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GARDEN PARTY PREP WITH the Goddess Gardener, cynthia Brian

Posted by rstapholz on
GARDEN PARTY PREP WITH the Goddess Gardener, cynthia Brian

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
Azaleas do well in shady areas and will bloom profusely. Photos Cynthia Brian

“I was reared in the garden, you know.” ~ Emily Dickenson
If you are like most people who have been hibernating and following CDC social distancing protocols during the pandemic, you are probably itching for a gathering of friends and family. If you have been vaccinated (and, I hope you have), small outdoor get-togethers without masks are considered relatively safe.
Is your garden and patio area ready for a party? While many people have baked bread, learned to crochet, or tackled puzzles, I have been busy helping clients prepare their landscapes for small garden shindigs as well as creating quiet spaces as a peaceful, restorative sanctuary.
You don’t have to do an entire expensive makeover to make your place look pretty and presentable. There are several ways to get a streamlined look on a budget that you can afford.
I call these “garden hacks” and I’ll share suggestions with you.
Walk around your exterior perimeter and take notes. What areas need more TLC? Do you have debris anywhere or everywhere? What about weeds, broken or dead branches, or an overabundance of fallen leaves? The first thing you want to do is clean. Remove whatever is broken and not fixable, recycle or re-purpose other items. Rake the leaves and put them in the compost pile or green bin. With pruning shears, cut any dead branches on shrubs or trees and remove dead or dry foliage.
Next, tackle the weeds. If weeds are growing in beds, it is best to pull them by hand. If they are on a hillside or area without many other plants, you might be able to use a weed-eater. My preference is always hand-pulling to get the roots. Pulling out the roots ensures that they won’t sprout again this season.
Once your garden is free of weeds, check the soil. If it is hard and compacted, it behooves you to bring in bags of enriched compost before planting. Soil is the foundation of verdant growth. With our glorious spring weather, blooming flowers, trees, and shrubs are in abundance at nurseries and garden centers. Before it gets too hot, you’ll want to add any shrubs or color spots. Until plantings are established, you will need to water deeply and often. I prefer to plant colorful perennials, biennials, and bulbs that will return in future seasons. Some of my favorites are azaleas, foxgloves, delphinium, lavender, roses, and calla lily, all available in several colors. To soften a fence or arbor, I recommend clematis, honeysuckle, or jasmine. Wisteria is a strong, spreading vine that requires heavy-duty support systems. Also, seek drought-tolerant species and succulents. In my garden, I like to create a painter’s palette of color with minimal spacing between plants, however, strategically placing just a few select plants is impressively impactful.
Ornamental grasses are easy to care for and add a natural stream-like flow to a garden. Clumping bamboo is excellent as a rustling screen that blows in the breeze. Both offer a feeling of serenity and calmness to any space.
After you have planted, you’ll want to top-dress with mulch to enhance the aesthetics, increase moisture retention, and minimize weed growth. You can buy wood chips in at least three different colors: red, black, and forest brown by the bag or you can order other varieties in bulk. Any flammable mulches such as chips, bark, straw, or pine needles must be distanced two feet from structures as per the fire ordinance. Gravel or rocks can be placed around the structure as a preventive measure.
Add steppingstones surrounded by small pebbles or pea gravel to enhance a dirt path. Gravel and rocks add texture, and the crunching sound is soothing. If your porch or deck needs refinishing and that project is not in your current plan or budget, buy inexpensive indoor/outdoor carpeting or rugs in natural tones to temporally cover the flaws and make walking comfortable and splinter-free.
