An Easy Way To Send Love To A Child In The Hospital

Today I wanted to share a simple, quick, and free way to help brighten Valentine’s Day for a child in the hospital. Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has created four specially designed cards for people to add a personalized note of encouragement in. The cards will then be given to children at the hospital and their goal is to hand deliver 15,000 cards to kids this Valentine’s Day! It’s easy, quick, and free to do online but will mean so much to a child that can’t be home for Valentine’s Day ❤️

 

Click here to be taken to the Handfuls of Love website to send a free card and put a smile on a child’s face!

3 Simple Ways To Do Good This Holiday Season


Thanks to Salvation Army Chicago for sponsoring this post.

As a parent there are many important lessons to teach my children but one of my main priorities is making sure I raise caring, loving individuals. Though this is always my focus, there are so many additional chances to do this during the holiday season so I wanted to share three simple ways we like to do good around the holidays.

Donate goods.

Many count on thrift stores, like the Salvation Army, year-round but I feel that there is an extra need for gently used items in the winter. With cold weather coming, people will be looking for warm coats, hats and gloves, along with extra blankets for their home. Parents will also be looking for gently used toys to gift to their children. I remember when my boys were younger we didn’t have much money and most of their holiday gifts were from the thrift store. It was the only way I was able to provide gifts for my children those first couple years. While you are prepping your home for holiday guests and other festivities, why not go through and declutter to give your items new homes this holiday season.

Along with donating used items we no longer need, our family loves to shop for Christmas gifts for specific children from the Angel Tree. We typically choose two or three kids each holiday season and spend an afternoon picking out the perfect gifts for these children we’ve never met. When we shop for their Christmas wishes, and my kids see things like “pajamas” and “a football” at the top of their holiday wish lists, I think they see just how blessed they are and how important it is that we give to others from those blessings we now have.

Give kindness.

Sadly, kindness is not so commonplace anymore. Though I strive to be kind all the time, I try to go above and beyond during the holidays when everyone is extremely busy and stressed. Kindness doesn’t have to be a large or costly gesture, something as simple as a smile, kind word, adding some change into the Salvation Army bucket outside the grocery store, or even holding the door open for the person behind you could brighten someone’s day. If you want more ideas, I share 35 random acts of kindness your family can do this holiday season here.

Donate time.

I believe that time is the most valuable gift that we can give. Whether we are volunteering at a homeless shelter or helping out an elderly neighbor, our time is best spent when we are giving to others. The Salvation Army has a number of ways you can use your talents to help as a volunteer during the holiday season and beyond. Looking at some community centers here in the Chicago area I see a need for a Zumba instructor, food pantry worker, and youth recreation program planner among other things. If you are looking to volunteer with your family how about hosting a canned food drive or making easy, no-sew fleece blankets to donate? Finding something your family is passionate about and volunteering together will create lasting memories and encourage kindness in your kids.

Live in the Chicago area?

If you live in the Chicago area one great place you can support (with donations or by volunteering) this holiday season is the Salvation Army Chicago. Did you know that the Salvation Army is the largest direct provider of social services to people in need in the Greater Chicago area? Salvation Army Chicago serves communities in Chicago, Northern Illinois and Lake County, Indiana by providing emergency financial assistance, grocery assistance through food pantries; educational and recreational programs for children, adults and seniors; and leadership training and character development for youth.

How does your family “do good” during the holiday season? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on social media!

 

Hyundai Hope On Wheels: Helping Kids Fight Cancer

Thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this post.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and I had the honor of attending a Celebration Dinner Gala for Hope on Wheels where they awarded hospital grant recipients and honored the resilient fight of cancer survivors and their families. Hope on Wheels is a nonprofit organization that increases the awareness of childhood cancers and funds discovery by awarding large grants to research centers actively investigating treatments and cures for pediatric cancer. At the dinner, I was surrounded by childhood cancer survivors and their families, doctors & cancer researchers and local Hyundai dealership owners.

During the event I learned facts like how 43 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States and how pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death among children by disease each year. I also learned more about how it affects each family it touches as I listened to heartfelt stories from a 14 year old in remission and a woman who shared about cancer from her point of view as a mother who watched her young son go through it.

We also had the pleasure of listening to Luke Wade, a contestant from NBC’s The Voice, sing. He wrote a song for children who have received a cancer diagnosis and their families. You can hear the beautiful song he performed above.

