Five Ways to Make Holidays Happier for Children with Different Abilities
By Dr. Ben Spitalnick, Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society, Board of Directors
Every parent wants the holiday season to be a special, joyous time for their child, and parents of children with different abilities or special needs usually have to take a couple of extra steps to ensure the holidays are just that.
To help along the way, the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society offers five tips to help make the holiday season run smoothly and keep your kids happy.
1. Prepare Your Child
Your child wants to know the plans for the holiday season as much as you do. To reduce stress and prepare your child for upcoming activities, explain what you’ll be doing, who will be there and what the schedule is for the day. Write down the schedule for them and include pictures.
2. Prepare Your Family
Remind your family of the needs of your child. If there are other little ones, ask their parents to talk to them about your child’s differences. This can help reduce confusion and will foster a sense of understanding. It might help, a few days before everyone gets together, to send family members an informational email with 10 things to know about your child.
3. Bring Familiar Toys
The holidays are a chaotic time. Familiarity will help your child remain calm and feel comfortable. Bring his or her favorite toy, book or something that soothes your child at home. When things get a little too crazy, that may help your child feel comfortable.
4. Ask For Help
Don’t feel guilty for asking for help. Every parent needs help, and you do too. Explain the needs of your child to another family member or two and ask them to step in when you need a break. Explain to your child, too, that this person will be playing with them or watching them for a few minutes while you are busy.
5. Let Your Child Help
Preparing for the holidays can be stressful, but if you let your child help, you can create family traditions and keep everyone a little happier. Give your child a task such as greeting everyone at the door or stirring the sauce. This will keep your child focused, reduce his or her stress levels and give you an extra hand.
To create a happier time of celebration, we encourage all parents of children with different abilities to prepare their little ones a bit extra this holiday season. These small proactive measures can do a lot to help your child adjust to large crowds, new situations and days off-schedule. We hope this will make your holiday season a little jollier.
Dr. Ben Spitalnick is managing partner of Pediatric Associates of Savannah and currently serves as Representative for the Savannah area to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Spitalnick is from North Atlanta and is a graduate of the University of Georgia, received his medical degree from MCG, and did his Pediatric Residency at Memorial Health University here in Savannah. He serves on the board of directors for the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society.
Faith Equestrian To Hold 2018 Gala to Support Equine Therapy for Children on Feb. 9
(SAVANNAH, GA) Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center will hold their second annual Hearts for Healing Gala on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. The evening will include dinner, dancing and live music from the John Brackett Quartet. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the silent auction; the reception will begin at 7 p.m.
Faith Equestrian is a non-profit organization founded to improve the quality of life for children with special needs through the therapeutic nature of horses.
“Fundraisers and donations cover all the costs for a child to participate in our program,” said Bonnie Rachael, the program’s founder and executive director. “The Gala is our largest fundraiser and a great way for us to create awareness for our unique program.”
Rachael opened the center in 2006 with only two students, three horses and a $25,000 budget. Today, the program has expanded to serve more than 125 participants from Chatham, Effingham and surrounding counties. It has a $200,000 budget, eleven horses, two instructors and more than 60 volunteers.
The center is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Intl.), which reports some of the benefits of equine assisted activities and therapies on their website (www.pathintl.org).
Faith Equestrian serves children with all types of challenges, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. Interaction with the horses allows the students to build strength, develop coordination skills, and gain confidence in an outdoor and supportive setting.
Michael, an autistic child whose real name is being withheld to protect the privacy of he and his family, began taking therapeutic riding lessons at Faith Equestrian in 2011 in an effort to improve his attention span, his ability to follow directions, keep calm in new situations, as well as to become able to speak.
Part of Michael’s lesson each week was to encourage speech as part of the therapeutic plan along with following directions of steering the horse. The instructor repeated phrases telling Michael to tell his horse to “walk on” and increased the speed of the horse from a walk to a trot.
“It took 8 months, patience and a horse, for Michael to begin to speak,” said Rachael. “During the normal routine of his riding lesson, he said ‘WALK ON’ himself in a loud voice. Everyone, volunteers and mom alike broke into tears of joy.”
