Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week! Catwalkin’ for some great causes. #NWAFW #shop

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

The first full week in March was stylin’ in Bentonville, Arkansas! The third-annual NWA Fashion Week showcased many of northwest Arkansas’ top designers, boutiques and some amazing and much-needed nonprofits. I went to #NWAFW as a representative of #CollectiveBias at one of my old stomping grounds, the Benton County Daily Record. I cannot tell you how different the building looks from when it was a newspaper office just five years ago! But somehow, they managed to transfer that building into a fabulous runway.

I went to the Boutique Runway on March 7, where boutiques like She Said Yes Bridal, By Request, Chic, Blue Moon Market, Maven, Ropa, Klothe, Reflection of Beauty + Fauxever Yours, SOHO, Skye on the Town and Coed Co-Op were featured.

But the main stars of this entire event were the charities for which it was held. One particular charity close to my heart is Ozark Guidance. I have been a patient at Ozark Guidance since 2006, when troubles with panic, depression and anxiety left me helpless and in need of affordable behavioral health care.

The treatment I’ve received at Ozark Guidance has helped me get through many traumatic issues, perhaps most significantly the post-traumatic stress disorder I was diagnosed with following a sexual assault in 2008. Since being a patient at Ozark Guidance, I have pleaded with my representatives in Congress to begin a dialogue in Washington to focus on affordable access to behavioral health care for low-income individuals. Ozark Guidance’s philosophy is that no one in northwest Arkansas should be without access to behavioral health care. I truly believe Ozark Guidance has saved me in many, many ways. But I also know that Ozark Guidance struggles with having the resources to care for every person who needs it, so this event was a great help for them.

Often, organizations such as Ozark Guidance would go without recognition were it not for large galas like NWA Fashion Week. These events raise awareness among those who may not need services from these organizations – and manage to combine lots of glam and entertainment with some great causes.

It’s not often that I get to doll up for a night on the town, but I was so proud to be part of such a wonderful event. I am very proud of the fashion community in northwest Arkansas for putting on such an amazing show.

Donate care items to your school through #Champions4Kids #SIMPLEGiving

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I’ve worked on a number of Champions For Kids projects in the past couple of years. I really believe in this organization, because it shows how we can take small steps to do SIMPLE Giving service projects to help out the kids in our community.

This week I was delighted to participate in a personal-care SIMPLE Giving project through Champions For Kids, Kimberly-Clark and Unilever.  Especially during this time of year, food drives are everywhere. This is a great thing, because food insecurity is a serious problem in this country. But sometimes we forget that there are other needs as well. Families who qualify for SNAP benefits often struggle to get items like soap, shampoo and antiperspirant, because SNAP doesn’t help pay for these items. Take out other expenses like rent, utilities and transportation, and even the most basic self-care items are left out of the budget.

Through Nov. 11, 2013, Walmart stores will have a donation bin for this drive. These bins are right near the entrance, and are attached to or near pallets stocked with Unilever and Kimberly-Clark items to donate. Items like Dial Soap, Cottonelle FreshWipes and Kleenex tissues.

When I arrived at my local Walmart store, I saw the donation box, but the pallet was empty. This can happen if other customers have purchased the items ahead of you. But not to worry!

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I headed to the personal care section of the store to pick out some items for the drive. I was on a $25 budget and wanted to get the most out of my purchase.

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One thing I loved about these Dial three-packs was that they were enough for a family to go through for a little while, and by purchasing them in multi-packs I was able to save some money. The $1.97 was very budget-friendly. I am ALSO very glad that Dial has broadened its variety from the orange antibacterial soap our parents used to many different types of soap. I picked up one each of the AntiOxidant and the Coconut Water soaps for donation.

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If you’re on a budget or you want to get as many items to as many kids as possible, I suggest the travel section. I found tons of Tresemme shampoos and conditioners for only 97 cents!

