Awarding Kindness and Celebrating Trophy Central’s Brand New Compassion Scholarship!

Trophy Central Compassionate Scholarship

Trophy Central 2018 Compassionate Scholarship Award

Team Trophy Central has some exciting news: we started a scholarship program to help deserving high school seniors pay for college!  Students showing extreme sportsmanship, compassion or kindness have the opportunity to be awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Trophy Central toward their first year’s tuition and (drum roll, please!) we have chosen our first winner.

Meet Devon Willis, a Texas student who launched a YouTube video campaign that raised over $80,000 to help her best friend’s brother afford a heart transplant. Besides being the first winner of Trophy Central’s Compassion Scholarship, Devon is also the latest winner of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward everyday heroes who inspire.

We engraved Devon’s custom trophy with these words: The Compassionate Heart Award.

Devon Willis

It was Devon’s compassionate heart that propelled her to do everything in her power to help gift Anthony, her best friend’s brother, with a new healthy, compassionate heart of his own.

In Devon’s YouTube video, she told Anthony’s story by holding up words and drawings on multiple sheets of paper, reminiscent of the famous Love Actually scene.  Devon explained that Anthony was born with a broken heart and, despite nine surgeries to fix it, his heart was still not mended and needed to be replaced. She then asked everyone to donate $1.40 on February 14th: “While you are thinking about your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, please also think about his sweet heart. His sweet broke heart.”  This was six years ago.

Anthony recently celebrated his fifth anniversary of receiving his heart transplant, and this was possible because of Devon’s kindness and her passionate determination to help.

A Heartwarming Friend and Dedicated Advocate

Besides making her YouTube video (which she says “reached all seven continents and eventually the International Space Station”!) Devon also sold raffle tickets outside her local rodeo for a town-wide raffle her mom helped plan to raise money for Anthony’s heart transplant surgery. Devon also spoke passionately about Anthony and her mission to help raise money for his heart transplant on three local news stations, helping to build publicity for her fundraising efforts with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. Devon was interviewed for newspaper articles and became an outspoken advocate for Anthony while at the same time tending to her best friend’s needs: “I did everything I could to bring light to my best friend and pay attention to her as all the attention went to her younger brother. I laughed with her and was there to be a support system as she cried. I made efforts to make her feel loved and remembered, because I could never forget her.” 

It takes a lot of heart to help your best friend cope with the fear and sadness of having a brother who needs heart transplant surgery. And even more heart to launch a powerful campaign to help make his surgery possible. Team Trophy Central is honored to recognize Devon’s kindness and ambition to make a difference.

When we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign four years ago, our goal was to reward the kindness of magnanimous people just like Devon!  People with compassionate hearts who make the world a better place by being themselves. We saw an “untapped market” in the land of trophy winners. Sure, people regularly won trophies for excelling in sports and other extracurricular activities, but how many people won trophies for everyday acts of kindness (or, as we call them: everyday acts of trophy-ness!)?

Calling All Sparkly, Quirky, Persistent and Kind Sue Hecks of the World!

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Inspired by the Sue Heck character from the sitcom The Middle, we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward the Sue Hecks of the world: people who may not be athletically or artistically gifted but who make the world a better place simply by being in it. Sue’s optimism is contagious, her persistence and dedication inspiring. The fact of the matter is, Sue (just like the Instagram memes advise) leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes. Sue embraces her quirkiness and never ceases to make bright pink lemonade out of dull bitter lemons. And we want to reward the sparkly, quirky Sues of the world — the people who make us smile and warm our hearts.

People like Devon, whose compassionate spirit helped Anthony get a new heart. Team Trophy Central thanks you, Devon, with all our hearts, for your kindness that inspires us all.

Let’s keep the compassion going! Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign is only as good as the nominations we receive. So please #ShowUsYourSue! Nominate the next winner of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign here in the comments section or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue. We will be sending out a shiny trophy next month to the latest winner. Who will it be?!

Meet the Winner of The Unstoppable Force Award & Get Inspired by Another Random Act of Trophy-ness

Candice Payne Trophy Central

Candice Payne proves the (multiplying) power of helping those in need.

Unlike with previous Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winners, you’ve probably already heard of Candice Payne, the Chicago real estate investor who purchased 30 hotel rooms for homeless people during the polar vortex that turned Chicago colder than Antarctica. The story has gone viral. If you didn’t read about it in The New York Times or watch Candice tell her story on Ellen, you likely saw posts about it on social media.

Team Trophy Central realizes this heartwarming story doesn’t need any more publicity, but Candice’s act of kindness really touched our hearts. It epitomizes the very reason we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign — not merely to reward acts of kindness, but also to inspire more kind acts. We believe that the more our hearts are touched by kindness, the more we want to warm others’ hearts with kindness as well. Kindness inspires kindness, and we want to keep passing the kindness on!

We love how genuine Candice’s act of kindness was. She decided she was going to stay warm and toasty in her home during the polar vortex rather than going into work, so called her assistants and told them to stay home as well. Then she got to thinking: What about the people who don’t have a home to stay in when it’s literally freezing out? As she mentioned on Ellen, many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless. Her own boyfriend used to be homeless. The stigma attached to being homeless — laziness, stupidity — is just plain wrong.

The Multiplying Power of Kindness

So Candice decided she would put a bunch of hotel rooms on her credit card, called around Chicago to find a hotel that was amenable to her plan (many hotels were not — they didn’t want to house homeless people — but The Amber Inn was more than happy to help) and purchased 30 rooms for a night.

