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Hold the Chocolates – Make a Difference for Mother’s Day

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 28:  The sun sets on th...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

In a room filled with designer-clad women balancing on Jimmy Choo stilettos, one man stood quietly to the side, talking about children who had no shoes. “When the tornados struck in Alabama,” explained Mark Shriver, “families literally had to run for their lives, with only minutes to spare.” Shriver, Senior Vice President for U.S. Programs of  Save the Children, said much of the nonprofit’s work in Alabama and Mississippi involved supplying children with shoes: “they lost everything.”

 Shriver was representing Save the Children at the National Mother’s Day Committee Outstanding Mother Awards at New York’s Pierre Hotel on May 5. The awards center on high-profile women, including this year’s honorees, Donna Karan, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Glamour Magazine Editor Cindi Leive, Susan Sarandon, and Bon-Ton fashion executive Joyce Armeli. The annual event, one of several sponsored by the National Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council, has generated more than $31 million in donations to family-related charities in the US.

 This year’s beneficiary, Save the Children’s US Programs, brought a poignant note to the festivities. In an interview with onPhilanthropy, Shriver explained that, while the organization was fortunate to already have had personnel deployed in the states hardest hit by the devastation, the scale was so massive that it required a concerted response by numerous agencies to mitigate the suffering. “We’ve been working with FEMA and the Red Cross,” Shriver explained. “And we’ve been very fortunate to partner with corporations – Toys R Us is a very big partner, also Zynga, the gaming group.”

 Shriver added that Save the Children has prepositioned kits full of toys, games and books needed to create Child-Friendly Spaces in strategic locations throughout the United States.  This allows Save the Children to create designated areas in shelters where children can play, socialize, and begin the recovery process in the wake of disasters. In addition to these kits, the supplies urgently needed included diapers and bassinettes for the families left homeless by the severe outbreak of tornados in April.

Save the Children’s long been recognized for its relief and development work both in the US and the developing world. Here in the United States, its programs focus on child development, including early childhood education, literacy, physical activity and nutrition, as well as the emergency preparedness programs that enabled the massive response to the Southern states devastated by tornados, as with many previous disasters. Save the Children also works with policy makers to ensure that children’s needs are adequately considered in drawing up federal, state and local emergency response plans. This advocacy work led to the creation of a National Commission on Children and Disasters, which Mark Shriver has chaired since its inception in 2007.

 As the Outstanding Mother honorees spoke about the challenges of balancing career and family, many recognized the blessings of “having it all,” in the best sense of the words. For those who had literally lost it all in a blinding moment of destruction, the event celebrating these leaders brought with it some help in slowly re-building the basics of home and family.

 And if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for that mother who has everything, how about a nice pair of shoes – one that might fit a little boy or girl in Alabama? I’m sure Save the Children can set that up for you.

 Take it from a mom – she’ll love it.

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