Tag Archives: charity

Thursday:) McKinney Empty Bowls 2021

30 Apr

“After a full belly all is poetry.”
― Frank McCourt


This evening was the wonderful McKinney Empty Bowls event at MPAC on the Square. The annual charity event supports Community LifeLine, which helps feed the less fortunate in our community. The rain held off, with threatening clouds and drizzle all day. We lucked out.

I was honored that my bowl was displayed front and center of the display with all the other awesome handcrafted auction bowls.
There were hundreds of event bowls that were available with the purchase of a ticket, and others for an additional fee. These were created by volunteers, church and school groups, and other donations.
There was entertainment and many restaurants and area food vendors donated soups and desserts to feed the visitors.

Local potters were on hand to show the art of throwing clay bowls. My friend Steve Macias was busy creating beautiful bowls.

Bernard’s Gourmet Foods won People’s Choice for their black bean soup. I’ll have to agree. Congratulations David Bernard!

A big thank you to all the volunteers, donors, artists and visitors who came together to support Community LifeLine and feeding the hungry, “ONE BOWL AT A TIME.”

Wednesday:) Words of Wisdom~What Are You Doing For Others?

15 Apr

“Life’s persistent and most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

Martin Luther King Jr.


Sometimes I wonder if people reading my stories about taking brownies to the firemen, or volunteering with local senior artists, or taking food and treats to the preschool, well, I wonder if they think I’m trying to toot my own horn or show off. The truth of the matter is, I have found that when I share some of these random acts of kindness, often times, other people are influenced to join in on the fun. Yes, fun. Friends have given me checks to donate, others have given me cookies to take to my firemen, and others have joined me in volunteering. And guess what? They had fun and felt joy, too.

There is no greater satisfaction in the world than making someone smile. It could be something as simple as paying a compliment to a stranger, or writing a note or making a call to an old friend. And, my firemen love my brownies and always smile. From my own experience, I have found that the more I give, the more I receive.

I always say that my cup isn’t half full or half empty, but rather, it’s always overflowing. I have been blessed with so much that I try and share a little of my blessings with others. Then, right when the cup starts getting a tiny bit lower, it gets filled to overflowing again, so I need to share again. That’s how my universe works.

Monday, Helene and I went over to Holy Family School over on the east side. During the course of the month, we shop the sales at different stores for items that the little ones can use, anything from baby wipes to cookies to, the ever popular, Mickey Mouse Goldfish crackers. We delight in sharing our bargains. Then, about once a month, we gather a trunk load of items and take it over.

This month, I hit the jackpot, apple juice was only 99 cents, as well as the bags of cookies. Helene had puddings, cookies, and a bunch of other treats at her house.
Between the two of us, we had a trunk load of goodies for the little ones.
Miss Melody greeted us with the biggest smile, even under her mask. She knows that we are just two ladies that appreciate what the school is doing to help the young children and families in the neighborhood.

If we all just give back a little to our community, the world could be a better happier place. I know Helene and I are happier every time we visit.

Tuesday:) To Do Good is Noble

25 Sep

“To do good is noble. To tell others to do good is even nobler and much less trouble.”

― Mark Twain


Teaching by example is the most effective way I know to influence others. Sometimes I wonder if people think I share my “goodie-two-shoes” adventures for the recognition, or a pat on the back. Quite the contrary. I like to write about these things so others might say to themselves, “Hmmm! That’s a great idea. I should do that too.”

When I read about the Little Free Food Pantries placed around town a couple of years ago, I started taking can goods there. Someone shared that idea on Facebook and influenced me, and I shared my stories, hoping to do the same.

After learning a little more about Holy Family School at the recent fundraising gala, I asked my friend Michele, a board member, if the non-profit pre-school could use some peanut butter that I’d been collecting. She said they could use pretty much anything. The grocery stores always have some really great bargains and coupons to get you in the store, so I love to take advantage of the sales and share with those less fortunate. Last week, Kroger had baby wipes on sale, so I thought, perfect. Yesterday, I gathered my jars of peanut butter, baby wipes and some cans of tuna, and drove over to Holy Family School on the east side of town.

The director greeted me with a big smile and a hug, as she examined the contents of the bags. I asked her if there were any special items the young pre-schoolers could use. She mentioned granola bars, cereals, bread, milk, and a few other items. I popped that into my memory banks for the future.

