February 29, 2012

Pots of Good Luck

Having grown up in Iowa, your blogger has attended her fair share of potlucks (for church, school, family reunions, birthday parties, anniversaries - basically any reason to eat too much). As a connoisseur of creative casseroles, marshmallow-infused salads and other homemade curiosities, I can't recommend Dining for Women, a modern-day organization that takes potlucks to a whole new charitable level, highly enough.

The idea couldn’t be simpler. A group of women get together once every month to share good food and discuss one carefully selected international women’s charity that supports education, health care, vocational training, or economic development for women. Then, they donate their “dining out” dollars (money otherwise spent eating out) to that particular program.

After nearly nine years and with more than 250 chapters nationwide, it’s raised a ton of cash – and helped thousands of women and girls in more than 30 countries - for charities including Starfish One by One, Children of Vietnam, Nepal Youth Foundation and Huru International. Click here to join a chapter or start your own potluck program.

February 25, 2012

Purrfect Pet

If you’re a pet owner, chances are astronomically high that you consider your Pug/Siamese/Labrador/Spaniel/Tabby to be the most adorable animal on the face of the planet. I know that I do.

Well, it’s that time of year where you get the chance to show the proof is in the pudding and also help the Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the U.S. put an end to pet homelessness.

In honor of World Spay Day this Tuesday, February 28 the aforementioned organizations (along with nearly 300 participating local organizations) are hosting a WSD online pet photo contest. As in the past, you can win lots of prizes including a $5,000 grant your favorite animal charity, plus free photo sessions and a feature in Pets of the Week or All Animals magazine.

You know the drill. Send in your best shot along with a few vital details including 1) What’s your favorite thing to do together?, 2) What’s his or his or most endearing bad habit?, and 3) Why does he or she make you smile?

You don’t have to donate money to submit a photo, but all contributions are greatly appreciated and will allow you unlimited access to vote for your favorite pooch, kitten or other furry creature. Click here to help reduce pet overpopulation and possibly lay claim to the title of “World’s Owner of the Cutest Pet.”

February 24, 2012

The Do-Gooder's Apprentice

It seems that America's most notorious real estate mogul conceals a heart of gold (metaphorically, though Donald Trump's heart might actually be made of gold).

Turns out that the stars who fight for pretend employment on "The Celebrity Apprentice" every week -- the likes of Debbie Gibson, Meatloaf, Clay Aiken, George Takei, Bret Michaels, Lil Jon duke, et al --
are vying for a chance to win $250,000 for their favorite charity. Jolly good show, as the Brits would say (about the charitable part, if not the, you know, show).

Could be that this isn't news to the diehard devotees of this riveting reality show. The fact that this blogger wasn’t might be attributed to: A) the fact that she's never seen it, B) the host’s other publicity stunts, somewhat ironically, crowd out this quite endearing story, or C) the liberal media elite refuses to give him a fair shake. I'll let you decide.

Contestants in the current season (also known as "The Apprentice 12") are giving their all for charities like Racing for Cancer, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, After-School All-Stars and The Magic Johnson Foundation. If you’d like to know who's lining up behind which cause and why, tune in to NBC on Sundays at 9/8 central, or click here.

February 23, 2012

Not So Secret

After much hemming and hawing I decided to selflessly share with you all a chance (read: contest) to rub elbows with a few of the funniest – and most free-speech supporting - people on Earth at a fancy ball in NYC. Get a move on because you’ve only got until end of day Monday (February 27) to give yourself a shot at two tickets to Amnesty International’s Secret Policeman’s Ball on March 4 (includes airfare and hotel accommodations as well).

You can only enter once and, unfortunately, you don’t get extra chances by forwarding on to friends and family, so the best of luck to each and every one of you. One extremely fortunate winner will get to hear firsthand about Amnesty’s 50 years of life-saving human rights work from some seriously hilarious folks including Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Kristen Wiig, Sarah Silverman and Russell Brand. Quite a line up. You’ll also get to see Coldplay perform live, which I’m sure will be highly entertaining, but probably not very funny. But you never know.

Click here for some comedy relief and here for more information about the world's preeminent human rights organization.

February 21, 2012

Time For a Good Work Out

If you haven’t already jumped on the gym bandwagon this year (or if you've already fallen off and want to get back on again) here's a pretty compelling reason to check out your local Crunch Fitness: a portion of your membership will help efforts to find a cure for ALS. During the month of February, Crunch is hosting its “Love Your Muscles” campaign, donating $10 of every new membership being to the Muscular Dystrophy Assocation’s Augie’s Quest.