When it comes to patio furniture, take an inventory of the condition of what you have. Can it last another summer with a bit of cleaning and updating? Do you need new pillows and pads, or can you just wash and refresh the ones you own? I recently worked on a project where the homeowners were going to discard their table and chairs because they were rusting. Their dilemma was that they didn’t have the time nor the money to invest in new patio furniture before a scheduled garden get-together for a few vaccinated friends. My suggestion was to use a little elbow grease: scrub, sand, and spray-paint. It took only a couple of hours, and the result was that the set looked brand new. Painting is one of the greatest hacks offering immediate, inexpensive results.
Another hack that I employ regularly is adding cut seafoam statice to area pots or beds where a little pizzaz is needed. Bunches of straw-like statice will hold their purple color for weeks without additional water. Shaded areas with comfortable seating invite a cooling, quieting, and relaxing experience. Umbrellas add sophistication to a patio and two or three strips of vintage- looking LED Edison-bulb lighting to provide a warm inviting glow in the evening. Lay a row of tube lights on the ground behind hedges for ethereal illumination.
The smart choice when planning the party bites is to offer individually cupped appetizers to eliminate people double-dipping. Home-grown (or farmers’ market) carrots, celery, and peppers cut into long slices standing on top of hummus in tiny tableware mount a pretty display as well as a nutritious one. Cones with charcuteries adorned with springs of rosemary, orange slices, and berries will entice any carnivore. For drinks, individual bottles or cans of favorite beverages will quench thirsty friends. Glasses can be marked with the names of the guests.
Finally, fresh, free-flowing flower arrangements picked from a profusion of blooms from your garden will be a conversation starter. The ones I created for the event were a mixture of calendula, Jupiter’s beard, Mexican sage, mixed with mock orange which added a heady perfume to the outdoor occasion. After the festivities, the bouquets became fragrant favorites indoors.
I was reared in the garden and am proud of being a nature lady. By using these simple hacks, you are ready to host your outdoor garden party with your vaccinated friends. Give it your best shot!
Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.
– Compliance deadline for wildfire risk is June 1. Make sure to cut your tall grasses, prune tree limbs to a minimum of six feet from the ground and away from roofs. Keep two feet of combustible ground covers including bark or mulch away from structures. Gravel is a good medium to use in this area. Also, plantings need to have a one-foot clearance above the ground. Clean out gutters and roof area of debris. Trim trees away from chimneys and remove flammable liquids and other matter away from your home.
– Once your daffodils, tulips, woodland hyacinths, and Naked ladies’ foliage have dried, remove them from the plant. By allowing the leaves to yellow, the plant is receiving its nutrition to develop flowers for the next season. The leaves can be added to the compost pile.
– Keep a bucket in your shower and use the water on your indoor plants.
– Empty all outdoor vessels of standing water. Even a teacup saucer will breed mosquitoes.
– Snakes are now out and about. Garter, King, and gopher snakes are great friends to our gardens.
Calla lilies are elegant and flower annually. Photos Cynthia Brian
Purple statice fills the back of a former solar light pelican Photos Cynthia Brian
The former dirt path is improved with black pebbles, steppingstones, and lined with mulch. Photos Cynthia Brian
As a highlight to your vaccinated outdoor gathering, make charcuterie cones with a slice of orange and a sprig of rosemary. Photos Cynthia Brian
Before planting, starting to put mulch, mostly bare ground.
After planting with mulch the appearance is much more appealing.
The repainted table holds a loose arrangement picked from the garden: calendula, Mexican sage, Jupiter’s beard, and mock orange blossoms.
Sliced celery, peppers, and carrots in an individual cup of hummus are a tasty appetizer.
A blue clematis is a great addition to a fence or arbor. .
 Cynthia Brian in the spring garden with purple wisteria

