November 8, 2013

Worth The Vote


L’Oreal has done its part by selecting ten extraordinary women of worth, each working tirelessly to help make a difference in the lives of others. Now it’s your turn to vote for the one who inspires you the most, one who will hopefully go on to win $25,000 for her chosen charity.
Go to womenofworth.com to learn more about these inspiring women who are doing everything from granting wishes for the terminally ill, advocating for victims of domestic and sexual abuse, providing pertinent life skills to the disenfranchised, teaching others how to become more civically engaged and bringing awareness to mental health issues. Then cast your vote -- daily if you'd like -- before November 20.

October 22, 2013

Let's Do Lunch


MDG is usually on top of her charities, but I only recently learned about a really inspiring nonprofit called The Lunchbox Fund. Founded way back in 2005, the organization is dedicated to providing a daily meal for orphaned and vulnerable school children in township and rural areas of South Africa, a country where 65% of all children live in poverty.

With support from celebrities like Liv Tyler, Mario Batali, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Casey Affleck, I have a feeling they’re going to nourish a lot of bodies...and minds. Donate, shop (for recipe books and cool felt magnets!), volunteer and/or learn more at Thelunchboxfund.org

October 17, 2013

Keep the Lights On

MDG is happy to help keep the lights on at her favorite after school program - ASEP (After School Enrichment Program) - at McKinley Elementary in San Francisco. And today I'm joining over a million people coming together for the nation's largest rally for afterschool programs at more than 8,000 "Lights On Afterschool" events across the country.

Click here to see who's lighting up your neighborhood and show your support for keeping kids after school.

October 15, 2013

Hit the Road

MDG is on a bit of a walking kick lately (over 20 miles this past weekend alone) and would love nothing more than to have all those miles magically turned into cash for a good cause. Good thing I just read about the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s new initiative called think/able: Miles for a Cure.
 
From October 5 through November 3 Medtronic (a medical technology company) will match miles tracked – from biking, walking or running – through the Charity Miles app with dollars up to $50,000 to go toward critical Parkinson’s research. Simply download the app or use their handy online form to record your miles every day for the next month or so. Hitting the pavement could bring us closer to a cure for Parkinson’s.

October 10, 2013

When You Wish Upon a Starlight


With 30 years' experience transforming the way individuals and organizations improve the hospital experience for pediatric patients, Starlight Children’s Foundation is making yet another improvement with the launch of its online Starlight Wish Lists program. For the first time ever, hospitals around the world can spread the word – on the Internet (gasp!) – about specific items including crayons, paints, toys, film, books, clothing and electronics that they need to help kids and their families get through tough medical times.

Click on Starlight.Org to search for a hospital by name, specialty or location (city, state, province or country) and, voila, up pops a detailed wish list. Sometimes technology really CAN be a lifesaver. 

October 7, 2013

Don't Be a Bully


Today is STOMP Out Bullying’s “Blue Shirt Day World Day of Bullying Prevention” -- a day on which, you guessed it -- people around the world wear blue to show their support for this important cause. I hope it’s not too late for you to change into a blue shirt and then click here to watch celebrities including Allison Janney, Debra Messing, Julianne Moore, Taye Diggs, Nick Cannon and Chloe Grace Moretz speak out against bullying and encourage all of us to focus on this often overlooked and trivialized issue.

Then, of course, donate some money, volunteer some time or spread the word that bullying must be stomped out for good.

October 3, 2013

The Good Girl


Jennifer Aniston is doing double duty these days as spokesperson for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Saks Fifth Avenue’s 2013 Key to the Cure Campaign. Well, technically she’s an Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) ambassador for the latter.

Anyway, you can help her raise money for this terrific cause by purchasing a Key to the Cure T-shirt designed by Emilio Pucci. One hundred percent of sales from the swanky $35 shirt will be donated to EIF’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund, benefiting charitable programs dedicated to finding new detection methods, better treatments and eventual cures for women’s cancers.

If tees aren’t your thing, shop ‘til you drop at any Saks, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH or saks.com from Thursday, October 17 through Sunday, October 20 where 2% of participating vendor sales (up to $500,000) will be donated to the EIF all weekend long. Your next pair of shoes might just be the key to the cure.

October 1, 2013

Guest Post: 5 Great Volunteer Opportunities at the Parks


Today I’m really delighted to introduce James Sermons from the National Park Foundation as MDG’s first ever guest blogger.

Giving back is an enriching experience, and volunteering in a national park is a great way to help our country’s treasured places that face continuing budget cuts. While many retirees and students participate in the National Park System's official volunteering program, there are many additional opportunities for individuals of all ages and skill levels. And not all volunteer positions require significant commitment or extensive labor. Anyone with a willingness to assist and a positive attitude can benefit the parks and serve as a role model for the next generation. 

