Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 90: Check out Grant Gopher

GrantGopher.com is a Web site designed for free, easy access to millions of available grants for nonprofit organizations. Searching for that information can take hours, time that could instead by sent filling out applications and getting money.

There is no software to download, just a search engine that gives you access to an entire database of opporunities. They include everything they can find: corporate, community and private foundations and all levels of government.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 89: Take the 30 Day Challenge

The mission of Spreading Joy Corporation is to aid in restoring hope to those who otherwise would feel there is no use to try and make a difference. It believes many people often forget that "there is no joy like spreading joy," and you never know which gift will make a life changing impact.

You can help by taking the 30 Day Challenge. For the month of April, look for ways you can spread joy each and every day. You can volunteer, let someone ahead of you in line, make a donation or have a no chore-only fun day for your children.

For more ideas on how you can spread joy, click here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 88: Before you buy or sell a home, check here

HomeCash for Charity offers automatic cash rebates on your real estate commissions before you buy or sell a home. Simply register before you hire an agent, hire any agent you like and, after closing, get a check that you can donate to the charity of your choice.

Upon hearing of this program, I immediately went to its FAQ link to get more information. Here's what I found out:

Q. What is HomeCash for Charity?

A. HomeCash for Charity allows Care2 home buyers and sellers to get cash back using any real estate agent — while supporting a favorite cause or charity at the same time. Care2 members can also save on mortgage costs.

Q. How does HomeCash for Charity work?

A. By registering with the program before you agree to hire an agent, you are eligible to receive cash back from real estate commissions after closing. During on-line registration, you decide how much of the rebate you keep or share with your favorite charity. After closing, you get a rebate check and your donation is sent to your non-profit.

Q. Does this mean Care2 is getting in the real estate business?

A. No. Care2 has partnered with Chase and a national real estate company, HomeGift Realty, which helps non-profit organizations around the country to raise funds any time a supporter buys or sells a home.

Q. When did real estate companies start offering cash back on commissions?

A. For years, big-brand, established real estate companies like Coldwell Banker and Prudential have been offering cash rebates to members of trade associations, corporate executives and other affinity groups. Now, Homegift offers these same cash back incentives to members of non-profit organizations as a way of encouraging charitable giving. More about HomeGift Realty, Inc.

Note: There are only 10 states that do not allow rebates: Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 87: Make a pledge

Pledgehammer.com is a site that helps you keep your promises. It makes your pledge public and asks you to decide on a deadline as well as a financial incentive. Should you not succeed on your promise, it encourages you to donate money to a charity of your choice.

Some pledges include:

I pledge that every time I buy something new, I will donate something I already have or I will donate $7.00 each time I don't.

I pledge that I will send a balloon into space to take photographs by Sept. 30, 2011 or I will donate 250.00 GBP to charity.

I pledge to finish reading all the self-help books I've started, quit smoking and lose 30 pounds by Dec. 31, 2009, or I will donate 100.00 USD to charity.

You get the idea. It's fun, easy and an interesting way to hold yourself accountable.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 86: Switch to Nutrish

If you are a dog owner, this is a great opportunity to switch to pet food that uses all natural ingredients, and even better, all proceeds from the sales go to animal rescue.

Here's what Rachael Ray has to say about her creation, Nutrish:

"So I had this awesome idea to work with a team of pet nutrition experts to
create a pet food made with simple, natural ingredients that any furry family member
would love. With Rachael Ray Nutrish, my Isaboo gets all the delicious goodness she
loves to gobble up and all the nutrition I want her to have. Real meat — like chicken or beef — is the first ingredient. There are no fillers. No junk. Just lots of good, wholesome stuff. How cool is that? And you know me. I’m all about giving back, so all of my proceeds from Rachael Ray Nutrish go to charities that take care of animals who have no one else to look out for them."

You can get a free sample of Nutrish by clicking here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 85: Organize a clothing swap

I was flipping through Shape magazine and came across this fantastic tip from Elena Lipson, 33, of Bellingham, WA.

"I help coordinate bimonthly clothing swaps in my community. As our child grows, we're able to give away things that no longer fit, come away with a bag full of clothing for the next size up, and feel a sense of friendship as we connect with other families."

