Category

Holidays and Holiday Giving

Category

Holiday gifts that give back

I have to admit that I am really struggling finding meaningful gifts this year. After our move two years ago and the realization that we do not need any more “stuff,” I also realized that so many of my friends and family do not need it either. So how are we supposed to show the ones that we love with a meaningful gift? I have been looking and here are a few gift ideas that give back that I thought worth sharing.

 Gifts that benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

This year St. Jude’s has partnered with fantastic retailers such as William Sonoma, Home Goods,Brooks Brothers, Pottery Barn, Tumi Luggage, West Elm and Mark and Graham all with proceeds from certain items going to support cancer research and  the St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital where parents do not receive a bill for any of their child’s medical care. To support St. Jude’s and shop 

 LSTN Sound supports Starkey Hearing Foundation

LSTN Sound has amazing speakers, headphones and all things music for the music lover in your life. Their philosophy is that what is good for business should be good for the world. That is why proceeds from every product they sell go to support the Starkey Hearing Foundation.  So this year check out LSTNSound for all things music and to provide the gift of hearing to those in need.

 Public Supply Company in support of education

The Public Supply Company makes beautiful suede,velour and leather notebooks for the writer in your life. More than that their mission is to support creative work in our country’s public schools by channeling 25% of profits from every sale to a teacher in a high-need classroom who will use the money for a project that drives creativity. To find that thoughtful gift that gives back, visit Public-Supply Co. You will be happy you did!

GIVE Lotto Love Scratch Cards

This amazing organization has created their own lotto where everyone is a winner. Play LottoLove to win for someone in need. With the purchase of each scratch card, LottoLove donates to one of its nonprofit partners to support a different worthy cause.

For every card purchased LottoLove donates to their Non-profit partners to fulfill their social mission of helping people receive: clean water, solar light, nutritious meals or literacy tools. Each ‘Basic Needs’ card gives one of the following:
1 week of clean water
3 weeks of clean water
1 month of solar light
4 months of solar light
1 set of literacy tools
3 sets of literacy tools
To purchase these fantastic cards, which by the way make great stocking stuffers, check out Give Lotto Love 

EverythingHappy.com for children’s gifts  in support of children’s hospitals and orphanages

Everything Happy is a one-stop shop for baby blankets, bags, and bibs. This site matches each product sold by donating a second product to a child in hospitals and orphanages around the world, so one purchase makes two kids happy.  This was David Holdridge’s intention when he created Happy Blankie at the mere age of 7 years old. He wanted to create something that would make the world smile. Everything Happy products are distributed to children in hospitals and orphanages all over the world.

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and poverty by providing livestock and agricultural training to communities in need. In addition to providing you with the opportunity to give a family in need an animalsend a girl to school, or help launch a small business, Heifer International also sells products made by the locals that they assist.

You can buy coffee and chocolates made with coffee and cacao beans grown by farmers in need in order to support projects that champion sustainable farming and higher quality of life for these farming communities. All of their gifts or donations come with an Honor Card marking the donation. Take a look at some of their gifts here.

Gifts for Good

Lastly, there is a great website called Gifts for Good where if there wasn’t anything above that fit your holiday list that this is the place for you. Gifts for Good’s mission is to change the way the world gifts. According to their site U.S. corporations spend over $60 billion every year on corporate gifts, but donate less than a third of that to charitable causes. If every corporation purchased gifts that gave back―without spending any more money―we could redirect an extra $60 billion a year to addressing our world’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.

To solve this Gifts for Good has an incredible catalog of gifts that all give back and just might be the final place to finish up your shopping.

Hoping that these suggestions are helpful in making this season of giving meaningful for all.

Charity Matters

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to share this to inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

Charitable children, it’s never too late to start

I am always so amazed that is the same time each year that I find people asking me for suggestions for raising philanthropic children. As a result, I share this post once again as refresher for all, holidays or not.

When my sons were younger I wondered if they were really understanding what we were doing as a family for others. We wanted to raise compassionate and charitable children, good humans. While my sons are far from the poster children for philanthropy, they certainly do a lot to help others. I am proud that each of them has found different ways to give back and share the gifts that they have been given. My oldest has a passion for serving inner city children. His younger brother, has recently gotten behind Movember and men’s health through his fraternity. His house is one of the top Greek organizations in the country for fundraising this year. The youngest, at 16, has recently gotten involved with a nonprofit, Once Upon a Room, that does hospital room makeovers for very sick patients.

Each year at Thanksgiving, we sit down as a family and decide what our family will do this season to help others. We have adopted soldiers for a year, adopted families over the holidays that could not have Christmas, we have wrapped gifts at local Childrens’ Hospitals and voted on which non-profits we want to support. Each person trying to convince the others why their cause is most worthy.