Almost all national parks have a visitor center that serves as a welcoming place for people to ask general questions, become familiar with the rules and regulations of the park and learn the history of the area. Visitor Center Volunteers greet guests, answer general questions, and help set up educational exhibits. A great experience for teens and very social people, this position offers interpersonal opportunities and personal contact. 

For experienced RV-ers or campers that have spent summers camping or hiking in national parks, becoming a Campground Host is a fun volunteer opportunity that definitely has its perks. Campground Hosts can get free hook-up in the park in exchange for completing general maintenance and cleaning duties as well as offering a friendly and personable face to visitors. This position requires minor record keeping and some physical demands.

For nature buffs and people who enjoy more solitude, Trail Maintenance and Waterway Maintenance volunteer positions would likely be good fits. These positions require little, if any long-term commitment and many are single day activities. Tasked with the responsibility of keeping trails and waterways clean and well maintained, these positions are great family, corporate and/or team-building events and require little training. These types of volunteer events teach the importance of reusing, recycling, and proper waste removal in a fun, engaging and hands-on environment. 

For lifeguards or individuals with water safety knowledge, many of the national parks located in coastal areas or near large lakes are often seeking volunteers to present water safety classes to children, teens and visitors. This position can save a life and is a valuable resource for visitors.

Hunters, birders, and experienced hikers are always needed in our national parks to volunteer as a Census Taker or Surveyor. While this position's exact title can vary depending on the location, it is vitally important in every national park. These volunteers hike the trails, walk through lush meadows, and kayak quiet rivers in search of individual species to help gauge local populations and lend assistance to many struggling species. Attention to detail and accurate record-keeping is a plus for individuals applying for this position, as well as patience and determination.

Each and every national park offers opportunities for those interested in supporting our national treasures. For more information about volunteer opportunities in the parks and additional ways to show your support, visit the National Park Foundation website.

* Thanks again to James Sermons for providing some wonderful tips about volunteering in our national parks.

September 26, 2013

Give Me Ten


Women’s Health is partnering with The FEED Foundation for its second annual RUN 10 FEED 10: you run 10K (6.2 miles); they donate 10 meals for those going hungry in local communities across the country.

Get your official RUN 10 FEED 10 run on Chicago (10/6/13) or San Francisco (10/27/13), participate in one of the “Fun Runs” in Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami and Boston or create your own 10K run in any city you choose. All money raised through registration and fundraising goes directly to help feed folks in the closest metropolitan area.

Oh, and did I mention all participants will take home a fabulous limited edition FEED bag? Because one can never have enough totes (in my opinion.)

September 24, 2013

Meditate on This (Music)


If you’ve ever wondered what type of music goes best with meditation, look no further than “Download for Good: Music that Changes the World,” a new music compilation from iconic filmmaker/meditation guru David Lynch. He’s rounded up 33 talented artists for the project including Tom Waits, Dave Stewart, Maroon 5, Peter Gabriel, Moby, Iggy Pop and Ben Lee.

Sales from each and every track -- available exclusively at iTunes -- benefit The David Lynch Foundation, which offers Transcendental Meditation to at-risk and underserved populations, including inner-city youth, homeless adults and children, prisoners and U.S. veterans returning home from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Download and ... breathe.


September 19, 2013

Mini Mission Accomplished


You probably like breakfast. And I’m pretty sure you like reading (blogs at least). So I hope you’ll love the new “Every Day is a Big Day” program from Scholastic and Kellogg’s. Over the next few months the two companies will be teaming up to place tens of thousands of books in homes, schools and communities across the country.

If you’d like to make your next day a big day, just sign up and log in to participate in a brand new Mini Mission each month. Once you’ve completed your monthly mission -- Outdoor Explorers, Creative Moments, Conversation Bites and Give and Get Back –- you’ll win two free books for your family and receive one entry for a sweepstakes in which over 100 prizes will be awarded to local educators, parent teacher organizations and community centers.  You can also collect the Great Starts Great Stories codes from participating Kellogg’s products to receive a free book or “gift” a book to a school in need through the charity Books for Kids.

September 17, 2013

Friendly Funding


I’ve lost track of the number of websites that allow individuals, groups, businesses, neighborhoods, teams, churches, charities, etc. to raise money for a cause, but here's another one: FundAnything.com. This particular venture is totally free of fees, really simple to use, and there’s no limit on the amount you can raise. So go on, fund your favorite cause at FundAnything.

September 12, 2013

Reading Rocks

MDG was flabbergasted when she learned that 523 million girls cannot read or write. Isn’t that number astonishingly high? Well, Litworld thinks so and it’s on a mission to reduce it with the Stand Up for Girls Campaign.

You can join them by honoring the lives and stories of inspirational girls (and women) in celebration of the International Day of the Girl on October 11. Simply fill out a short form that includes a girl’s name and story that has shaped your life. Your voice will add strength to all of the world’s girls who cannot read, write or share their own stories … yet!

