Niceness When It Was Needed Most – A Look Back at 2020

Plenty has been said about the challenges of 2020, but we would like to take a moment to recognize our donors, supporters and volunteers that rose to that challenge allowing us to continue our mission of providing niceness for those in need.

Last year there was no shortage of need, but figuring out to help was our greatest challenge yet. We were not sure if we would be able to do any projects, let alone make the impact together that we did. Below is a recap of our projects and what you made possible.

In spite of all that is going on in the world, this is such a great reminder of the good people that are out there doing good things – helping others when we all need a little bit of help.

Whether you donated your money, time, resources or just spread the word – we hope you take a moment to reflect on the positive impact you helped make, and the lives that were made just a little bit better because of your niceness.

We hope to have you join us in 2021 to continue providing niceness for those in need!

Project GubHug – April 2020

For months we had been planning to have our Annual Night of Niceness in the Spring, only to have to cancel it shortly after COVID started spreading. The kids had a simple idea – instead of hosting our dinner event with our partner at Randy Peters Catering, we would deliver meals to those in need. Only one problem – that event was where the money would come from. That week we received our first grant of $2,000 and used that to kick it off and 700+ meals delivered later, the rest is history!
>>>Read about the Project GrubHug project here

Pumpkin Carving Contest – October 2020

Having used all our fundraising to date for Project GrubHug we had to decide whether or not to do our Fall projects. The decision was made to find a way and the Pumpkin Carving Contest was born. An idea from our newest board member, Tanis Liomin, we quickly organized a way for our community to make donations via pictures of their best pumpkins. The result $3,000 raised to save our upcoming projects!
>>> Read about the 1st Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest

Halloween Helpers – October 2020

In the 2nd  year of this project, volunteer Melina Sanchez worked for months to organize enough donations to still deliver costumes to two local family shelters. In fact, we were able to double the number of costumes delivered to serve over 50 kids.

>>> Read about the 2nd Annual Halloween Helpers Project

Help the Homeless – November 2020

Our longest standing project to serve the homeless in our community required us to make a difficult decision to not host our Thanksgiving Day outreach event, however, we found a new and maybe even better way to serve by partnering with The Gathering Inn and Wind Youth Services to deliver nearly 1,000 brand new items for those in need including clothing, supplies, medicine and more. Much of this made possible by the generous donations from our community, our project sponsor Incredible Parents and the Rock Creek Elementary School WE Club.

>>> Read about the 6th Annual Help the Homeless Project

Tower Toy Drive – December 2020

It goes without saying that our hospitals had a difficult year, and so we were determined to find a safe way to still serve them. A small but mighty team led by Project Leader Tanis Liomin with the support of our community that purchased and shipped toys from our list, Jennie Stroup at Toys for Tots and sponsors from Sullivan Auto Group and WubbaNub Toys all stepped up to make it happen. In total, we were able to deliver hundreds of amazing new toys to local hospitals and family shelters in time for Christmas. 

>>> Read about the 6th Annual Tower Toy Drive

THANK YOU FOR YOUR NICENESS!

Project Delivers Over 1,000 New Clothing Items & Supplies to Local Homeless Shelters

Our 6th Annual Help the Homeless project may have been the most challenging, but also perhaps the most important. While we were unable to do our traditional outreach event in downtown Sacramento on Thanksgiving day, our volunteers and supporters still found a way to help hundreds of homeless people get the clothing and supplies they so desperately need this holiday season.

For years we’ve had more than 100 volunteers show up with clothing and supplies to hand out, but due to COVID we were not only unable to do our outreach event but unable to collect any used clothing items. So this year we had to depend solely on donations to gather new clothing and supplies – and you delivered! 

Through a combination of individual donations, sponsorship and a portion of the money raised from our online pumpkin carving contest we were able to raise over $3,000 plus hundreds of dollars of donated items that were purchased and shipped to us using the Amazon shopping list.  In addition, our continued partnership with the Rock Creek Elementary School WE Club made a HUGE difference as they were able to coordinate an online campaign to have families assemble and donate nearly 300 hygiene kits (valued at $3,000) which enabled us to spend 100% of our donations on clothing and supplies.

In total, we delivered nearly 1,000 brand new items on Thanksgiving day to three local shelters including:

  • Hygiene kits
  • Sweatshirts
  • Jackets
  • Beanies
  • Shoes
  • Pants/belts
  • Underwear
  • Sweatshirts
  • Gloves
  • Tarps
  • Medicine

“I cannot express how humbled and excited we are for everything that was provided! The larger sizes were perfect! The shoes, vests, backpacks, tarps, medical items, socks, undergarments, and everything else has blown our expectations out of the water!!”

