Great Gifts That Give Back

As consumers we have a choice of where to put our dollars, of where and how to spend them so that they are put to the best use possible.  When you are shopping for items for unique holiday gifts this year, why not consider purchasing gifts that give back to those who made them or gifts that pay it forward to charitable organizations? While we can give a beautiful gift to the person on our holiday list, we can pay it forward at the same time and put our dollars to use twice.  With that said, here are 5 suggestions of unique holiday gift ideas that give twice:

A Different Kind of Ballerinatutuproject

Is there someone in your life who has everything but you just want to make them laugh?  Check out Ballerina.  Photographer Bob Carey has taken brilliant photographs of himself wearing a pink tutu in various locations and compiled the photographs into this fabulous table book.  It costs $50, but ALL net proceeds support women with breast cancer.  For more information and to see a few of the photos, go to:  http://www.thetutuproject.com/support-the-tutu-project/ballerina-the-book/.

Cure by Design

Rachel began selling beaded bracelets to raise funds to find a cure for diabetes. Since then she has begun designing bracelets for several important causes. For every piece of jewelry sold at Rachel’s Cure by Design over $30, she donates $10.00 to the cause plus $10.00 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Teardrop2_largeFoundation. Rachel has developed a beautiful selection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings to choose from, all of which would make a terrific holiday gift.  To see her designs, head on over to:  rachelscbd.com

Headbands of Hope

For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s foundation to fund cancer research.  The photo to the right is one of my personal favorites. The rhinestone and pearl trim is detailed and made from premium metal, pearls, and stones. All beading is attached by an elastic strand in the back to fit different head sizes. Cost is $24.85. Purchase your headband for hope and donate one to a girl with cancer at headbandsofhope.org

Let There be Wine

Charity Wines make the perfect gift for the sports fan on your list. The site partners with professional athletes and celebrities to create wines that help raise funds for a variety of charities throughout the country.  To search the site and find a retailer, go to:http://charitywines.com. Hurry, charity wines are exclusively single run wines.  Once they are sold out they are retired and no longer available.

glovesKnitted Beauty

Knits for Life is an Etsy store that makes ethical goods for everyday people.  She uses mostly all organic, recycled, and natural farm-direct materials for her knit wear.  For every hand made item purchased, a tree will be planted through The Nature Conservancy.  To browse the shop for your favorite, go to: http://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitsForLife.

 

Bottom line:  This is the Season of Giving so give the people you love a gift that gives to people you don’t know who need your help :)  HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!!!!

 

 

