Posted in Helping Others

12 Months of Giving – Free or $10 Ideas – International Wheelchair Day

For a bit of background on 12 Months of Giving read this post 🙂

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – Luke 14:13

March 1st is International Wheelchair Day

This is an annual day of events and activities which take place around the World when wheelchair users celebrate the positive impact a wheelchair has on their lives. 

For more information visit the International Wheelchair Day website.

Free Giving Idea:

Collect can tabs to purchase a wheelchair.  There are at least a few people out there who funnel collected tabs from “pop, juice, cat food, olives or any other can of your choice” – Robert Hampson of Toronto, Canada who runs Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs.

I have given this local man a few bags of tabs from my family, and he is always so grateful. Now the children’s ministry at our church is pitching in and I love to see the kid’s faces as they fill up our tab collection containers!

Do an online search for people in your area who are collecting tabs for wheelchairs.

$10 Giving Ideas:

Image result for sole hope images

Sole Hope is a wonderful organization that helps those in Uganda, Africa with an epidemic called jiggers. This illness can take away the ability to walk, which can be devastating for families and communities.

I have hosted Sole Hope parties where participants cut out denim patterns from old jeans to send to Sole Hope seamstresses in Uganda. They will then be made into shoes.

Sole Hope also has an Amazon Wish List where many items are $10 or less and will be shipped to the organization once purchased.

Posted in Helping Others

Dreams Can Come True…

My husband had this dream that made its home in his heart for many years. We would talk about it off and on, consider options for its fulfillment, realize we didn’t have the means for it at that point in time, and lay it back down to rest some more.

Then suddenly it seemed right. The time was now. We had saved some money to give – somewhere. And we remembered the dream. And we connected with our friend in Dominican. And we discovered a need that the dream would meet. So we let the dream loose and shared it with others. We watched its fulfillment happen – it was more beautiful than we could imagine!

The dream was a medical clinic. Somewhere families could take their children to give them back their health. It was a way for us to remember Caleb, our middle son who was stillborn in 2003 – he would have been 13 now. We like to mark the milestones of life, and becoming a teenager is a big one. Marking Caleb’s 13th was no different, we needed a marker, and the clinic seemed to fit. The clinic is located in the village of Ascension – the first village Josh and I visited together on my first overseas mission trip. That was a dream that lived in my heart for decades. Dreams have a way of multiplying once you let them loose. Sharing dreams leads to realizing dreams which leads to dreaming more dreams.

Once we shared the clinic dream, the response was immediate. I suspect the dream to give and help and support and encourage lives in most other hearts, just waiting for its chance. I suspect it takes many forms, every day, without the dreamer even realizing it. I think that’s one dream that never really goes away. I’m thankful for those hearts that dream.

Donations poured in, work in Ascension began (after a major flooding delay!), and now we get to see how the clinic will bless other hearts. Maybe lead to more dreams still? I’m excited to hear the stories that will come from dreaming this dream.

Thank you for dreaming along with us… here’s a few pictures of the dream being realized these past few months 🙂


Josh’s original drawing of his dream for a clinic in honour of Caleb


Existing space in a community centre was the location chosen for the clinic

GoMAD reports on January 24th: Super excited to be able to report that construction has begun for the children’s medical clinic in Ascension. We look forward to the grand opening in the coming weeks. We want to say a special thank you to Anna Collier Sklar for heading up the fundraising effort to make this project possible. This clinic will make a difference in the lives of thousands of children.




GoMAD reports on January 31st: Making progress on the clinic build out for Ascension. Next will be the installation of doors, some electrical work and finally painting. Then it will be time to furnish it and open it up to see patients.




GoMAD reports on February 22nd: The clinic in Ascension is up and running! Still have work to do on furnishing it properly, but patients are being seen and that is the main thing. The people in the village are very excited and thankful to have Dr. Katz and Nurse Ana caring for their children.



