April 30, 2010

Game Changer

If you’re looking for something to fill those agonizing hours before quitting time and you’re sick of surfing the same old sites, here are a few new ones that will not only boost your brain power but also give back to worthy causes.

Test your vocabulary skills at FreeRice.org. For every answer you get right, they’ll donate twenty grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. And with difficulty levels ranging from 1 to 60, happy hour will be here before you know it.

Having trouble remembering that “tall guy’s name with a moustache” that you met at lunch two hours ago? HelpThirst.com’s brain training game boasts that it not only improves your short term memory recall, but it can also help with focus and attention span issues. Plus, they’ll donate a cup of water to World Vision for every correct answer.

At Charitti.com, there are over 10,000 crossword-style word games just waiting to be solved. Plus you get to pick which charity you’re playing for through their cool CharitiiChooser gizmo. Whether its donating ounces of clean drinking water, grains of wheat to feed malnourished families, minutes of education time in a classroom, or inches of protected rainforest, it’s truly a win/win situation.

Heck, you might be having so much fun that you don’t even notice that the weekend has finally arrived.

April 28, 2010

Tie One On

Following in the footsteps of the hugely popular TOMS “buy one, give one” sales model, comes FIGS, which provides a hand-tailored line of rather dashing ties, and donates a school uniform in Africa for every one purchased.

With the credo “to make innovative ties and bow ties for the modern man, while simultaneously facilitating a child’s education,” an acronym of “Fashion Inspired Global Sophistication," and a motto “100% awesome,” I have a feeling this company is destined for greatness.

The ties start at $105 and come in eight debonair fabrics including woolen Ivy League plaid and Italian silk bicycle patterns. Or, design your own funky creation through its custom service for a few dollars more.

Either way, you’re treating an underprivileged child to new duds through the aptly named Threads for Threads program. Click here for more information.

April 27, 2010

Good Eatin'

If you’re looking for an excuse to dine out this week, this post might just give you the self-justification you need. This Thursday, April 29th, marks the ninth anniversary of Dining Out for Life, a day on which more than 3,500 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada donate a percentage of their breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner sales to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Some even sweeten the deal by including liquor sales (happy hour, anyone?).

So whether you’re in the mood for tapas or tamales, chicken or chowder, curry or casserole, chances are there’s a restaurant in your neck of the woods that's taking part. Click here for a complete list of participating joints that are making gluttony an exercise in guilt-free giving.

April 26, 2010

Save the Dolphins

One quick thing you can do this Monday to help save the dolphins.

Go to http://savejapandolphins.org/ and sign the petition to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, watch a celebrity-packed PSA about the campaign, and donate a few dollars for this great cause.

And, if you haven't already seen the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove," I'd highly recommend putting it at the top of your Netflix list.

April 22, 2010

Let’s Just Pretend it’s an Official Holiday

In case you haven’t heard, today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ll be out of the office all day long, doing my small part for Mother Earth.

On my to-do list:

1. Take leisurely walk with dog on Baker Beach
2. Turn off computer, telephone and lights for entire day
3. Three-minute shower (apologies to anyone standing in line behind me at the organic food
4. Eat only organic, locally grown food
5. Clean out closet, take stuff I used to be able to wear but now look like kids’ clothes to Goodwill

6. Walk, do not drive
7. Buy wine mentioned on Alicia Silverstone’s blog (Gotta have wine, right? How else can we toast Earth Day?)
8. Go see new movie “OCEANS” and literally help save oceans (a portion of each ticket sold during the film’s opening week, April 22-28, will help save coral reefs in the Bahamas)
9. Fall asleep early on new, ridiculously soft organic sheets (Because we all need to sacrifice)

I’ll be back tomorrow with another do-gooder tip. I’d love to know how you spent your Earth Day. Please post your tales below or e-mail me at susan@missdogooder.com.

April 21, 2010

It’s Not What You Know …

Seventh Generation is on the lookout for a real-life “Mother Nature.” Someone who lives, eats, works, shops and sleeps green.

If you know of such a mythical beast, put your pen to paper and tell Seventh Generation - in 1,000 characters (approx. 250 words) or less – how that person inspires you to live a greener, healthier, happier life. If they pick your story (non-fictional, of course) you could be the winner of a $5,000 green home makeover, a year’s supply of cleaning products for both you and your eco-muse, and a $2,500 donation to the charity of your choosing.

