Why you should do something good in your community

make a difference

Why you should DO SOMETHING good in your community

A lot of people ask me, where can I make a difference? I want to make that as simple as possible for everyone; Make a difference at home, in your community!

Serving your community—the place where you live and work and where you’ve planted roots—is everyday philanthropy at its most relevant. Because when you serve your community, you serve yourself. It was the New Orleans Town Gardeners, a community group of local gardening enthusiasts, who were the first to suggest that the Samuel J. Green Charter School (where more than 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced school meals) grow a vegetable garden. When they proposed the idea, the school officials said they weren’t interested. It was barely a year after Hurricane Katrina, and they were still getting back on their feet—they couldn’t possibly take on such a big (and unusual) project. Undaunted, the Town Gardeners found the school a partner in the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, California, the brainchild of chef Alice Waters and the Chez Panisse Foundation. Three years later, with the hard work of local volunteers, the Edible Schoolyard Project New Orleans (esypnola.org) is a beautiful green space and a source of pride in this proud community, for students and residents alike. Much of Green Charter’s curriculum is built around the garden. Kids tend the garden themselves, take Creole cooking classes using the organic crops, and learn about plant and insect life cycles firsthand. And once a month, the school invites members of the community into the garden to help care for the rows of eggplant and corn. Green Charter’s schoolyard garden is such a prized part of the community, it’s amazing to think that the New Orleans Town Gardeners initially faced resistance. But any community activist will tell you, when it comes to making local improvements, it’s not enough to have a good idea—you need to be persistent, and have a good plan.

25 Ways to Spread Kindness during the Holiday Season (…without breaking the bank)

President John F. Kennedy once said, “One person can make a difference and every person should try.” We think that sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving prescription to spread a little (or a lot!) of goodness this year.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to save the planet or to make a difference in someone’s life. You can make a difference today, everyday… and change the world forever!


25 Ways to Spread Kindness this Thanksgiving (without breaking the bank):

1. SMILE!  “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”  ―    Mother Teresa

2. Hold a food drive. Enlist help from family,  friends, and members of your community to host a food drive, collecting canned  goods for your local shelter or fresh produce for a local soup kitchen.

3. Donate old sneakers to Nike-Reuse-A-Shoe!  They’ll turn them into safe playground surfaces for children.

4. Bake a Difference!  Bake cookies for a local fundraiser to support a chosen cause or host a charitable bake sale of your own to benefit Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

5. Give!  Give what you can, when you can.  As Anne Frank said in The Diary of Anne Frank, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” There is always something you can give.

6. Test Yourself. Learn new words with the free vocabulary test at FreeRice.com, and for every answer you get right, the site’s sponsors will donate enough money to purchase twenty grains of rice to the UN World Food Program.

7. Do consider using your skills, experience and talents to help out as an alternative to giving money.

8. Clean your closet and donate career attire to Dress for Success for women or Career Gear for men. Your donation will provide professional clothing to low-income people seeking employment.

9. Surf for the earth. Powered by Google, Ecosearch.org returns search results with an environmental kick: The site donates 100 percent of search revenues to nonprofits, such as Rainforest Alliance and the Sierra Club.

10. Tutor. Whether you’re helping a student understand Macbeth or teaching an adult the basics of reading, literacy tutoring can be a fun–and important–way to donate your time. Log on to LiteracyDirectory.org to learn more.

11. Get crafty. Put your creative talents and hobbies to work and make afghans for needy families or quilts for seriously ill or traumatized children.

12. Invite a solo friend or acquaintance to your holiday meal.

13. LOVE! “Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, and don’t put up with people that are reckless with yours.”  ―  Mary Schmich

14. Volunteer to walk and play with homeless animals at a nearby pet shelter.

15. Give gifts that give back.

16. Donate books to a good cause (a nearby school, hospital or library).  You’ll give the tomes a second life and spare the landfills.

17. Give Blood. One pint of blood can save up to three lives.  Donate blood at your local Red Cross. Community drives happen regularly and many large communities have places where you can donate throughout the year.

18. Don’t worry about giving “small” – “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”  ―    Desmond Tutu

19. Give a small loan to help budding entrepreneurs by lending to a Kiva project.

20. Volunteer a few hours at a local food bank, community kitchen, hospital, elderly home or charity drive.  Your time is one of the greatest gifts you can give!

21. Knit for good. Knits hats for the homeless, blankets for newborn babies, teddy’s for foster children.  There’s nothing quite like a handmade gift.

22. Deliver Thanksgiving dinners to housebound people.  Contact your local Meals on  Wheels group and offer to deliver holiday meals to elderly and sick people in your area.

23. Donate coats.  Provide winter warmth for children and families in need: Donate jackets, mitts, scarves and the like to local coat drives or schools.

