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backpacks for hope

BlueGrace’s Backpacks Of Hope Goes National

Imagine it’s your first day of school, and you had a wonderful summer filled with family vacations and playing with friends, but you can hardly contain your excitement for the new school year. Your parents bought you new clothes for your first day, and you’re feeling your best. You walk into your classroom, hang your coat on the back of your chair, and eagerly await your new teacher’s instructions. Her first request-pull out your notebook and number 2 pencil because you’re going to work on your writing. You pull these supplies out of your new backpack your mom bought you and quickly begin your assignment with the rest of your classmates.

Now, imagine your first day going slightly differently.

You’ve dreaded this day for weeks because you knew your parents couldn’t afford the supplies on the list your teacher provided at the open house. You arrive to school with only the clothes on your back and last year’s shoes that are slightly too small because you had another growth spurt this summer. You walk into your classroom and choose a seat in the back. You can feel the dread climbing from your stomach up to your throat. You’ll have to borrow some supplies from another child in your class as you did last year and are sure you will have to next year. A classmate sits down next to you, and you can see their excitement as they pull their notebooks and pencil out of their brand-new backpack. You lean over and whisper your request to borrow some paper and an extra pencil. You’re embarrassed, but it’s better than telling the teacher you don’t have the materials you need.

As of 2017, the cost of back-to-school supplies was equal to the average mortgage.

The second scenario happens more often than most realize, and it happens in our own communities. Millions of children here in the U.S. live in homes that can’t provide the school supplies needed, and each year the cost of these supplies increases. As of 2017, the cost of back-to-school supplies was equal to the average mortgage. With these costs continuing to rise, more children are sent to school without the materials needed to be successful each year.

Backpacks Of Hope Goes National

BlueGrace Logistics partners with local organizations each year to help the children of their communities with their “Backpacks of Hope” drive. The drive divides each office into teams who then compete to collect the most supplies. The winning team wins bragging rights or a fun prize of no monetary value, but the competition as well as desire to help those in need truly push the drive to success each year. BlueGrace’s headquarters in Tampa, FL has partnered with Metropolitan Ministries for many years, and as the company has grown and added regional offices throughout the country, these offices have found local organizations and schools to partner with as well. “This takes our ‘Giving Grace’ program to a national level and increases the impact exponentially,” Courtney Smith, Manager, Culture & Engagement explains.

BlueGrace Chicago

BlueGrace Chicago partnered with Chicago’s Children Advocacy Center for the second year in a row. The office’s two teams were able to collect donations through traditional fundraising. Robert Rogalski, a sales associate in the Chicago office, reached out to friends and family through social media and was able to raise almost 50% of his team’s funds. At the end of the 5 week drive, the office was able to collect 980 supplies for the CAC.

BlueGrace Richmond

BlueGrace Richmond partnered with their local Goodwill® to collect supplies this year. Sticking with BlueGrace Chicago’s tactic, employees collected supplies and donations individually and brought them into the office. Together they were able to collect 312 supplies for the children in their community.

With the consequences of losing looming over them, both teams put in a huge effort to raise money and supplies, and it paid off.

BlueGrace Los Angeles

BlueGrace Los Angeles truly tapped into everyone’s competitive nature and upped the stakes for their drive. Two teams competed, and the losing team agreed to line up for a nerf gun firing squad. With the consequences of losing looming over them, both teams put in a huge effort to raise money and supplies, and it paid off. The office was able to collect 2,028 supplies to donate to La Mesa Junior High School in Santa Clarita, California. “It is incredible the impact that these donations make,” Chris Kupillas, Regional Vice President for the Los Angeles office stated.

These fundraisers along with individual donations, made it possible for the office to donate 12,061 supplies, crushing their goal of 10,000 supplies and surpassing the donation count from 2017 of 7,757 supplies.

