Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

This post is sponsored by Walmart AND ALL PROCEEDS WERE DONATED.

I feel like such a lucky mom to have so many incredible women in my life. Most of these friendships started when I was a new mom still trying to figure out the ropes of motherhood.  Now my kids are growing up, but I need them as much as I did in the early days. Unfortunately, our schedules have all become so crazy that it becomes nearly impossible to get our group together anymore. I decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to see them all before the holidays took over and we all began to hibernate for the Indiana winter. I invited them to my home for my first annual Friendsgiving feast to share in a meal together before the holidays and I couldn’t wait to share about it with you.

Let me disclose by saying that I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible and, if you are considering hosting a feast of your own, I would advise you do the same. I wanted to do it on budget, make it as effortless as possible, and I wanted the cooking to be easy too.

Here is how I executed the world’s easiest Friendsgiving Feast and helped give to our community in the process.

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Create a Facebook Event (And Get Positive Responses)

Like I said, my friends are crazy busy and getting our group together is nearly impossible. Instead of setting up an event and shooting blindly in the dark for a date or receiving a million responses and being responsible for sorting people/dates, I utilize Doodle to schedule get togethers. Simply plug in the dates and times that will work for you and send out the link to the scheduling tool for each person to vote for the days that work best for them. Once you receive the responses you can set the date for the one that received the most positive response.

Once you have the date, it couldn’t be easier to invite your friends especially since everyone (at least in my group) is on Facebook. I just put up an event and asked that everyone respond there. It was easy to create, to monitor, and gave me an accurate headcount for making food purchases. Make sure that you set the privacy to, “Invite Only” for viewing otherwise everyone who is a friend can see a response (and might not be included- ouch!) I admit, the only time I wish I had a bigger house is when I host events like this. Believe me, Invite Only for viewers is the way to go.

Herb Roasted Turkey

You Supply the Turkey, They Supply the Fixins’

Last year I hosted my family for Thanksgiving all while photographing each and every dish for the site. This year I wanted to take an easier approach so I offered to supply the turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but requested that each person bring their own dish and a bottle of wine to share. To make sure all the categories were filled, I utilized Jooners to create a sign-up sheet for dishes. Be sure to specify what you need under the, “Needed,” box. That is where I asked for side dishes, desserts, bread, and appetizers. This will help you have a well-rounded feast and since everyone can fill in the dish they are bringing, it  helps cut down on anyone bringing the same dish.

Not only did I do store-bought stuffing and gravy, I purchased turkey breasts (here is my favorite method of preparation) instead of dealing with the bones and carving. It killed me a little bit to do this when I know I could do so much more, but this also helped me to truly enjoy the evening with my friends and allowed me to not worry about laboring over dishes and missing out on all the fun together. Not to mention the cost factor that I saved on by having everyone help me with dishes and drinks.

Decorate Store Bought Pies

Of course, there is always our make-ahead feast that gets you out of the kitchen that day altogether!  Here are my make-ahead mashed potatoes, make-ahead fresh green bean casserole, make-ahead gravy, make-ahead stuffing, make-ahead cranberry sauce, make-ahead appetizers, make-ahead rolls, make-ahead pie crust, and even some great make-ahead ways to dress up a store-bought pie… just to name a few!

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece

Invest in Smart Party Supplies That You Use Over & Over Again

Over the years we have hosted so many gatherings that I have accumulated an arsenal of tools so that I can pull a get together at a moment’s notice.  I honestly didn’t buy a thing other than disposable cups for our get together, but that is because I have invested over the years and I try to create handmade items that can double as centerpieces if I don’t have time to run out and purchase fresh flowers.

The things that I have used the most over the years:

Centerfold Table- I bought this three years ago and I use it at least three times a year. It has a handle on it and folds down the center making it easy to pack up and take it if you need to and also making it easy to store when you don’t.  I purchased this tablecloth (you can see it here in a game day party I did awhile back) because it was stain-resistant.  To save on time ironing, I just wash it and then spread it on the table the night before since it is so lightweight and dries quickly without even going through the dryer. It helps cut down on wasting time ironing and is wrinkle-free in the morning.

friendsgiving-2

Elegant Plastic Dishes- Elegance and plastic might not seem like they go together, but plastic dishes have come a long way. I hosted a shed-warming party (totally a thing!) this summer and since we had so many guests coming, I decided to buy twenty of these dishes. If you go to Walmart, you can purchase the plates individually, which is exactly what I did.  Unfortunately (but then fortunately), they didn’t have enough in a single style so I ended up getting three different styles which adds a bit of fun to the dinner table. I love that these are lightweight and can be reused over and over again.

