Thanks(4)giving

It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: volunteer

Week 37-What’s for dinner? Day 4-Sub

Yes it’s Saturday night, and yes we’re officially old because we’d rather get a sandwich artist to make us dinner than go out to a nice restaurant.  It’s quicker, cheaper, and it allows me to eat my dinner in the comfort on my home and I may or may not already be in my pajamas.  And seriously who doesn’t who doesn’t love to eat with their hands?  There is something so nostalgic and rejuvenating about reverting back to the days when we only used the utensils God gave us to get food from our plates to our mouths.  If you say you don’t like sandwiches, I’m gonna have to call your bluff.

Yum, yum, yum

It turns out that somebody liked sandwiches so much that they named a city in Massachusetts after the lunch-time favorite.  The Sandwich Women’s Club is dedicated to charitable, educational, and civic organizations and causes.  They have their hands in projects that range from serving monthly meals to the elderly to maintaining a community traffic island with seasonal flowers and plants.  SWC also puts on an annual Touch-A-Truck event where over 1,000 kids come out to get up close and personal with trucks, front loaders, and buses.  There is also an Annual Harvest Craft Fair in October that the entire community of Sandwich looks forward to, and a fabulous cookbook with over 400 recipes from SWC members and their families.  It only seems right that a place that is named after a meal churns out a book full tasty treats.

One happy Touch-A-Truck event participant

Subway, where we picked up our delicious spicy Italian sub, has partnered with Heart Research UK in order to help people across the United Kingdom and Ireland eat better and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.  All those fish and chips and shepherd’s pie tends to catch up with ya after a while.  Founded back in 1967, Mr. Watson, a working heart surgeon, HRUK supports the old adage that the best offense is a good defense.  They lead the way in groundbreaking research that helps those who suffer from heart disease, but they are also proponents of exploring novel way to prevent heart disease and help people live longer, happier lives.  A little sub can go a long way for your heart health.

Sandwich Women’s Club Donation

Heart Research UK Donation

So here’s to you delicious sub!  Thanks for being the quick and easy fix to our Saturday night dinner dilemma.  There’s nothing like a little lettuce and some black olives to end the day.  You’re the great equalizer across the ages.  You can be filled to the brim with all veggies or all meat, but you still fill us up when we’re got that rumbly in our tumbly.  I’m not sure if you can be in love with a sandwich, but I think I’m on my way there.

Week 32-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 3-Tennessee

As we head down to my cousin’s wedding we are passing through the beautiful volunteer state, which was sort of a surprise.  We knew coming down from WV that we would pass through VA but we weren’t sure if we’d make it into TN before making it to NC.  I’ve only been to Tennessee one other time and it was only for a day.  I really want to go to Nashville one day and see all the history behind the country music I listen too so often.  I don’t really know a lot about good ole Tennessee but I’m thankful that our road trip today has piqued by interest.

Even though TN has way more to offer than honky-tonks and BBQ, the country music stars who call it home know how to give back.  The Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes has been around since 1891.  TBCH has six different campuses all over the state to help homeless and impoverished children and their families.  They help over 200 kids every year who find themselves in crisis, and are not turned away because of race, religion, or economic status.  TBCH also has a great program called Kans 4 Kids where churches, families, organizations,  businesses, and individuals can donate canned goods and paper products that are needed on the six campuses.  I love when there is an opportunity for kids to give back to other kids, and really learn the valuable lessons of being thankful and helping others in need.  You never know when you might be the one in need.  One day you might find that you need a new kidney or a new liver, and the National Foundation for Transplants will be there to help you out.  Founded back in 1983 in Memphis, NFT to empower patients to create futures that are filled with hope.  They have helped to raise over $59 million to help transplant patients on their journey to recovery and a whole new life.  As of today there are assisting over 1,000 transplant candidates and recipients in all 50 states.  They literally give people back their life.

Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home Donation

National Foundation for Transplants

So here’s to you Tennessee!  We may not know each other too well but I have a sneaky feeling that we will someday.  Thank you for being the example for the rest of us on how to constantly live in a state of volunteering.

