November 28, 2008

My UnBlack Friday

Today is Black Friday. I could have went shopping today. But I didn’t. In fact, I did just the opposite.

I do not think it is insignificant that the color black is used to define this day. I have nothing against the color -- in fact, I’m wearing it right now -- but its symbolism is powerful.

Did you know that someone was killed by a crowd rushing the entrance to a Wal-Mart this morning? I don’t even know what to say to this. It completely blows my mind that our world has reached a point where we are so desperate for material items that we could take the life of a human being this way. This is what this blog is all about: we seriously need to wake up.

When I woke up this morning, instead of standing in line for a deeply discounted television I started packing garbage bags with old blankets, pillows and stuffed animals that my mom and I found in our attic last night. (Disclaimer: I'm not saying this was an easy decision or that you made a bad one if you were out shopping. There were a lot of good deals and I don't blame you for taking advantage of them. Plus, you can do what I did any day. That's the beauty of it.)

I began my adventure in giving by taking a car load of items to Safe Harbour in Carlisle. The nonprofit group provides an emergency shelter for those in need of a secure place to live. It also provides long-term housing and offers programming to help individuals master basic life skills so they may eventually live independently. A list of items you can donate to them can be found here. To give money directly to Safe Harbour, click here.

For those of you who don’t live near Carlisle, you’ll have to do a little research of your own. Google is a fantastic creation. Try typing in “where to donate [insert item you’d like to donate] in [insert city and state here]." A couple other midstate places I found were Delta Community Inc. at 2041 N. 2nd St. in Harrisburg and the Bethesda Mission at 611 Reily St. in Harrisburg. More later on those groups and any others I come across. No matter where you live, there are similar organizations out there. Go find them.

After dropping off my goods at the shelter, I returned home to refill my car -- this time with old comforter sets, curtains and clothing (oh yes, we have unbelievable amounts of stuff in our attic - I had no idea). I hauled this stuff over to The Salvation Army. Perhaps you read my recent post about their Red Kettle program. The group also operates thrift shops, the proceeds from which support their Adult Rehabilitation program. They accept clothing, furniture and many other items. To find a shop near you, click here. To donate directly to the Salvation Army, click here.

I hope my small amount of effort today brings some warmth and comfort into the lives of those in need. I invite you to give it a try.


November 22, 2008

The Red Kettle

Has the economic slump got you down? Feeling the need to pinch your pennies this year? I know the feeling. But like me, perhaps you also would still like to make a change here and there. This week I'm going to focus on some less expensive ways to make a difference.

First up,
The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army has a variety of programs that help communities across the country in so many critical ways: disaster relief, prisoner rehabilitation, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, human-trafficking prevention, elderly services and much more. For more information on the various programs, click here.
And when the air becomes frigid and your thoughts begin to turn to the upcoming holiday season, out comes those easily recognizable red kettles. Ever wonder where the money you drop into the kettle goes? Through the group's Christmas Charity, your donations provides Christmas dinners, clothing and toys for needy families, seniors and the homeless. Volunteers distribute the gifts to shut-ins in hospitals, nursing homes and shelters that are open for sit-down dinners.

So the next time you pass by the man or woman ringing the bell outside the grocery store, why don't you take a moment to slip a few dollars into the kettle? Think of all of the food you were just able to buy, and find just a little bit more to give someone in need a warm meal this holiday season.

To volunteer with the organization, visit the group's main Web site and enter your zip code into the box at the upper right hand corner of the screen to find a location near you. Give them a call. Reach out your capable hand. Take some time and make a change.

To donate directly to The Salvation Army today, click here.


November 14, 2008

Gifts that give in Central PA

The Christmas shopping season is upon us. For some, this is a joy; for others, it is a frustrating, expensive time of year. I felt a wave of relief upon discovering the South Central Pennsylvania Alternative Gift Fair.

The fair is an opportunity to make donations (varying from $10 to $250) on behalf of someone you want to give a gift to. That person will receive a card telling them about the gift.

A number of local nonprofits use the donations to meet various community needs, including a hot meal for a homeless individual, clothes for someone in need, one hour of counseling for a survivor of sexual assault, and much, much more. For an example of the shopping list, click here.

And if you can’t make it out to a fair, I am told you will be able to shop on their Web site from Nov. 16 to Dec. 15.

Two fairs will take place this year:
The event is hosted by The Ladies Half, a women’s giving circle that provides funds and assistance to enhance the lives of families and organizations in south-central Pennsylvania. If you’re interested in joining the group, click here. To donate funds directly to the organization, click here.

See you at the fair,

Why should we change?

For those of you in need of a little motivation, I’d like to give you a good reason every now and then as to why our world is in need of change. Today, I ask you to click here and get a taste of what I mean.

These photos were taken in America. There are U.S. citizens living in tents as a result of the financial crisis that has shaken our economy to its core. This is just one example of why it’s so important that we do something to help turn our neighborhoods, our states, our country, our world and our entire society around.

