November Cause Area: Hunger + Food Drives

As November arrives, we celebrate the fall harvest and the year’s blessings. Anticipation fills the air as we prepare to gather with loved ones, devour Thanksgiving feasts, and enjoy football on the couch. November is a season of togetherness and festivity, yet it also prompts us to reflect on those less fortunate.

Did you know, 10.7% of Atlantans face the daily struggle of not having enough to eat? In Georgia, 1 in 9 adults and 1 in 8 children face hunger and food insecurity. Food insecurity is not having access to enough food to maintain a healthy and active life. 

Many of us experience feeling hungry after skipping a meal or two. We may feel cranky, tired, and irritable, and it can be hard to focus and finish our work. Fortunately, we can satisfy our hunger with a quick trip to the kitchen or grocery store. For others, it is hard to predict when or where they will get their next meal. This can cause them not to feel their best and can result in significant health issues.  

How does hunger impact children? 

Hunger can make it difficult for children to perform well in the classroom. It can also affect their behavior. Hungry students are more likely to: 

  • have less energy 
  • repeat a grade 
  • have lower math scores 
  • be late to school or miss school entirely 
  • be more easily distracted and less interested in schoolwork
  • suffer from chronic health conditions like asthma, anemia, and obesity

According to No Kid Hungry, as many as 9 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes. 

How can Pebble Tossers help end childhood hunger? 

Youth and families can help end childhood hunger by volunteering with our partner, The Sandwich Project

The Sandwich Project’s mission is to combat food insecurity in our community, foster a sense of togetherness, and ensure that no one goes without the necessity of nourishing food. Volunteers work together to create and deliver fresh homemade sandwiches to large and small nonprofit organizations. 

How to Volunteer with The Sandwich Project

Volunteering is easy, and you can participate from the comfort of your home and at a time that works best for you. 

Step 1: Register via our volunteer + nonprofit platform and choose a week you and your family or group want to make and deliver your sandwiches.

Step 2: Download our sandwich guide How-To Action Sheet 

Step 3: Purchase the materials listed on the sandwich guide

Step 4:  Make your sandwiches the night before your scheduled delivery date

Step 5: Engage in the conversation starter prompts and reflection questions on the action sheet during and after making the sandwiches 

Step 6: Deliver your sandwiches 

Step 7: Repeat steps 1-6

How does hunger impact adults?

People living in urban areas, rural areas, and low-income neighborhoods may not have grocery stores close to them. This means their diets may lack a healthy variety of fresh foods and nutritious meals. Eating foods lacking in nutrition can lead to diseases such as: 

  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • heart disease 
  • obesity

People experiencing hunger may have to choose between paying a bill, buying medication, and purchasing groceries. 

How can Pebble Tossers help improve food insecurity?

You can help improve food insecurity by volunteering with our partner, Open Hand

Open Hand is one of the largest community-based providers of medically tailored meals in the U.S. They not only cover food insecurity which focuses on quantity, but they focus on nutrition insecurity, which emphasizes quality. Their meals are prepared, cooked, and delivered to improve health outcomes. 

All their services are free to their clients, as more than 90% are from historically marginalized backgrounds. Without the help of wonderful volunteers like you, they would not be able to support the amount of people they serve. 

Open Hand’s impact is so significant that one-third of their clients report that, if not for Open Hand, they would have no idea where their next meal would be coming from. 

How to volunteer with Open Hand 

You can volunteer with Open hand by registering via our volunteer + nonprofit platform. Simply select a shift that works best for you. Open Hand is always in need of volunteer drivers to deliver meals and volunteer support with packing meals in the Open Hand kitchen. 

Pebble Tossers Impact  

Hunger is more than just an empty stomach, it can also affect education and health. By volunteering with The Sandwich Project and Open Hand, we can ensure that everyone has access to healthy meals. This November, let us not only celebrate our blessings but also share them with those who need them most, making this season truly one of gratitude and compassion.