Posted in Helping Others

12 Months of Giving- Free or $10 Ideas – World Day of the Sick

I was sick and you looked after me… – Matthew 25:36

February 11th is World Day of the Sick

This special  day was introduced by Pope John Paul II as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses.

Free Giving Ideas:

  1. Collect empty milk bags and donate to a group who makes Milk Bag Mats, make the mats yourself, or start a group to make mats! *I will share about this idea in more depth in a soon-to-come blog post! I have enjoyed making mats myself and also with children at summer camp and church.*
  2. Click on tabs dedicated to the sick at Greater Every click makes a difference 🙂

$10 Giving Idea:

There are many items for sale under $10 at the Greater Good Shop. “At the GreaterGood Shop, every purchase gives back to a worthy cause, at no extra cost to you! Each of our cause-related websites partners with non-profits and provides support through many different easy actions. A portion of the purchase price of each item you buy goes to your choice of these important causes…”

$30 Giving Idea:

I am highlighting one more idea because I just love it…

World Vision – Medicines for Children – “You can give a gift of healing with this life-saving gift. Thanks to donations from partner companies, your gift multiplies 9X in value to purchase, ship and distribute antibiotics and other vital medicines.”

Medicines for Children


Posted in Helping Others

12 Months of Giving – Free Ideas & (Mostly) $10 Ideas

When Jesus was around He mentioned some special people He’d like us to make sure we care for.

Yes, He wants us to care for everyone as best we can, to love our neighbours as ourselves, to share His hope with all who come across our path.

Through the years I’ve seen certain people mentioned in a few different venues – Bible verses, articles, devotionals, books, sermons, etc.

And I’ve been doing the research, shaping this idea that grabbed hold of me many moons ago – all the while knowing I’d share it with you when it was ready.

It’s ready.

I’ve field-tested many of the ideas with my family, friends, camp groups, church groups – whoever would listen 🙂

There are ideas for giving at no cost to yourself whatsoever – I love this because sometimes there just isn’t enough to go around, but the desire to help others still remains, right?

And there are ideas for giving at little cost to you – I love this because sometimes there is enough, and it doesn’t take much to make a difference around the globe.

I love how giving feels and I love how it spreads.

I think it’s because we were just born to do it.

So whether it’s a smile to encourage someone, a hug to comfort someone, a wave to greet someone, a free giving idea, or a $10 giving idea – how about we give it a try and see what happens?

I know so many of you already give in ways you don’t even realize. You make a difference without even trying. Good on ya.

But I still want to share this idea 😉

A bit of background…

Those people Jesus asked us to take special care of and Bible verses to back it up…

  • Hungry, Thirsty, StrangersFor I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in – Matthew 25:35
  • Naked, Sick, Prisoners I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. – Matthew 25:36
  • Orphans, WidowsReligion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27
  •  LostFor the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10
  • Poor, Blind, OppressedThe Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free – Luke 4:18
  • Crippled, Lame But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – Luke 14:13
  • Lepers, DeafThe blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. – Matthew 11:5

That’s 15 people groups altogether – the Poor, Oppressed, and Lost are included in all the other people groups, so this leaves 12 groups.

12 groups provides us with an opportunity to focus on a different group each month of the year.

Or so my thinking goes 🙂

Then I found there are special days on the calendar to go along with remembering each of these special people groups. It is so good to know the focus is already there in many cases – it’s just a matter of plugging into what others are already doing 🙂

For example…

January 29th is World Leprosy Day

There is a wonderful group who ministers to those with leprosy…


Free Giving Idea: Collect stamps and mail them to effect:hope – stamp dealers pay for the used stamps and money is used to care for and cure someone with leprosy. More info here.


$10 – $15 Giving Ideas:

Canes for $10


Hospital Room Supplies for $11


And so you see… whether it’s collecting stamps and mailing them to effect:hope once in a while, or it’s donating money for a cane or hospital supplies… you can certainly make a difference to those with leprosy around the world.

