Friday, July 26, 2013

Cancer moved her to help others

As posted on the Niagara Falls Review website, July 26, 2013
By Grant LaFleche

It sounds like a cliche but it is true nevertheless. Surviving cancer changes a person.

More than most, cancer survivors possess a keen sense of their own mortality. They know intimately the fragile and transient nature of life. Maybe it ends tomorrow, maybe a decade from now. But it will end. So the desire not just to live, but to do something meaningful, can come sharply into focus.

"Everyone always does it. I did it. There are things you want to do, but you always think there is time. You put it off to some time in the future when you think circumstances will be perfect. But then you never do it," says Joan Hatcher. "After my experience with cancer, I couldn't wait anymore. There wasn't time to wait anymore."

Knowing time was no longer her ally, Hatcher boarded a plane to Africa to help children in need.

Five years ago, Hatcher's life stepped through the Looking Glass when a routine mammogram discovered she had breast cancer.

At the time, she believed herself to be indestructible. Even though the disease killed her sister, Hatcher refused to accept cancer could touch her.

Until it did.

A double mastectomy followed. Chemotherapy. Hair loss. Breast reconstruction surgery.

It redefined Hatcher's entire life. Knowing how quickly sand could run out of the hour glass, the Niagara Health System physician recruiter started doing things she always wanted to do. Including going to Africa.

"While I was going through all my chemo and surgery in 2010, I had some very good friends who went on a bed distribution trip with the Sleeping Children Around The World organization," Hatcher said. "I had always said I was going to go to Africa someday. I heard them talk about and saw their pictures and when I went home I realized that someday is now."

Hatcher says she had long known about Sleeping Children, a charitable organization that provides bedding, clothes and school supplies to children in need in Third World countries. A family friend had once donated a bed kit to the group in Hatcher's late father's name.

She's made donations to the group, but now she wanted to be part of the front line, distributing the kits in some of the poorest areas of the planet.

Hatcher was interviewed and accepted as a volunteer quickly, but it took two years of waiting before she was able to go on a trip.

"They have a number of volunteers and they can only take one first timer on a trip," Hatcher said.

She left on May 22. She returned three weeks later with a new perspective on the world.

The conditions many of the children in Ugandan villages are living in were shocking to Hatcher. No utilities. Sometimes, not even a floor. She even saw once shack a family called home that featured a massive anthill in the living room.

Although she stayed in conditions better than the children, Hatcher — who admits to being attached to her creature comforts — had to go without most of the amenities of home.

"You'd shower, but it was so hot that the moment you got out you were sweating again," she said. "Uganda is covered in this fine, red dirt and by the end of the day it was everywhere. You were covered in it."

It didn't matter. The Sleeping Children group she was with handed out 500 kits a day. They would travel to drop-off locations and people from nearby villages would walk to meet them.

Hatcher said the bed kits were a vast improvement over what the kids already had, but they were not about providing luxury, but saving lives. Mosquito borne malaria is a killer in Uganda.

"So it was a matter of life and death in some cases," she said. "We saw so many children with malaria."

Although the netting might be the most critical part of the kits, the school supplies were what put smiles on the children's faces.

"They went crazy for that. Absolutely nuts," Hatcher says. "They don't have anything like paper. This meant they could go to school."

Hatcher says education has allowed some Ugandans to start to break the the cycle of poverty, and the younger generation knows it.

"It's one thing to go and do something you've always wanted to do, but it is another to something that really has an impact, that makes a difference in the lives other people," Hatcher says. "I would go again in a heartbeat."

It was only three weeks. But much like the disease that drove her to go, those weeks in Africa changed the way Hatcher viewed her place in the world.

Sleeping Children:

Sleeping children is a not-for-profit that delivers bed kits to children living in poverty around the world.

A donation of $35 provides a kit of a mattress, sheets, clothes, a mosquito net, pillow and school supplies to kids. The 43-year-old organization has provided kits to children in 33 countries.