Since that day, Michael has improved cognitively, behaviorally, and physically. He has begun using sign language he has learned, is now beginning to steer his horse and follow the instructor’s directions.
“These are the types of stories that help us know we are changing people’s lives,” said Rachael. “And we need the community to support this powerful program.”
The 2018 Hearts for Healing Gala is sponsored by Savannah Special Events by Ranco, First City Events, Low Country Paper Co., Whitemarsh Beverage, J Thomas Catering, Savannah’s Hall of Cakes, South Magazine and Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
ABOUT FAITH EQUESTRIAN THERAPEUTIC CENTER
Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center, located at 243 Appaloosa Way in Guyton, GA. 31312, exists to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through the power of the horse. The program serves children ages 4 to 18 with all types of challenges including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. The center offers therapeutic riding courses and an equestrian program in partnership with local schools. For more information, visit https://faithetc.org
The Kiwanis Club of Skidaway Announces 2017 Chili Cook-Off Winners
(SAVANNAH, GA) The Kiwanis Club of Skidaway announces the winners of their 20th annual chili cook-off. During the event, families were entertained by a petting zoo, face painting, a magic show and music provided by a local DJ.
Twenty restaurants and community organizations prepared their best chili for the cook-off. There was a diverse mix of recipes and presentations. One thing each booth had in common was its ability to foster good conversation and an enjoyable atmosphere contributing to the overall success of the day.
A panel of judges and nearly 500 participants who cast ballots determined the final winners in multiple categories. Professional restaurant contestants and community contestants were split into two separate groups with winners announced in each.
The 2017 winners are:
Presidents Award Winner: Jalapenos (Restaurant) and Landings North (Community)
Presidents Award Runner-Up: The 5 Spot (Restaurant) and The Marshes (Community)
Judges Award Winner: Troy’s (Restaurant) and America’s Second Harvest (Community)
Judges Award Runner-Up: Village Bar & Grille (Restaurant) and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia (Community)
Hottest: La Nopalera (Restaurant) and Landings South (Community)
Best Presentation: Jalapenos (Restaurant) and America’s Second Harvest (Community)
People’s Choice Winner: Bow Tie Barbecue (Restaurant) and The Marshes (Community)
People’s Choice Runner-Up: Troy’s (Restaurant) and Landings North (Community)
A raffle of a new 2018 well-equipped Club Car golf cart was also held. Dennis Heath was the lucky winner.
The Kiwanis Club of Skidaway offered special thanks to Bobby Gillham, fundraising chair for the Kiwanis Club and this year’s cook-off organizer, and to the eight young men and women from Youth Challenge Academy at Fort Stewart who helped each booth stay tidy and stocked with supplies throughout the entire event.
After all expenses, net proceeds from the 2017 cook-off topped $17,000 to support agencies and programs that help at-risk kids in Savannah.
ABOUT KIWANIS CLUB OF SKIDAWAY
Kiwanis Club of Skidaway is a service organization comprised of 125 men and women in the Savannah area. Since 1988, the club has raised and distributed over $1.4 million and invested over 300,000 service hours toward their mission of supporting children in our region.
For more information on the club, visit https://kiwanisofskidaway.com
Sandfly Women Business Owners Coalition Announces Toy Drives for Savannah Families
New and Used Toys Being Collected for Urban Home and the West Broad Street YMCA
(SAVANNAH, GA) During the month of December, the Dr. Angela Canfield and the Sandfly Women Business Owners Coalition will hold a toy drive for the children of Urban Hope and families at the West Broad Street YMCA. From Friday, December 1 to Thursday, December 14, bins will be set up at six of Sandfly businesses for community members to drop off wishlist items.
New toys are being collected for Urban Hope. Urban Hope has a 17-year history of reaching out and embracing the children of Savannah’s at-risk communities. By providing a warm, caring, structured and safe environment Urban Hope provides the children who participate in it’s free After School or Summer Camp programs the opportunity to receive academic and developmental support through a variety of means.