Feels great! 🙂

This idea is simply to make us more aware. Some of us help others in so many ways already, and some of us just need to find a place to start. Wherever you’re at – blessings on you as you reach out 🙂

Here’s a breakdown of the focus for upcoming months of giving…

  • February – Sick
  • March – Lame
  • April – Deaf
  • May – Hungry
  • June – Widows
  • July – Strangers
  • August – Prisoners
  • September – Naked
  • October – Blind
  • November – Orphans
  • December – Thirsty
Posted in Helping Others

Medical Clinic Update :)


A few years ago Josh let a dream take root in his heart – to build a medical clinic in honour of our middle son – Caleb Joshua Freedom Sklar – who was stillborn in 2003. Some of you will remember Caleb well, some of you watched as my baby belly grew during the nine months I was pregnant with him, and some of you attended his funeral in a state of shock at the news of his passing. Others of you met him later on, in a story that Josh or I told about him, or maybe through blog posts or the book that was written about him. One thing I know is that his story has touched every single one of your hearts, and for that I am so grateful!

It is truly unique to learn to parent a child that has passed on from this world. We have found our ways to let his tiny life mean all that it can, ways our Caleb can touch this world with love and hope. This medical clinic is one of those ways, and so we decided it was time to let the idea loose and see what God would bring. It has been the best way we can fathom to parent Caleb – to let him loose in the world in the ways he has touched our hearts, to dream, to love, to hope in his honour. We have seen him do amazing things as we seek to love others in tangible ways with the tangible love that was intended for him.

Mid-August 2016

We started chasing the dream. We contacted an organization we know very well in Dominican Republic – GO MADWe have watched this organization birth, grow, develop, change, and mature in many ways as they reach out to the people in the DR. When we contacted them to ask if they might have need of a medical clinic, and the amount of funds needed for a project of that size – here is what they answered…

Anna & Josh –

Finally able to get a little time between team stuff to get back with you. First off, I am sorry for the loss you suffered. Doing something like this would be an awesome and lasting way to honor your son while helping many children.

Your timing could not be more perfect. Most of our work takes place in 4 communities. We now have children’s medical clinics in 3 of those communities. We have been working with the ministry of health to get one into the 4th community, but that has not worked out. We just made the decision this past month that the community cannot wait any longer and we are just going to do it ourselves. So, this is why I said the short answer is…yes.

We have a building in the community that can be remodeled to serve as a clinic. The building is the community center and we use it for several different purposes right now.
One of the rooms is really large and could be remodeled to serve as a clinic…
I believe it will take right around $7000 CDN to remodel and outfit the clinic. We have some of the items we need, like beds we can use for examination, but will need to purchase most of the equipment. This would get everything done and have it ready to begin seeing patients.
Now there is also the ongoing expense and we would love to have some help raising this as it is really the tougher piece. It will run $300/month for the doctor, $200/month for the nurse, an estimated $200/month for medicine and then of course the miscellaneous things that pop up. I could use your help in finding monthly sponsors in these areas.  
I will say that this is a huge need in this community. It is very remote so the transportation cost alone keeps many people from taking their kids to the doctor.
Thank you for thinking of utilizing Go MAD’s work as a way to honor your son. That you would entrust us with that means a lot.
Chantz Cutts
Executive Director
We were so excited to get this news from Chantz and go ahead with learning about hosting an online fundraising campaign. We chose GoFundMe and had the campaign up and running within a couple of weeks.

Mid September 2016

It was wonderful to get this email from GoFundMe…
Your fundraiser is live. You’re ready to start getting the word out. Here’s your campaign link:
We watched in amazement as people grabbed hold of the idea for the medical clinic and donations started pouring in…

October 1, 2016

GoFundMe sent us a message that about $2300 in funding had already come in, and we passed it along to Chantz.

November 1, 2016

We received another email from GoFundMe that about $650 more had come in for donations for the clinic.

December 1, 2016

And the most recent email from GoFundMe was so encouraging – about $3150 more had come in 🙂


When I check the online campaign dashboard now I see this…gofundme

And I know there is at least $400 more in donations waiting for us at our church.

Do you know what that means?

