Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 21st is another Day of Service coming up very soon. In 1994, Congress designated this holiday as a National Day of Service honoring the teachings of Dr. King. He encouraged all citizens to get involved in their community and famously said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” I am spending my MLK Day as an event coordinator with my local Hands on Network affiliate, LA Works. This morning I met with other volunteer event coordinators for a site visit at a school we are going to revitalize. We currently have over 1,000 volunteers signed up for this “Day on, Not A Day off.” I am so excited to work on this project to help beautify this school and its campus! If you are in the Los Angeles area and would like to join us, please signe up here. If you living outside of LA, click here to locate an event in your neighborhood.
Yesterday, I received an email from a Senior Advisor on President Obama’s Inaugural Committee about hosting an event for the upcoming National Day of Service. Unfortunately, I had literally just signed up to help with another National Day of Service event in my neighborhood! The National Day of Service is a treasured inaugural event that the First Family started four years ago. This year it will be held on January 19th, the Saturday before the Inauguration. The President firmly believes that service is a lifelong commitment. He will be asking Americans to not only serve on January 19th, but to make ongoing commitments to help out in their communities. He will be focusing on seven different areas in our communities: health, faith, education, the environment, honoring our veterans, community resilience, and economic development. I am sure at least one of these issues will interest all of you. I hope you will join the First Family and I in participating in the National Day of Service! Click here to host or find an event in your neighborhood.
Many people have asked me where I found all of the different volunteering opportunities for my 25 Days of Giving. Most of them were found on local volunteer websites L.A. Works and Volunteer Los Angeles, which are both affiliates of Hands On Network. Hands On Network was created by a group of people that wanted to make it easier for individuals to get involved in helping their communities. Now, over 15 years later, their vision has grow to more than 70 affiliates with 12 locations overseas. They are the largest network of local volunteer centers around the world. Each year their volunteer action centers lead 2.6 million volunteers, 236 thousand projects, 25.1 million service hours and $579 million in service! Their network makes volunteering super easy. All you have to do is go to your local affiliate site and search opportunities and sign up after creating a free account. You will receive a confirmation email of the event with any other necessary information. Then all you have to do is show up. If for some reason you need to cancel, you just click to withdraw from the opportunity and you are cancelled. Some of the opportunities are lead by leaders from their network and some are not. Local organizations in need of volunteers can also put their opportunities on the site and Hands on Network acts as a partner to help them find volunteers. To find Hands On Network volunteering opportunities near you, click here. And Happy New Year!
As 2012 comes to a close, my mailbox and twitter has been filling up with messages from all my favorite organizations about end of the year giving. Here are a few that reached out to me this week that I would love to highlight!
Tory Burch Foundation- Tory Burch is not only one of my favorite designers, but she is really make a difference. The Tory Burch Foundation focuses on investing in women-owned businesses through grants and microfinance for women entrepreneurs. They also have mentoring opportunities, mostly in the United States, that provide women and girls with the information and tools needed to achieve their aspirations as entrepreneurs and leaders. A couple of things I love about this foundation besides the fact that it empowers women, is that you can apply for a loan or grant write away on their website! It’s that easy. Also, as a donor you can give as little as a $1.00 donation online which makes giving easy for anyone!
Clinton Foundation- President Bill Clinton has been doing so many great things since leaving office with his foundation and even writing a book entitled Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World. For over a decade this foundation has been focusing on issues all over the world in areas from Healthcare to Climate change. Today, President Clinton will triple all donations made to the Clinton Foundation by midnight tonight. For example, If you give $25, he will give $75 to the foundation. What a great way to give back!
Feeding America- 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger in the United States. For every dollar you donate to Feeding American you help provide 8 meals to those in need. Today, Feeding America is making it super easy to donate. All you have to do is Text FOOD to 50555 to make $10 gift MSG &Data rates may apply. Help fill someone’s belly today!
Over the last few weeks, I have been cleaning my closets and cupboards to collect things I don’t use anymore. This afternoon I dropped off two giant boxes of clothes, books and electronics at my local Goodwill for my 25th Day of Giving! I am sure most of you have a Goodwill in your neighborhood, or are familiar with the name. But, do you know much about what the organization does besides being a great place to do costume or thrift shopping? Goodwill’s mission is “to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” 82% of their revenues go directly to training and employment for people with disabilities or other employment barriers. For over 110 years, Goodwill has also diverted billions of clothing and household goods from ending up in local landfills. I admit, when I was younger I would often throw unwanted items in the trash whenever I was doing my spring cleaning. However, these days I pile them all in boxes and drop them off at my local Goodwill. I encourage you all in these final days of the year, to go through your clutter and get rid of all that stuff you don’t use and donate it to your local Goodwill. As a recent article from the Goodwill blog says, “Less is More…Less stuff, more experiences. Less spending money, more spending time.” Isn’t that what this season is all about? I wish you all the best this holiday season and may you all create wonderful memories as you spend this time with your family and friends. In the words of Tiny Tim, “God Bless us everyone!”
Today I was still feeling under the weather but made a run to the grocery store where noticed The Salvation Army Bell Ringer out front. Perfect opportunity to give!! Most of us are familiar with The Salvation Army and the bell ringers at Christmas who stand by the red kettles. But do you know the history of the red kettle? It started in 1891 when a Salvation Army Captain named Joseph McFee was brainstorming a way to raise money to feed the needy people of San Francisco a nice Christmas dinner. He started to remember his days back in London when he was a sailor. At Stage Landing there use to be a “Simpson’s Pot” which was put out to raise money for the poor. He decide to try something similar at the Oakland Ferry Landing. Sure enough, he was able to raise the money he needed for the Christmas dinner. It soon spread to Boston, then New York City and now we see the shiny red kettles all over the world. Last year The Salvation Army helped approximately 30 million people with all of the programs they provide! So next time you are at the mall or walking out of the grocery store and see The Salation Army Bell Ringer, why not throw a little something in their red kettle and be a part of something that helps millions!
I’ve been fight a cold the last couple days and woke up this morning feeling pretty horrible. I decided I had to cancel my volunteering this morning so I could rest and not spread my germs to others. However, I realized I can still do some giving from home. As I was watching The View from my couch, they had Marlo Thomas on talking about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was started by her father, Danny Thomas in 1962. Their mission is “to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.” What I love about this organization is that none of their patients or their families have to pay St. Judes for any of the services they provide. St Jude partners with many different corporations who take donations right at their stores. I noticed CVS pharmacy was one of them and donated to St. Jude at my local CVS today, when I stopped in to get some cold medicine. Had I not been going to CVS, I could have donated straight from their website without having to leave my couch! That is the great thing about giving back in today’s society; you can do your part without having to take time out of your busy schedule. Click here to find out other ways you can help out St Jude Children’s Research Hospital!