The Sandfly Women Business Owners Coalition would like to give the children in Urban Hope’s program toys for Christmas, and the group is asking the public to help make this possible.
Wishlist items for Urban Hope include children’s books, coloring books, toy trucks, building blocks, multicultural dolls, musical toys, play dough sets, large piece puzzles, pull toys, sports equipment, board games and art supplies, including glue sticks, markers, scissors and stickers.
Individuals may drop off new toys at the following Sandfly Women Business Owners’ locations:
Sandfly Family Dental, 7360 Skidaway Rd #2
Advertising Specialty Services, 402 E Montgomery Cross Rd
Savannah Power Yoga, 7360 Skidaway Rd #J-3
Herb Creek Landscape Supply, 7402 Skidaway Rd
Cents & Sensibility, 7360 Skidaway Rd #4
Tequila’s Town, 7360 Skidaway Rd #G1 & #G2
Used toys will be collected for the Kids Helping Kids Program of the West Broad Street YMCA. The Kids Helping Kids Program started in 1981. Traditionally operating through the Savannah Chatham County Public School System, the program collects used toys and then distributes these toys at no cost during the annual Miracle on May Street holiday toy giveaway.
“The West Broad YMCA, located at 1110 May St., is focused on serving the children and families of Savannah’s west side public housing communities,” said Tom Campbell, who founded the Kids Helping Kids Program in 1981. “To see the excitement on the family’s faces when they get a toy for their child right before Christmas solidifies that this service is making a difference. In the last 36 years, the Kids Helping Kids Program has collected well over 300,000 toys for Savannah families.”
Wishlist items for the Kids Helping Kids Program include new or gently used toys, clothes and books. For families that would like to donate their used toys, Sandfly Family Dental (7360 Skidaway Rd #2) will have a collection bin for the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.
“Christmas is such a happy time of year for so many of us,” said Dr. Angela Canfield, a coalition member. “There are some children in our community who aren’t in the same situation as us and who may not receive a Christmas present. Both of these programs are so impactful in our community. Please come out an support Savannah’s families during the holidays.”
For more information about these toys drives, contact Dr. Angela Canfield, Sandfly Family Dental, at 912.826.4037.
ABOUT URBAN HOPE
Urban Hope has a 17-year history of reaching out and embracing the children of Savannah’s at-risk communities. By providing a warm, caring, structured and safe environment Urban Hope provides the children who participate in it’s free After School or Summer Camp programs the opportunity to receive academic and developmental support through a variety of means. For more information, please visit https://www.urbanhopesavannah.org/
ABOUT WEST BROAD STREET YMCA
Established in 1942 to address the recreational and social needs of the then-segregated African American communities, the West Broad Street YMCA now serves several thousand children and families each year, offering education, recreation, health and social support to those who need it most. The West Broad Street YMCA places special focus on serving the children and families of Savannah’s west side public housing communities by providing affordable and high-quality education and health-focused programs designed to serve and engage children, teens, adults and senior citizens. For more information, please visit http://www.westbroadstreetymca.org/
ABOUT DR. ANGELA CANFIELD
Dr. Canfield is licensed by the Georgia Board of Dentistry and the National Board of Dentist. She owns and practices at Premier Dental Designs in Rincon, 5871 Hwy 21 South, and Sandfly Family Dental in the Norwood Market in Savannah. Both offices provide Family/Preventative Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry, Orthodontic Dentistry, Digital X-Rays, E4D One Day Crowns, Electronic Claims, Intra Oral Camera and Paperless Charting. The offices are open Monday through Friday and offer evening appointments. For more information, call 912.826.4037 or visit http://www.premierdentaldesigns.com/ or http://www.sandflyfamilydental.com/
Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire Supports Marine Toys for Tots in Holiday Events
Marine Toys for Tots Presented $1,500 and Help During their Holiday Toy Drives
(SAVANNAH, GA) Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire has selected Marine Toys for Tots as their charity partner for the month of December. Savannah’s eco-friendly and caring alternative to traditional junk removal will assist in the collection of more than 75 cubic yards of toys this holiday season.
