12 {Easy} Ways To Volunteer With Your Kids

12 EASY ways to VOLUNTEER with your kids


Last Friday night on the spur of the moment I decided to sign up to help at a local Free Store that serves a hot meal and gives free clothing to local folks in need. I’d heard from several people that it was a great place to volunteer with children, and goodness, I’m so glad we decided to do it.


When I realized we had a free Saturday morning, I went online to the Free Store Ministries website and noticed they had a few openings to help that day. I asked my girls if they’d be interested (and was thrilled that they both were!), and we headed out Saturday morning.


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We spent the morning helping serve food, and the girls helped clean up the children’s toy area as well as work on a few odd jobs around the store. They both said they’d love to go back again, and it’s brought up so many valuable discussions this week. While my kids learned quite a few things on the trip, I think it may have been even more valuable for me. Just getting out and doing something for someone besides my own little family was such a blessing!


The reason I’m sharing this is not because I did anything right – in fact, as a busy mom with three kids, I really haven’t done all that much in the way of volunteering. While I’ve helped out at church a bit and we donate to food pantries regularly, we don’t often go far outside our comfort zone, because honestly I’m not always sure where to start.


But after helping out for just a few hours this weekend I realized it’s so simple to do, and volunteers are needed everywhere. I simply didn’t know how to easily connect with a place to serve (especially with young kids), so I’ve hunted down a few easy ways to volunteer with your kids. If you’ve come up with other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

For younger children (7 and under)

1. Donate to a local food pantry.

This is one we’ve done since my kids were babies, and it’s been a great way to easily help someone when my kids were too young to really volunteer. For us, it’s just a super easy way we can make all that coupon clipping worth it, and it’s so easy to do. I keep a bag in my pantry for items to donate, and drop them off every few weeks at our local food pantry. If you’re not sure where to find a food pantry in your area, start HERE.

2. Help serve in your local Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels has several different areas you can help with, and if your children are young consider delivering meals in your community. They also need servers to help serve in community centers in some areas, so if your children are a little older that may be a great way to help those in need.

3. Donate food to a local adult group home.

When we lived in Huntsville, there was a small adult group home that was always in need of food pantry staples. I took my kids to drop off food a few times, and it was great for them to see the residents and tour the building, and I know my friend Shannon donates there all the time. It’s just an easy way for our children to see a glimpse of those in need, and the people love seeing the kids when we stop by!

If you’re not sure where to start, contact a local church who may be able to point you in the right direction of places like this to give, or call a few group homes in your area. These aren’t as easy to find but they are out there, and can use your donations so much!


4. Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

This is such a wonderful way for small children to get involved in giving, no matter how young they are. Take a few minutes to watch some of the videos sharing the stories behind Operation Christmas Child with your kids ~ those helped our own understand so much better why we give through that ministry! 


5. Have your kids color pictures and deliver them to a local nursing home.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

6. Bake cookies or brownies and share them with your local fire department or police station.


7. Help kids make fleece blankets to donate to homeless shelters in the winter time. 

8. Donate school supplies to your local school or to a homeless shelter.

When those back to school sales start, take advantage of the great deals and grab a few supplies to share with those in need. We’ve donated those before at a local homeless shelter that houses children, but they’re also great to donate to your local school or even an inner city school that could use those extra supplies.

For older kids (ages 8 and up)

All of the ones above and . . . 

9. Volunteer to serve food at a local homeless shelter.

Go HERE to find a local homeless shelter in your community – many homeless shelters have website where you can sign up directly to volunteer, or call one in your area to see if how to get involved.

10. Help out at a Ronald McDonald House or help work on a Habitat for Humanity home.
11. Host a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
12. Donate rice (for free) through the Free Rice program.

I came across this one and couldn’t believe it was true (so I did some searching), but your older child can actually work on their vocabulary and send rice to those in need all at the same time. Go HERE to try it out (I was pretty impressed, and am going to have my kids start working on that one today!)


I know there are dozens of others way out there to volunteer with kids, but hopefully this gives you a good starting point! If you’ve had great experiences volunteering with your kids I’d love to hear about it ~ leave a comment to share. (I love hearing from you!) 😉


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Soaking Up Summer

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Here’s what I found lurking in my dryer last night. 


Dirty, stinky, nasty, creek-water-ladened-15-year-old-size-12 tennis shoes that had been dried (B-L-E-C-K) in my nice new dryer.


Needless to say, I wasn’t happy.


I mentioned it over on my personal Facebook page and the PPP page, and good gracious, folks had more than a few thoughts on that one. 😉


I talked to him about it, and the kid was simply clueless and thought rinsing them out for a few seconds before popping them in the drier would work just fine.