September 10, 2013

Schwan's Feeds America


As a kid growing up in Iowa MDG was always super excited (and thankful) when the Schwan’s truck arrived and delivered loads of frozen goodies – ice cream, pizza, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, etc. – right to our front door. It was like Christmas every week of the year!

Today the popular online grocer is teaming up with Feeding America for its new “Open the Door to Thankful” campaign. Each time a consumer shares a few words about something for which they are thankful on Facebook, Schwan's will donate five meals to the nation’s leading domestic hunger relief organization. What a difference a few decades makes!

September 3, 2013

The Compassion of the Crowd

It was only a matter of time before someone started using the power of crowdsourcing to help regular folks across America with their medical and utility bills, groceries, rent, textbooks, etc. At the new for-profit website GiveLocally.net, givers can decide who they want to support (all pre-screened) – single fathers, single mothers, seniors, kids, military, families, or the disabled. They can then track how and when their donation is distributed and see how it actually impacts the recipient.

I have a feeling this whole “giving locally” thing might just be the way of the future.

August 29, 2013

Vision For Our Future


How are kids supposed to read and learn when they can’t see what the teacher is teaching? Thanks to VSP Vision Care’s “Clicks for Kids” campaign thousands of kids will get the glasses they need to succeed in school and well beyond. Partnering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs nationwide, VSP will provide up to 25,000 gift certificates that will cover the expenses of eye exams and spiffy new glasses for youngsters with vision issues.

You can help by visiting SeeMuchMore.com and “clicking” on either your local BBBS program or one with the greatest need. For every click sent, a gift of vision (i.e. glasses and an exam) will be donated by VSP to Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Who wouldn’t want children to see so much more?

August 26, 2013

Good Gear


Kohl’s wants to make your workouts feel even better with its new Tek Gear athletic collection. With colorful (i.e. lots of pink) tanks, tees, shorts, headbands and leggings priced at just $5, $10 and $15 each and 100 percent of the net profits going to support the fight against breast cancer, everyone’s truly a winner. Support the cause at Kohls.com/Cares.

August 22, 2013

A TV Tradition

The telethon benefitting the Muscular Dystrophy Association will never be quite the same without Jerry Lewis, but as they say, “The show must go on.” This year you can tune in and see dozens of talented musicians and television stars – and help raise money for the treatment of muscular diseases - on Sunday, September 1 at 8:00PM CST.
 
Dubbed the MDA "Show of Strength", the telethon is packing some pretty heavyweight talent including
Ryan Seacrest, Backstreet Boys, Matthew Morrison, Enrique Iglesias and Paula Abdul. Quite a lineup for your Labor Day weekend.

August 20, 2013

Ready to Ride


Are you geared up to ride in one of OCRF’s indoor cycling events this fall to raise funds to support ovarian cancer research? You don’t even have to brave the nasty fall weather; all the rides are inside!

You can help change the future of ovarian cancer in cities including Austin, TX; New York City; Cleveland, OH; Washington, DC and Boston, MA. Visit OCRF.org/OvarianCycle to learn more about the rides and register for one nearby.

August 13, 2013

Picturing Pets


MDG is a sucker for contests that involve any and all types of animals, especially when they benefit shelters and rescues. I don’t know how this one slipped by me, but you’ve still got one day to submit your favorite pet photo (un-posed please) and short story about how your pet makes the world a better place in order to win a year’s supply of pet food – courtesy of Purina ONE -- and support a few great shelters with a $1,500 donation.donation. Connect with the challenge at good.is/pets and on Twitter at @GOODmkr and @PurinaONEdog before August 14.

August 9, 2013

Power to the People


Not to be confused with Carrot Top the comedian, a Carrotmob is a group of people that spends money to support a business, and in return the business makes an improvement that people care about. If you’re familiar with the whole carrot and stick analogy, CM uses the carrot (cash) instead of the stick (boycott) to promote positive change. Mobbers post an action they want a business to take and try to garner enough support from friends and family to get it done.

Over the past few years Carrotmobbers from San Francisco to Bangkok to Melbourne have spent over $1 million improving sustainability at businesses worldwide. Current campaigns include 46 people wanting The Little Chihuahua in San Francisco to source one local meat option, eight people wanting any large building business to help climate change by planting green roof tops and 12 people asking Lotus Garden (also in SF) to sell at least one locally produced beer. 

The more people that join a mob, the more good it can do. Just imagine what 10,000 Carrotmobbers – and their wallets - could get accomplished.

August 7, 2013

21 Girl Salute


Are you or someone you love working (with or without pay) every day to improve the lives of women and girls? If so, Women’s eNews would like to hear about it for its “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” contest.

