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

Pebble Tossers’ Arts and Culture Book Recommendations

Picture Books for Children:

Books for Teens:

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


Six Reasons Why the Performing Arts in Atlanta are worth Supporting:

1) Adult and Child-focused Classes offered by places like the Spruill Center for the Arts introduce ways for anyone in Atlanta to become involved in the Arts!
Why not learn a new artistic skill or bring the family to a workshop or event? Here are some ways to support the Spruill Center. 

2) Atlanta has one of the most distinct and well-known hip-hop communities in the world! They also love giving back to the communities where they grew up.
Rappers like Lil Baby and Gunna have made a major difference in Atlanta with their various charitable efforts. Atlanta native Lil Baby has helped refurbish a basketball court in Oakland City Park and gifted over 200 bikes to children in the neighborhood. He also hosted a back-to-school drive where he gave out much-needed laptops, clothes, and school supplies. Gunna opened up a needed items closet at his old high school, Ronald McNair High, containing food, clothes, toiletries, and more.


3) The Woodruff Center Hosts three of Atlanta’s most exciting performing arts productions: The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Alliance Theatre.
The Alliance Theatre has put on musicals, children’s theatre, hosted Ballet Companies, and many traditional plays! Just this year, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is performing the music of John Williams, the Polar Express, and is also hosting famed conductor Nathalie Stutzmann! Supporting your local performing arts organizations is vital to the continued success of the Atlanta Arts Scene. Here is a link to the various volunteer opportunities available at the Woodruff Center.


4) Atlanta has venues for all kinds of Performing Arts!
In the mood for something funny? Visit the Whole World Improv Theatre, Dad’s Garage, or the Punchline Comedy Club. Want to be blown away by the skill and dedication of local dancers? Enjoy a night at the Atlanta Ballet. See a high-profile visiting performer at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center or enjoy a timeless classic at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company


5) There are many Performing Arts productions featuring youth performers!
Metro Atlanta is home to a variety of youth-focused choirs. Notable groups include the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, based out of the Woodruff Center. There are also the Atlanta Young Singers, Gwinnett Young Singers, and Georgia Boy Choir. Enjoy a show from one of these groups, or consider encouraging your child to try out for one of the many local choirs! 


6) The Atlanta Film Community is supportive of each other and are Atlanta’s biggest cheerleaders.
The Atlanta Film Festival is an excellent place to meet talented local filmmakers and crew members working to bring Atlanta’s unique neighborhoods to big and small screens. Prominent local film studios like Tyler Perry Studios and indie studios alike encourage young actors and filmmakers to visit Atlanta, which in turn brings revenue to local businesses. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a street or building they walk past every day featured in the next big Marvel movie? 

June Cause Area: Arts and Culture in Atlanta

Atlanta is one of the most well-known cultural hubs in the country. Talented artists of many styles and formats call this city home. For the month of June, Pebble Tossers is focusing on the importance and uniqueness of the Arts and Culture in Atlanta. Arts and Culture is a wide-ranging subject with much room for interpretation. This month, we will highlight talented local artists of all disciplines, cultural and artistic initiatives that benefit the community, and why a focus and respect for the arts is so beneficial.

Pebble Tossers has a long history of supporting the arts and culture of Atlanta. We partner with multiple nonprofit organizations that prioritize art education and art-related community engagement. In the past, Pebble Tossers’ has provided volunteer docents for the  Woodruff Arts Center and provided holiday and summer camp counselors for the Spruill Center. In 2021, we partnered with the Spruill Center to install a 2021 origami dove exhibit that contained over 2021 handmade doves! We also have a longtime partnership with the Foundation for Hospital Art and have assisted in volunteer opportunities for a variety of their projects. Check our monthly service calendar here to see what volunteer opportunities Pebble Tossers has to offer. 


The Arts in Atlanta

Since the early 1900s, metro Atlanta has been one of the most influential cities to continuously encourage artistic expression in the United States. Most notably, Atlanta has seen its fair share of musical movements. From being a prominent country music hub in the 1920s to southern rock in the 1970s, and even punk rock in the 1980s! Starting in the 1990s, Hip Hop and Rap coming from Atlanta-based groups like Outkast began to dominate the charts. Nowadays, Atlanta is known for its uniquely powerful and expressive rap scene, being the home to many artists at the top of their game like Gucci Mane, Cardi B, 2 Chainz, and many more.