Then, a sweet wise mom commented on my own Facebook page (I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it!)

“Vacuum out the dry dirt clumps and run some wet towels through it. It will be fine. I promise you in a few short years you will open an empty clean dryer and long for the day a boy tossed some muddy shoes in there. Promise.”




He vacuumed out the dried up clumps without complaint when I asked him to after reading everyone’s advice.  (And wiped it down with soapy water too.)


He mumbled “love you momma” when I tried baking cookies last night.


And he says “I love you mom” every single time he goes out the door.


No matter how long he’s leaving for.


No matter if we’ve been grouchy towards one another.


Just because he must know somewhere deep down his momma needs to hear it.


Folks, this kid has my heart. 


Since he hit high school, I feel like there’s this ticking time bomb and we’re just a few short years away from him going out to take on the world. Last summer honestly was just a mixture of tears and craziness as we moved into a brand new home in a brand new town. Honestly, summer passed by in the blink of an eye, and I didn’t stop to enjoy enough of it.


This summer we’re slowing down, savoring some quiet evenings, and just enjoying every minute of every day.


Even the dirty shoes.


And the mounds of laundry.


And the dirty dishes in my sink because three kids have been home munching all day.


Mommas, if you have little ones at home, be encouraged that those hard days – the ones that are just so long you’re dreaming of just five minutes to talk with another adult – those days will slow down.


The day will come when they can pick up their rooms all by themselves because you’ve spent years training them.

The day will come when they can make waffles for the entire family because you spent hours mixing up waffles every Saturday morning. (That job’s completely taken over by my sweet Caroline these days – success!)


And the day will come when you’ll tell them to pack their own suitcase without any help, and they won’t even forget their toothbrush.


It happens. I promise.


Today’s the day that mess of a boy of mine learned to clean out a dirty dryer. One more life skill he probably needs, right?


So when the mess happens, when it feels like too much, and when you just don’t want to keep at this mommy-ing-business a single minute longer, know that the amazing training you’re teaching today will eventually work yourself out of a job. 😉


And savor. every. bit. of. it. 


I promise, life changes. Soak it up, and just enjoy.


even the dirty-crusty-muddy-shoes.


ahem. still. bleck.  but thankful too. :) 


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The Best Mother’s Day Gift (That Didn’t Cost a Penny)


good. gravy.


 I am a lucky girl. :)


Remember last week when I rambled (probably a little too long . . . ), about struggling with measuring up?


Well, my husband took the time to read that mess (he doesn’t read everything here on PPP, but scans some of it every once in awhile), and on a blank piece of copy paper gave me just the best Mother’s Day card and gift I’ve ever received. 


I’d told him not to spend money (we’ve been working quite a bit on fluffing up our home, so I was perfectly content with that), but this little note was more than I ever could have wished for.

To spare you the gorey ahemgoofy details, I won’t share it all, but hope he’ll forgive me for sharing a few of my favorite parts. 

“Our marriage has not been perfect, but you have given me the perfect marriage. . .  . you are what I always wanted, not “Barbie.” :) 


Folks, this guy looks at this absolute mess of a mom with pudgy hips, saggy soft spots, and one crazy unorganized life, and loves (and cheers!) for me every single day. Back when I first starting working on PPP, when I was literally putting in 40 hours a week and not making a single penny, he stood by as my cheerleader, confidently encouraging me to keep at it, never once questioning my work here despite the extra load it often put on him.


The last year has not been our easiest. In fact, probably since our marriage I’ve cried more tears than I can remember. (And I’m not one to shed tears much ~ hardly ever!) Moving 8 hours from what had become our home has been a major adjustment, and we’ve had some other struggles that have popped onto our plate along the way.


(Add in parenting both a teenager and tweenager in the midst of that along with one crazy busy 8 year old? Yikes.) 


James is oh-so-different from me. He hates social media, rarely watches a movie, and in many ways is an old-fashioned-fuddy-duddy-born-100-years-too late.


Bless him. 😉


But he loves and encourages me as if I’m amazing (despite the fact that I’m so far from it!), and continues to be this person who just thinks I’m a rockstar even when he sees the truth every day.


(Isn’t it a blessing when those who know you best love you most? wow.)


Honestly? I’m not great at doing the same thing for him. I get frustrated that the dishes aren’t done, or if the laundry’s piling up, or if I just feel like I’m incapable of keeping up. I have got to work better at being his cheerleader too, but for whatever reason it’s not always natural to me.



