Thanks(4)giving

It's all about the little things…

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Week 35-Shop till ya drop, Day 5-The Home Depot

I’m gonna be really honest right now.  I don’t have quite the love affair with Home Depot that my husband, or most men for that matter, has.  Here’s what I do have a love affair with though: pictures hung, desks put together, shelves built, and our lawn mowed.  I guess that means that on some level, I really do love Home Depot, because without them none of those things would get accomplished.  And since we’re being honest, I actually really like the orange aprons the employees wear.  I don’t know what it is about them but the color just makes me happy.  And you know what they say, happy wife…happy life.

It turns out that The Home Depot is so invested in the communities they serve that they created the Home Depot Foundation in 2002.  The motto of the store may be more saving, more doing, but the foundation is all about improving lives and improving homes.  HDF works with local non-profits and volunteers from Team Depot to help repair damaged homes and other facilities that serve disadvantaged people.  For the next three years, HDF has decided to focus on military veterans and their families as they return home from service, and discover new physical and financial hardships.  HDF will invest over $30 million dollars to renovate and repair the homes of these deserving individuals.  Remember those aprons I love, well they even have an awesome program called Aprons in Action.  You can see how HD associates are volunteering their time to make a difference with non-profits and vote for which ones deserve more funding.  HD also works with Good360, formerly known as Gifts In Kind, for their Framing Hope program that donates unsold home improvement products to local nonprofits who focus on providing affordable housing.  G360 is another one of those charities with a simple yet brilliant idea.  Take product donations from America’s top brands and retailers and turn them into goods for the greater good.  Any company that can leverage $70 in product for every $1 in funding is a key in my eyes.

The Home Depot Foundation Donation

Good 360 Donation

So here’s to you Home Depot!  You know, the more I type this blog the more I like you.  You have all of the essentials for home improvement with some fun things thrown in there as well, and you give back to your community.  You’re a stand up store.  Thanks for helping us save more money, do more things.  For ourselves and more importantly, for others.

I just love those aprons!

Week 35-Shop till ya drop, Day 4-Trader Joe’s

I love Trader Joe’s.  I miss Trader’s Joe’s.  I was so spoiled because there just happened to be one right down the road from me in NC and NJ.  For anyone who has never been there, first thing, you’re missing out.  Missing out on what you ask?  Oh I dunno beautiful fresh flowers, delicious assortment of cheeses, cheap (I’m talking $1.99) but extremely flavorful spices, coffee that rivals Starbucks, and $3 wine.  And did I mention they have $3 wine, that’s actually good?  I think you’re starting to understand my obsession with this adorable and customer friendly store.  If this isn’t your neighborhood store, you might want to consider moving…or at least figuring out how to fit it into your summer road trips.

TJ’s also has a big heart underneath all those good deals, but you probably already figured that since I decided to include them on this blog.  In March of this year they announced that all the seafood products they offer, including fresh, frozen, and canned, will come from sustainable sources by December 2012.  Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch helps businesses like TJ’s and people like you and me make healthy choices for our oceans.  If you’re like me you might be wondering exactly what a sustainable seafood source is.  Well, MBASW explains that encouraging seafood purchases that are fished or farmed in ways that do not hurt the environment will help sustain wild, healthy, and diverse ocean ecosystems that will survive into the future.  This is key because 75% of the world’s fisheries are either fished to capacity or overfished.  Seafood Watch works hard to make sure the recommendations they make offer a complete vision of sustainability.  Trader Joe’s knows that providing food for people in need is one of their biggest responsibilities as a grocery store.  There is a new documentary about dumpster divers called Dive, that puts the screws to TJ’s saying they throw away more food than they donate, but St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix might disagree.  Last Thanksgiving SMFB was 2,000 turkeys short of its holiday goal, and TJ’s stepped up and provided 6,000 roasted half-turkeys, which was enough to make holiday boxes to feed 20,000 people!  It’s no wonder that St. Mary’s needs some help from time to time, they serve 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties and provide enough food to feed 275,000 meals on a daily basis.  To say they’re the experts is a bit of an understatement.

Become a Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Advocate or Donate to Monterey Bay Aquarium

St. Mary’s Food Bank Donation

So here’s to you Trader Joe’s!  You always brighten my days with your Hawaiian-shirt-wearing employees and free samples.  Even though I don’t get to see you nearly as much as I used to, or want to, I know you’re serving all of your neighborhoods well.  Thanks for being that funky, cool older brother of a grocery store that we’ve always looked up to.