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And we mustn’t forget the Kleenex travel packs! These bundles of three were available for 97 cents each in the travel section. Every kid needs one of these!

Unilever also has travel-sized Degree antiperspirant in this section. A great help!

I headed over to the paper-products section of the store and picked up some Cottonelle Freshwipes, as well as some full-sized boxes of Kleenex. I’ll show you what I managed to purchase for around $25 again:

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This is enough to get one or two families some products they need. I purchased these items and placed them in the bin as I exited the store.

To see what others participating in this campaign have purchased, check out this Simple Giving Pinterest Board for ideas.

The bins will be in stores through Nov. 11, 2013 for you to get out there and do some SIMPLE Giving.

Are you participating in any donation drives right now? Do you donate personal care items to local schools and charities?

Spin Into Action for the Children’s Advocacy Center #spinbrush4kids #cbias #shop

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Earlier this year I found out that here in Benton County, Arkansas, there were 432 reported cases of child abuse in 2012. It’s a heartbreaking number for me to read and write, because these children are at a vulnerable place in their life and need all the support they can get. I have this crazy notion that every child who is born deserves to be loved, educated and supported – if not by the family, by the community. So I was happy to take a trip to Walmart and purchase goods for a SIMPLE Service project for Champions for Kids.

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Located down a country road in Little Flock, Arkansas, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County serves sexually and physically abused children who have called the Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-482-5964) in a supportive, child-friendly environment.

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The CAC provides counseling, examinations, advocacy, forensic interviews and an array of other services to these children and non-offending family members. These services are provided free of charge, so the CAC counts on funding and charitable donations to continue to provide these services.

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As part of the Arm & Hammer Spinbrush Spin Into Action campaign for Champions for Kids, I went and purchased Spinbrush For Kids toothbrushes and children’s books.

In-kind donations are accepted and distributed based on need to those who seek services from the CAC. I contacted them to make sure these items would be accepted, as many organizations often have enough or too much of some items and not enough of other items.

Even with a $50 budget, I was able to make a bit of a difference. I headed to the Spinbrush web site, where I was able to find a $2 coupon off any Spinbrush product. This includes their new item, Tooth Tunes, which do not have the spinbrush function but play two minutes of your favorite music as your child brushes his teeth. They have Tooth Tunes with songs by Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Big Time Rush, Selena Gomez and a ton of other popular artists.Two minutes is the recommended time to brush your teeth, so it’s a great way to get your kids started on a good habit. You can find a lot of information on Tooth Tunes on the website as well.

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I chose to purchase the Spinbrush My Way! toothbrushes, which allow kids to personalize their toothbrush with 141 stickers to choose from. I figure that children who come to the CAC need the opportunity to express themselves, and I thought this was a great way. If you visit brushmyway.com, you can test out the My Way! toothbrushes and create a virtual My Way! toothbrush and toothpaste tube. Here’s my creation. As you can see, I refused to follow gender stereotypes, since I played with dolls AND action figures as a kid.

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I also purchased a selection of children’s books, because I never realized how valuable a book was to a child until I taught a 14-year-old how to read four years ago. This was someone who had been through a very tough life and had never been read to as a child. So there was no doubt in my mind that children’s books would be part of my donation.

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When I brought my donations to the CAC this week, I said to the front desk person, “I hope you all can use these.” “Oh, yeah,” she replied.

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To find a Children’s Advocacy Center near you, visit www.nationalcac.org and click “Find a CAC Near You” in the menu bar.

Fun and games at the 9th annual #Razorfest #cbias

Red and White Scrimmage at Razorfest, April 20, 2013

Red and White Scrimmage at Razorfest, April 20, 2013

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Champions For Kids. All opinions are my own. #cbias #SocialFabric

As a resident of northwest Arkansas, I’ve seen the work one of our many local charities, Champions for Kids, has done right in my community. The organization has mobilized people across the country to participate in “simple service projects” to help local children’s charities in the area. For instance, I participated in All You Magazine’s Couponing For Good Simple Service Project to benefit Samaritan Community Center last year. It meant so much to Samaritan not only to help their program, but also to highlight them as a very important organization in my community.

