Ways To Help The Boys & Girls Clubs Of America This Season

(Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.)

The Holiday season is in full-swing! We are all busy with parties, decorating, gift buying and everything else that goes along with it but I think it’s also important to give back during this time as well. There are many good causes to support but I wanted to share about one specifically today.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America serve nearly 4 million youth, but millions more need the life-changing programs and positive guidance Clubs provide. You can help create Great Futures for kids by making a gift to Boys & Girls Clubs of America this holiday season. The easiest ways to support BGCA is to volunteer, donate or shop at a store that donates proceeds to them.

Other fun things you can do on the Holiday website include:

Isn’t that fun!? I especially love the tips they offer for parents on helping kids get in the giving spirit.

 

 

Giving Tuesday {Giving Back To My Community Thanks To Kohl’s}

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. Kohl’s provided a gift card that I used to purchase gifts for others in the community.)

I try to give back to my community and those around the world all year round but I absolutely love the fact that there is one day that is called “Giving Tuesday”. This very special day is tomorrow, December 3rd, this year. What a great feeling to see people blowing up social media with talk of giving after a week of shopping and “getting”. When someone from Kohl’s emailed me and asked if they could send me a gift card to go shopping for others I was really excited. I enjoy working with Kohl’s on a regular basis and love that they give back to the community throughout the year with their Kohl’s Cares program. This was just more proof that I’m blessed to partner with such an amazing company.

Once I received the gift card I wanted to shop online right away because Kohl’s had fabulous deals and they were giving Kohl’s cash back so, like their commercial says, it’s like getting paid to shop! I had a few things in mind that I wanted to do with the money. My kids and I had chosen two “angels” off of the angel tree at Church to buy gifts for. The gifts would go to children who had parents in prison. I also wanted to purchase mittens and gloves for the mitten tree which would keep children and adults warm during the cold winter. With the remaining gift card balance I was going to get toys for a local gift mart. These toys would fill a makeshift store in a neighboring low income town’s school and gave parents the chance to “shop” for toys. Paying just $2 per toy allows parents to keep their dignity while being able to afford gifts for their children and then all proceeds go back into the local school. During my first few years of motherhood I would have been one of these parents so I’m happy to be able to help them.

I started with our angel tree gifts. Each parent in prison had written (or dictated) a note for their child that would be attached on the gift. It was humbling to see their Christmas wishes were so simple- they asked for clothes. The 3 year old wanted blue shirts and Spongebob themed clothes. The 6 year old’s wish was red clothes and Angry Bird themed items.

Gifts for the 3 year old- had a coloring book and crayons for him as well

Gifts for the 6 year old

The Angel Tree ministry is such a wonderful ministry and I’m so happy that we could bless not one, but two, kids this year. These kids will see gifts under the Christmas tree and a note from their parent that can’t be with them and I think it will bring such joy to them on Christmas morning.

I bought two 3-packs of mittens for little kids, a 3-pack of gloves for boys in elementary school, and a pair of gloves for a teenager or woman. Though it’s called a mitten tree I realized that we could have brought hats and scarves as well so I will definitely have to keep that in mind next year.

The mitten tree!

I’m still waiting on the second half of my gifts because I ordered the toys just a couple days ago. I found great deals on Thomas The Tank Engine, Melissa & Doug, Imaginext, and lots more to bring to the gift mart in a couple weeks. With my Kohl’s Cash I plan on buying some warm blankets to bring to a local homeless shelter. I bought a sherpa lined blanket from Kohl’s last month that I love so I think that I might get a few of those for the shelter. Again, a huge thanks to Kohl’s for providing the gift card and sharing the love this holiday season.

I hope that this post and the #GivingTuesday campaign have inspired you to think about new ways that you can give back this year. If you have ideas I’d love to read about them in the comments below!

Gifts That Give Back To Mercy House Kenya

(Disclosure: I joined in supporting this cause because it’s important to me and did so without expectation of receiving anything in return, however, recently I was sent some unexpected gifts as a thank you.)