So go ahead. Read through the rest of this blog. Check it regularly. Begin taking the baby steps necessary to change this world.


November 12, 2008

Protect youth from violence with lipstick


Purchase a tube of the perfect shade of lipstick and, in return, 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to a charitable organization that supports women and children.

Sound too good to be true? Well, for once, it isn’t.

The profits from every $13 tube of Mary Kay Inc.’s Apple Berry lipstick sold will be given to charity. That may be a hefty price to pay for lipstick, but keep in mind it's for a good cause. It also helps to know that, according to Mary Kay, the Apple Berry color best suits all skin tones. Sold? If so, click here.

Mary Kay began this global initiative May 1st, but you only have until the end of the year to take advantage of it. The effort is part of the company’s corporate commitment to change the lives of women and children around the world. And I like it.

In the United States, the proceeds will be donated to Break the Cycle -- a nonprofit organization that engages, educates and empowers youth to build lives and communities free from domestic and dating violence.

Would you rather make a contribution directly to Break the Cycle? If so, click here. Go ahead, take some action.


Note: After you choose to purchase the lipstick, you will be prompted to choose an independent beauty consultant. If you don’t have one already, please take the time to search and find someone in your area. This is the person who will process your order and deliver your items. I know it’s a pain, but think about the outcome. You basically get the lipstick for free because your money goes to helping youth by fighting domestic violence. It’s worth it.

November 10, 2008

Feeding and educating children in need


It turns out that Toms sells more than just shoes. They also sell trendy hats and t-shirts, the proceeds from which also provide a pair of shoes for needy children. And at $28 each, they're a wee bit cheaper than the shoes.

And then there’s my favorite part. I recently discovered that Toms also is selling a hip-looking tote bag that is designed to raise awareness and funds for feeding hungry children and helping them get an education.

I won’t lie - these are pricey at $65 a pop, but think about it: Each “Feed Project Bag” sold provides one school year’s worth of meals for a child in need. Your $65 not only gets you a bag in return, but it gives a child the hope of an education and a regular meal.

Sign me up.


November 9, 2008

Shoes for needy children

“Shoes for a Better Tomorrow”

Here is something simple you can do within the next ten minutes or less to initiate change. For every pair of shoes purchased from Toms Shoes, the organization will give a second pair of shoes to a child who desperately needs them.

The lightweight shoes are simple and come in a variety of cool designs/colors/etc. The price for a pair is roughly $40-$60 a cost a good bit more. It's kind of pricey, but keep in mind that not only are you getting a pair of shoes - so is someone else who likely needs them more.

Since the group got started in May 2006, it has given more than 10,000 pairs of shoes to children in Argentina and 50,000 pairs of shoes to children in South Africa. During 2008, the group plans to give 200,000 pairs of shoes to children around the world. How awesome is that?

(Disclaimer: This photo was taken from The band has taken on Africa as their cause -- more on that later. The pictures were taken while helping with a Toms Shoes Shoe Drop in South Africa.)

One way Toms delivers the shoes is through Shoe Drops, which you can help out with if you’d like to take your commitment a bit further. More information on how to do that can be found at You can also help out at community events that are hosted across the country (or host your own). Click here for more on that.

The organization sells some of its shoes at retail outlets (click here to do a search), but you also can purchase items on their Web site, which is probably the easiest and fastest method.

Happy shopping (while changing our world),

PS: Stay tuned for more ways you can initiate change in partnership with Toms Shoes later this week...

November 8, 2008

I, too, propose a change.

This year’s election was covered with the marketing techniques of luring individuals in with the idea of initiating change. Everybody in our great nation appears to be interested in change. I know I am. But the biggest problem with all of this is that not many - or at least not enough - seem willing to step up and initiate that change. We complain, we cry, we struggle, we disagree, we feel frustrated, we rage…yet we remain silent or inactive - or both.

I feel challenged to help initiate change. To help individuals follow through with their words. Walk their talk. Change their world. I want to change my world. This is my first step, small as it may be. What will yours be?

The whole purpose of this blog (tentatively titled Change 101) is at least once a week to post some information about a cause. I hope to provide some insight into what the cause does and how you can help the cause, if you feel moved to do so. I hope that the information I provide you with will help you to speak up, reach out and take our world and our desire for change seriously. Do more than vote. Do more than complain. Do more than feel guilty. Do more than exist. Help. Contribute. Do something…do anything.

I will not deny that my motivation, inspiration and reason for all of this stems directly from the heart of my faith in God. However, I do not require you to have the same reasons as I for what you do. I am overwhelmingly ecstatic for you to do, period.

I will try to update this blog once a week - at the very least…perhaps each Sunday, so that come Monday morning, you will have a fresh piece of informational inspiration at your fingertips. And together, perhaps we can make a change.