Written by Lauren Green, MSN, MBA, RN 

Freelance Health Writer, Emerald Health Content 

Food Accessibility, Insecurity and Health Outcomes (

Food Insecurity – Healthy People 2030 |

Child Hunger in America | Save the Children

USDA ERS – Key Statistics & Graphics

Facts About Childhood Hunger in America (

Nutrition & Wellness – Atlanta Community Food Bank (


The Power of Empathy: Unleashing Your Potential Through Community Service

Empathy’s significance cannot be overstated in a world that often seems fast-paced and self-centered. As teenagers, you’re at a crucial juncture in your personal growth, and cultivating empathy through community service can be a transformative experience. Not only does it make you an active citizen, but it also helps you become a servant leader and a genuinely good person. Let’s explore how this journey of empathy and service can shape you into a remarkable individual.

Understanding Empathy: More Than Just a Word

Empathy goes beyond simply acknowledging someone else’s feelings; it’s about stepping into their shoes and feeling what they feel. Engaging in community service allows you to interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, each with their unique stories and struggles. By actively listening and showing understanding, you begin to see the world through their eyes. This understanding forms the bedrock of empathy.

Becoming an Active Citizen: Changing the World from Within

Active citizenship involves being a responsible member of society and engaging in activities that contribute positively to the community. Community service is the gateway to active citizenship, as it connects you with the needs of your society. You directly impact lives by volunteering at local shelters, participating in environmental cleanups, or tutoring under-served students. These experiences help you realize the challenges some in your community face and inspire you to be part of the solution.

The Path to Servant Leadership: Leading by Example

Servant leadership revolves around putting others’ needs before your own. It’s about leading through humility, empathy, and a genuine desire to serve. Volunteering offers you the opportunity to develop these qualities. As you help address the needs of others, you lead by example, inspiring those around you to join in. This type of leadership isn’t about authority; it’s about influence. Through empathy-driven service, you cultivate a leadership style that uplifts and empowers others.

Cultivating Goodness: The Ripple Effect of Empathy

Empathy is the pebble from which ripples of kindness and goodness grow. When you genuinely connect with others through community service, you develop a sense of responsibility toward their well-being. This sense of responsibility extends beyond service hours; it becomes a fundamental aspect of your character. Acts of kindness, compassion, and understanding become second nature, and you start making choices that positively impact both individuals and the community at large.

Building Lasting Relationships: Connection Through Empathy

Community service introduces you to people from all walks of life. These interactions broaden your worldview and allow you to build meaningful connections with others. By working alongside diverse groups of people, you learn to appreciate differences, collaborate effectively, and find common ground. These skills are essential not only in areas of service but also in every aspect of life.

In a world filtered through social media that focuses on self-gain, learning empathy through community service is a beacon of hope. It’s a journey that transforms you into an active citizen, a servant leader, and a genuinely good person. As today’s youth, you have the power to shape your future and contribute positively to society. Embrace the opportunities that community service offers, and watch as empathy becomes a driving force for positive change in your life and the lives of others. Remember, every act of kindness, no matter how small has the potential to create a ripple effect that can change the world.

Pebble Tossers walks alongside you, family and friends, schools, faith, and civic communities to provide age-appropriate service opportunities in various areas. Pebble Tossers does the heavy lifting by vetting organizations that uphold security and safety while serving their clients meaningfully. Our team is always looking for innovative ways to introduce you to new issues, and we embrace stepping outside of your comfort zone to promote personal growth. Let’s work together to make a positive difference!

Written by Jennifer Guynn

Executive Director, Pebble Tossers

Celebrating Civic Season as a New American Tradition

Civic Season is a new American tradition that unites our oldest federal holiday with our newest. Held between Juneteenth and the Fourth of July, it’s a time to reimagine the future by acknowledging our past. By inviting family, friends, and neighbors to join the new tradition, we become part of a movement that helps us to understand our roles in our communities and strategize a future that tells the whole story, where no parts are skipped. Participating in the Civic Season helps each of us discover our story and understand our role in history.