Week 31-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 2-New York

Ok, ok, I’m not in New York but tonight I wish I was.  Today is my friend Karen’s birthday, and I’m not there to help her celebrate.  Insert sad face here.  Plus I just really miss all the sights, sounds, smells, and people of New York City.  I never knew how much I would love the city before we moved up to NJ.  I had always fantasized about what it would be like, but it far surpassed my expectations.  I’ve been a lot of places, but I definitely left a chunk of my heart on that island.  It is a big concrete jungle where dreams are made of, but it’s also a place where you can be thankful you have seen, even after you leave.

What a beautiful city

I have driven to New York, flown to New York, and even taken a water taxi to New York.  Even though I’ve traveled there by road I definitely didn’t make the road, but Make the Road New York has paved the way to justice for many New Yorkers.  Back in 2007 MTRNY was created when Make the Road by Walking and the Latin American Integration Center, two of New York City’s most innovative and effective grassroots organizations.  MTRNY calls Bushwick, Brooklyn home and they strive to help New York’s low-income and immigrant majorities.  Built from the ground up they have served countless residents of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.  They use community organization, leadership development, adult education, youth development, and legal and support services to promote equity, opportunity, and economic justice for all.  New York also does really care about its people from the city to upstate.  New York Cares was founded by a group of friends who wanted to take action against the pressing social issues NYC was facing back in the late 1980’s.  NYC is the city’s largest volunteer organization, and their volunteers share the vision created back in 1987 that we all have to chip in to make the city a better place.  They run volunteer programs for 1,200 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools.  Over 53,000 people volunteer each year to help over 400,00 New Yorkers, because they know the work they do with NYC really matters.  God, I miss the city.

Make the Road New York Donation

New York Cares Donation

So here’s to you New York!  You have kept my friends hostage from me for way too long now.  Of course, you were also the place where I met them, so I guess I forgive you.  If you can make it where you are, you can definitely make it anywhere.  Thank you for showing me how to live and love life in the fast lane. 

Week 30-Back to Basics, Day 4-Time

Sweet Saturday is finally here!  My favorite thing about the weekend is the time you get to catch up on all the things you were either too lazy or too tired to get done during the week.  Time is another one of the very basic things in life that we have taken for granted at some point in our lives.  Let’s face it, the time we have here as we know it is seriously limited.  We go through life like everyday is promised to us when in reality we should be thankful for every sunrise and sunset we are lucky enough to see.  The other tricky thing about time is that we have to pick and choose how we spend it.  There are only 24 hours in a day and what we make of them is up to us.  You’ve heard this a million times, but sometimes a friendly reminder is exactly what we all need.

As humans it’s only natural for us to try to plan out the best time for us to buy a house, switch careers, or have a baby.  The truth is, there is no good time, but there’s also no time like the present.  A Time To Help is a Detroit based charity that knows how to make the most of each day.  ATTH was founded in 1997 by Mitch Albom, the author of Tuesday with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven, to help the people of Detroit volunteer on a regular basis.  They have had over 100 successful monthly projects that have ranged from building houses to packing food and running adoption fairs.  Albom also founded S.A.Y. (Super All Year) Detroit in 2006 to fund projects to help those who are homeless in Detroit.  Albom even spent the night in a homeless shelter to raise awareness about the charity, and he was able to bring in over $35,000 in donations in less than two weeks.  See, even famous writers can volunteer their time for good.  Famous rappers like Master P and his son Romeo like to volunteer their time to the non-profit It’s Time KidsITK is helping inner-city kids realize that it’s time to “fatten our brains and not our bodies.”  They have programs to help kids focus on the three “E’s”: education, eat right, and exercise, as well as prepare our children mentally and physically to be the leaders of tomorrow.  They even give a great visual guide for parents on how to get their kids the nutrition they need throughout the day.  ITK also has some fun games on their website so kids can learn and play at the same time.  You always hear people say time is money, but I really think time is charity.

S.A.Y. Detroit Donation

It’s Time Kids Donation

So here’s to you time!  There never seems to be enough of you in the day, and we always wish we could turn back your hands.  You’re so popular you even have a magazine named after you.  We can’t stop you and you seem to fly when we’re having fun, but you are most definitely of the essence when giving is concerned.

Oh look, it's give o'clock!

Week 29-Sweet Summertime, Day 3-Vacation!

