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WEB REVIEW: Super Bowl adds momentum to charity effort

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Jim Cota

When I think about why I love Indianapolis, I realize it’s the people who make it great—people who are willing to put others first, to step into the breach, to volunteer time, talent and treasure to help others.

You might just call it Midwestern sensibility. Regardless of where people originated, once they settle here, their better selves seem to rise to the surface. We’re so nice, even Raiders fans elevate their behavior when they’re in town.

It’s not surprising then, that a program such as Baskets of Hope has caught on here.

The charity launched in St. Louis with the goal of providing gift baskets to sick kids to help lift their spirits. Quarterback Kurt Warner was involved in the early stages, and when he was asked who else might be interested in getting involved, he mentioned Tony Dungy.

The program branched to Indianapolis in 2002 and Dungy became national spokesman. Today, Baskets of Hope delivers thousands of baskets to hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses around the country each year. The baskets contain age-appropriate toys, games, crafts, movies, pre-loaded MP3 players, gift certificates, and much more.

In many cases, the baskets are hand-delivered by celebrities, sports stars and community leaders. Parents also receive Hope Totes, filled with Bibles, journals, inspirational books and music to provide encouragement and support during difficult times.

With the Super Bowl coming to Indiana for the first time, some of that Midwestern sensibility got mixed up with Midwestern creativity and Super Baskets of Hope was born.

The idea was both simple and ambitious: Fill 7,000 baskets with products that represent Indiana and send them to every city with an NFL franchise, nearly doubling the reach of Baskets of Hope in one massive undertaking.

Volunteers were recruited and planning took off. Soon, sponsors signed on and products began flowing: The Colts and Pacers, Vera Bradley, LIDS, The Tony Stewart Foundation, The Saturday Evening Post, Fundex and many others donated goods to help fill the baskets. 

Many other organizations donated money and services, from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans to Indiana University Health.

Now, with a little more than a month to go, nearly everything is in place. But more help is needed. There are two major endeavors left: filling the 7,000 baskets and delivering them to each of the NFL cities.

Fortunately, plenty of volunteers have signed up to help fill and prepare the baskets. What’s needed now is funding for delivering the baskets. The logistics and costs involved with transporting thousands of baskets to cities across the country are daunting.

How can you help? I knew you’d ask.

The website www.superbasketsofhope.org has additional information about the program. You’ll also find a map that shows which hospitals in each city will be receiving baskets, which is a nice way to see exactly what all the effort is for.

If you’d like to do more, visit www.basketsofhope.org. It describes how the program works, which cities are active, and opportunities for involvement long after the Super Bowl has moved on to the next destination.

Who knows? Maybe with a little luck, a little effort, and a dose of Midwestern sensibility, the momentum created by the Super Baskets of Hope program will help the program take root in new cities and bring a smile to more children suffering from serious illnesses.

And that would be even better than lifting the Lombardi trophy again.•

__________

Cota is creative director of Rare Bird Inc., a full-service advertising agency specializing in the use of new technologies. His column appears monthly. He can be reached at jim@rarebirdinc.com.

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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