  • The $7000 goal is exceeded!
  • 34 donations of all sorts of amounts came in online – from people of all ages and places in the world

  • 786 visitors checked out our online campaign page

  • 160 shares on Facebook

    And here are a few encouraging comments from people who donated to the clinic

  • So exciting to be part of Gods work

  • Way to go, Caleb!

  • We love your vision!

  • May God bless your efforts

  • So happy that Caleb is being commemorated in this special outreach. God bless!

  • We love how your family dreams big. Your son will live on and do good through this clinic.

  • What a great memorial!


It has been such a blessing to watch as the clinic was funded and the dream spread to more than just our hearts 🙂 Thank you is too small, but it’s all I have 🙂

I will post updates as I receive them from Chantz and continue to share any news about the clinic.

For now, I will let you in on some news that I received from Chantz over the last few weeks…

November 14, 2016

Anna –

We are having delays getting going on the construction. Major flooding going on here for the past two weeks. Rain just does not seem to want to stop. We have had two of our properties flood. Thousands and thousands of houses have flooded. That has kept us very tied up. We cannot even cross the bridge to get to Ascension at the moment.

I am hopeful that this week we will be able to get there and then get started on construction next week. I will keep you in the loop on how things are progressing.

December 9, 2016

Thank you so much for your help in raising this money. The bridge and road just became passible yesterday to get to Ascension. We will begin with the remodel soon. I will keep you guys up to date with pictures when we start.



And so Chantz can move ahead with the clinic with full funding, and hopefully good weather!

There are ongoing costs of about $700/month USD to keep the clinic running, as Chantz mentioned in his first email to me about the clinic:

  • $300/month for the doctor
  • $200/month for the nurse
  • $200/month for medicine

And so about twice a year I’ll do some more fundraising to help with those costs.

For now, feel free to give on the GoFundMe campaign site as we end off 2016, and anytime after. I’ll pass along any funding that comes in to the ongoing costs of the clinic.

Blessings on you all!

Thank you ❤

Posted in Helping Others

Medical Clinic Update :)


Our goal is $7000 by the end of 2016.

Donations to date total $2757 with another $2000 pledged in the next few weeks.

That leaves about $2250 and that means we are 2/3 of the way to reaching the goal!

Thank you so much for helping out in whatever way you can.

Even if you cannot give a monetary donation, prayers are always appreciated (and they’re free 🙂 )

We are looking into partnering with Value Village to do a Fundrive in the next few weeks.

And we’re thinking about a used book sale.

I’m also selling a few baby/child items on Kijiji to raise donation money. But I know Kijiji is not that popular these days – I get it. I usually make sure at least one of my big strapping guys is home if I’m dealing with a Kijiji customer.

So decluttering could be the way to give if money is not that free-flowing for you right now. I get that too. I also get that many people want to help out. So I’m looking for ways we can do that 🙂

I’m pretty excited about watching this medical clinic campaign progress in the coming weeks.

I’m grateful for all the donations of money, prayer, time, effort, creativity, and ideas that you have passed along to this project.

And I’m blessed beyond belief to watch my middle boy touch the world in his unique ways once again.

Again, thank you 🙂

Posted in Helping Others, Motherhood

Donations For The Medical Clinic Are Pouring In!

The donations for the clinic are pouring in – THANK YOU!

We have raised almost $2600 of our $7000 goal – with others committed to give another at least $1600 over the next couple of months.

That brings our estimated donations to about $4200!

We are more than half way there and we are thrilled with the response so far 🙂

I am just about to send our first round of donations to Go MAD to proceed with repurposing the available space in the village of Ascension.

In March of 2016 a team ran a temporary clinic in the village and many people were treated for different ailments.

“Everyone that came in was prayed for while in the waiting area,” says Chantz – the Director of Go MAD.

Check out these photos:

Volunteers running a temporary clinic in Ascension in March 2016

People waiting to see the doctor

The clinic space in its current state

Again, thank you, and keep it coming!