Nick Golling, Director @ The Gathering Inn

Your support enabled us to support THREE local shelters between The Gathering Inn and Wind Youth Services that serve HUNDREDS of homeless men, women and children every day from Sacramento to Auburn. EVERY DOLLAR and EVERY ITEM DONATED got directly into the hands of those that need it most. 

Whether you donated money, purchased from our Amazon list or just helped spread the word – you made a difference. We’d like to give a special thank you to our project sponsor, Incredible Family, as well as a number of Tower supporters that went above and beyond this year:

  • The Stephan Family
  • The Miller Family
  • Katy Pye
  • Wally Smith
  • Tom Sullivan
  • The Kaiser Family
  • Lynn Aust

And there’s no way this project is successful without the determination of our Tower Team:

  • Tanis Perez – Project Coordinator
  • Holly Cable – Project Coordinator, Rock Creek Elementary
  • Mary Beth Miller, Jena Sprinkle, Krisa Radmilovic – Rock Creek Elementary WE Club
  • Callie Smith, AnnMargaret Dwyer, Hillari Bynum – Marketing
  • Melina Sanchez – Community Outreach 

As challenging as this year has been for some of us, there are many that are enduring so much more. Take a moment to think of them, but also know that today you made a difference in the lives of hundreds of them. That’s hundreds of smiles and warmer bodies because of you.

Thank you for your niceness.

Pumpkin Carving Contest Raises Over $3,000 for Fall Projects

When it comes to finding ways to provide niceness for those in need, we’re always looking for new and creative ways. This year, unable to host our annual fundraiser due to COVID, we were looking for a way to raise funds for our core projects and determined to still help those in need however we could.  The idea needed to be something anyone could do, from anywhere, safely – and it had to be fun!  

Introducing our 1st Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest!


The Project

This event, led by our newest board member Tanis Liomin, was designed to have fun and help someone – and it did just that. We were not sure what the response would be, but it was awesome! In addition to a number of creative pumpkin entries, with your amazing support, we generated over 25 donations from literally around the world totaling over $3,000 to support all three upcoming projects:

This was a HUGE boost for our team that was frankly unsure how we were going to pull off all of these projects in the face of COVID. Your support has enabled us to allocate enough funds for each of these projects that will help hundreds of people. This year, more than ever, that means so much.

Putting Your Generosity to Work
We’ve already completed the Halloween Helpers project, doubling what we did last year. For our Help the Homeless project we are making adjustments to deliver to local shelters in lieu of a public outreach on Thanksgiving Day to make sure everyone is safe but still supported. And our Toy Drive will be adjusted to ensure we comply with any needs of the hospitals and local shelters.

Special Donors that Stepped Up!
Grateful for all of our supporters that made this happen, but we would like to recognize several special donors that went above and beyond to help us hit our goal:

  • The Trainer Family
  • The Melton Family
  • The Kaiser Family
  • Maria Pietsch
  • Sondra Nunez
  • The Liomin Family
  • And our newest sponsor – Sullivan Auto Group

The Winners
Yeah, we know you want to know who won! In addition to all the kids you helped who were the real winners, here are the pumpkin carving pros that took away the prizes.

🎃 Adults: Brian Liomin – Pumpkin #8
🎃 Kids: Michelle Thorton – Pumpkin #13
🎃Door Price: Tanis Liomin – Pumpkin #6
🎃Fan Favorite: Lisa Airola – Pumpkin #12


Thank You!!!

There are a lot of places that need help this year, and we’re grateful that you have supported us as you always do. Rest assured that EVERY DOLLAR donated is being put to good use, and you can watch our blog and social media pages for regular updates on each of the projects this holiday season. 

You all are amazing. Thank you for your niceness and helping make a real difference this year!

2nd Annual Halloween Helpers – Project Recap

You can imagine how difficult it is to be a child in a homeless shelter, particularly this year. You miss out on a lot of things, even something as simple (and fun) as trick-or-treating on Halloween. But this year, thanks to your amazing support, we were able to make sure some very special kids had some Halloween fun!

Our 2nd Annual Halloween Helpers project was a great success. This project helps provide Halloween costumes for homeless children living in shelters or attending local school programs for homeless families. 

 We are excited to share that this year we were able to over double the number of costumes donated allowing us to serve two different groups at Acres of Hope and Mustard Seeds School.