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!r 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyler Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com

No Showers for May Flowers

Posted by rstapholz on
No Showers for May Flowers

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“My garden is my most beautiful work of art” – Claude Monet

We’ve all heard the adage, “April showers bring May flowers!”  We have the flowers this year, but April precipitation did not materialize. 2021 is lining up to be the third driest year in the history of California. And that means that we must be more diligent than ever to prepare our properties for a season of increased wildfires.

I have been weeding my property with every spare minute since February. It is essential to pull out weeds by the roots, else they return promptly. This is round three and the resulting garden is looking beautiful.  I’ve been experimenting with mixing flowers of iridescent pinks with buttery yellows and pumpkin orange accented by sky blue and bold purple. The palette has taken on an Impressionistic essence of which Monet would be proud.

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April and May have always been my favorite months because of the plethora of blooms, birds, and fragrances. The perfume of the jasmine permeates the morning air, the lilac scents the afternoon sunshine, while the wisteria and mock orange infuse the evening with glorious aromas. 

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My two thornless Lady Banksia rose bushes with their profusion of creamy double-petaled flowers have commandeered thirty linear feet of a fence as well as twined to the tops of a plum and chestnut tree.

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The flowering cherry tree showcases puffy blossoms resembling pink snowballs. The mock orange tree’s white blooms are candy for the bees. The cerise flowers of the Western redbud tree offer a gorgeous contrast to the unfurling green leaves of the honey locust trees. Under a canopy of pines and surrounded by white calla lilies and lacy hemlock, a New Zealand hawthorn brightens the verdant scene with clouds of blush blooms.

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Bearded irises in a variety of colors are delicate and fragrant. Azaleas and camellias thrive in the shadow of the redwoods. Freesias, tulips, daffodils, calendulas, anemones continue their carnival of blooms. Despite the lack of rain, the spring display is splendor in the grass.

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In many parts of the country, people wait until after Mother’s Day to start planting their vegetables but because of the warmth of this season, I advise that you get started soon. Getting children involved with planting vegetables and herbs will encourage them to eat what they plant. After researchers spent time with children in Central Texas who had gardens and gardening classes at their schools, they discovered that the nutrition of both parents and children improved. Also, those who participated began enjoying more vegetables. 


If you are planning a vegetable patch, buy pint or quart size containers of your favorite vegetables. Don’t attempt to plant everything you see at the nursery. Only plant what you and your family love. For example, for my spring veggie garden, I’ve planted nine varieties of tomatoes as I’m a tomato snob. I only eat tomatoes in season and prefer only tomatoes that I, a friend, or a family member grows. Also planted are eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers. Already growing are a plethora of herbs including basil, oregano, fennel, sage, thyme, dill, cilantro as well as leafy greens of arugula, sorrel, lettuce, and sugar snap peas, artichokes, onions, chives, strawberries, and broccoli. 

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Make sure that you rotate your crops from year to year so as not to deplete the soil. Most summer vegetables require a minimum of six hours of sunlight. Read and follow the instructions that come with your plant.

Another beautiful, long-flowering, and excellent fresh-cut for arrangements is the dahlia. Although they are supposed to be deer-resistant, the deer that graze around my property seem to find them delicious.  I don’t advise dahlias to be planted in areas where you have marauders. Dahlias produce large, colorful blooms and are a welcome addition to any garden. Here’s how to get them started in your landscape:

  1. 1. Choose a well-drained area with plenty of sunlight.
  2. 2. Plant the tubers after the danger of frost have passed.
  3. 3. Dig a hole about a foot deep and amend with compost or potting soil.
  4. 4. Place the tuber flat and cover with the amended soil.
  5. 5. Make a patch of dahlias spaced 12-36” apart for maximum impact.
  6. 6. Water immediately.
  7. 7. After sprouting, pinch off the side buds to allow the central blowers to be larger.
  8. 8. Deadhead as flowers fade to maintain blooming. 
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Because of the arid times in which we are living, make sure to cut all tall wild grasses, trim limbs up from the ground six to ten feet to prevent fire laddering, and clear a safety zone around your home. Clean out gutters, remove debris, be cautious when barbecuing and careful around the fire pit. Keep gardens irrigated, watering early in the morning or early in the evening. Be diligent and responsible to help prevent a fire from igniting. Pray for rain yet be prepared for drought. 