Civic Season started in 2021 and is led by key History Museums nationwide and Generation Z Design Fellows. Civic Season Design Fellows consists of nine fellows between the ages of 18 and 30, selected from a competitive pool of applicants. Together they are artists, activists, immigrants, students, creators, and leaders — each bringing different visions and experiences to the table to help the Civic Season become an inspiring nationwide movement made by us.

Pebble Tossers created a list of family-friendly resources (or individuals!) to help us learn and explore. Add a few of these books to your summer reading, hit play on a podcast for your morning drives, and join us among the hundreds of organizations and communities nationwide to rally together in celebration!


Family Events to Participate In

Civic Season Kick-off Party at the Atlanta History Center
Civic Season: A Slice of History at the National Center for Civil Rights
Juneteenth Atlanta Parade + Music Festival
Jubilee: A Juneteenth Celebration at the National Center for Civil Rights
Voice to the Voiceless: Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection
Piedmont Summer Movie Series: Juneteenth
Look Up Atlanta: Independence Day Fireworks Show
American Democracy: A Virtual Tour by the Heinz History Center


Resources for Family Learning

Discover Your Civic Superpower
Civic Season: The Classroom Guide
Why We Need a Civic Season
NMAAHC Kids: Understanding + Celebrating Juneteenth
Juneteenth for kids: How to explain and celebrate this important holiday
Gathering Guide: Creating an Intentional 4th of July Gathering
Tips for Talking with Children About Racism and Social Justice


Books to Read (Elementary School)


Books to Read (Middle School)


Books to Read (Ages 14+)


Videos to Watch




Written by Julia Dao, Pebble Tossers ©2023

Atlanta-based nonprofit presents prestigious National Award to Ananya Uddanti

Youth Volunteer Receives President’s Volunteer Service Award
Atlanta-based nonprofit presents prestigious National Award to Ananya Uddanti

Atlanta, GA: Pebble Tossers, a youth development organization, awarded Ananya Uddanti the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) for her outstanding service and contributions to her community.

In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity. Pebble Tossers, Inc., a PVSA Certifying Organization since 2014, confers the awards to recognize the outstanding achievements of their youth volunteers.

Ananya has served in many different capacities and provided needed service in areas and with organizations closely tied to her interests and beliefs. She far exceeded the required hours for school or civic requirements set forth by the PVSA and served more than 700 hours in a two-year period. These hours provide thousands of dollars worth of value back into the community. In addition to service projects offered by Pebble Tossers, Ananya is actively involved in leadership positions with the American Red Cross, local chapters for national nonprofits, local communities, and hospitals. 

“That is amazing work,” says Jen Guynn, Pebble Tossers Founder + Executive Director. She continues, “The example of service and leadership that our PVSA recipients provide to their peers is just as important as the impact they have on the community. Pebble Tossers is proud of their accomplishments and proud to recognize Ananya on behalf of our country.”


About Pebble Tossers

Pebble Tossers is Metro Atlanta’s top local youth service organization focused on providing families with a comprehensive path to youth development through service to others, from preschool to graduation. Customized programming empowers youth to lead by providing them with age-appropriate service opportunities infused with a unique service-learning curriculum focusing on social-emotional learning, positive youth development, social justice, and positive psychology. With Pebble Tossers, volunteers sign up, show up, and serve to create a ripple of giving in their community. For more information, visit


Click Here To Download PDF

Thoughts from the 2023 Point-In-Time Count

Credits: Intown Collaborative Ministries

Anticipation grew in my heart as I added another layer of clothing and wondered who I would talk with. The temperature for January 23rd was expected to drop below 30 degrees overnight, and I knew we would not be stopping anywhere to get warm as we walked the streets of downtown Atlanta from 9:00 pm to 3:00 am.

The Point-in-Time count sends volunteers onto the streets across the country to determine the number of unsheltered people. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities that receive federal funds to conduct an annual count of all unsheltered people in the last week of January. The timing of the count is intentional. The weather at the end of January is typically very cold, and, for some, any financial assistance they had will be depleted by the end of the month, so they likely will not have sheltered housing.

