With her newest book Milo and the Green Wagon: A Life Lesson to Give, Lisa Umina helps parents teach their children about the importance of acts of community service. Umina’s lovable character Milo rescues an old, broken-down green wagon from the trash and proceeds to use it, with the aid some very special children, to change our world for the better. Milo and his buddies canvas their neighborhood with a mission: ACT — Action Changes Things. Before they know it, their small green wagon is overflowing with donated food, clothing, and blankets for those in need.
Beyond simply coming up with a cute picture book, Lisa Umina is a woman on a mission: to use this story to inspire children to take up acts of service and to become instruments of Christ to others. A case in point is the special event Umina is planning in conjunction with the St. Augustine Hunger Center in Cleveland, Ohio on April 19 — this Saturday. Umina hopes that schools, churches and families will respond to the very real need of rising hunger and diminishing resources in our communities today.
Milo and the Green Wagon is a true gift for families. This precious story teaches children that they, too, can make a difference in our world by reaching out to people in need. Small efforts can add up to tremendous results! Author Lisa Umina and Milo teach us that there is true joy in giving to others. I am pleased to share the following interview with author Lisa Umina and to support the work of ACTMission.org.
Please briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Lisa Umina and I am the owner of Halo Publishing International. I not only publish books but I also enjoy a successful career as an author, motivational speaker, missionary and literary consultant.
For those who have not read the previous Milo books, please introduce the character and share how you came up with the concept.
Milo was designed as a little angelic figure, often confused as a bear or goat or a piece of Swiss cheese. He is my angel that uses humor to teach us about life’s frustrations in a thoughtful and light-hearted way.
Please tell us about the latest Milo book, Milo and the Green Wagon. Where did the idea come from and what message do you hope to spread with this book?
Milo and the Green Wagon: A Life Lesson to Give is an endearing tale based on a true story drawn from my own childhood. Similar to an experience shared as a youngster with my brother David, Milo and his friends find an old, discarded green wagon and decide to fix it up and use it to collect food and clothing for those in need. This heartwarming story teaches children about generosity, selflessness and, most importantly, about love and respect for all people, no matter what their stature in life. As you read through Milo’s journey with your child, he or she will learn what it means to donate and will realize the good that comes from a mission such as Milo’s, a mission he calls: ACT — Action Changes Things. The story will entice the reader right up until the very end when Milo and his friends’ compassion is rewarded with a surprise Visitor at Sunday service; a Visitor that makes all of their acts of kindness well worth the effort.
Could you please say a few words about ACTMission.org and the work you are doing to empower children in service and to end hunger?
We are a catalyst for hunger centers around the country. We will use new book, Milo and the Green Wagon to spark interest in starting more food drives with schools and other organizations with the purpose of promoting Action Changes Things (ACT) Mission food drives.
What can families do to make a difference in their communities?
Families can volunteer at local hunger centers to prepare and cook an evening meal; they can donate items, like food, clothing, blankets and toiletries.
I know that you are involved in visiting schools to spread your message. What types of things do you share with the students and how do they respond to you and to Milo?
Milo and I share our story and we ask the children to share with us what they do in their communities to help. Every school participates in donating and volunteering. Here is what we learned from the Cleveland Catholic Diocesan schools this year: The students have adopted a cow in another country to provide milk for a small village, donated books, collected change for their theme “Change Changes Things”. Battle of the bottles was one theme and the students filled baby bottles with coins to help local centers with the need of baby clothes, diapers and baby food, students volunteer at local hunger centers, sing at local nursing homes, and so much more.
Please tell us about your event on April 19th at the St. Augustine’s Hunger Center.
I hope to inspire young people to take action and help others in need during an April 19 benefit for St. Augustine Hunger Center. Sister Corita Ambro is scheduled to talk about hunger and the needs of the community and will give a tour of the Hunger Center. According to a recent report released by The Center for Community Solutions, the basic need for food is on the rise in Cleveland and the suburbs of Cuyahoga County at the same time that government funding is being reduced. As a surprise gesture of faith and assistance for Sister Corita, I asked invited guests to bring food to “Fill the Wagon,” just as in the Milo story. All donated items will help stock Hunger Center shelves. Due to the overwhelming response from the community, we had to “upgrade” Milo’s wagon to an oversize John Deere green tractor-trailer, which will be displayed in front of St. Augustine ‘s the day of the event. We contacted Gary Smolik, owner of The Tractor Place in North Royalton who generously donated this green tractor-trailer. Orlando Baking Company, Sidari’s Italian Foods, St. Anthony of Padua in Parma, The Montessori School at Holy Rosary, Trinity High School, Catholicmom.com, The Fest and Delivermefood.com are all joining in to help Milo fill his “green wagon.” I will autograph copies of Milo and the Green Wagon and donate $5 to the Hunger Center for every book sold. Live music will be performed by The Madison Crawl swing band and there will be giveaways from our sponsors while supplies last!
In addition to Milo and the Green Wagon, and your work with ActMission.org, you are the founder and president of Halo Publishing. Please share about your work with Halo and authors.
As a self-published author myself, I have stories of sleepless nights dreaming about my book. I can remember the excitement of a new idea and the fear of trying to make it happen. I can recall the thrill of holding my first copy, my first sale. Now, on my fourth book, I am able to share with authors the secret behind the legacy of authorship. With all that I have learned, I realized that I have been called not only to put forth my own mission, but also to encourage and assist others in fulfilling theirs.
Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
I love quotes. Especially when they pass by in your life when you need them most and I found this one by an unknown author: “No one can go back and make a brand new start. Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
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