Thanks(4)giving

It's all about the little things…

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Week 17-Potpourri, Day 2-Baseball Opening Day

Some people don’t believe it’s truly spring until opening day of baseball season rolls around.  I have a couple of friends who subscribe to these beliefs, who gave me a lot of flack for not including baseball during my sports week.  I’m not exactly one of those people, but I do love to play and watch a good game of baseball.  I mean come on, it is the American past-time.  Plus I love being anywhere you can unabashedly eat extremely greasy food and have multiple adult beverages sans judgment.  I’m thankful for the crack of those wooden bats, the smell of fresh popcorn, and the call of a lazy Sunday afternoon where the grass is green and the boys are cute.

Even though I never played Little League Baseball (cause I’m a girl, duh) my brother and lots of friends did.  The LLB association was founded in 1939 and has the same mission today to provide a game to the world that teaches kids sportsmanship, fair play, and teamwork.  What’s great about all these qualities is that they transition into a child’s adult life to make them great citizens.  The LLB has grown from a single game to over 200,000 teams in all 50 states and over 80 different countries.  The other great thing about LLB is the way it brings communities together.  People come out to watch the games, support their families, support their neighborhoods, and just have some good ‘ole fashion fun.  I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives.  In the big leagues the guys behind the mask have stepped up to the plate (ba-dum-bum-ching) and proved that umpires really do have a heart.  UMPS CARE is a non-profit that works with at-risk youth, children and the families who are in need.  They help provide memorable baseball experiences, raise awareness for foster children who are waiting to be adopted, and financially support the medical costs and care of kids.  UC also has really fun events to help raise money like an annual poker tournament, golf marathon, online auctions, Yankees tickets, and a marathon for the Baltimore Bears.  Even though they don’t always get it right in the infield, UC is “helping people make the easy call” when it comes to giving back.

Little League Baseball Donation

UMPS CARE Donation

 

So here’s to you baseball opening day!  You only come once a year just like all of the other good holidays.  You help us remember that summer is right around the corner and that it’s time to oil our mitts.  You are the only thing that could unite a Red Sox and Yankees fan, and I use the word unite loosely.  You help us get back to our roots, get a little exercise into our day, and be thankful for the little things in life.

Week 18-Potpourri, Day 1-Ruby

My girl!

Yesterday we added a new member to our family.  No we didn’t get another dog, and no I did not pop out a kid, but we did buy a beautiful Ford Escape named Ruby.  She’s three years old, she has automatic windows and locks, warm tan interior, a sleek maroon paint job, and six cylinders under her hood.  She’s roomy, quick, and she’s plays a mean version of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”.  I am truly thankful for all of the different subjects that I write about everyday, but after being a one car family for a year and a half, I am really, really, really thankful for Ruby.  I feel like I’m sixteen again in my very first car.  You know that saying good things come to those who wait?  I’m gonna have to agree.

That year and half without a car of my own might have seemed like a long time, but it was the best decision for our family.  The non-profit Yellow Ribbon Fund is helping out the families of disabled veterans by providing lots of great services including free car rental and cab vouchers.  Even though YRF has only been around for six years they have already provided 1,400 car rental and 18,000 taxi cab rides free of charge.  YRF doesn’t stop there, they help veterans and their families with job mentoring and internship programs, free lodging, and free tickets to different sporting and cultural events.  I that think taking care of our veterans when they come home is so important, because they have taken care of us by serving while we were able to stay in our homes.  You might expect that Ruby with her nice V6 engine would entice me to speed a little, but I think I’ll leave the fast turns to the pros like Kasey Kahne.  Kahne may have a serious need for speed but he channels that energy into cool fundraisers for his charity the Kasey Kahne Foundation.  The money that KKF raises through sprint car races, concerts and drifting challenges (think 2 Fast 2 Furious) helps chronically ill children and their families, as well as disadvantaged youth.  The KKF has raised and given money to The Ronald McDonald House, Make A Wish Foundation, Victory Junction, and the Red Cross to name just a few.  In 2006, Kahne was even appointed by President Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Service & Civic Participation, which was only one year after he started the foundation.  You can also bid on some pretty sweet schwag on eBay to help support KKF.  Keep up the good work Kasey!

