‘Springtime is the awakening of the land. The March winds are the morning yawn.’

 

 

gerbers

Spring tends to have an invigorating effect – the long days of dark and cold winter are beginning to fade, much missed and necessary Vitamin D is absorbed as we expose our pale skin, birds return in mass, demanding an inordinate amount of seed, spring blooms are popping up. Whatever the cause, the promise of bountiful sunshine and the return of warmer weather, spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to harness our renewed energy to declutter and clean our surroundings.

Removing unused items from our homes and tidying up is also a cathartic experience for many, decluttering our minds as an added bonus. Open the windows, turn on your favorite happy music (“Cheeseburger in Paradise,” anyone?), and get moving.

The mere decision of where to begin can be overwhelming. Don’t let it stop you! Whether the entire home needs a swipe or you have a room or two (or three) that are closed off simply to hide the unsightly clutter, you can absolutely make a clean/spring start, just start with a plan.

Most of us are trained to multi-task. More and more evidence is proving this to be less than effective at best. My suggestion? Break down your spring cleaning into manageable chunks. Allocate a set amount of time to devote to each room. Sarah Aguirre, a housecleaning expert, provides a great tutorial on 15-minute room clean, as well as a thorough room by room clean. One absolute gem she shares:

Classify every item of clutter in a room in to three simple categories:

  • Trash
  • Things that belong in a different room
  • Things that belong in the room, but in a different place

While you are cleaning, you have the opportunity to help others – win-win! Donate your unused items to your favorite local charities or sell them and use the profits to help others. The Guerrant Foundation, throughSpring Cleaning for a Cause’ will match your donations from sales of unneeded items to provide small loans to help some of the world’s poorest citizens, mostly women, rise from poverty.

Get busy – next week we will move on to the outside of your home and discuss projects that will give you the greatest ROI (Return on Investment), both personally and financially.

 

As always, your comments, thoughts, and suggestions are welcome.

 

 

 

Christmas Charity

kid_christmas_giftThe christmas season (and ANY time) is a good time to start thinking about helping other people.  This includes providing food, clothing and toys for families to enable them to experience the joy of the Christmas Season. Giving warmth, love and hope. That’s what Christmas should be all about. A time to share our good fortune with our neighbors in need across the world.

Here’s a list of Christmas related charity programs and humanitarian organizations. Some small, some big. But all good.

ANGEL TREE: Angel Tree is a ministry of Prison Fellowship, delivering love in the form of Christmas gifts and a message of hope to children of prisoners.

CHRISTMAS WISH PROGRAMS: Christmas Wish Program, Inc. is a nonprofit organization run 100% by volunteers and donations. CWP is designed that way to let the public share in the joy of giving and the opportunity to help build a brighter future for local children.

Hans with presentCHRISTMAS SPIRIT FOUNDATION: Help needy children and families in the United States during the holiday season, and promote environmental stewardship throughout the year.

HOLIDAY PROJECT: The Holiday Project’s mission is to enrich the experience of the holidays by arranging visits to people confined to nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions

MAKE A WISH: Make this holiday season special by helping a child’s dream come true. Make a Wish’s unique holiday donation options will help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

MY TWO FRONT TEETH: My Two Front Teeth offers a personalized online gift-giving experience to aid underprivileged children. These children are selected through community organizations and allowed to individually pick their one holiday wish.

xmascharityPLAN COMMUNITY OF CHILDREN : Give a gift to the people of Africa this Christmas and help reduce the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS.

TOYS FOR TOTS: Donate a new toy or give a donation to help make Christmas a little brighter for a needy child in your community

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.

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