BlueGrace Tampa

BlueGrace Tampa, the company’s headquarters and largest office, relied on contests and raffles to raise money for supplies to donate to Metropolitan Ministries. This included some usual employee favorites like a 50/50 raffle and a dunk tank contest, but Michael Brown, Senior Manager Carrier Sales, shocked everyone when he donated a week of his vacation time to be raffled off. This was a first for BlueGrace’s drives, and it went better than anyone could have expected. With the raffle open to the entire company, donations came rolling in from all over the country for the chance to win the vacation time. It quickly became the largest individual, in-office fundraiser BlueGrace has seen in many years. “Thanks to the giving spirit and core value driven mentality of our employees, these drives continue to become more successful.” said Ken Galyon, Senior Specialist Risk Management and Backpacks of Hope captain in Tampa. These fundraisers along with individual donations, made it possible for the office to donate 12,061 supplies, crushing their goal of 10,000 supplies and surpassing the donation count from 2017 of 7,757 supplies.

Not only was BlueGrace Tampa able to surpass their goal, but the entire organization exceeded their goal of 15,000 supplies with 15,381.

Not only was BlueGrace Tampa able to surpass their goal, but the entire organization exceeded their goal of 15,000 supplies with 15,381. “While it’s amazing to see what one office can do, it’s even more astounding to see what an entire company can do across the country,” Halley Shapero, Senior Enterprise Development Representative and Backpacks of Hope Captain reflects. After all of the contests, raffles, and collaborative efforts, BlueGrace was able to provide over 1,150 children with filled backpacks and supplies, and that’s what it’s all about.

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All Hands on Deck for 2017 Backpacks of Hope

Back to School Can Stir Up Many Emotions

A new school year can bring about many emotions. For parents with kids entering kindergarten or their senior year of high school, the first day of school tends to be showcased on social media as a happy and exciting time. What you may not see though, are the extra hours a parent had to put in at work to get their kid a new backpack, or that the youngest of 4 kids is using her oldest sister’s school supplies from last year because the parents couldn’t afford to get all new ones.

Fresh Start for Kids Each Year

What is supposed to be a fresh start to a new year, can mean stress to their families. For this reason, BlueGrace Logistics has partnered with Metropolitan Ministries for the last 6 years, to collect school supplies for “Backpacks of Hope.”

The average cost of school supplies exceeds $600

The average spend on school supplies exceeds $600 and this expenditure can be a huge struggle for many families, and BlueGrace Logistics wants to help in our communities.

It’s All About the Kids

According to the National Center for Education Statistics “In 2015, approximately 14.7 million children under age 18 were in families living in poverty.”

BlueGrace Logistics has regional offices in Boston, Baltimore, Richmond, L.A. and Chicago with additional branch offices scattered throughout the United States. Most BG offices seek out local charities and generate fundraisers around their specific initiatives.

BlueGrace Chicago has partnered with the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center to raise school supplies for children.

“Our donations only help a fraction of the kids in need throughout the world, but we find hope in the fact that if enough people or organizations like ours, are willing to work together for such a great cause, that number can become much larger,” said Joannah Kalisz, Account Executive, BlueGrace Chicago.

Metropolitan Ministries

Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa Bay, provides backpacks, uniforms, and school supplies to more than 250 children in their care and more than 2,200 in the community at large. All donations help ensure that every child is prepared for the school year.

A backpack carries more than just school supplies.

“Drives like this with Metropolitan Ministries, mean so much to our organization as we have a huge place in our hearts for children and want to make a difference in their lives. Most of our efforts throughout the year focus around children and animals because they are the most vulnerable and don’t always have a voice. said Whitney McKay, Marketing & Brand Manager.

See What BlueGrace has to Say about Backpacks Of Hope

Caring for All Others | It’s What We Do

Core Value number 1 at BlueGrace is Be Caring of All Others and Backpacks of Hope is just one of the many ways we can express that core value. We believe our people make the difference and we strive to create an environment where our employees truly feel like family and feel the urge to help others.

“We understand that when you’re excited about the company you work for and feel like you’re part of a purpose, you’ll inevitably be more fun to work with, loyal and highly effective in your role,” says Whitney McKay, Marketing & Brand Manager at BlueGrace. “Since day one of my six years at BlueGrace there’s been something organic and genuine about our culture. It doesn’t matter how much we grow, you just can’t get the same experience anywhere else.”

We strive to create an environment where our employees truly feel like family and feel the urge to help others.

