May 30, 2013

Peace Out


Until this morning I had no clue that couples could join the Peace Corps. I always assumed you had to go it alone!

But now thanks to a segment I saw yesterday on MSNBC (thank you, Thomas Roberts) I learned that as of this Monday, June 3, ALL couples – as long as they’re both US citizens -- will be allowed to spread their love of
peace by living and working in developing countries. 

One caveat I should probably mention. According to the PC website, today (May 30) is the cutoff to apply for overseas positions that begin next spring. If my math is correct, that’s a few days shy of the new same sex couples rule going into effect. Better late than never though! I hear Botswana is beautiful in the fall.

May 28, 2013

Mickey Mouse Effort


If the idea of raising money for your favorite charity by walking around Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for three days and 30 miles in November fills you with child-like joy, welcome to the Happiest Blog Post on Earth. This particular Disney adventure/walkathon will help organizations that are gallantly fighting the good fight against breast cancer, AIDS, heart disease, MS, childhood cancers, autism, diabetes, hunger, homelessness and more.

The registration fee for Walk The World (November 14-18) is $350 per person and includes lodging at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, group meals and group theme park tickets. If you're single, be prepared to bunk with another walker unless you're willing to shell out a bit more cash.

You can learn more about additional terms and conditions - including minimum age and fundraising requirements - at the Walk The World website.

May 24, 2013

Wanted: Unsung Heroes


Are you a charitable organization or citizen do-gooder performing heroic feats day in and day out without any fanfare or fame? Well, We-Care.com wants to change all that with its Untold Story Grant Give Away.

If you or someone you know has a great -- um, untold -- story to tell, go to www.we-care.com/untoldstory/application and submit it in writing (under 1000 words) or in a video (20 seconds max), explaining all of the great things you’re doing and how a social media grant would help you do them even better.

You’ll be competing with lots of other unsung heroes including Global Solutions, Trauma Intervention Program of Portland/Vancouver, Inc., the Sacramento SPCA and Time Banks USA -- each vying for a social media grant that will help them share their story. Three lucky nonprofits will vie for $20,000 in social media grants: $10,000 for the best overall entry, $5,000 for the second best overall entry and $5,000 for the best video entry.

You’ve got until May 31 to get out from under that rock and start flying above the radar. 

May 22, 2013

Walk a Mile in Ben's Shoes



Ben Affleck sure knows how to stay in the spotlight. First he writes, produces and directs the brilliant "Argo," then he follows that up with his “Marriage is Work” Oscars speech. Then he agrees to live below the poverty line (on a food budget of just $1.50 per day) for charity for five days and finally he just launched a limited edition shoe line with Toms to benefit his own charitable organization, Eastern Congo initiative (ECI). That man needs a break!

Five dollars from each pair of the colorful Congolese-inspired shoes for men ($59-$79) and women ($59) helps fund ECI's programs for youth and families in the region. And, adhering to Tom’s very popular “One for One” business model, a child in need -- somewhere other than the Eastern Congo -- will also receive a new pair of shoes with every purchase.

I’m certain Ben’s new shoes will bring loads of cheer and happiness to feet all over the world.

May 16, 2013

$20 Million and Change for Change


If you’ve ever visited the great city of San Francisco (current home of MDG) you undoubtedly came into contact with the following: chiming cable cars, a beautiful bridge, ridiculously steep hills and a very high number of people sporting jackets bearing a “Patagonia” logo. I easily wear mine for more than 300 days of the year.

Well, the popular clothing and gear company known for its leading-edge environmental, corporate and social responsibility practices recently launched an in-house venture fund –- $20 Million & Change -- to invest in environmentally responsible startups focused on clothing, food, water, energy and waste. Patagonia hasn’t yet identified any particular startups to fund, but most investments will be in $500,000 to $5 million range and will include equity investments and minority and majority partnerships, as well as joint ventures.

Here’s your chance to get in on a ground floor opportunity to fund a brilliant startup that will undoubtedly one day change the world. Just make sure it jives with Patagonia’s core values regarding the environment. 

