Happy First Day of Spring

Before we get into the highlights of what has happened since our last update we want to make sure you have all registered for the Coming Together Hunger Conference. We are co-hosting with the Food Bank of Delaware and are SUPER excited about this year’s event! We are anticipating nearly 200 students to attend for the Kid Track, but we are hoping all of you will attend on the adult side. Don’t worry, even the adults will have a chance to see what the kids are doing throughout the day.

Coming Together will feature both an adult track and kids’ track, with opportunities for both groups to come together to identify solutions to issues related to hunger.

I promise you that you will leave feeling inspired and you will learn something. Plus I would like to see you out, because you know we can only end hunger if we do it together.

Okay so what have we been up to since our last post. A LOT! You know we say that every time. Haha.

There have been a few code purples called in Delaware. We thought our winter had been mild and really it has been but the last couple weeks of winter went out in style bringing us frigid temperatures snow and even an ice storm! It was beautiful, but it was also really bad news for my friends without addresses.

We had a table at the 1st Annual Christina School District Family Resource Fair which was a big success. Many people came out to see what the community has to offer and we heard that the New Castle County library exhibit handed out over 100 new library cards to people! That is VERY COOL! I couldn’t be there for the event so my family helped out. My brother and sister, Finn and Amelia, they set up the table and they were happy to be able to support 3B. Plus they got to eat pretzels and have their face painted!

Town Square Delaware wrote an article about me. Ms. Christy Fleming came to visit me at my house and she interviewed me. It was nice to meet her and I appreciate that she wanted to know more about Brae’s Brown Bags. Ms. Fleming’s article shares how 3B has grown, “3B Brae’s Brown Bags helps get healthy snacks to the homeless and the needy. But it takes lots of time and coordination, and Brae now also counts on donations by schoolmates and others who read his blog because the charity has gotten so big.”

I was able to be a speaker at the annual Delaware FFA Convention earlier this month. It was nice to see a room full of students who care about agriculture and who realize that food insecurity is a solvable problem. They packed almost 500 bags of healthy food for people in need. We brought some home and the rest remained in the Kent County area to help any shelters who might needs extra supplies.

I found out that I am  a recipient of a 2017 Sodexo Foundation – STOP Hunger Youth Grant! This makes me very happy because it helps to keep 3B sustainable, but it also helps to show other kids that there are organizations out there who believe in them and believe that we are change makers. The Sodexo Foundation and STOP Hunger are empowering, they not only want to help end hunger but they also want to get kids involved and I am glad I can be one of those champions.

Last but definitely not least. I took a trip with my Mom up to New York to attend the Jefferson Awards Foundation annual gala at Gotham Hall. Yes, it sounds like something right out of Batman and yes I do think that is really cool. It was super fancy. There were a lot of incredible people there and all of them believe in public service, it was super inspiring to be a part of the event. I feel very honored that I was able to receive an activation award (Newark Post) on the same stage as Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez and the great musician/social activist Harry Belafonte. Plus, I encourage all of you to look into the national LEAD360 winner for 2017! Her name is Emma Stumpf and she creates art kits to give to patients in children’s hospitals. She knows what it is like to be stuck in the walls of a hospital for long periods of time as she is fighting cancer and has been for many years. I didn’t get to meet her at the event because she was in the hospital having just come through her 17th brain surgery. She is definitely a huge inspiration! I hope you are willing to help her activate this project and help it to put smiles on the faces of kids across the country. I think it will be fun to help her with this project!

Public service, polar bears and music #LEAD360

The past few days have been so busy that I don’t know where to start so I’m just going to go in order of when it all happened.

So last week I found out that I was selected for the 2017 Christina School District Middle School Band. I play percussion. I’ll be playing the Timpani. So that’s really cool and my family is really proud of me and excited for me. A few of my friends also made it, like Milan, he plays trumpet.

brae-voteSo I found out that I am in the top 5 projects across the nation for the Jefferson Awards LEAD360 Challenge. The winning project gets activated nationwide which means we will be able to launch 3B Ripples across the country and help provide people in need everywhere with healthy food while also activating the service project in schools across the US. The winner is picked based on voting. You can vote on the LEAD360 Web Page and also on the Jefferson Awards Facebook page.

indyAnd then the Jefferson Awards Foundation has Students in Action projects over the weekend. And it was really cool because Central Indiana packed Brae’s Brown Bags! They even did an awesome #mannequinchallenge while packing and I’m definitely going to plan on doing that during our hunger conference in April. So even though I couldn’t be there they still included me on everything because they were tweeting to me and sharing the process. I was able to record a quick message for them, too. So I was able to let them know that I am grateful for their service.

braeseafordThen on Saturday in Seaford, Delaware, my Mom and I visited their Students in Action and I was able to talk to some of the students. They packed about 80 bags of healthy food which was then donated to Jim Martin at the ACE Peer Resource Center in Seaford.