DIY Bar Cart

Bar Cart- This summer I transformed a tool cart into a bar cart and it is truly one of my favorite entertaining tools. Since we live in a small home (which we are very committed to) we don’t have a lot of counters or surfaces to use for putting out drinks and food. My bar cart resides in my shed, but I wheel it in when I am entertaining and it offers a fun place to tuck bottles of wine and glasses.

Inexpensive Silverware- I actually hit our local restaurant supply store for inexpensive silverware that reminds me of some of my favorite diners. There is never a shortage of forks, spoons, or knives at our home.

Decor That Can Be Used Over & Over Again- I love to craft and in the back of my mind, I am always thinking how I can weave these items into our seasonal decorating especially when it comes to the holidays. For our Friendsgiving feast my Knitted Leaf Centerpiece was perfect for my table (and is on display year-round in my craft room). This winter the table will be adorned with these Yarn Pom Pom Trees that I made. Think of creating something that you can get out every year and that can save you money when entertaining.

Friendsgiving

REALLY Make it a FriendsGIVING

I have some truly generous friends so I called upon them to assist me with giving back to our community.  First, I asked each of them to take a moment to clear out their pantries so that we could make a donation to my church’s food pantry. Right before the holidays is a great time to clear some space and make room for all of those items you will need to tackle your holiday baking and dishes.

The shelter that I have helped in the past where we achieved our MomAdvice Big Give, the Elkhart Faith Mission, is a charity that I love to support. Longtime readers may recall the MomAdvice Big Give we executed with them. Here is a little throwback footage for you.

It costs a mere $.1.79 to give a Thanksgiving meal to one person at the shelter. I left an envelope out and asked if anyone felt like giving that they could donate as little as two bucks to give someone something to look forward to for the holidays.

Consider making a true FriendsGIVING experience and find a scraps of life way to give back or gather together to make care packages for the homeless.

Faith Mission of Elkhart

Each year I like to dedicate one post from Walmart to those in need and today’s post is for the families heading to Faith Mission that need a holiday dinner to look forward to.  

I understand that sponsored posts aren’t always the favorite posts here, but the proceeds from this post today and the donations I collected fed 187 PEOPLE a Thanksgiving meal and many of our posts this year gave a community of  people clean water this year.  How cool is that? Please support our sponsors because they do help many- perhaps, more than you realize! 

I hope my Friendsgiving inspires you to give back to your community and to throw a get together with your own amazing friends!

Have you ever hosted a Friendsgiving? Any tips or tricks you would like to share!

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How We Successfully Raised $6,000 in Two Weeks for Burkina Faso

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

 

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

I could not be prouder of my friends and readers than I am today. Today we were able to give $6,000 in raised funds to our Wells of Hope campaign for Burkina Faso and pitched in another $2,000 raising our total to an incredible $8,000 to build wells. This gift gives up to 4,000 men, women, & children access to clean water.

How did we do it? I am baffled myself! When we initially pitched the idea to the ministry team at our church that we wanted to do this, I had no clue if we would ever be able to pull it off. I am no Momastery, in traffic or in size of influence, but I did believe that my passion for this project could be contagious, if seen in front of the right eyes.

If you are trying to raise funds for a passion project of your own, I want to share with you the strategies I used for this campaign. I believe that there is enough love and money to go around to fund these projects, but it is finding ways to make that voice heard that is essential for funding.

Start With a Clear Plan & Goals

I am a big believer in getting everything on paper and when I came to the team with my big dreams of birthday wishes I didn’t speak vaguely of what I believed I could do. Let me be clear though, saying it out loud is hard. I did not want to let a single person down.  At the same time, knowing that I was trying to commit to a goal, offered motivation for me to really pull through for Burkina Faso. We shared that our family was financially committed to one well and we hoped to raise enough funds for at least two more wells.

I shared every avenue I was willing to tap into, how we could gather our funds, what I would need from the team to get people to connect to our cause, and what would be happening each day in that first week on our site.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Get People Curious About What You Are Doing

I began posting teasers that we were up to something a couple of weeks in advance of launching our project. We wanted to get people excited that something big was going to be happening and that we would be calling on them to be a part of it.  You can do this even if you don’t have a blog or website, but just through your social media channels.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

State Your Needs Clearly So People Know Who They Are Helping

People need to know what they are funding and what organizations they are helping. In a case like ours where there are numerous organizations involved, I tried to clearly state exactly who the partners in this project were, facts about the community & people that would be impacted, and what a donation would mean to this cause.