For more information go online to

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Goulash Cookout for SCAW - August 24

The Third Annual

Manning & Tolnai
Goulash Cookout

Homemade Pies, Cakes, Cookies,
Salads, Bread, and
Hungarian Goulash

Hastings, ON

Saturday August 24, 2013

$15 per person

(Children under 12 free)
100% of money will be donated to
Sleeping Children Around the World

Click graphic to see a larger version
and directions.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quilt Show for SCAW - July 20 & 21

The Healing Gardens of

Rural Rootz

Nature Reserve

Second annual "Block Party"

Quilt Show

Saturday & Sunday:
July 20-21 - 10am to 5pm

Admission by donation to
Sleeping Children Around the World

Click graphic to see a larger version
and driving directions.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dave Dryden continues to make Sleeping Children Around The World a success

As posted on the Pros Give Back website, July 6, 2013.

Dave Dryden split the 14 seasons he played as a professional goaltender between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the World Hockey Association (WHA). Since the Edmonton Oilers were part of the World Hockey Association for most of the years he spent with them, he appeared in more NHL games as a member of the Buffalo Sabres than any other team. While Dave was off to a fresh start with the Sabres in 1970, his parents, Murray and Margaret Dryden, were off to a fresh start of their own. That year they founded Sleeping Children Around The World, an organization that provides bedkits to children in underdeveloped and developing countries.

“Well, I remember when I was playing with the Sabres and Dad was talking about this idea. He didn’t really talk about it much the first couple of years, he wanted to sort of see if it could work, I think, before he even mentioned it to Ken or I or my sister, Judy,” explained Dave Dryden.

“When he started it and told me about it I thought it was a neat idea, but I was unsure of how much it was going to accomplish. In every way we were supportive but we weren’t involved, simply because we were involved in our own lives at the time,” he continued.

“The way it worked was the administrative stuff was done by my mother and father from their house, but when it came to going overseas to distribute the bedkits my dad went away sometimes for one month, sometimes two months and sometimes for three months to give these bedkits out and to travel. It was something that was going on in the ‘70s, but something that Ken, Judy and myself didn’t know all of the details about.”

As something that started off so small with distributions of 50-100 bedkits, Sleeping Children Around The World has been able to grow over the years and donate more and more bedkits to underprivileged children around the world. Dave believes that it wasn’t only the hard work that his parents put forth to make Sleeping Children the success that is today, but it was also the passion that they had for what they were doing.

“As I’m finding now, when I go around and see people who knew my dad back in those early days, he really did motivate them to get involved. He was very passionate about what he did, very ethical and very upfront and he made people want to help out,” explained the Hamilton, Ontario native.

“I’m in a position now where maybe 75 or 80 times a year I’m out going to churches or rotary clubs to speak to people about Sleeping Children and so many times people will come up to me and tell me about how my dad spoke to them 25 years ago and they still remember it and I think it’s great. I’m learning a lot about my mom and dad right now than I would normally know because these are people that saw them in a difference perspective from how I saw them,” he continued.

“I like how much people actually want to get involved and help people. They’re not sure where they want to put their support, but they do want to do something and my dad’s approach to it with 100% of the proceeds going towards the cause really won people over and they became really passionate about this.”

Dryden may not have understood his parents’ passion when this all began when he was younger, but throughout the years, as the President of Sleeping Children, he has really started to understand why they started it in the first place. The passion that his dad once had for Sleeping Children is now being mirrored through him.

“What I’m noticing now after being involved for over 20 years is that it’s the passion that is most needed out there. When people have a passion to do something it seems that the money falls along. If you have all sorts of money and no passion then nothing positive happens out of it. The people that I’m involved with on a day-to-day basis at Sleeping Children are so passionate about what they do and it goes a long way.”

Dave’s favourite thing to do through Sleeping Children is going overseas to give out the bedkits. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to distribute all of them, but it’s a unique experience.

“It’s thrilling to actually hand a bedkit to a child because it’s like Christmas, it’s like handing them a Christmas present.”

Throughout the years Sleeping Children has given out kits to nearly 1.3 million children. The kits go a long way because they can benefit the entire family and a lot of the stuff can be handed down to younger children.
“The biggest impact that I see is that a bedkit is given to a child and a family. It has bedding, clothing, school supplies and mosquito net. Right off the bat the mosquito net is going to be something that the entire family can use because it’s so large. You give them the bedding and you just know that a lot of them are going to get a better night’s sleep because many of them were sleeping on the floor and on the mud,” stated Dryden.