Arguably the very best part of summer is going on vacation!  Whether it’s to the beach, the mountains, somewhere exotic, or just a weekend away at the lake, summer screams vacation.  We wait all year-long for school to get out, the temperature to be just right, and our bodies to get in tip-top shape to don that swimwear we bought on sale from the season before.  Vacation is the place where we get to leave behind the cares of work, schedules, diets, and any kind of social stigma about drinking before 5 o’clock.  We get to let loose and really remember that life’s not all about making money or driving the fanciest car on the block.  It’s about soaking up every single second we have during our short lives with the people we love in places that make us feel alive.

When it comes to vacation, Florida is pretty high up on the list for the very best places to visit.  I mean come on, they have Mickey Mouse.  Who can compete with that?  Ok, California can but just roll with me here.  Since 1986 the non-profit Give Kids The World has fulfilled the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a once in a lifetime cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village.  They continue to honor their promise to never turn a child away.  Over 100,000 children and their families have had the chance to visit the 70-acre “storybook” GKTW Village resort where all their daily worries melt away.  I mean just look at this Gingerbread House Restaurant, what kid (or adult for the matter) wouldn’t love to eat here?

Gingerbread House Restaurant

Compassion, dedication, credibility, integrity, and team work are the core values of GKTW and they show through the smiles and memories these children are able to keep with them forever.  Vacations are definitely made for relaxing but these days they are also for volunteering!  It gets even better, organizations like Global Vision International and GlobeAware plan everything ahead of time so all you have to do is sign up!  GA puts together short-term volunteer vacations that promote cultural awareness and/or promote sustainability.  GVI was founded in 1998 and has sent over 10,000 volunteers overseas to be a part of critical environmental and humanitarian projects.  Both GVI and GA are the cream of the crop as far as volunteer vacations are concerned.  They have been featured in countless news outlets and are the place to go if you want a great, safe experience abroad.  Find the perfect GA or GVI volunteer vacation for this summer or next!

Give Kids The World Donation

GlobeAware Donation & Global Vision International Donation

So here’s to you vacation!  You are the reason we work so hard for the other 51 weeks during the year.  You’re like the best friend we had in elementary school who moved away, and who we don’t seen enough anymore but we revel in the time we do get to spend together.  You’re the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, and the cool kid in class that everyone wants to be friends with.  Thank you for being there to catch us when we fall away from reality.

Peace out reality!

Week 21-Go Green Week, Day 3-Earth Day Fashion

Happy Earth Day!  Today is all about giving back to our planet, but you don’t have to do it in your beat up old jeans and scrubby t-shirt.  There are lots of really fashionable brands out there who are stepping up and making their clothing lines green.  Everything you wear from top to bottom can be recycled, renewed, or reused in some way, shape, or form.  Clothes are essential for all of us, unless you live in a nudist colony, so we might as well make sure we’re responsible about what we put on everyday.  Just be thankful I didn’t ask you to wear fig leaves.

Urban Outfitters has a great line of clothes called Urban Renewal that is made from vintage, deadstock, and surplus materials.  They have taken the taken the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”, and ran with it.  Theses pieces are  handcrafted and all unique.  Making up a story about how your cute frilly dress came from a set of vintage bedsheets is also an added bonus of this fun line.  It’s also fun to turn your old flip flops into new playgrounds, which is exactly what you can do when you take them into your local Old Navy store.  ON has partnered with TerraCycle to celebrate the 41st World Earth Day and do their part in reducing waste, cause let’s face it, who can resist their great deals on flip flops!  TC has been working to outsmart waste since 2001 by collecting your non-recyclable or hard to recycle waste products, usually for free, and turning it into affordable green products.  Over 19 million people in 11 different countries are helping TC eliminate the idea of waste by creating new products and solutions for things we normally throw away.  Smart and green, what more could you ask for on this beautiful Earth Day?

Flip your flop into a new playground!

Buy some cute Urban Renewal clothes and accessories, or take your flip flops to your local Old Navy

Sign up for TerraCycle…sometimes the time you give is much more valuable than any money you could every give.

So here’s to you Earth Day fashion!  You have inspired me to take those dingy old flip flops collecting dust in my closet down to Old Navy and help build a new playground.  And not that I needed any inspiration to shop, but the Urban Renewal collection is too good to pass up, especially those cute vintage earrings.  Thank you for reminding us that love means never having to buy anything that hasn’t been recycled.

