Category Archives: charity

Breast Cancer Calling


I was on the phone with a colleague today and my call waiting clicked on. Our conversation:

She: Do you have to get that?

Me: Nope, it’s breast cancer calling.

She: Never a good idea to answer breast cancer when it calls.

Me: Yup.

It got me thinking, whose idea was it to have that come up on caller ID? Was this specifically requested because they believed you might pick it up and donate? Do they even know that caller ID is coming up this way? Should I call them back and let them know? And if I do, will I be obligated to make a donation, no matter what the organization is?

Ok, maybe it is a little noisy in my head.


Filed under absurdities, charity

God’s Love We Deliver Thanksgiving


There are events in your life that change you. In big ways. That make you think, OMG why have I never done anything like this before?

This Thanksgiving we were fortunate enough to be part of just such an event, the annual God’s Love We Deliver Thanksgiving effort. Yesterday, we woke at 4:15 (ok, so I tend to be up then anyway, but Gary is certainly not), hopped into the city and jumped on the assembly lines of one of the most remarkable machines of humanity that I have ever seen. With logistics precision coupled with an undying spirit of combined compassion, humor and the sheer joy of volunteerism, 950 people came out to donate their time in the wee hours of Turkey Day to help make the holiday of the seriously ill a little more bearable.

In the neighborhood of under 7 hours, almost 3400 meals were assembled and delivered to 2014 homes; not just for clients, but for a guest, caregiver and children under 18 living in those homes. Not to be forgotten are the countless hours spent by the staff, prepping and cooking those meals.

Volunteerism. My dear friend Karen says sometimes she thinks that it is actually not a selfless act, but more a self satiating one, for the need it fills in all of us to help others. I cannot argue that point, for as amazing as receiving these meals is for those in need, the way we felt yesterday morning was a greater gift than we could ever provide. The people we met are veterans; most volunteers for this org are staff volunteers, meaning they work a set weekly shift, many more than one. The spirit of both having fun and the seriousness of the task is second to no other volunteer experience I have ever had. These are the kind of people we aspire to be. There is no place I can imagine spending Thanksgiving morning ever again. I have taken a big swig of this koolaid and nothing has ever tasted better!

Full disclosure, the over the top icing on the cake of this experience for us was that our oldest child, Jana, is the newest member of the GLWD staff. As a volunteer specialist, she took her special brand of camp counselor people skills and ran around with her clipboard and iPad, learning the ropes as the newbie in the dept. In the few short months that she has worked there she has experienced their gala fundraiser, worked the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, The Race to Deliver AND survived Sandy and her aftermath where they lost power and scrambled to save food and still deliver to those in need. Watching her do a job she loves AND being able to participate… Priceless!

Post Sandy has made me very reflective. I have yet to be able to finish my thoughts on that experience and get them down here, but I will. For now, I can say that being so incredibly fortunate surrounded by so much need has left me feeling highly motivated to do more. This chronic volunteer is ready to kick it up another notch. There is something about ground level, specific task driven volunteerism that leaves you feeling like nothing else.

The world is pretty broken, go out and fix a little piece.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and consider donating a portion of what you save on Black Friday to those in need. Hey GLWD is a good place to consider.


Filed under charity, current events, food, holidays, Jana

Time to Cry Tuesday – Morgridge Pledge: Graduates and Giving

There is nothing like the thrill of watching your first born cross a stage to receive their diploma at college graduation. You can pretend that it is all part of the parental experience and not such a big deal, until arena fills and the band starts playing and you see all those decorated caps and sea of gowns and realize, wow, that is my kid in that crowd of graduates. She made it. We made it.

And then there is that moment when you think, What has she really learned? What has this place given her that will carry her through life? Not the academics or the GPA, but the real stuff. The things that will help her become the type of person she wants to be.

Enter the charming and playful John and Tashia Morgridge. John Morgridge, chair emeritus of the board of Cisco Systems, and Tashia Morgridge, a special education teacher who in retirement volunteers as a teacher for the learning disabled, have made a major impact on the UW campus through their giving.

We were so very fortunate to not only hear them make the commencement speech (together… how cool is that?), but to find out about a unique challenge that they put out to the graduating class. They have created a matching gift program.

The goal of their new pledge is for 15 percent of the Class of 2011 to make a gift. That would be 975 students from among the 6,500 graduates. Through Dec. 31, the Morgridges will match gifts ranging from $20.11 to  $120.11 to support a graduate’s college, school or department, or the university at large. Pledges can be made online here.

As I heard them encourage this class to give back to their Alma Mater I realized that THIS is that impact I as thinking of. Highly successful Alumni not only giving back, but teaching the next generation how to do so as well. Leading by example and most importantly making the ability to give accessible by keeping the donation amount low, then doubling its impact with the matching pledge.


