Archive for Social Good

Shake Hands with a Hero

Thank you to Procter & Gamble, Kroger and the USO for sponsoring this blog post and the Shake Hands With A Hero initiative. Please click here to learn more about this program. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I don’t just shake hands with a hero–my hero is my husband.It has been an honor and a privilege to support him in his service these past seven years.

Like other heroes, though, he will tell you he is just doing his duty.

He left his job as a litigator at a New York City law firm to enter basic training and later accept a commission as a field artillery officer. In December of 2005, he deployed to Iraq. For almost a year he led a mission into Baghdad almost every day, sometimes twice a day. He saw violence but he also bore witness to hope as he brought diplomats and dignitaries to see the situation on the ground for themselves.

Along the way, he missed Christmas and a year’s worth of Holidays and birthdays and celebrations.  He found out we were having our first child over the phone.  And he was not there for the birth of his first child.

He carried 90 pounds of gear in 140 degree weather and led men through a war zone because that is what his country asked of him.

But he never lost his sense of purpose and his humanity–or his willingness to amuse a child with a magic trick. And he never lost sight of his mission and he brought each and everyone of his soldiers home.

When our brave men and women of the armed forces put themselves in harm’s way, they are sacrificing their comfort and safety for our own.

They voluntarily leave their own warm homes, missing anniversaries, kids’ games and recitals, and even births, so that the rest of us do not have to.

Military service in today’s world is a choice, which is all the more reason to thank our soldiers.  They could choose to be doing just about anything else–but instead they are on the front lines of freedom, fighting the battles our elected civilian leaders have chosen.

While my husband was deployed, he was “adopted” by a number of members of Soldier’s Angels.  They sent him so many postcards and letters, all of which he filed in a giant binder that we still keep today.

A postcard, a handshake, an e-mail may seem like a small thing.  To someone who is far from home, though, these gestures let them know that their sacrifices are appreciated.

Today’s warriors don’t fight for land or treasure or glory–they fight for you.

As part of their partnership with the USO, Kroger and Procter & Gamble P&G have created an opportunity to let consumers virtually “shake hands with a hero” – the proper custom to show your gratitude to US soldiers in uniform to thank them for their service to our country. The first 50,000 people who utilize the microsite application (at www.honoringourheroes.com) to shake a soldier’s hand will receive a coupon (loaded to their Kroger Plus Card) for $1 off P&G products.

Bag It Forward for Children of National Guard Soldiers

Elmer's Bag It ForwardWould you Bag It Forward with me and help school children throughout the country?

Money is tight everywhere and people are struggling to ensure their kids have opportunities and the families of our soldiers are no exception. Most of our National Guard serves part time until activated for deployment. These soldiers work full time jobs besides their one weekend a month, two weeks a year training obligations. However, like too many other Americans, some of these soldiers have lost their full-time jobs in the latest economic downturn.

There are laws to protect our servicemembers but it is possible that the frequent deployments and training commitments have made some of these soldiers first on the list to go at their workplaces.

Most families do not want their soldier to spend time away from the family but for some, active duty becomes the most economically safe option. Just imagine looking forward to a deployment just so your family has a steady paycheck!

There are a number of agencies and volunteer groups that try to fill in the gaps of the needs of our servicemembers and their families. For example, Operation Homefront’s Backpack Brigade supplies backpacks full of supplies to eligible military families every year.

Elmer’s selected me as a paid Bag It Forward ambassador and gave me a $100 gift card to Walmart to purchase school supplies for my daughter and for a family in need. I was thrilled to be able to donate the full amount to the back-to-school supply drive for the enlisted soldiers’ families in my husband’s National Guard unit. Some of the members of my local moms’ group chipped in with more backpacks and supplies, too.

After the video, find out about how you can Bag It Forward and earn a $10 donation for Adopt-A-Classroom. Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom to aid their mission to increase opportunity for student success by empowering teachers with community partners and funds to purchase resources for the classroom. You can help end teacher-funded classrooms with just a blog post or facebook note!


Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom with your participation. Join now!

ELMER’S VIRTUAL BAG IT FORWARD RULES

  • Copy and paste these rules into your blog post or facebook “note” (look on yourr left sidebar).
  • In you blog post or facebook note, give a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or facebook friends by linking to them or “tagging” them in your note.
  • Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
  • Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
  • Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there. (http://bagitforward.org/donate-a-bag/)
  • Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by September 10, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post per blog url will count towards the donation.

Valentines for Veterans 2010 to Benefit Sew Much Comfort

valentines4vetsOur veterans have done so much for our country.  They give of their time, energy, and talents and sometimes they make the ultimate sacrifice.  These men and women travel far from their loved ones, not just to fight wars, but to build roads and repair sewers, to rescue victims of natural disasters…to stand strong for those who are unable to defend themselves.

My husband is a veteran of the war in Iraq.  He has served as an Active Duty Field Artillery officer and currently commands a National Guard Battery.  I am incredibly proud of him and all of those who have served with, before, and after him.  I am also so very grateful that he came home to us–to me and his infant daughter–and that he has had the opportunity to see her grow and to add our son to our family.