Atlanta is also known for its moniker as the “Hollywood of the South”. This is partly due to the lower cost of living, diverse landscape, and experienced local crew members. In 2018, the government of Georgia estimated an economic boost of 9.5 billion dollars thanks to tourism and job opportunities created by the local film industry. Current movies and television filming in Atlanta include Cobra Kai, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Ozark, Stranger Things, and more!

If it’s art museums you’re looking for, Atlanta has plenty to offer. There are galleries that feature local artists and exhibitions, like the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and the ZuCot Gallery. In addition, there are institutions like The High Museum of Art that contain pieces from international masters such as Monet, Pissaro, and Matisse. If those examples are a bit too intimidating for the younger ones, try the Center for Puppetry Arts, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Jim Henson artifacts. 


Positive Affects on Arts and Culture on the mind and the  Community

The cultural importance of art-based education and other enriching programs hosted by organizations like ArtsGeorgia and Spruill Center for the Arts cannot be understated. The positive effects of art activities on the mind are especially impactful for children. According to an article posted by Michigan State University, young people practice fine motor, math, and language skills when participating in art-related activities. They also have significant cognitive development after engaging in activities like painting and coloring. A focus on creativity and artistic expression as a child creates a more open-minded adult. This leads them to be better equipped to find inventive and original ways to solve problems in their everyday life.

Historically, the arts have also been a critical method for members of underrepresented communities to express themselves and share their stories. Many use the arts to work through their own thoughts and feelings about the world around them. While others create as an avenue to vent their frustration, tell a story of their community, or paint a hopeful picture of the future. Noted performance artist Luis Alfaro said this about his goal as an artist: “The goal is the create the world that you want to see…That’s always, always, always a challenge”.

A focus on the arts is not only beneficial for the mind, but also for your community. Street art, murals, statues, and even the layout of a public park would not be possible without talented local artists. While it may seem simple, giving a seemingly mundane street corner or a nondescript building some color and character will contribute to the overall identity and uniqueness of your city in a very noticeable way. The Arts also provide significant economic benefits to the surrounding community. Whether it brings out-of-town visitors keen to see the work of local artists or new employment opportunities for locals, the impact of a booming art scene is consistently positive. Joan Compton articulated the economic importance of the arts to Atlanta during a 2017 forum on Arts and Economic Prosperity, saying “ The arts are an employer, a driver of the economy, and a catalyst of growth”. 


Nonprofit Partners:

The Woodruff Arts Center
This incredible community resource is home to the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the High Museum of Art Atlanta. Whether you want to see a show or enjoy some local or international artwork, this is the place for you! Find more information here

Foundation for Hospital Art
A truly unique organization with an awesome goal, the Foundation for Hospital Art aims to encourage patients and volunteers to create art to hang in hospitals. Doing this not only helps the patients to spend their time expressing themselves artistically, hanging the art in their room also creates a more comfortable space. In addition to hosting painting events at hospitals, the Foundation also provides kits for at-home painting. Find more information here

Spruill Center for the Arts
According to their site, “The Spruill Center will be a beacon for the community by providing access and opportunities for all to create and enjoy the arts.” The Spruill Center hosts a variety of Adult and Children’s art classes and workshops, as well as special events like educational panels and discussions on exhibits housed within the Center. They also have yearly Summer Camp programs! Find more information here 

Eight Ways to Support US Troops and Veterans in Metro Atlanta

1. Contribute to Doc’s Healing Hives Veteran Learning Center

Doc’s Healing Hives equips every veteran in the program with beekeeping equipment and training, a colony of honey bees, a beehive, and mentorship. This Learning Center’s completion is the next step in expanding the positive impacts of this organization. This is an excellent way to directly contribute to a unique and meaningful project that benefits veterans in the Metro Atlanta area. 

2. Create and send handmade objects to active-duty troops and veterans through Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude specializes in sending care packages to active duty service members and returning veterans. They encourage volunteers to hand-make unique items like hacky sacks, cooling neckerchiefs, fleece hats, and much more. Their website has helpful patterns and tips to create each of these items.  

3. Donate needed household items to the VEO

These much-needed items such as (list a few items) will go directly to the 14 new housing complexes built by the VEO for veteran women experiencing homelessness. The supplies range from garbage bags and bedsheets to fire extinguishers and dining tables. The VEO also offers group tours of their facilities and the services they provide. To schedule a visit, call 404-889-8710. 