May 14, 2013

Spot Check

Not to put a bummer on the start of your summer, but I’m not the one who chose the phrase “Melanoma May.”  MDG is something of a sun-worshipper, but she's long replaced the DIY aluminum foil “tanning kit” with SPF 50, sunglasses and a hat.

If you’re not already aware, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to the Melanoma Research Alliance, more than 76,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year. The good news is that it’s the easiest to cure if diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

To help with the diagnosis end of things, SkinCeuticals has joined forces with Padma Lakshmi, Rebecca Minkoff and Sean Avery for a video called “Spot Check” to help raise awareness of skin cancer. The company is donating $1 to the Melanoma Research Alliance for every time the video is shared, plus it’s sponsoring free head-to-toe skin checks at select dermatologists’ offices across the U.S. to encourage people to get checked. 

Go to SkinCeuticals.com/prevent to learn more about prevention, protection and whether that spot you’ve been ignoring might warrant a second opinion.

May 9, 2013

Post It

Oh to be a U.S. postal worker the second Saturday of May. Not only do they get to deliver thousands (if not millions) of letters, parcels and packages throughout the day, they also have the pleasure of picking up bags chock full of goodness and compassion from their postal customers, all for a very good cause: preventing hunger.

According to the site, the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has delivered
 more than one billion pounds of donations to community food banks and pantries over the past 20 years, making it the largest one-day food drive in the nation, probably in the world.

If you’d like to participate in this year’s efforts, just leave a bag – or a single can – of non-perishable food by your mailbox before your postal worker delivers your mail this Saturday. I’m sure he or she won’t hold it against you. It is, after all, for a terrific cause.

May 7, 2013

Give Lots

I had no idea Big Lots was still in business. I guess that’s what happens when you move to a big city where there’s no space for big box stores.
 
Anyway, the closeout retailer -– which operates 1,495 stores in the 48 contiguous United States btw -- recently announced its 2013 Lots2Give program, which helps schools in need of financial support. Isn’t that most schools in America?
 
The contest allows for 250 select schools (based on geographic location and level of need as determined by Big Lots) to submit a short video and brief essay before May 27 explaining why their school is in need of financial support. A total of $120,000 will be doled out to 37 lucky schools, as determined by the public’s online vote.
 
Customers can also get in on the action by donating $1 or $5 at their local Big Lots store. For more information and a complete list of participating stores and schools, go to biglots.com/lots2give.

May 3, 2013

Betty White Approved


If you’ve got a favorite dog rescue or animal shelter you think could use a bit of extra cash, you’ve got until June 30 to nominate them for a grant -- ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 -- courtesy of PEDIGREE Foundation. You’ll probably have to get them to fill out all of the paperwork (a projected budget, measures of success, etc.), but it can’t hurt to get the ball rolling. The end of June will be here before you know it.

Without getting into too much detail, there are basically two types of grants available: Operation Grants and Innovation Grants. The former provide financial assistance to shelters and rescues to help promote pet adoption and the latter are awarded to qualifying organizations based on demonstrated use of creative programs aimed at increasing dog adoptions.

For a list of previous recipients and a complete set of who, what, where, why and when to apply, visit www.pedigreefoundation.org.

May 1, 2013

Build It And They Will Come


I’m guessing that you or someone you know owns at least one hand or power tool bearing the Craftsman name. I know that my dad dedicated at least two full rooms to the beloved brand.

Well, America’s must trusted tool maker is joining forces with Sears Heroes at Home and non-profit Rebuilding Together for its summer “Make a Difference” tour. With a 36-foot trailer -- and truck -- decked out with all the boy toys you can imagine, the tour will visit dozens of communities across the country, restoring homes of military veterans, assisting areas affected by natural disasters (with a particular focus on communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy) and participating in local restoration projects.

If you’ve got a Sears in your neighborhood or better yet are a Sears Shop Your Way rewards member, you can help make a difference by donating in store or online at sears.com/heroesathome. All funds go to Rebuilding Together, a network of almost 200 affiliated non-profits that uses the power of its 200,000 volunteers to complete nearly 10,000 projects each year.