Over the course of the year we were collecting costumes to deliver and were able to buy more with your generous donations to the project and our Pumpkin Carving Contest. In total, we had over $1,000 in costumes purchased and donated! This enabled us to purchase ahead and deliver all of the costumes with plenty of time to be ready for the fun and spooky night.

“Thank you so much for your donations, without your support we wouldn’t be able to do this,” Project Leader, Melina Sanchez.

The kids were really excited to be able to celebrate and it helped provide a welcome distraction from what’s been a difficult year. 

Thank you to everyone who donated and helped share the project, we very much appreciate you and your donation! As always, 100% of your generous donations were used for this project. 

If you have questions about the project, or want to get involved to help next year, you can contact our project leader Melina Sanchez at melina@towerofniceness.org.

Thank you for your niceness!

The Tower Team

Project GrubHug Delivers Over 700 Meals to Help Those Impacted by COVID

From serious health risks to economic hardships, the impact from the COVID pandemic for our seniors, small businesses, low-income families and healthcare workers in particular has been devastating. As reality set in with how serious this was, we honestly didn’t know where to start. There was so much confusion, fear and concern in our communities. We were getting calls and emails from people that wanted to help, people that needed help and everything in between.

All we knew is that we wanted to do something. And as always, you stepped up, Niceness Nation.

After talking with our volunteers and partners it was clear the most urgent, short term need was simply food. One just one call with our amazing supporters at Randy Peters Catering & Event Center and we were able to quickly organize Project GrubHug.

Project GrubHug was our small way of helping make sure that those impacted most are not going without food. We committed to raising money for meals (and some love) to be delivered to those that needed it most:

  • Seniors that are living alone or in centers where they cannot leave, do not have food or any family to help them
  • Families in need who have lost their income due to layoffs or business closings
  • Healthcare workers who are putting their lives at risk to help those that are sick

Partnering with Randy Peters Catering we were able to purchase and deliver each meal for just $10. Clearly given the quality of their food and service, these meals would cost a lot more to make and deliver but by subsidizing the cost, we were able to feed many more people and help keep their staff working. Not only that, but we later learned that they were adding hundreds of meals on top of this at their own cost!

This was just a great example of some of the niceness we witnessed during this project. Think about it, catering and events were some of the most directly affected industries, and yet, they were the first to step up to offer help.

It was a true testament to their values, quite moving, and gave us the boost we needed. 

Inspired by their offer to support us, the Tower had recently received a $2,000 grant that had been earmarked for general Tower fundraising but the kids didn’t hesitate to make a decision to donate the entire thing to kick off the project. 

With a goal to deliver 500 meals, we put the word out and you responded. In fact, not only did we reach our goal, we exceeded it by raising $7,210 from 53 donations making it our largest direct project ever. To get there we had individual donations that ranged from $25 to $700 (a big donation from Julie Eddlemon to get us to our first goal)  and groups like 100+ Women Giving Circle of Placer County that came together to raise $1,625! You can see all of our generous donors on our donor wall

We also received some great support from local media including our favorite morning show at Good Day Sacramento. They hosted the boys for a morning interview via Zoom that really helped get the word out. 

We also had a great interview on the Be the Light Facebook Group that shares uplifting and inspiration stories from around the world.

In total, with your support, we were able to deliver over 700 meals to:

  • Feed an the staff of an entire night shift at Kaiser Hospital in Roseville, CA
  • Feed an entire low income senior home where they were worried about how to pay for their next meals
  • Feed multiple homeless shelters 
  • Feed individual families needing help after losing their income

We wanted to note that during the entire project we stayed quarantined as did all of our volunteers. The donations were routed to Randy Peters Catering and they did all the meal preparation and delivery under strict safety guidelines. This helped keep everyone safe while still running the project during the most critical times.

So, on behalf of our entire Tower Team, and the community you continue to serve, THANK YOU. While there is much more work to do as we recover and reopen together, this was one of many examples of hope that will fuel that process. 

Thank you for your niceness.

Project GrubHug

The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent Shelter in Place requirements have caused a lot of challenges for our community. From serious health risks to economic hardships, the impact in particular for our seniors, small businesses, low-income families and healthcare workers has been devastating. And we want to do something about it.