The focus of the event though, was to talk about the research that has been done to eliminate cancer and to award grants to doctors and research centers. Since 1969, death rates have declined by two thirds but there is still much more work to be done because even one child lost to cancer is one child too many. I was amazed to hear how expensive research is and that’s why the grants that Hyundai Hope on Wheels offers is so important. During the month of September, Hope On Wheels is awarding 40 research grants to children’s hospitals across the country including a $250,000 Hope Scholar grant to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, adding $8.5 million in critical funds to the field of pediatric cancer research The highly-competitive grants are aimed at expanding the knowledge base of the disease and improving the standards of care. In 2017 they plan to award $15 million in grants. Since joining the fight against pediatric cancer in 1998, Hyundai has funded over 840 research projects totaling more than $130 million.

Events are happening across the country this month and the above video shares a bit about the Chicago event I attended.

So how can YOU help? One easy way to show your support and help raise money is to leave a message of hope to those affected by pediatric cancer. An encouraging word or story, a special shout-out or a simple thank you goes a long way to inspiring those fighting this disease. Plus, for every message posted, Hyundai Hope on Wheels will donate $1 (up to $10,000) to a 2017 grant winning hospital.

I’m honored to be partnering with Hyundai Hope on Wheels and I hope that you will join me in helping spread awareness of childhood cancer and raising funds to end it.

Send A Valentine To A Child In The Hospital

Today I wanted to share about an easy way you can send some love to a child in a hospital. It won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time!

This morning I saw a post on Facebook that Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is hoping to collect 10,000 cards to give to patients in their hospital. You can send a free valentine by going to their website here. All you have to do is choose your card design and add a personalized note.

Join me in sending a card that will put a smile on the face of a child that has to spend Valentine’s Day in the hospital.

35 Random Acts Of Kindness Your Family Can Do This Holiday Season

The past few days we’ve all been focused on buying. From Christmas decor to Christmas gifts, there has been so much stuff that we “needed”. (Was I the only one who caved and bought the Instant Pot because everyone in their Facebook thread was raving about it?!)

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over we’ve come to Giving Tuesday. A day to give back, do something nice for others and give to our favorite charities. I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about five charities we support over the holidays and if you search #GivingTuesday on social media today I’m sure you will find dozens more you can donate to.

Giving money is great and I hope that you will all make a donation to a favorite charity, but I also wanted to share 35 ways that you can get your kids involved in doing random acts of kindness. Let’s all pick one to do today and brighten up someone’s day!

1) Leave a kind note in an unexpected place (like the fitting room of a store or a book in the library)

2) Hold the door open for someone

3) Buy a dozen flowers and pass them out to people

4) Rake a neighbor’s leaves

5) Leave something special in your mailbox for the person who delivers your mail

6) Bake someone cookies “just because”

7) Offer to help someone with their grocery bags

8) Send a note to a loved one telling them what you love about them

9) Buy the coffee/meal for the person behind you in the drive-thru

10) Have your kids make cards and then bring them to a nursing home

11) Smile at someone who seems overwhelmed and ask if they need help

12) Pay for someone else’s gas when you are at the gas station

13) Leave a couple dollars in the Redbox movie container when you return it

14) Send a gift card to someone anonymously via email (Even a $5 gift card can brighten a day!)

15) Leave a small gift on your neighbor’s porch and then ding dong ditch

16) Offer to babysit a friend’s kids- for free- so they can have a date night or go to the store solo

17) Bring some blankets, hats and gloves to a homeless shelter

18) Leave an extra large tip for the server when you go out to eat

19) Put change in the salvation army bucket

20) Offer to return a cart for someone after they load groceries into their car

21) Leave pennies on the ground (heads up!) for kids to find

22) Let someone in front of you when you are sitting in traffic

23) Shovel your neighbor’s driveway

24) Give up your seat for someone

25) Drop off food at a food pantry

26) Pay for someone else’s groceries

27) Give a genuine compliment to a stranger

28) Visit a nursing home

29) Pay the toll for the person behind you

30) Buy extra cat food or dog food and drop it off at an animal shelter

31) Say thank you to the folks you come into contact with as you are out and about

32) Volunteer your time

33) Gather items you don’t need any more and drop them off at Salvation Army or Goodwill

34) When you receive great customer service ask to speak to a manager and let them know

35) Let someone go in front of you in line

What ideas do you have? I’d love to hear about Random Acts Of Kindness that your family has done!

Our Favorite Christmas Pajamas: Buy A Pair, Give A Pair

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

One of my favorite purchases every holiday season is a set of matching pajamas for my boys. Each year, on Christmas Eve, they wear their new pajamas when they go to sleep and wake up to celebrate Christmas morning in their festive jammies. (Truth be told, they pretty much lounge around all Christmas day in them!)