4. Follow the NAEH’s Five-Step Plan to End Veteran Homelessness

These steps from the National Alliance to End Homelessness would be more of an undertaking than some of the recommendations on this list. Take your first step by starting just one step – it could start a chain reaction in your community and make a major difference! The NAEH’s site contains a map of every county in the country where veteran homelessness has been effectively ended, including nearby DeKalb County.  

5. Visit the Veteran Voices Exhibit at the Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center has a prominent exhibit featuring veterans throughout history. This exhibit is made up of photographs, audio interviews, artifacts, and more that highlight veterans’ experiences back to World War Two. According to their site, this exhibit aims to “allow future generations to hear directly from those who lived through our nation’s conflicts to better appreciate the realities and the sacrifices of war.” You can also visit the nearby Veterans Park at the Goizueta Gardens. 

6. Help a veteran with household chores or home projects

Offering up a few hours of your time to help a veteran in your life is a great physical reminder that you care. Sometimes, a service-related injury can hinder veterans from finishing chores around the house or completing needed home repairs. Asking a friend or two to help a veteran with a household project is a perfect example of being a supportive neighbor. Do you have a veteran in your neighborhood? 

7. Volunteer Time with one of Pebble Tossers’’ Veteran Focused Events

Pebble Tossers hosts many events throughout the year for veterans in the Atlanta Metro Area. You can also find more ways to honor current and former service members on our US Troops and Veterans May Cause Area Page

8. Support Veteran-Owned Businesses

Because of the difficulties many veterans face reintegrating into the workforce, many choose to start their own businesses. Supporting these companies empowers not only the owners of these businesses but the veterans that are often hired to manage them as well. Georgia has a multitude of veteran-owned businesses, here is a link to a site with a list of veteran-owned businesses in every county.  

May Cause Area: Honoring + Serving Veterans in Metro Atlanta

little girl holding veterans day cardBeing a community resource by supporting our active and returning service members is of the highest importance for Pebble Tossers. Successfully reintegrating into society is sometimes a challenge for veterans who have completed their military service. The best way we can support them is to educate ourselves on the difficulties these veterans face and learn strategies to support the veterans in our communities. 

One in ten people experiencing homelessness is a veteran, and about 29 percent of veterans return with a service-related disability. The challenges returning service members face are varied and complex. That is why Pebble Tossers’ Cause Area focus for the month is US Troops and Veterans. May is National Military Appreciation Month, and we at Pebble Tossers are proud to shine a light on service members in the Metro Atlanta area.

In the past, Pebble Tossers has honored our service members by helping to stock the Veterans Empowerment Organization pantry with needed supplies, and by making “Welcome Home” Kits for HOPE Atlanta to be given to veterans coming out of homelessness. In addition, we have organized birthday card workshops and gift bag assemblies for local veterans. We then send these thoughtfully made items to Trinka Davis Veterans Village, a clinic offering primary care and specialty health services in Carrollton.  We have also partnered with Operation Gratitude to send current troops handmade items like paracord bracelets, bandanas, masks, scarves, and cards. 

Veterans in America

Veterans currently comprise about seven percent of the US population, roughly 19.5 million Americans. Veterans of the Gulf War Era make up nearly half of that population, followed by around six million Vietnam War veterans. A little over one million people are veterans of the Korean War veterans, and around 326 thousand are World War Two veterans. Two million of those veterans are women, and Georgia has the ninth largest percentage of Veterans living in the United States. The US veteran population has declined significantly in recent years. Population decline coupled with the introduction of veteran support-focused legislature means we have a unique opportunity to focus more on personal care and hands-on treatment of veterans returning in need. A study by the VA predicts that by 2030, Georgia will be home to the fifth-largest percentage of veterans in the nation!

Challenges Veterans Face

Homelessness is one of the most prominent issues returning service members face. There are around 40 thousand veterans living without a home in America, 89 percent of which received an honorable discharge. The main reasons behind this sizable amount of homeless veterans is poverty brought on by home foreclosure, unemployment, substance abuse, and mental illness. 

But progress is being made to find every veteran in the United States a home. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “More than 82 communities and the entire states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia have effectively ended homelessness among Veterans”. This has been made possible by various government support programs such as the Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program and Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. 

The mental changes that occur upon returning home are also often a major obstacle. A write-up by the VA on veteran re-adjustment to civilian life puts the seemingly simple act of existing in civilian life into perspective: “The military provides structure and has a clear chain of command. This does not naturally exist outside the military. A Veteran will have to create his or her own structure or adjust to living in an environment with more ambiguity”. 