Back in September I shared about a great cause I was helping support and raise money for called Mercy House. A group of bloggers came together with {in}courage with a goal of raising $74,000 by Christmas. The project was split into 5 phases and I’m so happy to share that the first four phases have been fully funded! These moms and babies now have a new van, new classroom space, a new generator, and computer lab. Now it’s time to work on funding a second home and we have a little under a month to raise the money.

We’d love if you’d help by donating money to the project. Another option is to purchase your Christmas gifts through Mercy House or to purchase select {in}mercy items from Dayspring because both donate a portion of the proceeds to the cause. You can give a great gift while doing something amazing for these moms and kids in Kenya. What’s better than that?

Here are some of my favorite items:

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Find more gifts here and here!

 

 

Give With Purpose This Holiday Season {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet and earring set but all thoughts are my own.)

There is nothing better than a gift that gives back. I’m happy to be working with World Vision again this year to help promote their Gift Catalog. The World Vision Gift Catalog offers more than 250 items that help fight poverty and save lives here in US and around the world. With a financial contribution, donors can select one of the 30+ Handcrafted Gifts that can be shared with a loved one and at the same time help a person in need.

I received a Colors of Africa Bracelet & Earring Set to review. This gorgeous Zakale bracelet and earring set from Nairobi are made from recycled materials by Kenyan artisans. The people received a loan from World Vision to grow their business and lift themselves out of poverty. With a $100 donation people can get this set for free.

This colorful set would make the perfect gift for any woman or girl. I love how the beads really capture the light. Knowing the story behind the bracelet makes me even prouder to wear it.

Want to donate without receiving a gift? The Gift Catalog lets you choose how your donation is sent. Love playing soccer or have kids who do? Donate soccer balls to kids who would normally play with “soccer balls” made of banana leaves or rolled-up trash. Passionate about education? Give kids books and tools they need to be successful in school and help them fulfill their potential and even lift themselves out of poverty. Or maybe you just simply want to give a child food, water, or clothing to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

Want to go beyond yourself? I love these ideas that World Vision shared:

  • Organize a family giving night and have kids select charitable gifts from an organization such as the World Vision Gift Catalog. Talk with your children about how giving back changes lives of children and families living in poverty and that their efforts truly make a difference.
  • Host a house party for friends and family and ask your guests to contribute to a share of a group gift such as a farm animal, winter clothing or school supplies to families in need, or even a water well. Make the selection of the item, how to raise funds for that gift, and the collection of the money a collaborative, group effort.
  • After Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping, consider celebrating Giving Tuesday (12/3) and make meaningful, life-changing gift purchases such as medicine, mosquito nets or a fish pond.
  • Be active in your giving — volunteer at your local homeless shelter or senior living center; cook a meal or bake cookies for an elderly family member or neighbor.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a bracelet and earring set like the one mentioned above

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

 1) Leave a comment telling me what gift you’d give a child in need

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Comment on another one of my blog posts

Giveaway ends November 24, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must a a US resident and 18 or older to enter.

Kohl’s Cares: Holiday Giving With The Peanuts Gang

(Disclosure: I am working with Kohl’s to promote their Kohl’s Cares program and received promotional items but all thoughts are my own.)

Kohl’s Department Stores is offering classic Peanuts storybooks, plush toys of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends and gifts, for just $5 each that will leave the entire family grinning from ear to ear this holiday season. Through the Kohl’s Cares program, 100 percent of the net profit from this collection supports children’s health and education initiatives nationwide. I love this program because it’s a great way for people to find gifts for those they love while giving back to the community at the same time.

Now through late December, Kohl’s offers exclusive hardcover editions of beloved Peanuts storybooks by renowned author Charles M. Schulz, along with coordinating plush toys. Kohl’s also offers a cookbook, holiday CD and a Peanuts Jigsaw Puzzle –perfect gifts guaranteed to spread holiday cheer this season.