We’ve had Christmas pajamas every year and this year I found the cutest pair at Carter’s. With close to 900 styles, including 1-piece, 2-piece, 4-piece, and gown options in cotton, flannel and fleece in sizes newborn to 12 years, parents and gift-givers are sure to find the perfect PJs at Carter’s to outfit all the little ones on their holiday gift lists. I was thrilled to find out that Carter’s is doing something special for Giving Tuesday, which is November 29th, because I love supporting companies that give back. I also now have a reason to head back to the store and get another pair of pajamas for our New Year’s Eve celebration at home :)

Carter’s is partnering with Pajama Program to help further its mission of delivering new, warm pajamas to children in need. This year’s campaign aims to surpass $2 million worth of pajama donations. For every Carter’s pajama purchased at one of Carter’s 600+ US retail stores or online at www.Carters.com on Giving Tuesday (November 29), Carter’s will donate one pajama to children in need, up to 100,000.

If you’ve never heard of the Pajama Program, it’s a great charity. Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books to children in need nationwide, many of whom are waiting to be adopted. These children live in group homes, shelters and temporary housing facilities and are shuffled often from one place to another. Many of them have been abandoned, abused or neglected. Most of these children have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a parent tuck them in at bedtime with warm, clean pajamas and a bedtime story. Some of the children are living with their families below the poverty level, in desperate need of food, clothing and shelter. These two simple gifts of pajamas and books let the children know that someone cares – sometimes these are the only new things they have ever received.

Will you join me in supporting this great cause and giving back on Giving Tuesday?

Over A Million Dollars In Donations To Schools

This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

I love companies that give back so it’s been great partnering with Staples this year to help share about their Staples for Students program. Staples, with their partner Katy Perry, teamed up to help hundreds of teachers and schools by fulfilling $1 million in classroom projects through the non-profit organization DonorsChoose.org. Their donation was driven by a statistic from the Education Market Association that an estimated 99.5 percent of all public school teachers use their own money to equip their classrooms, frequently at a cost of more than $400 per year.

This year Staples was able to fulfill 1,072 classroom projects across the country, providing 787 teachers in 402 schools with their classroom needs, and impacting 98,609 students. Additionally, Staples customers nationwide donated more than $330,000 to DonorsChoose.org at Staples stores and www.StaplesForStudents.com.

Superstar singer Katy Perry said that teaming up with Staples taught her “firsthand how important it is to support our nation’s teachers, and how often they are forced to dig into their own pockets to provide even the most basic school supplies for their students”. Perry also says that she is “delighted” that their efforts have “helped pave the way for students to realize their dreams”.

In addition to donations, Katy Perry and Staples were giving away a $50,000 scholarship. That grand prize winner was just announced yesterday, October 13th when Katy Perry presented Patricia O’Keefe and her son Matthew from Deep River, Conn. with a $50,000 scholarship at a Winners VIP Celebration in Los Angeles. Matthew is a senior in high school and is currently applying to colleges for enrollment in fall 2017. Four lucky first prize winners and one guest each also joined the celebration and met Katy Perry.

This program has really done amazing things in the community. Thank you to all who have helped make this campaign a success by making donations online or in store. The donations made this year will have lasting impacts on the classrooms that they helped!

 

The Great American Milk Drive

My boys love drinking milk and they have since they were little. We are lucky that nowadays we can purchase a gallon of milk whenever we are running low but we were not always so fortunate. When we first started our family and lived off one small income, things like milk, and other necessities, were hard to afford. Milk can be a delicious and nutritious part of a child’s day, but we know first-hand that for some food-insecure families, drinking milk can be a rare indulgence. Because of this, I’m proud to be partnering with Entenmann’s to support The Great American Milk Drive.

The “Entenmann’s® Donuts & Milk: Perfect Together Sweepstakes” is helping deliver milk to those who need it the most. For every entry received during the sweepstakes, one 8 oz. glass of nutrient-rich milk will be donated to The Great American Milk Drive, up to 100,000 servings. As if the charity component weren’t enough incentive to enter, consumers have the chance to win a variety of prizes during the Facebook sweepstakes, which continues through October 31st. As part of the Facebook sweepstakes, 25 first prize winners will win a one year’s supply of milk and Entenmann’s® donuts and 100 second prize winners will win four boxes of Entenmann’s® donuts. (No purchase is required. For official rules and donation program terms you can go to the Entenmann’s Facebook Page linked below.)

Enter the Entenmann’s® Donuts & Milk: Perfect Together Sweepstakes here.

Just Be Good To Each Other

I believe that one of the most important things we can do is to simply be kind to each other. Can you imagine a world where kindness is commonplace? How amazing would that be?! I’m proud to partner with CustomInk on this sponsored post to share about their Be Good to Each Other campaign because it unites people of all ages and promotes kindness, acceptance and inclusion.