It's also offering cool workshops including Relax & Breathe, Fly & Flow, World Beat and S.T.A.R. Treatment, training demos and special personal training offers ($30 for 30 minutes and $60 for an hour). All are available at www.loveyourmuscles.com, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Augie's Quest.

Also, be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, February 25th - Crunch's official Love Your Muscles Day. All Crunch locations nationwide will be free, and I’m sure happy to take your donation for this great cause.

February 16, 2012

"The Lorax" Picks His Friends Carefully

Universal Pictures' whopping 70 promotional partners for "The Lorax" movie (in cinemas on March 2) are, by almost (ahem) universal media consensus, a refreshing change from the usual band of burger and chicken chains. The studio has rejected the predictable strategy of putting plastic toys in happy meals (which are notorious for their, um, environmental impact), and will instead work only with organizations that embody the anti-industrial and pro-tree message of Dr. Seuss' classic children's tale.

It's a list that will shake corporate America to its core, giving valuable airtime to anti-establishment upstarts including HP, Mazda, Comcast, DoubleTree by Hilton, Pottery Barn Kids and IHOP.

Disingenuous PR spin notwithstanding, "The Lorax" is putting his weight behind the EPA, Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield Farms and a few other great and good organizations, which is wonderful.

And the movie will be awesome.

February 14, 2012

Kudos to Keebler

No call to arms here, just a well-deserved (and of course unpaid for) shout-out to cookie company Keebler for its two-year deal with the American Red Cross. Announced last summer, the partnership calls for Keebler to donate six million cookies each year to the ARC - a sweet treat that helps donors keep their strength up after giving blood.

Turns out that, on average, someone in the U.S. needs a blood or platelet infusion every two seconds, with nearly 40,000 blood donations required every day. That's a lot of donors, and a lot of cookies.

Find out more about this great partnership here, and if you're up to it, go see the American Red Cross and donate some of the red stuff.

February 10, 2012

Sleep On It

MDG loves her eight hours of shut-eye as much as the next young superhero, and she's a big fan of CARE’s tremendous efforts to fight global poverty.

And if you think that sentence was something of a non sequitur, then you may be as gently puzzled as I was by the news that CARE is teaming up with the maker of sleep aid Lunesta to raise money for the world's most vulnerable citizens.

But then you think about the 900 million people around the world who live on less than a dollar a day, and the great work that CARE does to provide emergency aid and reduce poverty, and you figure it doesn't really matter if this whole thing makes sense or not.

In the new online game “Follow the Wings,” you’ll soar across a meadow, leap over ponds and fly through the forest collecting coins and flowers for points along the way. You’ll also earn $1 for CARE every time you play (once per day) – or share – the game between now and March 31.

It'll probably all make sense after a good night's sleep.

February 9, 2012

Down to a Tee

Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy fame is asking fans to submit their most powerful designs to raise awareness and funds for Invisible Children. In a partnership with online Tee community MASScanvas, the famous rocker is seeking cool illustrations focused on the theme of – you guessed it - “power.”

Five lucky winners will win $1,000 in cash and see their designs brought to life (hand-numbered, in limited-edition) and sold in support of this terrific charity. You’ve got until February 29 to unleash your power.

February 8, 2012

Fashionably Late

There’s still time – but not much time – to stop by your local H&M store and lend your support to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Give a donation of any size before stores close on Thursday, February 9 (a.k.a "tomorrow"), and you'll get 20 percent off an item from H&M's hip kids' collection.

One hundred percent of your donation will benefit the clubs, so hurry into H&M after you've finished reading this post.

February 3, 2012

Don't Be Flat-Footed

I’m not sure February is the best time of year to launch a collection of ballerina flats, but I suppose if you’re TOMS you can get away with it. The sleek new slip-ons – priced at just $79 a pair – still support the company’s one-for-one business model: you buy a pair, a pair goes to someone in need.

Click here to choose from 14 different styles including blue suede, leopard print, canvas, chambray, and rose linen (plus basic black, of course). Then just pray that spring arrives a whole lot earlier this year.

February 2, 2012

That's So ... Not Cool

Unfortunately, Miss Do-Gooder’s home team didn’t make it all the way to Super Bowl XLVI, but she does have something to cheer about this Sunday: GLSEN is getting free air time – courtesy of Grazie Media - to deliver its powerful “ThinkBe4YouSpeak” PSAs.

Spectators outside the entrance to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will receive a gentle reminder – 60 of them to be exact – to stop using the phrase “that’s so gay” to describe something bad or uncool. And with comedienne Wanda Sykes delivering the memo to “knock it off, you’re better than that,” hopefully each and every one of the estimated 150,000 fans will get the message before sitting back to enjoy the game.