Resources Available for Veterans

Many veterans often look for structure in their daily life through a steady home life or a good working relationship with coworkers. That, as well as the obvious financial pressure, is why reintegrating into the workforce is vital for returning service members to fall into a familiar and comfortable routine.

The VA and other government entities provide a variety of programs intended to prepare veterans to rejoin the workforce. Job training, resume building, and even navigating office lingo are new concepts to a veteran whose only career has been with the military. Programs like Boots to Business are excellent resources to increase returning service members’ experience and confidence in joining the workforce. 

The many obstacles facing returning veterans make learning about the positive resources and programs available all the more critical. In addition to the Nonprofit Partners Pebble Tossers’ support, there are also multiple government-supported Veteran Service Organizations. These organizations include the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and more, located at the Atlanta Regional VA Office

There are many ways to show your support and honor the veterans in your family and community. Here are some simple tips on how you can support service members through words and actions listed in an article by Jamie Howard, Ph.D. at the Child Mind Institute

    • Acknowledge people who have been deployed, be it your neighbor, distant relative, friend, or colleague. 
    • Be available to talk and listen about things in general, including the important aspects of returning to everyday life—job, hobbies, activities, etc. 
    • Offer a job if you or someone you know is hiring.
    • Engage in community activities. Some military members return to a huge network of friends and family; others do not. Arrange outings to baseball games, museums, or the movies.
    • Offer help in specific ways. Rather than saying “Let me know if I can help…” say, “I’d like to babysit for you this weekend—you deserve a night out.”

Atlanta has multiple parks with monuments or memorials honoring veterans.  Planning a trip is a great way to teach the importance of US service members and veterans to younger children in a more physical way. Pebble Tossers is also hosting a few different service opportunities in May to benefit returning veterans. These include writing notes of encouragement virtually, Memorial Day remembrance, and more.  You can always check our Monthly Service Calendar to see what service projects are available. 

You can also contribute your time to one of our Nonprofit Partners. Here is a list of Pebble Tossers’ Nonprofit Partners focusing on assisting US Troops and Veterans. 

Nonprofit Partners 

Doc’s Healing Hives and Honey Foundation: 

  • This organization aims to familiarize and educate veterans of the Atlanta metro area with beekeeping and the art of harvesting honey. They also sell this honey at local farmers’ markets. Doc’s primary goal is “helping veterans heal through the vocation of beekeeping.” Learn more here

Operation Gratitude: 

  • Operation Gratitude operates all over the country with the primary goal of creating and sending care packages to service members and veterans. They organize workshops to fill these care packages, such as letter-writing campaigns, knitting, and even hacky sack making. 

VA Atlanta Healthcare System: 

  • The VA is integral in supporting our returning veterans. Here service members can get the medical treatment they need, be it mental health treatment or something as simple as battery replacement for a hearing aid. Learn more here

Veterans Empowerment Organization: 

  • The VEO is dedicated to helping returning service members reintegrate into society as efficiently and easily as possible. They focus on providing housing, wellness programs, and workforce training and placement services for veterans. Learn more here

April Cause Area: Pebble Tossers’ Guide to Environmental Conservation

Earth Day isn’t the only time to think about the importance of protecting our environment. But it can be intimidating to dive into a field so vast as the environment. After all, doesn’t that pretty much cover every natural cause on earth? 

Pebble Tossers is committed to reducing our environmental impact. We follow consistent environmental sustainability practices on every service project we are a part of. Here are some examples of how Pebble Tossers has prioritized environmental sustainability within our organization: 

    • Creation of efficient ways to reduce negative impact on the environment. 
    • Reduction of pollution and wasted resources like water and energy. 
    • Efficient usage of necessary materials and an emphasis on recyclability when possible. 
    • Proper education on sustainable practices within Pebble Tossers. 
    • Continuing environment-focused service projects in needed communities.

By creating a system of accountability and tracking our impact on the environment, Pebble Tossers prioritizes this cause within our organization. These eco-friendly practices should be evident in our attitude during service projects and encourage partnered organizations to act likewise. Feel free to visit our monthly cause area resource page to see a list of the various environmental service projects Pebble Tossers is a part of this month. You can also find some fun tips and activities to minimize your daily ecological impact.

