Showing posts from 2014

Season of Lights, Points of Light

Some call this the season of lights. With all the lights and decorations, I can see why. Today I'm going to talk about another kind of light. I don’t usually talk about just one website at a time in my blog. I give lots of websites that have great ideas or provide my own ideas and inspirations. But today, there is a website I want to talk about because it does A LOT!
The Points of Light website caters to individual volunteers, companies that want to make a difference and to nonprofits as well.
Individuals can find volunteer opportunities, causes and programs set up for them.
Nonprofits can post volunteer opportunities. The Points of Light Civic Accelerator
“invests in and supports seed stage social ventures that solve pressing social and environmental issues by engaging people” also. If you have an idea for a nonprofit, this is the place to be, with money, mentoring, peer support and networking for your idea.
Or, if you have a company that wants to start or expand a volunteer progr…

Gifts That Give 2014

I started this in 2011 when I started my blog. It’s a list for Black Friday of Christmas gifts that give three ways: to the recipient who gets a gift, to a charity who gets a donation and to the giver who feels good for giving to charity. Since then a new tradition has started with Giving Tuesday. After Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, spend some time Tuesday giving to the charity of your choice.
Now, here goes: the list of $50 and under gifts that give three ways for 2014.
1.As a Relay for Life lover, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one from the American Cancer Society’s website and almost everybody needs help with this—eating right to be healthy and prevent all kinds of cancer and other diseases. So, here’s the link to ACS’s healthy eating cookbook for $24.95.
2.This is a new to me charity—Women’s Bean Project. It gives jobs to job…

Winter Hints for Helping

I know not everybody loves Facebook, but I think it’s pretty great. Especially since I’ve taken up a new challenge there. It’s called the 15 Can Challenge. It’s easy because it’s something you already do. Each week when you go shopping buy a few extra cans of food. Then the first week in December, contribute it to the local food pantry for their holiday dinners for the hungry. If you have the time, it’s a good idea to call them first and see what they are especially in need of, sometimes it’s something you may never think of, like peanut butter for PBJs, but that’s a great staple because of the protein benefits it has.
I regret not doing Socktober, which is a Kid President Challenge in October to provide socks for the homeless. But it’s not too late. Luckily, I live in Florida and we’ve only had a few days of cold weather. If you live somewhere that’s cold many months of the year, you know how that can be. Imagine being out in the cold night after night, or even in a shelter. It would …

Cruise into Charity

Summer’s almost gone but that doesn’t mean cruise season is over. You can always find a warm port somewhere. And now you can also find some opportunities for volunteerism and charity as part of your vacation. USA Today printed a story with 10 cruises where you can give back. Here's some information on them:
Crystal Cruises:On every cruise there are complimentary "You Care, We Care" excursions where guests and crew participate in volunteer activities. You can create crafts with the elderly in Cartagena, do a neighborhood cleanup in Puerto Vallarta or rescue sea turtles in Athens. On World Cruises, the line also has knitting or other crafting classes where guest make blankets for various children's charities around the world.
MSC Cruises: The Italian-style line is a booster of UNICEF. The "Get on Board for Children" initiative encourages adult passengers on all the line's ships to make contributions. Plus there's a day of "edutainment" activi…

Do what?

I was trying to think of what to write about today and doing searches on Google and finding all kinds of things that I already knew about.
Then I came across an idea which I have never tried. I LOVE doing that. On my website and in my blogs, I’ve written about free ways to help others, fun ways to help others, cyber-volunteering, virtual mentoring, donating, volunteering, random acts of kindness and paying it forward.
I have never written about becoming a “professional volunteer” also known as a docent. Now, although I haven’t done it myself, I’ve met people who are docents at my local zoo and at museums around the U.S.
I’m calling docents “professional volunteers” because they train so they can become like a professional. A docent is someone who has been trained by the organization that they volunteer for to take the place of a paid employee. Like most volunteers, they do the work that needs to be done for free, but usually docents have to make a time commit…