Kohl’s Cares Cause Merchandise for Kids

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown plush: Join Charlie and Linus as they uncover the true meaning of Christmas through fun holiday traditions, including ice skating, participating in the school pageant and finding a Christmas tree.
  • You Can Be Anything and Snoopy plush: Children will dream big with Snoopy as they learn they can do anything or be anything – from an astronaut to a lawyer to just plain cool – as they grow up.
  • Be Yourself! and Woodstock plush: The whole Peanuts gang is gathered together to show children that being yourself is fun and everyone has different qualities that make them unique and special!
  • Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown and Snoopy plush: Follow Linus as he tries, with the help of his friends Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy, to part with his beloved blanket before his Grandma’s visit.
  • Peanuts Classic Gift Set: Experience two-times the holiday cheer and endless Christmas miracles with a book two-pack of Happiness is a Warm Puppy and Christmas is Together Time – great classic Peanuts stories.
  • ONLINE EXCLUSIVE – Linus plush and Lucy plush: Children will buddy up with Linus and Lucy plush toys as they celebrate the holiday season. Available exclusively at Kohls.com.
  • Peanuts Jigsaw Puzzle: Wrap up in a blanket, pour a cup of cocoa and get to work with the family assembling a jigsaw puzzle with artwork from the classic Peanuts storybooks. It is the perfect stocking stuffer or new family tradition this holiday season.

Kohl’s Cares Cause Merchandise for Grown-Ups

  • Holiday Cheer: Make sure the halls are decked and everyone is jolly this holiday season with the perfect book for holiday recipes, decorating, entertaining and gift ideas. The go-to holiday handbook this season is filled with tips and tricks from Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Country Living and makes the perfect hostess gift for holiday parties and festivities.
  • Upon the Winter Solstice: Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD: Delight in the holiday spirit with the sounds of this year’s CD from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Grab one for the car, the home and the office to spread the holiday cheer!

Gifts that promote literacy and give back to the community? These are a must for any gift list!

Literacy Events Around The Nation Today

Join the record-breaking literacy celebration today, October 3, with Jumpstart! People all across the country will read the children’s book Otis by Loren Long in support of Jumpstart’s mission to work towards the day that every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Joined by Tiffani Thiessen, actress and star of USA’s White Collar, Jumpstart hopes to break last year’s record of 2.3 million participants reading the same book at the same time.

Jumpstart will host several large scale events on October 3 in cities and towns across the country with marquee events in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. In addition, many of Jumpstart’s campaign Reading Partners and sponsors will be hosting events. Gymboree will host events in every Gymboree, Janie & Jack, Crazy 8, and Gymboree Play & Music locations across the country. Additionally, official Reading Partner, We Give Books will have Otis available to read online for free in both English and Spanish at www.wegivebooks.org.

”Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a meaningful way for Americans to support the critical need for high-quality early education in our country,” said Jumpstart’s president and CEO, Naila Bolus. “We know that for children living in low-income communities, this need is significant. By the time these children enter kindergarten, they are already 60% behind their more affluent peers. Jumpstart’s Read for the Record brings light to this national issue and gives citizens a platform to voice their support for this cause.”

Learn more at http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-record.

Chicago Area Events

Chicago will hold two events today in honor of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record.

Lincoln Park Zoo:

The Lincoln Park Zoo will host three readings of “Otis” by Loren Long on Thursday morning. The readings are open to the public, and U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley will attend. Readings are at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Chicago Children’s Museum:

The Chicago Children’s Museum will also hold an event. Kraft Family Free Night will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is open to the public. There will be readings of “Otis“ throughout the night.

 

 

Child Sponsorship Works

We sponsor a little girl through Compassion International named Rita. I found this infographic online and thought it was interesting so I wanted to share. Often times we think “I’m just one person, what can I do?” but we can make a big difference to a child.

Compassion International Child Sponsorship Works

Infographic from Compassion International.

 

Talking About Domestic Violence One Purple Purse At A Time

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with The Allstate Foundation and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Domestic violence happens more than 145 times each hour in the U.S. and on average, three women die every day as a result. It affects more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. You’d think with how prevalent it is, more people would be talking about it but they aren’t mostly because people don’t know what to say and how to help a victim.

Lacking financial knowledge and resources is the number one indicator of whether a domestic violence victim will stay, leave or return to an abusive relationship. Many people don’t realize that women who are victims of domestic violence are usually subject to financial abuse along with the physical abuse. They often face financial restrictions and are given limited access, if any, to bank accounts, important documents, and information about shared assets. This makes it even harder to escape the situations they find themselves in.