This month, CustomInk is encouraging people to take a stand against bullying by wearing custom bullying prevention t-shirts that promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Their special lines of shirts, created with the help of a number of celebrity supporters, have positive and motivational messages on them that reinforce self-worth while promoting acceptance in a personal, yet unifying way. T-shirt sayings include: “Be Daringly Different,” “Be Humble,” “Be Dynamic,” “Be Unbreakable.”

Want to get creative and design your own bullying prevention gear? You can also support the cause by designing your own custom bullying prevention t-shirts to wear with family or friends, or for your children’s school, club, or team. Check out the customizable templates for inspiration or to get started. I’ve created personalized shirts through CustomInk before and it was such a simple, fun process that only took me five minutes to do!

Now through October 31st, CustomInk will donate profits from the sales of bullying prevention t-shirts to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to help in its effort to engage, educate, and unite communities nationwide. It’s a great cause to support!

These special edition t-shirts are available for purchase, ranging from $12-$27, here.

Discover A Better Fundraiser

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

With 120 candy bars to sell for Jake’s football and baseball teams, and a few hundred dollars worth of popcorn to sell for scouts, I feel overwhelmed at the moment. Add to that the school fundraisers I know are coming and I think there is only so much that my neighbors and family are going to be willing to buy.

While I want to support our school and my children’s activities there has to be a better way to raise money right? Well, there is! What if fundraising for your school was as easy as helping people get rid of extra clutter? What if your community organization could get the money they needed without you having to sell hundreds of dollars worth of more “stuff”? I’m happy today to share about a creative fundraising solution that doesn’t involve any selling. (I can hear you all cheering!) We are also giving you the opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Funds2Orgs was created by Wayne Elsey after he became fed up with selling calories and products that nobody needed to his family, friends and work colleagues. After a couple years of doing that he just wrote a check for a couple hundred dollars and gave the items away instead of selling them. He knew there had to be a better way but little did he know that he would get the opportunity to make it happen.

In 2004, he watched with the world as we saw the devastation of the Indian Ocean tsunami. At the time he was the president of a global footwear manufacturer. He says that when he watched a shoe wash ashore on television, the image stayed with him and he knew he had to do something. Within a few weeks, with a great group of people, they shipped hundreds of thousands of shoes to families who lost everything.

He did this again after Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. In all, he shipped over 17 million shoes to people in need. In the process, he learned a lot about developing nations where there are limited work opportunities, even when nature is quiet.

Eventually, he got an idea. He realized after having spoken to thousands of people as a philanthropist that schools, nonprofits, churches and groups needed another way to raise money. He also knew that micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries (small business owners) needed inventory to sell in their local communities. And, as a former footwear executive, he was aware of the fact that over 600 million shoes in the United States alone are thrown into landfills. This is bad for the environment and health.

So he created Funds2Orgs. Today, it’s the leading shoe drive fundraising social enterprise in North America. With a great team, he was able to develop a proven fundraising system. All the shoe drive partners have to do is collect gently worn, used and new shoes and then Funds2Orgs issues a check based on the total weight of the shoes collected.

This organization has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and worked with thousands who have good words to say about them because they are a company that’s committed to customer service. This has happened because they have a unique solution to fundraising, and are able to offer it with no out-of-pocket costs.

Working with Funds2Orgs is easy!

  • They have a team of fundraising coaches to work with you for the entire drive.
  • They give you the shoe collection material (including bags and rubber bands) along with the marketing and promotion material, which you can customize to your drive.
  • Once your shoe collection is complete, one of their driving team members picks up the shoes from your location.
  • Then they send you a Funds2Orgs check within 2 business days of the shoes being received at their warehouse.

When you do a shoe drive fundraiser with Funds2Orgs, you can literally help change the world. Along with raising thousands of dollars for your oganization with their easy, creative fundraising ideas, you are helping others. They consolidate and ship the shoes you collect to micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations where those people then sell them in their communities. You also help the environment because all of those shoes are staying out of landfills.

If you’d like to learn more about Funds2Orgs and what they can do for you please click here. There you can also find out how to enter to win our giveaway of a $50 gift card and some great books!

Support Teachers This Back-To-School Season

Thanks to Staples for sponsoring this post and supporting teachers in our community.

With the new school year around the corner many parents are busy buying school supplies. I know sometimes as a parent I look at the list of supplies needed and wonder why we have to purchase so many things and I know many other parents have the same thoughts. The truth is though, as much as we spend on supplies, most teachers spend even more. In fact, according to the Education Market Association, an estimated 99.5 percent of all public school teachers’ use their own money to equip their classrooms- to the tune of over $400 per year out of their own pocket.

Staples and Katy Perry teamed up to help teachers across the country this back-to-school season as part of the Staples for Students program. They’ve been funding projects posted on DonorsChoose.org as part of Staples’ $1 million donation to support teachers and schools. Donors Choose is a charity that has funded more than 700,000 classroom projects for teachers and has positively affected more than 18 million U.S. students.