You’ve got until May 31 to enter the contest. Click here for the fine print and to gain a little inspiration (and tips) from Ivette Melendez, the company’s very own Mother Nature.

April 20, 2010

Challenge for Good

As you might already know, Miss Do-Gooder is an ardent supporter of any and all animal-related charities, be they big, small, local, national, rescues, shelters, foster and/or adoption activists. If it saves or helps prevent cruelty toward animals, she digs it. So when she heard that the ASPCA just launched its “$100K Challenge” (which awards more than the name suggests; it’s actually worth $125,000 in prizes, go figure), it was important to our diminutive superhero to spread the good word.

If you know of a shelter in your area that's doing extraordinary things to promote the saving of animals' lives, please click here. In order to qualify for this particular award, a shelter must save a minimum of 300 more cats, dogs, kittens and puppies from August through October, 2010, compared with the same three-month period last year. The ASPCA will also grant $25,000 to the shelter that most inspires and engages members of its community to get involved with the promotion of adoptions and reuniting lost pets with their parents (e.g. micro-chipping).

You’ve got until June 30 to nominate your favorite shelter, but please act quickly because the Challenge is limited to 50 shelters - and as you probably know, there are thousands of worthy shelters across the US.

Please click here for the official rules or to enter your shelter to win the big bucks.

April 19, 2010

Litter Bug

To celebrate Earth Day, vintage clothing retailer Buffalo Exchange is partnering with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to show consumers how to properly dispose of and recycle their trash. You see, each year we inadvertently kill or injure any number of wild critters who snuffle and peck their way through our garbage.

On April 24 the company is holding a Dollar Day sale with proceeds from all $1 items benefiting the HSUS’s “Don’t Trash Wildlife” campaign, as well as three wildlife centers that rescue and rehabilitate wild animals.

There's more. You can also get the good karma flowing by bringing unwanted fur garments (hand over the mink, ma) to any of its stores between now and Earth Day (April 22). Purged pelts will be donated to wildlife rehabilitators who use them to warm and comfort orphaned and injured wildlife. If that isn't turning a sour old bucket of moldy lemons into a big and delicious pitcher of sweet lemonade, I don't know what is. More than 200 rehabilitators from across the United States and Canada currently participate in this ingenious, heart-warming “Coats for Cubs” program.

If you're looking for a place to recycle your hip (emphasis on hip) clothing - and make a few bucks in the process - Buffalo Exchange is the perfect re-sale store for you. The company has locations in 14 states including Arizona, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Texas. And while you're dropping off your pre-owned fashions, be sure to pick up a “Don’t Trash Wildlife” flyer with practical tips on how to correctly discard plastic six-pack rings, fishing line, food containers/wrappers and other nasty trash.

Click here to learn more about how to rinse and recycle, cut or crush, fish it out, close and cover, and pack it in/pack it out, to help save critters from your litter.

April 16, 2010

Speaking of Autism

If you’re looking for ways to help stamp out autism during Autism Awareness Month (April), there are no shortage of companies who are offering up promotions all month long to help raise money for and awareness of the cause.

From toys to chocolate, search engines to clothing companies, the following organizations have partnered with Autism Speaks, the country’s largest autism science and advocacy group.

Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores in the US and Canada are collecting donations on behalf of Autism Speaks until April 30. So far they’ve raised more than $5.5 million since launching in 2007. They’ve also created a “Ten Toys that Speak to Autism” guide that highlights toys that can help children with autism develop language, creativity and social skills.

Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spr√ľngli is doing its part by donating 10 cents for every Lindt Gold Bunny (leftover Easter stock, perhaps? No matter - a Swiss chocolate rabbit is as delicious in April as it is March) sold in both grocery stores and its own retail outlets. It's also auctioning off special celebrity-autographed porcelain bunnies with all proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks.

Web searchers Ask.com will feature Autism Speaks on its home page throughout the month of April (take that, Google!). Visitors to the site will also be invited to participate in a Q&A that earns donations for the charity.

Last but not least, TJ Maxx stores will be selling Autism Speaks puzzle pieces for $1.

So shop and search ‘til your heart’s content. It’s all for a worthy cause.

April 15, 2010

Here's a Tip

Cascadian Farm is joining in the pre-Earth Day festivities by asking you to pledge to follow one of eight eco-friendly tips, all for a great cause. For each person that pledges to do their part before May 31, they’ll donate $1 to the Organic Farming Research Foundation (up to $40,000).

