Archives for December 2015

A Heartfelt Thank You

By Mindy K. Urueta

Not too long ago, it was considered quite normal and expected for a child to respond to a gift with a handwritten thank-you note. For the most part, this form of etiquette has gone by the wayside in today’s fast-moving, technology-obsessed world. These days, it is considered the norm to send a quick text in place of a personal letter. It’s easy, efficient and gets the message out. But is it enough? There is something meaningful and gratifying about a thank-you card that someone took the time to choose, write and deliver.

With the holiday season right around the corner, the time for giving and receiving gifts is here; what better time to get your children in the swing of writing thank-you notes than during the most magical time of the year?

Most children don’t eagerly volunteer to get right to work on thank-you cards after receiving a gift, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made into a fun, family activity. One tip is to make sure thank-you note writing isn’t presented as a chore, but rather as an enjoyable and creative outlet for trying new penmanship, stationary or even poetry. The recipient will be thrilled that your child took a moment to recognize their gift.

If your little ones are too young to write a note, a colorful thank-you picture is just as meaningful. Markers, crayons, glue and some construction paper are the perfect tools for children to use when creating beautiful works of art to show someone how much their thoughtfulness means.… Read the rest

Bookmark! Holiday Edition

Reviews by Betsy Dailo

For the Grown-Ups

Festivus The Holiday for the Rest of UsFestivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us (2008)
By Allen Salkin
On Dec. 18, 1997, “The Strike” first appeared on TV. This Seinfeld episode seemed to change the world by creating Festivus, a holiday celebrated on Dec. 23 to serve as an alternative to the commercialized holiday Christmas has become. The day includes the Festivus pole, dinner, the Airing of Grievances and of course, the Feats of Strength.

Allen Salkin provides readers with not only a hilarious book, but one that shows how Festivus has been around for centuries, beginning in ancient Rome. However, the Seinfeld version of Festivus originally began in 1966 in the O’Keefe household. Dan O’Keefe was one of the writers for the show and brought his family’s traditions to the TV screen.

Families now celebrate Festivus as a real holiday, even purchasing their own aluminum pole to display. But don’t forget, as Frank Costanza says, “Until you pin me, George, Festivus is not over!”

For the Children

Daddy Christmas and Mama HanukkahDaddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama (2012)
By Selina Alko
In the U.S., families of different faiths are celebrating multiple winter holidays. In Selina Alko’s children’s book, she introduces Sadie, whose parents practice different faiths. Despite celebrating Christmas, Sadie’s dad is the one who makes the latkes, a traditional Jewish food. Her Jewish mom hangs the Christmas stockings.

Throughout the book, Alko shows how people can embrace other traditions to make one happy, diverse family. Their family visits later in the book to discuss their different traditions.… Read the rest

Ways to Help Veterans This Holiday Season

By Betsy Dailo

Many of the men and women who sacrifice so much for this country are honorably discharged and left struggling to make ends meet. To help our veterans during these hard times, take a few moments with your family, friends or coworkers to help the physical and financial security of our veterans.


Some veterans have to rely on donations from nonprofits and volunteer organizations. In turn, these organizations need assistance to continue helping. Whether it’s donating or volunteering your time, let’s spend some time this holiday season helping those who need it most. Below are resources for you and your loved ones to begin helping veterans live a happier and more secure life.


To provide even more service dogs to wounded vets, nonprofit K9s for Warriors opened a new 17,000-square-foot facility that can house a total of 16 veterans each month. The project was completed entirely with donations from the community. Veterans return to their homes after the program with their new battle buddy, who stays by their side around the clock.


Disabled American Veterans Chapter 38 is a volunteer organization whose mission is to build better lives for all of America’s disable d veterans and their families. They offer many opportunities for civilians to volunteer.


The Emergency Service s & Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida works to provide temporary financial assistance, transportation assistance, housing counseling and financial planning services, and information on referrals to community agencies for low-income and homeless veterans in the Duval, Clay and Nassau county areas.… Read the rest

Share the Love Gift Guide

By Mindy K. Urueta

The holiday season is upon us and it’s the perfect time to take the opportunity to help those less fortunate by giving back. The following are just a few of the many companies and organizations that are committed to making the world a better place for everyone, not just during the holidays, but every day of the year. Alongside the entrepreneurs and philanthropists dedicated to giving back by donating a portion of their profits to help others, the BOGO movement (buy one, give one) has been spreading rapidly, allowing ordinary people to provide much needed help to people living all around the globe. BOGO is a simple concept that is changing the world, one purchase at a time.

As humanitarian and author E.E. Hale said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

The Company Store
Bringing Comfort to Homeless Children
More than 200,000 children in the U.S. are homeless tonight, and one out of every 50 children will experience homelessness by the time they are 18. With these staggering statistics, The Company Store is committed to helping those children. For every comforter purchased through their B1G1 program, The Company Store donates one to a homeless child (they get to keep their comforter forever) which is delivered directly to the shelters through Family Promise®.

Carry Hope Wherever You Go
Esperos was founded on the simple, yet powerful idea of bringing hope for a brighter future to children in need.… Read the rest

Sunshine and Stethoscopes

Answers Provided By Dr. Ashraf Affan

Advice given by Dr. Affan is not intended to replace your physician’s advice or opinions. Parents should always contact their person pediatrician regarding their child’s health and well-being.

dr affan sunI am unable to breastfeed, but I want my baby to have the benefits of breast milk. What can I do?
If you are unable to breastfeed, there is always the option of purchasing breast milk from a milk bank. Milk banks follow strict screening, processing and dispensing guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America to ensure the safety of donor human milk. They also provide information on where to purchase and the cost of human milk.

I know babies are supposed to sleep on their backs, but my 3-month-old keeps turning on his tummy while sleeping. What should I do?
Place your baby on his back when you put him down to sleep for the first year. If you notice he has rolled over onto his belly, place him on his back again. At 3 months of age, if the baby is strong enough to roll onto his belly by himself, do not stress if he does not stay on his back all night.

My breast-fed baby hasn’t had a bowel movement in five days. She seems fine, but I am worried. What should I do?
It is completely normal for breast-fed babies to go a week to 10 days between bowel movements. The long period between stools in a baby who is thriving is not a cause for concern if the baby’s abdomen remains soft, the baby is content and alert, and the stool is soft.… Read the rest

The Biggest Party on the First Coast

By Tina Rymar

For many children on the First Coast, Santa Claus makes a special stop at the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville. Many local families know the holidays can be a particularly difficult time of year. Several parents are unable to give their children gifts, and Christmas can seem bleak for these families when they consider all of their struggles. For this reason, Travis and Margaret Storey founded the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville in 1999, a nonprofit organization that has given presents to thousands of children throughout the years.

Christmas Party 2Every December, companies donate money and toys for the occasion, and volunteers set up a huge party in the Prime F. Osborne III Convention Center. All of this is done to give holiday cheer to thousands of children.

This tradition began when Travis and Margaret Storey, with other volunteers, decided to go to shopping a few months before Christmas and personally buy several toys to be given away. Diane Halverson, executive director of the Children’s Christmas Party, says, “In the earlier years, we did not have enough sponsor employee volunteers to hand out toys from all the toy booths, so we used about 100 local high school students.” Diane herself was inspired by Travis Storey and has been involved in the Christmas Party since 2000. She has served as a volunteer, a board member, a volunteer coordinator, and has been the executive director for the last eight years.

Throughout the years, the event has been a resounding success in helping local families during the holidays.… Read the rest

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