To get people talking about domestic violence, The Allstate Foundation created Purple Purse and PurplePurse.com. The Purple Purse was created because a purse represents the center of a woman’s financial domain and purple is the color utilized by domestic violence awareness campaigns. The website appears to be an online fashion magazine, but when the user looks more deeply, she will find a safe place with a variety of information and resources specific to the issue of domestic violence and financial empowerment.

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Allstate Foundation is sending more than 1,000 purses carrying domestic violence information throughout the country. The purses will be passed between co-workers, friends, and family, sparking important conversations along the way. For every purple purse passed through the end of October, The Allstate Foundation will donate $5 to YWCA and will give up to $350,000 for programs aimed to help domestic violence survivors and stop the cycle of abuse.

If you don’t get your hands on one of the purple purses that are being passed around the country, you can still help by logging onto Facebook.com/PurplePurse and sharing a virtual purple purse. Each time a virtual purple purse is shared or re-shared, they will make a $5 donation to YWCA.

(Disclosure: Information and images provided to me by sponsor.)

A Christmas Gift For Moms & Kids In Kenya

I know, I know…it’s still September and you probably aren’t thinking about Christmas yet but I am. I am honored to join in on a special project with {in}courage to raise money for Mercy House in Kenya.

Image courtesy of: Bess Brownlee

The reason we are starting early? We have a goal to raise $74,000 by Christmas 2013. We’ve fallen in love with 12 teen moms and their 12 babies in Kenya. And we’ve got five special gifts we want to give them for Christmas this year. Van, Classroom, Generator, Computer Lab and New Home. This is Mercy House Kenya. They’re family and sisters you can meet without leaving home. Come to Kenya with us! Let’s give the gift of mercy together!

Wondering how you can help?

 You can….

Give – Donate towards one of these key projects.
Share – Share about this amazing work with your friends and family.
Rally – Ask people to join you in advocating for Mercy House Kenya.

Stand With The Children Of Syria‏ {One Tweet = One Dollar Donated}

As Malala Yousafzai recently said, “We must not forget that 57 million children are out of school. We must speak up for peace and development in Nigeria, Syria and Somalia… let us help them through our voice, action and charity.  Let us help them to read books and go to school.”

2 million people are now displaced refugees of Syria. 1 million of them are children.

These children have lost the home they’ve known, often, their families, and the opportunity to grow and prosper as they struggle to grasp what has just happened to them.

Many organizations in neighboring countries such as UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children, the World Food Programme and others are working to provide them with essential shelter, food, and the chance to continue their education.  But the resources needed for this work are severely lacking.

A World At School has developed a plan to provide Education without Borders so that the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon can go to school within a few weeks.  But they need your help to make this a reality.

Here are a few ways you can help do this:

1) Sign the petition we will deliver to world leaders on September 23rd asking them to fund education for Syrian refugees.

2) Tweet for good – every time this tweet is shared, $1 will be donated to humanitarian aid – at no cost to you:

Click to Tweet your support for Syria's child refugees
3) Donate to efforts on the ground to establish schools, provide books, and other humanitarian aid.  Just $34 USD can provide a ‘back to school kit’ so a child can continue their education and $72 can provide food for a family for an entire month.  Check out ways to donate here

If you can’t donate at this time I hope you will still lend your voice to this important cause with a signature and a tweet.

(Content courtesy of A World At School.)

Join The Flash Flood For Good

Everyone should have access to clean, drinkable water but they don’t. Unsafe drinking water is a struggle for 1 billion people worldwide. Water supplies are often contaminated with parasites and diseases, making diarrhea a leading cause of death among infants and children in the developing world. In fact, more than 2,000 children die every day from dirty water, more than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.

World Vision is working to change this and there is a super easy FREE way you can help this month. I’m posting to urge you all to join me in the Flash Flood For Good. Through Flash Flood For Good we’re going to turn social currency into real currency to help clean water and save lives.