She then went on social media to see if anyone could help her transport homeless people to The Amber Inn, offering to pay anyone who would assist, and suddenly a whole lot of help flooded in. Not only did people step up to help transport homeless people to the hotel; they also put up their own money. So what started out as 30 hotel rooms for one night turned into 72 rooms for five nights. Because of Candice’s act of kindness that spurred on more and more kindness, 122 homeless people were able to have roofs over their heads to save them from freezing.

That’s why we sent Candice a Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy engraved with these words: The Unstoppable Force Award: Proving the (Multiplying) Power of Helping Those in Need.

Congratulations, Candice, on your trophy win! And thank you for your magnanimous good deed that inspired more and more acts of kindness!

Congratulations, Candice Payne! Welcome to Trophy Central's Random Acts of Trophy-ness "Show Us Your Sue" family!

Congratulations, Candice Payne! Welcome to Trophy Central’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” family!

Temporary Fix Inspires Permanent Solution

When Candice was on Ellen, she was presented with $50,000 from Walmart. Candice had purchased supplies for the homeless people she was helping at Walmart, and Walmart decided to reward her kindness with two separate giant checks (each for $25,000). Candice turned around and donated the $50,000 right into her non-profit. She had started her non-profit two years ago but hadn’t done anything with it yet. But her recent good deed inspired her to figure out what she wanted to do: use her real estate know-how to buy and renovate multi-unit buildings on the South Side of Chicago to house the homeless. She’s set up a GoFundMe campaign to help her achieve her goal. Candice says in an Instagram post that purchasing hotel rooms for the homeless was a temporary fix but her goal now is to find a permanent solution.

Four Years of Being Show Us Your Sue Strong!

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

We think that our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” namesake, Sue Heck (the perpetually optimistic and endearingly awkward character on The Middle) would be jumping for joy over all the good Candice is doing (and inspiring in others).

When we started our “Show Us Your Sue” campaign back in 2015, our goal was to find the Sue Hecks of the world, those who probably wouldn’t win a trophy under normal circumstances (Sue has never been the most athletic or the most talented) but who are beyond trophy-worthy in our eyes because they make the world a better place by being themselves. Sue Heck’s determination and optimism inspire others to persist in following their dreams. That is a HUGE feat and most admirable quality. One Candice Payne exemplifies.

Trophy Central Random Acts of Trophy-ness Show Us Your Sue award winners

But we are not through searching for Sues or giving out trophies! Do YOU know an everyday hero who makes the world a better place? Then please #ShowUsYourSue! Please nominate our next Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter using our #ShowUsYourSue hashtag. We can’t wait to send out the next shiny trophy!

And the Caring Heart Award Goes To…

Officer Todd Bing embracing Delores Marotta. | Image via CNN

Officer Todd Bing embracing Delores Marotta. | Image via CNN

This is a story about how one act of kindness can have a ripple effect, inspiring more and more kindness and doing more and more good.  It all started when an elderly woman named Delores Marotta went into a Michigan gas station and asked for three dollars’ worth of gas.  A police officer overheard her request and saw that she was struggling with a cane, so decided to offer to pump the gas for her.  As he was pumping the gas, they got to talking, and he found out that she needed enough gas to get to a doctor appointment, but couldn’t afford more than three dollars’ worth until her next Social Security check arrived.  She was having trouble paying her bills after her husband died and kept coming up short on cash after paying her basic living expenses.

The cop, Officer Todd Bing, pumped an additional 20 dollars’ worth of gas into Marotta’s car — out of his own pocket — and the gas station’s owner, Seth Kasyouhanan, witnessed his act of kindness.  Touched by the kind act, he took a picture of Officer Bing with Marotta and posted it onto his Facebook page, hoping to warm some hearts by showing that good people exist and random acts of kindness can make a huge impact.  The post went viral, and suddenly Kasyouhanan was receiving Facebook message after message from people who wanted to send Marotta money.

Seth Kasyouhanan, the man who set up a Go Fund Me campaign on behalf of Delores, after witnessing Officer Todd Bing's act of kindness. | Image via CNN

Inspired by Officer Bing’s act of kindness, Seth Kasyouhanan set up a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of Delores. | Image via CNN

Fundraising to Change a Life

Kasyouhanan decided to set up a GoFundMe campaign on Marotta’s behalf, posting a short but sweet request: “I’m raising money for a customer of mine. She is a single elderly lady that has been struggling to pay her bills ever since her husband passed away. She’s roughly short $1000 on her bills every month. Some days she has money for gas and groceries and some days she doesn’t. I believe it’s only right to help someone that’s struggling. If we all get together and work as a team we can make this world a better place!”

The GoFundMe campaign set a goal of raising $5000 for Marotta — and raised $27,633 in the course of four months.  Many donations were small (in the five to 25 dollar range) but a whopping 887 donations added up to a lot of money and a lot of kindness — and every single dollar and act of kindness matters.

Trophy Central believes that every single person involved in helping Marotta is trophy-worthy. One of them is the winner of our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward kindness: Seth Kasyouhanan.  His personalized, engraved trophy reads: “The Caring Heart Award: Fundraising to Change a Life”.

Congratulations, Seth, on your win!  And thank you for your extreme act of kindness.

Congratulations, Seth, on winning Trophy Central's Caring Heart Award.

Congratulations, Seth, on winning Trophy Central’s Caring Heart Award.

New to “Show Us Your Sue”?