I’m excited to share that they’ve funded a large number of programs right here in Chicago! Staples announced this morning that it is funding all middle school and high school literacy projects, and all career & college prep projects listed on DonorsChoose.org by Chicago teachers. This donation, worth a total of $134,733, will fund projects in 86 schools, impacting 106 teachers and over 13,000 students. For example, Mrs. Shippy from Dawes Elementary School received over 90 books for her classroom library, so that her 7th grade students have ample reading options. Her school does not have a school library, so Mrs. Shippy’s classroom is the only place for her students to get books.

If you want to get involved, use the Staples for Students Snapchat Geofilter. Through August 10th, every use of the Geofilter will trigger a $1 donation (up to $5,000) from Staples to be used towards Chicago classroom projects on DonorsChoose.org. The Geofilter is available for use in the Staples store at 111 North Wabash Ave., and in the surrounding area.

I hope this news has inspired you to support teachers by helping give them the tools they need to create enriching learning experiences for the students in their classrooms. You can make a $1 donation either in Staples stores or online at www.StaplesForStudents.com, with proceeds funding DonorsChoose.org projects. As a thank you, every customer who donates in-store will receive a free, exclusive Katy Perry pencil, while supplies last.

There is also a fun sweepstakes going on. Now through September 10, 2016, fans who spend $25 or more in any Staples store will receive a unique entry code on their receipt to enter the sweepstakes online at www.StaplesForStudents.com. One grand prize winner will win a $50,000 scholarship plus a trip for two to Los Angeles to meet global pop music star, Katy Perry. Four first prize winners and one guest each will also win air travel to Los Angeles and accommodations for two nights to meet Katy Perry at the VIP Winners Celebration.

Entries must be submitted before September 10, 2016 at 11:59 PM ET. Entrants must be 13 years or older. Visit www.StaplesForStudents.com for official rules.

To learn more about all of Staples’ initiatives please join me at the #StaplesForStudents Twitter Party on Tuesday, August 30, from 7-8PM EST.

 

How You Can Help Teachers {And Win A Chance To Meet Katy Perry}

I’m proud to be partnering with Staples this back-to-school season to share about some great things they are doing in the community.

Did you know that most teachers spend their own money to equip their classrooms? The Education Market Association estimates that they spend more than $400 per year buying things they need. Staples wanted to do something to support teachers across America and help them as they start preparing for the upcoming school year so they made a $1 million donation to DonorsChoose.org. DonorsChoose.org is a charity that has funded more than 700,000 classroom projects for teachers and has positively affected more than 18 million students across the country.

Katy Perry, who has previously supported Staples commitment to education in the past, has joined in to help support teachers across America. She says she believes in “education as a foundation for a great life” and wants “to make sure that students across the country are inspired by their teachers and afforded every opportunity to realize their dreams.” Perry knows “firsthand how desperately teachers need our support.”

In the video above, Katy Perry shares about an inspiring project she made as a 4th grader in music class that helped her express her dreams for her music career. She thinks about how she may not have had that chance to create her vision board if her teacher hadn’t had the materials and goes on to talk about the harsh reality that many teachers face on a daily basis, having to spend their own money to provide adequate supplies and equipment to students. Staples and Katy Perry hope their PSA will encourage viewers to help support teachers by making their own donations at a local Staples store or online at StaplesForStudents.org.

Staples is also hosting a sweepstakes. Beginning June 26th through September 10th, fans who spend $25 or more in any Staples store will receive a unique entry code on their receipt to enter the sweepstakes online at Staples.com/StaplesForStudents. One grand prize winner will win a $50,000 scholarship plus a trip for two to Los Angeles to meet superstar, Katy Perry. Four first prize winners and one guest each will also win air travel to Los Angeles, two nights stay and spending money to meet Katy Perry at the VIP Winners Celebration. (Visit Staples.com/StaplesForStudents for official rules.)

Teachers make such a difference in the lives of children and together we can help them make an even bigger difference this back-to-school season. By donating at a Staples store or online, anyone can help a classroom in need. Donations help teachers with books, art supplies, field trips, technology and other resources they need to help children learn.

Will you join me in supporting this important cause?

 

How to Be a Benevolent Role Model: Raising Generous Kids Through Example

Disclosure: The following is a guest post.

Kind, compassionate, caring, charitable ― there are qualities every parent wants to see in his or her kid. However, most kids won’t naturally develop these altruistic traits without help from parents and guardians to develop charity.

