That’s right, today I am thankful for you. Yes, you. If you are reading this blog for the first time or for the 352nd I am so thankful for you. This little idea that I had while trying to fall asleep one night in New Jersey has been the biggest blessing I’ve experienced in longer than I can remember, and it’s all because of your support. You were there to comment on my posts, encourage me to keep going, and give me ideas when my inspiration well was running dry. Even though I love writing I would be lying if I said I didn’t care if anyone read my posts. Luckily I have you to make sure that wasn’t the case. Thank you. I have no bigger words to express the gratitude I feel, but I have a feeling you know exactly what you mean to me.
I thought long and hard about the charities that I would write about today. Here’s what I decided. There is no one or two charities that could even come close to represent the diversity of reader support I’ve had over the past year. So I’m not going to write about any charities today. I’ve rambled on for the past year about one charity after another. Hopefully you’ve learned a little something and been touched by at least one of them. I know that both of those have happened to me everyday. I’m pretty sure there are very few activities that you can do where you can learn and be moved every single day. The real question is, now what? Now that I’ve poured my heart and soul out to you, where do we go from here? Yea I said we because I’m not on this journey alone anymore. Do we make this a book or a movie? In my dreams! But I really would value your opinion on what becomes of Thanks-4-Giving. So don’t be shy!
So here’s to you! Scott, Beth, Chris, Jane, Clay, Melanie, Kristina, Justin, Karen, David, Rachael, Kim, Richard, Eve, Al, Jean, Becky, Rico, Keri, Terry, Debra, Tim, Nancy, Richard, Lindsay, Paula, John, Jessie, Johnny, Logan, Connie, Matt, Garrett, Rachael, Luke, Kathy, Katy, Annie, Jimbo, Jonathan, Adam, Jen, Danica, Britten, Julia, James, Kellie, Jackie, Stephanie, Jessalyn, Tina, Debi, Amy, Jennifer, Jessica, Meredith, Whitney, Jodi, Devon, Abby, Ashley, and the million other people that I’m missing. Thanks for being you, and supporting me.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I mean come on, it is the other white meat. It can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not to mention every culture has put it’s own unique spin on pork. Ham, sausage, pork chops, pancetta, bacon, prosciutto, pork roast, pulled pork (or BBQ as its know in NC), pork ribs, tripe, and the ever popular head cheese. While there are a few religious denominations that do not eat pork it is a very nutritious protein source around the world.
Protein deficiency is a major problem in a lot of third world countries which I have actually seen first hand. I had the opportunity to accompany my master’s program advisor and friend Dr. Char Farin on a trip to Haiti during the spring of 2008. She is working with Heifer International, F.I.S.H. Ministries and a great group of people in Haiti to build and maintain a sustainable source of protein for the school children in the area. The farm in Christiansville provides protein to the kids by raising laying hens (eggs), talapia, goats, and pigs. They are currently providing food to 1500 children a day! So what can we do to help these protein deficient people? Give ’em a pig! No, seriously. Both Mercy Corps and Heifer International have programs where your donations help purchase protein for a family. Heifer International gives you the option of giving “whole hog” ($120) or giving a family a “warm shoulder” ($10). Click on either link below to figure out your favorite way to give.
Who can resist the delicious meat that even Dr. Seuss was a fan of fifty years ago? Remember to be thankful tonight as you have your pork chop, or bacon, or your Christmas ham in a few shorts weeks. Thank you Mr. Piggy for going to market for us all.