Yellow Ribbon Fund Donation

Kasey Kahne Foundation Donation

So here’s to you Ruby!  I haven’t known you very long but I have a feeling you are going to be there for me through thick and thin.  You are pretty, you tell me what songs are on the radio, you automatically lock the doors to keep me safe, and you’ve got some get up and go.  I see furniture, road trips, jam-out sessions, dog hair, airport shuttle missions, traveling games, and car seats in your future.  Welcome to your new home and thank you for making our family complete…for now 🙂

Week 17-Music, Day 7-Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews Band is one of those special groups that you and your parents can enjoy together.  It’s the kind of music that you can listen to anytime, anywhere and feel a million times better than you did before you started listening.  Scott is a huge DMB fan and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on me a little over the past five years.  DMB is as highly regarded for their charity work as they are for their soulful lyrics and melodies.  They support several charities but they have also gone a step further and started a charity of their own.  I love a band that takes giving into their own hands and  gets the job done.

The Bama Works Foundation was founded by Dave and his band in 1999.  BMF is dedicated to supporting charities in the band’s hometown of Charlottesville, VA.  Grants are limited to the city of Charlottesville and its surrounding counties.  The charities supported ranges from disadvantaged youth, arts and humanities, environmental causes, and the needs of those who are disabled.  National and international grants are available, but on an invitation only basis.  BWF has raised over $14 million since it began, and has supported enough charities to fill up an entire blog in itself.  And I don’t know about you guys, but I ain’t got time for all that.

DMB's votes count!

I do have time to talk about HeadCount, which is another charity DMB dedicates their time to.  HC uses live music to encourage young people to register to vote at concerts.  HC believes that musicians and their fans have potential to change the world by standing up and voting for what they really believe in.  DMB, Jack Johnson, Wilco, Kings of Leon, and other artists have helped to make sure that over 175,000 voters were registered at their concerts.  If you don’t register, you can’t vote, and if you don’t vote you die.  Or at least that’s what I’ve read on some t-shirts.

Bama Works Foundation Donation

HeadCount Donation

So here’s to you Dave Matthews Band!  You lifted up your skirt and showed your world full of giving to us.  You have proven that your lyrics aren’t the only passionate part of your band.  The love that you shower on your hometown and the communities around it is inspiring beyond words.  Years from now we will still be listening to your albums and loving your music, but more importantly, we will remember the ways you’ve helped to change the world.

Week 17-Music, Day 6-Music Videos

Yea I do!

Music videos may seem so 1990’s to you, but let me be the first to let you know, they are coming back in a major way.  Even better, they are coming back for great causes.  I mean seriously who didn’t love watching cutie Carson Daly on MTV’s Total Request Live?  He was the video jockey, and had everyone asking, “Have you seen the video for that song?”.  Videos bring the songs we love to life and help us put faces with the names of new artists.  If music and charity go together like peas and carrots that makes music videos the butter on top.  A little slice of heaven that makes the dish of donation perfect.

H to the IZZO otherwise known as Jay-Z made a video of a different kind to support UNICEF.  Instead of having sexy girls with minimal clothing fogging up the television screen, the video chronicles his journey through developing countries where he met with young people who didn’t have access to clean water.  There are over 2 million children who die unnecessarily due to unsafe water and poor sanitation.  In “Water for Life” he also walked some of the routes with the kids who fetch clean water for their families every day.  Water is such a basic need that we, myself majorly included, take for granted multiple times a day.  It’s one of those causes that will never get enough attention or support.  It’s that important.  Nowadays you can’t think of music videos without the band OK Go popping into your head.  Their video White Knuckles is a great example of them flexing their creative muscles.  The video is full of lucky pups who were rescued by loving families, and OK Go donates the proceeds from the sale of their single to the ASPCA.  As far as I’m concerned, rescuing innocent animals that have been abandoned or born in shelters ranks right up there with providing clean water to children.  We are the voice for the cuddly, innocent, dogs and cats that aren’t able to speak up for themselves.  So whenever you get a chance just add rescue an adorable animal and provide clean water for the world to the top of your to-do list.  No biggie.

Go ahead. Write it at the top...

UNICEF Donation

ASPCA Donation (or go adopt an animal!)

So here’s to you music videos!  You taught us the proper way to get down to our favorite songs on the radio.  You were the reason thousands of people were glued to their TVs at 4 o’clock every day when the MTV video countdown began.  You give artists the creative license to make the vision in their head come to life, and share it with the world.  You have gone through a transformation since your inception, and now you are teaching people to give back instead of getting down.  In the 90’s people may have wanted their MTV, but now they want their GBTV (give back TV).

