The devastation in Oklahoma is almost too much to bear. The wrath of this tornado is yet one more natural disaster added on to an ever- growing list of catastrophes which have taken the lives of innocent people.
My heart goes out to everyone in Oklahoma including my friend Lisa of Retro Housewife Goes Green (who is shaken up but seems to be doing well) and the families throughout the world who have lost loved ones.
Thankfully, there are some fantastic resources which people have generously pulled together to help those directly impacted by the tragedy and to provide those of us at a distance with ways to help.
Here’s an easy one.
As all of the heart wrenching stories unfold a few stories of hope, strength and survival also find their way to the surface.
This amazing woman tells her tale and while talking happens to find her dog during the interview alive and buried under piles of rubble. I have to admit that I found it a little odd that the reporter and her crew really didn’t help much with the uncovering of the dog. It’s still a happy moment.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday-the holiday shopping season has officially begun. Many of us search high and low for the perfect gift. Studies have found that giving gifts helps define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the receiver, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift. No doubt about it-it feels great to give a gift. Regardless of your spiritual practice or religion, there is a common theme during the holidays- place others before yourself. There is no better way to do this than to give gifts to the people you love that benefit people in need.
Need some stocking stuffers, teacher gifts or just plain out of ideas? Here are some unique philanthropy-inspired gifts that keep on giving:
GlobalGiving Gift Cards- Giving a gift card from GlobalGiving lets you give the gift of giving. The recipient gets to pick the project(s) that they want to support and then see how their money has been put to work through regular updates. You can monitor how the funds raised have made an impact to date. Another bonus-the gift cards are biodegradable.
Jewelry for a Cause A company that that combines cool and hip jewelry with philanthropy-a winning combination. For each purchase a specified amount is donated to charity.
TreeNex TreeNex provides a truly unique opportunity to have a tree planted in a forest each time you purchase a greeting card from their site. When your tree is planted a tree ID is assigned to you. You can use the ID to login at anytime to check on your tree’s progress. How cool is that?
Alternative Gifts International A non-profit that inspires support for humanitarian and environmental causes. You can share the gift of giving by sending someone special a gift card. The recipient can choose from the sites Shopping List for the World which lists numerous charities worldwide that are in need of support.
What unique ideas do you have for giving this holiday season?
It’s that time of year again-time for creepy decorations, ghoulish Jack-O-Lanterns and freaky costumes-Halloween. This holiday easily makes it to the top of my favorite holiday list-I’ll take any excuse to stay local, hang with wonderful neighbors and dress up in something you have been dying to sport all year long but felt it was too “out there” for suburban or even city attire (since having kids I have yet to wear a costume-suggestions anyone?).
Although the big day is rapidly approaching, there is plenty of time left to put a little green in your Halloween.
Don’t panic-I am by no means suggesting ridding ourselves of the traditional hoarding of treats-although that would help my personal caloric intake for the evening. I just thought I would throw a few simple ideas out there to make this creative, community event healthier for the planet.
According to the group Green Halloween, if half the kids in the U.S. who celebrate Halloween swapped costumes, rather than buying new ones, the nation’s annual landfill waste would be reduced by 6,250 tons. That’s about the weight of 2,500 mid-size cars.
A National Costume Day Swap took place in early October in many communities across the country. If you missed the big swap event there is still time to green your Halloween with thredUP’s online kids costume swap. thredUp organizes costume swaps with kids across the country for only $5 plus shipping.
Keep the treats coming-but why not add a worthy cause to your nightly quest for the most candy on the block? Seems like a perfect opportunity to sit down with the little people in your life and talk charity. It’s really not about how much you collect-just a great opportunity to teach about giving to others. That’s what Halloween’s all about.
Here are some charities that have been trick-or-treating with kids for years:
Another option is to select a charity that means something to your family and make your own collection containers.
USE A REUSABLE BAG FOR TREATS
Out with the molded, plastic jack-o-lanterns (maybe you still have one?) for collecting candy. Try using a cloth or canvas shopping bag, or even pillowcases as an eco-friendly alternative for collecting those treats.
Check out some of the great ideas for reusable bags suggested by Get Green Be Well. You can enter a Trick or Treat bag design contest for kids through ChicoBag and Green Halloween.
NOW WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THAT CANDY
Photo used under Creative Commons from The Culinary Geek
Some of the candy will be traded and eaten by our very own little ghouls and gobblins-I am sure that I will help out too….but, as in years past, there will just be too much to consume.
Here are some ideas for getting rid of the overload:
Donate it- There are lots of charities that will take your extra Halloween candy- there are ways to send to a soldier, children or the hungry. Cool Mom Picks and Fairly Odd Mother had a few great ideas for donating Halloween candy. While these are viable options for ridding ourselves of the candy, I have mixed feelings about donating candy to children, the hungry and/or our soldiers. Any other ideas?
Test it–CandyExperiments.com is a great site with tons of ideas for creating a test kitchen with your Halloween candy. Created by a mother of three who decided to teach her little ones a thing or two about the science and nutrition of candy rather than ingesting it all. Can’t wait to test some of these out-especially the Pop Rocks experiment.
I have to say this was pretty cool…..I mean really cool. Power couple Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams co-hosted “Unity in Style,” a charity fashion show and live auction that benefited the Giving Planet .“Unity in Style,” took place at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. Actress and UNICEF Ambassador Téa Leoni served as honorary board chairperson. I was honored to be one of many sponsors of the event and the best part-I was there!!
Photo by Sarah Martin Photography
The event raised funds for one of my favorite charities, the Giving Planet. The Giving Planet was founded by the magnificent Marisa Pizzuto. It is a non-profit that engages young people around the world to share their stories through digital media; the group uses technology with young people to foster a new level of cultural understanding.
Photo by Sarah Martin Photography
The event showcased the latest creations of designers EDUN, Jennifer Chun, Robert James, Emily Sinnott, Sucker Jeans, Taashki, Katherine Kim, Anna Lassiter and Lucinda Robinson.
Throughout the evening photographs by the Giving Planet teens from Ghana, Kenya and Uganda were on display. They were breathtaking and moving.
Photo by Linda McKusick
Other people showing off their wares included jewelry by Nancy Melet and silk shawl creations by Suzanne Silk. The Claudia Eliaza Quartet, a jazz ensemble, provided live entertainment. Part of the entertainment was a live Ghanaian dance performance. Inspired by organic foods champion and author Hemingway, the event caterer, Great Performances, offered organic appetizers.
Sponsors for Unity in Style included EDUN LIVE, W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd., Meaningful Meetings, King Fish Media, MyVBO, Inkshot Pictures, Hollis Interactive, Taashki, Groovy Green Livin, Sarah Martin Photography, H20PRO Shop, Blades Natural Beauty and Surface Hair Products.
It was apparent that a lot of heart and soul went into this event and it certainly paid off. It was a fun evening for all, for an incredible cause…..
Click HERE for more information on the Giving Planet.
Publicity was provided byCheryl Duncan of Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc.
I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I continue on my journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I just might stop to make some noise about issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I fight for a safer world for all of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes in your life can lead to a non-toxic, healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.