“Their parents tell me they get a better night’s sleep and you and I both know how much better we feel after a decent sleep. Our thing is, if a child is safe and healthy and getting a good night’s sleep, you want them to get up in the morning and do whatever they need to do so that they end up, you know, maybe getting out of the poverty trap,” he continued.

“Every country we go to, I find this to be the most uplifting thing actually, every country we go to when we talk to the parents or caregivers of the kids getting the bedkits they tell us the same thing, they want their kids to go to school and in a lot of these countries you can’t go to school unless you have the school uniform or supplies so we put the supplies where it’s possible in the bedkits because we know we’re helping kids go to school. When you realize what your donation gets, it is totally worth the $35. Your donation purchases a kit that will make an impact on a kid’s life and make them feel good and confident about themselves.”

Each year, Dryden and members from Sleeping Children return to areas that they previously visited to see the kind of impact that the kits have made. Dryden enjoys going to the distribution sites to give out the kits because he gets to see the smiles on all the faces.

“What we do is we get our team to unpack a bedkit to hold up all of the different items so that the kids and parents can see what they’re getting and we let them know everyone will get the same item so there’s no scrabbling or anything like that, and the cheering that goes on is unreal,” he explained.

“I mean, you hold up a package of pencils and they really go wild about it and the thing that typically draws the most cheer is the school supplies, not just from the kids, but from the parents as well, because now that money that would have been used on the supplies can go towards food to feed the family.”

For an organization that Dave Dryden wasn’t too sure of in the beginning, it now amazes him how much of a difference his parents were able to make. He understands the vision that they had when they first started Sleeping Children Around The World and it’s safe to say he now shares the same one.

“What I’m amazed about is that I used to say to my dad I don’t know if this works or that works but I’m finding out now that he really came up with a good system. The fact that we buy all of the goods overseas or get them made in the country that we are in makes a huge difference in their economy and gives them the jobs that they need.”

To learn more about Sleeping Children Around The World, visit

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Students use pennies for a good cause

As posted on the Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin, July 4, 2013
By Emily Innes
COLLINGWOOD – Students from a local elementary school turned pennies into a gift for a child in need in a developing country.

Students at Connaught Public School held a penny drive to raise funds to purchase a bedkit from the not-for-profit charity Sleeping Children Around the World.

Albert Gardiner, a local volunteer with SCAW, gave a presentation to students in Grades 2 to 4 to show them the difference their pennies are making.

Gardiner laid out the contents of the bedkit: a mat or mattress, a pillow, sheets, a blanket, a mosquito net, clothes, a towel and school supplies.

“These things we take for granted that we have them every day of the week, but they have never seen these things,” said Gardiner.

The bag costs $35 and is assembled in the country where they are distributed.

He said it is a rewarding experience to bring the kits to the children because they are so grateful.

“They kissed our feet like we are a god,” he said. “But, that’s all thanks to you guys.”

The students watched a short video about the history of SCAW.

Founder Murray Dryden travelled east from Manitoba during the Great Depression in the 1930s and had to endure many nights without food or a bed and vowed to one day to help others who didn’t have a place to sleep.

Dryden and his wife, Margaret, began the charity in 1970 and after he died, he donated his home to be used for the organization, therefore 100% of donations go straight to the bedkits.

SCAW has raised more than $23 million to provide bedkits for children in 33 countries. They have delivered more than a million kits.

Connaught has been supporting the charity for more than 12 years and has donated about 500 kits.

One student after the presentation said he wished he could give $20 to SCAW.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

IPL Supports Sleeping Children Around the World

As posted on YouTube by the Innisfil Public Library, July 2, 2013.

This summer the Innisfil Public Library is once again participating in the TD Summer Reading Program. In addition to supporting literacy through the months of July and August, IPL will be supporting a very worthy cause - Sleeping Children Around the World.

Keep reading Innisfil and help us reach our goal of purchasing 4 Bed Kits for this amazing cause!