Saying that we need clean water for people in Africa would not be as impactful as, “One out of three children will probably die before they ever reach the age of ten. The deaths are mostly due to a lack of fresh water. The women of Burkina Faso often walk several miles to a dirty stream or stagnant pool, just to fill a bowl with water.”

Children dying before they are ten?

Women walking for miles to find a water source?

It is awful, but truthful information that calls upon people to help in a very visual way.

 

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Find an Avenue for Easy Collection

I have been a longtime fan of Pure Charity and knew that I wanted to use this site to spread the message of what we needed. I cannot recommend their site enough for what they can bring to your passion projects.

I could go on and on about why I love them so much, but it all boils down to people being able to connect with your cause, see their money grow, and know how many they have impacted. You can take a peek at my campaign to see how this looked.  I can’t tell you how many people went back in and donated a little more after their first donation to the project, just see the money bar go up a little more. After each donation is given, through Pure Charity, the person is told exactly how many lives their donation impacts. Even if you were only about to offer $10, you knew that you had impacted five people that day once your funds were submitted.

This method of collection was easy and you can connect your organization right to the funds.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Donations Are Great- Whether Big or Small

Unless the organization’s collection form states that you need to have a minimum donation, show people small and approachable ways of donating. Anything over $1 was considered a donation on Pure Charity so I tried to think of things that were a little over $1 that people could “give up” to give a child clean water. A Redbox flick, a Starbucks coffee, a ticket to the latest movie, or a quick stop for a burrito is money that could be spent to give clean water to Burkina Faso.

It worked so well that people were donating after they went through the drive-thru or they gave up their weekly latte run or pizza night for my cause.

The point of this was to prove that you don’t have to be a millionaire to give. Every donation was important to me. Every. Dollar.

Connect Your Cause With Your Social Media Channels

If you are active on social media, use it to your advantage and ask your friends to spread the word. My two biggest audiences on social media are Facebook & Instagram.

Here’s a fun fact, I absolutely despise video or hearing myself on video or anything to do with video. That being said, some people like pictures, some people like videos, and some people just like to read a status. I tried to utilize every avenue from the beginning. An intro video connected you to our cause, I did a couple of thank you videos to thank people as we met goals, and we shared lots of pictures. If you want to make quick banners or collages for your cause, PicMonkey is great for your websites and if you are looking to add text to your phone images, I love Rhonna Designs app.

Thank Everyone for Everything Often

Each time we received a donation, I thanked them, whether publicly or privately. I was so grateful to everyone who gave, whether it was a dollar or a hundred dollars. The fact that they connected with my cause and helped meant the world to me.

Anytime I have ever donated to someone and received a thank you, it acted as double validation for what I did. With 121 contributors to our campaign, I tried not to overlook a single person and sent an email or message to them as soon as I could to say thank you.

After all, if we didn’t have these AMAZING friends we could never be sharing our success story with you today. My friends ROCK!

Don’t Stop Once You Reach Your Goal

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.Our goal was to raise enough funds for three wells. In the end, the money kept trickling in and bit by bit we were inching closer to our fourth well. If we would have given up when we reached our goal, we would have never known we could have achieved an additional well.

I’m not done with Burkina Faso though. The water of funds will continue to trickle as I knit my way to another well this year. I am working on my first round of wares for an Etsy shop to give all the profit to Burkina Faso.

If you have a talent for something and a burning desire like this amazing young lady that shared her story with our readers, you can continue raising funds in whatever little ways and pockets of time you have in your day.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Whatever your project, I pray that God blesses you abundantly in it. I also thank each of you for helping us reach and surpass our goal of giving clean water to the people of Burkina Faso. Thanks to your donations, we will have water for up to 4,000 people. What an incredible gift you have given us and these people.

Thank you for celebrating the site’s tenth anniversary with us in such a grand and beautiful way! It solidifies my belief that this is just what God wants me to be doing with my life.

xoxo,

Amy

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Teaching Our Kids to Give: Inspiring Guest Post by Hannah Foust

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Teaching Our Kids to Give by Hannah Foust

As we continue to fundraise today for Burkina Faso, I wanted to share with you the most incredible young lady that has inspired me in such a big way to give to Burkina Faso. She truly helped to plant the seed for us that we wanted to raise funds for wells for Burkina Faso.

 

Here’s the crazy part…she is just 12 years old and she is doing it by doing small job projects. This is a great post to read to your kids and Hannah’s story inspired my own family to give in these ways too. You can read all about it at the end of her post! For now… just read this!