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Please take time to watch a video about the ACE Peer Resource Center. Jim Martin has been alone, he has been there, he has been homeless, he knows what that feels like on a personal level. He talked to us to try and help us understand. When someone comes in off the street they are exhausted, they are alone, they are hungry and sometimes all the need is a warm place to sit, to get something to eat and put on a pair of new socks. He is a very good man and he is helping a lot of people. I’m proud of the Students in Action for their service and I’m happy the ACE Peer Resource Center received the bags.

c36o9okvyaauqv3Then on Sunday the 3B team went to Rehoboth Beach to do the Polar Bear Plunge! We raised over $1,000 for the Special Olympics! My stepdad took this picture with me, mom Mom, my brother Finn and my sister Amelia. Before we jumped into the 41 degree water. Well, me, my Mom and my Gram went in the water. I still can’t believe my Mom and my Gram went in the water. But they did! My Dad and Mom Mom and brother Michael and my Grandmom and Grandpop and Aunt Kristin were all there to watch us be crazy! The radio said over $900,000 was raised all together by the plungers yesterday!

So please vote for me in the LEAD360 Challenge! You can vote once per day it ends on Tuesday, February 14 at midnight.

Thank you in advance!

August didn’t wind down, but Summer did

My Mom always says she wishes she had a 25th hour in the day. I know she would fill it with more things to do and then she would need a 26th and 27th hour. But I kinda understand what she is saying now. How do we fit everything in that we want to do? Have you ever played Minecraft? I could play it for four hours straight and not even know it. There should always be hours in the day when you can do something fun. But then I forget to do things like update my blog.

14124317_1191179457592452_5093569072657943110_oLOTS has happened.

August was busy!

Did I tell you I was able to talk to a class of high schoolers who were taking college level courses at UD over the Summer? I did. It was cool. Three of the students were from Africa. They asked great questions. They all helped me pack bags and I actually just got to send some of those 3B bags down to Louisiana so that is really cool. My Mom told me about the flooding in Louisiana and I wasn’t sure the bags would help, but they can’t hurt. She and my brother and sister also went out and bought a bunch of baby food and baby formula to send down to Louisiana with the bags, we sent 140 bags. I saw some of the picture of communities who lost everything because of the flooding and I just can’t believe it.

TedxWilmington_group_speakers-e1472135517934So I had been practicing and preparing for the Tedx Talk Wilmington Conference for months! And the day finally happened. I was nervous. Senator Coons was supposed to be the final speaker but his plans changed and so then I was the final speaker. And Mr. George, he was the host, he said he thinks Senator Coons changed his plans on purpose so he wouldn’t have to follow my talk. But it is really not easy to do those talks. I never used a power point before and I didn’t remember when to click. I forgot what I wanted to say and then I got really nervous and then the people listening started clapping for me. I felt so much better after that.

14066253_1187834541260277_6357352395584793986_oI feel like I made some new friends at the Tedx Talk. I really liked this guy they call Real Gumption. He is from the Virgin Islands. He talked with me at the rehearsal too and then I got to go talk to him after his talk because I think he did a really good job and I really like the idea of his glass bottom boat. He had a big dream and he made it happen and I think that is what I like the most.

I liked the wiggle woman. Her name is Janine Driver. But she talked about how to help yourself from going nuts, like if someone is driving you nuts what can you do to keep your cool. It was so funny! She was a really great speaker.

Kaamilah Diabate was also really awesome with her poem and the Twin Poets with their poem, they really made me think and it was very sad because they talked about racism and it is something that my Mom and my stepdad have talked to me about a lot and it was good to hear from a younger person especially from her perspective. Kind of like that I also liked hearing from Ian Khan because he had a really crazy childhood compared to mine and the things he went through seemed pretty scary and I think about my life and how lucky I am. So I liked hearing about other people’s lives and their ideas. All of the speakers were really just really good. And even though it was a long day I am happy I was there.