Good for the planet, good for the pocketbook and any unwanted items can be given to charity.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 84: Shake and bake

Participate in Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale, a national effort that encourages Americans to host bake sales to help end childhood hunger. Since 2003, more than 1.3 million people have hosted bake sales, raising nearly $5 million.

The event runs through July 31.

Cllick here for a checklist that provides tips on promoting and recipes for your event.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 83: Donate books

There are many organizations that will take the books off your shelves.

The Community Center is looking for donations of used books to put in its reading area and give out to local residents. Books should be suitable for children and families to enjoy and should be in average condition (no mildew, missing covers or missing pages). Hardcover and paperback are both fine. Books can be dropped off at the Community Center of St Bernard, 1107 LeBeau St, Arabi from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

Local libraries often accept used books. Contact yours for details. Some libraries only want very new books. Others will take almost anything and will even clean up dirty books. Some libraries sell donated books in order to raise funds for library services.

You also might check with local hospitals, women's or homeless shelters, children's reading or after-school programs and senior centers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 82: Neighborhood Watch

Create or join a neighborhood watch program. USA on watch is the face of the national neighborhood watch programs. It recommends you follow these five easy steps to register your neighborhood:

1. Recruit and organize as many neighbors as possible.
2. Contact your local law enforcement agency and schedule a meeting.
3. Discuss community concerns and develop an action plan.
4. Hold regular meetings and trainings.
5. Implement a phone tree and take action steps.

Additional information can be found at www.usaonwatch.org

Day 81: Quilt for Kids

This is another wonderful way for those with a special skills set to give back. Quilts for Kids, Inc. transforms discontinued designer fabrics into quilts that comfort children with cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening illnesses
as well as battered & abused children. Its goal is to link design centers nationwide to their communities, so that children in need in those regions may be served.

More than 40,000 quilts have been distributed worldwide.

In particular, they are looking for 36-inch square NICU quilts or approximately 38" x 45" crib/lap quilts.

Recommended fabrics are 100 percent cotton, regular or flannel. Please do not use polar fleece. The kids love brightly colored, kid-friendly fabrics.

Upon completion, mail quilts to:
Quilts for Kids, Inc.
11 Effingham Road
Yardley, PA. 19067

Please call 215-295-5484 with questions.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 80: Join a bereavement committee

There's nothing more devastating than losing a loved one. But a great way to help alleviate some of the burdens of the grieving is to help take care of some of the mundane tasks while they're coping. Simply cooking a meal or helping serve their family during services are strong gestures. Perhaps you can take care of their lawn or run errands for them as well. A small gesture goes a long way during difficult times.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 79: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence is a fun opportunity for men to educate and rally the community to take action to prevent sexual violence.

In asking men to publicly stand up, particularly in high heels, and show their commitment to ending violence, their actions will encourage other men to start thinking about how they personally can do their part to end violence.

Tulane University will hold its march April 3.

To volunteer (women) or sign up for the walk (men), please click here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 78: Be creative - like Joaquin the Bean!

Three-year-old Joaquin has been diagnosed with epilepsy, and his parents have created this awesome, funny, inspiring Web site to raise money for research and awareness of the disease.

One original idea they had was to take pictures of Joaquin holding signs of popular phrases and sayings. You can't look at this boy and not feel a huge smile spread across your face. And to raise money for their cause, you can send in your favorite saying, and Joaquin will hold the sign and pose just for you!

Another great idea is they've created Joaquin the Bean T-shirts that are available for purchase, featuring a picture of the most punk-rockin' kid around.

I just think this is one of the most creative fundraising sites I've ever seen. It's the perfect example of thinking outside the box. It got me to share the idea with all of you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 77: Clean out your cupboards

Go through your pantry and see if there are items you have stocked that you know you won't use and bring them to your local food bank. Canned items and non-perishables are always welcome contributions.