24. Thank a soldier! Show your appreciation for our Military Men and Women and Thank the troops. Send a card of thanks to a hero.

25. Make it simple, make kindness your religion. The spirit of Thanksgiving is all about the thanks and the giving.  It’s about  gratitude for your blessings and sharing with others. Express gratitude this holiday season with graciousness and gratitude.  And don’t forget — be kind to yourself too!  You deserve it.


Wine Pairing Tips for a Cure

My sincere gratitude to Gwendolyn Osborn, Director of Education and Content and resident wine expert for Wine.com for today’s guest post on Wine Pairings (using fabulous wines that give back!). xo!:

Over twenty years ago the pink ribbon was introduced as the official symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness month (now known fondly as ‘Pinktober’ to many). Here at Philanthropistas.com and Wine.com we’d like to raise a glass to the anniversary of the powerful symbol and the importance of awareness, specifically with a few of our labels at Wine.com that give back directly to the National Breast Cancer Foundation:

ONEHOPE California Chardonnay – ONEHOPE donates 50% of profits from the sale of every bottle of its Chardonnay to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This Chardonnay is handcrafted with a blend of grapes from select vineyards throughout Napa, Sonoma and the      Central Coast of California. It is blended with Muscat and Chenin Blanc,  displaying a pale gold color with aromas of fresh apple blossom and      honeysuckle, and flavors of crisp pear and apple. The balance of oak and bright acidity makes it a great match with broiled or grilled seafood,      poultry dishes and a wide assortment of cheeses.

J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon –  J. Lohr donates $2 of the sale of every bottle of Carol’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This Cabernet Sauvignon is a classically dark color with a bright hue with aromas of currant, cherry and black plum, complemented by a bouquet of roasted hazelnuts and espresso. The entry is fruit-driven and supple, while the finish shows an integration of fruit and oak components from the  traditional French oak barrel aging.

Wines 4 Cures 4 Her, Chardonnay – 4 Her Chardonnay was created to raise funds and awareness for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This is a classic, cool-climate example of Chardonnay – clean and crisp, with flavors of lime and green apples, with a hint of vanilla. It’s a great match for scallops with mango salsa.

Cheers to a happy ‘Pinktober’!

Gwendolyn Osborn is the Director of Education and Content and resident wine expert for Wine.com. She’s a wine educator at heart, hoping her enthusiasm for wine will increase peoples’ enjoyment of the beverage. She received the Diploma in Wine & Spirits through the London-based WSET though this is by no means an end to her studies – wine knowledge is a never-ending pursuit – the more you know, the more you learn you don’t know and the more you want to taste!


Five Things: Breast Cancer Awareness Month Guilty Pleasures

This month marks the 27th anniversary of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a national call to raise awareness of the disease and funds for a cure. To support the cause, a slew of baking extraordinaire’s have launched limited edition gorgeous treats with proceeds benefiting breast cancer charities. Here are some of our favorite (not-s0-guilty) pink picks:

Magnolia Bakery is offering a pink ribbon cupcake during the month of October for $3.75. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation will receive $1 of each pink ribbon cupcake sold. 8389 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, www. magnoliabakery.com.

Yoplait conducts the highly successful Save Lids to Save Lives® program, which takes place from September through December each year. For each pink lid redeemed by customers, Yoplait will donate 10 cents to Komen, up to $2.5 million. For more information about the program, including the Save Lids to Save Lives mailing address, visit www.savelidstosavelives.com

 Crunch into one of Lily O’Brien’s delictable, limited Edition Crispy Hearts signature chocolate bites & support a very special cause. 10% from every pack is donated to Breast Cancer charity.

Enjoy the refreshing and exotic taste of pomegranate with the delicate, fragrant taste of hand-picked elderflowers – and support a truly great cause at the same time. During the month of October Bottlegreen will donate 10% of the proceeds from their Limited Edition BottlePink Cordial to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

During the month of October, Panera Bread is featuring its signature, Pink Ribbon Bagel. Sweetly made with cherry chips, dried cherries and cranberries, vanilla, honey and brown sugar – with a portion of proceeds go to benefit breast cancer charities – this is a sweet charity in every way.

D-I-Y Kindness-Chic: Quilts for Kids

(Photo Source: Etsy.com)

Each year more than 6 million children in America require hospital stays.  As wonderful and healing as hospital’s are, sometimes that therapeutic experience can be a little scary for young ones.

To make the stay a little less daunting, caring company, Downy  partnered with the nonprofit organization, Quilts for Kids to provide handmade-with-love blankets to the youngest of patients requiring a hospital stay.  Since 2009 Downy’s Touch of Comfort program has delivered more than 20,000 warm and cuddly blankets to help soothe hospitalized children.