Also this month was our 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration. We have a lot of photos to share and people to thank but I think my Mom is going to handle that post so make sure to check back soon because I am sure she will have a zillion pictures to share.

Oh and I started 7th grade on August 30, yesterday! Yes, back to school, no homework yet though!

How are you making history NOW? #historyNOW

Brae’s Brown Bags isn’t about fame and glory, but I have to admit, being able to go to The White House a few times and the Radio Disney Music Awards in the Spring and now having my story shown with the History Channel’s HistoryNOW is pretty awesome.

Hopefully though this means that a lot of other kids will see that it really doesn’t matter how old you are, that you can really make a big difference in the world. I’m not the only kid doing amazing things.

This world is a pretty awesome place filled with great people and we need to be happy to share our story and their story. Be the good, be the change, MAKE HISTORY NOW!

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Summer time high fives

13640783_860560587421752_4553159800088006036_oIt is hard to believe that Summer break from school is already halfway over. Let’s not think about that right now though. It’s still Summer time and we have a lot of fun things happening.

I have been to schools and a summer camp as well as my Gram and Pop and friend Laura. We have been giving out bags as part of the #SummerMeals program. For this I just really want youth to know how important it is for them to eat healthy, too. So they come to schools for lunch or dinner and they get a healthy meal, but taking a bag with them gives them a chance to reach for something healthy to eat at home, too.

13640922_1152379174805814_2165661344635176608_oAlso the Christiana Fire Company invited me over for hamburgers and hot dogs off the grill. They showed me around their station and I even learned that it is haunted! Maybe not, but it’s a cool story and it has been around for a long time. I am sure the walls could tell many stories. Chief Perillo and Captain Semonelle were very nice to me and my family. 13603277_1152379521472446_2500457531476419471_oThe fire company participated in a WaWa Hoagie Challenge recently and they raised money for a charity. Captain Semonelle decided he wanted to donate the money to Brae’s Brown Bags!!! That is so exciting! Also I decided I want to be a volunteer firefighter when I am older. I think I would really like to do that. They said I can start helping out after I turn 13 years old!

The Middletown Jazzercise Summer Camp and the Circle of Friends Daycare Ripple “Small Hands, Big Hearts” both helped pack and deliver LOTS of bags over the past couple of weeks. It is so much fun when I get to work with other kids. They are really good helpers and I like how excited they are to know they will be giving to people in need13690944_1158009850909413_6107354723130820813_o. 13615299_1153580788018986_1781115289723400908_nI couldn’t do all I do with Brae’s Brown Bags without the help of my family, friends and NEW friends I have been making a long the way. There were even girls who baked breads and cookies to raise money to buy the healthy snacks at the Jazzercise place. Isn’t that so nice!?

Also we are still planning for our 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration. We’ve been getting sponsors but would still benefit from some raffle items. If anyone knows any local companies who can provide gift baskets or gift certificates it would be very helpful and appreciated. Check out our 3B Summer Celebration page for more information.

Thank you to WSTW, Bear-Glasgow YMCA, UDairy Creamery, The Crop Foundation, Del-One Federal Credit Union, Dover Federal Credit Union, Gerri and Bill Irish, Transportation Communications Union IAM Unit #86, Terri, Kristin and Todd Stephan and Greg and Margie Mannering for their donations and sponsorships thus far.

Summer camps and Summer meals #SummerMealsDE

stpaulsUMC-VBSLast week I was invited to talk at a vacation bible school at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Odessa, Delaware. They had a surf shack theme and so it was decorated pretty cool. My Mom and my sister came with me and my sister really liked singing and dancing with them. They are already doing a lot of great mission work at that Church and I am grateful they chose to work with Brae’s Brown Bags to do some more.

After talking with the whole group I was able to pack bags with them. They had collected a lot of different snack items before I even got there and I was shocked by all the bags we were able to pack. In total we packed 365 bags, it would have been 366 but one of the water bottles started leaking. Oops!

So that is a lot of bags! And we know they will be going to hundreds of people in need this Summer. They even said they are going to look into becoming an official 3B Ripple Student Chapter!

My Mom and me are still working very hard to plan the 3B Summer Celebration event. I’m coming up with cool ways to decorate and my Mom is figuring out what to do as giveaways and helping to get us sponsors. The event is less than 2 months away now! We have a lot of fun things planned and I hope to see all of you there.