Week 35-Shop till ya drop, Day 3-Giant Eagle

Once again we’re back to the reoccurring theme of food but we all gotta eat, right?  There are probably a lot of you out there who are asking, “What the heck is Giant Eagle?”  Short answer, my new favorite grocery store.  Long answer, it’s a chain of grocery stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland that’s been around since 1918.  What I really love about them are their rewards programs.  You buy groceries you get a discount on gas.  You buy gas you get a discount on groceries.  We’ve saved up to 80¢ per gallon when we filled up at the pump, and 15% off our entire grocery bill!  It’s ok to be a little jealous right now.  🙂

GE makes sure we get great deals on groceries and gas, but they also make sure that schools get the cash they need to buy new books, computers, and other essentials for its students.  Box Tops for Education has helped schools across America earn over $400 million dollars since 1996.  You’ve seen those little cut out for BTFE on the top of your Cheerio cereal boxes, Betty Crocker cake mixes, and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls.  Cutting out those little things, find out who your school’s coordinator is, and send them off!  Every box top you cut out is worth 10¢!  Plus the BTFE website has great coupons so you can save money and help your school at the same time!  You can also earn box tops when you shop online at stores like Lands End, Barnes & Noble, and Gap.  Grocery stores like GE give shoppers a chance to earn Bonus Box Tops throughout the year during special events.  These days kids are thinking about college sooner and sooner, and Giant Eagle has you covered there too.  Upromise helps GE shoppers save for college as they shop.  Yep, you read that right, you can shop and save at the same time.  Free.  Of.  Charge.  Three of my favorite words.  When you buy Nestle, Florida’s Naturals or a ton of other products money will automatically be deposited into your UP account.  Then what you do what that money is up to you.  You can invest it in a 529 college savings account, pay down student loans, or request a check that can be used for college expenses.  You can also earn money at a ton of restaurants and online stores as well.  Awesome, I know.

Sign up for Box Tops for Education in your area! (It’s free!!!)

Sign up for Upromise for you and help out a friend or family member! (Again, it’s free!!!)

So here’s to you Giant Eagle!  You always have just what I need on my shopping list.  Your produce is fresh, your organic section is huge, and your sales rule.  Now when I fill up our cart I’ll be thinking about all the classrooms we’ll be filling with books and computers instead of how cheap we can fill up our gas tank.

Sometimes more really is more!

Week 35-Shop till ya drop, Day 2-Macy*s

When I need essentials that only a department store can provide Macy’s is my go-to store.  They have everything.  At least the good stores do, and if you can’t find it in the store you can most likely find it online.  Let’s just say I got a little spoiled going to the Herald Square Macy’s in NYC when I needed some new clothes or fancy cooking pots.  Now we have to travel about 45 minutes to a Macy’s store, but I’m still a fan.  I really fell in love with Macy’s when we registered there and we got points (that translated to dollars) for the presents on the registry that other people bought us!  That’s right we got the presents and the points to buy more stuff on our registry that we didn’t get.  Double-dipping rocks my world.

Climb those books!

I’m not going to try to impress you with a bunch of fancy numbers today, and I really don’t need to because the work Macy’s is involved with speaks for itself.  Macy’s has teamed with Reading is Fundamental, the nation’s largest and oldest literacy organization since 2004 to help children “Be Book Smart“.  RIF’s mission is to motivate kids to read by working with them, their parents, and their community to make reading fun!  RIF dreams of a literate America where all children have access to books so they can discover the joys and value of reading.  RIF’s founder Margaret McNamara could see just how fundamental reading was 45 years ago when she started the program in Washington, D.C. in 1966.  My favorite part about RIF is that they give disadvantaged children a chance to own books, not just go to their local or school libraries and check them out.  And they don’t just have some assembly line where they hand out the first book they grab out of the box to any child either.  They set out dozens of books for children to look through and decide on their own which they’d like to have.  I don’t know about you but that would make me want to read!  Another organization that Macy’s and it’s employees whole heartedly supports is the United Way.  UW is one of those great charities with a simple mission.  Improve lives.  Isn’t that really what it all comes down to?  We are all connected in this world is one way or another, so when one of us succeeds then we all do.  UW focuses on encouraging financial stability and independence, improving people’s health, and helping children and youth reach their potential through education.  I know I said I wasn’t going to through a bunch of numbers at you, but this one is pretty impressive.  Macy’s employees and the Macy’s Foundation donated $10.7 million dollars to UW just last year.  Again, double-dipping rocks my world!

Reading is Fundamental Donation  and get Book Smart

United Way Donation

So here’s to you Macy’s!  There is something that makes you undeniably magical.  You always seem to have just what I need, and lots of other things I can’t live without once I walk through those doors.  You were there when we registered for our wedding, you’re there for us when we need to buy baby shower gifts, and I know you’ll be there for life-changing organizations for years to come.