Thank you to the Morgridges, for both being such avid supporters of UW and the added bonus of teaching this generation how to follow your example.

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Filed under charity, college

Everyone Needs a Morale Captain

Think about it… you are feeling sort of low, your self-esteem is waning, you just can’t seem to get yourself going so you call…

The Morale Captain!

What a title! And what a perfect job for my daughter, Jana. She is it the ultimate camp counselor, the planner of all activities. She’s the one who gets everyone motivated, flights booked, lists made and out the door. So what better job for her during the University of Wisconsin Dance Marathon than to be the Morale Captain. Her job is to keep individuals energized and motivated to stay on their feet throughout the 15 hour event. And she doesn’t even drink coffee!

As the mom that raised this kid I can tell you sleep was never a high priority for the first few years of her life, so she is well suited for the task.

The Dance Marathon is a student run philanthropy project that funds the American Family Children’s Hospital. If you would like to donate to this fabulous event you can do so here. And who knows, she may even take your call when your feeling down and get you back on your feet again. I know she can always do that for me.

Go Jana go!


Filed under charity, college, Jana

Time to Cry Tuesday – Hey, buddy can you spare a dime

Times are tough. And tough times take their toll on charities. Many a start-up has sprung up of late with microgiving solutions that allow people to give on any level they are comfortable.

The latest such brainchild is SwipeGood. This one is a complete no-brainer. The founders believe that giving should be simple, constant and ubiquitous. SwipeGood accomplishes that mission by rounding all your credit card purchases up to the nearest dollar. The ‘spare change’ is given to a charity of your choosing. Brilliant!

When you think about how easy it is to give in this way, continuously and without feeling the pinch, you wonder why no one has thought of this before.

In this season where so much is spent on nonsense and so many in need are doing without, it does my heart good to see an innovative concept like this emerge.

Spare change to effect change.

Nice concept indeed. (and not a bad tagline, now that I think of it)




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Filed under charity, Time to Cry Tuesdays

Time to Cry Tuesday – Love Drop

It’s called micro-giving. A lot of people giving a little can make a big difference. Great concept. Easy to do. And it can change lives.

Nate St. Pierre from ItStartsWith.Us made a commitment to change the world. Yep, that’s right.




And change he has. He is committed to making a difference in the lives of people in need. His latest project is Love Drop. Check out the link. It is really simple to make a difference. The idea is ‘spend a dollar, change a life.’


He has even found a way to make this into a consulting gig for himself to help companies with their own initiatives.

He can tell you about it a lot better than I can. The first video is about Love Drop. The second tells you more about ItStartsWith.Us.

I could be in love.

(fyi, they are not a non-profit so the donations are not tax-deductible, but the concept is still quite unique)


Filed under charity, communities, Time to Cry Tuesdays

Graff Diamond – Pretty Penny in Pink

Today marks a crazy day in the history of gemstones. At Sotheby’s Geneva a world auction record was set for any jewel when it sold an exceptionally rare Fancy Intense Pink diamond of the purest, vibrant hue, weighing 24.78 carats for $46,158,674.

That, my friends is one pretty penny in pink. The diamond was purchased by Laurence Graff. Shortly after the sale, he named the diamond “The Graff Pink” and made the following statement: “It is the most fabulous diamond I’ve seen in the history of my career and I’m delighted to have bought it.”

Delighted? C’mon Larry, could you not find a stronger word than delighted?

Being a woman who appreciates fine things and all, I can not help but think what the 46 mil could by in times like these. Please don’t get me wrong, if Mr. Graff wants to buy this diamond and it tickles him pink to do so, I say go for it. As a self made billionaire (yes, with a B – he is worth 2.5 billion) he surely has the gelt to make this purchase. And for those who will judge him, he seems to have the give back thing tied up pretty well.

A lover of diamonds he is equally in love with philanthropic and humanitarian causes. He supports Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund, ARK, Elton John’s AIDS Foundation, to name a few. He established FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time), devoted to distributing funds for the education, health and welfare of children in Africa. The Graff Leadership Center directly benefits from these funds and is a training center, hostel and home to 50 orphan girls, victims of the AID and HIV epidemic.

Still, I can’t help but think that 46 mil could buy a hell of a lot for so many in need. Funny the way it is… one man buys a diamond for 46 mil while the same amount could buy 13 million gallons of milk for starving kids. Seems sort of crazy, no?

Just saying.




Filed under charity, current events, fortunes

Lilly Pulitzer Animal Crackers?