The reality is that there is no simple answer to this question and that raising charitable children is an ongoing process. Families now have resources such as the nonprofit Project Giving Kids, which cultivates volunteer opportunities for young children and families. I read an article recently that said role modeling philanthropy is simply not enough. The article referenced a new study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. The director, Debra Mesch, said “the research showed that talking to children about giving increased by 20 percent the likelihood that children would give.”

Here are a few tips to remember as we approach the season of giving:

Six Tips for Raising charitable children:

  1. Start early, as early as 4 or 5 years old. Giving becomes a habit.
  2. Talk to your children about what causes interest them and bring causes to their attention.
  3. Be intentional by involving your children in your own charity endeavors.
  4. Use online tools to research organizations to involve your children
  5. Be consistent. Make charity a part of your traditions, the holidays and birthdays.
  6. Emphasize the joy because giving feels great.

Benefits of raising charitable children:

  1. Opens children’s eyes to the fact that others are not as fortunate as they are
  2. Develops empathetic thinking
  3. Fosters an appreciation for what they have
  4. Enhances self-esteem
  5. Correlates to improved performance in school

While this topic is relevant for the holidays, it is important to remember that giving does not just happen once a year. Teaching the gifts you receive from giving should be a part of the year, not simply the season. Once your children feel how great it is to give, their lives will forever be altered in wonderful ways.

Charity Matters.

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved we would love you to share the love and inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

Giving

“For it is in giving we receive.”

St. Francis of Assisi

It is here, December has arrived and with it comes the season of giving. Lately I have been wondering why is giving just for one season? Let’s be real, we all give all year…whether we volunteer, support a cause, give a few extra dollars at the market or in a more meaningful way. We give because it feels great to give.

Why I don’t necessarily love  Christmas shopping, I do love that feeling I get when I give a gift that brings the recipient joy. It is just the best feeling. This year I have really struggled with the holiday shopping because my sons really don’t need anything. I attempted boycotting Christmas and presents in lieu of a trip, with no such luck. My thought was the best gift we could all have would be time together. However, the boys opted for traditions, extended family and friends.

So, I am embracing the art of giving, it is a privilege to be able to give. Finding joy in little ways to make people and causes I care about happy. The result is always the same, you get so much more when you give. Wishing you all a happy season of giving this month and no boys……we are not getting a puppy!

Charity Matters.

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to share this to inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

 

The sweetest thing to do this Halloween

How much do we love Halloween and more importantly Halloween candy? If your like me, you have already been eating your favorites for the past few weeks and hope to never see a Snickers again. Here is some good news, now Halloween candy is twice as sweet (whether it’s from your own bag or your children’s) because there are a number of ways to donate your candy.

So think about giving a treat to these amazing organizations that support our troops:

Operation Gratitude:

You may remember the amazing story of Carolyn Blashek and her incredible cause sending care packages to our troops. Operation Gratitude just sent their 2,000,000th care package. Add your candy to one of their amazing care packages. They also love hand written notes too, so if your children are so inclined this is a great way to teach philanthropy and compassion.

Soldiers Angels:

A similar organization to Operation Gratitude in that they support our troops. Soldier Angels coordinates Treats for Troops each year and this year their goal is to raise over 17,000 pounds of Halloween candy. That is some serious sugar!

Operation Stars and Stripes:

This nonprofit runs Trick or Treating for Troops but sends care packages to service men and women who are stationed in the United States, as well as abroad. They collect unopened candy all year, and so don’t forget them after Christmas or Easter.

Operation Shoebox:

This organization distributes candy all year-long to the troops that are missing the holidays at home. What makes Operation Shoebox unique is that you get to choose which branch of the military you would like to send your treats to; Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines.

When you think about it Halloween is all about giving candy away, so why not keep the giving going just a little bit longer? This Halloween think about a sweet way to inspire compassion, kindness and a little patriotic spirit in your children or yourself. Truly there is nothing sweeter than making someone else’s life better. That is a treat we can all enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Charity Matters

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to pass the torch/post and inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Happy Labor Day 2017

“Labor not — for one day,
just sit, breathe, and rejoice
drinking what you please
and enjoying what you may.”
Terri Guillemets

I have to admit that this picture is what I dream of for Labor Day. The thought of simply sitting on a beach seems like the most glorious way to spend a coveted and cherished day off. Sadly, I won’t be at the beach this year, but a girl can dream.

Labor Day is always a little sad for me because it is the official end of summer and does anyone ever really want to see summer end? I don’t think so! This year, I can’t help thinking of everyone in the Houston area and wonder what their Labor Day looks like?  I continue to be inspired and uplifted by all the incredibly hardworking people who are helping one another and showing the best of humanity. For each of them, I hope today is a day of rest and renewal.