Week 35-Shop till ya drop, Day 1-Target

I can’t really think of anyone, especially someone with two X chromosomes, who hasn’t enjoyed shopping at some point in their life.  You go grocery shopping, furniture shopping, wedding and baby shower shopping, and the ever popular clothing shopping.  You know where you can do all that in one place?  Target!  I love, love, love Target.  I have for a long time and I’m sure I will continue to as well.  I mean seriously where else can you go to get a new purse and a gallon of milk at the same time?  And don’t even think of saying that store that starts with a W.  It doesn’t even compare.

Let’s just start off with a few numbers.  430,000.  That’s the amount of community service hours volunteered by Target team members.  Not court ordered like Lindsay Lohan.  76.  Number of libraries in schools that Target has completely made over.  3 million.  The amount of money Target gives back to the community every, single, solitary week.  If you’re not impressed then there may be no hope for you.  One of the great organization that Target teams with to rebuild school libraries is The Heart of America Foundation.  HOAF has provided children living in poverty with over 2 million library and take home books, and have engaged volunteers in more than one million hours of service.  Now you can see why they would want to team up with Target for these makeover projects.  Since 1997 they have uniquely promoted volunteering and literacy.  HOAF has also received several accolades in the philanthropic community, and were featured on Oprah last year.  That’s how you know you’ve made it big folks.  Target is also actively involved in improving the well-being of the people in their communities.  Starting last year Target has sponsored bike kiosks and programs for the non-profit Nice Ride Minnesota.  NRM is the largest bike-share program in the United States.  Let’s face it, bikes can be expensive.  NRM gives pedestrians an eco-friendly way to get from point A to point B without breaking the bank.  You can get a subscription for a bike for a day, a week, a month, or even a year.  They are like the Netflix of biking.  You can rent a bike when you need it and return it to any kiosk when you’re done.  The health and environmental benefits to biking around town are endless, so I won’t bore you with them, but be sure and remember that the next time you’re in the twin cities.

The Heart of America Foundation Donation

Nice Ride Minnesota Donation

So here’s to you Target!  You’re the place my husband knows with no uncertainty that we can never spend less than 30 minutes in on any given trip.  You are also the place where I pursue bathing suits, stilettos, CD’s, frying pans, cotton balls, and digital cameras.  You may have started off as a place that I love for its cool displays and trendy clothes and accessories, but now everyone knows that you’re here for good!

I think I will!

Week 34-Decades, Day 7-1980’s

I most certainly was!

I have saved the best for last this week, obviously because I am an 80’s baby!  Anyone else who was born in the 80’s knows that pride I feel when I think about all the insanely cool, and occasionally useless but still fun, things that were popular during the decade.  Some of the things closest to my heart were the toys I played with as a youngster.  My extensive toy collection included but was not limited to; Cabbage Patch dolls, Glo Worms, Popples, My Little Ponies, Etch-a-Sketch, Lite Brite, Simon Says, Pound Puppies, and the very collectable Teddy Ruxpin.  Don’t get it twisted though, I had my fair share of electronic toys as well.  The original Nintendo Entertainment System, better known as NES, was a prized possession of mine along with the Super Mario Brothers game it came with.  Slap on the bracelets and tease up that perm cause we’re about to thank our lucky stars for the “greighties”!

Look at that happy face!

Most people automatically think of Christmas when they think about giving toys to children, but what about all their little birthdays?  Luckily the smart people of Cheerful Giving know how important birthday presents are to children who would normally not receive a gift.  Since CG began in 1994 they have given over 414,000 birthday gift bags to food pantries and shelters.  My favorite part of this charity is that they don’t actually give the gift bags to the children.  You may be confused but stick with me.  CG actually gives the gift bags to the parents who are living in poverty, so they are able to give their child a birthday present.  They believe that this simple little action boosts self-esteem, enhances self-worth, and strengthens family bonds, and I’d tend to agree with them.  Even though I don’t have any children at the moment, I can imagine how my heart would break if I couldn’t buy them a birthday present because of my financial situation.  No parent or child deserves to feel like that.  You know what else parents and children never deserve?  Stupid cancer!  Zac Efron and some other pretty famous sports starts used their video gaming skills to help raise money for several charities earlier this year, including I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation.  i[2]y as they call themselves, was founded by and for young adults, ages 15-40, affected by cancer.  Their vision and goal is simple; save more lives and make sure that no survivors are left alone.  i[2]y empowers young people by building a strong community, improving their quality of life, as well as providing meaningful surviorship.  They’re also just really cool.  Named TIME Magazine Best 50 Websites, the Washington Post raves that “they provide a unparallelled resource for patients in their teens, 20s, and 30s.”  Us 80’s babies gotta stick together and kick cancer’s butt!