Some of our veterans have not returned home.  And some who have returned home are severely injured, with long paths to recovery.  Hospitalization and extensive therapy are trying under the best of circumstances.

During National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week (February 7-13), you can make a small token of your appreciation for these brave soldiers.  Valentines for Veterans can help boost morale and send the message that we are thinking of those who serve.

With my playgroup, I made some Valentines and I am bringing them to my nearest VA Hospital.

As part of a project with Bloganthropy, I am posting about this effort to earn a donation of clothing for Sew Much Comfort from Dollar Days.

Sew Much Comfort provides adaptive clothing at no cost to support the unique needs of our injured service members from all branches of the military and national guard. This clothing fits around medical devices and prosthetics and gives the service member and medical personnel ready access to injured areas. The adapted clothing allows injured service members to have their clothing appear the same as normal civilian attire; an attribute which helps facilitate a more natural and comfortable recovery. Without adaptive clothing the only option for the service member is a hospital gown.

Through the volunteer efforts of seamstresses and donations of money, clothing and fabric, Sew Much Comfort has been able to provide over 75,000 pieces of adaptive clothing and comfort.

How YOU can help:

  • You can make Valentines for Veterans, too! Locate your nearest VA hospital and call to make sure they can accept your Valentines.  Canada also salutes its vets during this week and has some tips on making Valentines for Vets.
  • Comment: Dollar Days will donate $50 retail value in clothing for this post, plus $50 more if I receive at least 10 comments.  The total donation will be well over $1000 worth of clothing.  So, please comment!  A list of other posts will be posted on Bloganthropy this week.
  • Donate to Sew Much Comfort: Sew Much Comfort provides adaptive clothing free of charge to wounded veterans and is able to do so through generous donations and volunteer hours. Financial donations are always helpful and there is also a list of needed clothing and fabric.  Sew Much Comfort specifically would love to receive t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirt or sweat shirts with logos of local sports teams in any area of the United States (size large is most needed). The wounded soldiers love having sport themed clothing but it is hard to get unless you live in that state.
  • Volunteer with Sew Much Comfort: Sew Much Comfort relies on its 1600+ volunteer seamstresses to make clothing for wounded soldiers–and they can always use another pair of hands. If you know your way around a sewing machine, find out more about volunteering here.

Call for Blogger Volunteers

bloganthropyMy good friend, Debbie, and I have launched a new project, Bloganthropy (non-profit, 5013c pending).  Bloganthropy combines the power of social media with the resources of corporate giving.

The organization will support the volunteer projects of our fellow bloggers, publish posts about social media and non-profits, and implement 6-12 Bloganthropy charitable projects a year.

We’re currently looking for volunteer bloggers to make Valentines for Veterans and help earn a donation of clothing for Sew Much ComfortClick here to read more details and volunteer!

And while you are there, please take the Bloganthropy Pledge–promising to use your social media influence to support your charitable causes!

Beautiful Haiti

The unalleviated suffering of one diminishes the humanity of us all.

At least, that’s what I’ve believed most of my life.

We’ve seen some tragic images in recent days, many of us, including myself and my co-editor at Mamanista have felt compelled to donate to help. I came across this lovely post detailing how you can save to give, even if your budget is tight.

As a history educator, my acquaintance with Haiti to this point has been primarily its difficult and challenging history. Some have used that to argue that Haiti is a lost cause and others to argue for greater compassion. Others, including our President, have pointed to recent improvements and signs of hope that must not be extinguished.

But Haiti is not all violent history and governmental corruption and poverty and environmental degradation and disease. Haiti is also a living and vibrant society. Perhaps if we think of the beauty in Haiti, and its rich cultural heritage, we might be struck more by our shared humanity than just by pity.

In a local village, there is a beautiful gallery of Haitian art. I’ve gone several times with my family to stare at the paintings.

I wanted to share them with you.

Feeding the Homeless on Thanksgiving

This morning I spent a little time helping Volunteer 4 Long Island to assemble packages of food, personal items (toiletries), and clothing for those who are homeless or living in emergency and temporary housing.

Even the littlest volunteers helped make cards to go in the packages.

Those who did not have small children then went out and distributed the packages to the people living in the surrounding woods, abandoned and condemned buildings, and shelters and temporary and emergency housing.

Watch this amazing video of their efforts Feeding the Homeless in 2008–I guarantee you will be moved!

As part of my work with Bloganthropy.org, I launched @Volunteer4LI on Twitter, got a basic website up and running, and directed people to their facebook page. Jeanine, who co-founded the organization with her husband, said that all of the kind bloggers and tweeters who helped spread the word (especially those who are part of Long Island Tweet-Up@LITweetUp) got them dozens of additional volunteers. And we’re going to have Jeanine share on Bloganthropy how they got started with this wonderful effort. Hopefully we can see how social media can help others get projects like this started in their own communities!

Jeanine’s husband told an amazing story illustrating how even small acts of kindness can plant the seeds for salvation. He explained that the goal for today was not only to feed empty stomachs on this one occasion, but to feed hearts and souls for a lifetime.