Working towards ending homelessness across the country, the Point-in-Time counts help determine the scope of homelessness in communities and inform policymakers and program administrators of which programs are working or where there are gaps in services. The PIT count began collecting data in 2005, and the results have increased public awareness and directed resources to the unsheltered. 

The Atlanta PIT count, organized by Partners for Home, brings together volunteers from numerous nonprofits who focus on those experiencing homelessness, community members, and local officials. “This gives us better insight into the number of people experiencing homelessness on one night of the year, on their length of homelessness, their history of homelessness and some other challenges and barriers that they might be facing,” says Cathryn Vassell, CEO of Partners for Home. “It’s a data snapshot that helps inform our work.” 

Volunteers head into the city armed with $10 Chick-fil-A gift cards and seek out unsheltered people to answer questions about their time on the streets. We start by introducing ourselves and asking their names. We quickly ask questions about how long they have been unsheltered, if they have any chronic illnesses or disabilities, if they have served in the military, and other demographic information. The questions are personal and invasive. We ask for forgiveness with the Chick-fil-A gift card, but most people don’t mind answering the questions. They are brutally honest and straightforward.

Carrying backpacks filled with blankets, coats, caps, gloves, socks, hygiene kits, and snacks, we were a welcome sight to those we encountered. I was surprised that most of the people I spoke with were men in their 50s and 60s who had been chronically homeless with absolutely no source of income or public assistance. During the 2022 PIT count, I encountered more men in their 30s who were just recently homeless. When I asked one man if he would like to go to a Warming Center, he responded with a smile, “Why? I’ve got a nice tent right here. I’m fine.” He graciously accepted a warm blanket.

Others shared stories of domestic abuse, drug addiction, and job loss, leading to their life on the street. We listened and smiled and tried our best to let them know they were valued. Our team of seven was led by Matthew Reed, a social worker specializing in Homeless Outreach for Intown Collaborative Ministries. Matthew knows the area we canvassed and reached out in advance to several people so they could expect us. He warmly embraced people, and it was clear there was a relationship built on trust. Matthew shared, “It was very humbling to observe the grace and kindness that radiated from our team. Interacting with folks during the PIT can be odd at times. Yet being prepared with gifts and a gentle spirit, I found our meetings to be dignified and restorative.”

Our team was the last to return back around 2:30 am. We were tired, cold, and very grateful that we had a warm bed to return home to that night. I anticipated falling asleep immediately, but my mind raced with questions and concern. There are so many circumstances that lead to chronic homelessness. The lack of affordable housing, the lack of adequate and accessible health care (both physical and mental health), education inequalities in low-income areas, and a lack of jobs that pay a livable wage are systemic issues facing the country. 

The next day, I picked up more blankets donated by a Pebble Tossers family and set off to find a few people who had not received a blanket the night before. While I could not find those people we met, I found others who were excited to have warm blankets. One woman exclaimed joyfully, “My dog and I were so cold last night – thank you!”  

It is easy to feel helpless when it looking at the broader issue of homelessness in our country. But if we approach things one issue at a time, it is easier to see a path that may end this crisis. What is next, and what can we do? 

  • We can advocate for a shift in federal and state resources toward funding affordable housing that provides supportive services. 
  • We can donate resources and time to nonprofits that work with those experiencing homelessness. 
  • We can research and support organizations that provide a coordinated approach by offering temporary housing, rapid rehousing, job training, and life skills training. 
  • We can educate ourselves with factual data and eliminate bias based on stereotypes. 
  • We can see and talk to people who are experiencing homelessness and not avoid them. Learn their name and say it back to them with a smile.

Additional resources: 

Pebble Tossers’ Nonprofit Partners Serving Those Experiencing Homelessness

Journal Prompt:

Read this quote and think about what it means and what you can do to “start in our own homes” to remedy poverty.

