I count myself extremely lucky in that I am surrounded with family and friends who are at home in their own skin and are independent thinkers. That is until it comes to gift giving time... It probably wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that I am a perfectionist gift giver. I will spend copious amounts of time and energy (and in the past gasoline) to find the gift that perfectly matches the person. Since gasoline has become so pricey and trundling out with a tot on a search and buy mission has become difficult, I have been trying to find my gifts online.
In my searching I recently came across Crafters for Critters. This website collects items from crafters and sells the donated items to benefit animal causes. Crafters For Critters is not a consignment site. Independent
designers/crafters/artists donate handmade goods that are offered for sale here.
When the item sells, the selected animal rescue organization gets 100% of the proceeds.
If there is one thing that life has taught me, it is that taking time to be grateful is a great stress reducer. I am pretty good about being thankful when I am sad or very happy. At times, I think I have avoided some significant doldrums by just
reminding myself (daily or more often if needed) of all the things for
which I am thankful. However, I am not so good at being thankful when things are not special one way or the other.
In catching up with my feeds--- I see that Lorna over at Something Good has written a post about returning to her Gratitude Journal, a practice where she writes down each day the things for which she is thankful. The end of her post, she challenges readers to make their own gratitude list. So today--- when things are ok-- I want to take a minute to write down some things for which I am grateful.
A wonderful hubby and my much loved daughter
A healthy family
Enough money for all of my needs, some of my wants, and a little bit to share with others in need.
My Nikon D80 camera that was given to me by a hubby who understands all the reasons, obvious and subtle, why I really wanted it.
Making it to my 40th birthday where I have reached all my 'by the time I'm 40 I want to have...' goals. Not to mention the good memories that many of those achievements have left me with.
Gigi, Marie, Lynn, Tiff, Mark, Andy, Trippe, and my other though-thick-and-thin friends.
For having too many through-thick-and-thin friends to mention.
Being able to work from home
For having an uncle and a set of grandparents who loves me thought I was the bee's knees know matter what I did.
Indigence... hmmmm.... poverty???? Correct! 20 Grains are Donated Remonstrate..... protest or reproach? I think protest... correct! 20 grains are donated. Sheepshank.... uh oh... I'll have to guess....
Responsible Blogger Warning: If you love words....only go to this site if you have a lot of time to burn. I just had to step away....
Free Rice is a sister site to Poverty.com. Basically it provides you a chance to test your vocabulary, learn some new words, and donate 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program for each word you get right. Thus far over 23,202,482,290 grains of rice have been donated.
Don't worry-- this won't be dull. This smart vocabulary quiz gets harder as you get words right. Then every once in a while it will throw you a curve ball... a word you probably never heard of or an alternate meaning.
The advertisers on the site pay for the rice. But be not alarmed... the ads are at the very bottom of the page and are not obtrusive. However, if you see something of interest--- be sure to click on the ad--- that way this little fun game will stay up.
Stay tuned to DP--- the support group for FreeRice addicts will meet here in a couple of weeks : )
Hint: If you spend any time at all on here... be sure to go to the options tab where you can save your vocabulary level and rice donations for future visits.
Could it be possible to eradicate
abject poverty in one lifetime? Ever since it was first asked, the
question has seemed an improbable wish – a salve for the heart,
untenable to the mind. But today, the answer is as clear as it is
The idea that every living person can have the
basics essential to human survival – and from there, begin to climb the
ladder of economic development – is a prospect within reach. It does
not require a master plan that solves all the world's problems. It does
demand that wealthy nations change their approach in ways both subtle
It also means that the world's poorest – the last billion people who barely survive on the equivalent of less than $1 a day
– must turn from lifetimes of bleak experience and look with higher expectations toward what is possible.
Today, the "average" person on the edge of survival is a child. Within the next hour, 1,200 more of them will perish. There
are no easy solutions. But there is a clear path toward progress.
At the core of these articles is a profound sense of hope that poverty can be ended. However, it is not blind hope of some magic wand solution that focuses on simple redistribution of wealth. Instead, Mr. Lange reveals his hope that endeavors to end poverty will become customized to eliminate the unique situational obstacles that keep "individuals" and communities in poverty. What he calls for is widespread action among all people (man, woman, corporation, government, NGO, UN, policy makers, agencies.. everyone) to change in whatever ways are necessary to ensure that every person has what he or she needs for survival. He also calls for the poor to also have hope that things can change and that with work on their part, it can be sustained.
In my solution-based biased view, the magnum opus of the series is today's article Practical Steps to End Poverty. Here... Mr Lange lays out exact ways our views, policies and actions must change. What he calls for is a profound renaissance in thought, word, and deed--- where we all think about things in different ways, understand how our behaviors contribute to keeping people in poverty and make the changes in our lives so that we are responsible global neighbors to the impoverished in our midst. The article passionately coveys that no one is immune to the need for change. So well crafted is his argument is that, if the warlords, dictators, slum lords, sweatshop owners, bigots, bureaucrats, the high-and-mighty, the blissfully apathetic, and the selfish believe that people are listening to Mr. Lange, I would imagine that his days are numbered.
For me--- I'm already sold on the value of microcredit and conscious giving to organizations where I know that my money is used to work toward solutions to people's poverty rather than offering beggarly "aid." However, the article has made me think that I need to be more vocal to my governmental representatives-- an area where I waffle from disgusted to enraged to hopeless to apathetic (defensive mechanism of choice). One final quotation from the article:
Eradicating abject poverty is not a utopian goal; it's the basis for
self-sustaining growth. It doesn't mean solving the entire world's
problems. It demands that we focus our attention and resources to
ensure the survival and progress of the very worst off.