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Mother’s Day is approaching and a welcome gift for mom can always be found in the garden. Consider a bubbling fountain, birdhouse, or colorful annuals to plant. Make a simple arrangement using flowers from the garden accompanied by a garden book that will be treasured always.

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Whatever you do, let your Mom know how much she means to you whether it is through a virtual visit or an in-person brunch, picnic, or walk. Moms love the little remembrances and deserve accolades, at least once a year!

Spring is the time to savor the beauty surrounding you. If you’ve ever been to Giverny in France, you will know that Monet was not exaggerating about his garden being his most beautiful work of art. He was inspired by nature and you can be too. Be an artist and create your masterpiece in your garden.

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Mother’s Day!

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1505/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-May-flowers-without-the-showers.html

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



May Power Blessings

Posted by presspass on
May Power Blessings

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“A person of power embraces challenges in complete gratitude. No matter the situation life may bring, discontent is never justified, rather all is experienced as an opportunity and a privilege to adventure and grow.”James Ray,Author and Speaker 

cynthia brian-India mustardMESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN 

Founder/Executive Director

Happy May! Can you believe we are in week seven of sheltering-at-home. I’m sure everyone is now a gourmet cook, expert cleaner, garden aficionado, Zoomer, and a bit stir crazy. Just how many shows can be binged watched a night?

As for me, I’m great although concerned about keeping Be the Star You Are!® alive after almost 21 years because of lack of donations. The government isn’t helping nonprofits that are all volunteer, like Be the Star You Are!®, even though we have normal business expenses to run our outreach programs. When I founded BTSYA in 1998, I chose to not take a salary and not employ staff so that all donations would totally benefit the programs and people we serve. Who knew that we’d be penalized for being frugal and sustainably sensible?


There is a silver lining! We were thrilled to be notified that we won a $500 grant from the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Gilbert Fund for our work. Roger Gilbert was a former insurance company CEO who believed in the work of non-profits. THANK YOU Gilbert Fund and NIA for believing in our work.

Green Air LogoWe also want to recognize Nicholas Donzelli and Green Air for their generous contributions to Be the Star You Are!®. This is the time to “go green”. Contact Green Air for all your energy solutions. I did, and I recommend them 100%. https://www.gogreenair.net Nick’s son, Isaiah was a teen reporter on Express Yourself! Radio and is now a thriving musician. Make sure to listen to his recent  interview with a couple of his original songs at https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/119379/play-and-music We are hoping that Isaiah will write a new musical intro for our Express Yourself!™ show.

nick donzelli-isaiah rankin-greenair1To support authors with new books and all appearances canceled, we began a new radio series on both StarStyle® and Express Yourself!® See below for more details and tune in. https://www.BetheStarYouAreRadio.com

Here in California we are on lockdown until at least May 31. You’ll find me in the garden or in my barnyard. For a bit of nature inspiration, check out Wild and Free: Press Pass: https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2020/04/30/wild-and-free/ .

Our hearts go out to all the graduates who will not get to “walk” in a ceremony or celebrate all the fun rituals of graduation. Chin up! There will be more awards and traditions for you in the near future. Use this special time for all those projects and ideas that you always said you wanted to instigate but had no time. YOU HAVE TIME NOW! I’m sure you are busy being at home, so I will sign off. Just wanted to say hello.

Find the blessings in the challenges. There is your power. Discover moments of joy. “This, too, shall pass.”

Stay positive. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay home. Wear a hazmat suit, if you have one! Find the humor in every moment. It will boost your immune system.

And call your Mother! Remember her on Mother’s Day. Make a donation in her name. I know that besides talking with my kids, a donation is the gift I want for Mother’s Day! https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Happy Mother's DayWith grace, gratitude,  and love,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




P.S. During the lock-down, I am available for consultations, webinars, interviews, or speaking via on-line sources only. If interested, email cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org or visit https://www.starstyleradio.com/coaching

DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


by Karen Kitchell

joy karen kitchel with millennial book

May we all savor and remember the moments of joy during 2020 so that we can share them with future generations. What I’ve learned during these last few months is when you help others, you are helping yourself. Nothing beats human kindness and compassion to lift your spirits. While self-care is important, other-care can boost your well-being in a big way.