Many experts ― let alone parents ― are divided when it comes to strategies for imbuing goodness and generosity in children. Financial gurus stress the importance of teaching financial literacy, which will inevitably allow kids to generate the resources to give back; meanwhile, psychologists value empathy-building conversations regarding other peoples’ wants, needs, and feelings. Yet, one method whose efficacy nearly every expert agrees upon is being a good role model.

Children naturally look to their parents as examples for how people should act, so behaving generously will encourage your kids to do so, as well. Here are some tips to help you display more benevolence in your daily life.

Demonstrate Emotional and Physical Self-Control

A famous study from Stanford University found that children who demonstrate willpower are destined to do better later in life. In the experiment, researchers gave kids between the ages of 3 and 5 the choice between a single treat now or a better treat later, if the kids were able to wait. The kids who demonstrated restraint and held out for the better treat were found in later studies to achieve higher academic degrees and live healthier lifestyles into adulthood.

When your kid screams, you probably want to scream, too. However, as a mature adult, you have the responsibility to demonstrate self-control to your children. Willpower takes many forms, from moderating your intake of junk foods to calming your emotions when they threaten to boil over. By refusing to succumb to your urges, you express to your children the necessity of inner strength and self-will, which are essential to becoming benevolent.

Respect Others and Command Respect in Return

Children learn respect directly from their parents, which means you must strive to demonstrate respect in every social interaction you have around your children. You should avoid casting negative judgement on others, especially those with fewer privileges than you and your family, and you should strive to use appropriate language in all social situations.

Just as important, you should expect everyone around you to treat you the same, which demonstrates the concept of self-respect. By being positive, polite, trusting, and caring to everyone you meet, you will teach your children how to be respectful ― and more importantly, that everyone deserves respect.

Be Willing to Part With Your Possessions for Others

It is only natural that children believe their needs and wants are most important; after all, their thoughts and emotions are the only ones they hear and feel. However, it is vital that as your kids get older, they recognize that those around them also have thoughts and emotions, and that sometimes, others’ needs and wants are more important.

Undoubtedly, you have boxes full of possessions stored in your home; you might even have large items taking up space, like an old vehicle that doesn’t run. When you have no use for an item, you should donate it to a worthy cause to show your children that owning things doesn’t increase happiness. Crucially, you must explain your choices to your children and telling them how your donation will benefit someone else.

Volunteer Your Time and Effort to Worthy Causes

More than your behavior and your donations, generosity is the action you take to make the world a better place for those around you. Volunteering in your community allows you to interact directly with those in need, which gives you (and your kids) a better sense of what more you could do to help others.

There are hundreds of ways to volunteer and demonstrate benevolence, from baking treats to sell for charity to visiting food banks and homeless shelters, so you have plenty of opportunities to learn all the ways people need help. From a young age, your children can accompany you on your volunteering adventures, so as they age, they will view volunteering as a normal activity.

Energizer Night Race For A Brighter World {Giveaway For Chicago Race Registration}

(Disclosure: I am a Blogger Ambassador for the Energizer Night Race but all thoughts are my own.)

Did you know that 1.3 billion people lack access to clean lighting, forcing them to rely on kerosene lamps? It sounds innocent, but kerosene is actually responsible for 1.5 million deaths annually. Without adequate lighting, children in these rural communities can’t study effectively. Physicians can’t provide proper medical attention after daylight hours. And, kerosene is so expensive that it ends up costing these families half of their income.

Energizer has decided to help by donating 14 million hours of light to families around the world through their partner, One Million Lights – a non-profit that provides clean, safe, affordable solar lighting to rural communities globally.

 

Energizer is hosting a series of races this year where participants race at night, with the light of an Energizer® headlight to guide them, letting them unite to raise awareness for the global need for safe, affordable solar light for the 1.3 billion people in the world living without electricity. This year’s Chicago Energizer Night Race is on June 7th.

GIVEAWAY:

Two readers will each win registration for the Chicago 2014 race

HOW TO ENTER:

 Tell me why you want to win

FOR AN EXTRA ENTRY:

Share this giveaway on a social network

Giveaway ends June 1, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident to enter. Giveaway includes registration only and does not cover any other costs including travel, parking, etc…

Ways To Help The Boys & Girls Clubs Of America This Season

(Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.)

The Holiday season is in full-swing! We are all busy with parties, decorating, gift buying and everything else that goes along with it but I think it’s also important to give back during this time as well. There are many good causes to support but I wanted to share about one specifically today.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America serve nearly 4 million youth, but millions more need the life-changing programs and positive guidance Clubs provide. You can help create Great Futures for kids by making a gift to Boys & Girls Clubs of America this holiday season. The easiest ways to support BGCA is to volunteer, donate or shop at a store that donates proceeds to them.

