A national program that delivers free books and CDs on Jewish culture has finally arrived in South Palm Beach County.
The PJ Library – that refers to “pajamas” – will now be available in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Highland Beach, following programs in North Palm Beach,
Broward and Miami-Dade.
Here’s how it works: Parents raising a Jewish child age 6 months to 8 years sign up online. Every month – for free – they’ll receive a high-quality age-appropriate children’s book or CD to keep about Jewish culture, traditions and values.
Some recent titles in the program include Good Night Israel by Mark Jasper, Dinosaur on Passover by Diane Levin, The Longest Night by Laurel Snyder and the Shalom Sesame DVD series (Shabbat Shalom Grover!).
Parents we know in Miami-Dade and Broward treasure their subscriptions.
Nationally, PJ Library sends out more than 111,000 books a month.
To launch the South Palm Beach program, sample books will be mailed to almost 50,000 local homes in mid-April.
A group of local mothers worked to bring the program – a partnership of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which sponsors the program nationally, and
the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Union for Reform Judaism, Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation, as well as local program contributors Barbara Extein, Anne & Norman Jacobson, Larry Phillips, Dorothy Seaman and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of South Palm Beach County.
Joanna Drowos, a physician and mother of two preschoolers who helped advocate for the local program, said in a press release: “PJ Library provides families with a perfect platform to spend time together, combining Jewish learning and values with a love of reading.”
TO LEARN MORE
Sign up at PJLibrary.org
Like PJLibrarySouthPalmBeach on Facebook
- CHARLENE PACENTI
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Mint.com estimates that disposable diapers for the first 12 months of a child’s life cost about $800.
For families who are struggling to buy food, medicine and other necessities, this can be a huge burden.
The Junior League of Boca Raton is helping alleviate that need in south Palm Beach and northern Broward counties with its diaper bank.
It distributes about 20,000 diapers a month for about 500 children in need through 10 local social service agencies, including Family Promise of South Palm Beach County, which serves homeless families, the Florence Fuller Center in Boca and Women in Distress in Deerfield Beach.
“The need is great,” said Harlee Ann Samuels, chair of the diaper bank: Twenty-two percent of children under age 5 in Palm Beach County are living in poverty.
The Junior Leagues’s diaper bank was started in 2011 when Huggies, discovering that 1 in 3 moms were struggling to buy diapers, reached out to see if the organization could manage the distribution of 200,000 free ones. The all-volunteer Boca league went to work to find agencies that help families in need, got donated storage space and got to work.
Now the diaper bank also accepts donations of cash and diapers and conducts diaper drives, supported by the community and other organizations. Recently, the Rainbow of Love Preschool, the local Lilly Pulitzer store and others collected diapers for the bank.
Currently, the bank only distributes disposable diapers. Even though using cloth diapers can save a family thousands of dollars over three years, many families in need don’t have access to their own laundry facilities, Samuels said. Many laundromats don’t allow cloth diapers, and even some child care centers won’t accept them.
At the diaper bank, Samuels leads a committee of 12 Junior League volunteers, who coordinate diaper drives, drop-off locations and distribution to the agencies who serve the parents.
It’s fulfilling work.
“I know that babies are being taken care of,” Samuels said. “It’s all about the babies.”
HOW TO HELP
The Junior League Diaper Bank accepts donations of all brands and sizes (newborn to pull-up) of disposable diapers, even open packages. They especially need size 6 months. Diapers can be dropped off at these locations:
And a couple of diaper drives:
Monetary donations can be made to the “Every Little Bottom” project at the Junior League’s website.
Like Junior League of Boca Raton Diaper Bank on Facebook.
Performers from Sol Children Theatre Troupe.
Now that we’re into back-to-school mode – well, once this rain clears! - it’s time to start scheduling those extra-curricular activities, as well.
Fall is a busy season to sign up for sports and year-round activities and clubs.
If you are looking for some new interests for your kids, here is a sampling of the options you can still get into this season:
Soccer season is coming soon. The deadline for registering with the Soccer Association of Boca Raton is Sept. 15. Practices are one night a week with a weekend game. For ages 4 to 18. Registration is $120 a player, including uniform (but not cleats). Register online at www.sabrsoccer.net.
There are still spaces available for East Boca Tackle football cheerleading. Registration continues until Sept. 1 for girls age 6-12. Practice two nights a week, plus one or two games a week. $175 includes uniforms.
The United States Cheerleading Association offers several cheerleading programs at the Sugar Sand Park Field House, starting in September. Get the details in The Recreator.
Several local drama programs are registering students for fall. Sol Children Theatre Troupe is a nonprofit organization that offers weekly classes in improv, acting, musical theater and more for ages 5 to 12 and older. Last call for registration is Sept. 21. Course descriptions at solchildren.org.
The nonprofit Sunflower Creative Arts is revamping and adding some new drama programs, beginning this week. There are classes for ages 4-6, 7-10, 10-14, and an improv class for ages 13-18. Sunflower is also adding a theater class for kids on the autism spectrum, age 7-10. Get details at sunflowercreativearts.org. (More on other new Sunflower programs below).
Showtime Performing Arts Theatre offers group classes in theater (as well as voice, dance and some musical instruments) for ages 4-adult, starting this week. The first show of the season will be Mary Poppins. Get details and register at showtimeboca.com.
Mommy & Me
The city offers several classes for parents with their babies and toddlers, which will be starting again in the next few weeks. Get the details in The Recreator.
Sunflower Creative Arts is expanding its Little Sprouts Mommy & Me class (for toddlers 18 months to 3 years with an adult) to include Saturdays – great for working parents. And it’s starting a new class called Sunflower Babies for infants up to 8 months with an adult. Get times and other details at the Sunflower website.
