November 2013



Theosophical Order of Service
Liaison News
November 2013
Warm greetings,
The service ideas in this issue are all about keeping it simple.  Our lives can get complicated as the holidays approach, yet our hearts and minds invariably turn to giving.  The projects below are low-cost ways of giving, and they don't require a huge time commitment. 
I'd love to hear from you and know about any service project, large or small, that your group has done or that you are involved in.  If it worked for your group, it will likely work for others.
In this season of giving thanks, here's an effortless way to raise your vibes and tune in to the transcendent energy of feeling grateful for things we might otherwise overlook:  take a few minutes to watch Brother David Steindl-Rast's video, "A Good Day."  
In service,
Kathy Gann
TOS Liaison Coordinator
Philippines devastated by typhoon--how to help
Super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms in recorded history, has devastated large areas of the Philippines.  The death toll is estimated to reach 10,000.  The TOS-Philippines is engaged in relief efforts and fund raising, and any help you can give is greatly appreciated.  Even small donations help.  Rosel Doval Santos, General Secretary of the TS-Philippines, reports that the residences of several TS members, as well as two TS lodge buildings in the disaster struck areas were wiped out by the storm.   While Manila was spared, the city of Tacloban was the hardest hit.

"The devastation is … I don't have words for it, it is really horrific," the country's interior minister Mar Roxas said in Tacloban. "All systems, all vestiges of modern living, communications, power, water, all are down."

Can you help?  To donate, please visit the TOS-USA donation page and select "Other" as your donation preference from the drop-down menu.  You can leave a payment comment of "Philippines storm" to help the TOS-Philippines in their relief efforts . . . and THANK YOU to all who feel moved to help.

Denver TOS offers community service

GOOD TO GO: END OF LIFE PLANNING--On September 11, 2013, The Denver TOS provided its community with an entertaining yet seriously useful look at end-of-life planning.  Local radio celebrity Jo Myers presented "Good to Go--a Guide to Preparing for the End of Life."  Jo strongly recommends putting your end-of-life plans in place before you and your family are in crisis. A heavy topic was infused with a light touch when Jo grabbed her guitar and sang her original composition, "Shovel Buddies."  Attendees received a "Good to Go" folder from Jo to jump-start their planning, and the TOS handed out copies of Nelda Samarel's booklet "Helping the Dying." 

Jo has authored a book that presents detailed information on all aspects of end-of-life planning, including dealing with tricky family dynamics.  Click here to visit Jo's website and find her book.

Jo Myers, Author and Speaker

Although attendees of the program were wonderfully served by Jo's practical advice on this tough-to-deal-with issue, they also paid it forward with donations and served their fellow Coloradans struggling with cancer.

Donations totaling $50.00 were sent to Jo Myers' charity of choice, the Colorado Cancer Coalition, a statewide network for cancer-related organizations and individuals dedicated to saving lives and improving the quality of life for all Coloradans.

"Death happens.  A good plan helps it happen with fairness, dignity, and integrity."    --Jo Myers

$10.03 . . . PS: you're awesome

Greenfield, Wisconsin, September 13, 2013: a red-haired, freckle-faced boy rode his bike over to the police station after school.  Inside the station, he set down his backpack and dug out a bag of coins he'd been earning and saving all summer.  He placed the bag of coins, a total of $10.03, onto the counter.  The boy stated that he wanted to donate the money to the police.  Then he left before the stunned clerk could ask his name.

After posting his photo on Facebook, the police were able to identify their benefactor, Max Siepert.  See what Max had to say when he was featured on the local news channel, Fox6. Max heard in Social Studies class about the brave deeds of police and fire crews who responded to 9/11, and he also wanted to honor his grandfather, a policeman killed while on duty in 1974.

Max (far left) and his brother had earned the money by putting on talent shows in their back yard, and they also accepted donations from family members.  Max knows it's not a lot of money, but says "One day, that's going to make a difference.  It might not be a really big difference, but at least [it's] something."  Max had no idea how "right on the money" he was.

