January 31, 2013

That's Amore

Not only does Olive Garden serve up some of the best breadsticks I’ve ever tasted, it’s partnering with Feeding America for its 17th annual Pasta Tales national essay contest. Open to youths in first through 12th grade in the U.S. and most parts of Canada (sorry, Quebec), it invites students to submit a 50-250 word essay about how they would help end hunger in their community.

Although the Pasta Tales champ does not win free breadsticks for life, they will receive a $2,500 savings bond and a three-day family vacation to New York City (including a tasty dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square). More than enough reason to enter the contest! The grand-prize winner will also take home a $5,000 grant to bring his or her essay to life and the winners in each of the 12 grade categories will be awarded a $500 savings bond and a family dinner at their local Olive Garden restaurant.

Click here to submit your best Pasta Tale/hunger-ending original essay before Friday, March 22. 

January 29, 2013

Ethics Lesson

If the word ethical comes to mind when you’re making your everyday purchasing decisions, you might be interested in a website called Ethical Ocean. Chock full of eco-friendly, fair trade, organic, animal-friendly, vegan, and/or people-friendly clothing, bags, toys, jewelry, beauty and health products, home and garden goods, and other assorted ethical items, the site aims to increase awareness and consumption of ethical products and services in the U.S. and Canada.

Click here to enter a brave new ethical online marketplace where you can help change the world with each and every purchase.

January 25, 2013

Highly Sustainable

Chances are you’ve never heard of a Katerva Award, but suffice it to say it’s often referred to as the Nobel Prize of the sustainability world, awarding the most promising ideas and efforts to advance the planet toward sustainability. This year, regular folks like you and I will be allowed to vote for its People’s Choice Award for the best new project making the biggest positive impact to change the world.

There are 51 finalists to choose from (five projects in ten categories; one was a tie!) including Future of Fish (Food Security), WaterCredit (Economy), Blue Ventures (Ecosystem Conservation), VOICE 4 Girls (Gender Equality), A Liter of Light (Energy & Power) and YikeBike (Transportation). You can learn more about all 51 awesome, innovative international projects here and then cast your vote for your favorite one.

January 23, 2013

Do Good in Your Hood

The folks at GOOD are looking for cool, curious change makers across the country to band together to do good stuff in their local communities. The GOOD adventure begins in March -- with an official title of GOOD Local -- so if you truly enjoy doing good and more importantly love to enlist others to do good with you, get in touch with the great people at GOOD at local@goodinc.com.

January 22, 2013

Supply Route

Although I can’t possibly understand how our armed forces wouldn’t be getting what I’d consider daily necessities –- like toothpaste and, um, soap –- I can tell you that there’s a nonprofit called TroopsDirect that is providing these items in bulk to military servicemen in need. The organization serves as a “back line” of supply for units based in smaller and/or remote areas in Afghanistan, Africa and at sea where needed supplies are non-existent or aren’t readily available.

Primarily supported by the contributions of citizens here in the U.S., TroopsDirect is a registered 501c3 tax-exempt organization with 87 cents of every dollar going to its program expenses. Although they’re not yet listed on Charity Navigator, I think that’s a pretty darned good percentage.

Click here to help TroopsDirect provide critical supplies that our military men and women need each and every day.

January 18, 2013

Fur-free Tee

If you’re not the paint-throwing, who-cares-if-I-get-locked-up activist type, but still want to take a stance against the enormously cruel fur trade, you may want to check out the new T-shirts from PETA and CauseURGood. A full $8 from each sale of the $28 “Let Us Be. Go Fur Free!” tees goes to PETA.

Click here to send a strong message that millions of animals do not need to needlessly suffer and die each year for the sake of fashion.

January 16, 2013

Stop Trafficking

I’m sure you’re already well aware of all of the amazing work UNICEF does for children around the world, but what you might not know is that it recently appointed actress Angie Harmon as its newest UNICEF Ambassador to raise awareness –- and funds –- for the issue of child trafficking. So, not only can you watch the talented, raspy-voiced thespian on new episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, you can catch her in new PSAs promoting UNICEF’s End Trafficking Project this month. 

Click here see the videos online and to help end the illegal trafficking of children for good.

January 15, 2013

Vital Voices

During the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative, ANN Inc. (the parent company of Ann Taylor and LOFT) is teaming up with Vital Voices to scour the country for 50 young women -- high school juniors and seniors -- with the skills and potential to become the leaders of tomorrow. The winning fellows (!) will receive leadership training and mentorship by prominent female movers and shakers, as well as a shot at turning their trailblazing ideas into real world projects that will no doubt change the world (or at least their community.)

Submit your entry by Monday, January 21, and peruse the fine print here.

January 11, 2013

A Dollar a Month

If you’ve got a spare dollar to donate to charity each month, I’ve got a website that will gladly take it and will even suggest a few folks to give it to. All free of charge.

Every month, DollarPerMonth.org (DPM) handpicks three different charities (all carefully researched and proven reputable, of course) for members -- people who pledge to give at least $1 a month -- to vote for. Detailed information about each charity is posted on the site and a ticker flashes the hours, minutes and seconds left for voting at the top of the screen.

When all is said and done, the winning charity receives 50 percent of the community's donations, the second receives 30 percent and the third gets 20 percent. This month members can use their dollars to choose between Generation Rescue, Giving Children Hope and Kids in Need Foundation. Click here to make each and every dollar count.

January 9, 2013

Give 'Em Shelter

Wow, that was fast. Rachael Ray and the ASPCA received so many applications from shelters for its upcoming 2013 $100k Challenge that they filled their 50-shelter limit (10 contestants in five divisions) in just two days! That’s awesome news for the shelters that made the cut. Congratulations!

The rest of us (non-chosen) will just have to wait until January 15 to find out which shelters will compete to come up with the most innovative ideas – while engaging with folks in their community – to get more homeless cats and dogs off the streets and into loving homes in 2013. In the meantime, click here to learn more about how this challenge has already saved tens of thousands of lives in cities across the nation.