When the director asked my name, I said, “Toni. The last name is way too long and confusing.” I think she was going to write it down because I would want a tax deduction letter. I told her that I didn’t need any letters or recognition, I just wanted to do something for the little ones.


Today, when I was looking through the grocery store sale ads, aha, I saw that Kroger has Quaker chewy granola bars on sale for 99cents with Kroger card. That’s a great sale. I know what my next donation will be. When you do your grocery shopping, maybe consider picking up a few things to donate to a food pantry, shelter, or other non-profit organization. Something to think about.

My philosophy is, “When you’ve been given so much, it’s nice to give back a little.”

Saturday:) Spectacular Holy Family School Fundraiser at The Sanctuary

22 Sep

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

― Calvin Coolidge


I was honored to be invited to this lovely fundraising event supporting Holy Family School. Linda Grossman, (World’s Greatest Realtor) purchased a table and invited nine friends to join her. There was a wonderful silent auction and The Who’s Who of McKinney attended. It was great to bump into good friends, dancing, eating, and of course, bidding on wonderful auction items.

Linda and I joined a host of volunteers who went over to The Sanctuary around 2pm to set up and organize before the gala. I knew it would be a good night because when I was putting away some things in the storage room, I found a lucky penny.

Everyone had a great time, and thousands of dollars were raised for a very worthy cause. Holy Family School has been providing education, care, love, and spiritual guidance for young children since 1951.

Mayor George Fuller, Maylee Thomas, Rick Wells, and other McKinney dignitaries attended, and also made very generous donations.

Selfie with the Mayor. Fun night. A successful fundraiser for Holy Family School. Thank you Linda Grossman for all you do, including volunteering to be the newest board member of Holy Family School.

Saturday:) Share a Smile With Amazon Smile

17 Nov

“Sharing a smile doesn’t cost you anything, and can mean so much to someone else.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I have been so blessed in my life, and one of the many things I learned from my sainted mother is, when you are blessed, you have to share your blessings with others.

If Mom cooked or baked, she would share with neighbors and friends. If she painted note cards or artwork or made some adorable craft, she made dozens, so she could share. Trini was an excellent seamstress, so she made beautiful dolls and knitted scarves, but also volunteered to do mending and hemming for anyone who asked, ( I asked all the time.)

So, when you see all my posts with me taking brownies to the firemen or soup to my neighbors, hmm…I wonder where I got that from?

When I found out that anyone who is an Amazon account member could sign up to have a portion of their sales be donated to a charity of their choice, I quickly signed up. It didn’t cost a thing, and took about three minutes of my time. I’ve been volunteering with the wonderful non-profit called THE BELLA HOUSE that helps, councils, and nurtures young homeless expectant mothers in the North Texas area.

There are so many ways to help, but signing up for Amazon Smile doesn’t cost a thing. My family and some friends have already signed up. If you would consider helping out THE GABRIEL DBA THE BELLA HOUSE, I would be eternally grateful.

When you share a smile, someone up in heaven smiles back, I know.

Thank you. Hugs!


The Bella House invites you to consider choosing The Bella House as your favorite charity to benefit from every Amazon purchase you make.  We have established an Amazon wish list to provide opportunities for Bella House supporters to make purchases to send needed supplies directly to the Bella House to benefit the mothers and babies who call the Bella House their home.

Smile Amazon

Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice when you shop at smile.amazon.com.  Smile Amazon is the same Amazon you know with the added benefit of supporting charitable organizations.  On your first visit to Smile Amazon (smile.amazon.com) you are prompted to select a charitable organization (The Gabriel House DBA The Bella House) from Amazon’s list of eligible organizations.  You can change your selection at any time.

Simply begin your Amazon shopping from smile.amazon.com and choose your charity of choice (The Gabriel House DBA The Bella House, Plano TX Founded 2015).  For more information about the Smile Amazon program go to http://smile.amazon.com/about.

Amazon Wish list for The Bella House

Get on amazon smile.com (or Amazon.com). Click on Account and Lists.  Then click on Find a List or Registry.  Then Enter the name:  Bella House.  Then click on Search.  Then click on the result entitled Bella House DALLAS TX.   Once you’ve located the Bella House list, you can click Remember if you’d like to save the link to the list. You will see the Bella House Wish List at this point.  Most if not all of the items listed will be free to ship if you have Amazon Prime.