Razorfest asked participants to donate non-perishable foods upon entering the stadium. I made sure to fill a bag with food and contribute it to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank!

Razorfest asked participants to donate non-perishable foods upon entering the stadium. I made sure to fill a bag with food and contribute it to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank!

So I was very excited to attend the largest fundraiser for CFK, Abbott Nutrition Razorfest, held at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark. It’s an enormous, family-friendly and free event filled with fun zones, music, local vendors, entertainment, nutrition education, mascots and most importantly, a Red N White Game for the Arkansas Razorbacks! We hog fans are pretty crazy about our football and our community, so bringing all these events together just makes things that much better.

Lots of local and Razorback memorabilia up for silent auction at Razorfest. All proceeds went to CFK!

Lots of local and Razorback memorabilia up for silent auction at Razorfest. All proceeds went to CFK!

There was plenty of entertainment at Razorfest, including the competitive cheer team from Infiniti in Bentonville.

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There were also plenty of celebrities! Look – there’s the guy from the Elmer’s Glue Bottle! His name’s Elmer.

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My friend Robert Andes is an incredible artist and also grabbed some photos. I was too excited to see Elmer in the flesh that by the time I saw Tony the Tiger, he was being escorted out of the building, undoubtedly to go somewhere else to make someone else feel Grrrrrr-EAT!

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And this one just about made me squeal – the Energizer Bunny!

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It was such an amazing event – whether you’re a die-hard football fan, a supporter of the community or a kid in body or spirit, Razorfest is incredible, and I can’t say enough about all the wonderful things CFK does for communities all over the country.

For more information and to get involved, visit the following links:

Stand up for Justice and against Child Abuse in Benton County April 1! #CACpinwheel

Pinwheelkids For several years now I’ve been an advocate for children, maintaining that every child who is living here deserves love and support, no matter what their circumstances. That’s why I’m proud to support the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County in its 11th-annual Stand Up For Justice Rally, held April 1 at the Dave Peel Park – right across from the Benton County Courthouse in Downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Children’s Advocacy Center has one mission: Empowering Children to Find Their Voice. They do this through providing support to victims and families of those under 18 who report physical and sexual abuse. They provide a non-threatening, child-friendly environment for these families, as well as the following methods of support (according to CAC’s web site):

  • Trained forensic interviewers (bilingual services available)
  • Specialized Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and an on-site medical exam room
  • Child advocates to assess family needs and provide follow-up, support, and referral services
  • On-site counselors available to meet with the child and non-offending family members
  • All services at no charge to the family

The CAC begins doing this the minute someone contacts the Child Abuse IMG_20130304_111335 Hotline (1-800-482-5964). I’ve visited the CAC of Benton County, and I can’t tell you how comforting and kind it is. It is full of color, happiness and kind hearts and voices. It is a wonderful place to reach out to these children in need.

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County plans to kick it off with the 11th Annual Stand up for Justice Rally. They’ll be serving hot dogs and drinks, and Benton County Judge Robert Clinard will make a public proclamation marking the month. From there, attendees will be placing 432 Pinwheels across law enforcement centers across Benton County:

  • Benton County Sheriff’s Department
  • Bentonville Police Department
  • Rogers Police Department
  • Bella Vista Police Department
  • Pea Ridge Police Department
  • Little Flock Police Department

Why 432 pinwheels? Each pinwheel represents a reported victim of child abuse in Benton County for last year. These pinwheels, which you may have seen around in recent years, serve as a voice for these children.

You can keep up-to-date on this rally and the upcoming Glow Run fundraiser (April 19) by checking this web site, following @cacbentonco on Twitter, or checking the hashtag #CACpinwheel. Let’s speak up for these kids! They need it!

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