There aren’t any cash awards or prizes for this one, just the awesome recognition that comes with helping your fellow female. To enter, send an email with the subject “NOMINATION” and the following details (for you and the nominee): name, organization/affiliation, relationship to nominee, title, e-mail address, phone/fax number, postal address and a brief summary describing the lasting impact you/she is making on behalf of women to 21leaders@womensenews.org before August 31. May the best 21 women win.

August 6, 2013

Buycott This


I could’ve spent all day “Buycotting” every product in the house, but for the sake of time, I narrowed it down to five: Swiffer sweeper mop refills, Bumble & Bumble grooming crème, Near East couscous, Kashi autumn wheat cereal and Trader Joe’s baked beans. If you’re not familiar with the lingo, Buycott is a new app that literally digs up dirt on various companies and lets you know – via a barcode scan - if the product is guilty of any shady behavior (i.e. testing on animals, using prisoners for labor, contributing to the Koch brothers, etc.). Thank goodness all of my products were conflict free.

You can also work backwards and select causes you care about like “Boycotting Chocolate Produced By Child Slaves,” “Saying No To Palm Olive Oil” or “Supporting Bicycle Friendly Businesses” and the app will tell you which companies to steer clear of.

Help save the world by buying from the businesses you feel good about and boycotting those you don’t.  

August 2, 2013

A Real Lifesaver

MDG knows next to nothing about motorcycles, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Kiehl's fourth annual LifeRide for amfAR is literally a lifesaver for thousands people living with HIV/AIDS. If you can’t make it to one of its seven in-store celebrations along the route (from now through August 8) in cities from Seattle to Los Angeles, you can still raise money for the cause by purchasing a Limited Edition Ultimate Strength Hand Salve for $28.50, with 100% of the net proceeds benefitting amFAR. 

Just look for the jumbo-sized tube (7.8 oz) with the red cap.

August 1, 2013

Simply The Best

Petco wants to know if you’re one of the world's greatest pet parents. If so, you AND your favorite animal rescue (which must be a Petco Foundation partner) could each win $50,000, $25,000 or $5,000 in prizes. That is a LOT of kibbles and bits.

There are two ways to enter "The Great Ones" contest: with a short video (two to four minutes long) or an essay (500 words max). Be sure to prove your parental worth on Facebook before August 25.

July 30, 2013

Dig Into This


MDG definitely loves digging into a delicious plate of food, so when I heard about Stand Up to Cancer and MasterCard’s new Dig In & Do Good campaign, I knew I had to share. From now through September 28 each time you spend more than $10 for your breakfast, lunch or dinner -- and use your MasterCard –- the payments giant will donate one cent to help fund cancer research (up to $4 million). On Thursday 8/1 and Friday 8/2, it will double the donation to two cents per qualifying transaction.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re ordering a burger and fries from your favorite fast food chain or a filet from that fancy French bistro down the block; all restaurants are down with Dig In & Do Good (as long as you spend more than 10 bucks.) The only question I have is whether I’m going to dine in or take out.

July 26, 2013

This Will Make You Smile


Everyone knows that you’re supposed to brush your teeth twice a day, but did you know there’s a toothbrush that does way more than just clean your teeth and gums? Smile Squared makes biodegradable bamboo brushes -- housed in recyclable boxes -- that improve the health and educational needs of children around the globe. How, you might ask? By capitalizing on the popular one-donation-per-purchase business model, of course.

And at just $5.95 a pop, you should probably snag matching brushes for the whole family (they come in both adults and kids sizes). Smiles all around. 

July 24, 2013

Super Duper Saturday


If you haven’t gotten enough of Kelly Ripa on her morning gig all week, rest assured you can catch her again this Saturday (7/27) – with pals Donna Karan and Paula Patton – hosting the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s (OCRF) 15th annual Super Saturday live from The Hamptons.  Presented by QVC, CoverGirl and InSyle, the super fashionable fundraiser will feature its highly anticipated fashion “garage sale” with merchandise from over 200 prominent designers including Marchesa, alice + Olivia, DVF and Marc Jacobs, with all net proceeds benefitting OCRF.

For those of you watching from home, you can still snag deals on a ton of products ranging from apparel and accessories to jewelry and beauty items from 2:00-4:00PM EST on QVC. Who wants to be out in the heat anyway?

July 22, 2013

Lucky Little Guys

If you like supporting local businesses, then you’ll probably love Lucky Ant, a crowdfunding platform that supports the little guy (no franchises, chains or large corporations allowed!). With a minimum pledge of $5 you can help businesses in your community raise cash to help them grow into big fat corporations, chains … no, I’m just kidding!

Not only will your money help small businesses get stuff like the latest equipment, new staff, much-needed repairs and sometimes even a brand new location, you’ll be given a sweet reward (TBD) if and when the business reaches its goal within the three-week time limit. Mom and pop shops never had it so lucky.