Other fun things you can do on the Holiday website include:

Isn’t that fun!? I especially love the tips they offer for parents on helping kids get in the giving spirit.

 

 

Give With Purpose This Holiday Season {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet and earring set but all thoughts are my own.)

There is nothing better than a gift that gives back. I’m happy to be working with World Vision again this year to help promote their Gift Catalog. The World Vision Gift Catalog offers more than 250 items that help fight poverty and save lives here in US and around the world. With a financial contribution, donors can select one of the 30+ Handcrafted Gifts that can be shared with a loved one and at the same time help a person in need.

I received a Colors of Africa Bracelet & Earring Set to review. This gorgeous Zakale bracelet and earring set from Nairobi are made from recycled materials by Kenyan artisans. The people received a loan from World Vision to grow their business and lift themselves out of poverty. With a $100 donation people can get this set for free.

This colorful set would make the perfect gift for any woman or girl. I love how the beads really capture the light. Knowing the story behind the bracelet makes me even prouder to wear it.

Want to donate without receiving a gift? The Gift Catalog lets you choose how your donation is sent. Love playing soccer or have kids who do? Donate soccer balls to kids who would normally play with “soccer balls” made of banana leaves or rolled-up trash. Passionate about education? Give kids books and tools they need to be successful in school and help them fulfill their potential and even lift themselves out of poverty. Or maybe you just simply want to give a child food, water, or clothing to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

Want to go beyond yourself? I love these ideas that World Vision shared:

  • Organize a family giving night and have kids select charitable gifts from an organization such as the World Vision Gift Catalog. Talk with your children about how giving back changes lives of children and families living in poverty and that their efforts truly make a difference.
  • Host a house party for friends and family and ask your guests to contribute to a share of a group gift such as a farm animal, winter clothing or school supplies to families in need, or even a water well. Make the selection of the item, how to raise funds for that gift, and the collection of the money a collaborative, group effort.
  • After Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping, consider celebrating Giving Tuesday (12/3) and make meaningful, life-changing gift purchases such as medicine, mosquito nets or a fish pond.
  • Be active in your giving — volunteer at your local homeless shelter or senior living center; cook a meal or bake cookies for an elderly family member or neighbor.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a bracelet and earring set like the one mentioned above

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

 1) Leave a comment telling me what gift you’d give a child in need

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Comment on another one of my blog posts

Giveaway ends November 24, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must a a US resident and 18 or older to enter.

A Christmas Gift For Moms & Kids In Kenya

I know, I know…it’s still September and you probably aren’t thinking about Christmas yet but I am. I am honored to join in on a special project with {in}courage to raise money for Mercy House in Kenya.

Image courtesy of: Bess Brownlee

The reason we are starting early? We have a goal to raise $74,000 by Christmas 2013. We’ve fallen in love with 12 teen moms and their 12 babies in Kenya. And we’ve got five special gifts we want to give them for Christmas this year. Van, Classroom, Generator, Computer Lab and New Home. This is Mercy House Kenya. They’re family and sisters you can meet without leaving home. Come to Kenya with us! Let’s give the gift of mercy together!

Wondering how you can help?

 You can….

Give – Donate towards one of these key projects.
Share – Share about this amazing work with your friends and family.
Rally – Ask people to join you in advocating for Mercy House Kenya.

Stand With The Children Of Syria‏ {One Tweet = One Dollar Donated}

As Malala Yousafzai recently said, “We must not forget that 57 million children are out of school. We must speak up for peace and development in Nigeria, Syria and Somalia… let us help them through our voice, action and charity.  Let us help them to read books and go to school.”

2 million people are now displaced refugees of Syria. 1 million of them are children.

These children have lost the home they’ve known, often, their families, and the opportunity to grow and prosper as they struggle to grasp what has just happened to them.

Many organizations in neighboring countries such as UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children, the World Food Programme and others are working to provide them with essential shelter, food, and the chance to continue their education.  But the resources needed for this work are severely lacking.

A World At School has developed a plan to provide Education without Borders so that the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon can go to school within a few weeks.  But they need your help to make this a reality.

Here are a few ways you can help do this:

1) Sign the petition we will deliver to world leaders on September 23rd asking them to fund education for Syrian refugees.

2) Tweet for good – every time this tweet is shared, $1 will be donated to humanitarian aid – at no cost to you:

Click to Tweet your support for Syria's child refugees
3) Donate to efforts on the ground to establish schools, provide books, and other humanitarian aid.  Just $34 USD can provide a ‘back to school kit’ so a child can continue their education and $72 can provide food for a family for an entire month.  Check out ways to donate here

If you can’t donate at this time I hope you will still lend your voice to this important cause with a signature and a tweet.

(Content courtesy of A World At School.)

