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Christmas is the season for experiencing special joy by giving to others. That means not just reaching out to family and friends but also extending comfort to others in need of extra help.

There are many great organizations out there, and every year at Rosie on the House, we love to talk about Arizona non-profits that do an especially good job. Here is an update on three of our favorites staffed by people who are reaching hundreds and many thousands of people who need comfort and support:

1 | St. Vincent De Paul of Arizona

St. Vincent De Paul is well known in our state for providing food, clothing and shelter to those in need. This year the charity began building a new structure on its main campus to provide improved services, including doubling the size of its medical and dental clinics and providing new transitional housing for 69 older adults.

The St. Vincent food program always aims to serve the best possible nutrition to diners. David Smith, a certified master gardener, supervises three acres worth of growing space that produce fresh vegetables for 4,500 meals a day served in five free dining rooms in the Phoenix area, including Mesa and El Mirage. Diners include the homeless and unemployed but also hundreds of families living paycheck to paycheck. Some fresh vegetables also go into the 350,000 20-pound boxes of food that St. Vincent distributes.

This year, the gardens expanded their yield considerably because of funding that paid for a new rainwater retention program, Smith said. A sprinkler system was installed, and specialty grow beds were built in the gardens located off I-17.

“This time of year, we grow a lot of green, leafy things like lettuce, kale and broccoli,” Smith said. But the gardens use the best organic growing methods to produce many other types of vegetables all-year round. “No pesticides; no herbicides,” Smith said.

Volunteers are always needed at the gardens; currently, they put in about 7,000 hours a year.

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2 | Military Assistance Mission

The Military Assistance Mission was founded by Margy Bons of Phoenix whose oldest child, Michael, a Marine sergeant, was killed in Iraq on Mother’s Day 2005. He died in an ambush by a suicide vehicle filled with improvised explosive devices.

“Our world was forever changed that Mother’s Day,” Bons said. “But I wanted to continue what Michael had started to serve his country and fellow comrades.”

The MAM (an acronym that uses the initials of Bons’ son) focuses on members of the Arizona military. “We are all one big family, and until that service member can get home, we have to step up to the plate to support those left behind,” Bons said.

The group provides funds to families struggling to pay bills, both among those now active in the military but also to veterans or reservists.

The organization is especially well known for providing backpacks and schools supplies to 1,000 children in military families.

At holiday time, the Mission distributes toys and Christmas gifts to military children at its annual Operation Santa Claus Open Houses in Phoenix and Tucson. The Phoenix event takes place at Luke Air Force Base while the Tucson event is held at the 162nd Fighter Wing. These are events for the whole family with jumpy houses, face painting, and a chance to talk to Santa Claus. Children not only “shop” for toys; they also collect presents to give parents. Some 2,000 military members and their families attend the events.

This year donations to the Mission helped the group assist in 117 financial need cases, totaling almost $62,000.

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3 | Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona

Habit for Humanity has a new project about to begin in the warehouse district of south central Phoenix, where the non-profit will build 30 new affordable homes.

“It will be part of a plan to revitalize the entire neighborhood,” said Dusty Parsons, director for marketing and communications for the organization in Phoenix. “We’ll be working on home repairs for residents in the area including fixing roofs, water heaters and windows. Instead of just putting a roof over one family, we’ll be putting a roof over the whole neighborhood.”

More than 12,000 volunteers work each year on Habitat job sites and neighborhood revitalization.

Another new project will be a new Habitat Restore to the Valley. There are now three – in Anthem, South Phoenix, and Peoria. The new store will open soon in the East Valley area.

Two special ways Phoenix residents can contribute to the efforts of Habitat:

  • Donate your household leftovers to one of those Habitat restores. That can include building materials as well as furniture and appliances.
  • If you’re planning to remodel your home, you can get a Habitat volunteer group to deconstruct whatever room you plan to refurbish. “They remove cabinets and fixtures and then take them to the restores to be sold,” Parsons said. “It’s a great way to keep 10s of millions of tons of materials out of your local landfill and it could lower the cost of your remodeling job.”

There are Habitat organizations all over the country including some in other parts of Arizona. “All have the same goals,” Parsons said, “but they try to carry out their mission in the way that works best in their area.”

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As part of our 30th year anniversary Rosie on the House will feature in our Estore, a special anniversary set of tools plus a tool chest engraved with a 30-year monogram.

Proceeds from the sale of every tool kit, as well as from selling special 30th anniversary Rosie hats and shirts, will go to non-profit organizations in Arizona: St. Vincent DePaul, Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, and the Military Assistance Mission.


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