 

I have recently learned of a place, called Burkina Faso, Africa through Clay Church and Engage Burkina. Burkina Faso is the third most miserable place ON EARTH! Where water is scarce, where children have to choose between working to feed their family or going to school, and starvation, death and illness are part of daily life for so many. It is a place so overwhelmed by poverty, that we as Americans cannot even attempt to imagine the struggles they face. When I first heard of this country, I went to bed praying, please God tell me there isn’t really a place like this.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt compelled by God to help the people of Burkina Faso. I am determined to make an impact in two ways:

(1) by funding a well and

(2) by being a light of inspiration for others.

Teaching Our Kids to Give

Why a Well?

Many people in Burkina Faso travel extremely far distances only to collect (and sometimes pay for) water that is dirty, diseased and sometimes deadly. One well can provide water for up to 1,000 people and drastically improve their lives. One well costs $2000. I’m not too good at math, in fact it is my least favorite subject in school, but I know that’s only $2 per person. That’s not a whole lot of money to save a life.

Why Be An Inspirer?

I feel like this is probably the most important part of my call to help the people of Burkina Faso. I think sometimes we get tunnel vision and can’t look beyond ourselves. I think sometimes it takes another person to help us expand our vision to see a bigger picture. I hope to inspire others to see the needs of not just the people in Burkina Faso, but also people in our communities and beyond.

I believe this world has gifted and beautiful people who are “Noticers.” Noticers see things- the broken, the hopeless, the beautiful, the wounded, the tragic, the lost, the possibilities. Noticers respond by doing. Doing whatever it takes to help meet needs and create more beauty, joy and peace in the world. Noticers inspire!

Noticers help make other noticers, and together they do great things to change the world. Jesus gathered Disciples by walking along a dirty road and inviting them to become Noticers of the hungry, the sick, the lost, the forgotten and the hurt, and to help them see a tiny glimpse of the love and greatness of our God. I would like to say that I am a Noticer… but I have only just begun the process…

Will You Join Me?

I know that with Gods help, anything is possible, this means that kids and adults of all ages can impact the world, when they ask God to guide them, but you have to take the first step. The world needs more Noticers, and World Changers, and I know that, with God’s help, YOU can take those steps.

Teaching Our Kids to Give

How do you get started?

 

Pray

You want to know that this is God’s plan for you. Ask God to help you see the needs of others and to help you to meet those needs. My story begins with becoming aware of a need in Burkina Faso, then praying to God to help me know how to help. Now, He is helping me to do things I never thought were possible!

Tell Everyone You Know

They will be excited to see such a young person working for such a good cause. I receive letters almost every week from someone who has been inspired by my story. Teachers, friends, family, and even strangers, have been inspired by my story.

Social Media really helps! I am only 12, so I can’t have a Facebook account, but I do have a Facebook page that I use to share news about my project. I am also on Twitter.  Make sure your social media interactions are professional and that you represent your cause well. You can use social media to share your story, invite others to participate and ask your supporters to share your story. It is a great way to reach people you don’t know! Just remember to be positive!

Be Passionate

If you care deeply about something, then others will care, too! I feel a responsibility to help children in Burkina Faso, like I am their older sister. This has impacted the way I live life every day. Telling people about my project has become a big part of my life.

Do Some Research

I jumped into sharing my story in front of large and small audiences all over Indiana pretty quickly. At one of my first churches, I was asked questions I could not answer (where exactly is Burkina Faso and how deep are the wells.) It would have been great if I knew those answers. Sometimes “why” we are doing things is more important that all of the tiny details, but it helps to build support when you can clearly articulate all of the details.

Work Hard

Don’t just ask people to give you money. Find a job in the community, or start a club at school, to raise money and awareness of your project. I have raked leaves, shoveled snow, watched pets, and cleaned yards. When my neighbors need something done, I am the first one they call! I live in a very religiously diverse community. People of all faiths and backgrounds have been inspired to help in some way. Continue working, until you’ve raised enough money. Better yet, keep working until God tells you to do something else.

Get Your Friends and Family Involved!

I earned most of my money raking leaves in the fall. The jobs kept coming, and I needed lots of help! My whole family pitched in to help.  At first, my younger sister, Emma, felt left out as we talked about Burkina Faso over meals and in the car. Now, she feels like she’s part of the project, and she is! I really believe this project has brought our family closer together.

For my birthday, we invited friends and family to hear about Burkina Faso and the well project. Instead of gifts, friends donated to my project. We had a traditional West African meal and even had a time of worship! It was the best Birthday party I ever had! Since my birthday, friends have told me they have been inspired to live differently. Getting your friends involved helps them to make a difference, too!

I hope this list of ideas helps you to get started. Now, I have to ask! What are you waiting for? You can make a difference TODAY!

