Operation Back To School Chandler 2020

Lots of humanitarian work is still going on during this time! Here’s just one of countless examples. This year’s back to school drive in Chandler, AZ worked differently than usual. Recipients of donated backpacks stuffed with supplies drove through a school car lane to receive them. I took photos at three of the four locations.

A volunteer registers a recipient and asks what color(s) of backpack(s) the student(s) of that family would like.
A volunteer places the donated backpacks (and masks) on a table.
Recipients get out of their vehicles one at a time and receive the donations.

Some nice cars went through the line, since a number of families are making less than they were before COVID-19 hit. Anyone can instantly become jobless, even homeless. It’s good to live in a community that loves to take care of each other.

Each year, representatives from the Chandler Police and Fire departments help at the event, alongside volunteers from numerous organizations.
Our Mayor, Kevin Hartke, helps each year too.

My kids are not quite old enough to participate in this event. However, they did spend two hours with me and other volunteers a couple of weeks prior to it stuffing lots and lots of the backpacks with school supplies. They both worked really fast!

Have a lovely day!


For Our City Day 2019

I’m finally sharing some photos from For Our City Day 2019. The day is about the community working together, but a lot of fun is had also!

Whether the kids are actually helping or playing at helping, they are learning how to pitch in. Plus, they look so cute!

And there’s time at the end for some all out playing!

Have a great day!



Tanner has played soccer for several years in a recreational league and just this evening finished his first season with his school team. I love to photograph his games!

Tanner is sometimes called a “gazelle” by other soccer parents.

Happy 2020!


Celebrations of Generosity & Hope

Presiding Bishop Gerald Causse dedicated the new Bishops’ Storehouse in Gilbert, AZ.
The storehouse will provide many items for people in need.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking these photos. I’d call the events celebrations of generosity and hope.

The 2019 Light the World Giving Machines in Gilbert, AZ
will provide many items to people in need.
Leaders of local charities that will receive and distribute the donations
gave thanks for them (pictured above).

Gilbert, AZ Mayor Jenn Daniels cuts the ribbon,
officially opening the 2019 Light the World Giving Machines.

American Flag Pin

The idea for this craft came from dltk-kids.com. I modified it to make it easier and would like to share my modifications… and the reason for doing so. Perhaps you’d like to make one for a veteran you know and give it to him or her this 4th of July!

I was asked to attend Girls Camp in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest earlier this month and to find a service project that about 80 teenage girls could do at camp.

Some of the girls recommended helping military veterans somehow. I looked on justserve.org and discovered an agency that serves veterans near me. When I asked if there might possibly be something these girls could make while out in the woods and give to the veterans, the kind woman at the agency suggested making these adorable patriotic items that can be pinned onto a hat or jacket.

Up at camp, we gave each girl a paper plate for her own workspace and poured several beads onto it. We also had them place a few rocks on their plates in case the wind blew a little. Fortunately, there wasn’t more than a pleasant breeze, and the project worked great!

Only 58 girls wound up with time for the project, so back at home my daughter Sydney and I leisurely made a total of 30 more while enjoying all 3 of Marvel’s Thor movies. Sydney, with her incredible skill, chose to pick up each bead and slip it onto a pin. What worked easily for me was keeping the bead on the plate and poking the pin down through it.

As you can see from the photos, we pinned the beaded gift onto a card with a hand-written thank you note. Some of the girls at camp wrote a very thoughtful message (especially those aged 12 and 13).

From a few of the 13-year-olds:

“Thank you for all that you do for our country. It really means a lot to me.”

“What you do to protect our country is a big deal and you deserve a lot more credit. You have a lot of courage– more than most people.”

“Thank you sooo much for your service. I really appreciate and admire your courage!”

“I respect you so much (even though I don’t know you).”

“Thank you for being and staying strong for us.”

“Thank you for serving us and protecting our freedom. I hope that this will help you remember why you are [were] there.”

From a couple of the 12-year-olds:

“Dear Veteran, Thanks for serving our country and families. You helped keep the U.S. safe–and me.”

“Thank you for risking your life for our country. I hope you know that I love you and have a wonderful day.”

The agency was happy to receive the pins. They know how grateful the veterans will be!

Here are the Materials I recommend:

  • 10 small silver-colored safety pins—size 1 (27mm)
  • 1 large silver-colored safety pin—with no loop (57 mm)
  • 1 small, clear earring back
  • red, white and blue glass seed beads—size 12/0

My Instructions:

1.Each small safety pin holds 9 beads. For the first pin, thread on the beads in this way: 5 blue, 1 white, 1 red, 1 white, 1 red.