Five ways to turn a social media campaign into a movement

86% Of Charities And Nonprofits Use Twitter, 71% Say Social Useful For Donations

86% Of Charities And Nonprofits Use Twitter, 71% Say Social Useful For Donations [STUDY] 98 percent of charities and nonprofits in the U.S. are active on at least one social media site, with YouTube (97 percent), Facebook (92 percent) and Twitter (86 percent) most favored, reveals new data from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. 71 percent of respondents to the poll said that social media was “somewhat useful” or “very useful” for fundraising initiatives.   The use of social media as a powerful tool for social movement is unquestionable. Any individual or organization can launch a campaign on social media, AND do it without spending any money.  Simply starting a movement is not enough. The goal is to champion a cause in such a way that it resonates with others. When it comes to creating a social media campaign that engages with people on a human level, the following five elements are key.
????????????????????????????????????????1.  Pick a cause you believe in The obvious first step is to pick a specific cause – such as raising awareness of a political concern, fundraising for a charity or highlighting an environmental issue. The important thing is that it’s something you genuinely believe in. Authenticity is a key aspect of a successful social media movement. A campaign that appears to be self-serving won’t resonate with others and is unlikely to have a significant impact. 2.  Define the goal of the campaign The aim of the social media campaign must be clearly defined. This objective will influence everything from the language used, the platforms that are leveraged to how people engage with the campaign. Determining the ultimate goal will also help to create a compelling call to action. By giving people something they can respond to and rally behind, you greatly increase the chances of the campaign going viral. 3.  Show what the cause means to you The virality of a movement on social media is determined by whether people can empathise on a human level. You need to show why people should care about a particular cause andwhat impact it could have on them or someone around them. By providing your personal reasons for supporting this cause, you can lend credibility and increase the likelihood that it will strike a chord with people in your network. Share your Story4.  Let others share their story The most effective campaigns have a human touch that people can connect with and that prompts them to share their experiences. A campaign must provide a platform for contributors to express what a particular cause means to them. It should also give people the flexibility to share in a manner that suits them best – the It Gets Better Project enables contributors to share both video and written submissions of their stories. A social media movement that fails to allow people to add their own experiences is less likely to take off. In fact, it is the emotion that others express in response to the cause that enables a campaign to gain traction. 5.  Select the right social media tools The tools you use will depend on your objective. If it’s to raise awareness, effective messaging and a social presence may be all that’s needed. Idle No More was initially viewed as a local campaign before it used Facebook and Twitter to gain international recognition. A petition platform – such as Change.org – can be combined with social networks to urge policymakers to address a political or societal issue. The Guardian-backed End FGM Campaign is a good case in point. If the aim is to gather and showcase personal experiences, it’s important to make it easy for contributors to share their stories. When starting an effective social media movement, it’s worth remembering that the greater the authenticity and flexibility, the greater the chance of virality and, ultimately, success.

Look To The Stars

Sure, they’re famous.  True, they’re wealthy.  Of course, they’re entertaining.  But SOME are very generous as well.  Here are a few stats to give you an idea of how many.  Below that, photos of the top 5 major contributors rated 1 through 5 (1 being the most charitable)

Children   613 charities, 2115 celebrities                 
At-Risk/Disadvantaged Youths   249 charities, 910 celebrities
Health   492 charities, 1928 celebrities
Education   287 charities, 1046 celebrities
Poverty   199 charities, 1173 celebrities
Cancer   180 charities, 1084 celebrities

Elton

Oprah Angelinajolie bono Ellen

1. Elton John – Number of Charities: 48

2. Angelina Jolie – Number of Charities: 29

3. Bono – Number of Charities: 35

4. Oprah Winfrey – Number of Charities: 21

5. Ellen DeGeneres – Number of Charities: 38

CharitableStars

2D11012620-shinealight.blocks_desktop_medium

Shine a Light: TODAY

As the new year begins, the TODAY Show unveils a new outreach project called Shine a Light, a year-long initiative focused on service and giving back to communities in need. 

Each anchor has picked a worthy cause to support throughout the year:

today-shine-140106-01.vembedmedMatt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie will help give kids safe places to play.  Matt and Savannah will help convert an abandoned lot into a playground, working to help provide secure locations for kids to exercise both their bodies and their imaginations.

“Recess was my favorite subject in school. I loved to go outside and run around. And I can’t imagine growing up and not being able to sit on a swing set and take flight,” Savannah said. “I would love to do something that brought joy to kids who have too little of it.”

“I want to take what is perhaps an eyesore in that neighborhood — a vacant lot, you know, broken bottles, rocks, graffiti — and I want a community to get motivated … After it’s been transformed from rubble, I want to be there as we swing that gate open for the first time,” Matt said.

Why is this cause important? Sixty-nine percent of low-income parents say there is no playground in their neighborhoods, and children in neighborhoods without a park are 26 percent more likely to be obese.  Track Matt and Savannah’s progress on our Shine a Light TODAY Facebook page.

2D11048280-today-shine-140107-01-social-Al.blocks_desktop_mediumAl Roker’s goal is to join a USO tour, helping to bring a little bit of America to our more than 127,000 troops stationed all around the world.

“A few years ago I went to Afghanistan … You see it on TV, but nothing can prepare you for what these men and women are dealing with,” Al said. “We still have a lot of American troops in harm’s way, and I want them to know that they’re remembered.”