We are starting to bring our bags to schools that are open for lunch over the Summer thanks to the USDA Summer Food Service Program, too. This week my Mom will be bringing bags to two elementary schools in Wilmington, Delaware during her lunch break. This summer, USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under. You can find a summer meals site near where you live by going to their website Find Summer Meal Sites.

macysshopcauseAlso I am really happy about the summer camp I am attending which is teaching me steel drums. It’s a music camp at the University of Delaware. I started taking drum lessons at the Delaware Arts Conservatory a couple months ago and I have decided I really like drumming.

One more thing, our organization is part of Macy’s Shop for a Cause weekend event happening the last week of August. You can purchase a $5 shopping pass from us which raises money for 3B Brae’s Brown Bags and then the pass gives you 25% off at Macy’s all weekend long including on sale and clearance items! Please let us know if you would like one and we will find a way to give it to you.

It’s almost Summer, so much to smile about #TEDxWilmington

It’s not that I don’t like school. I mean I do like some school. But this week is my last week of 6th grade and I’m ready, I’m so ready for summer vacation! I was just inducted into the Junior National Honor Society at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School which is cool. Middle school wasn’t super easy but I made a lot of great new friends. There’s a couple people I play Minecraft online with sometimes and that’s a lot of fun for me. I’m ready for a break from school, for time to swim and have fun.

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2nd graders and me at St. Anne’s Episcopal School

So I wanted to share with you about the 2nd graders at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown, Delaware. They held a used book sale and made a profit of $1,500. They chose to donate this money to Brae’s Brown Bags! They worked together as a team. They did marketing, sales, accounting, communications, etc. They worked VERY hard and it shows in how much they were able to raise. I had a chance to quickly visit with some of them and hear what they did. They presented me with a check and I sat with them and we had a quick Q& A. They are some pretty incredible students and I’m honored they chose 3B as a cause they wanted to support.

tedxwilmingtonAlso, I’ll be giving a Tedx Talk in Wilmington this Summer and I’m feeling nervous. Over 100 people applied and they chose me to be one of the speakers. I will be talking about Brae’s Brown Bags but also just about some things I notice now that I am out and about and learning. I think it should be a really good talk, it’s called “A Boy, A Brown Bag and a Tidal Wave of Change.” I hope you can come see me and the other people who will be there speaking. There are some really great topics. You can get tickets on eventbrite.

In a couple weeks I’m going to a music camp at the University of Delaware. It’s a Steel Drum and Afro-Caribbean Drumming Camp. I’ve been taking drum lessons at the Delaware Arts Conservatory so I’m excited!

93.7 WSTW has confirmed they will be attending our 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration and I’m so happy about that news!

As of this date we  have not yet received any sponsor applications for our 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration. Please consider joining forces with 3B for what is our biggest and only annual  event to help share our mission with our community and raise funds to help keep us as self-sustained as possible.

 

Do More 24 and an EDR Trip #DoMore24DE

poppopEDRA huge shout out to my Gram and Pop Pop for going to the Emmanuel Dining Room on Sunday during our Memorial Day weekend break to bring 125 of our 3B bags to patrons of the soup kitchen. The children who were eating at the soup kitchen received books and we also had toiletry items available for many. My Pop Pop also helped to serve food from the kitchen during their visit.

thebagsWe’re so grateful for the Emmanuel Dining Room and the Ministry of Caring. They provide many services to those in need! I love my friends there Tony, Miss Mary and Dorine to name a few. They believe the poor should not be treated poorly and we agree!

Also, did you know that June 2, 2016 is Do More 24 Day? It’s very exciting, it’s a day of giving and in this case I’m participating in Do More 24 in Delaware!unspecified

This is an initiative which the United Way of Delaware and several sponsors are helping with today so that organizations who provide services to the community can all raise money together. Brae’s Brown Bags is completely sustained on donations and small grants Braeden receives. Without the support of family, friends and many kind people we have met around the country we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. If you believe in our mission of increasing access to healthy food in low-income and homeless populations please consider donating today. Otherwise there are over 190 other nonprofits participating today and they are also worthy of a donation!

For $24 we can provide at least 30 bags of healthy snack options which also include water. This summer we will be providing 3B bags to schools who participate in the USDA Summer Meals Program. These schools help to provide meals to students who ordinarily depend on school during the school year for the nutritional meals. Our bags are given out after someone eats a meal, they can take it to go so they have healthy snack options to eat at home.