...To the thousands who give of their time and skills where it most
matters, working in some of the most dangerous places in the world, we
are all in your debt. And to the citizens of these struggling nations,
we know you deserve and are capable of better. Please, tell the rest of
us what works. Let us know how we can become a more informed and
effective community of conscience.
Thank you for your thoughts Mr. Lange. I'd love for others to chime in too.
Recently, I added a new category designed to help give ideas of ways that workplaces can become more involved in meeting some needs within their communities. Initially, the goal of this category is to highlight ways that employers can develop one-off opportunities for their employees to band together to do good in the community--- ideally, without tapping significantly into corporate profits.
Today's idea is to hold a corporate wide baby shower to help families with small children who are having difficulty making ends meet. The goal is to collect items that can be donated to local food pantries that can be distributed to those who need them. Items that can be collected include:
baby food & cereal
small stuffed animals
Now--- I admit--- this idea seems to appeal only to the females in the office--- however, men can be enticed to participate by including some opportunities for competition--- with appropriate prizes offered to the winners. Games include: speed diapering contest, Printable contests(Famous TV Fathers, Match TV children and parents to their TV Families, Daddy's Little Champion... a sports jargon quiz, raffle tickets), Name that Tune (instructions here), Office Baby Stroller Olympics (instructions here). Participation is always better when there are prizes--- so be sure to get ones that will appeal to everyone and need not maintain the baby theme.
Now-- to find an organization to which the items can be donated. Usually this is easy--- someone in the group usually knows of a worthy organization that can distribute the goods. However, America's Second Harvest has a "Find a Food Bank" tool that will help you find an organization in your community.
I know the February Giving Carnival just covered this, but now comes an article in the New York Times on what makes people give money. The article examines the impact of donation matching on giving behavior. Basically, it makes the case that people are not "always clearheaded about money; sometimes the existence of a financial incentive can matter as much as its size." Matching donations are a way for people to feel like they are giving double the amount ---without the financial ding to their own personal bank accounts.
The article also goes on to do some political and economic speculation that the government should quit offering tax breaks to people and companies who donate. I'm going to stay out of that--- but you can read the article if you want to learn more.
I know that I give because I want to help. As someone who has never had an employer offer to match anything, I have developed an independent approach to my giving. In fact, I treasure the fact that I can give where I want and I am not tempted to give to the big, fat and somewhat lazy organizations and can focus on giving to smaller ones, where I believe my money does the most good.
I would also like to think that the world is changing a little bit. I'm hoping that more and more people are waking up to the community and issues around them and are at least pondering ways to make it better. I might just be a hopeless optimist. Do you have any thoughts on this? Do you think there is a slow growing cultural change occuring? If so, do you think matching gifts will wane in importance or do you think they serve as an entre into giving?
As a lover of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, I wanted to celebrate by donating to an organization doing their part to impart the joy of reading to children.
I've always known that reading to children is essential for the love of reading. In fact, my godchildren and niece have always known that Carol was a sucker and would stop whatever I was doing if a simple question was asked.... "Will you read this to me?" However recently, reading to children (specifically mine) has taken on a a whole new level of importance
I'm Not the Only Pushover Reading To Kids is a grassroots movement seeking to inspiring children to develop a love for reading and subsequently giving them a better chance at having a successful and productive life. Based in Los Angeles, they especially seek to serve the underserved in their area through monthly reading clubs that uses volunteers read aloud to small groups of children,
while their parents receive training on how to encourage their children to read
at home. Kids, parents, teachers, and school libraries receive book donations
at the end of the Reading Clubs. These are important donations, as 60 percent
of low-income homes do not have age-appropriate reading materials for children.
Reading To Kids Stats If you glimpse at their website, you will see that the reading clubs are incredibly successful. In fact, this month they are only 5 short of being at capacity (this may change as the month wears on). Remarkably, since its inception in 1999, Reading to Kids
has given more than 56,000 books to children who attend the reading
clubs, donated more than 9,800 books to school libraries, and our
volunteers have spent over 60,000 hours reading to kids.
If you live in the LA area, Reading to Kids need volunteers (Click here for more information). Donations of a financial nature help Reading to Kids maintain and expand the reading club program, purchase teacher-selected
books for elementary school libraries in low-income communities, and
fund book donations directly to children to aid them in developing
their own home libraries.
Send your Dollar
To donate by Mail, please send your
check to: Reading to Kids, 1600 Sawtelle Blvd., Suite 210, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
OK-- I know I promised not to turn this into a Mommy blog--- but I just have to share. Our new little one attended her first charity event in February. The event was a fundraiser for Our Pal's Place and was held at Kokosphere Gallery in Roswell, GA.
Here's a picture of her with her Uncle Aubie -- who toted her around most of the evening.
I've been reading Lisa Gates blog, Design your Writing Life, for a good while now. Recently, she moved her practice to 360 Alliance, a network of personal coaches with the common goal of "creating learning opportunities that strengthen individual and
group effectiveness". I'm impressed that as a group, they are motivated and committed to participating in their community in ways that match their collective vision and values.
It was with some excitement that Lisa told me that the 360 group had decided to "walk the talk" and offer individuals a 45 minute coaching session in exchange for a good deed donation (any size) to an organization that matches their corporate values. They call this "Pay It Forward Friday." Last month 360 Alliance selected the southern tornado victims as their beneficiary. However, imagine my delight when I learned that the group had selected Kiva (one of my favorites) to be this month's recipient of the good deed.
If you have questions about coaching or have been considering coaching, this is a good opportunity to try it and do some good at the same time. If you would like to pose a direct question to the 360 folks, they have a form on their website: click here