Project GrubHug is our small way of helping make sure that those impacted most are not going without food. We’re raising money to have meals (and some love) delivered to those that need it most right now:

  • Seniors that are living alone or in centers where they cannot leave, do not have food or any family to help them
  • Families in need who have lost their income due to layoffs
  • Healthcare workers who are putting their lives at risk to help those that are sick

Partnering with our sponsors at Randy Peters Catering, we are able to purchase and deliver meals for just $10 each. And if you know the quality of their food and service, you know this is a meal that costs a lot more to produce. They are subsidizing the cost to enable us to feed more people and help keep more of their staff working. A testament to their “servant’s heart” values and a true win-win!

Inspired by this, the Tower had just received a $2,000 grant which the kids have decided to use to kick off this project and purchase the first 200 meals! Now we’re asking for your help to hit our goal of 500 meals delivered in the month of April.

As always 100% of your tax deductible donation will be used for the project. You will also have the option to request what group your donation is used for. Feel free to ask any questions or bring ideas on how to bring this project to other areas. And we can use all of your help sharing the project with your friends, family and community so we can provide even more niceness for those in need.

Thank you for thinking of others during this difficult time. ❤❤ Make your donation below ❤❤ and stay tuned for updates on how the project is going.


Project GrubHug

$7,260 of $5,000 raised

The Tower wants to share some love while we all have to shelter in place. During the month of April, we are raising money to provide meal delivery (what we are calling GrubHugs) from Randy Peters Catering & Event Center for local seniors, families and health care workers in need. As always, 100% of the proceeds will be used for the project which will be primarily in Placer County. Thank you Niceness Nation!

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Tower Toy Drive Delivers Over 1,200 Toys!

This is certainly a special time of year, but something really special happened with the Tower Toy Drive this year. Our family started this over 10 years ago with a single small bag of toys to the Child Life program at a local hospital that was so amazing during a very scary time for our family. Never in our wildest dreams did we see it growing to what it did this year:

  • 1,200+ toys delivered
  • $2,500 in shopping ($1,250 in new donations)
  • 20 donors
  • 10 volunteers
  • 7 deliveries
  • 3 Hospitals
  • 2 Homeless Shelters
  • 2 project partners
  • 1 storage unit

If you or any of your children have even been in the hospital, you know the impact the Child Life program can make. And if you have ever volunteered to help the homeless, you can imagine what a difference a few toys can make for a family in need during Christmas.

With your help, we did all of that and a lot more! This year not only did we nearly double the amount of toys we delivered, but we also were able to include more locations. Here are the deliveries we made:

Sutter Children’s Hospital – our first hospital with one of the largest best Child Life programs you will find. Toys also used year-round for birthdays and their Child Life playroom. It Takes Guts (another organization we partner with) brings a team to wrap presents. We ended up with 2 large deliveries here!

UC Davis Children’s Hospital – one of the largest children’s hospitals in Northern California with over 115 beds. Toys provided for Christmas morning and year-round services

Kaiser Pediatric Center – Our newest hospital we were able to expand to with smaller program within a large hospital. Toys provided for patients on Christmas.

Acres of Hope – homeless shelter for women and children in Placer County. Toys provided for families to give on Christmas morning.

Wind Youth Services – homeless shelter for children and drop-in services for homeless teens. Toys provided for Christmas at shelter and supplies/gift cards provided for teens

 

In addition to $2,500 in donations we used ($1,250 from this project alone), we also received wonderful support from our project partners. With their additional donations we were able to double our delivery totals this year (and needed a storage unit to hold it all)!

Toys for Tots Placer County
JL Sullivan Roseville Toyota

There were a lot of people that made this happen behind the scenes during a busy holiday season. We would like to thank this awesome team of volunteers:

Project Leader – Tanis Liomin
Volunteer Coordinator – Cindy Pratt 
Toy Deliveries – Diana & Paul Stephan, Holly Cable, Melina Sanchez, Ian & Kim Tipton 
Project Partners – Jennie Stroup, Lisa Airola

And of course, none of this is possible without Niceness Nation! Whether you made a donation, shipped us a toy, shared the project on social media or told a friend – THANK YOU. We hope you will take a moment to look at our donors wall to see all the amazing supporters that helped make this happen.

This year was a testament to what the power of our team can do. I hope you take a moment to think about the difference you made (and are making). Whether they are waking up in a hospital bed or homeless shelter, they know someone took the time to do something for them. Someone they will never meet put a smile on their face. We hope that makes you smile too.

Thank you for your niceness and Happy Holidays!

(PS – and look out, because we have even bigger plans for 2020!) 

2019 Help the Homeless Project Helps More than Ever

What a day.