Environmental Conservation encompasses many different focus areas, including habitat, soil, marine, energy and more. Pebble Tossers wants to take this April to highlight many of the various causes associated with Environmental Conservation. We also want to highlight some partnered sustainability-focused organizations that positively impact the Atlanta community. Through learning about the history of environmental conservation and seeing the progress made by these efforts, we can become better stewards of our environment in the Atlanta area and worldwide! 

History of Environmental Conservation

Efforts to decrease our negative impact on the environment have been ongoing for hundreds of years. Modern Environmental Conservatism gained momentum during the Industrial Revolution, spurred on by unprecedented amounts of pollution. Scientists of the era realized that important resources like wood and coal would not last forever and expressed concern over the ever-increasing reliance on them. 

Later in the 1900s, severe over-hunting threatened the populations of many diverse species in different parts of the country. During this time, the populations of the Carolina Parakeet, Eastern Cougar, Labrador Duck, and many more were permanently extinguished by overzealous hunters and habitat destruction. 

While the disappearance of one or two species may not seem like a big deal, it can have a massive effect on the surrounding wildlife. Taking even one critical species out of an ecosystem can have major unforeseen consequences. Luckily, some mass extinctions were prevented by the founding of the National Park Service. Many of the new natural parks provided a place animals such as the grizzly bear could live without the risk of being over-hunted. Today, visiting a local or national park can be a great way to see wildlife unique to your area. Georgia is home to many species not found in other parts of the country, like the woodchuck and flying squirrel. 

Climate Change

One of the most well-known causes associated with Environmental Conservation is the fight to reduce climate change. This is an ongoing problem that affects every part of the planet. It has brought about the gradual destruction of countless wildlife habitats through rising temperatures, increasingly destructive storm patterns and much more.1 

The effects of climate change can very much be felt in Atlanta.  A yearly report released by the Georgia Water Coalition expressed concern over the harmful effects climate change will bring to Georgia. This report predicts future heatwaves and severe droughts in the Atlanta area and Georgia.2 Studies like this stress the importance of making simple changes to ensure a sustainable and bright future for generations to come. 

While the many different causes associated with Environmental Conservation may seem daunting to get involved in, there have been quite a few success stories made possible by the movement. Several important species have been brought back from the brink of extinction. The bald eagle, humpback whale, grey wolf, and many more species are around today thanks to the efforts of environmental conservationists worldwide.3 

Impacts of Georgia Based Environmental Conservation

Conservation efforts have also been successful in Georgia, including multiple projects in Atlanta organized by Pebble Tossers. Service projects such as forest and trail maintenance at Big Trees Forest Preserve, the Beltline Beautification Project, and recycling event volunteering opportunities are offered monthly. Check our monthly service calendar here for a list of projects organized by Pebble Tossers and partnered organizations. There are also successful ongoing efforts like cleaning up the Chattahoochee River and the hundreds of thousands of trees being planted statewide by Trees Atlanta and other organizations. 

Many of the environmental issues that face the world are also a concern in the Atlanta area. Making a positive impact on the environment isn’t an easy thing to do, but finding ways to work these changes into our daily routine is hugely important. Sometimes the most meaningful effects you can have on the environment around you can be done with the simplest of actions. Educating yourself about recycling, getting involved with an environmental nonprofit, even switching to a reusable water bottle are all easy steps to become an advocate for the environment. 

Pebble Tossers is proud to partner with many organizations that focus on environmental conservation. These local organizations focus on various environmental issues, such as wildlife conservation, youth and adult education, and the preservation of many of Atlanta’s uniquely beautiful outdoor spaces. Here are some of those organizations and what they do in the Atlanta area. 

Nature Preserves: 

The John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve: A 30 acre Tree, Plant and Wildlife sanctuary and Urban Forest Education Center located in Sandy Springs. In 2021, the Forest Preserve was designated part of the Old-Growth Forest Network, a national network of mature forests that are protected, native, and publicly accessible.  Find more information here

Blue Heron Nature Preserve: Here you can enjoy the three mile Blueway Trail on unique wetland trails home to a variety of wildlife! Blue Heron also hosts multiple art, education and conservation programs. Find more information here

Chattahoochee Nature Center: A 127 acre natural space located on the Chattahoochee river. Lots to do here, like guided river canoe trips, summer camps, and multiple private event spaces. Find more information here

Dunwoody Nature Center: Dunwoody Park is a great place to spend the day enjoying nature. Also home to the Dunwoody Beekeeping Club, which hosts monthly meetings and classes for current and future beekeepers of all ages. Find more information here