For those of you new to our “Show Us Your Sue” campaign (welcome!!) you might be wondering where it got its name. Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign was inspired by the Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle. We wanted to give out trophies to people not typically recognized in traditional trophy-giving spheres. People like Sue Heck, who in middle school and high school tried out for virtually every activity, every possible performance — never to be chosen, never to win recognition. We’ve always believed that just the fact that Sue keeps trying out despite being rejected over and over again is in it of itself trophy-worthy.  Her persistence is admirable, her positivity infectious, and she’s the kind of person who inspires others with her determination and strong-will.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

The Sue Hecks of the world deserve trophies just as much as the cheerleaders and jocks.  It’s our goal to reward everyday acts of kindness (or trophy-ness!) with our custom, personalized trophies.  And we hope that by rewarding good deeds, it will propel more.  Just like how the cop’s act of kindness inspired more and more people to do good and help make a life better.  Kindness propels kindness, smiles propel smiles — and that’s what we’re all about.  It’s in our tagline.  Sure we deliver trophies, but our main goal is to deliver smiles.

We hope this story made you smile! And we hope you’ll help us deliver MORE smiles by nominating the next recipient of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award! Do YOU know any everyday hero who inspires?  Someone who makes the world a better place by being him/herself?! Then please #ShowUsYourSue! Nominate a kind person in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter using the #ShowUsYourSue hashtag. We just may send them a shiny trophy to reward their kindness.

New Year, New Trophies to Reward Kindness! Introducing The Principled Principal Award

Handwritten note

Happy New Year, friends!  All of us at Trophy Central hope your holiday was filled with kindness and love.

We are certain that was the case for the staff at Berkmar High School in Georgia, where the principal, Dr. Alfred “Al” Taylor, took the time to write every single staff member a handwritten holiday card!

That act of kindness would have been special if the staff at Berkmar High School only consisted of a dozen people.  But there are almost 350 staff members at Berkmar High School, and each one got a personalized, handwritten card.

That’s why Dr. Taylor is the recipient of our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.  His personalized, engraved trophy reads “The Principled Principal Award: For Spreading Kindness, One Handwritten Note at a Time.”

Congratulations, Principal Alfred Taylor, on winning Trophy Central's Random Act of Trophy-ness award! Thank you for all you do!

Congratulations, Principal Alfred Taylor, on winning Trophy Central’s Random Act of Trophy-ness award! Thank you for all you do!

A Finger-Cramping (and Trophy-Worthy) Gesture of Kindness

Imagine the time and effort that went into writing almost 350 personalized cards.  If Dr. Taylor wrote one card a day, it would have taken him almost a year to complete the task!  Not to mention all the finger cramping he must have endured!

But according to the staff at Berkmar High School, Dr. Taylor’s act of kindness was not just a one-time thing.  Dr. Taylor is said to have been writing personalized holiday cards to his staff ever since joining Berkmar High School in 2013.

In a heartfelt post on Facebook, Rebekah Cohen Morris, a veteran teacher but new to Berkmar High School, wrote: “I was moved to tears today when I received a card from our principal at Berkmar High School. He wrote each member of the faculty & staff a card with a 1-page note, personalized for each of us inside. There are almost 350 of us.  I’ve never experienced anything like that from a principal.  I can’t even tell you how kind and thoughtful and encouraging that note was. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, for your leadership and inspiration.

In response to Morris’ post, shared by AJC Get Schooled, Sandra Najour, a clerk at Berkmar High School, wrote: “Every year he writes a full page to each of us… he acknowledges our accomplishments and his personal observations… our student and staff relationships and interactions… but the best part of his personal note is when he tells you ‘Berkmar is a better place because of you and your effort!!!’”

Dr Alfred Al Taylor Trophy Central

Awarding Those Who Inspire

Since Dr. Taylor is a high school principal, Team Trophy Central believes he’ll appreciate the genesis of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward everyday heroes.  Our “Show Us Your Sue” initiative began when we were inspired by the Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle.  When Sue Heck was in high school she never really fit in, but it never really mattered.  When she didn’t make the cheerleading squad, she created her own team, “The Wrestlerettes,” a group of glorious misfits who cheered on the wrestling team with dance-like-no-one’s-watching gusto.  She was the kid who tried out for everything and was never chosen (except for the all-inclusive “no cut” cross country team, which she put all her heart into!)  Team Trophy Central fell in love with Sue Heck because she never, EVER gives up, no matter how many times she’s let down.  She always finds a way to be happy and to make her dreams come true, despite the obstacles, no matter how many nos she receives.  Sue Heck doesn’t let anyone or anything dim her inner sparkle.  Because of that, she inspires those around her to not only be persistent, but to be themselves.  We find the Sue Hecks of the world to be the epitome of trophy-worthy.  That’s why we created our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign: to reward the Sue Hecks who make the world a better place by being themselves.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

On the Lookout for Kindness and Inspiration

We would like to congratulate Dr. Taylor on winning our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award, and to thank him for his amazing act of kindness, which inspires us greatly.

Team Trophy Central hopes all our readers will follow in Dr. Taylor’s footsteps and resolve to make 2019 a year of more kindness and love.  Because, as the hashtags on social media say, kindness matters.

Do YOU know an everyday hero who inspires?  Someone whose act of kindness made your day or week or month or even your year?!  Then please #ShowUsYourSueWe are on a mission to reward kindness with shiny trophies.  Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue campaign aims to deliver smiles to the winners of our monthly award, as a thank you for all the smiles their kindness elicited.  Please nominate the next winner of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness award in the comments section below, or on Facebook or Twitter using the #ShowUsYourSue hashtag.  Please tell us why your nominee is trophy-worthy, and you just might see your pick smiling here on our Trophy Central blog, a personally engraved “Show Us Your Sue trophy in hand!