If you’re a D-I-Y giver, with a flair for quilting, head over to downy.com.  Although the company has filled its quota of hand-made quilts, it makes it super-easy for sewers (even beginners) to get involved in the do-good, give-back efforts with Quilts for Kids, by offering a free downloadable Touch of Comfort heart quilt pattern  – the perfect way to cover someone with love!

Five Things: Stylish Acts of Goodness

With so many rockin’ options for giving back, it can be hard to indulge in all of them. Luckily, Philanthropistas.com is featuring “Five Things” every Friday, to help you effortlessly fashion your look from head to toe – and make a fabulous difference, everywhere.

Go thrifting at a vintage shop that gives back, such as Out of the Closet; sales help support the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. For locations, see outofthecloset.org.

Bring common courtesy back in style: Kindly hold the door open for another.

Drink a toast to philanthropy with a benevolent vino that gives back in high style: ONEHOPE Wine donates 50% of net profits to a number of worthwhile causes. (Photo Source: ONEHOPE)

Share the gift of fashion, donate a dress to one of the chapters of DonateMyDress.org — they’ll distribute it to a young girl in need during prom season!

Forgo your lattes for one week and you can provide a month of desperately-needed care for a woman or child rescued from sexual slavery for just $30 at sharedhope.org.

What Makes You so Damn Fabulous?

Everything is “fabulous” these days.

Oh, you drive a Prius and get 45 mpg in the city?  Fabulous! 

You ran a half marathon in under three hours? So fab!

That sleek Ralph Lauren maxi-dress you’ve been lusting after? Insanely fabulous!

The incomparable Coco Chanel once wisely asserted that “a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”  But with fabulousness so eagerly doled out to every idea and incident that creates interest and attention, what is it that makes a girl fabulous?  Better yet, what makes you so damn fabulous?

Most of us believe that there are two types of people in this world:  Those who have it and those who don’t.  And, when it comes to gauging the fabulous gene in ourselves, sadly, we often land undoubtedly in the latter category of complete and utter lack. (Of course, when we’re constantly bombarded with the media’s (false) messages and measures of “extraordinary” we simply aver that, next to fabulous creatures like the Marilyn Monroe’s of the world, none of us ordinary gals are really that remarkable.)

The truth is there is an allure with those who seem to have it – that “fabulous” gene.  At first glance, we naturally assume that person to be well heeled with charisma, charm and intelligence – all wrapped up in a fierce social-package.  On deeper reflection however, we realize that some of the most fabulous women we know (both our besties and beauties on the big-screen) are usually a more inconspicuous type of fabulous – without all the hype and ooziness.

For all the millions of women Marilyn Monroe inspired, she still remains very much an anomaly.  In the book Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC (US),  Marilyn is much like the rest of unassuming gals; always late for class. Slipping in without makeup, hair hidden under a scarf, trying to be inconspicuous. Speaking in a tiny wisp of a voice. And trying to not draw too much attention to herself. And this is when she was already one of the most famous people in the world!

What made Marilyn – and what makes you – so damn fabulous, then, is authenticity. Yes, Marilyn was a shy, insecure goddess who came into her full glory upon the big-screen, but she never completely became void of the uncertainty of her belonging up there.  Nonetheless, she wholeheartedly went for it. And she kicked some serious ass in the process.  Perhaps, this is what people never really “got” about her.  

As for me, I kind of like the unassuming gals. The cool chicks – with all whole heap of  hot-mess baggage securely in tow – and completely unapologetic for it.  Fabulousness isn’t about impeccable behavior, housed in a two-dimensional guise.  It is about embracing and striving from each place of yourself, even the dark and wish-I-could-change places, to live a full and meaningful life.     

So, what is it that makes youso damn fabulous?


The real you.

All of you.

You are fabulous!


Do what you can, with what you have

I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a shoe addict, but I have been known to impulsively buy the occasional pair (or two…or three…) of ill-fitting flats or impractical heels that inevitably sit patiently at the back of my closet, waiting for their time to shine.

Sadly, many of my shoes collect more dust than they do wear.

The reality is that there are many people in need of footwear and for today’s “Do what you can, with what you have” I’m donating footwear to women who need them.

In between sighs of parting with each pretty pair, I’ve managed to find solace in knowing that they’re all going to a good home…

Places to donate shoes (new and used):
Soles4Souls Dress For Success Goodwill Nike Reuse-A-Shoe

ReadGive.com: Combine your passion for reading with your passion for giving

Glamour, Cosmo and Lucky… I love ’em all!  And I especially love buying my favorite mags from companies who give back. 

