TGC Sunday, August 30th @ Saratoga Springs Race Track

Come join us at our The Giving Circle booth this Sunday at the track, located near the Jockey’s silks room.

Stop by and for a small $10 donation have your picture taken with your favorite Jockey or with professional MMA fighters from the UFC Bellator MMA (SpikeTV) – World Series of Fighting ( NBC sports) or 3 time world boxing champion Danny Batchelder.

MMA fighters include Roger Zapata UFC – Matthew Secor Bellator MMA & season 16 UFC The Ultimate Fighter show – Reality Fighting light weight champion Thomas Marcellino and more.

Great thanks to my great friend and co-founder Aaron Gryder!

BIG Weekend for The Giving Circle!

Hello all,

This will be a HUGE weekend for TGC including a press conference at the Track on Sat the 29th/ Travers day remembering the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina  and the The Giving Circle.
  • That same day a group of us will make a 10 hour walk in honor of the victims of the storm and all people we serve locally, nationally and internationally. Here is a one minute video about that event The Walk
  • The next day, the 30th, come out to The Giving Circle booth at the Track!  Meet and have your picture taken with  Jockeys and professional MMA fighters. The booth will be located near the silks room.
  • This Tuesday, August 25, at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs:  the international Art auction to benefit The Giving Circle, starts at 6pm
  • On the 27th a Nashville country music concert at to benefit The Giving Circle’s local out reach team’s work (see poster below)
                 We hope to see you there..

Celebrating 10 years!

We are celebrating 10 years of service for The Giving Circle!    Go to our web site for more information upcoming events scheduled and more!  Thank you for your support, we can’t do what we do without you! Stay tuned for more information!

Uganda: Day 10 & 11 & 12

On Monday we went to the women’s prison. We are the only organization allowed to go in there. We’ve been visiting them for years now. We get a “wish list” from them and try to bring what they need there. The warden (Sara) is just wonderful, she really cares for the women and their babies who are in there.  Most of the women don’t deserve to be there. They may have stolen food as they are hungry or tried to defend themselves against a husband hurting them (and ended up hurting the husband)…so Sara takes very good care of them. We brought them sewing machines a few years back and they make pads and other goods to sell.  This and other things will help them sustain a good life with an income when they get out. This time we brought rice, meat, sugar, bananas for matoke.  Then we had baby shoes for the little ones, books, and other much needed items.

There is a baby school right near the prison. Sara has worked it out so the little ones can attend school while mom is in prison.  This wasn’t the case before now and the children would end up possibly getting in trouble when they got out, uneducated etc so now they have a fighting chance!  The Rosie Grant made it possible to put in a play ground like the ones you’ve seen we’ve installed in other locations and a nice donation for a huge sand box!  Mark will post pictures at some point, they had to be taken buy the guards and we will receive them.

Today is a day of just touring all our projects and saying good bye. This is the hardest part of the trip (most sad part).  We are also going to Moses and Cecelia’s house for a meal and family visit.  One last stop in Jinja for those that want to shop (and get an iced latte LOL).  Mark and I are punching a nice cake for the team at the hotel for our last dinner celebration for all we’ve succeeded in doing this trip.  What a great team too!

Tomorrow is our last day here. We will settle the last ½ of the hotel bills, pack up our bags, load the bus and head to Entebbe to take some of the Koi Koi Kids to the zoo with us. Then we head to the airport for a 1AM flight Thursday morning.

I will post when we are home safely! Thanks for reading along and check FB for The Giving Circle, Mark Bertrand or Kelly Mommakoikoi Bertrand for pics!


Uganda: Day 9

Today we went to church with Moses and his family.  Was a wonderful service!  After that we visited the sewing guild and BOY! Are they doing so well.  They are reaching new heights. They have many orders for school uniforms and now they can make sweaters as we now  have a knitting machine! They no longer will need to be imported from Kenya.   Tabitha and Moses did a presentation to us today.

After that we went to the Koi Koi House for dinner and distribution of their sponsorship gifts.  Mark was able to do a few FaceTime sessions with a few sponsors and their child. Was incredible.

I know pics are better than reading my writing so enjoy!


IMG_1353 IMG_1356 IMG_1357 IMG_1358 IMG_1359 IMG_1361 IMG_1366 IMG_1369 IMG_1371 IMG_1375 IMG_1382 IMG_1384 IMG_1386 IMG_1392 IMG_1394 IMG_1400 IMG_1402 IMG_1408 IMG_1410 IMG_1411 IMG_1412 IMG_1416


IMG_1431 IMG_1434 IMG_1435 IMG_1438 IMG_1441 IMG_1442 IMG_1443 IMG_1448 IMG_1466 IMG_1472 IMG_1485

Uganda: Day 8

Well, today was the biggest day of all!  The Giving Circle Sponsorship Day!  This is the day when all the TGC sponsored children come to Wairaka (our home village) and receive small gifts from their sponsors.  We have 102 children sponsored now!  The way it works is this: Moses had a great idea to reduce the “excitement”.  We formed small groups of sponsored children with one older child responsible for the letter writing/picture drawing activity.  This went extremely well.  All the children write thank you letters to their sponsors. Then we move to giving out the gifts. When the child receives their gift, we take a short “thank you” video which Mark will use to make the sponsorship thank you videos which will be posted on the childs sponsorship page.  This was so great, everyone in the village was so grateful and happy. The children look wonderful, doing well in school and are successful! The Koi Koi Kids were able to join us too!

