April 29, 2011

Early Bloomers

With its healthy combination of earnest kids, ecology and parkland, this might be the most wholesome MDG post ever. You can help support the National Park Foundation – and America’s national parks - by casting your vote(s) for your favorite “First Bloom” garden. Choose from 24 pretty impressive designs created by 24 green-thumbed youth groups (with a little help from one of 24 national park partners) across the country.

Competition is fierce among these 4th-6th graders with eco-friendly
entries for the Devils Postpile National Monument, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park.

The youths behind the winning garden design will collaborate with the
National Park Foundation to design their own reward, one that will further their appreciation for and connection to national parks. Last year’s winners designed trips to national parks in Washington, D.C. and Shenandoah National Park.

Your reward for voting (through May 16) is a chance to win one of three yet-to-be-announced national park prizes. Click
here for more flowery details about the contest and to learn more about these crafty kids.

April 27, 2011

ReFlip, ReFlop, ReCycle

If you’re a flip flop fanatic (and why shouldn't you be), chances are you’ve got a spare pair or two that are due for retirement. Instead of donating them to your neighborhood thrift store (although that’s good too), consider dropping them off at your local Old Navy outlet.

From now until May 21, the nationwide retailer is teaming up with trash-to-treasure eco-company
TerraCycle to collect old flip flops and turn them into four public playgrounds in communities across the U.S. How cool is that?

Just look for the bin marked "Flip Flop Replay" and help these companies build happier, safer play environments for kids.

April 25, 2011


In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched a “Life Grows On” photo contest, inviting supporters to share inspiring shots of wild life, wild places and wild people that are connected to nature. Three lucky winners will each receive an all-expenses-paid, seven-day Classic Polar Bear Photo Adventure for two in Churchill, Canada.

You’ve got until June 17 to submit up to 15 photos in any of the three “wild” categories mentioned above. There’s a one-time entry fee of $15, which, of course, goes to support WWF’s mission of conserving nature. For more information about how and where to send your winning wild shots, please click

April 22, 2011

Are You Worth It?

And more importantly, does L’Oreal think you are? If you consider yourself an inspiring, hard-working woman who selflessly dedicates her time to changing the world (via volunteerism in your own community,) you might want to consider entering the L’Oreal Paris sixth annual Women of Worth contest.

If you’re picked as one of their ten Women of Worth, you’ll take home $10,000 for charity and get the chance to schmooze with Hearst Magazine and L’Oreal peeps at an awards ceremony in New York City.

here to enter by June 30th.

April 20, 2011

Open for Business

Times are tough, and small businesses and charities need all the help they can get. So while a Microsoft competition to promote new software isn't strictly within MDG's usual sphere of interest, this is a pretty generous deal and could be worth checking out.

For those of you who know the difference, the contest is to promote Microsoft's store for its
Office 365 cloud-based software. I won’t bore you with store details, but if you’re a small business (1-50 full-time employees), you could win $50,000, free Office 365 service for a year, and the use of a Microsoft executive for an entire day.

From what I can gather, you’ve got until June 18 to submit and/or explain – in 365 words or less - what inspires you at work every day and how Office 365 can help you reach your goals in the next year. And no snarkiness about 10-minute boot times or worn-out CTRL, Alt and Delete keys.

They’re awarding five small businesses with the aforementioned prizes. Your employees must be at least 18 years of age, and, obviously, can’t have any affiliation with Microsoft Corporation or any of its related companies. You should make yourself aware of the rather complicated
rules, regulations, procedures, eligibility requirements, etc., before applying.

here to tell Microsoft that your business is absolutely ready for work, but could be even more ready if it pocketed a free year of Office 365 software and 50 grand.

April 15, 2011

Retro Cheese

I can't remember the last time I was prompted to consider the humble UPC code - that barcode-and-number thingie on product packaging that, back in the day, we had to tear off and mail in to claim our rebates and refunds.

Well, it looks like this 90s throwback is alive and kicking. Through its "Life Well Laughed Project,"
The Laughing Cow company will donate $1 to children’s health and wellness initiatives for every 12-digit UPC code it receives via their Web site from customers. The jovially bovine cheese-wedge wonders are trying to raise $500,000 for various charities including the YMCA between now and July 15.

Click here to get the last laugh and help support kid’s health.

April 14, 2011

Rare Earth

In honor of Earth Day this year (April 22), Kiehl’s is launching an artfully designed, charitable edition of its popular Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque ($23). 100% of the net proceeds from its limited-edition run - cleverly designed by Chloe Sevigny and Michael C. Hall - goes directly to Waterkeeper Alliance, a leading environmental organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the world’s waterways.

Click here to help Kiehl’s give back Rare Earth for Earth Day.

April 8, 2011

Sole Purpose

Nourish your soul and your soles with Cole Haan’s new promotion with Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that recycles footwear for people in need. (If they'd been based in Memphis rather than Nashville that last sentence would have carried a warning from the Surgeon General.)

All you have to do is retire a pair of your gently worn shoes at any
Cole Haan store or donate $5 (at least!) on the company's Web site and you’ll be rewarded with 20 percent off your entire purchase.

You’ve got until April 18 to do a little sole searching.

April 5, 2011

Bearing Up Nicely

While MDG obviously had to compromise a little on the headline, there's really no challenge in bear puns, so she's going to cut the cute stuff and simply give The Build-A-Bear Workshop (BABW) a straightforward, ringing endorsement. Over the past 14 years, the DIY grizzly factory -- if they don't use that exact language in the About Us section, they should -- has raised in the region of $30 million for charities including WWF and First Book. And now they're asking you to support their pawesome (dammit!) annual April autism drive.

Previous April campaigns -- timed to coincide with Autism Awareness Month -- have brought in more than $400,000 for
Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization.

You can donate $1 (or more) when checking out at any of their 400 retail locations or at
BuildABear.com. That's bearly one third of the price of a cup of coffee. So grin, bear it, and give some teeth to the effort to fund autism research and treatment.

April 1, 2011

Bean There, Done Good

Whether you love it or loathe it down to the last bitterly burned bean, Starbucks has done a ton of good in the world, and is about to do some more in celebration of its 40th birthday.
In April, Starbucks will put its considerable muscle behind hundreds, perhaps thousands, of volunteer events organized by a variety of non-profit partners. Ultimately, the java giant wants employees and customers around the world to contribute 200,000 hours of community service in the coming month.

Events largely benefit youth and environmental causes, and run the gamut from beach clean-ups to bake sales, book drives to fun runs. Some cities have gone all out and are hosting more unusual fundraisers: I give you mud runs (Fort Worth, Texas), Pin Wheel assembly (Austin, Texas) and the production of Ben’s Bells (Tucson, AZ). No idea what any of those are, but best of luck to everyone involved.

here to find a fun skinny non-fat soy decaf grande activity near you.