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Maggie Ballard (Used With Permission)

Inside Wichita's 'Blessing Box,' a Micro Food Pantry

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Maggie Ballard (Used With Permission)

In Wichita, Kansas, Maggie Ballard and her son Paxton have opened a tiny food pantry in their front yard. Modeled after the little free library concept, Maggie and Paxton call their little free pantry a "blessing box." It's a red wooden box with a glass door. They keep it stocked with food and sanitary supplies, and a sign encourages visitors to take whatever they need and contribute what they can. All transactions are anonymous.

Here's a short video tour of the box:

And here's Paxton with the box:

Maggie told NPR, "My son is 6 years old, so it gives him a little chore to kind of watch it and see what comes and goes and who comes and goes, and maybe learn a little lesson from it."

Maggie told mental_floss this week that community members have left cards, donations of supplies, and even cash (including a $20 bill between two cans) in response to the project. Here are some photos of the box and early donations:

And here's a sampling of the cards:

Maggie and Paxton's project is an extension of a small movement going on nationwide. From NPR's report earlier this week:

Similar "yard-based" food pantries have gone up across the country, in states like Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and Minnesota. Much of it seems to trace back to Jessica McClard, who created what she calls the "little free pantry" in northwest Arkansas.

"The products that are stocked are put directly inside the pantry and turnover is in about 30 to 45 minutes," McClard says. "The frequency of the turnover and the fact that other sites in town are also turning over that frequently, it suggests to me that the need is tremendous."

McClard maintains a Little Free Pantry website with guidance on how to make your own blessing box.

Finally, here are Maggie and Paxton:

(All photos courtesy of Maggie Ballard, used with permission.)

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Tab for a Cause
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You Could Be Donating to Charity Every Time You Open a New Tab
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Tab for a Cause

Opening up a million browser tabs on your desktop is hard on your computer, but could be good for non-profits. A web app by Gladly, an ad network focused on giving users more power over the ads they see, collects money for charities every time you open a new tab.

Tab for a Cause (which we spotted through Fast Company) is a browser extension that trades a few milliseconds of your attention for money that then goes to nonprofits around the world. When you use the site to navigate to websites, Tab for a Cause earns money from their advertisers (there are two ads on the bottom right-hand corner of the website). The company then funnels a portion of that money to a pre-selected group of nonprofits. With the help of those few extra ads, each tab you open raises between 1/10 and 1/3 of a cent for charity.

The app turns opening new tabs and raising money for good causes into a bit of a game. When you invite friends or run Google searches through Tab for a Cause, you earn "hearts" that help you get to different levels of being "a tabber." Then, you can donate these hearts to the charity of your choice, including Save the Children, Human Rights Watch, and Water.org. You can team up with your friends to compare earnings and see who's doing the most good with their online activity.

Tab for a Cause landing page with widgets for social media sites
Tab for a Cause

However, you do have to navigate to new tabs using the Tab for a Cause screen. Clicking on a link in this article, for instance, won’t count—because you aren’t seeing that Tab for a Cause advertising. Those one or two extra clicks could be worth some real money for a nonprofit, though, so it’s a good deed.

Tab for a Cause works on Chrome and Firefox.

[h/t Fast Company]

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How a 98-Year-Old Widower Uses Baking to Give Back to His Town
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iStock

Leo Kellner is living proof that you’re never to old to pick up a new hobby, lift the spirits of others, or bounce back after a tragedy. As TODAY reports, the 98-year-old from Hastings, Nebraska, bakes homemade desserts for members of his community—a pastime he adopted after losing his wife of 72 years.

Kellner’s wife passed away from dementia-related complications in 2012. The widower needed an outlet for his grief, so he took to the kitchen. Kellner’s mother had taught him to bake when he was a boy, and these childhood culinary lessons served as inspiration for a new passion project: making sweet treats for the needy.

In the first year following his wife’s death, Kellner made 144 apple pies. He donated the desserts to struggling individuals or families, whom he connected with through funeral homes and local groups. A year later, the home chef added cakes to the mix, according to KHGI Nebraska TV.

Today, Kellner bakes hundreds of desserts a year. His specialties include apple, cherry, and a sugar-free peach-apple-cherry pie; and chocolate, yellow, German chocolate, and angel food cakes. Since everyone’s tastes—and health needs—are different, Kellner makes custom treats for individual recipients. In addition to selecting flavors they’ll like, Kellner will bake fruit-based, sugar-free pies for diabetics, or take allergies into consideration while selecting ingredients.

Kellner bakes for the sick and mourning, but he also gives desserts to friends, acquaintances, hospice workers who cared for his wife, and even strangers—simply because it puts a smile on their faces, The Hastings Tribune reports. Ingredient costs are low, thanks to supermarket discounts and donations, so the senior is never forced to charge for his treats. His only requirement is that recipients swing by his home to pick up their freshly baked goods in person.

Kellner mostly works alone. However, he does have arthritis in his right hand, so he sometimes needs a little help in the kitchen. Occasionally, the senior’s part-time caretaker will help him frost cakes. But most of the time, Kellner is the one doing the helping—whether he’s teaching neighbors’ children to cook, baking a wedding cake for a friend, or whipping up a homemade dessert simply to make someone smile.

“I try to help everybody I can,” Kellner told the Tribune last year. “It makes me feel happy. God left me here for a reason and this is why I think he did. How many other 97-year-olds can do what I’m doing?”

With the right support, any dream is possible. Discover One Saturday to Dream Fearlessly from American Family Insurance, a traveling celebration of the amazing things that happen when we come together to support, protect and inspire dreams in our communities. Learn more here.

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