Some examples:

Peanut Butter
Canned Goods: meats, stews, tuna fish, pork & beans, navy beans, spam, soup
applesauce, peaches, pears, fruit cocktail,
Green beans, corn,pPeas and other vegetables
Dry pasta and Ramen noodles
Dried beans
Powdered milk
Spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, ravioli, beefaroni
Macaroni & cheese and other packaged dinners
100% Juice
Saltine crackers

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 76: Pledge to Dine In to Fight Childhood Hunger

By simply hosting a dinner with your friends and family, you can help make a difference for the more than 12 million American children and their families who don't have access to regular healthy meals.

Pledge to have a dinner with family and friends to talk about childhood hunger and STOUFFER'S® will donate $5.

Click here to make your pledge.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 75: Reach out, give support

This idea comes from Becky, a reader who is founder of www.greatestgiftfoundation.org:

Do a blog search on an illness or difficult event that is close to your heart (i.e. breast cancer, or dying mom, or kidney transplant) and stop by a few blogs written by people who are dealing with those issues. Leave them a comment of support, something simple, like "I found your blog on a search and read a few entries, and just wanted you to know that my heart is going out to you today. I am so sorry to hear about what you are going through, and you will be in my thoughts." Bloggers who are sharing personal stories of tragedy are often doing so to reach out for support, and a few words from a stranger can go SO FAR in making them feel less alone!

And that concludes my first guest entry to this blog. I should also thank my friend, Celeste, who has given me at least a dozen ideas for entries, and Shannon, who reached out with the shopping mall and Soles United ideas, and Dawn (from Nova Scotia!), who clued me in on Earth Day, as well as a few other entries to come. Obviously, I can't get to 365 alone, so your contributions have been greatly appreciated.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 74: Give a compliment

It won't cure cancer or save dolphins or stop coastal erosion, but it could make someone's day. Give a compliment to someone who could use it. Tell someone you appreciate them. Hold a door open. Try to be less of a jerk, whatever. Just be nicer.

Vow to start off with one a day and see how quickly it becomes a habit.

I appreciate you reading this blog!

Day 73: Shop with a purpose

A great way to donate to your favorite local health care institution is to shop online through the Association for Health Care Philanthropy shopping mall, where you can access dozens of store, including Apple, Home Depot, Target, PetSmart and numerous travel outlets, such as Hotwire and Sandals, plus more. A percentage of each purchase you make will go to the health services organization of your choosing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 72: Become a Big Brother/Big Sister

Big Brothers/Big Sisters has been the No. 1 mentoring program for youth for more than 100 years. It is a volunteer-driven organization with a proven track record of success in serving families and kids. In southeastern Louisiana, the goal is to serve 2,000 kids by 2010.

Getting together is a great time for both Bigs and Littles. It doesn’t require a special occasion or expensive activities; just a few hours every month sharing simple things you already enjoy with a young person. Things like shooting hoops, playing a board game, sharing a pizza, taking a walk in the park or just hanging out and talking.

For more information on volunteering, click here.

Day 71: Donate plasma

Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of the blood that remains after the removal of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components. It is the single largest component of human blood, comprising about 55 percent, and contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins. Human plasma is the source of proteins and antibodies including albumin, clotting factors, immunoglobulins and fibrinogen, which are used to make therapies that treat life-threatening rare, chronic, and often genetic diseases such as hemophilia, primary immunodeficiencies, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and neurological and autoimmune disorders.

Plasma donors are providing a vital service to patients who suffer from rare, chronic diseases, and the industry that manufactures these life-saving plasma-derived therapies appreciates their commitment to donate.

To find a plasma donation center near you, do a goodsearch for donating plasma and your city.

I've been struggling to find a location in the New Orleans area. I believe this could be Katrina-related. If anyone knows of a local spot, please e-mail me, and I will update this entry. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 70: Shave your head

St. Baldrick's raises awareness and funds to cure children's cancer by supporting research and fellowship. There are three ways to participate:

Be a shavee - register to shave your head and have friends and families donate on your behalf

Be a barber - licensed barbers or cosmetologists can register to volunteer

Organize an event.