Ever wonder how far a ripple can reach?

udLast week I got to talk with two different groups of people about Brae’s Brown Bags, food insecurity and service. First I talked with a group from the University of Delaware. They were having a service retreat which I think is a really great idea. I think every company should have a service retreat where they spend time out of their office or out of their warehouse and they go and they do something good.

The group were people from Student Services and Enrollment Management and after I talked with them for a little bit they packed 250 bags of healthy food for people in need. Some of them took bags home with them in case they see someone in need during their travels. The rest I was able to take him so I can bring them to a shelter or soup kitchen who needs them. So thank you very much to this group, I had a great time and I am thankful you invited me.

greenwood2The next day I got to visit Greenwood Elementary School in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. A group of their 4th graders decided to start a 3B Ripple Student Chapter. A student named Josh Bernberg heard me talk at one of his Boys Scout meetings. And then he shared information with his classmates. They decided to name their 3B Ripple “Greenwood Strong” which I think is pretty awesome. So they were my 8th official ripple! And oh my goodness! They were so impressive! After we talked we ended up packing 358 bags of healthy food! Can you believe it!? We had a couple tables lined up with the supplies and once the students got the hang of it they packed the bags so fast!

The principal at Greenwood even donated 100 books to the cause! I also got to meet some of their Girls on the Run team and they were very excited to meet me which I have to admit was pretty cool.

Then this week we got an email from one of the middle schoolers who was there with their younger sibling. And she was so inspired that she said she wants to start a 3B Ripple at her middle school in Kennett! The ripple effect of Brae’s Brown Bags is something really unbelievable. I really can’t thank all of you enough!

Also I want to share I got invited to be a member of the Junior National Honor Society at my school Gauger-Cobbs Middle School!

I also want to let you know we are less than three months away from our 2016 3B Summer Celebration. You can find out more here! We are looking for sponsors!

Using Eventbrite for our 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration

Credit: RT Graham

Credit: RT Graham

We’re preparing our event page on Eventbrite again this year for the 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration. Hoping to confirm our location this week.

We can confirm our theme though AND show you our event artwork created by the art teacher I had when I was at Keene Elementary. All of our materials this year will feature Mr. Graham’s artwork. Check it out on our Eventbrite page, although tickets are not yet available but hopefully will be soon and we will let you know on our social media accounts!

eventbritelogogradientv2Two years ago I created my own event it was a thank you event and it was for my foundation and even though it was a free event to attend we used Eventbrite to help plan and manage the event. The name of the event is 3B Summer Celebration and we will hold our 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration on August 20, 2016. This year we do have a theme and it is a “Ripple Effect” because I have expanded my Brae’s Brown Bags to reach out into schools. By helping schools start their own 3B Ripple Student Chapters we are now activating youth to get involved in service while also expanding the reach of our program to low-income populations in communities outside or own. We will have a bag packing station at this event and we will give certificates to every student who attends as a representative of an official 3B chapter.

The 3B Summer Celebrations are awesome because everyone comes out to support a program which I started when I was 9 years old and I know the biggest reason Brae’s Brown Bags is successful is because we have so much encouragement from family, friends, schools, other non profits and legislators like Senator Bryan Townsend and Representative Paul Baumbach. We have used Eventbrite each year and will be again this year once we get our location confirmed. It’s great to get a big group of people together who are all interested in making a different and supporting a good cause. I think each year we get new people but we also get friends who first met at our first celebration in 2014 which is cool to see our guests reuniting.

Last year we tried a feature Eventbrite offers where even though our tickets are free we said if people donated any amount they would be guaranteed an event t-shirt. We are hoping this year that will be more successful for us especially since the artwork is one-of-a-kind and uniquely made for 3B. The past two events have been really fun. We had a silent auction and raffles which were fun but it’s definitely tricky figuring out things really far in advance because most places need at least three months to know if they can donate or sponsor you.

The best advice we can tell other people who are planning events is to not be shy about promoting it. Work with local radio stations and research event calendars that allow you to submit your event so that it shows up for people. We use social media and Eventbrite connects with our social media accounts to make this very easy. We can publish to our Facebook and Twitter accounts straight after we create the event on Eventbrite. This is very helpful so we don’t have to remember to do it in multiple locations.