Cheerful Givers Donation

I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation Donation

So here’s to you 1980’s!  I love everything about you.  The music, the movies, the television shows, and especially the toys!  You showed us how to literally be business in the front and party in the back with the greatest hairstyle of all time, the mullet.  You were so popular you’re even making a comeback now with your leg warmers and side ponytails.  Actually, let’s not call it comeback, because you’re been here for years!

Just a few of my homies...

Week 34-Decades, Day 6-1970’s

Yes I do!

I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to write about this very groovy decade this week.  This was the time when my parents were growing up and trying to figure things out for themselves.  I love the stories that they would tell me when I was little, and the real version of the stories that they can finally tell me now.  Plus, all the great music of the seventies will forever remind me of my parents.  The Eagles, Genesis, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Lynard Skynard, James Taylor, and I could go on for days.  To me the 70’s and the 90’s are neck and neck for the best decade of music there ever was.  And seriously, there is nothing like a pair of bell bottom jeans, platform shoes, and a polyester flower print shirt.  I’m just saying.

Even Barbie was a hippie

The hippie way of life may have begun in the late 60’s but it was certainly flourishing through the 70’s.  It only seems right that such an environmentally conscious day like Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970.  Earth Day Network was founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day, and they were determined to promote environmental citizenship all year-round.  The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day’s founder, harnessed the anti-war protest movement and focused it on the real issue that people seemed to be ignoring, our planet.  Yes, the war going on in Vietnam was important, but as Americans we were totally oblivious to the damage we were causing our planet.  Nelson took a huge gamble with putting together Earth Day, but it paid off huge as well.  On April 22, 1970 Republicans, Democrats, rich, poor, country, and city dwellers took the streets and beyond to show their support for Mother Earth.  The fact that over 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year speaks to the power of this movement, but even more powerful are the other 364 days when people are also engaged in EDN activities.  Another great environmental power house that was founded in 1970 is Clean Wisconsin.  CW protects and preserve’s Wisconsin’s air and water resources, and works to create a cleaner environment by standing up and letting their voice be heard.  CW works on three main fronts to protect its great state; lobbying, litigation, and citizen action and education.  It is the oldest and largest group working to save the natural heritage of Wisconsin.  It also just happens that Gaylord Nelson was a senator from Wisconsin during this time, and CW was actually founded on the very first Earth Day back in 1970.  I could not have planned that better if I tried.

Earth Day Network Donation

Clean Wisconsin Donation

So here’s to you 1970’s!  You were the era of hot pants, mini skirts, and go-go boots, and that contagious fever that John Travolta started on Saturday night.  You were also a time of revolution, change, protest, hugs, drugs, and free love.  Some of those I think we could probably do without today, but I think you were onto something seventies.  You knew how to make people feel inspired, and do something about it.  Thanks for showing us how to put up or shut up.

Week 34-Decades, Day 5-1900’s

Even though I wasn’t around to experience this decade, I know it was an exciting time in history.  We were just starting to fly planes, drive cars, and experience all the great things that new technology brings to a nation.  This was also the decade that L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was turned into my all-time favorite movie.  The first world series of baseball was played, plastic was invented, and the teddy bear was introduced to little kids everywhere during this ten-year stretch.  Mary and John topped the social security list of baby names, and everything was right in the world.

The original

I love the Wizard of Oz, and when I say love, I mean it’s been my favorite movie since I started watching movies.  I wanted to buy Dorothy a Christmas present when I was 4.  The hit artist Jackson Browne performed The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True back in 1995 to benefit the Children’s Defense Fund.  CDF has been working for 35 years to make sure that all kids have a level playing field.  They give children a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start, and a moral start in the world.  CDF is there to give a voice to the children who can’t vote or speak for themselves.  Even though they help all children they focus their efforts on poor and minority children and those who have disabilities.  Every child deserves to be ushered into adulthood with the help of caring families and communities to support them.  It really does take a village to raise a child, and CDF is doing their part to make sure everyone knows that.  The Wright Brothers took their first flight in Kitty Hawk, NC back in 1903.  Ever since we have taken flights all over the world, and Wings of Hope has been using airplanes to reduce poverty for almost 50 years.  Their goal is to change the course of humanity towards peace and hope by providing transportation, usually in the form of a small bush plane, and health care to people in 41 countries.  Supporters of this great charity, that was nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, include Harrison Ford, Elizabeth Dole, Colin Powell, and Kurt Russell.  If it wasn’t for all of the great minds working to propel our nation forward in the 1990’s WOH wouldn’t be around.