Week 17-Music, Day 5-Charity Songs

Music transcends age, race, culture, and even disasters, which is why charity songs are so successful.  I mean who doesn’t remember “We Are the World” with Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Bob Dylan?  It took the famine that was occurring in Ethiopia and put it up front and center for the world, and helped to raise over $63 million.  Did I mention that it is the best selling-single of all time with 20 millions copies sold?  Basically it is the gold standard of charity songs.  Music and charity seem to go together like peas and carrots, and I’m so thankful for all these great songs and albums that support great causes.  Two birds with one stone?  Yes please!

The original crew

One of the sites I love to find great charities to blog about is Looktothestars.org.  I open up LTS and the first news article there is about Songs for Japan.  Perfect!  This album is available on iTunes and comes with an incredible 38 different songs from 30 top artists of today and yesterday.  Katy Perry, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, and John Lennon are only a handful of famous names on this charity album.  The best part, obviously, is that all of the proceeds from the albums sales will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.  I know I have already blogged about a charity benefiting Japan, but I think it’s so important to remember how long the rebuilding process really takes.  It’s easy to donate once and feel like you’ve done your job, but the truth is it’s gonna take a lot more than my $10 dollars a week or your one time donation to help Japan.  Plus, who wouldn’t want 38 songs for $10 bucks?  Two birds with one stone seems to be a theme here.  Another place that still needs our love and support is Haiti.  We Are the World was actually re-recorded as We Are the World 25 for Haiti last year in the same studio as the original track.  The new version of the song has over eighty artists and performers and the range of talent is as wide as the day is long.  The artists and producers of the song, then and now, really believe they can change the world with their voices and our donations.  The donations to the WATW Foundation has helped to create a refuge for Haitian film students at the Ciné Institute in Haiti.  Since the earthquake they have been able to rebuild the school, graduate the first class of 50 members, and have allowed the students to express the hardship they have gone through in film.  In the time when everything seems dark, CIH provides a beacon of light for the entire country.

Japanese Red Cross Society Foundation Donation (Or buy the album on iTunes!)

We Are the World Foundation Donation (Or buy the song on iTunes!)

So here’s to you charity songs!  You are catchy, thoughtful, and overall pretty awesome.  You help people recover after a tragedy and try to make sense of this crazy world we live in.  You bring us all together and help us remember how good it feels to give back.  Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie said it best twenty-five years ago, “We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving.”

Week 17-Music, Day 4-Journey

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on Journey.  I can still see the tape case for Journey’s Greatest Hits sitting on the dash of our 1984 Nissan Maxima.  We would jam out to the entire album whenever we went on one of our road trips.  We would clean the house to AC/DC and Alabama (weird combo I know), but Journey was saved specifically for our journeys to see our family or go on vacation.  I miss that Maxima and that tape, but thankfully shows like The Sopranos and Glee have kept Journey as popular as ever.

Ahhh the memories...

Journey as a band, and its members separately, put as much into their charity work as they do into their rock ballads.  The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is one of the organizations that has benefited from the band’s philanthropic efforts.  RIC has been recognized as the number one rehabilitation center in the United States since 1991 by the U.S. News & World Report.  RIC is the top choice for people all around the world because of their extensive knowledge and expertise in treating complex conditions such as spinal cord injuries as well as common aliments like arthritis.  RIC is also on the cutting edge of research to help individuals with paralysis walk again and is the only federally funded stroke rehabilitation research and training center in the country.  RIC is on a mission to make the “journey” to rehabilitation as smooth as possible.  I haven’t had the good fortune to see Journey in concert, but I know where I’m going to buy my next concert tickets no matter who I see.  Tickets-for-Charity is the hook up for tickets to not only concerts, but also sporting events and theater shows.  TFC is a fundraising platform for Charity Partners which believes that you should be able to get your services and goods at great prices and donate to charities at the same time, for free!  TFC has some great seats to events like GLEE Live!, Boston Red Sox seat at Fenway Park, and the always popular New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys tour.  You get to see the band you want and pick which charity will receive the donation from your tickets.  As they like to say, “Great seats for Great causes.”  Couldn’t agree more.

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Donation

Tickets-for-Charity Donation (get out there and go to a concert!)

So here’s to you Journey!  We all wanna be there in your city, where charity isn’t what you sing about, it’s what you do.  Your ballads are sung in karaoke bars and clubs across the world, and we all imagine ourselves as small town girls living in a lonely world.  Even though you’re famous for lovin’, touchin’, and squeezin’ your way to the top, you made sure to give back to the little people along the way.  Don’t stop…believin’…in charity! 

Week 17-Music, Day 3-Online Tunes

Pump up the jams!