To kickstart their partnership with Marine Toys for Tots, Junkluggers presented a $1,500 check to the organization on Friday, Nov. 24, at 11 a.m. during their Black Friday event at Toys-R-Us, located at 7400 Abercorn St in Savannah, Ga.
Marine Toys for Tots is collecting toys for children in need to brighten their Christmas season. This year, the organization will participate in approximately 45 events in which local citizens can drop off toys. The collected gifts will, in turn, be distributed through local non-profits, including the Salvation Army, United Way and a few churches.
During November and December, Hess and his wife, Misty, who is also his business partner, will be asking customers to participate by donating toys at the time of service. Junkluggers will also help move toys from two major events, one at Sun City in Bluffton and the other at Silver Moss in Hilton Head, to local holding stations.
“I’m a veteran, myself,” said Trevor Hess, owner and president of the local franchise of Junkluggers. “When looking for ways to give back locally, this just seemed like a perfect match because they really need our services and we are really passionate about the mission of Marine Toys for Tots.”
Hess previously served in the U.S. Navy and is currently continuing service as a member of the Navy Reserves.
Junkluggers hauls away items people no longer want or need and strives to donate and recycle as much as possible with the goal of keeping items out of landfills. The local franchise recently celebrated its grand opening and wants to start the business by giving back.
The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children. This year, Marine Toys for Tots will collect toys until Dec. 14.
“This takes a village to make this possible,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Reavis, Savannah Toys for Tots Foundation coordinator. “We need everyone’s support, and Junkluggers is providing us with a service that’s not easy. We encourage everyone who is able to come to one of our events and just give one gift to make a child’s Christmas happier.”
MORE ABOUT THE JUNKLUGGERS OF THE COASTAL EMPIRE
The Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire, owned by Trevor and Misty Hess, serves as an environmentally friendly junk removal company for Chatham, Effingham, Bryan and Liberty counties in coastal Georgia, plus Jasper and Beaufort counties in South Carolina. The company offers same day and next day appointments. Specializing in both residential and commercial clean-outs, Junkluggers accepts everything from furniture to construction debris, including office equipment, heavy machinery and appliances. All luggers are background-checked and professionally trained and the company is insured with 100% property damage protection. The company is also committed to partnering with local charities in service to the community as well as providing public education on issues such as recycling, donating and repurposing. For more information, please call 912-712-0227 or visit http://www.junkluggers.com.
Low Country Dermatology Holds Donation Drive for the Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire
(SAVANNAH, GA) For the fourth consecutive year, Low Country Dermatology will hold a holiday donation drive to collect needed supplies for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire and to help stock a “holiday store” for families who use the house.
Low Country Dermatology, 310 Eisenhower Drive, Suite 12A, will accept donations through Friday, December 15 at 12 p.m.
“The last thing a parent with a child in the hospital wants to do is leave his or her child, get into the crowds and go gift shopping,” said Dr. Corinne Howington, who owns Low Country Dermatology. “I know that our community can ease the burdens that these parents are facing right now by giving back to these individuals and spreading the joy of the season.”
Items donated to the holiday store will allow parents who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House to select presents for their children and other family members.
Bill Sorochak, executive director of Ronald McDonald House, offered several gift ideas, including:
• Infants/toddlers: Stuffed animals, musical instruments, bath toys, teething toys, board books and interactive toys (blocks, rattles)
• School-aged children: Nerf and Fisher-Price toys, Legos and board games, toy trucks, dolls and dress-up clothes, puzzles and arts and craft kits.
• Teenagers: Footballs, volleyballs, basketballs, journals, adult coloring books and colored pencils, books and video games.
• Adults: Robes and slippers, Bath and Body Works lotions and sprays, books and interactive journals, electric razors and gift cards for coffee, movies and meals.