Children’s Defense Fund Donation

Wings of Hope Donation

So here’s to you 1900’s!  You really took us places, and made sure we’d have transportation for generations to come.  Your fashions were glamorous and your hairstyles were ornate.  Thanks for kicking off the 20th century with a bang!

Week 34-Decades, Day 4-2000’s

Even though I don’t really love calling this decade the 00’s, I do love the events that happened in my life during this ten year span.  I graduated high school, college, I earned by masters degree, and I got married!  2000 was also the year I had waited for what seemed like for-ev-er.  I was finally able to drive!  The taste of independence was oh so sweet.  I actually think my parents were pretty excited too because they had become quite the chauffeurs over the years.  A whole new decade and an entirely new century all in one makes this decade in a class of it’s own.  Plus, everyone is thankful for a fresh start.

On September 11, 2001 the United States was attacked by terrorists, and nearly 3,000 innocent people lost their lives.  We came together as a nation in a way had not been seen since Pearl Harbor was attacked back in 1944.  My Good Deed was created after the 9/11 and is working to establish that day as a day of national service to honor the victims, survivors, and service men and women who helped that day.   With this year marking the tenth anniversary of that terrible day I’m sure there will be lots of people who want to get out there and show their support.  MGD gives people a place to post a tribute of their good deed online, and a place to find organizations to volunteer with.  MGD is also a great resource for teachers who want to teach their students about service learning, and provides tool kits for non-profits and employers who want to participate in 9/11 Day Observance.  Ten years later and still, united we stand.  Another monumental day for our country was January 20, 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn as the first African-American President of the United States.  You already know a little bit about the charity work Mrs. Barack Obama is a part of, but her husband is no slouch either.  A little doodle of his helped raise $7,000 for the non-profit Neurofibromatosis Inc.  Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic disorder of the nervous system which causes tumors to form on the nerves anywhere in the body at any time. It affects all races, all ethnic groups and both sexes equally, and affects more than 100,000 Americans.  NFI is the leading national organization working to advocate federal funding for NF research and raise awareness about this disease.  Founded in 1988, NFI was formed by several strong local NF groups who wanted to work together on national projects.  That just goes to show you what can be accomplished when we put our heads together.

My Good Deed Donation

Neurofibromatosis, Inc. Donation

So here’s to you 2000’s!  You were the new beginning that we were all waiting for.  You moved us right into the 21st century and the 3rd millennium.  You’ll always have a special place in my heart because of all the memories that we made during your ten-year stint.  You were a decade that left its mark on the world, and I’m thankful I was around to experience it.

Week 34-Decades, Day 3-1920’s

image

The roaring twenties were the best of times and the worst of times.  Babe Ruth was hitting home runs and the Spirit of St. Louis was flying non-stop from New York to Paris, but the 18th amendment had prohibition in full swing.  The 20’s were also the age of jazz, flappers, and the magic of the traveling circus.  I love the hairstyles, fashions, and general spirit that the 1920’s exuded.  They kept it classy and we can all use a little more of that in our lives.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center is on a mission to keep the spirit and love of jazz going for generations.  With their world-renowned orchestra and inspirational educational programs JALC is making people think about jazz in a whole new capacity.  They bring people together for one single purpose; to have a good time.  You can be a kid or just a kid at heart but JALC welcomes everyone with open arms to experience what the world of jazz has to offer.  They produce thousands of events every season and work to bring in the big names in jazz from around the world to their venue in New York.  They sound like my kinda people.  My kind of people are also the adults who like to enjoy a nice glass of red wine or a cold beer.  I know not everyone can have just one beer, and places like Crossroads Centre in Antigua exisit to help them recover from their addiction.  Founded by Eric Clapton, CC helps individuals and their famalies recover from alcohol, drug, and other compulsive behavior addictions.  They help their patients achieve abstinence from their drug of choice and major lifestyle changes which in turn enables them to maintain their sobriety for longer periods of time.  As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict Eric had a vision for a treatment center long before CC finally opened its doors in 1998.  The foundation for a sober life that patients build at CC is both vital and priceless, and I can only imagine the thankfulness they posses for those who belles them along their journey.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Donation

Crossroads Centre Donation

So here’s to the 1920’s!  Where would we be without you?  Not nearly as smart or as refined that’s for sure!  You were the days when a man could make an honest living with just his hands and his heart.  Thanks for reminding us what it was like to live in a time when people truly treated others like they wanted to be treated.