Billionaire Dreams

Have you heard of Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg? Chances are, you have. They are some of the richest people in the world.
Now, have you heard of “The Giving Pledge campaign?” It’s a campaign by Buffet and Gates to recruit billionaires to agree to donate at least half their fortunes to charity.
People are keeping track of these generous billionaires. The "Philanthropy 50″ list is issued annually by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The 2014 list is the 14th annual list of the 50 most generous donors in America in 2013. Something surprising about these giving people is their mean age, the median age of the top 50 donors in 2013 was 72.5.
Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg and Pricilla Chan made new donations or pledges that total nearly $1 billion in 2013. Zuckerberg is the youngest ever billionaire on the top 50 donors list. Unfortunately, Zuckerberg is the exception when it comes to young billionaires. His peers are choosing, at least so far, to keep t…

Be Nice Box

OK. I haven’t tried this yet because I just heard of it, but OH, how I love the idea! It’s a month worth of ideas and items to spread kindness. You can sign up to get them for one month, six months or 12 months!

Here is how the founder Heather Shugarman describes the Be Nice box:
Each month, the box will center around a theme & all contents will be a surprise until you open the box.
But, each month you will receive a list of 13-15 fun, awesome & affordable ideas to practice kindness in your area. along with the list, you will also find 5-7 materials, items & handmade products to help you fulfill some of those tasks. and finally, each box will contain a cool, handmade surprise for YOU!
Also, $1 from every box goes to a charity. The Be Nice Box has supported Ten Thousand Things, Himalayan Cataract Project, Open Arms MN, Blessings Basket Project, Project Success and LIFEline Fashion, Share Our Strength and Meals on Wheels since they opened in October of 2013.
I have to get one o…

Bored Teens No More

The summer solstice is behind us now but there’s still a couple months of summer left. This is the first summer I’ve had a teen in the house before (since my son turned 13 this year) and I thought maybe it’s time to do a blog about teens volunteering during the summer.

In Florida, your high school aged teen can use the summer to get volunteer hours for the Bright Futures Scholarship, but no matter where you are, bored teens can be a boon for charities.
So, what can they do anyway? Well, my son likes cats and we’ve volunteered at our local cat shelter SOCKS (Save our cats and kittens). We go pet the cats and can also clean litter boxes and sort items for the thrift store they run.
Truth is, many teens love animals. I looked on VolunteerMatch for volunteer opportunities in the area and found a few more related to animals, including the local zoo asking for help cleaning out cages and preparing food for animals and the wildlife refuge wanting volunteers for day-to-day activities.
What else…

Common what?

I was watching a TV show set in the future that said the common cold had died out. What a wonderful world that would be to live in. The common cold is not a big deal for adults, just annoying, but imagine if you got it before your immune system had really kicked in.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that infects people of all ages and is usually harmless to people with a healthy immune system, but it is not so harmless to babies still developing in the mother’s womb.
According to Stop CMV, permanent health problems or disabilities that may occur due to congenital CMV infection (which means infection with CMV while still in the womb) include hearing loss, vision loss, mental disability, feeding issues/Failure to Thrive (FTT), sleeping issues, sensory issues, behavior issues, small head/small brain (Microcephaly), intercranial calcifications, lack of coordination, cerebral palsy, seizures, and even death.
About 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV in the United States, but…

May Showers of Love

May is lots of things—the gateway to summer, the last full month of school, the month of flowers after April showers—but also it’s national foster care month. I know some foster care parents and have shared their stories before, but not all of us are able to be foster care parents. So, I want to share some things that we can get involved in to help foster kids without being a foster parent. The first one is Together We Rise.
What I like about Together We Rise is that it started out of a real need. Danny Mendoza had a cousin who was living on his own. Danny couldn’t find a way to help because he was told he was too young. He decided to start his own charity that could help children in foster care while mobilizing young people to make a difference in the world.
Through its fundraising and network of passionate volunteers, Together We Rise gives foster children a brighter future and a sense of normalcy and belonging. They provide bikes, sports camps and simple suitcases for foster youth. T…