The Sidewalk Tutor Award: Kindness is Always Trophy-Worthy

Meet Ellen Jovin, creator of Grammar Table and Trophy Central's newest Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner. | Photo credit: Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

Meet Ellen Jovin, creator of Grammar Table and Trophy Central’s newest Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner. | Photo credit: Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

If Team Trophy Central could develop our own holiday advent calendar, each new day would bring an act of kindness, rather than a piece of chocolate. (Although giving a friend a piece of chocolate is an act of kindness in it of itself!)  How wonderful would it be if you opened up a new day on a calendar to find a Starbucks gift card from a stranger for a warm and festive holiday drink?  Or a handwritten note from a friend telling you how amazing you are and encouraging you to keep following your dreams?

It’s the holiday season, and Team Trophy Central wants to gift you with the tale of how one New Yorker is taking to the streets to spread love, one grammatically correct sentence at a time!

We would like you to meet Ellen Jovin, communications expert and grammar guru who sets up a makeshift booth on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to talk to passersby about grammar.  Armed with a colorful hand-painted sign labeled “Grammar Table” and decorated with witty wordplay (“Semicolonphobia?”) and grammatical alliteration (“Comma Crisis?”) Jovin volunteers her time to answer any and all grammar questions. 

And not just English grammar questions.  Jovin has taught herself over 20 languages by completing a rigorous schedule that began with Russian, Arabic and Italian in 2009 and ended (thus far!) with Pashto (native to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran) in 2016. 

As Jovin says on her personal website, Words & Worlds of New York, “I would love to see more Americans in particular, but also people around the world, enjoy the study of languages they did not grow up speaking.  A new language is a hand held out to one’s neighbor, an opener of doors, a new way to see, a mental tickle, a road to unmediated communication with strangers in other lands, access to the world’s news, a gesture of peace — really, language study can be anything you want to make of it.”

Grammar Table

Grammar Table art work | Photo credit: Ellen Jovin

Bonding Over Grammar

There is something so quaint about a handcrafted sign put on a table, inviting others over to communicate in real life.  Grammar Table is reminiscent of a child’s lemonade stand, something that is never really about money, but more about the experience itself.  Jovin says the reason she started Grammar Table was to get away from the often pseudo-connections found on Twitter, not to mention the hostility.  Because of the current political climate, she says, “New York City is full of seriously bummed-out people right now, but grammar gets people chatting.”

Jovin explains that “even though people get a little bit excited about the Oxford comma, they usually don’t go into a rage and block people on Facebook over it.”

So what kind of grammar conundrums do people chat about at Grammar Table? 

Everyone is invited to ask questions without being judged.  What is a gerund, for instance?  It’s a verb that has morphed into a noun after an -ing is added to it, such as play-ing or sing-ing.

Jovin is anti-grammar snobbery.  She doesn’t proclaim to have all the answers:

“The stereotype of a grammarian is ‘I tell you what’s right,’ and I don’t want it to be like that. I learn from people all the time.”

Jovin invites New Yorkers to vent over grammar gripes.  Sometimes heated discussions ensue over whether one or two spaces belong after a period — a VERY hot button grammar issue!

But often word lovers just bond over their mutual love of grammatically correct sentences.

Thank you, Ellen, for spreading love one grammatically correct sentence at a time.

Thank you, Ellen, for spreading love one grammatically correct sentence at a time.

Teaching Kindness

One particular Grammar Table interaction stood out to Team Trophy Central when we were deliberating on this month’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner.  What made us decide to send Jovin a trophy was the fact that she helped a teenage girl with her college-application essay as part of her Grammar Table kindness.

Jovin noticed a shy girl pacing by Grammar Table, unsure of whether or not to approach. So she waved her over and asked her what she could help her with.  The girl told Jovin she was originally from El Salvador and struggling with tenses in her essay.  And Jovin told her to go home and get her essay so she could help her with it!

The girl returned with her essay in hand and Jovin helped her work on it for a half hour at Grammar Booth.  That act of kindness won her our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” trophy!  Engraved on her trophy are these words:

Sidewalk Tutor Award: Spreading Love One Grammatically Correct Sentence at a Time

Ellen Jovin Sidewalk Tutor Award Trophy Central

Congratulations, Ellen Jovin, on your trophy win!  Thank you for taking the time to teach grammar on the streets of New York.  You exemplify the kindness and empathy of the kind of teacher we will always remember: the one who encouraged us, believed in us, and pushed us to not only learn, but to LOVE learning.

What is our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award?  It’s the monthly trophy we send out to reward everyday acts of kindness.  People win trophies all the time for traditional activities like sports and choir.  We’re not knocking those wins (we LOVE making trophies for athletes and singers!) but we wanted to also reward those individuals who may not be the most talented or athletic, but who make the world a better place by being themselves.  Originally inspired by the Sue Heck character on the sitcom The Middle, we seek to reward the Sues of the world: The people who don’t make dance club or honor roll but who inspire others with their determination, pluck and zest for life.  The people who make others feel good about themselves.  If there’s a Sue Heck Superstar in your LIFE, then please #ShowUsYourSue!  Nominate your pick for our next Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner in the comments section below, or on Facebook or Twitter using the #ShowUsYourSue hashtag.

Our Words for Warriors Award: Spreading Love One Letter at a Time

Meet Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude and winner of Trophy Central's Words for Warriors Award.

Meet Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude and winner of Trophy Central’s Words for Warriors Award.

When Team Trophy Central read about Operation Gratitude, an organization dedicated to sending handwritten letters and personally addressed care packages to military members, first responders and their families, our hearts were immediately warmed.  When we clicked on over to their website and saw a singular word listed under their company’s goal — smiles — we knew we were kindred spirits.

Trophy Central’s mission has always been, above all, to deliver smiles.  When we engrave our trophies with special words highlighting individual accomplishments, we can’t help but smile ourselves because we always envision the smile we hope our trophies will elicit.  The smile from the dad who receives his “Best Dad” trophy or the smile from the elementary school student awarded a surprise certificate for her advanced reading skills.

