Friday, November 16, 2007

Britt Bravo's 10 Holiday Gifts that give back

Check out Britt Bravo's blog entry Ten Holiday Gifts that Give Back--a wonderful short-list of resources for meaningful gifts that will help change the world for the better.

I have interviewed a couple of people who sent out notes asking for no more gifts this year, stressing that "we have everything we need and want." Instead, they encourage their friends and family to choose their favorite charitable institution and make a donation on their behalf.

I have been an advocate of this kind of gift-giving early on. I have checked out Global and bought hip accessories for my friends from them. I am also glad that the proceeds go back to women artisans in third-world countries who are ensured fair trade and wages. is an organization that helps us make small loans out (as small as $25) to start-up micro-businesses like selling charcoal, helping a seamstress buy a sewing machine, or seed money for a crafting or knitting group.

My mom donates to a children's hospital that helps out sick children. World Vision sponsors orphaned children for $35 a month.

There are also earth-friendly gifts you might want to consider, like Your Own Bags.Com. Giving these as gifts will encourage your friends and family to use reusable bags and save landfill space and keep our marine life safer.

We can also look into out local communities and help out struggling non-profits with our donations/gifts on behalf of our gift list. We can also organize collection points or encourage our community towards a donating project. One Warm asks only for warm winter coats and sweaters for adults and children. Our local contact is Jaime Pearson at (925) 997-8117. She will collect used coats all throughout November.

I don't many winter coats, in fact I only have at a time. Since I am ready to buy a new one, my 10-year old black wool coat will now have a good place to go. With many more warm years on her, I am sure she will keep someone else warm for a couple more years.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mountains of Candy

I love small ideas that snowball into something bigger than ever expected. This is solid proof of something way bigger than just us. This is a testament on how the Universe opens up doors and roads to get things done if we put our heart into it.

I saw it first-hand with the candy drive of Laurie Restani in partnership with Kids Helping Kids' director Laura Page. Laurie and Laura thought of donating Halloween left-over candy to the troops in Iraq to sweeten their Christmas care packages. She called out for left-over candy collection points in 5 schools in Discovery Bay, Byron, and Brentwood.

What happened next is the miracle. Kids gave so much candy, collection had to be made daily. Last November 9, they filled 2 cars and 1 van with candy and transported them for packing in Excelsior Middle School, where about 100 students and parent-volunteers were waiting to help out.

"I have never seen so much candy," said Laurie. They collected about 1000 pounds of candy.

Local business came out to help out with their generous candy and supply donations. Kids Helping Kids provided pizza and soda for the packing groups.

6270 bags of candy, along with homemade greeting cards with support messages for the troops, were packed and delivered to the Blue Star Moms of Danville, who will ship out the candy bags.

What an amazing opportunity to see divine forces at work. Everyone and everything just came together. How people just came out to help, how the kids seized this opportunity to make a difference, how the Blue Star Moms will take the next leg to ship the candy, how the troops' spirits will be lifted by these thoughtful tokens, how the whole project snowballed into a success bigger than anyone expected.

"I was expecting to collect only about 500 bags of candy," said Laura. "I am humbled and overwhelmed by the community support and generosity."

"It's amazing how my small idea to collect excess Halloween candy got so big. It all started when when I was helping Kids helping Kids pack back packs for children in Africa for Christmas. We had some leftover candy and Laura offered to donate it all to the Blue Star Moms when she heard about their care package program for Christmas. That's when the idea came to me. All the caring people helped make it happen. It was great to see what we could do when we all come together for a good cause." - Laurie Restani

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Simply Remembering

Look, no eating, no gambling, no karaoke, no vendors allowed.

For truly, remembering is an all-year round thing--a solemn reminder that our beloved dead will always be a part of our living lives.