“Giving back to the community gives us a purpose, it’s a huge part of who we are as an organization. Being caring is engrained in our company culture,” said Courtney Smith, Culture & Engagement Manager at BlueGrace Logistics. “It’s easy to keep the culture alive when you have a core foundation like Bobby has created.” 

Do you want to help?

If you feel the desire to help, no matter how small, please reach out to the organizations below to donate your time, money or supplies.

Metropolitan Ministries – Outreach Center

Tampa, Florida
2301 North Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602

813.209.1200

Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center

1240 S. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60608
312.492.3700

Backpacks of Hope – A Drive for Student Success

2016 Backpacks of Hope

Back To School = $$$

As every parent with a school-age child in their home knows, the phrase “Back to School” means one thing; school supply shopping. While this can be a fun, bonding experience with your child, it can also be a stressful one. The average spend on school supplies exceeds $600 and this expenditure can be a huge struggle for many families, BlueGrace Logistics wanted to help.

BlueGrace Expansion Leads to More Charity

Every year, BlueGrace partners with local charitable organizations to collect school supplies in a drive called “Backpacks of Hope.” With the expansion of the company into multiple locations around the country, including Chicago, Boston, and New Jersey, the drive was able to help many more children than in the past.

“We collected over 1500 items on a typical school supply list, including backpacks, notebooks, paper, folder, crayons, binders and much more,” said Courtney Smith, Manager of Culture & Engagement at BlueGrace Logistics.

School supplies were collected throughout the months of July and August. The drive culminated with a “Back to School” themed event on August 12th where employees were encouraged to dress in their best back-to-school clothes with all decades and trends welcomed and encouraged.

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Metropolitan Ministries | Mother’s Of Hope | Perry Hall Elementary

BlueGrace’s corporate office, located in Tampa, FL, partnered with Metropolitan Ministries as they have in years past. While some offices, such as the location in South Jersey, graciously donated to the cause in Tampa, other offices in Chicago, Baltimore and Tallahassee partnered with local organizations in order to support their local schools.

Everything Collected

Collectively, BlueGrace as a company collected almost 150 backpacks, as well as hundreds of notebooks, folders, boxes of crayons, pencils and other needed supplies. The Chicago office was also able to collect just shy of $1,400 to assist families with additional needs, and the Tampa office was able to supply 5 students with school uniforms for the entire school year.

BlueGrace Logistics operates by 8 core values, the second being “Be Caring of Others.” Events such as these is BlueGrace’s way of caring for their communities, and they are excited to be able to make a larger impact across the country through the growth of all offices.

“Backpacks of Hope” 2014 With BlueGrace A Success!

BlueGrace is extremely proud that the 2014 “Backpacks of Hope” drive was once again a true success! Through the month of July, we collected over 550 school supplies and backpacks which were donated to the Metropolitan Ministries. The annual drive provides kids with all new school supplies just in time for them to go back to school! On the last day of the drive, BlueGrace employees were encouraged to break out their nerd gear to celebrate the final day of the charitable drive! “Backpacks of Hope” is one of three annual drives hosted by BlueGrace. Our employees have a strong sense of pride for the company and are always looking for ways to give back to the community via the Giving Grace Program, implemented by President and CEO, Bobby Harris.

One surprise that greatly contributed to this year’s drive was the donation of 17 completely filled backpacks to BlueGrace by Images Hair Salon (www.imageshairsalon.net, located at 3967 Henderson Blvd., Tampa, FL 33629). The effort was led by Jamie Goldfarb, Images Hair Salon Stylist.

BlueGrace is looking forward to the 2015 “Backpacks of Hope” drive, and hopes to surpass the number of items collected and to continue to bring joy to the lives of many more kids!

