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.