Lost Corner Nature Preserve: A great space to enjoy some quiet time in nature. Here you can help out in the community garden, walk the trails, or even attend the native plant sale in the Spring and Fall. Find more information here

Community Engagement: 

Park Pride: An organization that provides programs, funding, and leadership with the goal to improve every park possible in the Atlanta and Dekalb area. A great organization to get involved with if you want to learn more about how parks can benefit the community and the challenges of establishing a new park. Find more information here

Trees Atlanta: A nonprofit organization that focuses on forest restoration and tree care and planting. Trees Atlanta has planted over 140,000 trees in the Atlanta area and has no plans on stopping! Find more information here

Atlanta Beltline: An urban development program focusing on “connecting 45 intown neighborhoods via a 22 mile loop of multi-use trails, modern streetcar, and parks – all based on railroad corridors that formerly encircled Atlanta”. Find more information here

ChaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials): An important drop off facility that specializes in hazardous waste and other materials that may be difficult to recycle. Not only an important community resource, but also a site for youth and adult education programs such as Sustainable Material Management, Sustainability/Environmental Education, and Recycling 101. Find more information here

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s mission is to educate, advocate, and secure the protection and stewardship of the Chattahoochee River. Programs are dedicated to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee river basin. Find more information here



November Cause Area: How to Help Curb Hunger in Our Community

Did you know that Georgia has the 10th highest food insecurity rate in the county and that 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger?1 For most of us, hunger can be solved by a trip to the kitchen. Mealtimes often revolve around planned ingredients, thoughtfully purchased during weekly grocery runs, or include impromptu restaurant visits. But for many Atlantans, food is an expense that has to take a backseat to more pressing needs. For these individuals and families, there isn’t regular access to adequate or affordable food—it’s a chronic problem known as food insecurity.2

“A household is food insecure when they’re unsure about where their next meal is coming from,” said Jon West, VP of Programs at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. “This may be due to a lack of resources—money, a place to buy food or transportation to get there.”3

Food insecurity does not just affect children and families in the city but it also affects individuals living in rural areas. People who live in rural Georgia face hunger at higher rates, in part because of the unique challenges living remotely presents. These challenges include an increased likelihood of food deserts with the nearest food pantry or food bank potentially hours away, job opportunities that are more concentrated in low-wage industries, and higher rates of unemployment and underemployment.4

Our partners at HOPE Atlanta, the Atlanta Mission, Open Hand Atlanta, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank are working hard to thwart those statistics and we’re glad we can help by hosting a variety of service projects for our members including food drives, serving as delivery drivers, helping pack and sort food donations, making sandwiches, preparing a meal for a youth shelter, and more. Our current service calendar has 10 projects for this cause area with nearly 100 project dates and times available to members.

Data has shown that in the state of Georgia more than a million children in Georgia do not have consistent access to enough nutritious food. This can have long-term effects on their health and future. Kids who are food insecure are more likely to be held back a grade in elementary school, more than likely to be sick and hospitalized and more likely to have growth and developmental issues.5

Here are a few highlighted upcoming projects for Pebble Tossers members:

Thanksgiving Meal Boxes
InCommunity needs volunteers on Wednesday, November 17th to sort and fill Thanksgiving Meal Boxes for its 43 group homes. The items donated at our food drive on November 6th will be used to fill these boxes. InCommunity provides opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities to participate in meaningful activities within their communities. All volunteers must be at least 8 years old.

S’mores with SafeHouse Outreach
This will be our 9th year providing the S’mores for the Chili Outreach. Pebble Tossers volunteers will make and serve the S’mores and help with the entire event. All supplies are provided and we will be serving and visiting with the community from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 27th. This is a great way to extend your Thanksgiving and is a wonderful family project.

Thanksgiving Love Feeds on November 19th
Love Beyond Walls focuses on raising awareness of the realities and needs of those experiencing lack and vulnerability and using that vehicle as a way of mobilizing people to take part in those stories. Love Beyond Walls is preparing for the Thanksgiving Love Feeds – they will be collecting the following items: turkeys, boxes of cornbread, boxes of mac & cheese, boxes of stuffing, boxes of desserts, and drinks. If you would like to donate any of the items listed below, please click here to sign up with Love Beyond Walls for a time to drop them off at their office