BlueGrace holds 4th Annual “Backpacks of Hope” School Drive

Backpacks of Hope 2013-

 

Every year in the month of July, BlueGrace Logistics hosts a “Backpacks of Hope” drive for one of our biggest charities, Metropolitan Ministries. This school drive benefits local children who are in need of school supplies to start the new school year. For BlueGrace, the main contributors of this drive are the employees, so this presents a wonderful opportunity for everyone to come together and help make a difference. From the success of multiple efforts from businesses in the local area last year, the donations provided supplies to 5,000 children. Metropolitan Ministries is aiming to grow the number of donations by doubling this year! BlueGrace is honored to be partnered with this community charity, as we love to be able give back to the local community. Our company hosts 3 annual drives and offers volunteer opportunities for our staff through our partnership with the charity. In the last 4 years BlueGrace has nearly doubled our donation count for “Backpacks of Hope” drive, and the employees are already ramping up to do so again this year.

“BlueGrace Logistics has a special place in our hearts for animals and that’s no secret, but our community is what keeps us going. Metropolitan Ministries is our community charity of choice because they serve our LOCAL communities in need. We’ve built a strong company culture around a family and community foundation, and giving back aligns with our Core Values. BlueGrace has had ties back to its corporate location in Tampa since the inception of the company, and we’re committed to giving back. That’s why we created our charity program, Giving Grace, which encourages and rewards our employees to give back. A BlueGrace employee is a special breed of individual, and being selfless is a very common character trait amongst them all,” says Whitney McKay, Producer of Culture and Community.

If you are interested in making a donation and helping BlueGrace make a difference, you may drop off your supplies at 2846 S Falkenburg Rd, Riverview FL, 33578.

BlueGrace Logistics & Metropolitan Ministries gear up for back-to-school season through Backpacks of Hope!

Can you hear those school bells ringing? As BlueGrace employees begin to prepare their own children for back-to-school, we’re also thinking about all the children in the Tampa Bay community and the folks at Metropolitan Ministries. Metropolitan Ministries is partnering with local school districts and organizations, including YMCA of Brandon to gather and distribute important school supplies to less fortunate children throughout Hillsborough County. Each year, Backpacks of Hope makes a difference in the lives of those in the Tampa Bay community, getting children excited about the new school year and into the learning spirit!

BlueGrace Logistic & Metropolitan Ministries gears up for back-to-school season through Backpacks of Hope!
Employees at BlueGrace Logistics pitch in to support Metropolitan Ministries and Backpacks of Hope for children this Back-to-School season.

Content to Collect:

  • New Backpack (teens and children)
  • 3 Ring Binder (1-1.5”)
  • Copy Paper
  • Thumb Drive
  • Calculator
  • College Rule Paper
  • Eraser (block)
  • 12” Ruler
  • Composition Notebook
  • 10 Pack of Pencils
  • Highlighter
  • Pencil Case
  • Colored Pencils
  • 3 Subject Spiral Notebook
  • Children’s Scissors

We’ve got a fun bunch here at BlueGrace Logistics, so we’re taking it a step further and on Friday, Aug. 3 The team is dressing up as nerds (Look out for pictures on the BlueGrace Facebook Page!) That’s right, get out the suspenders, plastic frame glasses with tape, and rolled up pants – BlueGrace Logistics is going to back-to-school in style!

It’s always important to have team building events to get departments mingling and add something new to your day-to-day business operations. Is your company helping out a local charity this back-to-school season? Share your story with us here, on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you are! BlueGrace Logistics strongly believes community involvement benefits our employees and overall morale, check out this article to see what we mean.

If you’d like to contribute or learn more about Metropolitan Ministries, please visit their website at: http://www.metromin.org/. To learn more about BlueGrace Logistics, visit www.mybluegrace.com, email us, or call 800.MY.SHIPPING. We’d love to hear from YOU!

BlueGrace Logistics 2018 in Review

2018 delivered some significant changes for BlueGrace Logistics. From new offices to charity events that helped others in so many communities, our amazing team made this year one to remember. We want to take some time to recap our biggest changes and our best memories of the year. 

CSO, Randy Collack Announces Retirement

Randy Collack, Chief Strategy Officer, has retired this year. Mr. Collack had been with BlueGrace since its inception in 2009. He oversaw several departments as the Chief Strategy Officer, including all Freight brokerage in the Tampa headquarters. Throughout his tenure with the company, Randy was responsible for the growth of the sales and operations departments, and was a critical component of the success BlueGrace Logistics has achieved to date.

We wish him the best in his retirement!