If you would like a tax receipt for your donation, to preserve your privacy, please notify the Bella House at

contact@bellahouse.org and provide the item(s) purchased and the date and your contact information.

Montage Monday and McKinney Helps Fill the Truck for the Samaritan Inn

13 Nov

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

― Charles Dickens


Thanksgiving and Christmas are always considered the seasons of giving and sharing. People are more generous during the holidays. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could feel that spirit all year round?

My friends Johnny and Julie B. have been braving the frigid temperatures today for the annual FILL THE TRUCK for the Samaritan Inn food drive. This is community shelter that is always filled to capacity, with a waiting list, with hundreds of people being turned away each year because of lack of available rooms. Sad.

The truck will remain parked in front of Super 1 Foods on Virginia and 75 Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Samaritan Inn’s Mission

We are a comprehensive homeless program that helps willing people gain dignity and independence.

I stopped by with a bag of groceries this afternoon. It was bitterly cold, but Johnny B and J J Gato were out there accepting contributions and donations.

It was inspiring to see these folks out there, but it was sad to see that there were hardly any donations in the truck. Look at this almost empty truck after almost ten hours of these brave volunteers waiting for the community to bring some donations. They will be out there Tuesday and Wednesday, so you still have time to help fill the truck.

Look!!! Not much in there.

Julie B. was inside Super 1 for a few minutes to warm up and check on the volunteers inside the store. People can also purchase already packaged donation bags inside the store while they shop.

Consider stopping by and supporting this great cause. While you’re outside on these gloomy cold days, try and remember that there are so many hungry and homeless people right in your own community. A little help goes a long way.


Now, for a week in a peek and Montage Monday.

Thursday:) THIS IS THE DAY!!!! North Texas Giving Day

20 Sep

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.”

― Abraham Lincoln



I wrote a blog the other day asking friends and family if they had just $10 or $20 to spare or to share, would they consider donating it to a very worthy cause? Today is North Texas Giving Day, and there are hundreds of charities that are hoping for donations. But, I have become very involved in the Bella House organization here in North Texas. There are many charities helping homeless animals, or maintaining historic buildings, or preserving wildlife, BUT, Bella House lovingly reaches out to young homeless expectant women who have no place to live and no one to turn to. They are scared and alone. I can’t even imagine that feeling. Can you?

I know you have charities near and dear to your heart, but if I asked you, “Hey, do you have $10 to spare?” You most likely would reach into your pocket and hand it to me, no questions asked. So, that’s what I’m doing today.

You may have already donated today, but “Hey, do you have $10 to spare for ME?”

My sister, Jo Ann, has already made a very generous donation directly to the address below. You don’t have to use the NTX Giving Day site. You may feel more comfortable sending a check. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

Love you! ❤️

The Bella House

P.O. Box 940802

Plano TX 75094

10 Reasons why donors should give to the Bella House via NorthTexasGivingDay.org/the-bella-house

1. It’s a Community-wide Celebration! North Texas Giving Day is an event that lifts up giving by engaging the entire community to support The BELLA HOUSE; celebrating the important part it plays in strengthening the region.

2. Your Gift Matters – Everyone can be a philanthropist on North Texas Giving Day! Every gift, no matter what size, truly makes a difference!

3. Fundraising Efficiency – North Texas Giving Day is an efficient way to raise funding for providing a safe haven for pregnant homeless mothers in the Dallas area.

4. Powerful One-Stop Shop – NorthTexasGivingDay.org/the-bella-house   provides an easy way for everyone to give while providing a one-stop shop website featuring more than 2,700 nonprofits. Support all your causes in one place.

5. To Make Tomorrow Better – North Texas Giving Day creates a sense of urgency and excitement to support the needs in our own backyard.

6. Be a Part of Something Bigger! When we all give together on one day, it shows how much we believe that our nonprofit sector makes North Texas a great place to live.

7. Prizes! By giving through North Texas Giving Day, you’re helping the Bella House qualify for one or more of approximately 100 prizes.

8. “We” is Greater Than “Me.” Giving together is more powerful (and fun) than giving alone.