Join The Flash Flood For Good

Everyone should have access to clean, drinkable water but they don’t. Unsafe drinking water is a struggle for 1 billion people worldwide. Water supplies are often contaminated with parasites and diseases, making diarrhea a leading cause of death among infants and children in the developing world. In fact, more than 2,000 children die every day from dirty water, more than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.

World Vision is working to change this and there is a super easy FREE way you can help this month. I’m posting to urge you all to join me in the Flash Flood For Good. Through Flash Flood For Good we’re going to turn social currency into real currency to help clean water and save lives.

For 72 hours, starting September 24 at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, World Vision will focus the world on clean water. If you add your Facebook and Twitter feeds to Flash Flood For Good, you’ll post together with World Vision and millions of others around the world. Hundreds of millions of people will see our message and can donate instantly. A $10 donation will give one child a year of clean water.

I hope you will join me! Find out more at https://www.flashfloodforgood.org/.

(Images and information courtesy of World Vision and Flash Flood For Good.)

$1 Today= 1 New Pair Of Shoes For A Child

Photo courtesy of Soles4Souls

For every $1 you donate today to Soles4Souls, they can provide one additional pair of shoes to someone in need. $20 provides 20 pairs of shoes. $500 will change the lives of 500 people – maybe an entire community! You may even make your donation in honor of or in memory of a loved one.

Learn more and donate over at the Soles4Souls website!

 

WaterAid {How You Can Help Give Clean Water To Those In Need}

Clean, safe water is something most of us here in the United States take for granted, yet worldwide 800 million people do not have access to it and 2.5 billion have nowhere safe and clean to go to the toilet. As a result, 2,000 children die every day from easily prevented diseases with countless more unable to attend school. Millions of women are unable to work because they spend so much time collecting water and caring for sick children.

Founded in 1981, WaterAid transforms lives by helping the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water and sanitation. Together with local organizations, communities and individuals, WaterAid uses affordable and locally appropriate solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to people in developing countries.

5 WAYS YOU CAN HELP:

-Spread the word! Here’s a quick tweet you can share:

“2,000 children die every day because they don’t have access to clean water. Do something about it! http://www.wateraidamerica.org/”

-Donate online here

-Shop for life here

-Organize an event to raise money

-Change your Facebook cover page in support

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. I am a member of the Global Team of 200 which is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.)

Making A Difference With World Vision {Giveaway}

Looking for ways to make a difference this season? Here are three good ways to do so, courtesy of World Vision:

•Volunteer Virtually: Not everyone is able to physically volunteer, but you can volunteer virtually by donating food kits online through World Vision. Each ‘kit’ contains enough food to feed a family of five for one day ($16 per kit).

• Give a Meaningful Gift: World Vision’s Gift Catalog has hundreds of gifts such as goats, fresh water wells, and life- saving medicines that can be given in the name of a family member, teacher, co-worker or child and help one of more than 825,000 people around the world who benefit from gift catalog items. Gifts range in price from $16 to $39,000, and there are more than 250 items online to choose from. After purchasing a Gift Catalog item, the person whose name the gift was given in, can receive a special card describing the gift and its impact.

•Teach Generosity: Help children understand the importance of generosity and giving to others. World Vision’s Gift Catalog can be a helpful educational tool. The Pendleton family, of Colorado, adopted their son from Kazakhstan. When he saw the Mongolian Ger in the catalog, he immediately wanted to buy one for people in his homeland. “I didn’t know how to explain to a 10-year-old that $1,862 is a lot of money, so I didn’t,” said mom Amy. “And sure enough, he raised it all!”

I shared how my four year old created a “giving list” from the World Vision catalog. You can read that post here.

***


 GIVEAWAY:

One of my readers will win an Artisan Beaded Necklace from World Vision

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me how you give back to others

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS {look in the upper right hand corner}

4) Comment on another blog post

Giveaway ends December 23, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I received a scarf from World Vision but this is a cause that’s important to me and all thoughts are my own.)

Cute Earrings For A Great Cause!

So my lovely blogging friend, Sarah Mae, from Like A Warm Cup Of Coffee is doing something fabulous to help a friend’s business and a charity at the same time. Watch the video above to find out all about it and then visit Sarah Mae’s blog post that explains it more. Oh and did I mention there are lots of goodies to win and MONEY up for grabs? (Follow the #10for400 hashtag on twitter for more information.) And as if that weren’t enough visit Our Daily Chocolate for more fun!

(Disclosure: I’m writing this blog post because I love the idea and I love the blogger behind the idea BUT I also want to add that by writing a post about what they are doing I will be entered into a contest to win some cute things. :) Even if I wasn’t trying to win something I still would have been writing this but like to be completely honest with you all.)