If you’re lucky enough to have a cheerleader in your life too, whether it be your spouse, parents, or a wonderful friend, thank them because they will help you go so much further than you ever can go on your own.


And, if you’re like me and struggle to cheer someone else on, goodness gracious, join me and let’s start doing just that!


Sometimes just being cheered for is all we need to turn into our very best self ~ and I’m so incredibly thankful to have someone cheering for me. (Especially on those days I’m not so sure of myself.)


Anyone else get  just the most wonderful gift for Mother’s Day that wasn’t even all that much? Sometimes those gifts are just the sweetest, and I’m oh-so-thankful for that one today. 




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The ugly green eyed monster – and why I’ll never measure up.

Update: Read my sweet husband’s response to this post over HERE. I AM SO BLESSED.

Just last week I was thumbing through Facebook and felt a wee bit more than a twinge of the green-eyed-monster of jealousy rising up inside of me.


Okay, okay, I wasn’t thumbing through Facebook really, but it sounds a little more glamorous than scrolling down Facebook like I do every single day ~ don’t ya’ think? 


I was jealous of another blogger’s downright gorgeous home. 


It was perfect.


Amazingly decorated.


Seriously, folks, it could have been in a magazine. 


I scrolled on down a little further and saw an acquaintance I hardly know, skinny-as-a-rail and just jaw-droppingly beautiful with her oh-so-cute and just about perfect husband sharing their anniversary.


They looked so happy.


Obviously they had it all together.


And I’m betting she hasn’t counted a calorie in her entire. life. 


Yup. I hate her.


truth. sorry. ahem.


Ridiculously, I kept on scrolling.


Why look at that. There’s another friend sharing their child’s most amazing accomplishment.


And oodles of other mommas cheering them on, because really, their child is phenomenal. clearly.


All while my little family just kind of sits around looking plain and ordinary.


Then I bounced off Facebook to really get to work and started looking at a few other blogs. 


You know, the ones who are all doing it right.


The ones who have perfect web sites, perfect content, perfect pictures  . . . and a jillion comments on every. single. post.


they really are oh so put together. I’m so not cut out for this.



Oh-so-often I feel like I just never measure up.


I allow myself to be jealous of another blogger’s home.


I let myself get jealous of a skinny perfect person that I hardly even know.

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I compare my kids to other people’s kids. (For the record, I have some pretty cute kids even if they are just ordinary. Jeesh.) 


And when it comes to blogging? Well, it’s just a stroke of luck that this little website stays on every daySeriously.


So I started really thinking about it. Who really looks like the person I want to be?



Initially, I thought if I could just be more like her, I would totally be there.


But then I realized, while she has a beautiful family, amazing business, and, well, keeping it real here folks, she’s skinny, :) she’s not all that in to fluffing her home. (Which is totally fine, but I kinda like a fluffed up home.)


So I moved on.


Then I thought well maybe if I could just be like this. Amazing home, perfectly-yet-kind-of-quirkily decorated, and of course skinny – but, well, I’m betting she doesn’t really enjoy clipping coupons. (I could be wrong – that’s just a hunch?)


Then I thought of another friend who I adore who runs an amazing business, has a beautiful home, and a precious family . . . but struggles some with other issues too.


I moved on. This one.  This is it. Perfect home, crazy huge business, gajillion followers on Facebook, Instagram, well, everywhere. Even a perfect husband.


and she can cook.


But really? As I thought it through, she’s not quite my “measure-up-to goal” either.




I want the body of Barbie (a little less curvy though, please), the business of Martha Stewart, the mommy-amazing-sweetness of June Clever, and a home smack on the cover of Southern Living.


Oh, and can I cook like Paula Deen? (right, but with Barbie’s figure, got that? hmph.)




The truth? My twisted standard of measurement is some kind of not-really-perfect-at-all-but-I-think-it-might-be-perfect.


And I’m just me.


Way down here.


I’ll never measure up.


Years ago, I read an illustration in Max Lucado’s book In The Grip of Grace (such a wonderful book, by the way . . .) describing what my heart struggles in a way with each day . . .



“Suppose God reduced the Bible to one command: “Thou must jump so high in the air that you touch the moon.” No need to love your neighbor or pray or follow Jesus; just touch the moon by virtue of a jump, and you’ll be saved.

We’d never make it. There may be a few who jump three or four feet, even fewer who jump five or six; but compared to the distance we have to go, no one gets very far. Though you may jump six inches higher than I do, it’s scarcely reason to boast.”



My goal is set too high.


The standard I’ve set for myself is perfection.


Only grace can fill in.


God’s grace is okay with me the way I am.