Natalie Morales hopes to run the Boston Marathon, helping to raise awareness and money for victims of last year’s bombing attacks as their challenges continue.  “They’ve shown us not only how to be Boston strong, but America strong,” she said.

Willie Geist will renovate a homeless shelter, making it a safe place for kids and families.  “There’s just not enough space for kids,” he says. “We can do better than that.”

CarsonCarson Daly will fight childhood hunger in America, raising awareness and inspiring others to help feed their neighbors.  “I’m a father. And I wake up every day and, you know, breakfast with my kids is a big deal to me,” Carson said. “There are millions of kids who wake up and they’re not eating. And it’s certainly not by choice. It’s because they can’t.”

“People are hungry not just in the slums of America, not just in the poor parts,” he said. “It’s the kids who are sitting next to your kids in well-to-do areas, in middle class areas and poor areas.”

Tamron will focus her efforts on raising awareness about victims of domestic abuse.  “I’ve worked with victims, survivors, of domestic violence for many years now. But for me, that work changed after the death of my sister,” she said. “For years, my sister had been the victim of domestic violence, and I look back at our relationship, our friendship as sisters, and I wonder, ‘Could I have done something to save her?'”

Approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year, and three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day.  Tamron said she’ll connect with young girls in this situation who feel like they’re alone. “I want them to know that these hands are reaching out to them. And we’re going to pull them out of that dark hole into the light.”

today-shine-140109-split-03.vembedmedHoda Kotb is making it her mission to help kids with cancer, working closely with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.  “As a cancer survivor myself, I know what it feels like as a grownup,” Hoda said. “But what I can’t even fathom, even now, is what it feels like to be a kid … struggling with this grown-up disease, something they shouldn’t have to deal with. And all you want to do is reach out and help and hug.”

Hoda will help lift children’s spirits by creating a music video with them. It’ll be “an anthem about being brave and being strong,” she said, and expressed her hope that the message will spread from hospital to hospital across the country.

Kathie Lee Gifford will spend the year raising money for a worthy cause by encouraging families to make 2D11012620-shinealight.blocks_desktop_mediummemories with their loved ones.  “2014 is going to be the year that my family celebrates 20 years in the same home. So I started chronicling pictures and things and hopefully, by the end of the year we will have a coffee-table book,” Kathie Lee said. It’ll be called ‘Good Giffts, One Year in the Heart of a Home.'”

Proceeds from the sale of Kathie Lee’s book will go to the Salvation Army.

“I want this book to be a blessing to whoever picks it up,” she said. “I want to put a smile on their face. I want to put a prayer of gratitude in their own souls for the blessings that they have in life.”

Track the anchors’ progress and join to help make an impact on the Shine a Light TODAY Facebook page. And tell them on social media how you’re pitching in, using the hashtag #ShineALight.

Tis The Season for Giving

Give gifts that keeps on giving!santa-claus3

A big chunk of holiday tension comes from figuring out what gifts to give. Sure, there’s the run-of-the-mill sweater for mom, tie for dad, and gift certificate for Uncle Gerry (who is always difficult to shop for). But what do these gifts really say other than, I couldn’t think of anything else to get you?

Luckily there is a positive trend in gift giving that may be just the right cure for holiday-shopping anxiety.  This holiday, give a gift with extra meaning. Provide clean drinking water for people around the world, help for disadvantaged kids — and much more.  Besides the above giftcard, there are many ways you can give gifts to your friends and family while giving to those in need as well.  Here are some examples:

TisBest Charity Gift Cards empower your gift recipients to support good causes they are passionate about. The Card is a donation gift that works like a conventional gift card but instead of buying stuff, the recipient “spends” the TisBest card by selecting which of our 300+ charity partners receives the money. Personalize the card with your own message, image and/or company branding.  Eco-friendly, customizable, and #1 ranked, TisBest Charity Gift Cards make ideal business giftsteacher gifts, wedding favors, Hanukah gifts, and Christmas donation gifts. TisBest Philanthropy is a Top Rated 501(c)(3) nonprofit and earned the Gold Seal from GuideStar.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
image.howitworks