Early on a cold, rainy Thanksgiving morning, 100+ amazing volunteers showed up to hand out a truckload of 200 hygiene kits, 50 sleeping bags, 50 backpacks, 60 beanies, 30 pairs of new shoes and dozens of jackets, blankets and sweatshirts from your donations (that came from 100 more!). Add to that literally hundreds more items brought by the volunteers along with a warm breakfast that was served.

[2019 Help the Homeless Project Photo Gallery]

Whether you donated money or clothing, helped shop or spread the word, or showed up to help – you made a difference. Because of you over 150+ people will have dry, warm clothes, sleeping bags, new shoes and hygiene supplies to help them for the coming winter.

Here’s a quick thank you video from our founders, River & Ryder. 

Our ability to help more people was due in large part to our partnership with the Rock Creek Elementary School WE Club. With the help of 70 students, their parents and staff they collected enough supplies to build all 200 of our hygiene kits. This allowed us to allocate all of our fundraising to purchasing new clothing to hand out. You can check out the Good Day Sacramento segments below.

Speaking of Good Day Sacramento, we’d like to thank them for once again covering our project. For the 5th year in a row they have come out to share the story with their viewers to help promote niceness and shed light on the homeless challenges so many in our community face. 

THANK YOU NICENESS NATION!

To everyone that supported this project, big or small, we just want to say Thank you. Thank you for caring, for contributing and making time on your Thanksgiving morning to help provide niceness for those in need. We are humbled and inspired by your support.

5th Annual Tower Toy Drive

It’s time for the Tower Toy Drive and this year we’re looking to support more kids than ever! We’re raising money (and collecting toys) to provide gifts that will be delivered to local children’s hospitals and homeless shelters in time for Christmas.

Your support will help put a smile on dozens of kids’ faces as they wake up to an unexpected gift (which makes their parents pretty happy too). We also provide gifts for the Child Life programs that provide support for the families staying in the hospital year round.

As always, 100% of your tax deductible donation will be use for our project which will include purchases of toys, games, books, movies, gift cards, tablets and a whole lot more! Want to do your own shopping? This year you can purchase and ship toys for our team to deliver using our Amazon Shopping List.

Thank you for your niceness this holiday season!

5th Annual Tower Toy Drive

$1,375 of $1,000 raised
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5th Annual Help the Homeless Project


Five years ago this is where the Tower started, our first Help the Homeless project.  Unfortunately the homeless problem has only become a bigger challenge increasing another 19% this year – impacting over 6,000 men, women and children in the Greater Sacramento Region each day. So, this Thanksgiving we’re planning our biggest outreach ever with the help of our new project partner – Rock Creek Elementary School’s WE Club.

The Help the Homeless Project collects donations, clothes and supplies to deliver on Thanksgiving Day in Downtown Sacramento. We will serve approximately 200+ homeless men and women plus dozens of local youth living in or utilizing homeless shelters in the area.

Donations are used to purchase hygiene kits, shoes, socks, backpacks and warm clothing. On the day of the project, volunteers also bring new and gently used items as well. This year Rock Creek Elementary School will serve as the primary donation location where everything will be sorted, stored and prepared for delivery on Thanksgiving.

And as always, the ‘River Rule‘ applies to all our projects which means 100% of your donations are delivered to the people in need. In addition, your donations are tax deductible (receipt provided) as we are a registered 501 (c)3 non-profit.

How Can You Help?
While volunteers on Thanksgiving will be needed (see below), what we need most are key items to hand out that day. It costs approximately $10 per person for each hygiene kit we build, $15 for shoes/socks, backpacks and other warm clothing items. Every donation helps us help another person in need. You can make a donation or we’ve also setup an Amazon shopping list so you can purchase and ship the items in need!

DONATION PAGE: Click here to make a cash donation

AMAZON SHOPPING LIST: Purchase & ship direct to us

How Can You Volunteer?
Each year we are overwhelmed with the number of amazing people that want to help us. Unfortunately we can only allow a limited number of people on the project day. If you are interested, you can register here as a volunteer.
VOLUNTEER REGISTRATION PAGE

Have Questions?
If you are interested in supporting, sponsoring or have a question we have not covered – please contact us directly.

THANK YOU for your niceness and helping the homeless again this year.

Help the Homeless 2019

$1,560 of $2,500 raised

Your generous donation is applied to these critical items. Here is where your money goes:

Hygiene Kit: toothbrush/ toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, lotion, band-aids, chapstick, hand sanitizer, deodorant, combs

Care Package: 1 Hygiene Kit + 1 Pair Shoes + 1 Pair Socks

Other Items: Backpacks, gloves, blankets

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