Teaching Our Kids to Give

Isn’t Hannah the most inspiring kid? I have learned so much from her and so have my children. What an example she is leading for other kids her age. I love her idea of becoming a “noticer.” What if we all made it our goal to be that type of person? It really would make the world a better place.

Teaching Our Kids to Give

Teaching Our Kids to Give

Hannah’s idea that we all have some skills that we can use to help the world truly resonated with me. God gave me the ability to knit and I thought that might be a great way to donate to Burkina Faso. While we were snowed in, I knitted up some baby hats to get a future Etsy shop going. It will be called, “A Well of Hope,” and all proceeds (minus my materials cost) will go directly to Burkina Faso.

Hannah’s story inspired me that we all have time & talent to share and what better way to use it then giving the gift of water to those in need. I hope I can knit my way to another well. Wouldn’t that just be amazing?

Won’t You Give Us a Present?

Let’s make a global impact for MomAdvice’s birthday and give clean water so that children, mothers, and fathers may live. Let’s celebrate doing something bigger than ourselves. Let’s make miracles happen!  I can’t do it without you! 

Just as Hannah has shared, every little bit helps. The best part about making a donation to Burkina Faso is that you can donate as little or as much as you like. Consider just one replacement of a Starbucks coffee, a movie ticket, a dinner out with your family, or just one less birthday gift this year. Any amount (great or small!) will help us reach our goal to providing Burkina Faso clean water!

DONATE NOW PLEASE!  To read more about why we chose Burkina Faso, check out our initial post over here!

 

How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity this month as well! 

One more thing, did you know today just so happens to be GIVING TUESDAY? It is the perfect day to start a giving project with your family! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

 

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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Walmart Toy Haul for the Homeless

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Once again, I just wanted to send out a gentle reminder of what a wonderful opportunity we have to give back to our communities right now! I was lucky enough to not only get to partner in the Fighting Hunger Together campaign with Walmart, but I also had the opportunity to share a little fun for the lives of those in need.

Walmart challenged me to take $100 and see how far I could stretch our dollars by shopping in their toy department to bless an organization in our community. We decided to continue our efforts of doing our best to bless the Elkhart Faith Mission and picked up some fantastic board games to benefit the Women & Children’s Shelter during this holiday season. Although we were only able to drop them off and not give them to the director in person, we know how much these small gestures mean to this shelter…and how much they mean to our own family to get to do them.

Thank you to Walmart for giving us the opportunity to give so much and being able to showcase how much we can do with $100 to bless the lives of children in our community!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Family Holiday Activity: Fighting Hunger Together Today!

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

In the busy chaos of trying to prepare for the holidays, it is often overlooked that so many people will not get the beauty of sitting around  a table and indulging in a Thanksgiving feast. In fact, 1 out of 6 people will not even know where their next meal will come from. It truly breaks my heart when I hear that so many are in need and I often feel helpless in how I can possibly help.  As someone who desires to live a frugal and simple life, I am always looking for those “scraps of life” ways that I can give back to others.  This is just another way that I want to share with you that you can give back to others, both simply and within your own budget.

You may not have noticed the food barrels at your local Walmart store as you are hurrying off to do your holiday shopping. Well, I am excited to share that Walmart is running a Fighting Hunger Together Campaign and providing barrels where you can make a food donation to help support food pantries that are desperately in need right now. These barrels are conveniently located near the entrance of the store (mine was located right outside of the grocery side of our local store) where you can drop off your donations as you are entering or leaving to do your shopping.

If you’re thinking about giving to a food drive, here are a few of the items currently needed:

  • Canned Meats (tuna, chicken, stews)
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Spaghetti Sauce & Noodles
  • Canned Beans (baked, garbanzo, kidney)
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Fruits (in light syrup)
  • Juice Boxes (100% juice)
  • Cereals (boxed, oatmeal)

The food pantries can also use basic household items and toiletries, like toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant and diapers (sizes larger than newborn). If you’re thinking about donating to a food drive, Walmart is conducting an in-store food drive through Monday (11/22), so please head out there this weekend and lend your support.

I encourage you to take a moment to visit the Fighting Hunger Together site and learn more about these efforts to feed the hungry. When you visit, be sure to “Like” your own community. Votes will be tallied to see where the donations will be going.

Below is a video of our family taking our own trip to do a donation. With just fifty dollars, we were able to donate 49 items for the cause. We gathered up many of the items for just a mere fifty cents or so each! The kids were thrilled to help and we were proud that we were able to contribute to such a worthwhile cause.

