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L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

How many cookies should you bake for a fundraiser? 50, 100? Maybe even 500?

Well, when Gretchen Witt, a mother and public relations consultant, was planning her bake sale, she decided to go big or go home — and set out to bake 96,000.

"I kind of felt like why not try it? What’s the worst that can happen, I fail?" she recalls. "And then what? People are going to get mad because I tried?"


After all, she had an amazing and important cause to support: pediatric cancer research.

That journey started in 2007, when her son, Liam, was diagnosed with stage four cancer at the age of two. "I didn’t know that cancer was [still] the #1 disease killer of children in the U.S.," she says.

That realization lit a fire under her.

All photos provided by Gretchen Witt.

"All you have to do is spend 10 minutes on a pediatric cancer floor, and you’ll be like, sign me up! I’ll do whatever. I’ll bake 96,000 cookies!"

The I Care I Cure Childhood Cancer Foundation reports that, in comparison with adult cancers, pediatric cancer research is underfunded — leaving many kids without access to the best (and safest) possible treatments.

That’s why when Liam was declared cancer-free a little more than a year later, Witt was ready to fight for other kids like him.So, she rounded up a team of volunteers and got to baking.

"I wanted to do something that anyone could get involved in, no matter where they were, or how old they were or young they were," she says. "Something that would bring people together."

Almost a hundred thousand cookies later, Witt had raised over $420,000 for pediatric cancer research.

That’s when she realized she was onto something — people who might not otherwise know much about pediatric cancer were totally fired up about it.

"[We] allowed people to enter into the world of pediatric cancer in a way that wasn’t scary or frightening," she says. "[Instead of showing them] a picture of a kid with a bald head and saying, 'Here, I want to talk to you about this,' we could ease them in."

That "one-time" fundraiser was only the beginning. Within the year, Witt founded Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit committed to raising funds for pediatric cancer research.

Through that nonprofit, Witt was able to inspire people around the country to host their own events, including grassroots bake sales, to create awareness and raise funds for better treatment options for kids with cancer. And Witt herself, of course, is still selling delicious cookies.

Since its founding in 2008, there have been more than 8,500 events — in every single state in the country and 18 countries around the world — organized by ordinary people for an extraordinary cause.

And while Liam’s cancer did return and eventually claimed his life — a battle he lost in 2011 — Witt always knew that it was a fight much bigger than them both.

Even through her grief, Witt refused to give up on her nonprofit.

"It was never [just] about Liam; it was about the journey that those kids went through," she says. "[We’re] doing what Liam would want us to do, which is to make it better for others."

Not long after Liam passed away, Witt was recognized for her efforts when she received the L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth award. "To be recognized like that on such a scale — it just adds fuel to your gas tank, to keep going," she says.

And she did keep going. To date, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has raised nearly $16 million and counting.

"As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t done anything special ... how could I not get involved?" she says. "[Anyone] can contribute. It just requires having a heart and deciding you want to help kids."

Witt’s efforts are a reminder that each and every one of us can make a difference, no matter who or where we are.

In the face of something as scary as pediatric cancer, it’s easy to feel powerless or intimidated. But Witt dug deep and found the determination to do something — and it all started with a bake sale.

Having seen firsthand the tenacity of children with cancer who refuse to give up each day, Witt knows just how powerful it is to remain hopeful. And that same courage, she says, is what she wants to offer others.

"The worst thing in the world is to not have hope," she says. "But I’m in the business of giving people a purpose and giving people hope."

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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