BocaParent Guru contributor Karen Deerwester is the Mommy & Me director at B’nai Torah Congregation, where classes begin in September. There is still space available for all ages. Get the info at the B’nai Torah website.
Sunflower will also resume its Roots & Shoots chapter this fall. Membership is free. Roots & Shoots is an international service organization for kids. Sunflower offers it for two age groups: 5-9 and 10-16. Members do local service projects that show caring for the environment, animals and people. Registration info at the Sunflower website. You can read about some of the group’s past activities in the BocaParent blog.
Find many, many more options for classes and activities for all ages offered by the city, parks and libraries in the latest edition of The Recreator..
Just remember: Don’t overdo it. Kids need down time, too. And so does the mom taxi.
Photo by TarikB on Flickr
Boca Raton may be in the center of a densely developed urban area, but every night in the summer, an ancient natural ritual occurs on its beaches – huge sea turtles lumber onto the sand and lay eggs.
The turtles have returned to these beaches for thousands of years, and witnessing this National Geographic moment is a thrill for anyone, especially kids.
As a result, there is another Boca ritual every spring – reserving your spot on a sea-turtle walk at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. Getting a chance to see a sea turtle in action takes some doing, but it’s a memorable experience.
At Gumbo Limbo, a sea turtle walk begins at 9 p.m. in a classroom at the environmental-education center, 1801 N. Ocean Blvd. Spotters scan the beach for a turtle emerging from the water to nest. If one is found – and there are no guarantees - visitors are led to a spot on the beach where a sea turtle is digging a hole a foot or two deep with her hind flippers.
The turtle then starts filling the nest with soft-shelled eggs the size of ping-pong balls. After laying, she re-fills the nest with sand and heads back into the ocean. The whole process takes 30 to 60 minutes. The program ends by 11 p.m. on the beach.
Of course, Gumbo Limbo can’t ensure a turtle will be nesting during your talk – most years, half the walks do not result in witnessing a nesting turtle. So be prepared to learn a lot about turtle nesting and to maybe see it yourself. Because of the late hour and the patience required, this program is limited to children age 8 or older.
If you want a guaranteed turtle experience, then reserve a spot starting July 14 for a sea-turtle hatchling release. This 90-minute program is open to even the youngest kids, who get to cheer on the tiny turtles as they scramble into the surf. It begins in the Gumbo Limbo classroom and ends on the beach.
Ticket information for sea-turtle nesting walks:
Ticket information for sea-turtle hatchling releases:
There are several other beaches where you can go on turtle walks, and some are located in areas where the odds are better of seeing an actual nesting turtle. Like Gumbo Limbo, these programs fill up fast.
Here’s a guide to other sea turtle walks in Florida from Florida Rambler: Things to do in Florida’s outdoors.
Locations for these turtle walks that are easily accessed from Boca include John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach, the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach and Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach.
Further up the coast, the turtle walks might make a good anchor for weekend trip to Melbourne Beach, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound or Titusville.
- BONNIE GROSS, FloridaRambler.com
Karen Perry tells the story of losing her son to a drug overdose while he was away at college. It is a gut-wrenching thing to hear, her anguish in sharing that it all began with him smoking marijuana when he was about 15. That she and her son’s father got him into treatment, transferred him to another college, and still … a middle-of-the-night visit from the police brought the awful news.
Perry told her story to a recent gathering of parents at Spanish River High School. She is a co-founder of the nonprofit NOPE (Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education) Task Force, which visits schools and parent groups all over Palm Beach County. Your middle- or high-school student may have seen the NOPE program in recent weeks.
As an educated parent, you may think you’ve heard it all before. But a couple of the task force’s messages were startling:
This has become the leading cause of non-natural death in Palm Beach County, with someone dying of an overdose every 28 hours.
What’s new about that? Eighty-five percent of them had more than one drug in their system. And that is a real danger for kids, who are experimenting with prescription drugs stolen from their parents – or bought from their peers.
Gary Martin, an associate dean at Lynn University and a former drug agent and homicide detective with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, said, “The kids think they’re invincible. They think they know about drugs and what they can handle. But no one knows what will happen when they mix them,” Martin said, adding that it’s not an issue of trust, but a matter of “risk ignorance.”
Many instances can be traced back to the home, which is the main source of drugs and alcohol used by kids age 12-14. (Solution: Keep track of how much you have and lock it up; throw out what you don’t need).
In 2006, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported that a third of teens have attended parties where parents were present and alcohol was served to minors. (Remember October 2010 when two Boca Raton parties involving high-schoolers got out of control? Parents were arrested in both cases.)
It is against the law to serve alcohol to minors in your home – and opens you up to civil liability if anything goes wrong.
“You have to be the parent. You have to take control. You have to know what your kids are doing all the time,” said PBSO Capt. Jeffery Lindskoog.
The middle school years are prime for experimentation. The average age of the first use of alcohol or drugs is 13 in Palm Beach County. It used to be 11.
What to do
If you find drugs or alcohol in child’s belongings, Martin advises:
How to talk to your kids about drugs
Lynn Guelzow from The Hanley Center, a treatment facility in West Palm Beach, gave some guidance:
Guelzow said it’s also important to tell other parents when you know their child is using drugs or alcohol. They may not speak to you any more, but it’s the right thing to do.
Perry later learned that her son had a prior non-fatal overdose earlier and several people knew about it. No one told her.
To Learn More
For more information or to get help, visit NOPE’s website www.nopetaskforce.org, call 561-478-1055 or visit NOPE’s Facebook page.