just a quick sprint toward the "date"...

Did you know....

Until 1751, in England and Wales and all British dominions, the new year started on March 25.  January 1 took place in 1600 in Scotland. Since then, January 1 has been the first day of the year.

During the Middle Ages several days were randomly taken as the beginning of the calendar year, some in March, September, April and December.

In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and the UK, January 1 is a national holiday.

The Romans dedicated New Year's Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings for whom the first month of the year, January, is also named. After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the 1st day January.

The Time Square New Year's Eve Ball came about as a result of a ban on fireworks. The first ball, in 1907, was an illuminated 700-pound iron and wood ball adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. Today, the round ball designed by Waterford Crystal, weighs 11,875-pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is bedazzled with 2,668 Waterford crystals.

Due to wartime restrictions, the New Year's Eve ball was not lowered in 1942 and 1943.

In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, a life-sized male doll called "Mr. Old Year" who is dressed in clothes from each family member, is stuffed with bad memories of the outgoing year.  At midnight he is set on fire in a symbol of burning away the bad memories of the year. 

On New Year's Day, people in cities of the Northern Hemisphere who are close to bodies of water, gather on beaches and run into the water to celebrate the new year. In Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands this is very popular. These events are sometimes known as polar bear plunges and are sometimes organized by groups to raise money for charity

In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year's Day as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year.

A very interesting tradition takes place every year in Wales.  A foot race called the Nos Galan Race is conducted to honor the legendary life of Guto Nyth Bran. If you happen to wonder why, following is an excerpt from a poem about the legendary Mr. Bran:

"...One day he caught a hare as he rounded his sheep,
another time he caught a bird in flight, as if it were asleep.
Word soon spread of this talented lad
who could run to Pontypridd in the little time he had,
Before the kettle boiled, Or his breakfast was spoiled,
He'd be back at the farm, having gone 7 miles..."

And finally, New Year's traditions include eating and avoidance of certain foods.  Eating black-eyed peas, greens, ham or cabbage are thought to bring prosperity. On the other hand, food such as  lobsters, who move backwards mean bad luck as do chickens because they scratch in reverse. some peas, please?

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The customer service was outstanding. We will definitely use "Got Big Freight?" again.