I am amazed at the good works this organization does. If you are on Long Island, please join. Even if you are not on Long Island, please see their projects and I hope they will inspire your own efforts.

Donate Halloween Candy to the Troops!

Donate Candy to Soldiers Troops

Rather than letting your excess Halloween Candy go to your hips, send it to the troops.  If you have young kids or you did not get as many trick-or-treaters as you hoped, you may have a lot of candy hanging around.

Found via Cool Mom Picks (via Fairly Odd Mother), these military support groups will accept your candy for care packages for our troops:

They also have some great children’s charities listed if you’d prefer to drop off your remaining candy locally.

Some local dentists are also hosting candy “buy back” programs, giving out stickers, toothbrushes, and even sometimes cash for the candy and then taking the boxes of sweets and donating them for you.

Can We Help Baby Jaeli? YES, We Can!

Have you heard about baby Jaeli?

We hear a lot about how important breastmilk is for babies–but here is a baby for whom mother’s milk is literally a life and death issue.

Jaeli has a rare genetic condition and will not tolerate formula. Her mom is breastfeeding and pumping but it is not enough. What baby Jaeli needs is time and calories and that is what breastmilk will give her.

But her mom’s state Medicaid will not cover this need and banked breastmilk, especially the high-calorie milk Jaeli needs, is costly.

But we won’t let a baby suffer and starve. Oh, no we won’t.

Ange England took up the cause and issued a challenge to the netizens of the social media world: Will you feed this baby? Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other caring people answered her call and donated enough for baby Jaeli to have milk through the end of October.

Baby Jaeli needs more.

Do you know someone at a company that could sponsor a week’s or month’s worth of feedings?

Working together, we can give provide sustenance to a baby.

Find out more:

Everyone Deserves A Breath of Fresh Air

The Fresh Air Fund has provided free summer vacations to New York City children from disadvantaged communities since 1877. Many of these kids would otherwise not have a chance to play in open spaces, enjoy nature, or even just relax on the grass under a shady tree. The kind of experiences that should be a part of childhood.

As a child, I used to visit my Grandfather at the hotel where he worked in the Catskills. I can remember how much more carefree the summers seemed, even to this suburbanite. For the Fresh Air Fund children who grow up in concrete hi-rises, this change of pace and environment can be even more important.

Imagine a childhood summer without blades of grass tickling your toes, catching fireflies, or splashing in the water.

There are a lot of ways you can help these kids get out of the city for a little while and experience more of their world.

One of the biggest ways a family can help is to host a child. Unless all prospective host families are screened and vetted in time many children may miss out on this invaluable experience. Families who want to extend an invitation to a 9-12 year old are especially in need. If you are interested, please contact Angie (angie@freshair.org or 1-800-367-0003; 212.897.8900).

If you cannot host, you can help with a donation to The Fresh Air Fund.

Please spread the word this and every summer!

Congenital Heart Defects: Legislative Victories!

If you read this blog, you know about my support of the American Heart Association and my personal experience with heart issues. Today I got this great e-mail from the ACHA in my inbox and I want to share this with you.

Dear ACHA supporter:

We did it!

Thanks to the hundreds of letters, e-mails, and congressional visits made by people like you, both the House and Senate included calls for ACHD funding in the first version of the 2008 budget. To view the full House and Senate bills, click here (House) and here (Senate).

House:
Congenital heart disease -The Committee recognizes that congenital heart disease is a chronic disease affecting approximately 1.8 million Americans. It commends NHLBI for convening a working group to address this issue, and supports its recommendation that action be taken to prevent needless disability and premature mortality in this rapidly-growing population. The Committee urges NHLBI to work with patient associations and other appropriate public health organizations to develop education and research initiatives targeted to the life-long needs of congenital heart disease survivors.

Senate:
Congenital Heart Disease -The Committee commends the NHLBI for convening a working group to address congenital heart diseases, and supports its recommendation that action be taken to prevent needless disability and premature mortality. The Committee urges the NHLBI to work with patient associations, other appropriate NIH Institutes, and the CDC to develop education and research initiatives targeted to the life-long needs of congenital heart defect survivors.

So what’s the next step?
Over the next five months, Congress will work to create and vote on a final 2008 budget bill. We want this call for ACHD funding to make it all the way into the final budget. Once this happens, Congress will then ask federal health and research agencies to tell them how they have responded to this call for action.

So what do we need from you?
Please write or email your members of Congress to let them know why federal support for CHD survivors is important to you. The goal is to make your lawmakers aware of the call for ACHD funding in the budget and to urge their support for CHD survivors.

Think writing a letter won’t make a difference? Think again! Research shows it takes only 10 contacts to make a legislator pay attention to a piece of legislation!

Need some help getting started? Three sample letters and letter-writing tips can be found here.

Find your lawmakers by visiting www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. After you have found your lawmakers, follow the link to their individual web pages. You will find all mailing and email addresses here.

With your help, we can take this all the way!