Saturday, December 1, 2012

31 Days of Goodness (Version 4.0)

For the past three years on December 1, I have crafted a post called 31 Days of Goodness. I am amazed at the outcome of love, heart, philanthropy and true goodness that results. Every year, the post gets some record number of views and shares.  I have you and your good hearts to thank. We should all be interested and willing to do great things for other people.

It was initially prompted by a service project I got involved with in my son's previous class. For the holidays, his class adopted a single parent family with five children. The list of needs from this family did not include Xbox, iPad or Cars 2 on BluRay. The list did include toothbrushes, toothpaste, coats, underwear and socks. Have you ever asked for a toothbrush for Christmas?  It is a reminder many of us are lucky to take many things for granted. And it is also a reminder we have the power to do so much for other people. 

Weeks ago, I spent the day with a group of coworkers at a Ronald McDonald house baking dozens and dozens of cookies for the families using it as temporary residence while their children undergo major medical treatment. Late in the afternoon, a young girl with leukemia came into the kitchen and shyly took one of my chocolate chip cookies from a plate. Moments later, she exclaimed, "This is the best cookie I have ever had!" It is a reminder of several key things: 1. We often are "too busy" to really appreciate the smallest things. 2. Regardless of circumstances, perspective is everything. 3. You can't underestimate the power of the smallest kind gesture.

So, this crisp December morning I want to share again. There are abundance of opportunities for every person to contribute from around the globe to your own community. Let's get motivated to turn skills, hearts and minds into our most powerful tools to help others. It is time for the 31 days of Goodness Version 4.0. 

Consider it a good karmic investment, a guarantee to put a little jingle in your bells, and your way to lean over that blade of grass and whisper: grow, grow.


1. Give blood. It doesn't hurt. Or it you do think it hurts, it only hurts for 2 seconds. And then you get a cookie and some juice, you baby. To find a local blood bank: Visit Give Life 

2. Sign up at Volunteer Match to make an impact in your own zip code. This service provides a number of options to get involved. Its good for your heart, your soul, and one less reason to sit on the couch eating holiday snack mix. 

3. Use your brilliance to help at-risk students. Do you know over a million teens drop out of school annually? Sign up to tutors and assist at-risk classrooms for 10 months at City Year.   
4. You know those many frocks you have harbored in your closet? Some since that holiday party in 2005? Give your closet some breathing room while doing something wonderful for a high school student. You can donate any gowns/special occasion dress (and accessories) to Princess Project which will coordinate and prep your gear for a young lady to wear to her high school prom.

5. Manly friends and friends with access to a manly closet, you are not excluded. Any gently used office attire for men can be used by Career Gear which helps men down on their luck on job-hunting, interview skills and loans them clothes to do their best at the interview. 

6. Donate a day of your life to help a struggling family. Women Build, a part of Habitat for Humanity, has over 25 sites that assist low-income families to get into a house. Get your gloves, grab your hammer, and make a difference. It will be a day you never forget.   

7.  I shared this last year and it is still awesome. A charity I am very close to is Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Even if you live as far away from here as possible, you can agree no one would choose to see their child/grandchild/sibling or any child they loved hospitalized, ESPECIALLY at the holiday time. CHOA expects over a thousand kids to be hospitalized this holiday season. What can you do?  Send a short note to help them meet their goal of providing a note to every child in their care during this time. Visit Share With Children's to send your message. OR, find your local children's hospital on the web and do something similar.

8. Mentor/coach/tutor a future writing superstar at 826 National  which now has 8 nonprofit writing centers which helped over 29,000 students last year! Many of you are writers so let your talent shine as you encourage and help guide creative writing talents in students age 16-18.

9. Sign up to volunteer to play bingo with Seniors. You will be elderly one day too and if you don't have all the kick and vigor you once did, you might be in an assisted living venue. Regardless of age, people still want to engage, laugh and have fun. JMac and I did this one afternoon and it was hilarious. When one sweet, tiny elderly Southern Belle won Bingo, she yelled, "SWEEEEEET JESUS!" I still smile every time I think of it.

Sign up to volunteer with Kids Enjoy Exercise Now  and become a one on one volunteer to teach kids or young adults with physical and developmental disabilities about noncompetitive sports. Their motto is "Accepting Every Child" which is outstanding.

Donate shoes (you know you have more than you can ever wear!) to Share Your SolesYou can also pony up a buck to provide laundry soap to wash 30 pairs of shoes.  

12. Donate your old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Go to the site and click under Take Action and then Donate.

For those with little time but big interest, visit this site I found last year Sparked. Its a microvolunteering network that matches you and your passions with different opportunities. Guess what? Some of these tasks take MINUTES like snapping a pic of a local park safe for kids to play.) 

14. Get involved. To start, visit Do Something which is a fantastic website. Their motto: Powering Offline Action.  Find service projects in your zip code. They also encourage you to engage your teenage family members to get involved in philanthropy. Their aim is to inspire the next generation of “doers”. You can also find local events/charities/nonprofits to support at Do Good ChannelYou can also visit All For Good which helps you find AND share opportunities to do good. I typed in our zip code and found almost 1000 opportunities. AMAZING.   
15. Play Free Rice and every correct vocab word you identify, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program. This is an addictive game so put on your SmartyPants and get to it.  You can also play Free Kibble and for every correct answer, they add 10 pieces of dog food for an animal shelter in need. You need a break from playing Angry Birds, don't you?