Fifteen Years of G-R-A-T-I-T-U-D-E

Then there are the smiles we deliver when we send out our monthly Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award, designed specifically to reward everyday acts of kindness.  This month’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner is Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude.  We are awarding her our Words for Warriors Award for spreading love one letter at a time.

Congratulations, Carolyn! Thank you for spreading love one letter at a time.

Congratulations, Carolyn! Thank you for spreading love one letter at a time.

Operation Gratitude began in Carolyn’s living room in 2003, but has transformed into a bustling operation of collection drives, letter writing campaigns and care package assembly events resulting in over two million care packages assembled and shipped.

Eight Million Trophy-Worthy S-M-I-L-E-S

What Team Trophy Central was particularly moved by is the fact that the handwritten letters are the most popular item sent to Americans who serve our nation.  We have always believed there is something magical about receiving a handwritten letter in the mail, and that handwritten letters are too few and far between.  The New York Times recently wrote a love letter to the handwritten note, highlighting how receiving a hand-addressed letter is scientifically proven to elicit the feeling of being loved.  Operation Gratitude has sent eight million handwritten letters, which means Operation Gratitude is responsible for eight million people feeling loved.  We think that’s remarkable — and ever-so trophy-worthy.

Look at that smile! | Photo courtesy of Operation Gratitude

Look at that smile! | Photo courtesy of Operation Gratitude

One Unabashed Trophy-Inspiring P-A-T-R-I-O-T

Sue Heck, the fictional character from ABC’s The Middle — and the inspiration behind our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign to reward everyday acts of kindness — would most certainly approve of this month’s winner.  On more than one occasion, Sue has professed her love for America — “I just love America so much” — and Team Trophy Central believes Sue would be doing her quintessentially Sue happy dance to hear that Operation Gratitude is this month’s winner.

For those new to our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign (welcome to Trophy Central!!) here is what you need to know: We fell in love with Sue Heck because she never gives up and refuses to let the outside world dictate what she is or isn’t able to accomplish.  If Sue Heck isn’t accepted into a club, she starts her own club.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Sue Heck is not the type of person normally recognized in traditional trophy-giving spheres.  She’s not the most athletic or the most talented.  But she makes other people feel good.  She inspires others to be themselves because she is always completely and unabashedly herself, never dimming her sparkle in order to fit in or seek the approval of others.  Team Trophy Central wanted to start a campaign to reward everyday heroes who inspire.  We were used to making trophies for star sports athletes and gifted singers.  And we’ve always loved doing it.  But we wanted to expand the definition of “trophy-worthy” to include people who are changing the world by being themselves, a la Sue Heck.  Enter our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue”award!

Carolyn Blashek, Operation Gratitude and all its kindhearted volunteers epitomize the “Show Us Your Sue” spirit, and we are honored to celebrate them with our Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy and in this blog!

Three Ways to Show Heartfelt A-P-P-R-E-C-IA-T-I-O-N

Team Trophy Central is grateful for Operation Gratitude and for everyone who embodies Operation Gratitude’s ethos.  It’s important to be grateful, important to let others know how much they change our lives for the better.  So we leave you with this: Who in your life are you grateful for?  We ask that you please let these people know.  Send them handwritten thank you notes, give them a call instead of shooting off a text, give them a hug.  It’s as important to feel loved as it is to make others feel loved.

Team Trophy Central would like to say thank you to Carolyn Blashek, Operation Gratitude and all its kindhearted volunteers. | Photo courtesy of Operation Gratitude

Team Trophy Central would like to say thank you to Carolyn Blashek, Operation Gratitude and all its kindhearted volunteers. | Photo courtesy of Operation Gratitude

Two Ways to Support Trophy Central’s #ShowUsYourSue C-A-M-P-A-I-G-N

Pssst!  Looking for another way to express gratitude for those who enrich your life and make it happier?  Why not have us send them a personally engraved trophy?  Every month, we send out a Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” trophy to someone who makes the world a kinder, more loving placeYou can nominate someone to win our Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy in the comments section below or by tagging us on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue.  Tell us why this person makes you smile, and we just might send them one of our shiny, sparkly trophies!

Awarding Hurricane Florence Heroes For Their Dedication To Saving Farm Animals

Ziggy's Refuge Farm Sanctuary award Trophy Central

Congratulations Kristin Hartness and Jay Yontz on winning Trophy Central’s Random of Acts of Trophy-ness award for the work you do to help save the lives of farm animals.

It’s hard to read the news without getting discouraged or downright depressed. Hurricane Florence only added to the despondence of the news cycle. There’s a lot that feels like a hurricane right now — scary, harmful and impossible to predict or control. Which is precisely why we need to focus on the good and share stories that show what is right in the world. 

We started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign to highlight the random acts of kindness that occur every single day, often times unrewarded, but certainly not unnoticed by the people and animals whose lives are changed for the better. Team Trophy Central is on a mission to reward everyday heroes who inspire by sending them bright and shiny trophies and also by sharing their acts of kindness with our readers, in the hope of inspiring more good and more random acts of kindness (or as we call them, random acts of trophy-ness). We also hope that by sharing stories about kindness and good deeds, we can help balance out some of the negativity that plagues the news and our social feeds.

With that in mind, we sent our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness award to the kindhearted humans at an animal sanctuary in North Carolina who rescued farm animals who may have otherwise been forgotten in the devastation of Hurricane Florence.

