Friday, December 17, 2010

Stolen Toys Intended for Disadvantaged Children Selling in Atlanta-area Stores

Scentsy, Inc., learned that more than 8,000 donated plush toys known as Scentsy Buddies were stolen in the Atlanta area and in some cases resold through discount stores. The scented, plush toys were part of a donation of 50,000 Buddies by Scentsy to Boys and Girls Clubs of America as part of a national toy drive and intended for disadvantaged children across the country.

Scentsy, a rapidly growing party-plan company which offers scented, wickless candles and other fragrance products, sells its merchandise only through independent sales consultants. Several Atlanta-based Scentsy Consultants alerted the company this week that its popular Scentsy Buddy, which normally retails for $25, was selling at area discount stores for $6.99. Working with Atlanta-area police, Scentsy determined a shipment of donated Scentsy Buddies was stolen and the merchandise illegally sold. About half of the stolen toys have been recovered. An investigation is in progress.

“To steal toys from disadvantaged and at-risk children at Christmastime and then sell them for a profit is a travesty,” said Mark Stastny, Scentsy’s chief marketing officer. “We believe the public should know these toys were stolen. Purchasing them helps the thieves and hurts the kids they were intended to help.”

Scentsy is asking Atlanta-area residents who purchased a stolen Scentsy Buddy to please return the toys to their area police stations. Atlanta police will then give the toys to children in need or distress this holiday season to honor the original intent of the donation.

If you have information about the stolen Scentsy Buddies, please contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at 404.244.2600. To report a store selling Scentsy Buddies, please contact Scentsy, Inc. at 877.895.4160.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Super Bowl XLV Raffle Challenges Community to 'Be Someone' and Help Kids Succeed

/PRNewswire/ -- It is often said that things are bigger in Texas. "This year's Super Bowl in Texas is right in line with that saying. It promises to be bigger and better than ever and is being played in the fabulous Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolis Football Stadium in Arlington, Texas," stated Orrin "Checkmate" Hudson, founder of the crime prevention educational program Be Someone, Inc.

"What you may not know, however, is how important chess is in changing the lives of at-risk kids and that Be Someone is doing what few organizations can: transforming lives with a game. Through chess, Be Someone is teaching at-risk kids in Georgia the critical academic and social skills that will change their lives - essentially, helping them make the right moves," continued Hudson.

But Be Someone is finding its mission in jeopardy. The Be Someone facility is in need of significant upgrades to meet local building codes. Without these upgrades there is a very real possibility that Be Someone will have to close its facility. That will leave the kids it serves with one less positive opportunity in their lives. Be Someone needs to raise $28,000 by the end of the year to do the work necessary to keep the facility open and the program going.

An incredibly generous donor has made the first move by offering a $14,000 challenge gift. Bob Bare, President Elect of the Dallas North Rotary Club, also does not want kids to lose. That's why the Club is helping Be Someone meet its critical need with the Big Goal Super Bowl raffle. This raffle will help Be Someone meet the challenge to improve its building but, more important, help kids change their lives.

Tickets are $100.00 each, and the grand prize is a trip to this year's Super Bowl in Texas. The grand prize (valued at $15,000.00) includes:

* 2 prime Sideline Club Seating 300 Level tickets to the game
* 4-night stay at The Mansion on Turtle Creek
* Limousine service to and from the game
* 2 tickets to pre-game and post-game parties, including food and beverage

Second prize is a 50" flatscreen television, and third prize is a $1,000 jewelry gift certificate.

The deadline for the purchase of tickets is 6:00pm EST on December 10, 2010.

"Win or lose, your purchase of a raffle ticket will help kids in need win. Please help Be Someone change kids lives," said Hudson.

Tickets may be purchased online at or contact Be Someone at 404-578-5278. Learn more about the work that Be Someone is doing at

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Volunteers Answer Call to Help Survey Frogs Across State

Sarah Barlow had a small problem. She had a deep knowledge and interest in frogs and toads, including two wildlife degrees focused on herps and a thesis exploring frogs’ use of restored wetlands. But the former city of Savannah environmental planner had no place to apply that experience.

“I had all these strong (frog) identification skills that I wasn’t able to use,” Barlow said.

The answer: NAAMP. Developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program is an international study investigating the distribution and relative abundance of amphibians across the continent. NAAMP depends on frog-savvy volunteers who monitor local listening routes three times a year.

Barlow signed up last year. She contacted Georgia NAAMP coordinator John Jensen of the state Department of Natural Resources, practiced her frog-ID skills and passed the required online quiz. She even drove her rural, 10-mile route near Glennville beforehand, checking out the habitat at the set listening sites.

Barlow then squeezed the two hours-plus it took per survey into her already hectic schedule. The result is what she described as “a very relaxing way to spend the evening.”

Considering the fieldwork she did in Louisiana for her thesis, “This was a lot tamer than being in the middle of a bayou on a four-wheeler,” Barlow said laughing. “This was country club frogging!”

Enjoyable and vital. Frogs can serve as sentinels of environmental change. Many frogs and other amphibians are high-priority species in Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that guides DNR efforts to conserve biological diversity. NAAMP monitoring data is analyzed for patterns of amphibian decline, stability or increase on local and wider levels.

Jensen, a senior wildlife biologist with the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, said more surveys are needed to pinpoint trends in Georgia. 2011 marks only the fourth year of the state’s involvement. But the immediate payback has included volunteers identifying lesser-known frogs in areas the species had not been documented before, Jensen said.

He’s hoping for more volunteers for 2011. Forty-five of the state’s 73 routes were covered this year. Most of the unassigned routes are in south Georgia.

Jensen suggested would-be volunteers assess their frog identification abilities, then contact him by e-mail,, or phone at the Nongame Conservation Section office in Forsyth, (478) 994-1438. The first listening window next year opens Jan. 15.

Barlow is now a naturalist at Sandy Creek Nature Center in Athens. She plans to look for a 2011 route closer to home. But she will be putting her frog skills back into play, calling the citizen-powered NAAMP surveys “important work to be done.”

Georgians can help conserve amphibians and other nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats through buying a wildlife license plate featuring a bald eagle or a ruby-throated hummingbird. They can also donate to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund through the state income tax checkoff, online at (click “Donate the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund”) and in other ways.

Contributions are vital to the Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section. The section receives no state general funds for its mission to help conserve wildlife not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as rare plants and natural habitats in Georgia.

For more information, go to, or call Nongame Conservation Section offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218). State income tax forms are available online at

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