BlueGrace Takes 1st Overall At 2018 SportsFest

WE. DID. IT. In April, our outrageous employees beat 200 other companies and 4,000 other people at SportsFest 2018 and earned the #1 Company title at Corporate SportsFest! Can we get a WOOOO!? Congratulations to all BlueGrace employees who attended and competed in SportsFest 2018. SportsFest is always a wildly successful event that embodies team building, solid competition and fun. Exhausted, but ecstatic, our team returned home victorious and more engaged with both coworkers and customers. We’re extremely proud of our team and their drive to succeed! 

Opening Of Downtown Chicago Office

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined BlueGrace Logistics to announce the company opening an office in downtown Chicago in May 2018. BlueGrace added 80 jobs at its new location in the iconic Chicago Board of Trade Building. The new office will continue to support the strong growth BlueGrace has accomplished since its launch almost 10 years ago. 

“The market we’re seeing now will be around for quite some time. We need to add a lot of capacity and a lot of professionals,” Bobby Harris, president and CEO of BlueGrace Logistics, said. Chicago “is a rich source of talent and resources, whether it’s truckload capacity or sales reps.”

Cats vs Dogs Raises 64,000 Pounds Of Food for Humane Society

Each year, BlueGrace female (Team Cats) and male (Team Dogs) employees compete against each other to see who can collect the most amount of pet food in total pounds. The food is then donated to a no-kill shelter to feed homeless animals in the community and used for pet owner assistance programs that benefit homebound and elderly residents on a fixed income. This year, the employees of BlueGrace collected over 60,000 pounds of food between Tampa & Chicago – reaching a new record for the contest on a location-wide scale.

The BlueGrace Webinar Series Is Introduced

BlueGrace began our new webinar series in February of 2018. With that announcement came 10 highly attended Webinars that offered valuable information from industry experts regarding everything from capacity issues, to freight data usage and visualization. Every attendee is offered a Free Supply Chain Analysis, utilizing BlueGrace’s proprietary data analysis tool, Vision. For a list of upcoming Webinars Click Here. Thank you to all that have attended in 2018!

CEO Bobby Harris Joins NUTC BAC

BlueGrace Logistics proudly announced that Founder and CEO Bobby Harris was welcomed as the newest member of Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC) Business Advisory Council (BAC).

Harris joined an esteemed group of senior-level business executives representing all modes of transportation. They meet regularly to discuss the latest NUTC research and to consider solutions to the economic, technical and social problems facing national, local and global transportation systems.

15,000 School Supplies

Each year, more and more children are sent to school without the materials needed to be successful. BlueGrace Logistics partners with local organizations to assist in helping that need with their “Backpacks of Hope” drive. The drive divides each office into teams who then compete to collect the most supplies. The winning team wins simply bragging rights or a fun prize of no monetary value, but the competition as well as desire to help those in need truly push the drive to success each year.

BlueGrace’s headquarters in Tampa, FL has partnered with Metropolitan Ministries for many years, and as the company has grown and added regional offices throughout the country, these offices have found local organizations and schools to partner with as well. Together everyone was able to donate a total of 15,381 supplies and 1,157 filled backpacks. 

Bobby Harris Named One Of Floridas Most Influential Business Leaders

BlueGrace Logistics CEO Bobby Harris was selected as one of Florida’s Most Influential Business Leaders on the Florida 500 – Florida Trend’s roster of the state’s 500 most influential business leaders spanning across more than 60 business categories and economic sectors.

The Florida 500 list is the product of a year-long research initiative by the editors of Florida Trend resulting in a personal, engaging look at the state’s most influential business leaders across major industries. The 500 executives were selected based on extensive contacts in regional business circles, hundreds of interviews and months of research, culminating in a highly selective biographical guide to the people who really run Florida.

Bobby is one of just 18 Transportation Executives chosen on the prestigious list of top business influencers throughout the entire state of Florida.

BlueGrace Logistics Becomes 6-Time Inc. 5000 Honoree

BlueGrace Logistics joined Inc. Magazine’s “Hall of Fame” as a 6-time Inc. 5000 Honoree. In 2012, BlueGrace was #20 on the annual list that ranks the fastest growing private companies in America – with 7,378% growth in just 3 years! Seven-Time Honoree, here we come!