For a minimum of one hour a week for one year, you could mentor an at-risk teen online at I Could Be. You can give guidance and help a teenager reformat their life, goals, and self-confidence.


17. This could almost count as free goodness, but for $2 (yes, you read that correctly, TWO dollars) you can buy a set of drumsticks for a low-income public school student learning to play the drums at Little Kids Rock. If not because you have a little rock and roll in your own heart, do it because that is one awesome name for a charity. 

18. Did you know over 67 million children in the world are NOT attending elementary school. For $25, you can help Pencils of Promise sends a child to school for almost 3 months. Pony up $118 and they can attend for the year. Remember every time you griped about not wanting to go to school? You would NEVER feel that way if you didn't have the option.

19. Visit  Senhoa which hires survivors of Sex Trafficing and teaches them work skills (like making jewelry which is available on the site) to safely transition back into society.

20.  Almost 5o millions Americans are facing serious hunger problems. $21 to Feeding America will feed a family for TWO WEEKS. has been doing great service for seniors in the US since 1954. While you are at it, Meals on Wheels needs your help too. $14 will provide two nutritious meals delivered by volunteers to a housebound senior. You can also learn more about them if you want to volunteer. They have the largest volunteer base in the world and they still need help. 

21. For $25 to Why Hunger you can not only get a salad on the table of an at-risk teen, you can get that teen on a healthy path. Why Hunger focuses on helping needy kids not only grow produce for their own dinner table, but take that produce to farmer's market and help them foster independence, work acumen and a means of supporting their families. 

For $20, you can supply a blanket, book and stuffed animal or toy through Project Night Night to one of the over 300,000 kids living in homeless shelters right now. You can donate baby blankets, stuffed animals, and children’s books to this group as well.

23. With the alarming increase of bullying in schools, send $25 to Stand for the Silent  run by Laura and Kirk Smalley, who lost their son Tyler due to incessant bullying. Your donation will help support Kirk's many speaking engagements and seminars to end bulling and promote anti-bullying training for youth and schools. Bullying is not to be tolerated. It starts as early as kindergarten. 

24. One of my all-time FAVES: Give a loan that will change a life. For as little as $25 at you can help men and woman all over the world start businesses. You can choose your cause and donate through this peer-to-peer program. You can also watch the progress of your recipient. You will be paid back as well but that is the least important aspect.
25. You can't live a day without internet. Imagine it a luxury you could not enjoy. You can make it a reality for Afghan women. $25 to Young Women for Change donates a desk to the first ever female-only Web Cafe in Kabul. 

26. Always on the list are options to support soldiers. Just a tiny $4 contribution to Cell Phones for Soldiers will provide two hours of prepaid phone service for a soldier overseas to call home. You can also donate your old cell phones to them for recycling and they will use the proceeds to buy calling cards for troops. Awesome. This charity was actually started by teenage siblings. 
27. You are not a bit surprised 50% of this country's youth are obese. It is tragic. $50 to Action for Healthy Kids buys PE or Athletic equipment for struggling school districts.

28. Help the teachers who are educating our children and the future leaders of the world! At Donors Choose, you will be connected online to classrooms in need. You can search by projects and view long lists provided by teachers regarding classroom needs. Everything from writing utensils, science equipment and musical instruments. It doesn't even need to be said how sad it is that teachers are paying out of their own pockets in many school districts for necessary supplies. As the mother of a kindergartener, I can not believe the amount of supplies we are asked to give because the school district does not provide them. YIKES.

29. Donate a minimum of $10.00 to Pajama Program  which provides new jammies and books for kids in orphanages, group homes, and shelters who are waiting to be (or hoping to be) adopted. To date, they have given almost ONE MILLION books and pjs to kids who need them. 
30. Go to Best Friends and make a small donation to help this organization dealing with thousands of displaced pets. Your money can help set up shelters, prepare furry friends for adoption, or have microchips put into the animals. You know the unbelievable hurricans

31. Teen Mom shows? Vomit. The reality is, somewhere our young girls are seriously misguided in this country but there is help available to young moms. And sometimes, the right information can turn someone's life around. $50 to the Nurse-Family Partnership will provide coaching and smart information about pregnancy, healthy habits and smart parenting to FIVE first-time young moms. 

As I wrote for the past three years in closing, just think of the impact if everyone who read this simply picked one of these options? Talk about the love! Lets act. Let it be the minimum we do this year.  

Cheers to a gorgeous holiday season, JennyMac


Candin said...

I plan on creating a list similar to this for the holiday season. As I was scanning yours I was looking specifically for the free rice game and you had it! The free kibble game is a new one though. Excited to play that. I love the idea of Volunteer Match too. I am looking into that one. Thank you for the wonderful information.

HelpFromHome said...

Just wondering whether you're aware of the Help From Home website that features over 800 micro actions that benefit worthy causes, most of which are in a similar vein to the ones featured above. They have a great tagline - 'Change the world in just your pajamas'.