Let’s face it, we are Americans, and as a result, we work really hard. With all that hard work, and we all need to take some time to play, have fun, relax and enjoy ourselves.  So, regardless of where you are spending your day off…your back yard, a friend’s pool, a park, the lake or just firing up the grill for friends, I really hope you truly enjoy it.

Happy Labor Day!

Charity Matters.

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to pass the torch/post and inspire another.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

Let Freedom Ring

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

Abraham Lincoln

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. I truly love the 4th of July and all it brings. A holiday without stress that is full of friends, family, and summer fun. It is Independence Day and it usually feels that way. We feel free to simply be.

For years we lived across the street from an amazing park that thousands of people would descend upon each 4th of July for their incredible firework show. Our home was up on a slight hill above the park and we had a front row seat to the fireworks. Each year we would have a crazy fun 4th of July open house with people coming and going…it was just the best.

When I think about what made our 4th so special, it was our community. People coming together to celebrate. Community is what built our country. People coming together to work hard to create a place that is free. I write about incredible communities each week that are created by individuals coming together for a purpose greater than themselves….our country was founded the exact same way.

This year, my dream for our country is that we can all create a movement of service towards one another. I dream that we can all come together in community, regardless of our politics, for the country we love….something greater than ourselves.

Just as Abraham Lincoln said, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

A Place Called H.O.M.E.

Telling a magical Christmas story in May, might sound unusual but it is so beautiful, it simply can’t wait until December and since May is National Foster Care Month it seemed only fitting to share it now. A few weeks ago a woman from Maine reached out to me, via email, to tell me about her incredible friend, Janalee Moquin. Like most non-profit founders, Janalee truly did not want any attention on herself, said her girlfriend, via email. However, her friend was undeterred in wanting Janalee’s story told and about her amazing work with children aging out of foster care.  I am so glad she did…

There is no place like home and for thousands of foster care children each year, who age out of foster care, they sadly do not know that feeling. Janalee Moquin was determined to impact and change that in any way she could. She told me, “I had a difficult childhood, and I know what its like to feel like you have no one. I knew I wanted to help that child, that I was.”

Janalee went on to say that the most magical moments and happiest memories of her childhood were at a Christmas tree festival in Massachusetts, where she grew up. Thirteen years ago when Janalee moved to York, Maine she decided to re-create the holiday tree decorating festival in her new town. She went out and bought 32 trees and asked friends to compete in decorating them, in hopes that people would come together, buy tickets, feeling the spirit of the season and the funds would go in some way to support children in foster care.

Well the first year, while her vision was there, the rest of the town didn’t really see it. The years that followed, little by little the idea caught on. The tree festival grew and grew and so did Janalee’s passion for directing the increasing funds into A Place Called H.O.M.E., which stands for Having Opportunity Means Everything.

Janalee worked with social workers to find these young foster care children who were told at age 18, goodbye. She knew they needed support, love, help, mentoring and just basic kindnesses that we take for granted. Janalee and her group of volunteers began asking these young adults what they needed, what would mean the world to them. Their answers, “birthday cards with our name on them, a care package that has something I like, that feels like someone knows me.” The simplest request.

Today, thousands of people come from over five states to attend the now four-day long tree festival. The people of York have tree decorating rooms set up all year in their homes for the big event. Janalee is a foster parent to a 16-year-old boy and knows that she has recreated her childhood holiday magic for her community, for thousands of children and more importantly for the foster care children her work supports.

She said, “I know I have made a difference when I see a photo of a foster care child smiling holding their birthday card and when I can witness a communities joy.” I asked Janalee, what fuels you to keep doing this work? Her answer, ” This is what I was meant to do and why I am on this planet.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Christmas love

“Christmas, my child is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Dale Evans

christmas-love

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

It’s here, ready or not…

Christmas Eve has always been one of my favorite nights of the year.

My parents always hosted a large dinner for every friend, family member, stray or wayward neighbor without a place to go….and our home was always such a special place to be on Christmas Eve.

This year will be no exception, we will be with our family at a similar celebration filled with laughter, love and festivity. My heart is full with the blessings of love.

However, especially this time of year, it is so important to reach out to those that do not have a place to go. To a lonely neighbor or a friend who cannot be with family during the holidays.

A simple gesture is the greatest gift and the true meaning of the season.

Every time we love, we give.

My wish is for everyone to feel the love and magic of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all….

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

The spirit of giving

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting.

It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others.

It is discarding the meaningless and stressing true values.”

Thomas S. Monson

those-in-need-christmas

 I know this is a crazy week for everyone. We are all running around, checking off our list and trying to get ready for the big weekend ahead.