To increase your happiness, consider ideas like these.

  • Arrange for a local restaurant to deliver pizzas to a domestic abuse shelter
  • Send a variety of snacks to a homeless shelter via Amazon
  • Email positive messages to an elderly assisted center
  • Check the list of needs at a local family shelter
  • Send “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu to someone struggling with job loss or isolation
  • Make peanut butter cookies and drop them off on a neighbor’s doorstep
  • Savor the green grass and daffodils like the gift they are from above

While funds are scarce for some of us, others can use their dollars saved from buying less gas or the cups of good coffee that are temporarily out of reach.  If you have a time windfall, use it to increase your happiness. Experience one act of generosity followed by a moment of joy.

Karen Kitchel penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, and is a dedicated volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor.www.scatteringkindness.com


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#GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. Please help Be the Star You Are!® and our fantastic outreach programs survive by making a donation today.

Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Or send a check to Be the Star You Are!® charity, PO Box 376, Moraga, Ca. 94556.

Let us know if you’d like to be set up to make monthly donations. All are tax-deductible.


2016 Promo Banner bothshows-no picsAs part of our Be the Star You Are! COVID-19 Disaster Relief Outreach program, Be the Star You Are!® has collaborated with the Authors Guild to showcase the new books launched by many authors from around the country in a variety of genres. We will also be showcasing artists, actors, and musicians, all of whom had had their gigs canceled and are out of work. We believe in supporting creativity and believe that books, art, music, and film provide escape and joy, especially during tough times. For the next few months, make sure you are tuned in to both StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® on Wednesdays at 4pm PT for “Writers Wednesdays” LIVE http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are as well as our teen program, Express Yourself!™ airing on Sundays at 3pm PT for “Super Smart Sundays”, https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

Both programs broadcast on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel and will be archived on that site as well as iTunes, Stitcher, etc. It’s a giant artistic festival!

For information on the line-up, visit http://www.BetheStarYouAreRadio.com 


Since we need to stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary.  These are on-line shopping portals that will sell you what you need, offer discounts, and assist our mission as a nonprofit. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials.

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

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2. Discounted books at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc& buy from your favorite stores. Giving Assistant Icon 234x60

4. Search and GoodShop: Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too! https://www.goodshop.com/nonprofit/be-the-star-you-are

5. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA2020 IGIVE logo

6. BTSYA Logo Store: http://btsya.rylees.net

7. Buy or Sell on EBAY:http://givingworks.ebay.com/charity-auctions/charity/be-the-star-you-are-501-c-3/1504/?favorite=link

8. Designer Clothes to Buy or Sell: https://www.unionandfifth.com/charities/be-the-star-you-are-moraga-ca/shop

9. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” T-shirts and tanks $19.99 at StarStyle® Store: http://www.starstylestore.net/


10. Are you a gamer, lover of new software, or other digital content? Buy all of your favorites at Humble Bundle. http://ow.ly/cYs130iN6n4

We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556


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Positive Results: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/positive-results

About Us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/about_us

Programs: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/programs

How to Help: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/how-to-help

Blog: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/blog-1

Events: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/events

Contact us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/contact

GREAT NON PROFITS REVIEWS: https://greatnonprofits.org/org/be-the-star-you-are-inc

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GUIDESTAR: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/94-3333882

We invite you to volunteer, get involved, or make a donation. Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

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If you’d like to advertise your service or product while supporting Be the Star You Are!®, we are now accepting approved ads that will benefit readers. Contact info@BetheStarYouAre.org for details.

IMay, Pray. Play, Stay! 

Be healthy, Be HOME.


Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




All donations are 100% Tax Deductible according to law. Thank you!




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