Max's unassuming gift has inspired grown-ups all over the country to follow suit, many donating exactly $10.03 to good causes of their choice.  Mail has been pouring in to Max's home.  "I think it's really cool that all these people I don't know are donating just like me," said Max, a sixth-grader at Greenfield Middle School.

One note from Massachusetts summed it all up:  "Max, thank you for opening up our eyes and our hearts. P.S. You're awesome."

Will you join me in donating $10.03 to the TOS cause of your choice?  Together, we can do a little good, Max-style.  Just click here, select your favoriteTOS project, and donate $10.03 (or any other amount).  As Max says, "If every person would do that, we would have SUCH a great world."  Right again, Max.

Thanks in advance if you do this.  P.S. You're awesome!

Send kids the world

When Hailey Plunkett was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, a family friend started sending her postcards from all the places in the world his business travels took him.  Then he got co-workers to join in the effort.  Those postcards meant the world to Hailey and her family.  Hailey's mom wrote, "The joy, surprise and happiness it brought to our entire family were truly incredible.  Checking the mailbox, reading the postcards, then locating the countries and states on the map became a family routine.  It gave us the opportunity to temporarily escape from our constant worry and fear by focusing on a brighter part of life."

Hailey's mom, together with helpful friends, designed a website allowing parents of children with life-threatening illnesses to post their contact information online so that kind-hearted people can send postcards to brighten their child's day.

Short, upbeat messages are best, such as "Hey Laura, wishing you a great day from Des Moines, Iowa.  PS:  I see you like fairies--me too!   Love, Mary"

This is such a simple way to make a kindly connection with another soul and send a bit of light into their day.  It's a great activity for individuals or groups--how about a postcard party over the holidays with your fellow theosophists?

Check it out here:

Birdseed Cookies
Now that it's nearly time for holiday baking, don't forget to show your feathered friends some love by baking birdseed cookies.  This is a fun idea for families, or for the next time you need something out of the ordinary for a bake sale.

What you'll need:

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of sugar
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
3/4 cup birdseed (use small seeds)
3 egg whites
Cookie cutters
Paper clips
Yarn to hang cookies


Sift all the dry ingredients together and cut in the shortening with a blunt knife.
Add the eggs.
Add the birdseed and knead until smooth.
Allow the dough to chill overnight.
Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
Insert a paper clip into the top of the shape to act as a hanger.
Brush the cookie with beaten egg whites and press birdseed into the top of the cookie.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until the cookies are hard.
String yarn through the paper clip to make a hanger and hang outside.

Reflections to share if children are involved:

  • How do think the birds will feel when they find these special treats?
  • How does it make you feel to make birdseed cookies and see the birds eat them?
  • Why do you think it's important to care for animals?
  • What other things do you think we could do for the birds?
New technology may replace animal lab testing

Researchers at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering are developing new technology that may make animal testing obsolete.  Computer chips that contain human organ cells function just like a living organ, allowing researchers to test drugs on a human model.  The chips can be linked together so a drug's effects on multiple systems can be tested quickly and easily.  

Lead researcher Dr. Donald Ingber explains the lung-on-a-chip, "We actually have hollow channels that mimic the air sack of our lung; we have cells from a human air sack on top of a membrane with air on the opposite side of the membrane, just like in our lungs; we have capillary blood vessels with medium mimicking blood and flowing by. We can put white blood cells in, and then we can make it breathe. It actually stretches and relaxes. Doing all that, it actually mimics whole organ function."  Researchers can introduce pathogens to produce disease, then introduce a drug to test for both safety and efficacy.

Thus far, funding has been provided to develop 10 chips, including lung, kidney, heart, liver, gut, bone marrow, brain, skin, blood-brain barrier, and aerosol delivery.Watch a video that explains how it works.  Below: gut-on-a-chip.

Pharmaceutical companies are paying attention, as the technology will allow research to be performed more accurately, quickly and cost-effectively.  Animal testing is slow and costly, and animal models are not fully predictive of how a drug will function in humans. The result has been catastrophic clinical failures of many drugs, with devastating injuries. Mercifully, the technology could put an end to much of the cruel animal testing now routinely performed in laboratories all over the world.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." -William James

"A union of those who love in the service of all that suffers."


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