Week 20-Social Networks, Day 3-YouTube

Today when I was walking to work it hit me like a ton of bricks that YouTube is also a social networking site.  I hadn’t even really considered blogging about it before, but it turns out that there’s more to this video uploading site than crazy twin babies and Rebecca Black.  Founded back in 2005 YT became an overnight sensation.  After only one year 65,000 videos were posted a day, and today more than 24 hours of video are posted every single minute of every day.  Viral videos are quickly becoming the best thing since sliced bread, and charities and non-profits are getting in on this high exposure social network.  Thanks to YouTube you can broadcast yourself for good.

I’m not a huge YT buff so I did just a simple search with the word charity today and found some really amazing causes.  World Bicycle Relief was one of those causes.  Their cool intro video really caught my attention as I was trolling for ideas.  We use our bicycles here in America for a nice afternoon ride, to compete in races, or a few of us use them to get to work when the gas prices get really high.  In rural Africa a bicycle in the hands of a girl changes everything.  Owning a bicycle means freedom, education, confidence, knowledge, and power.  Fewer girls attend school in Zambia because of the risk of a long commute to school, early marriages, and poverty, but bicycles are changing all that.  They are able to travel up to four times the distance they would on foot, and reach their goal of getting an education.  WBR is stopping the cycle of poverty with cycles of hope.

Help finish this sentence...

I would be fibbing a little bit if I said I found this next charity on YT first, because I discovered their YT channel after they started following me on Twitter this afternoon.  A Broader View makes it as easy to volunteer as it is to tie your shoes.  ABV was founded by Sarah and Oliver Ehlers after they returned home from a trip Chile, South America, because they were so moved by the difference volunteers were making at local orphanages.  When they started researching volunteer programs it quickly became clear how expensive and restrictive most of the opportunities were, and they were determined to change that.  ABV has over 180 customized volunteer programs in 21 countries that last anywhere from 1 to 24 weeks.  You choose when, where, and how long you want to volunteer and they help you make it happen.  In case that wasn’t enough to sell you, all of the program costs and the airfare are all tax-deductible!  Still not inspired?  Watch this video on their YT channel.

World Bicycle Relief Donation

A Broader View Donation

So here’s to you YouTube!  Because of you we can watch music videos, talking dogs, live concerts, and tutorials on how to fold origami elephants out of a dollar bill.  You have helped us broadcast our best and worst moments over the past five years.  You help us be in two places at once, and see and experience things we could only dream of.  You spread comedy, news, joy, technology, knowledge, and encouragement all over the world.  Thanks for helping us tune into what really matters and channel our inner giver.

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.

Week 5-New Year’s Resolutions, Day 3-Volunteer

The very last day of 2010 is finally here and I am thankful to be spending it with some of my very favorite people.  We are going to eat, drink, and be merry until the wee hours of the morning.  That got me to thinking.  People are important.  Relationships are important.  How can I build more meaningful relationships with people?  Volunteer! Get out of my comfort zone and meet some new people and change the world.  Yes that sounds extremely corny a spade’s a spade.

15 minutes is nothing!

I can hear your minds going into overdrive right now as you’re reading this.  I don’t have time to volunteer.  There isn’t anywhere close to me to volunteer.  I already volunteer once a month. Lucky for you Charity Guide has this great program called Volunteer on Demand™.  You know how you can watch movies on demand on your television, this is kinda like that except you get to feel good about yourself when you’re done.  You only have 15 minutes?  They can match you with a project that fits your needs.  You can volunteer from wherever you want, whenever you want!  It really doesn’t get any easier than that.

Simple but effective

Volunteer Match is another great nonprofit with the same principle. Their vision is to bring good people together with good causes.  All you need to know to get started is your zip code and a keyword that describes the type of opportunity you’re looking for.  Bada bing, bada boom, you’re volunteering.  Still need some motivation to get started?  Get out this awesome live map of all the volunteer referrals happening right now!  And remember, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  -Aesop

Charity Guide Donation

Volunteer Match Donation

So here’s to you volunteering!  You help bring people together for a good cause and a good time.  You are everywhere all around us and we just have to get off our lazy butts and get involved.  As we ring in 2011 tonight let’s all dedicate this new year to being thankful and doing something about it.  The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.  ~Oscar Wilde