Custom Culture

Remember those cool surfer shoes Van’s made with the checkered design? Well, now you can make your own design and earn money for the art program at your school.
It’s called Van’s Custom Culture and it’s a nationwide contest where the first place winner gets $50,000 for its art program. Only schools can enter and each school can send in four pairs of shoes that its students design.
Fifty finalist schools go to the public vote and then surprise celebrity judges make the final determination of the winners from the top five finalists. The four runners up receive $4,000 for their school art programs as well.
Registration begins in January and the schools submit their designs February through April. The final event when the winners are announced is June 10 in New York City, where the finalists get a tour of art sites in the city before the main event.
School is winding up around the country now and I usually talk about treats for teachers to show them how you care in May. Well, some cash is…

When Life Gives You Lemons

Can you imagine getting the news when you’re just four that you have cancer? It might not mean much, until you start the medical tests, shots, surgeries, chemotherapy and so on. What if while you were going through this, you decided to do something about it, to help people find a cure. That’s what Alexandra “Alex” Scott did. Alex, at age four, held a lemonade stand to help find a cure for all childhood cancers, including her own. Since that time, more than 20,000 Alex’s Lemonade Stands have been held across the country! Alex is no longer with us, but her idea of helping to find a cure is still alive and is part of a nationwide movement. It was just last weekend that I was raising money for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life. Our Relay raised over $100,000 and I am so excited to have been part of it. But the reason I relay is for my son who was healed of cancer when he was 6. So, Alex’s Lemonade Stand is dear to me, too. National Lemonade Days are coming up in about thr…

RFL Niceville Here We Come!

Today is the day! My Relay for Life in Niceville, Florida. I haven’t spoken much about being on the steering committee for Relay this year because it’s just not as exciting as having your own team. I have been calling people, recruiting teams, setting up chairs at team meetings and helping to plan the event.
It’s not like planning events to fundraise. You don’t get to count the money at the end of the evening and know it’s going to fight cancer. Of course, everything you do on the steering committee helps the teams do their fundraising so it’s all important.
We have had rain in too many of our past Relays in Niceville I’m told and it looks like it might happen again. There’s a fifty percent chance of rain pretty much throughout the Relay. The skies have been cloudy but it hasn’t actually rained yet as I write this. I wish it would rain early and get it over with or hold off until Sunday. But we don’t know God’s plans.
I just know we have almost 50 teams and we are ready to roll! We’ve …

Did You Say Free?

Tomorrow starts National Park Week, a week to get out and visit a national park, for free! Sunday is the day to celebrate Easter, and it's also a perfect time to simply get outdoors and take advantage of the more than 17,000 miles of trails in national parks and another 15,600 miles of national recreation trails. God's creation is made for us to enjoy!

Did you know there are more miles of trails in the national trails system than miles of road in the interstate highway system? Search here for events going on this week at national parks.
Next Saturday is also National Junior Ranger Day for young visitors to "explore, learn, protect" and be sworn in as junior rangers. We have visited a few national parks in our time and there are always programs going on for Junior Rangers. There’s even a site for Web Rangers.
Tuesday, April 22, is Earth Day, so if you want to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with a project, look for a park where you can help out. There are more than 400…

Lotsa Helping Hands

Ever feel helpless? When a friend is very sick, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do. It’s not true. You can always pray for someone and prayer can change things. There’s another thing you can do. Get some help for your friend.

Recently, a friend of mine was sick. She was self aware enough to know she’d have trouble cooking so she asked me to have some of our friends make her some meals. I did so gladly.
Thank God it was just a temporary illness and she was back on her feet in a few weeks. Sometimes that’s not the case.
In those cases, there’s a lot to do. Take your friend to the doctor, help with laundry and housecleaning, watch the kids while she rests or is at the doctor, give her primary caregiver a break. The list goes on.
So, how do you coordinate what needs to be done with the people who can do it? You can spend all your time on the phone calling and setting things up. Or, you can use Lotsa Helping Hands.
What is Lotsa Helping Hands? An online service for those who want …