Kristin Hartness and Jay Yontz | Photo credit: Bryan Smyer

Kristin Hartness, Jay Yontz and Ziggy, the rescue pig who inspired the couple to create Ziggy’s Refuge Farm Sanctuary | Photo credit: Bryan Smyer

Trophy Central is proud to present Ziggys Refuge Farm Sanctuary with The “Going Whole-Hog” Award for rescuing three pigs (and over 50 chickens, peacocks and rabbits) from drowning in the massive floods caused by the hurricane. The sanctuary, run by Kristin Hartness and Jay Yontz, took in a pig named Flo who was severely sunburnt and suffering from inhaling water into his lungs. Flo the pig was sweet and lovable as can be, despite his terrible ordeal. It’s thought that he was a member of a factory farm that was flooded, the animals left to die. Flo was extremely lucky to have survived not just the flood, but his destiny to be slaughtered as well.

Flo the rescue pig from Hurricane Florence

Flo sleeping peacefully after being rescued from Hurricane Florence. Look at the sweet smile! | Photo credit: Ziggy’s Refuge Farm Sanctuary

According to The Dodo, a kindhearted young man named Josh Walls found and bonded with Flo, rubbing mud on his sunburn to try to soothe it and feeding him as Flo oinked with glee to be shown love and compassion. Walls contacted Ziggys Rescue Farm Sanctuary, and Hartness and Yontz agreed to take Flo in and pay for his vet care. Flo made a miraculous recovery and now gets to spend the rest of his life at the sanctuary, where he is very, very loved.

Josh Walls and Flo the rescue pig.

Josh Walls and Flo the rescue pig. Thank you Josh, for helping save this beautiful creature. | Photo credit: Ziggy’s Rescue Farm Sanctuary

Hartness says: “He’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life. He’s like a little butterball. He’s so friendly and cute and goofy and lovable. Everyone who meets him says, ‘He is so special.’”

Ziggy’s Rescue Farm Sanctuary also saved a pig named Jax and a pig named Barney from Hurricane Florence, showing them both love and compassion and nursing them back to health.  In order to accomplish this, Hartness found a used motorboat on Craigslist and Yontz travelled all around on the motorboat helping any animal he could. 

Spend any time on their social media, looking at the pictures and videos of them and their rescue animals, and you will see just how in love both Hartness and Yontz are with the animals they rescue, bottle feeding them, cuddling with them and doing everything they can to make them feel loved and safe.

Trophy Central is honored to add Ziggy’s Animal Sanctuary to our “Show Us Your Sue” family and thanks Hartness and Yontz for the amazing work they do. | Photo credit: Bryan Smyer

It’s very admirable that they’ve made it their mission to rescue farm animals, especially during a tragic storm like Hurricane Florence, when farm animals might be forgotten by other animal rescue organizations because there are so many dogs and cats to save. That’s why we awarded Hartness and Yontz with a trophy engraved with this sentiment: The “Going Whole-Hog” Award: Saving the Forgotten Hurricane Florence Victims.

Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness Show Us Your Sue campaign was originally inspired by the somewhat nerdy, always passionate Sue Heck character on the sitcom, The Middle. Specifically, our desire to reward the Sue Hecks of the world. Underdogs who may not typically be in the running for trophies, but who make the world a better place by being themselves (in Sue’s case, by being a persistent go-getter who never, EVER gives up, who makes things happen for herself and whose sparkly, optimistic attitude brightens the worst of days).

We are honored to add Ziggy’s Animal Sanctuary to our “Show Us Your Sue” family and thank Hartness and Yontz, from the bottom of our hearts, for the good work they do.

Team Trophy Central is all about rewarding good deeds and encouraging kindness. We want to celebrate all of life’s big and tiny moments of good by sending out custom engraved trophies to those who are making the world a better place by being themselves. Do you know an everyday hero we can deliver a smile (and a trophy!) to? Then please #ShowUsYourSue! Nominate your everyday hero for our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award in the comments section below or on Twitter or Facebook using our #ShowUsYourSue hashtag. Don’t forget to tell us why your everyday hero deserves a trophy! Thank you to everyone who supports our Random Acts of Trophy-ness campaign and to everyone who makes lives brighter without asking for any reward in return. We salute you!

Empowering and Dressing Women For Success: Our Latest Trophy Winner Announced!

Adrienne Kronovet - Ameliora - Trophy Central.png

Meet Adrienne Kronovet, CEO and founder of Ameliora, and winner of Trophy Central’s Women Empowered Award.

A lot of brands claim to empower women, but Ameliora, a new women’s workwear brand, does so in a very tangible way.  Ameliora’s founder, Adrienne Kronovet, is this month’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” winner — and readers, you should prepare to be inspired.

Team Trophy Central found out about Adrienne and Ameliora when we received a nomination from a woman who told us Adrienne sent her a free $475 jacket from Ameliora’s line to help her dress for success at her new job.  The jacket is stunning — black Italian fabric lined in red silk — and the gesture is heartwarming. 

It’s also not a one-off.  Ameliora is dedicated to supporting and empowering women by outfitting them for success.  That means sending power pieces to women starting new jobs or getting back into the workforce after a hiatus.  Women in need of workwear that will make them feel confident at the office can send their stories to mystory@ameliora.com to be entered into a monthly contest to receive the Ameliora piece of their choice.  How amazing is that?!

Ameliora

Also amazing is the fact that Ameliora donates a portion of all proceeds to causes that help women, such as supporting new moms coping with postpartum depression and helping employed-yet-homeless women find and finance homes.  And the fact that all of Ameliora’s clothing is ethically made in New York’s garment district, so when you shop at Ameliora, you know the people who made your clothes were paid fair wages.

The whole concept of Ameliora empowering women is all but sewn into the fabric of the clothes Adrienne designs.  Take the red silk, for example.  Just knowing it’s there, unseen (unless you decide to roll up your sleeves and show the empowering red!) creates what Adrienne calls a “special feeling of invincibility.  Ameliora’s clothes are designed to make women feel emboldened, confident and powerful, in a way only a woman-led company can.

Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness Show Us Your Sueaward was inspired by the perpetually optimistic Sue Heck character on ABC’s The Middle.  Sue may not be athletically or musically gifted, but she inspires others to be unabashedly themselves because she never censors herself and never dims her sparkle for anyone or anything.  Sue is not the kind of person to win awards in traditional trophy-giving spheres, but she deserves a trophy for being herself — and making the world a better place just by being in it.  Sue Heck is our definition of an everyday hero who inspires, and Adrienne is too!

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Team Trophy Central loves that Adrienne is just as keen on celebrating people who inspire as we are.  Each clothing item in Ameliora’s line is named for a woman who inspires Adrienne.  Such as the “Carmen” jacket, named for Adrienne’s mentor, Dr. Carmen Simon, author and neuroscientist.  So when women wear each piece in Ameliora’s line, they are essentially stepping into the shoes — or clothes! — of an already successful and powerful women.  Which is another reason Ameliora’s clothing can help make women feel empowered.

Team Trophy Central is in awe of the fact that Adrienne is already doing so much good with her company, even though Ameliora is less than a year old.  It’s not often CEOS start their company out doing so much good (this isn’t a tax write-off, for example) and we applaud her for empowering women to rock their interviews and land their promotions in clothes that make them feel like Wonder Woman (the red silk is like a hidden cape).

Congratulations, Adrienne, on winning The Women Empowered Award!  We wish you much success with your business, and wish much success to every woman who wears your empowering clothes! 

Adrienne Kronovet - Women Empowered Award

Congratulations, Adrienne! Thank you for all you do to help empower women.

At Trophy Central, we believe that doing good is contagious.  Our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award is designed not only to recognize and award good deeds, but also to instigate more and more good.  But we need your help!  Please assist us in finding people who are doing good.  It can be your neighbor who always smiles and waves when they see you in the morning, getting your day off to a happy start.  It can be your shy child’s favorite teacher, who takes the time to teach her to voice her opinions and come out of her shell.  Or it can be the Starbucks barista who always remembers your name — and your favorite drink.  We are looking to reward everyday heroes who inspire with shiny trophies.  So please send us a note, leave a comment on this post, or tag us on Facebook or Twitter (don’t forget our hashtag, #ShowUsYourSue!) with your nomination.  Let’s do — and reward! — more good, together.

The Community Caring Award: Celebrating Generosity With a Brand New Trophy!

Meet Craig Swogger, Trophy Central's latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness award winner.

Meet Craig Swogger, Trophy Central’s latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness award winner.

Here at Trophy Central, we’re getting close to celebrating giving away three dozen Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophies to people (and one dog, so far!) who are making the world a better place through everyday acts of kindness. With just three trophies shy of celebrating three dozen #ShowUsYour Sue awards, this month’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner is acupuncturist Craig Swogger.

Nominated by a previous Random Acts of Trophy-ness #ShowUsYourSue winner who is fondly known as Bagel Mom (for feeding hungry students, one bagel at a time!) Craig is the recipient of The Community Caring Award.

Trophy Central custom engraved award for acupuncturist Craig Swogger

Deborah (AKA: Bagel Mom) wrote to Trophy Central with the following thoughtful, heartfelt words:

“Dr. Craig Swogger started a non profit acupuncture place to make acupuncture affordable and donates treatments to those who cannot afford them. He is one of the kindest doctors I have ever met.

“Craig is one of the best acupuncturists in the world and he has dedicated himself to make it affordable for people who would otherwise not be able to afford it.  I can bring all my kids at an affordable price to enjoy acupuncture treatments. 

“Acupuncture can help with sleep, every day stress as well as serious illnesses.  Craig enjoys healing people and helping them return to do the things they love.  Here is a quote from him: ‘My dream is to have a branch in every neighborhood, starting with ones where there is no acupuncture, and to have one free clinic, where people sent from other nonprofits (who are presumably in financial hardship) come get treated. We will easily give away 400 to 500 treatments this year, and administer 5k or 6k low cost treatments on top of that.

“96 percent of the population cannot afford acupuncture at private practice rates and to go as many times as needed, usually over $100 per treatment, so Craig has changed this with his affordable sliding skill rates and also donated treatments too!  He is one of the kindest doctors I have ever met.  As the Bagel Mom, I am able to help donate treats and tea for his patients. I feed the hungry and Craig heals those in need. When I met Craig I said to him, ‘I feed the hungry the way you heal your patients, with kindness.’”

Congratulations to Craig on winning The Community Caring Award and a HUGE thanks to Bagel Mom for continuing to spread kindness and positivity by taking the time to nominate Craig and write out such a kind nomination.

Thank you, Bagel Mom, for your continued support of Trophy Central's Random Acts of Trophy-ness: Show Us Your Sue campaign!

Thank you, Bagel Mom, for your continued support of Trophy Central’s Random Acts of Trophy-ness: Show Us Your Sue campaign!

Here at Trophy Central, it’s important for us to acknowledge the people who go out of their way to make someone else’s day. Craig received this month’s trophy, but Bagel Mom warmed our hearts because she took it upon herself to make someone smile. We like to say that we don’t just deliver trophies — we deliver smiles. But this month, Bagel Mom delivered smiles — to Team Trophy Central and to Craig! — by going above and beyond to make someone feel special.  You practically wrote this blog for us because you cared so much about celebrating the good that Craig does!

The whole purpose of our Random Acts of Trophy-ness #ShowUsYourSue campaign — inspired by the perpetually resilient Sue Heck character on The Middle — is to show us the Sue in YOUR life, with as much fervor as Bagel Mom did. 