9. Pride Point – Our Big-as-Texas giving spirit also becomes a great pride point to share with prospective new

families and businesses who may relocate here. A community that gives together, grows together!

10. Set a National Record! We’re Texan – we do things bigger and better. What’s more fun than setting a world record in giving!?

The Bella House

P.O. Box 940802

Plano TX 75094


Monday:) Mark Your Calendars…PLEASE !

18 Sep

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

― John Bunyan



I’ve been asked many times by many people over the years to contribute to various charities. Generally, I can spare a few dollars, even though I live on a fairly limited budget now, I always remember that I’ve been very blessed. Also, being an artist, I’m always asked to donate artwork or some of my hand-painted wine glasses, vases or ornaments. Again, my talents and gifts are meant to be shared.

Rarely, have I ever asked friends or family to donate to any particular charity. But,The Bella House has become very near and dear to my heart. A few weeks ago, I visited the Plano Bella House with my friend and director, Mary Reddan. I was very impressed. I was very moved.

TODAY, I’M ASKING FOR YOUR HELP. This Thursday, 9-20-18 is the Annual North Texas Giving Day.

Can you spare just $10 or $20? If a lot of people give just a little, it really adds up and makes a difference.

After visiting the Plano Bella House, I saw firsthand how the lives of young homeless women and their babies can be changed with love, support, and dignity.

So, please check out the websites and watch this inspirational video and mark your calendars for North Texas Giving Day September 20th. If you miss the date, don’t worry. Any day is a good day to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate. Thank you!



Friday:) Women in Service 6th Annual Luncheon

19 May

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”

~Douglas Adams


I had the pleasure of attending the 6th Annual Women in Service Luncheon today, hosted by the LoveLife Foundation and Maylee Thomas-Fuller. The even was held at the Sanctuary in McKinney. The charity event supports at-risk women and children in Collin County.

Guest speaker, Holly Snell, is executive director of Hope Women’s Center right here in McKinney. Holly spoke about how God turned an extreme tragedy in her life into restoration, and a blessing to others. Her story had the entire room in tears.

It was also wonderful to see many McKinney friends, all women who support their community in many ways. There was a wonderful lunch, door prizes, raffle, and gifts for each guest. Oh, let’s not forget the lovely hand-painted vases and gift bag for our table, created by yours truly, commissioned by my good friend…and World’s Greatest Realtor, Linda Grossman.

The bottom inscription says 1COR 13:13. Faith Hope Love ❤️

Just a few of my good friends attending.

When I first arrived, I was busy setting up the table, so I didn’t purchase any raffle tickets. I wasn’t going to, but then a thought popped in my head, “I always win something.” So I purchased just one little lonely $10 raffle ticket and put it in the little box in front of the wine basket filled with wine accessories and gadgets. Well, you know what’s coming next. Maylee said, “Now, for the wine basket, number ending in 546… I looked at my ticket…Yep, it was my number.

At the closing, Maylee asked for prayers and support, not only for LoveLife Foundation, but also for the city of McKinney. Her husband, and also mayor of McKinney, George Fuller, has had to deal with some recent controversial events. The Fullers hope to raise awareness and bring our community closer, instead of dividing it.

Maylee’s closing words…


So, what is our purpose here on this planet? I think it’s to love one another, help one another, and be happy. Today was a good happy day.

Tuesday:) Take What You Need, Leave What You Can

10 May

Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others. 

~Saint Augustine


I had lunch with my friend Zelda yesterday at Snug on the Square. We walked around the square, and I remembered that I had a bag of canned goods to drop off at the Little Free Pantry. Being a frugal savvy sale shopper, when I find a great bargain on canned good, etc. I always pick up extra for the food pantry, or when Boy Scouts or churches are collecting, or for the Little Free Pantry. 

The Little Free Pantry is located outside of Hugs Café, 224 E. Virginia St., McKinney. Local residents can drop-off nonperishable items, including peanut butter, toilet paper, paper towels, deodorant, ready-made meals, canned meats, canned goods, sealed boxed goods, baby products, diapers, formula, cereal, cleaning products, toiletries and more. Those in need can stop by and pick out whatever they could use, all anonymously, no forms or formalities. 

As you can see, the pamtry is a little empty. When you have been blessed, it’s always good to share your blessings with others. The blessings are returned ten-fold.