1 HOPE Atlanta https://hopeatlanta.org/
2 Southface https://www.southface.org/what-does-food-insecurity-look-like-in-atlanta/
3 Southface https://www.southface.org/what-does-food-insecurity-look-like-in-atlanta/
4 Georgia Food Bank Association https://georgiafoodbankassociation.org/hunger-in-georgia/
5 Georgia Food Bank Association https://georgiafoodbankassociation.org/hunger-in-georgia/

October Cause Area: Working with Animals and Wildlife is a Mutually Beneficial Experience

Volunteering with animals is one of the most enjoyable forms of service. Kids love interacting with animals and animals thrive off of their high energy levels. It empowers and inspires individuals to influence their community in a positive way. The experience helps volunteers, especially young individuals, develop empathy and patience. Helping animals in turn gives back to the community as they are able to become stress relief and service animals to interact with individuals in need. Interacting with friendly, well-socialized animals helps reduce cortisol levels, thus reducing stress. In addition, it increases the release of oxytocin which is another chemical that helps reduce stress in both the body and mind. Studies have also demonstrated that interacting with service animals helps calm aggression and hyperactivity in troubled children. source:newportacademy. This is why working with animals as well as animal-assisted therapy is so important. 

Though there are many benefits to positive interactions with animals and wildlife, unfortunately, many individuals abuse this privilege. Annually in Georgia, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals receives 150, 000 reports of animal cruelty annually, out of which only 1500 cases are sent to the courts for further consideration (https://idfi.ge/). Not only is animal abuse a serious problem in Georgia and America as a whole, but it also has much more serious implications. According to the humane society, researchers found that pet abuse had occurred in 88 percent of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children. Therefore, it is important to look out for signs of animal abuse and alert the correct authorities who will take it seriously as it could save a child’s life. W-Underdogs is a local animal advocacy organization that works with the City of Atlanta police department. They train the department to recognize and investigate signs of animal abuse that may otherwise be overlooked. 

With a majority of staff and volunteers being pet owners, Pebble Tossers strives to advocate for animals and wildlife not only during the month of October but year-round. Below is a multitude of avenues and organizations that are dedicated to serving animals and wildlife in need:

How We Can Help: Animals in temporary living need clean towels, newspapers, and proper food to eat and prosper. Ultimately, they need permanent homes full of love and protection. We can serve to make their temporary living more enjoyable, and better set them up for a permanent loving home. 

Action Steps: 

  • Always check Pebble Tossers’ service calendar for updated volunteer opportunities!
  • Wash towels for animal shelters.
  • Provide newspapers and other necessities to shelters in need.
  • Spend an afternoon playing with unsheltered and sheltered animals.
  • Many shelters allow kids to practice reading and other language skills by sitting outside of kennels and reading to attentive animals. The calming voice is helpful to the animal and builds the child’s confidence.

Highlighted Organizations: 

  • Zoo Atlanta: Boo at the ZooPebble Tossers has been participating for over 6 years. Volunteers dress up and are assigned to a certain animal exhibit. They give out candy and inform visiting families about said animals. Boo at the Zoo starts in late October. More information can be found at zooatlanta.org
  • Georgia House Rabbit Society: This organization takes in rabbits from foster families, individuals who can no longer care for them, and those that need socialization. Calm, young volunteers are able to help socialize and interact with some of the rabbits. Learn more at Georgia House Rabbit Society 
  • Furkids: Furkids operates the largest cage-free, no-kill shelter for cats in the Southeast and Sadie’s Place, a no-kill shelter for rescued dogs. Representatives from Furkids bring puppies to assisted living centers. A program we participate with them on is Pet Therapy with the elders at A.G. Rhodes. Our volunteers invite residents to come down and play with the puppies. This experience is great for both younger volunteers and seniors; it elicits positive conversations, brings joy and fulfillment, and keeps seniors young. Learn more at Furkids.
  • Lifeline Animal Project: LifeLine Animal Project is the largest animal welfare organization in Georgia. We work with LifeLine on a variety or projects as well as supporting their efforts to provide accessible pet care and end pet homelessness. Learn more at LifeLine Animal Project.

September: Pebble Tossers advocate for our elderly community

Our Elderly are some of the most overlooked and underappreciated members of our community. Currently, around one million Americans live in some type of senior living community, and that number is expected to double by the year 2030. Unfortunately, many family members do not live near their relatives and/or do not have adequate time to visit as often as possible. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, visits have been impossible. However, it is important to remember how amazing and important the older generation is in the lives of younger generations and how keeping those connections strong is beneficial to everyone. At Pebble Tossers we strive to make as many older members of our community feel needed and cherished. Not only does increased interaction brighten their lives, but it gives them the opportunity to instill wisdom on those volunteering. 

