Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Middle Georgia Chapter MATHCOUNTS Competition

The 2013 Middle Georgia chapter MATHCOUNTS competition was today at Mercer University in Macon.  The Middle Georgia chapter of the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers (GSPE) hosted the event.  Fifty students from nine public and private middle schools in Middle Georgia participated.  I’m very pleased to report that we had a fun and smooth competition!

The MATHCOUNTS competition would not be possible without all of the wonderful volunteers.  Many of my fellow GSPE members have been working with me for years, and it’s such a load off my mind that they are so reliable and know exactly what to do.  In addition to us GSPE members, we also received super volunteer support from Mercer students and faculty.   Thank you to all of you for promoting mathematical excellence among our Middle Georgia young people!

The mathletes completed three rounds of competition in the morning, two as individuals and one as teams.  After lunch, we reconvened for the Countdown Round.  The Countdown Round, which includes the top 10 mathletes from the morning session, is a fast-paced, oral competition with electronic buzzers.  Frank Malloy, the news anchor from WMAZ TV in Macon, served as the Countdown Round emcee, which he graciously has done for many years.  The Countdown Round is open to the public.  The problems are projected on a screen that everyone can see.  It’s fun to try to solve each problem yourself; can you figure it out before the Countdown Round competitors buzz in?

The top two teams were Stratford Academy (1st place) and Mount de Sales Academy (2nd place).  The members of those two teams, along with the top eight individuals not on those two teams, will advance to the state competition, to be held on March 18, 2013 at Georgia Tech.  Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to every student and coach who participated!

By the way, we provide a T-shirt to each mathlete, coach, and volunteer.  As the primary T-shirt designer, I’m always on the lookout for design material.  I tend to favor math jokes and puns, which are pretty easy to find on the Internet.  I think we’ve had some pretty good T-shirts, but this year’s may be the best:

T-shirt front 

T-shirt back

As the chapter coordinator, I always breathe a huge sigh of relief when we complete another competition successfully.  It seems like something weird always happens, even if it’s just a small glitch.  For example, today the auditorium where the competition was to be held was locked.  I had to call the Mercer police to unlock the doors for me.  The main thing is, DON’T PANIC:

A locked auditorium is nothing compared to some of the trickier situations that I’ve faced over the 15 years that I’ve been volunteering for MATHCOUNTS.  A few years ago, an ice storm hit the night before the scheduled chapter competition.  I had to send a lot of e-mails and make a lot of phone calls to let all of the coaches know that we had to postpone the competition.  Fortunately, the venue was available the following week, and we were able to reschedule with minimal problems.

The most memorable MATHCOUNTS situation I faced, however, was as the state coordinator in 2008.  The state competition is always held in Atlanta in March.  Well, that’s the year that the tornado hit downtown Atlanta.  One of our major state MATHCOUNTS sponsors was Shell Oil, who flew in a representative from Houston.  She was staying at the Peachtree Plaza, which suffered major window damage when the tornado hit on Friday night.  I’m sure that’s a trip that she won’t soon forget!

I had come up to Atlanta myself that Friday night, planning to spend the night with my mother before the competition at Zoo Atlanta the next day.  Additionally, I combined volunteer activities, bringing my greyhounds for a special meet & greet at the World Congress Center on Friday evening.  (My mother kept the greyhounds for me while I was at MATHCOUNTS the next day.)  The hounds and I left the World Congress Center at the end of the meet & greet, only 45 minutes before the tornado hit that building, too!

Tornadic systems moved through the area all through the night and the next day.  I was ready to leave my mother’s house at about 6:30 on Saturday morning.  She asked, “Shouldn’t you call someone in charge to see if the competition is still going on?”  “Uh, Mother, I am the person in charge!” I replied with a laugh.  At the very least, I needed to go to the zoo to assess the situation.  Fortunately, we were able to continue as planned.  Just barely, though.  We were almost finished with the awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon when there was another tornado warning.  Zoo officials made as leave ASAP.

If I ever have to deal with locusts at a MATHCOUNTS competition, I suppose that the apocalypse will be nigh.

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