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Giving With the Scraps of Life: 10 Painless Ways to Give to Charities

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the means to donate to make a difference in someone’s life? I often felt that the size of my wallet was a hurdle to the type of giving that I imagined that I could do in my adulthood. When financial times were particularly difficult for our family, I always envisioned the day that would come when I could give more to worthy organizations.

In the last few years though, I began to realize that there are so many more ways to give than I ever imagined possible. I refer to this giving in my house as my, “scraps of life giving.” There are so many things that I have within my possession and that I can do with the limited talents and budget that I possess that the possibilities for good old-fashioned giving are endless.

Today I wanted to share with you a few, “scraps of life giving,” opportunities that you just might not be aware exist! Within this list, I am confident you can find a few opportunities for giving a few scraps from your life to a worthy organization.

Clean Out Those Couch Cushions & Pockets- Do you have a spare change jar in your house that has been gathering dust? Rather than saving it for something for yourself, consider taking that donation to a worthy organization instead.  Ronald McDonald House Charities is just one great example of where your change could be put to good use.  While you are visiting the drive through for your next dollar soda (one of my own favorite inexpensive indulgences), consider dropping your change off in the boxes at your local McDonald’s and know that your change is being put to great use.

While that little bit of change may not seem to really make a big difference, the organization collected over $20 million dollars in spare change last year. That change goes to helping keep families together by providing shelter for them while their child is being cared for at a nearby hospital.  Just think of that impact you are making on a child and family’s life with that simple gesture of donating your change!

PS- RHMC’s Day of Change is happening on September 9th! Plan to take your change to your local McDonald’s & RSVP for the event here!

Call Up a Cell Phone Donation- The rapid rate that families go through cell phones these days is quite amazing!  With most cell phone plans now, the opportunities to upgrade come around every couple of years.  The dilemma of what to do with those old, outdated cell phones is no longer a problem now that organizations like  CellPhonesForSoldiers.com are around. Visit the website to find a place to drop off those gently used cell phones to the cause.

Cell Phones for Soldiers will recycle the cell phones, and use the proceeds to provide pre-paid calling cards and cell phones to troops serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Just imagine that you can give a child or spouse the opportunity to hear from their loved one with something that was just taking up space in your house. How beautiful is that?

See Any Worthy Donations In Your House?- The cost for eyeglasses is astronomical when you don’t have an insurance plan that covers them. For lower income families, a pair of glasses can be the equivalent of a week’s salary or more, and is a cost that most just can’t afford. Consider taking your gently used glasses to a local Goodwill, Lion’s Club, or to LensCrafters and donating them to the worthy cause of helping those who need them.

Think of that child who is struggling in school because his family can’t afford a pair of glasses for him and think of that pair of glasses that are gathering dust in an old drawer in your house that could be benefiting him. It seems like a win-win situation to share the gift of sight with someone else.

Craft Your Way to Giving- Do you have the gift of crafting in your possession? You may not realize how valuable that talent is, but it can make the difference in the life of a child, a soldier, or someone who is undergoing treatment for an illness. A quick Google search of your craft skill and the word charity should pull up a number of worthy organization that you can give to.

I am a knitter and am currently working on knitting caps for a chemo drive through an organization. It is something that I can easily do while watching a little evening television with supplies that I already have on hand, but can make the difference in the life of a patient undergoing chemotherapy. I have found though that knitting has been a fantastic gift to share in so many ways and I always try to keep one charitable giving project on my needles at all times. Whether it is whipping up a cap for a chemo patient, donating a blanket to a project like Project Linus, or knitting a prayer shawl for someone who could benefit from this comfort, I am so proud I can use my talents for someone else.

Consider donating your crafting talents to a local homeless shelter, teaching a craft to underprivileged children, or just creating crafts in your spare time that could make someone’s day a tiny bit brighter. The possibilities with the gift of crafting truly are endless!

Whittle Down Your Shoe Collection Charitably- I will admit that I have a bit of a shoe purchasing habit and have developed quite a shoe collection over the years. The good news is that your old shoes do not need to go to waste because of a worthy organization called Soles4Souls.

Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people just like you. The charity distributes these shoes free of charge to people in need and has donated over 10 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes. These shoes have been distributed to people in over 125 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and the United States.

In our town, the local New Balance offers a drop-off location for the organization which makes donating just as easy as all of the errand-running that you are already doing. Consider weeding through your shoe collections and giving to someone who doesn’t have the creature comfort of a good pair of shoes.

As you can see, the possibilities for giving are endless without really spending a dime. Of course, the best gift you could ever give to any organization is the gift of yourself. Read to a child, mentor a child, serve at your homeless shelter, visit a nursing home, or help at an animal rescue shelter… these are just to name a few!  For oodles of volunteer opportunities, please visit VolunteerMatch.org to find a worthy organization to donate your time and talent to.