We are well on our way to making this medical clinic a reality for the village of Ascension!

Posted in Helping Others, Motherhood

We’re Building A Medical Clinic in Honour of Our Caleb :)

EXCITING UPDATE: A week after launching this fundraising campaign, we are already at $931 raised!

Our goal is $7000 CDN by December 31, 2016.

That’s right – It only takes $7000 CDN to renovate existing space in the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic, provide necessary equipment, and purchase the initial medicines needed for the clinic. Will you consider joining us in realizing this dream? Thank you! 🙂

Our Story…

This year would have been Caleb’s 13th birthday year. Caleb is our middle son, and he was stillborn in May 2003. Some birthdays are milestone birthdays, and we do something a little different, and make the event a little more special. 13 is one of those milestone birthdays.

Instead of our annual balloon launch, we are partnering with our friends at Go MAD (Make a Difference) in Dominican Republic. We have been getting to know the people and the work of Go MAD for a few years now, and we love them and what they do.

They are in need of a medical clinic in the village of Ascension. We visited this village in 2011 and again in 2013. There is a definite need for basic necessities, health care, education, life skills training, and more.

Josh has always had a dream to build a medical clinic in honour of our Caleb, and when we discovered the need in Ascension, we knew this was just the present we wanted to give to other families for Caleb’s 13th birthday. The chance of good health, full life, and most importantly the chance of hope.

Consider giving in honour of a loved one in your life – whether it’s a tiny baby, a child, a family member, a friend, or another person who has touched your heart in some way.

Give hope – that’s one thing our Caleb has taught me – even in the most challenging and confusing and trying times and places of life – there is always hope.

Our goal is to raise the funds by December 31, 2016.

This video tells a bit more about the DR and Ascension, about Go Mad and their partner TEAL.


And let me encourage you with some pictures…

Josh drew this picture many years ago, as he let the dream start to grow in his heart of a medical clinic in honour of our Caleb…

Josiah drew his version of the clinic as Josh shared the dream with him…

Pinecone art for a university Fine Arts class that Anna took – inspired by the emotions she feels whenever they visit Caleb’s burial site – there is a tree full of pinecones there and we decorate Caleb’s memorial stone with them every time we visit…

More art from Anna’s university class – inspired by mission trips to the village of Ascension in Dominican Republic. There is a big gap between our standard of living and what is found there, and we hope to bridge that gap with a medical clinic in Ascension…

Posted in Helping Others

Meeting Oliver

This is a repost, originally written in July 2013…

Was it really only two weeks ago that we returned from our trip to the Dominican Republic?

Wow. What a adventure we had, our small group of 5 people from our church.

We were on a scouting trip, visiting with different organizations, trying to figure out which one would be a good fit for long-term partnership.

We drove across the island and back, over mountains, through rainstorms – all 5 of us piled into one SUV.

It was crazy, and it was so good.

One of the biggest highlights for me was meeting Oliver.  The boy who has a picture on our fridge, and who sent us his handprint a few months ago.

Our World Vision sponsored child.

We actually got to see him, talk to him, see his smile, meet his family.

And the distance between our worlds was reduced to nothing for a short time in a small village in Miches, Dominican Republic.

I wonder what he would think of our house if he were to visit us here?  Wouldn’t that be something… having Oliver here.

Well, one dream at a time, I suppose… Continue reading “Meeting Oliver”

Posted in Helping Others

Two Years Later…


It had been two years.

Two years since Ascension, since my first international mission trip, since the changes started to happen.

It was now 2013.

Romans 12:2 had grabbed ahold of me in many areas of life:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

People had been asking, they were anxious to do more.

Another mission trip needed to happen – soon.

But we had to change it up, the trip had to look different than dropping into another country for a week, isolating ourselves from the culture, and completing a work project that could be done by local hands (and provide income for them).

It had to be a long-term partnership. It had to be sustainable. It had to be full of hope and a future for the local people. It had to be getting right in there with the people we wanted to serve. Continue reading “Two Years Later…”