I kid you not. This box is not a package comp, this is an actual box that I found at the supermarket down the block. (Uncle Guiseppes for those who live in town).

Lilly Pulitizer Edition animal crackers. Yeh, well I can see why these would be popular. You know, because little kids are heavily into designers. Especially terminally preppy designers.

I would have just taken a picture and not bought the box but they are supporting the WWF (no, not the World Wrestling Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, but yes, it is funny that they have the same initials). And for just this reason I will stop making fun of this project  – showing quite a bit of restraint, I might add. So it appears that Lilly is working with Kraft Foods and Nabisco’s Barnum’s Animal Crackers. In honor of 2010, the Year of the Tiger, Lilly Pulitzer redesigned their box and Nabisco will donate $100,000 to support the WWF worldwide conservation efforts, include tiger conservation. (to learn more visit and Cool!

I told my mother-in-law about this and she asked me if the cookies were all bright colored and plaid. It had never occurred to me but I thought, wow, that would be cool. I opened the box to find that they were just ordinary animal crackers.

And then I proceeded to eat the whole damn box. (thanks Ruthie, for getting me to open it).

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under charity, companies, marketing, products

Vote for Mel

I am always checking out the latest cause-related campaigns because they tie together my passion for marketing, promotion, social media, design and a worthy cause. One of the best things about the social web is the way those involved have embraced social good and incorporated it into some really fantastic promotions. One only needs to take a peek at what Pepsi has up its sleeve instead of the gazillion dollar Super Bowl ads this year.

Today I received an email from Zazzle promoting a photo contest with a fundraising component supporting Spay Day 2010.

Who better to enter this contest than our dear sweet Mel – the ultimate good sport. I entered the photo below because although there have been many featured on this blog in the past, this is my all time fave. She is a great model.

Below is a preview of a page where you can vote for my girl and make a donation to a local organization, The Animal Lovers League in Glen Cove. Here is a link to the page as well. If you feel so inclined, make a donation to a worthy cause. She has 30 votes already!

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under charity, pets, photography, social media

Time to Cry Tuesday – Turning 21 and Locks of Love

Many of us know young women who choose to grow their hair down to their waists with the intent to donate to those who have lost their hair to illness. My daughter did it in 9th grade, as did many of her friends. It is the ultimate act of selflessness. Many of these girls have much of their identity tied to their tresses and by donating them to those who are suffering, they learn a great lesson of the true meaning of giving. (Locks of Love provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis).

This weekend a very special young woman in our lives turned 21. She is the dear friend of my daughter and we have known her since preschool days. In celebrating her birthday, she too, chose to donate her beautiful long locks. Although turning 21 is a big milestone for many, this was monumental for Emily and her family and friends.  What is different about this remarkable woman is that she has known first hand what it is to lose her hair. Not once in her short life, but twice. By the time she was 12 years old she had battled Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and become a two-time cancer survivor.

This young woman has battled cancer and won with the grace and zest for life like no one I have ever known. She is a true inspiration to me and every time I see her she lights up the room. To be loved by Emily is to be truly loved, and she let’s you know that.

There was a big party at her parents home where she showed her bravery once again by having her hair cut in a room full of people who love and support her. And was that room full! It is hard for me to put into words how much of an effect this person has had on those of us who have known her most of her life. If you can measure a life by the people you touch, Emily is a giant.

As she sat in that chair I could not help but flash back to both times that we learned of her illness, the years she spent stoically fighting this dreaded disease and the elation we all shared when she received a clean bill of health.

She has dedicated much of her life to helping ease the road for so many children who are suffering. Among her many activities she is a past speaker and major fundraiser for the annual Relay for Life event in our town and volunteers at Sunrise Day Camp – the only day camp in the nation dedicated to serving the childhood Cancer population and their siblings free of cost. Her latest campaign is Bald for a Cause, where she not only donated her hair but set a fundraising goal of $5,000 in honor of her 21st birthday. These donations benefit the Sunrise Day Camp and The Winthrop University Cancer Center for Kids.

If you can, please join me in honoring this truly terrific young woman and give any amount to help her realize her goal.

In her own words, here is a quote from her Relay for Life speech:

I’ve realized that true friends will stick with you, no matter what you look like or what you’re going through. They’ll remain by your side, ready to help in any way possible, giving you the courage you need to succeed. I believe that my battle with Leukemia had helped me find those real friends. I’ve learned that bad things do happen to good people, but its bravery and courage that helps those good people make it through.

To Em – my sweet, may you always know the love that was in that room this weekend. With all the awful things you have had to live through, you have known the love of so many and have given it back tenfold. When I grow up I want to be just like you!

What this world needs is more Emilys!

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under body image, charity, communities, family, friendship, health, relationships