Not enough giving opportunities  here? Here are 5 more easy giving ideas!

5 Surprising Things You Could Be Giving Today

  1. Soda Can Tabs- Collect these for a metal donation to Ronald McDonald House charities.
  2. Expired Coupons- Military families can use expired coupons for groceries.
  3. Books- Better World Books can take your old books, pay you, and the books that are sold create a donation to literacy programs.
  4. Old Cars- Goodwill will happily take your old clunker off of your hands.
  5. Diapers- Give your diapers to the diaper bank charity in your town to benefit needy families. If you are a Michiana resident, call 237-7888 and leave contact information to arrange for a donation drop off in our town.

What are your favorite scraps of life giving opportunities for your family? I would love to hear the giving opportunities that your family takes part in!

Giveaway Results: Glad to Give Virtual Bake Sale

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Sorry, this giveaway is now closed! We would like to congratulate Geetha, from like i got one day left to live, on winning this prize pack. Thank you all so much for your participation in the Glad to Give bake sale!

Welcome to our virtual bake sale for Glad to Give, helping them raise funds and awareness around pediatric cancer. We promised great prizes and a fun new recipe to add to your collection and we are excited to do just that today!

I am one of those strange people that is not overly tempted by sweet things. I think I must be missing a sweet tooth gene or something. Whatever I lack in sweetness, I make up for in savory and salty dishes. That is why I wanted to offer a fun treat that would be perfect for parents perusing the bake sale aisles with hungry children or for those looking for a more satisfying snack that will fill them up.

Granola with almonds and dried fruits could be an expensive endeavor for a bake sale which is why I wanted to share our new favorite granola recipe, Honey Nut Granola. It is satisfyingly crunchy with sweetness from the honey and brown sugar, but a delicious salty bit with the peanuts and salt mixed in. In my opinion, it is the perfect balance!

Of course packaging those treats is just as important as what is inside of them and I found these clear treat bags and the grosgrain ribbon at the craft store for packaging. Divide the treats into ½ cup packages and sell them for $1.00 a piece at your next bake sale. Display on pretty cake stands and cover your tablecloth in the same color scheme as your ribbon.

Honey Nut Granola (adapted from AllRecipes.com)

3 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking variety)

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine oats, peanuts, and wheat germ. In a separate bowl, combine honey, brown sugar, vegetable oil, water, salt, and vanilla. Stir well; then pour into the oat mixture, and stir. Spread out on a cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool before serving.

Don’t forget to make an extra batch for yourself. If your family is anything like mine, they will be fighting over this stuff and it just might be a great new breakfast and snack tradition in your house.

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To participate in our Glad to Give Bake Sale, please share a bake sale recipe and  link up below (on your site or a favorite recipe from another site). We would love if you would also blog and about your participation in the Glad to Give campaign (but not mandatory). One lucky winner will win a goodie basket that contains an apron with matching pot holders, silicone reusable bake cups, measuring spoons, a wire whisk, cupcake sprinkles, a new egg timer and, “The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook.” ($50 value). I am accepting entries until 8PM tonight. Good luck!

I thank each of you for your participation in this bake sale and we are so proud to be a part of an initiative towards pediatric cancer research. We don’t just talk the talk though, we have put $400 towards the campaign efforts because we are believers in Glad to Give and the work that can happen if funds are given.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with in your kitchens! Happy Baking!

Disclaimer: I was paid for this campaign and invested every dollar back into it to spread the word about pediatric cancer. It is far better to give than to receive. I hope you will consider doing the same!

Reminder: Glad to Give Bake Sale on Friday

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Friday is our big bake sale day and I have been hard at work in my kitchen to share a fun, healthy, and easy recipe that could be shared at your next bake sale. Bake sale goodies are a specialty in our kitchen and for a moment’s worth of effort; you can produce dozens of goodies and treats for fundraising efforts.

This is a very special bake sale though because we are raising funds for the Glad to Give organization to help pediatric cancer research. Every single day, 36 children are diagnosed with cancer.  Sadly, one in every five children diagnosed dies. How heartbreaking for the parents of these children and for the children that are suffering, especially if more money could just be allocated to the cause to further cancer research. That is where our virtual bake sale comes in.

I am hosting a little bake sale tour and I am excited to show you what one winner (drawn randomly) will receive for participating. This goodie basket contains an apron with matching pot holders, silicone reusable bake cups, measuring spoons, a wire whisk, cupcake sprinkles, a new egg timer and, “The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook.”