It’s okay with a slightly pudgy-hippy girl.


It’s okay with my Facebook reach.


It’s okay with my kids.


It’s okay with the number of people who visit PPP daily.


It’s okay with the way I handle being a Godly wife to my poor husband.




him. :) 


His grace is sufficient for me. 


Just as I am.


Ladies (sorry gents, I know y’all hopped off eons ago . . . ), you too are good enough. 


You are beautiful enough.


You are wise enough.


You are capable enough.








You are enough.


Don’t let your picture of perfection be anything other than the one God created you to be.


I promise. I’ll stop too.


And you’re so not the only one who feels this way.


But his grace (thankheavens.) covers us today.




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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9




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Bag Lady

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I am a bag lady. 


I have a bag for my coupons, my Bible Study bag, a laptop bag, a gym bag, a donation bag, a we’re-going-to-watch-a-ball-game-and-I-need-entertainment-for-my-kids bag, a library bag, an emergency-snack bag . . .


and, then of course there’s my purse. :)

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My kids also have their bags. They have bookbags and soccer bags, gymnastics bags, a gym clothes bag, their lunch bags, and even a special bag for drumsticks.


Our loads of bags sometimes seem to take over every nook and cranny in our home. (However, as I’m thinking about it, it seems my husband has no bags . . . hmph.)


Some days those bags get too heavy to carry, for both myself and my family. There’s not always enough time to clip coupons from the coupon bag, dig through the Bible Study bag, pick up extra donations for the donation bag, and haul eighteen bags around with my kids to each event.


As we race between soccer and gymnastics and band practice I sometimes wonder “Why are we doing this?”  And yet, we wake up again the next day and we all pick up our bags again.

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Jackson, now 15, way back in 2011 taking our donation bag to church. I thought he was so big then!

But most of these bags are here for such a short season. 


In just a few years the drumstick bag will be off at college.


The gymnastics bag may be stuffed under the bed.


And those soccer bags might just end up at our local Goodwill.

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For everything there is a season.


(This hurts more than a wee bit to even type.)




If you’re feeling overwhelmed today by the bags that you carry, know that it’s okay to leave a bag by the wayside for a small portion of your life. If you can’t clip every coupon, donate to every charity, and read every library book it’s really okay. (I promise!)


Sweet mommas, most of these bags just aren’t gonna last. 


Embrace what you have, with who you have it, right here, right now, today. 


Take a deep breath, gather up those bags, and focus on your favorites as you race them around town today.  These bags won’t last, but who knows what new (cute?) bags we might pick up along the way.


(When these bags all head out the door, I’m thinking I’ll pick up a Kate Spade suitcase bag alongside a passport to just about wherever.  Anyone with me?) :) 



 Leave a comment to share your thoughts if you feel life fleeting way too fast too . . . I love hearing from you!


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Clever Idea For Saving On Hanging Baskets


I’m so excited about this smart idea to share with you! A PPP reader shared that they had read you could use burlap to replace coconut liners in which seems to me like it would totally work. If you’ve tried it, let me know, and check out this post to see what it looks likeLove it!

Amazon actually carries Gardener Natural Burlap that might be worth checking out.  You can also see how we created beautiful hanging baskets for a fraction of their regular cost last Spring by creating them ourselves. Happy Planting!

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Have You Checked Unclaimed Property For Cash?


I’ve had several friends who were able to find Unclaimed Property! It never hurts to try – let me know if you’re able to find anything!

A friend of mine sent me an email about finding a little cash through searching for unclaimed property, and I’ve got to tell you, I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing.  But, I figured it didn’t hurt to see what the sites she recommended had to say, so I checked them out.


Well, I didn’t find any money for our own family, but I did find some for a friend of mine’s family (I was shocked!)  It’s pretty simple to see if there are any claims available for you, however I’m not sure how easy it is to actually file get that money back.  If you’re interested in checking out whether or not there is unclaimed property under your name, check out the national site listings over HERE, or HERE.


Have you had any experience filing to receive unclaimed property? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 
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The Greatest Coupon

This is a guest post that I’ve shared before from a friend of mine (who knows the value of a coupon!)  May you know the love and peace of Our Manufacturer all year long. :)


No deal is perfect. Everything has a cost. Many things come at a high price, yet thankfully most can be discounted. Some things can even be free with a great coupon!


The greatest coupons still have problems. Most will eventually expire. They are “void where prohibited.” There is a limit on how many people can use.


Some people don’t take advantage of great coupons though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about them. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use them. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything. But every coupon has worth in our eyes, right? Maybe non-couponers would cash in on the offers if they were just taught how. We couponers should share the good news!