I’m talking about ReadGive

ReadGive offers a large selection of magazines at competitive prices and with every subscription and renewal you order through ReadGive, you contribute 40% directly to the charity or organization of your choice — at no additional cost to you! How great is that?

And it gets even better!

ReadGive is partnering with Giveback.org starting July 25, 2011 when GiveBack announces their $50,000 winner! ReadGive is offering Giveback customers 50% back to their foundations on Giveback.org until August 31st (normally 40%). Customers can renew their old magazines, buy new subscriptions for themselves or give magazines to friends and families as a gift!

With a large array of children, home, and entertainment magazines ReadGive is the perfect way give back to the foundations you hold dear while getting something for yourself.

I love their selection of magazines. I love the ease of navigating their site.  I love their “Give Back” philosophy. And I love buying things I normally use, with that added punch of charitable goodness.

Next time you order magazines or resubscribe, please go through ReadGive and make a difference with every purchase! And don’t forget to pass this simple way to help charities on to others!!!

Be sure to check out ReadGive on Twitter and Facebook
www.facebook.com/readgive – With several contests and Giveaways for all ages, ReadGive is an enjoyable  page worth following.
And if you’re looking to fundraise, ReadGive offers an innovative ReadGive $15 gift card to both schools and charities alike. Here’s a great opportunity to raise incredible amounts of much needed funds with an easy to use gift card.

To get in touch with ReadGive call 1-877-316-5787, email info@readive.com or visit them at www.readgive.com

Tom’s of Maine Giving Back: 50 States for Good

Join Tom’s of Maine in supporting nonprofit organizations.

Celebrating grassroots goodness efforts nationwide is the ongoing mission of the Tom’s of Maine annual “50 States for Good” program. 50 States for Good is a national initiative to support the goodness behind grassroots community projects. Six organizations will share in a $150,000 sponsorship fund, including one organization that will be given $50,000!

The six winners will be determined by a public online vote starting in early August 2011. The organization with the most votes will receive $50,000 in sponsorship funding; five additional organizations will each receive $20,000. Each finalist, along with its project, will be showcased at the Tom’s of Maine Web site during the voting phase. Projects must be completed within six months of receiving funding.

The panel of judges will select 20 organizations doing great things in their communities to be voted on by you. In the meantime, here’s what you can do:

Bake On and Give Back! Duncan Hines 1,000,000 Cupcake Challenge.

Duncan Hines® invites bakers across the country to join its 1 MILLION Cupcake Challenge to help end childhood hunger. Working with Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale®, Duncan Hines hopes to inspire passionate bakers with a national baking and fundraising movement.

“Each cupcake sold at $1 will help connect hungry children to up to 10 healthy meals and gets us closer to fulfilling our mission of no kid hungry by 2015.”

Join the Duncan Hines One Million Cupcake Challenge!

One cupcake at a time, you can help end childhood hunger. And, passionate bakers could win a trip for two to Los Angeles including seats on the Red Carpet of the 63rd Primetime Emmy® Awards and weekly Great American Bake Sale donation matching of up to $5,500 per week.

Those who join the Duncan Hines 1 MILLION Cupcake Challenge and host an official Great American Bake Sale from April 11 through July 24 are eligible to win one of five grand prizes in the Duncan Hines 1 MILLION Cupcake Challenge Sweepstakes. Each grand prize includes a three-day/two-night trip for two to Los Angeles including Fans in the Stands seats on the Red Carpet of the 63rd Primetime Emmy® Awards on Sept. 18, 2011.

June is Charity Walks Month! #5: Stop Violence against Women

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

There is an old saying: “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Walk a Mile in Her Shoes asks men to literally walk one mile in women’s high-heeled shoes. It’s not easy walking in these shoes, but it’s fun and it gets the community to talk about something that’s really difficult to talk about: gender relations and sexual violence.

Firemen, burly police officers and bankers in suits squeeze into high heels and click-clack through towns across the country in support of theWhite Ribbon Campaign to end violence against women. Women are welcome to join in, says the campaign’s director of development, Nick Rodrigue, “but we encourage them to wear flats.” Walkamileinhershoes.org.

June is Charity Walks Month! #4 Walk for ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. People living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Eighty per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis– unable to breathe or swallow. Ten per cent of those affected may live for 10 years or longer.

We are taking to the streets, pathways, sidewalks and parks to raise money for breakthrough ALS research and services to support those living with ALS and their families. We need you to join us.

WALK for ALS is a fun, family friendly event that occurs across the country each year in more than 78 communities and is organized by local volunteers. In 2010 the Walk generated over $2.4 million, thanks to more than 18,000 walkers and more than 165,000 donors.

All participants will be encouraged to solicit donations. To make fundraising easy, each participant that registers on-line is able to set up a personal web-page with access to on-line fund raising tools.

Click here to get involved.