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Who do YOU know who never, EVER gives up, who fearlessly follows their passions and makes the world a more sparkly and kind place in the process?

This could be the postal worker who always waves and smiles when they see you or the neighbor who brings you baked goods “just because.” It could be the teacher who emboldened you to use your voice and speak out for what’s right or the grocery clerk who always takes the time to ask about your day — and really listens.

Each day is made up of little moments, little acts of kindness, that add up to make your life what it is. Here at Trophy Central, we believe in celebrating all those little moments, all those little acts of kindness — and rewarding them with shiny trophies!

So time to get to work! Nominating, that is! Please #ShowUsYourSue by nominating the next trophy winner in the comments section below or on Twitter using our #ShowUsYourSue hashtag!  Please tell us why your nominee is making the world a kinder, more sun-shine-filled place, and we just might send them a trophy to reward their generosity!

PS: If you haven’t yet watched this awesome video of Bagel Mom’s daily journey to feed hungry students in Los Angeles, you can do so here.  It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face and touch your heart!

It’s Show Us Your Sue Summertime, and We’ve Got a Brand New Trophy Winner to Celebrate!

It’s "Show Us Your Sue" Summertime!

It’s “Show Us Your Sue” Summertime! [Photo courtesy of ABC’s The Middle]

Happy summer, friends! Team Trophy Central hopes you’re celebrating the extra sunlight by making s’mores, enjoying picnics at the park and splashing in the waves at the beach.

We’re celebrating summer by awarding a new special someone with a brand new Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy. This month’s trophy winner is Anna Clarke, recipient of The Take the Mic Award: Teaching Girls How to Command the Attention They Deserve. Congratulations, Anna!

Be like Sue Heck: Take the microphone!

Be like Sue Heck: Take the mic! [Photo courtesy of ABC’s The Middle]

Anna was nominated by previous Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner Erin Rhinehart, who nominated Anna with these heartfelt words:

“Anna does so much for girls through the Girls on the Run Board here in Dayton (including working with the national founder). As well as offers her help to anyone who may need it. She is literally the person who will drop everything to help someone. Most of the time she works behind the scenes, so she is often overlooked for awards and recognition (though, she never cares about that). But, I think that a little recognition can go a long way to keep people motivated and know they are appreciated. She works full time and has three children. She serves on boards, commits time to her church and kids’ school, and is ALWAYS looking for ways to impact the community in a positive way.”

Congratulations, Anna Clarke, on winning Trophy Central's Take The Mic award!

Congratulations, Anna Clarke, on winning Trophy Central’s “Take The Mic” award!

First off, thank you SO MUCH, Erin, for helping to spread the joy and positivity forward by nominating Anna!

Second, your words epitomize the very reason we started our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign. We were inspired by the perpetually optimistic (though almost always overlooked) Sue Heck character on ABC’s The Middle.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

We think Sue Heck is amazing, inspiring and trophy-worthy because she never, EVER gives up. No matter how many times she tries out for something and doesn’t get it, no matter how many times she’s rejected, she doesn’t lose her confidence or stop believing in herself.

Sue Heck’s positivity in the face of defeat, as well as her persistence to make things happen for herself (if she isn’t accepted into a club, she’ll make her own darn club!) are qualities to be celebrated. We realize the Sue Hecks of the world aren’t always recognized in traditional trophy-giving spheres, but here at Trophy Central, we like to reward underdogs, dreamers and everyday heroes who inspire. Because they are the ones who truly make the world a better place.

Anna Clarke Trophy Central award winner

Thank you, Anna, for encouraging girls to command the attention they deserve.

Team Trophy Central admires the work Anna is doing to empower girls through Girls on the Run, a self-described “non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.”

Anna says “I am honored to be a part of GOTR because I am passionate about building confidence in future women leaders. What an amazing opportunity to champion the vision of ‘making the seemingly impossible, possible and teaching girls that they CAN.”

Girls on the Run Girl Power quote

Trophy Central supports the mission of Girls on the Run — and we think Sue Heck would, too!

Team Trophy Central is further inspired by the work Anna is doing to inspire women to speak up and own their power. In an article she wrote about lessons she learned from Michelle Obama, Anna writes: “When you find yourself in a situation where you are being challenged, ask yourself the question, ‘Why wouldn’t I defend myself or speak up?’ As females, we find ourselves holding back and formulating the perfect thing to say vs. speaking what’s on our minds like many of our male counterparts. I have to admit this hit home hard. I am guilty of sitting in meetings with clients and holding back until I have formed what I want to say perfectly in my mind. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s too late. By the time I actually get my ‘perfect’ comment together, the opportunity to contribute to the conversation has passed.”

Thank you so much, Anna, for being such a phenomenal mentor and role model for girls of all ages, for inspiring them to take the mic and command the attention they deserve.

If that isn’t trophy-worthy, we don’t know what is!

Congratulations again on your trophy win, Anna, and thank you again, Erin, for the terrific nomination!

The Heck family sure knows how to have summertime fun! Team Trophy Central wishes everyone a "Heck" of a good summer!

The Heck family sure knows how to have summertime fun! Team Trophy Central wishes everyone a “Heck” of a good summer! [Photo courtesy of ABC’s The Middle]

Team Trophy Central hopes everyone continues to have a fun and happy summer! Is anyone doing anything particularly exciting? We’d love to hear about it! Also, in between s’more making and other summertime activities, please think of who deserves a trophy for being him or herself! Once you’ve picked your nominee, please nominate them in the comment section below or on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue! Don’t forget to tell us what makes them trophy-worthy! Thank you to everyone who is helping us deliver so many smiles through our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” campaign!