2. Repeat with the second, third, fourth and fifth safety pins.

3. With the sixth thru tenth safety pins, start with red and alternate the 9 beads red/white.

4. To make step 5 even easier, line up the beaded pins on the table so they look like the American flag— with the blue beads on the left. Pick up the first small safety pin (on the left), and turn it around so you’re looking at the side with no beads.

5. Slide the coil end (little loop) of that first small safety pin onto the large safety pin—all the way around the curve onto the other side of the large pin. Add the other small pins the same way. (You need the pointed part of the large safety pin free to attach to a card, hat, jacket, etc.)

6. Thread the earring back onto the large safety pin— also somewhere past the pin curve onto the other side— so the small safety pins can’t move back around the pin curve.

Have a beautiful day!


Watermelon Cutouts

It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks and a busy Friday, but I was determined to post something on my blog tonight. Sydney asked me to cut the watermelon, and inspiration struck! The lighting isn’t the best, but let me tell you…. the watermelon tastes delish. It’s especially tasty when shaped with cookie cutters and topped with a morsel or two of candy, a grape or even a chow mein noodle. Why not? (The noodle was Sydney’s idea.)

Marvel-ous Cakes

The Bifrost cake.

Cake creations are a thrill at my home. The planning for Sydney’s birthday party cakes (yes, more than one) this year began a couple of months ago. The Lego characters that would top them did, after all, have to be ordered online well in advance. Above, Sydney places them on the cake depicting a well-known place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe– Heimdall’s Observatory and the Bifrost (a.k.a. the Rainbow Bridge) on Asgard.

We enjoyed the reactions from Sydney’s friends!

Most of the cake’s Lego people represented characters in the movie Thor: Ragnarok (including Loki, with his signature gold helmet, and the Hulk)… but not all of them. The Valkyrie questions one she doesn’t recognize during the battle on the Bifrost.

Batman is a DC Comics creation… not Marvel.
Hela, a nemesis of Thor.
Lego really goes all out. I think Lego people are adorable!
(We wash them before putting them on cakes… and after!)
Heimdall on his observatory.

You’ve surely noticed that this cake is not perfect-looking in scale or any other way. I hope it will inspire you to try something fun like this… especially for a child’s or teen’s party! I recommend helping them, but letting your kids design and do as much as they can.

So how did we make this? We used a 14″ x 2″ cake pan for the base, and two 6″ x 2″ pans for the dome-ish observatory. I leveled one little cake and put the more rounded one on top.

For the spire, we put extra cake batter in a tiny 2″ x 2″ cake pan and topped it with the golden drill of the Lego Ninjago set called “Cole’s Earth Driller.” Tanner, my son, had conveniently just gotten it for his birthday a few days earlier. It hadn’t been part of our plan, but it became very welcome addition! A toothpick held the tiny cake in place, and edible metallic gold spray paint sold at a local craft store gave the yellow cake the tint we were hoping for!

The Bifrost was a piece of cake. Literally and figuratively. We cut a piece from a cake made in a 13″ x 9″ pan. Four strips of “Sour Power” candy sold at a local candy store was simply placed onto it to produce an obvious rainbow bridge.

Pre-packaged white frosting mixed with sky blue icing color, plus royal blue decorating icing applied in swervy lines, gave the effect of water.

To be sure each cake would easily come out of the pans, we greased & floured the pans, then put baking parchment in them (cut to the size of the bottom of each pan). A 16″ cake board (cardboard pre-cut for this purpose) was great for displaying the cake and transporting it to the table.

The Colosseum cake.

Another scene in Thor: Ragnarok is the colosseum fight between Thor and the Hulk. We decided to make a colosseum.

Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast 2019

I love photographing the East Valley Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast the last few years. It’s always a beautiful venue. Last year, it was in an airport hangar. This year, it was out on the lawn in front of the Gilbert Town Hall.

The Bel Canto Singers of Gilbert Christian High School performed with a special soloist, the popular McKenna Breinholt.

McKenna Breinholt.

Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels hosted the event. She told of this year’s theme, “Fabric of Hope,” which represented government, businesses, nonprofits and faith groups working together to help those in need.

Mayor Jenn Daniels.

Lots of talents was on display!

The Gilbert Town Fiddlers welcomed guests.
The woman in the middle shows off the lovely quilt she made and displayed at the event.

High school student Hailey Gates sang The Star-Spangled Banner.

People of various faiths prayed together.

First responders from various cities prayed too.

Mesa Mayor John Giles with some Mesa Police officers.

Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke chats with Rabbi Mendy Deitsch.

Mayors stand to be recognized.
Several mayors pose together.

Have a day full of hope!