Let’s face it, there are very few people out there who are still buying CDs from Best Buy or Radio Shack in order to listen to their new favorite band.  When you hear a song you might like you go straight to your computer to figure out who sings it and where you can purchase it online.  You can even see what songs are playing on your favorite TV shows by checking online or reading the scrolling feed at the bottom of the screen.  Plastic CD cases and lyric booklets may be a thing of the past, but supporting charities with your downloads is the wave of the future.  I’m thankful to have my new favorite songs at my fingertips and know that my hard earned dough is also helping others while feeding my music addiction.

Even though I hate to admit it, I was a part of the Kazzaa/Napster generation in college.  In my defense I was a poor college kid who just like to rock out while hanging out in my dorm room.  Excuses aside, I would much rather get my music from DownloadUplift.com these days.  DU is the major fundraising campaign for the non-profit Music For Charities, and is unique in a couple of different ways.  They help promote charities, obviously, but they also help promote independent musicians and/or community ensembles.  As a customer you can listen to the music before you purchase it, which is always nice, but you are also in control of which charity benefits from your donation.  DU likes to say, “Patrons of Music for Charities choose the music they want to Download and the non-profit they want to Uplift.”  I don’t know what about you, but I’d call that a win win for sure.  How many of you guys have heard of Pandora?  I’m imagining everyone out there raising their hands, cause it’s a pretty big deal.  For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a website that allows you to listen to music of your choice for free!  It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t.  What you might not know (I didn’t) is that Pandora has teamed up with Global Giving to support three very worthy music driven project.  Two of the charities they support, Education Through Music and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, should sound familiar to you because I blogged about them a couple of days ago.  The third charity, Little Kids Rock is a non-profit that is dedicated to revitalizing and renewing the music education system in the United States.  Students learn to play at an accelerated rate through the LKR program as well as writing and performing original music.  It sounds like the next Taylor Swift may be in the works thanks to LKR!

DownloadUplift.com Donation (pick a song or album to download!)

Little Kids Rock Donation

So here’s to you online music!  You may have taken lyric booklets and cool album artwork away from us, but you’ve figured out a way to merry music and giving.  You allow us to download any music we want day or night and from the comfort of our very own couch.  You have given us the ability to listen to music before we buy it, and download just one song from an artist without having to buy the whole album.  Thanks for helping us be green, cool, and charitable.

Week 17-Music, Day 2-American Idol

American Idol not only changed the face of the music scene, but also changed the way the world looked at reality television.  I mean everyone knows who Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, and Carrie Underwood are.  So maybe you weren’t a big fan when Ellen was a judge last year, but they have really turned up the heat with J-Lo and Steven Tyler this year.  This season marks the tenth anniversary for the original reality singing show.  I’m thankful for the comedic relief contestants have provided over the years on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and the way Idol has made giving back a priority.  I may not pick up the phone and vote every week, but due to Scott’s influence, I am definitely an Idol fan.

Seacrest Out!

American Idol is so big that they have their own non-profit!  The Idol Gives Back Foundation raises money and awareness for children and families in need across the country and the world.  They have had two extremely successful concerts for IGBF, and raised over $67 million dollars in 2008 alone.  None other than Mr. Simon Cowell is the brain behind this great give back concept.  He wanted to harness the giving spirit that the fans and the people behind the scenes of the show are known for.  Not to mention, Snoop Dog, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, and Miley Cyrus stopped by to lend their song bird voices to the cause.  There are plenty of American Idol alum who have and are still giving back to their community after their success, but one stands out for me.  David Cook, winner of season seven of AI, has been a huge supporter of the charity Accelerated Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) since his stint on the show.  The loss of his brother to a decade longer battle with brain cancer in 2009 really inspired Adam to be active in ABC2.  He sang the single, “Permanent”, on the eighth season of AI and the live recording was sold on iTunes directly after with all the proceeds benefiting ABC2.  Next month David will be performing a charity concert in our nation’s capital to benefit the Race For Hope-DC 5K Run/Walk with all of the proceeds going to ABC2 and the National Brain Tumor Society.  Cancer sucks.  A lot.  Which means I’m a big fan of anyone who works to kick it’s butt.

Idol Gives Back Foundation Donation

Accelerated Brain Cancer Cure Donation

So here’s to you American Idol!  You have kept us entertained (for the most part) for the past ten years.  There is nothing quite like the audition footage that makes us pee our pants laughing each year.  You have inspired millions of people to stand in line for hours and chase their dream to become a superstar.  You know that giving back is just as important as view ratings, and that you can never give enough even if you are an Idol.  Thank you for making dreams come true for singers and needy children alike.