One organization worth noting is A.G. Rhodes Health and Rehab. A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab participates in a weeklong camp called Generation Connect, where high school kids are paired with a senior citizen. They spend the entire week eating lunch with them, going to classes within the facility, and also bringing in career coaches for the kids. Lastly, the kids participated in a dementia simulation where they were better able to understand the physical effects of such a terrible disease. The kids developed a deeper sense of empathy for their older buddy and at the end of the week, they gave a report on their life. The expression on their faces as the kids explained their lives demonstrates how much this week means to them. A.G. Rhodes facilitates connection and relationships between vastly different generations. It is mutually beneficial as the elder feels connected to society and the teen learns more about the past along with nuggets of wisdom.

There are many other ways to brighten our Elderly populations’ day. This can include participating in a ”fur kids” event where a local shelter brings puppies into the assisted living center. It is scientifically proven that puppy therapy lowers stress and releases oxytocin in the brain. There is also “Toy Day” where kids bring in their favorite toy and introduce it to a member of the facility. The kids get to hear about toys from older generations and compare their interests. Then, the kids get a list of questions to ask their person so they can have a longer, more in-depth conversation. Talking about their lives helps seniors with memory longevity and processing emotions. We also have teens come in and educate seniors about technology so they can connect with family that may live further away. 

Overall, interacting with senior citizens is a mutually beneficial relationship. Volunteers learn to respect their elders and just walking through the door and being present brightens their day immensely. There is so much to be learned whether they are a family member or not; family history, historical world events, life lessons, generational culture, and much more. The transfer of knowledge between these generations is so important. There are many ways to start volunteering and below are a few organizations perfect for getting started: 

Highlighted Cause Area Organizations
A. G. Rhodes
Elmcroft Senior living
Mount Vernon Towers Elevated Senior Living
Trinka Davis Veterans Village

August: Pebble Tossers cares about improving Education and Literacy for our community! 

As our students head back to school, our cause area centers around education & literacy. Education is the backbone of any successful community as it is the gift that keeps on giving. When children are given the opportunity to flourish in school, they are then equipped to educate their community and loved ones, creating a beautiful chain of knowledge. Youth deserve to learn without impediments such as lack of resources and technology; all children should have equal access to high quality education. 

Did you know that one in four children in America grow up without learning how to read?* In addition, students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of school and over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level (dosomething.org). It is statistics like these that exemplify how important it is to improve education at a community level. Many schools have limited access to the internet and diverse libraries which greatly affects the quality of learning. For years past and to come, Pebble Tossers supports the education system of the greater Atlanta area in a number of ways. As our membership and volunteers continue to increase, our community is able to make a larger impact in the lives of underprivileged children. 

Pebble Tossers’ Book Nook program provides mini-libraries for four homeless shelters in Atlanta. The Book Nooks allow children to access new books on a monthly basis as we restock the books during Activity Nights. The children are encouraged to keep one favorite book to foster a love of reading. As children move on from the shelter, they will take the book with them as a gift. Studies show that children who grow up with an abundance of books tend to progress further in school. This will help develop a sense of responsibility and ownership in caring for their books.

Another imperative organization we work alongside is Breakthrough Atlanta. They are reaching out to youth from the greater Atlanta area’s BIPOC community to teach them about becoming an educator. This operation provides students with a wonderful opportunity to envision themselves as a teacher. Eventually, more underprivileged children will have access to educators that come from similar backgrounds, giving them someone who exemplifies their own potential to look up to. 

Teens and youth who volunteer within the education/literacy area are able to develop a sense of empathy. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes and begin to understand the diversity of childhoods present in their community first-hand. They develop gratitude for the opportunities they had growing up and connect with members of the community they may otherwise have had no communication with. How to get started: 

Easy Action Steps:

  • Check out our education-related nonprofit partners
  • Volunteer as a tutor or to help a child read with one of our nonprofit partners 
  • Donate books to Pebble Tossers to restock our 4 mini-libraries at shelters
  • Dresden Elementary School Back to School Supplies Drive.
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES ARE AN ONGOING NEED; Keep a look out for backpack and school supply drives every fall as well as individual donations based on ability

Highlighted Cause Area Organizations: 

*WriteExpress Corporation. “Literacy Statistics.” Begin to Read. Accessed April 16, 2014