This holiday, give a gift with extra meaning. Provide clean drinking water for people around the world, help for disadvantaged kids — and much more.  Besides the above giftcard, there are many ways you can give gifts to your friends and family while giving to those in need as well.  Here are some examples:

Help For The Troops  –  Even when a service member finds out that he or she can take off for the holidays, sometimes the good news comes so last minute that it’s impossible to find a reasonably priced ticket during peak travel time.  That’s when Let’s Bring ‘Em Home steps in.

Since 2001, the organization has been collecting donations in order to purchase tickets for servicemen and servicewoman so that they can spend the holidays with their families, no matter the ticket price.  Last season, the organization booked 122 flights. It received more than $80,000 in donations and more than half a million frequent flyer miles.

acspc-041567Help For Cancer Patients – Did you know that there are many people who must travel great distances on a daily basis to receive treatment? Who pays for that?  I just recently noticed the American Cancer Society’s TV campaign asking for text donations of $10 to raise money for hotel rooms to help traveling cancer patients.  American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, which provides free housing in 31 locations throughout the U.S. We also (as humans) get caught up in the holiday activities forgetting that cancer doesn’t take a break for the holidays. People still need treatment. People can’t be home. Imagine the tears. Extended Stay America and Hope Lodge are especially important this time of year. They help ease some of that sadness and some of the financial stress. I will be home for the holidays this year, will you?  Donate to American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge HERE.

The universal theme that circles around every December–regardless of one’s religion or spiritual practice–is to put others before yourself. And what better way to do that than to give gifts to the people you love that benefit the people you know need help? Charity gifts tug the heartstrings. You can’t always hold them, but you can feel them, which means they stand a chance of living in your memory longer.

To you and yours, have a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!!

 

 

For The Child

Tis the season to think about our children.  What do they need?  What do they want?  What will they pester you to death for?  Have they been good (for goodness sake)?  Christmas is for the children and makes kids happy – some kids.

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There are many abused and neglected children right here in our community.  They have been given a voice by Piedmont CASA (court appointed special advocates).  Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Inc. provides trained volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children, promoting and supporting safe, permanent and nurturing homes for child victims before the courts of the 16th Judicial District of Virginia. Piedmont CASA promotes awareness about child abuse and neglect through community education and outreach.

“My task is to talk to every person in these children’s lives – lives that have already been compromised and scarred – and piece together a recommendation that will help them to heal, to find stability, even to grow.”  – Volunteer Phoebe Frosch.

Volunteers Working to Stop Abuse and Neglect, One Child at a Time.kid-vert

Each year in the Charlottesville / Albemarle region, hundreds of children are victims of violence, sexual abuse and severe neglect.  CASA is an organization that trains Court Appointed Special Advocates, who work one-on-one with abused and endangered children to assist the courts in determining the best environment to ensure each child’s safety and well-being. Volunteer court advocates may be the only voice that can truly speak for these children.

Make a contribution online now!  The support of our generous donors enabled Piedmont CASA’s volunteers to advocate for 204 children last fiscal year. In order to continue serving children in our community who need our help, we rely on the support from caring individuals and businesses.

No fees are charged for the services of the Piedmont CASA program, and no other agency provides community volunteers to serve as child advocates in juvenile court proceedings.

As the need for CASA services continues to grow, additional resources must be secured to make sure that CASA is able to meet those needs effectively. Your financial support will help Piedmont CASA speak up for children in our community.

Donate by mail:
Check should be made payable to Piedmont CASA
Piedmont CASA
818 East High Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Donate over the phone:
(434) 971-7515

Contribute through the United Way:
Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign with CVC Code 3836:

State employees, remember that you can designate Piedmont CASA to receive your donation through the United Way’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. Piedmont CASA’s designation number is 3836.

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