Week 17-Music, Day 1-Mr. Holand’s Opus

March is Music In Our Schools month so I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to spread the word to my faithful blog readers.  Believe it or not, I actually played the clarinet in the middle school 7th grade beginner’s band.  Even though it was the only year I played (middle school is a cruel, cruel world), I secretly loved every minute of it.  I was actually not too bad, taking first chair (there were only 4 of us clarinet players to be fair) pretty much all year-long.  Even though I didn’t stick with it for the next year I still gained an appreciation for the power of music in schools.  I’m thankful for that hand-me-down clarinet and the influence the music I played left on me for a lifetime.

One of the great music-in-the-schools movies is definitely Mr. Holland’s Opus.  Glenn Holland finds comfort and fulfillment as he takes a part-time music high school music teacher, and puts his composing on the back burner.  Anyone who has seen this 1995 tear-jerker would probably donate to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation without me typing anything else, but what kind of blog would that be?  The film’s composer was so inspired by the movie that he started the foundation with the same name in 1996.  MHOF is dedicated to ensuring the future of music education in schools around the country.  They make sure they accomplish this goal by donating new and refurbished instruments to schools, creating and helping after school music programs, and providing scholarships for talented musicians who can’t afford the proper instrument.  Over 10,000 children are touched by MHOF every year and I have a feeling their opus isn’t finished quite yet.  In the Big Apple, the non-profit Education Through Music shares the same mission as MHOF.  ETM firmly believes that all children deserve a well-rounded education, which includes music.  Unfortunately a lot of schools that served underprivileged children can’t afford to maintain a music program all year-round for all of their students, so ETM steps in.  Started in 1991, ETM has a lot to celebrate as it turns 20 this year.  Over 13,000 children in New York City in 25 different schools are being reached this school year alone.  Music will never die with these great organizations around.

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation Donation

Education Through Music Donation

So here’s to you Mr. Holland’s Opus!  You made a lot of movie lovers cry like babies, and young kids join the school band.  You were nominated for multiple awards, you even won a couple, and inspired an entire foundation that touches the lives of thousands of kids.  You made us believe that we all have an opus living in us somewhere, and all we need to do is get it out.  Here’s to putting a couple of notes of giving in your music.

Week 16-March Madness, Day 7-Brackets

The Bracket Beast

March Madness begins and ends with brackets.  You fill them out, pray that your teams make it past the first round, and watch more games than you can count just to make sure yours is up to date.  There are even people who fill out two, three, and FOUR brackets.  That’s what I call dedication people.  Even though my husband isn’t one of those men who have their brackets glued to one hand and the remote glued to the other during this madness, I’m thankful for those out there who are (and that he’s not).  I’m even more thankful for the organizations out there who capitalize on all this testosterone floating around.The One Percent Foundation is in the midst of hosting its Second Annual Grant Madness challenge this year.  You fill out a bracket just like you normally would, but the winners receive the right to choose which non-profits will receive the prize money.  OPF is training the next generation of philanthropist to realize that it doesn’t take a billionaire to change the world.  Giving can be an overwhelming concept, especially for young people in their 20s and 30s with lots of student loans and poor paying jobs, but it doesn’t have to be.  OPF is encouraging people to give just 1% of their income to charity.  If you’re make $30,000 a year, that’s less than $1 a day!  That’s a beefy crunch burrito, a McDouble, a Redbox DVD, a pack of gum, or a candy bar.  Seriously, it’s really that easy.

Just do it.

Do Something believes it’s that easy too.  They even give you an easy how-to for the way to raise money for charity during march madness.  DS is a great non-profit out of New York (what up Jay-Z and Beyonce) that is inspiring teens and young adults to get off the couch and volunteer.  DS is smart enough to realize that the way to a teen’s heart is through their computer, smart phone, and TV screens.  Right now only 23% of the teen generation volunteers and DS is looking to make that 51% by the end of this year.  So figure out what causes really tickles your fancy and do something!

One Percent Foundation Donation

Do Something Donation

So here’s to you brackets!  You consume our minds and our wallets during the month of March, and April for that matter.  You make sure we can successfully obsess over who won what game, and which teams are making it to the Sweet 16, Final Four, and championship game.  All of your lines and boxes help us make sense of all the basketball madness invading our lives.  Don’t forget to fill in your bracket of life with a little giving.