So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) Seek out something you love. 2) Find a coupon, maybe from the manufacturer. 3) Pay the price for the item. 4) Once the coupon has been redeemed, celebrate how much you saved! 5) Tell everyone you know about your great deal. Happy shopping!




No one is perfect. Our sins have a cost. Many sins come at a high price, yet thankfully they can be discounted. We can even be free with the “Greatest Coupon.”


The Greatest Coupon has no problems. It will never expire. It is never void or prohibited. There is no limit on how many people can use it.


Some people don’t take advantage of the Greatest Coupon though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about it. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use it. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything, but every person has worth in God’s eyes. Maybe non-Christians would cash in on the offer if they were just taught how. We have the opportunity to share the Good News!


So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) God sought out someone he loves—you. 2) We have a coupon from our Manufacturer. 3) Jesus paid the price for our sins. 4) Since our sins have been redeemed, we can celebrate as we have new life. 5) Tell everyone you know about the Greatest Coupon. Happy Easter!



My prayer for you this Easter is that you mayt know salvation from the One who values you so greatly that He willingly gave His life for you. It truly is the greatest gift we’ll each receive, and allows us freedom that comes only from Him. As my son reminds me each Easter morning, “Christ is risen!” He is risen indeed.


Photo courtesy of billaday on Flickr.

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What Really Impresses Me

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Me with one of my favorites – teaching me more about value than anything else!


I read a fantastic article this morning, and goodness, it so hit home for me today. As a busy mom who simply doesn’t have time to keep up with the newest trends, who couldn’t care less that her minivan has 160,000 miles on it (it runs great!), and who’s never owned expensive jewelry other than my wedding ring, it just felt good to have those words written out for me.


Here was my favorite quote from the article . .


“Too often, people pay a premium just for the privilege of become a walking billboard. I am no longer impressed by the logo on your shirt, your purse, or the face of your watch. Instead, I admire those who are confident in timeless fashion and seek to make an impression by their character and their countenance.”


I’ve struggled my whole life with feelings of inadequacy (and am betting I’m not alone.) I’ve looked at skinnier girls, dressier-upped girls, oh-so-put-together girls and from my very earliest memories have never felt I’ve even come close to measuring up.


And as I’ve gotten older, it’s gone beyond how I look some days to what I have. Folks, we live in an absolutely perfect home. Ridiculously nice, really. But a few weeks ago when visiting a new house in our neighborhood I noticed the home’s perfect mudroom and excessively large pantry.


It was beautiful.


I came home, and all of a sudden the my own mudroom and pantry just felt a little puny. 






Wherever you are in your finances, wherever you are in your life, don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of believing more stuff equals more value. 


It doesn’t. 


And honestly? No matter what you have, someone will always have more, so you’ll never win the if only war.

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Instead, exemplify by your character and countenance your true value, whether you’re checking out at the grocery store or playing with your babies at home. Your value has absolutely nothing to do with your stuff ~ don’t allow this world to trick you into believing anything else.


Take a minute to read this post today. 


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Facebook Fans: Please Read



If you follow Passionate Penny Pincher primarily via Facebook, don’t miss this! While Facebook is an awesome place to share deals, Facebook doesn’t always allow everything we post here on PPP to be seen by everyone.  (In fact, less than 5-10% of the PPP fans on Facebook see most of the things I post.)


Here are a few tips to make sure you keep up with everything:


  1. Go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Get Notifications”. This will mean you get updated on everything here on PPP (I think!), but I will warn you that I post 12-18 times per day (just want you to know that upfront so you’re not completely overwhelmed by updates!) 😉
  2. OR, go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Add to Interest Lists”. Create a list (sometime like “coupons”), and then the list will appear on your Facebook home screen.  When you click on the that list, any Facebook page that you’ve included will appear along with your full feed.
  3. Leave a comment or “like” a Facebook post every once in awhile frequently.  The more you interact on a FB page, the more often those sites will show up in your feed!
  4. Visit PPP directly HERE and be sure to sign up for the daily PPP email newsletterI love our Facebook community so much, but there’s no guarantee that all of the content here on PPP will be seen by many folks on Facebook, and often by the time it shows up in your feed a deal may have expired. So, stop here when you have a second and never miss a deal!


If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know! We are closing in on TWO HUNDRED & TEN THOUSAND FACEBOOK FANS (*C*R*A*Z*I*N*S*S*!*), and I love connecting with you all over there.
And by the way, if you’re not on Facebook join in over HERE – you can also check out PPP on Instagram as well!
Thanks for making my job so fun each day!
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