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” — Mother Teresa

2023. Written by Jennifer Guynn, Founding Executive Director of Pebble Tossers

Congratulations to Pebble Tosser Sheza Merchant for being named a 20 under 20 honoree by Atlanta Intown and Reporter Newspapers



Pebble Tossers was honored to nominate Sheza, and are so proud of her accomplishments in our community. A Pebble Tossers volunteer since 2015, Sheza has participated in and led numerous projects to help those in need worldwide. Read more about her accomplishments and the rest of these amazing young people here.

Read More about Sheza and Others

Pebble Tossers hires Rebecca Sandberg as Finance and Administration Director

From volunteer to board president to staff, Sandberg continues a ripple of giving.

pebble tossers board of directors rebecca sandberg(Atlanta, GA, October 31, 2022)… Pebble Tossers, Atlanta’s leading youth leadership development nonprofit, has named Rebecca Sandberg as Finance and Administration Director. In this role, Sandberg will oversee all fiscal matters, including annual and long-term planning and forecasting, accounting, budgeting, and HR. She will also provide oversight on IT matters to ensure that Pebble Tossers has the right tools, systems, and technology to support a robust membership experience and a culture that promotes growth and innovation. Additionally, Sandberg will help track and identify key metrics to further the organization’s work and impact.

“Rebecca brings a passion for Pebble Tossers’ mission which sparked as she volunteered with her family. Her visionary leadership has proven invaluable to our Board of Directors. She brings a focus on data-driven decisions and a high energy level with a can-do mindset,” says Guynn. “We are excited about the future with Rebecca and her commitment to developing the next generation of servant leaders.”

Sandberg joined Pebble Tossers’ Board of Directors in 2018 and served as its President from 2019-2021. In her new role, Sandberg will report to the Founding Executive Director, Jennifer Guynn, as a critical strategic partner. She has 20+ years of diverse experience as a social sector nonprofit leader and community organizer, management consulting leader, senior leader in corporate finance, and assurance and consultative experience in a Big 4 accounting firm. Sandberg is a cross-functional collaborator across all levels of internal and external stakeholder organizations, a strategic thinker and problem solver, and a persuasive verbal and written communicator.

“I am excited to continue working with Pebble Tossers to achieve its mission to develop next-generation leaders,” said Sandberg. “My work with the Board of Directors and years of experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors have given me the expertise needed to help grow the organization in a structured and strategic way.”

Kelly Weber, President of Pebble Tossers Board of Directors, said, “Rebecca understands the vision and goals and is committed to helping Pebble Tossers achieve them, a true accountability partner. This new role will allow Pebble Tossers to continue to scale and grow and to support the needs of our members, nonprofit partners, and the communities we serve.”

About Pebble Tossers

Pebble Tossers is the premier local youth service organization in Metro Atlanta focused on providing families with a comprehensive path to youth development through service to others, from preschool to graduation. Customized programming empowers youth to lead by providing them with age-appropriate service opportunities infused with a unique service-learning curriculum focusing on social-emotional learning, positive youth development, social justice, and positive psychology. With Pebble Tossers, volunteers sign up, show up, and serve to create a ripple of giving in their community.


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Pebble Tossers Board of Directors welcomes Tifany Gilmore and Emmie Berberick

The 2022 board focuses on amplifying next-generation leaders
through service-learning and leadership skills.

(Atlanta, GA, October 5, 2022)…Pebble Tossers, Metro Atlanta’s leading youth development nonprofit organization, is pleased to welcome two new board members, Tifany Gilmore, VP Market Leader of Consumer Banking and Investments for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, and Emmie Berberick, Project Manager, NCR Corporation.

“Our board is committed to expanding Pebble Tossers’ reach and influence throughout the community,” said Kelly Weber, Pebble Tossers Board President. “The experience, enthusiasm, and knowledge Tifany and Emmie bring to the board and our team will help us meet our goals and move into the next year.”

The new board members will jump in quickly with Pebble Tossers as programming offerings expand with more in-person opportunities, the third cohort of the Teen Leadership Program kicks off, and the organization begins its 14th year of empowering and equipping youth to lead through service.

“I am elated to join the Pebble Tossers Board and engage in service work from a new perspective. I hope to offer my skills and experiences to grow the organization,” says Berberick, who grew up volunteering and is committed to inspiring the next generation of youth leaders.