The choices are: slowing down on the highway, washing your car on the lawn, sealing leaky heating ducts, planting a tree, hosting a clothing swap, planning your weekly food menu (in advance of your shop), unplugging electronics when not in use, and installing a low flow toilet.

Not so hard, right? Click here to take the pledge and help create a cycle of positive change towards a greener future.

April 14, 2010

Easy Bake

This weekend – April 16-18 - marks the first anniversary of the Great American Bake Sale National Challenge to raise money to help put an end to childhood hunger. During this three-day baking extravaganza, Share Our Strength is asking Americans to channel their inner Betty Crocker (see previous post) to help raise funds for the cause by holding bake sales in their communities.

It doesn’t matter whether it's cookies or cupcakes, muffins or Madeleines; if it’s a) edible and b) baked, you’re golden.

If you don’t have time to whip up a batch of homemade goodies, you can still support the cause by purchasing sweets from a participating baker in your area. Click here for the official bake sale map. Or call 1-800-761-4227 to speak to a certified bake sale advisor (9a.m-10 p.m. EST Monday-Friday).

Your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe could help put an end to the nearly 17 million children (1 in 4) who go hungry in America.

April 13, 2010

Drugstore Duke-Out

The next time you head to your local Rite Aid store, chances are the checkout clerk will ask you if you’d like to purchase a paper balloon to go with your shampoo and shave gel. Yep, it’s that time of year (through May 15) when Rite Aid raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

The balloons cost just a buck and as a thank you for your kindness (and donation), you’ll be rewarded with $7 in store coupons. Not a bad deal.

And one-hundred percent of the money raised goes directly to Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization that raises funds for more than 170 hospitals across the country. Last year Rite Aid raised $5.2 million, which translates to a heck of a lot of balloons (5.2 million if my math is correct).

If balloons aren’t your thing, you might want to purchase your toiletries from a
CVS/pharmacy instead. While there, you can purchase a GreenBagTag for 99 cents, and five of those cents will go to the World Wildlife Fund, the world’s leading conservation organization (and owner of the super-cute panda logo).

If you’ve got the
GreenBagTag and are an ExtraCare member (you need both the tag and the reward card), you’ll be given points each time you decline a plastic bag and scan your tag (purchase obviously required.) On every fourth scan, you’ll receive a $1.00 “Extra Buck” on the bottom of your receipt which can be spent on most things in the store. Click here for more details.

Whichever store you shop at, you'll be bringing a little eco-cred to your drugstore run.

April 12, 2010

Pick a Card

You’ve got just a few days left to help a creative kid win $500 in art supplies just by voting for his or her homemade greeting card. There are ten holiday-themed cards to choose from including “Joy to the World” from Nick W. in Avon, NJ and “Frosty in a Snow Globe” from Suvir V. in Matthews, NC.

Voting for the UNICEF/Pier 1 Imports contest ends this Thursday, April 15, so please click here to help a budding young artist and help support UNICEF's phenomenal work on behalf of kids around the world.

April 9, 2010

Gentlemen Prefer Hanes

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a “boxer” or a “brief” for this charitable offer from Hanes. The undergarment brand is teaming up with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees in celebration of Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 30.)

Just buy three Hanes products before May 15 and the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree – in beautiful northern Michigan – on behalf of Hanes. As if that weren’t enough, you’ll also receive a free Earth Day T-shirt.

Besides the purchase, all you have to do is complete a short claim form, attach the original cash register receipt and mail it to the address below.

Hanes Earth Day Free T-shirt Offer
1407 Airport Road, Suite 3203
Monroe, NC 28110

I bet they can’t wait till they get their Hanes on you.

April 8, 2010

Idol Hands...

All of you American Idol addicts have a stellar opportunity to turn your love of the show into a good deed by joining the “Help Me Give Back” program before this year's “Idol Gives Back” event airing on April 21.

As with American Idol itself, being able to sing or dance isn't a prerequisite for participation. You can help raise funds and awareness for the initiative's beneficiaries -- including Children’s Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save the Children’s U.S. Programs and the United Nations Foundation -- by creating and/or joining fundraising teams on the “Help Me Give Back” Web site.

The site tracks the fundraising goals and progress of individual members, and also allows you to create your very own “Help Me Give Back” page to raise money for these worthy causes. Just remember to spread the word about your fundraising efforts by bragging about them to all of your friends, family and co-workers through all your favorite social networking sites.