I hope that you will consider participating and sharing a favorite baking recipe in honor of this campaign. It would mean the world to me, but it would mean a world more to the families of these children! Start gathering those recipes and think of the ways that you could help with my virtual bake sale. I can’t do it without you!

Meet back here on Friday morning to join in the fun and help raise awareness about the Glad to Give Campaign.

Disclaimer: I was paid for this campaign and invested every dollar back into it to spread the word about pediatric cancer. It is far better to give than to receive. I hope you will consider doing the same!

Because I Am Glad to Give & I Want You To Give Too!

Monday, April 19th, 2010

When someone once asked me one word to describe myself, the word that came to mind was, “giver.” I love to give to others and thrive in any environment where I can share a piece of myself with someone else. There is nothing I love more than the giving of food, the giving of my time to make someone’s day easier, even being the giver of advice that might make a mom’s day run a little smoother. I am a giver because it comes naturally to me and that is why I am thrilled to share about a campaign that you can give back frugally and thoughtfully to families who are faced with a disease called pediatric cancer.

Did you know that the number one death disease of children living in the United States is pediatric cancer? Why is it the number one killer? Truthfully, it kills children daily because the funds are just not there to develop the research to find a cure for this disease.

I was asked to help spread the word about a campaign called, “Glad to Give,” that is sponsored by the GLAD company.  They believe that they can raise the funds for this research one cookie at a time. Yes, you heard that right! This campaign’s roots are firmly planted in that beautiful thing we love… bake sales!

As parents with busy schedules, I know that volunteering and baking might not be the top two things on your priority list. What if you knew that those two things could make a difference in a child’s life though? Glad to Give is offering up some fantastic ideas for how you can participate and how you can be a part of their partnership with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

Here are some easy and frugal things you can do to participate:

Buy GLAD® Products and Contribute to Pediatric Cancer Research: This spring, every time you purchase a  GLAD product (to help host a bake sale or for other use), the Glad Products Company will make a $1 donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, up to $200,000! Just enter the UPC code here!

Enter the GLAD Recipe for Giving Contest: GLAD recognizes the time spent prepping, kneading and decorating bake sale treats is quality family time that instills a spirit of service in children. To help celebrate families in action, GLAD® is conducting the GLAD® Recipe for Giving Contest. Consumers can share their “recipe” – that is, tip or advice – on how their family gives back through food related activities. Four consumer winners will each win $1,000 toward a family activity of their choice and a chance to compete alongside a celebrity in the holiday GLAD® Recipe for Giving Celebrity Challenge. Come November, the two lucky consumers on the winning celebrity team raising the most money will each receive a “voluntourism” trip for four to St. Lucia.

Host a Bake Sale: I know that this might take a little work on your part, but imagine the lives that you could touch through the donations raised. GLAD will take you through the process in four easy steps that will have your raising funds in no time!

I am committed to this campaign and committed to spreading the word about how you can help. I want to kick off the GLAD to give campaign by donating $400 to jump start the cause and I need your participation!

I am going to be hosting a virtual bake sale on May 14th. I am asking you to participate here on the site and share your best bake sale recipes!  From those entries, I will randomly select a winner who will receive a box full of baking goodies (valued at $50, prepared by me!) just for sharing one of your bake sale recipes and sharing about your participation in Glad to Give! Doesn’t that sound lovely?

I hope that you will consider participating and sharing a favorite baking recipe in honor of this campaign. It would mean the world to me, but it would mean a world more to the families of these children! Start gathering those recipes and think of the ways that you could help with my virtual bake sale. I can’t do it without you!

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In honor of all things bake sale, here is a quick cookie recipe that can be made out of pantry ingredients and one ingredient that makes the whole thing go a little quicker… the ever amazing cake mix!

Cake Mix Peanut Butter Cookies

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Pour the cake mix into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add peanut butter, oil, eggs, and water. Mix until well blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly using a fork dipped in water. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cookies set on cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before carefully removing from the cookie sheet to cool on wire racks. Amy’s Notes: Be sure to keep the cooking time to the ten to twelve minutes and don’t let the lighter color fool you. I had some burnt cookies in my first batch because I left them in the oven too long. Let them cool as instructed and then place them on a pretty plate for serving. Then you need to complete the most difficult step of all…Try to graciously accept the compliments without giving away your cooking secrets (which I never can do myself!).

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Disclaimer: I was paid for this campaign and invested every dollar back into it to spread the word about pediatric cancer. It is far better to give than to receive. I hope you will consider doing the same!

What is one way you donate your time or talents to charity? How do you make this a family priority?