Wishlist items to support the operations of the house include: quick meals (soups, Ramen noodles, mac and cheese); individually packaged snacks, boxes of cereal and drinks; high efficiency free and clear laundry detergent and dryer sheets; hand sanitizer and hand soap; bathroom, shower and toilet bowl cleaners; Swiffer Wet Jet fluid and pads; disposable bowls, plates utensils and gloves; 33-gallon trash bags; 60-watt CFL light bulbs; toothbrushes and toothpaste, dishwasher tablets, sponges and liquid dish soap; Febreze; gallon zip-lock bags; tissues; disinfectant wipes and gas/grocery gift cards.
“We strive to make our patients and families as comfortable and at home as possible all year, but particularly during this season,” said Sorochak. “Dr. Howington helps us to do just that, and we are so appreciative that she garners community support for the individuals in our care and their families.”
All gifts should be unwrapped, and all donated items should be new, unopened and unused. Items can be dropped off through Friday, December 15, during office hours at the Low Country Dermatology office.
The practice is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The mission of the Ronald McDonald House Charities is to create, find and support programs that enhance the health and well-being of children and families. The house operates on a waiting list most of the year. For more information, visit http://www.rmhccoastalempire.org/about-our-house.html
ABOUT LOW COUNTRY DERMATOLOGY
Low Country Dermatology specializes in the treatment of adult and pediatric diseases of the skin, hair and nails. Dr. Corinne Howington is a board certified dermatologist with expertise in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology.
Low Country Dermatology is located at 310 Eisenhower Dr. Suite 12A Savannah, GA 31406. For more information, visit lcderm.com.
Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire Announces Holiday Food Drive for Second Harvest Food Bank
(SAVANNAH, GA) The Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire, Savannah’s eco-friendly and caring alternative to traditional junk removal, is holding a food drive to benefit America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia food bank.
“We chose this as The Junkluggers’ first official charity event because we are drawn to the synergy between organizations with the same purpose – helping those in the community,” said Trevor Hess, owner and president of the local franchise. “Our family has participated with and volunteers for Second Harvest, and it’s a charity we believe in and want to support.”
During November, Hess and his wife, Misty, who is also his business partner, will be asking customers to participate by donating non-perishable foods at the time of service. They hope to raise $2,400 and collect 15,000 food items.
The Junkluggers will then deliver the donations to the Second Harvest food bank on Friday, Dec. 8. The warehouse and distribution center serves more than 300 non-profit and faith-based agencies throughout 21 counties in Coastal Georgia.
“The food bank distributes more than 12 million pounds of food throughout Coastal Georgia to help relieve hunger each year,” Hess said. “Not only does this help families in need, but it also rescues truckloads of food that retail businesses might otherwise discard into the waste stream.”
It is estimated that food procured by Second Harvest represents a savings of greater than $19 million dollars in food costs for its partner agencies, which allows them to provide other services to those in need.
“Our mission is similarly aligned to the food bank’s in that we believe in donating first, recycling next and avoiding landfills as much as possible,” Hess said. “As an eco-friendly, caring alternative to traditional junk removal, our goal is to protect the community we live in by sorting everything we put on the truck for donations, recycling and disposal, with the landfill always being the last stop for any items removed.”
Junkluggers is committed to presenting monthly donations to local charities and is developing partnerships with several local causes and non-profits. For more information, please call 912-712-0227 or visit www.junkluggers.com.
MORE ABOUT THE JUNKLUGGERS OF THE COASTAL EMPIRE
The Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire, owned by Trevor and Misty Hess, serves as an environmentally friendly junk removal company for Chatham, Effingham, Bryan and Liberty counties in coastal Georgia, plus Jasper and Beaufort counties in South Carolina. The company offers same day and next day appointments. Specializing in both residential and commercial clean-outs, Junkluggers accepts everything from furniture to construction debris, including office equipment, heavy machinery and appliances. All luggers are background-checked and professionally trained, and the company is insured with 100 percent property damage protection. The company is committed to partnering with local charities in service to the community as well as providing public education on issues such as recycling, donating and repurposing. For more information, please call 912-712-0227 or visit www.junkluggers.com.