The individuals and teams who impress Simon Fuller (and other show producers) with their campaigns could be the lucky winner of a shout-out from Ryan Seacrest during the “Idol Gives Back” broadcast. Or, better yet (arguably), find themselves smack dab in the middle of an upcoming American Idol show.

You’ve got until 11:59 PM PST on Tuesday, April 20 to join in all the fun, er, fundraising. Click here for more details.

April 7, 2010

Driving While Incommunicado

Oprah is spreading the word about the dangers of texting, calling, talking or e-mailing (who does this?) while driving. According to the information I “researched” (um, copied) from her Web site, nearly 500,000 people are injured and 6,000 are killed each year because drivers are talking, texting and e-mailing behind the wheel.

Possibly due to the fact that I don't own a car, I can honestly tell you that I am not one of these alleged talkers, texters or emailers. But, to further show my support for Oprah’s “No Texting Campaign,” I’ve joined the more than 169,000 individuals who’ve taken the pledge to make my future Zip Car rentals a “No Phone Zone.”

Nobody likes a distracted driver. Click here to sign the pledge.

April 6, 2010

Kick Off Your Shoes

TOMS Shoes wants you to go shoeless for a day on April 8. Yep, sans shoes… they even want you to give the boot to the canvas classics made by their cool, charitable company. If you haven't heard of them, they donate one pair of shoes to children in needy communities around the world for every pair they sell. Pretty neat.

TOMS is celebrating its third annual “One Day without Shoes” campaign, asking shoe owners everywhere to go barefoot for the day, for a few hours, or even for a few minutes. The idea is that we could all use a little taste of what millions of children endure every day. Well, without the 10-mile walk to get basics like food and water.

There are more than 950 barefoot events around the world from Dubai to Venice, Little Rock to London. And a few shoe-friendly events as well. You can also buy super-cute T-shirts to show your support for "One Day without Shoes."

Choose from “Barefoot at Heart,” “Un Dia Sin Zapatos,” “Newsworthy,” and “Barefoot So They Don’t Have To.” The shirts – printed on lovely soft American Apparel tees - cost $28; and, as with the shoes, for each T-shirt sold, TOMS will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.

So kick back, slip off your shoes, and show your support for TOMS by clicking here.

April 2, 2010

Animal Stamp-ede

The postal service is getting a bit of positive PR thanks to Ellen DeGeneres and her Halo, Purely for Pets pet food (she's a part owner.) The perky talk show host / "American Idol" judge / animal advocate is also busy promoting the new Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps.

The 44-cent postal stamps feature photos of 10 rather charming cats and dogs - including “Teddy” the Jack Russell terrier, “Bindi Su” the Aussie shepherd and “Peaches” the gray, white and tan kitty – who were adopted from various shelters. The stamps are available at post offices nationwide starting April 30. You can also pre-order them at http://www.stampstotherescue.com/ or call 1-800-STAMP -24 (1-800-782-6724).

During the launch of the stamps, Halo will be donating a million servings of “Spot's Stew” to shelter pets awaiting adoption. Stamping Out Pet Homelessness, Putting Your Stamp on Pet Adoptions, Pets Going Postal, Litter Boxes and Letterboxes ... the only thing easier than buying one of these pet-friendly postal payments is coming up with headlines for this blog.

April 1, 2010

Put a Cork In It

Does it sometimes feel like that last bottle of wine only brought you a whole heap of trouble and a headache the next day? Well, in the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade, you can make last night’s overindulgence into this morning’s good deed.

If you have one or two (or four or five) real corks on your hands the morning after, a recycling program called ReCORK is ready and willing to take them off you. Why? Because it turns out those corks can, with a little ingenuity, be turned into shoes. Seriously.

Here’s how it works. You, the cab/champagne/cava/pino lover, can donate your corks to a ReCORK location in your area. The bottle stoppers are then given to SOLE, a leading manufacturer of footwear products, which then grinds them up and turns them into footwear. There are hundreds of ReCORK locations across the country – you can find them at liquor stores, wineries, markets, wine merchants, and restaurants.

To find a ReCORK location near you, click here. Given that you shouldn’t be dumping your used corks in the recycling (busted!), and that it’s a shame to send them off to a landfill, it’s really a pretty obvious thing to do.