Enjoy the pictures of today!


IMG_1241 IMG_1249 IMG_1240 IMG_1239


IMG_1257 IMG_1253IMG_1260IMG_1261IMG_1262IMG_1264IMG_1265IMG_1268IMG_1276IMG_1277IMG_1279IMG_1281IMG_1282IMG_1304IMG_1313IMG_1320IMG_1339IMG_1340

Uganda: Day 7

Today we went to the very HOT Kagoma Gate. We did the following activities there:


  • Geography Class
  • Swahili Grammar Class for older students & adults
  • Science Class: the Solar System
  • Music Class: learning to play recorders

We also painted the Soroptimist Birthing Clinic!  Looking GREAT! Elizabeth came with us today (as she goes every day) to treat the villagers.  She was presented with a laptop, scrubs, some meds and supplies.  Needless to say, she was very grateful!

Ernie led a great soccer game, they had a wonderful, exciting time.  Ernie and Paulo are also leading the solar projects.

We moved the smaller solar panels from the Friendship School and replaced them with much larger panels on the new school roof!

THEN, we held the ceremonies & dedications for the donations for the following:

  • Kitchen for Keenan’s Kids and presented the new name plate from Maureen & Frank Fernandez
  • 4th Grade Classroom: “The C Douglas Lamoureaux Classroom”
  • 5th Grade Classroom: “Will Mann & Class of 2015 Saratoga Central Catholic School”
  • 6th Grade Classroom: “Mike, Judy & Danielle Thorpe Classroom”
  • 7th Grade Classroom: “Brian James Caroll Classroom”
  • Sandbox: “The Marotta Family”
  • New Play Tower: “Bethlehem Middle School Helping Hands Club”
  • Kagoma Gate New School Office: “Suzanna Jamieson & Friends”

Thanks to all of you that helped make this happen!  We cannot do what we do with you all of you!  The changes in tis village are beyond imagination. The villagers are so happy and grateful.  After these dedications, we had a celebration which included music, dancing and a huge meal!  There were several parents of the students that stood up and spoke of how grateful they are. One father said “What you are doing here is very precious.  I am so happy and grateful, I could dance.” and he danced standing there.    Just amazing. One day, you all can some with us on our trip to see what your compassion and generosity has done!  THANK YOU ALL!

IMG_1024 IMG_1025 IMG_1026 IMG_1027 IMG_1029 IMG_1033 IMG_1040 IMG_1042 IMG_1043 IMG_1047 IMG_1050 IMG_1051 IMG_1054 IMG_1055 IMG_1056 IMG_1057 IMG_1059 IMG_1064 IMG_1067 IMG_1071 IMG_1073 IMG_1076 IMG_1078 IMG_1079 IMG_1082 IMG_1089 IMG_1090 IMG_1092 IMG_1094 IMG_1095 IMG_1096 IMG_1101 IMG_1102 IMG_1103 IMG_1104 IMG_1107 IMG_1109 IMG_1110 IMG_1111 IMG_1113 IMG_1114IMG_1122IMG_1123IMG_1124IMG_1126IMG_1127IMG_1128IMG_1140IMG_1142IMG_1143IMG_1151IMG_1172IMG_1175IMG_1177IMG_1179IMG_1180IMG_1194IMG_1216IMG_1214IMG_1204IMG_1201IMG_1200IMG_1217IMG_1219IMG_1220IMG_1222IMG_1225


Blog Post by Danielle Thorpe

I was so nervous on the way here that I cried in the airplane bathroom (both flights). Each morning I wake up it takes me a minute to remember where I am. Now it’s the end of Day 6. Every day is totally packed with activity, which is a lot, considering I spend most of my time at home watching Netflix (and if you’re wondering, “Sorry, Netflix is not available in Uganda yet”).

Today was our “adult education day” at Wairaka Village where I “taught” the yoga class outside. The women laughed the whole time and so did I. The kids did the yoga poses behind us. They were loving it. Sweat and sunscreen and bug spray and mascara (why I was wearing mascara at all remains a mystery) dripped into my eyes and red dirt covered everyone’s palms. It was great. After teaching 3 rounds, I was exhausted (because: Netflix habit) and sat back to watch the rest of the day. My dad played with a few little kids, showing them how magnets work and how to make a duck sound with a blade of grass and sneaking a toy car into one of their pockets. Marie, who we’ve nicknamed “The Baby Whisperer,” held a sleeping baby. She is always holding a sleeping baby.
The kids we’re with have almost literally nothing. One shirt, full of holes. Shoes, sometimes. A bag of rice, at one of their two mealtimes. And they are so happy with just a hug, some cuddling, a high five, a game of Patty Cake, a wave from the bus, or a new dance move. None of them have their faces in an iAnything. The boys hold hands and they all take care of each other. It’s really something. 

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with love here, so grateful for the chance to be on this trip with this group of uniquely wonderful people. Other times I feel the jet lag and I look forward to being back in the comfort of my own space. I am so excited to sponsor one of these kids (then more, when I can). If I cry on the way back to LA it’ll be because I already miss my sweet girls at the Busoga School or because I’m thinking about the little boy who laughed so hard at the monkey puppet that tears rolled down his face. Or because I’m trying to sleep and my dad is snoring in the seat next to me and the kid behind me is kicking my seat with his eyes glued to an iPad 😉