To find someone in your area to support, click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 69: Vote Earth

Save the date of March 28, 2009, at 8:30 p.m. to participate in Earth Hour, where you can cast your vote for or against global warming. Click here for more details.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 68: Help Pampers Support UNICEF

Pampers has teamed with UNICEF to create the "1 Pack = 1 Vaccine" program to get lifesaving tetanus vaccines to newborns. For each pack of specially marked Pampers diapers and wipes that you buy during the promotion period; Pampers donates the cost of one vaccine to UNICEF. In two years of the program, more than 40 million vaccines have been given.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 67: Clip coupons

The Sunday newspaper is a great resource for sale ads. Clip coupons from the circulars and hold on to them. In the weeks before they expire, compare your coupons with free-after-rebate specials from your local drugstore. Walgreens, for example, has a booklet you can pick up every month with several items free after rebate. This is a great way to get things that you need for free or for the price of the tax you paid only, but it's also a great way to collect items (toothbrushes and toiletries are good examples) that you can bring to a local homeless or women's shelter.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 66: Live Organ Donation

Today it’s possible for living donors to provide a kidney, a segment of the liver, even the lobe of a lung or the pancreas.

For more information, visit www.LivingOrganDonor.org.

To read an amazing recount of a living donor journey, that of Becky Waller, who received the world’s first laparoscopic living donor liver resection in 2006 for her brother, Joe Waller, who had Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis check out her Web site www.greatestgiftfoundation.org.

Becky created the non-profit organization to improve the care, knowledge, and support that living organ donors receive throughout their donation experience, from initial consideration through recovery and beyond. They do this by connecting living donors with each other as a community to share their experiences and support, by simplifying the search for the best available resources, and by working with transplant programs to identify and promote the use of best practices in donor care.

To donate organs in the case of your death, simply be sure to indicate it on your driver’s license.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 65: Be a Designated Driver

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the death of my beloved grandmother, who was killed by an impaired driver in an automobie "accident." In honor of her, I ask you to strongly consider being a designated driver.

The following statistics were provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving:

Every year, nearly 13,000 people are killed by drunk drivers with an illegal alcohol level of .08 BAC or above. That means that every month more than 1,000 families must live with the tragic consequences of drunk driving.

So give up the keys or call a cab if you think you've had too many. Thank you.

Day 64: More on the parade front

As I wrote in Day 16: Throw Them Something, Mister, Jimmy's Kids of St. Bernard Parish collects donated beads and Mardi Gras throws. There's another organization that accepts them as well.

ARC of Greater New Orleans, formerly the Association for Retarded Children, provides various services through the metropolitan area, including early intervention, family service, employment and supported living.

Bring your throws to one of the following locations:

925 S. Labarre Road in Metairie
5700 Loyola Avenue in New Orleans
333 Sala Avenue in Westwego

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 63: Go to parade, catch veggies, donate them

This Sunday is the Irish, Italian and Islenos Parade in St. Bernard Parish. Every year pounds upon pounds of potatos, carrots, cabbages, lemons end up on the streets of Judge Perez Drive, simply because, really, how much of that stuff can you store at home?

This year, collect your throws, take what you need and donate the rest to the Community Center of St. Bernard Parish at 1107 LeBeau Street in Arabi. I e-mailed Iray, the executive director, and found out they absolutely will accept and utilize any organic donations they can get.

Please forward this message to anyone you know who is attending the parade. Let's not let all that good food go to waste.

Day 62: Donate breast milk

The National Milk Bank is a nationwide organization that collects donated human milk, ensures milk safety and quality and makes it available for infants in need. Its goal is to make quality human milk to all premature and critically ill babies. Donated breast milk is also helpful to adopted babies or babies whose mother cannot produce enough milk.

For information, call 1-888-522-MILK.

You can apply online here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 61: Offer to babysit for free

Do you know a young couple who are parents of, say, a toddler? You have no idea how much they would appreciate a break. That's charity, right? Says the mother of a toddler, "Heck, yeah, that's charity!"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 60: Take a survey

At Make a Difference surveys, $3 will be donated to one of several organizations you can choose from (I picked the Special Olympics). It's one of those surveys where they are looking for your interests and illnesses and whatnot so they can send you the types of junk mail we're trying to avoid, so just use common sense when providing personal information. Overall, a simple task for $3.