A committed supporter of youth and service, Gilmore shares a quote from Tony A. Gaskins Jr., “On the other side of fear is success. Don’t let fear hold you captive and keep you from your dreams. You were born to be more. Be ok with that and don’t doubt the process,” and believes this applies to youth volunteering for the first time. 

“I’m very excited to be part of Pebble Tossers, said Gilmore. “I love that the organization is  able to develop and connect youth with the community and instill the importance of serving at a young age.”

Gilmore and Berberick join a committed board of directors who include:


2022 Board of Directors, Pebble Tossers

Kelly Weber, Board President OneDigital
Brandy Brock, Board Vice President Google Cloud Business Solutions
Brian Sengson, Board Treasurer Bennett Thrasher
Neal Chatigny, Board Secretary WebMD
Matt Carr Amazon Web Services
Aaron Dixon Alston & Bird
Kris Manning Retired Teacher/Orton Gillingham Tutor
Elizabeth Rasberry ABB
Dana Redler H&R Block
Asher Royal Centria Healthcare
Rebecca Sandberg, Past President Management Consultant


About Pebble Tossers

Pebble Tossers is the premier local youth service organization in Metro Atlanta focused on providing families with a comprehensive path to youth development through service to others, from preschool to graduation. Customized programming empowers youth to lead by providing them with age-appropriate service opportunities infused with a unique service-learning curriculum focusing on social-emotional learning, positive youth development, social justice, and positive psychology. With Pebble Tossers, volunteers sign up, show up, and serve to create a ripple of giving in their community.

Click Here To Download PDF

Eight Books about US Troops and Veterans for children and teens

For Younger Children: 

Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog
by Luis Carlos Montalvan, Bret Witter, and Dan Dion 

Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood
by Valerie Pfundstein and Aaron Anderson 

H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet
by Devin Scillian and Victor Juhasz

Hero Mom
by Melinda Hardin and Bryan Langdo

Hero Dad
by Melinda Hardin and Bryan Langdo



For Teens: 


American Road Trip
by Patrick Flores-Scott

Beneath Wandering Stars
by Ashlee Cowles 

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two
by Joseph Bruchac 

Heroism Begins with Her: Inspiring Stories of Bold, Brave, and Gutsy Women in the U.S. Military
by Winifred Conkling and Julia Kuo


If you do wish to order these books, please contact or visit The Little Shop of Stories in Decatur. This charming local buiness specializes in youth and teen books and their Booksellers would be happy to order any book from this list. 


Five Ways to Educate Yourself on Veteran Resources in your Community: 
  • Job Training Programs available through the Veterans Affairs Office
    • The VA partners with various major companies in the US to provide job training and employment opportunities to returning service members. Here is a list of the different programs offered by the VA; partnered companies include AT&T, General Dynamics, Prudential, and more. 
  • PTSD Service Dogs and Veterans
    • This is an informative and helpful article on the importance of service dogs for many veterans. Learning more about this topic is an excellent avenue to teach your children about the sacrifices many veterans make and the close bond they share with service dogs. 
  • Infographic on Veterans Experiencing Homelessness
    • This infographic is a good representation of the statistical facts about veterans facing homelessness. It includes information on the differences between subcategories of homeless veterans as well as presenting writeups on the most prominent challenges facing these veterans. 
  • Visit a Military Museum, Monument, or Memorial Park
    • The Metro Atlanta Area has a wide variety of Military Attractions to see. There are parks, memorials, and museums of all sizes. Taking a trip to see these is a great way to educate yourself on Veteran history in your community. Here is a list of Military Attractions in the Metro Atlanta Area. 
  • Learn the effects Military Service has on the families of Veterans
    • Family members of active-duty troops and returning service members have to make significant life adjustments. The temporary loss or drastic behavioral change of a parental figure can be extremely challenging and confusing for children. Educating yourself on the strain military service can sometimes put on families can help you be as supportive and understanding as possible. Here is an article that addresses situations like this.