With so much to do, it easy to focus on the list, the food, the gift and….

Not the moment, the people and the joy we get from giving…

Not just giving presents but presence. 

Time is the greatest gift, use it well, cherish each moment and remember to discard the meaningless and find time for others.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

A little Christmas magic

a-little-christmas-magic

The other day, I wrote about being present to witness the joy and miracles that are all around us this holiday season. No sooner had I finished that post, when I received an email which had been forwarded to me. The email came from a woman named Jamie to her friend Steve.

Jamie wrote to Steve telling him that she would be going home to Philadelphia for the holidays and would be visiting an elderly nun, named Sr. Helen, who had been a wonderful influence on Jamie in high school. Sr. Helen was elderly and now had no family left and would be alone on Christmas.

Jamie remembered that Steve’s daughters attended a sister school in California, where Sr. Helen had worked years ago. Her request was simple, was there anyone at the school who might have remembered Sr. Helen and who would be willing to write a note or a Christmas card? The only Christmas gift that Jamie knew would touch Sr. Helen’s heart and remind her of all she had done for so many over the years.

I received the email and immediately forwarded it to the sister school, where I am an alumna. Within moments, a reply all came back from an angelic woman, named Angela.  Angela would be thrilled to spread the good word and pull together messages of love for Sr. Helen to be delivered on Christmas day.

One woman’s kindness, sparked another’s and another’s and the result will be pure Christmas magic for an elderly woman who will be reminded that she is not alone but rather the spark to a flame of goodness. Pure Christmas magic…..

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

The joy is everywhere…

“The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

excess-and-lex

I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit tired and overloaded this time of year. Do not get me wrong, I adore the holidays! I love everything about them, the decorations, the friends, the parties, the food, and even the presents. Truly, I do.

However, there are days when  doing all the shopping, the wrapping and the cooking that it feels a bit overwhelming. We are about 10 days away and while I am checking things off the list, I am concerned with exactly that…..just checking them off, rather than feeling the joy.

With so much to do, it is easy to just go, go, go but if we are all moving at warp speed how can we be in the moment to witness the magic moments of the holidays? The other day I was whirling around getting ready for a party, I dashed into my in-laws to borrow something and in my rush almost missed my tiny niece hanging an ornament on the tree. She squealed with delight, which is what stopped me in my tracks to take the picture above.

And there it was….the joy, the wonder, the magic…right there in front of me and I almost missed it. I write this post as a reminder to myself that the joy is everywhere, if we just slow down long enough to catch it.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Well…hello December

” It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready…”

Sarah Kay

well-hello-december

Well….helloooo December!

I am not sure how you snuck up on me

However, I must confess that I am happy you are here.

Am I ready for you?

No..

Am I ever?

No.

But, do I love the lights, the music, the joy…

Yes!

It is the most magical time of year…

So ready or not…

Here we go!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

#GivingTuesday 2016

giving-tuesday-2016

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, a successful black friday, are enjoying your cyber monday and are now ready for the most important day of all…tomorrow’s #GivingTuesday. What is #GivingTuesday, you ask? It is a movement that began in 2012 to celebrate and support giving and philanthropy.

More than that, #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that last year united over 70 countries around the world by sharing our human capacity to care for and empower one another. And today more than ever we need to be doing a little bit more of that…

What I think is even more fantastic, is the volunteering efforts that go along with the day.  If you are not sure where to start then merely go to the #GivingTuesday link here and you will find a list of local volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. Last year alone over 700,000 people volunteered for clothing drives, tutoring projects and a wide range of activities aimed at helping local non-profits across the country. Almost 40,000 charities, corporate and civic partners registered to officially be a part of Giving Tuesday this year.

Sheila Herring from the Case Foundation was quoted as saying,”The biggest thing for us is that Giving Tuesday directly challenges Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where you have analysts lining up to look at the numbers as a gauge of the health of our economy. What if, as a nation, we focused that kind of attention on giving and we wanted that to be our identity?”

What if? Our world would be a better place. And it already is because what started as an idea, just five years ago, raised over $116,000,000 last year for charities and causes around the world. When we come together in unity, we can make beautiful things happen. I can’t wait to hear what you are doing tomorrow on #GivingTuesday.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Happy Thanksgiving

“What if today, we were grateful for everything?”

Charlie Brown

modern-family-thanksgiving

Today is the day that we give thanks for all that we have….our crazy wonderful families, our health, a meal, our freedom and time to just be together.

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude.

Perhaps, this year we can begin to make every day one of gratitude.

If we continue to focus on all of our blessings and all that we have, we will always be full….and not just of turkey and stuffing!

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.