BlueGrace Logistics Continues Chicago Growth Trajectory

BlueGrace is boosting its downtown presence from 8,000 sq. feet to 15,000 sq. feet and will grow its Chicago workforce from 40 current employees to 150 when the Board of Trade expansion is complete. BlueGrace also has an office in northwest suburban Itasca, where 60 employees are based.

The company’s prime Chicago Loop location matches perfectly with BlueGrace’s aggressive hiring approach aimed at attracting young sales professionals.

Here’s To An Even Better 2019!

We are so proud of how BlueGrace has continued to grow, prosper and help others in 2018! Thank you to all employees, partners and vendors for another successful year, and we look forward to a bigger and better 2019.

BlueGrace Logistics Named Top Workplace in Tampa Bay Again

 

BlueGrace Logistics is on Top Again!

BlueGrace is named a Top Workplace in Tampa Bay again and we are EXCITED! In the last 18 months, BlueGrace Logistics has grown from 180 employees to more than 500 employees nationwide. One might wonder, “how do you manage everyone’s happiness when you experience ‘hyper-growth?” Well, it all starts at the beginning of the hiring process.

BlueGrace has always focused on hiring the person and not the resume.

When you focus on the people you are hiring and not just a piece of paper, you get to know their qualities. BlueGrace’s most valued trait in every employee is empathy.

“We want to make sure we have caring, happy people who come to work every day,” said Bobby Harris, President and CEO, in a recent interview with Tampa Bay Times, adding: “We don’t care how much you know until we know how much you care.

We strongly believe that the empathy trait carries into everything a company needs to be successful.

“Somebody is relying on us in a critical way to make their lives easier or avoid disaster,” Bobby said. “We’re hiring people who we know care, who will stay late to make sure they’re serving their clients.”

Caring for Others | It’s What We Do

Core Value number 1 at BlueGrace is Be Caring of All Others. We believe our people make the difference and we strive to create an environment where our employees truly feel like family.

“We understand that when you’re excited about the company you work for and feel like you’re part of a purpose, you’ll inevitably be more fun to work with, loyal and highly effective in your role,” says Whitney McKay, Marketing & Brand Manager at BlueGrace. “Since day one of my six years at BlueGrace there’s been something organic and genuine about our culture. It doesn’t matter how much we grow, you just can’t get the same experience anywhere else.”

We strive to create an environment where our employees truly feel like family

“Giving back to the community gives us a purpose, it’s a huge part of who we are as an organization. Being caring is engrained in our company culture,” said Courtney Smith, Culture & Engagement Manager at BlueGrace Logistics. “Transitioning into my current role has been seamlessly successful; it’s easy to keep the culture alive when you have a core foundation like Bobby has created.” 

Fundraising and participating in the community, are engrained in our company culture

Every year, BlueGrace employees participate in a contest (namely “Cats vs. Dogs”) raising pet food and supplies for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and other no-kill shelters in BlueGrace communities throughout the U.S. This event has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds of food over the last 6 years.

Our employees also fundraise and run for cancer research in the ‘Miles for Moffitt’ event every May for the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and donate food, toys & schools supplies to Metropolitan Ministries, a local community non-profit.

The Results for Top Workplaces

How does a company get selected as a Top Workplace in the Tampa Bay area? To pick the Top Workplaces, WorkplaceDynamics went straight to the experts – the employees.

“In total, we invited 680 companies to participate, and we surveyed 175 of them.” said a rep from WorkplaceDynamics.

How does a company get selected as a Top Workplace in the Tampa Bay area?

They surveyed firms that employ 89,324 people in the Tampa Bay area. Of those employees surveyed, 37,058 responded either on paper or online.

When the employees of BlueGrace were asked about their work place, their responses concluded that they “felt well informed about the current state and direction for the future of BlueGrace.”

Transparency is Key

“Transparency is Key,” said Harris, and added “People will pay you back tenfold if you’re going to show them where the company is going.”

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their less-than-truckload and truckload spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and superior insight of the complex $750 billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.