For 72 hours, starting September 24 at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, World Vision will focus the world on clean water. If you add your Facebook and Twitter feeds to Flash Flood For Good, you’ll post together with World Vision and millions of others around the world. Hundreds of millions of people will see our message and can donate instantly. A $10 donation will give one child a year of clean water.

I hope you will join me! Find out more at https://www.flashfloodforgood.org/.

(Images and information courtesy of World Vision and Flash Flood For Good.)

Send A Child To School For Only A $1 A Day

It’s back to school season and I’ve been busy getting supplies and new clothes, filling out paperwork, and celebrating the first day of school in special ways. Most of the other moms in my area and in my online networks are doing the same thing. Not all families are so lucky.

Did you know that a staggering 130 million children around the world are not in school? 70% are girls. It’s been shown that a girl with just one extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult.

Opportunity International knows that education is a pathway out of poverty and has seen the accelerator effect it has on improving lives and strengthening communities. They have started the Invest in One Child – Back to School Campaign because education is not free in Sub-Saharan Africa. Schools have big costs and the families are forced to cover up to 30% of primary education expenses. Studies have shown that the number one reason that African families do not send their children to school is lack of financial resources. 

Through the Invest in One Child campaign people can help send a child to school for $1 a day. A $240 donation is a representative amount families borrow from Opportunity International to pay for a year of school for one child. As an extra incentive, through the contributions of two generous donors, all donations to Invest in One Child will be matched dollar for dollar up to $35,000. 

Education is a pathway out of poverty and Opportunity International believes in the power of investing in children since they are our future!

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. I am a member of the Global Team of 200 which is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.)

Google LG Nexus 4 Phone & Service from GIV Mobile‏ {Giveaway}

Have you ever heard of GIV Mobile? I hadn’t but when they contacted me asking if I wanted to do a giveaway for you all of a new phone I took a look at their site and said yes, please after I learned more about them.

GIV Mobile is a new, no contract wireless service that donates 8% of a customer’s monthly cell phone bill to charity.  Each GIV Mobile customer can choose up to three charities to receive the 8% every month, from 8 categories including Animal Welfare, Arts, Culture & Humanity, Education, Environment, Health, International, Human Services and Public Benefit. The full list of pre-screened charities can be found at http://givmobile.com/charities/view. Isn’t that awesome!? I love companies that give back to those in need.

Here’s how it works:

With GIV Mobile, customers may choose from two affordable no-contract plans to use with a GIV Mobile phone or their own unlocked, GSM phone:

·         $40/month Unlimited Everything – talk, text, MMS, International text and web (first 250MB up to 4G/3G speeds) on all 4G enabled phones and smartphones.

·         $50/month Unlimited Everything – talk, text, MMS, International text and web (first 2GB up to 4G/3G speeds) on all 4G enabled phones and smartphones.

GIV Mobile wants to offer one of you a new Google LG Nexus 4 Phone and 3 months of their service.

Put the power of Google in the palm of your hands with the LG Nexus 4. The LG Nexus 4 comes pre loaded with your favorite Google Apps, and is powered by Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) OS. Keep up to date as the latest scores, weather, and traffic appear automatically throughout the day with Google Now. The 8-megapixel Photo Sphere camera lets you take and share amazing panoramic photos or stunning 360-degree Photo Sphere pictures.

So let’s review….GIV mobile gives you an affordable monthly service plan, donates money to charity, and gives you the choice of amazing phones. Sounds like everyone is a winner here!

GIVEAWAY

One reader will win a Google LG Nexus 4 phone and 3 months of “Unlimited Everything” service from GIV mobile

HOW TO ENTER

 {Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me what you learned about GIV mobile

2) Share this giveaway on a social network and leave comment telling me you did

3) Tweet @aliciamarie112 and tell me what your favorite charities are. Use #WirelessForACause  in your tweet

4) Follow @GIVMobile on Twitter

5) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

Giveaway ends September 15, 2013 at 11:59pm. Must be a US resident, 21 or older to enter.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for posting this.)

Buy Quality Used Clothes & Support A Local School

I love clothes shopping for the boys at large resales in my community but it’s not always easy to get some kid-free time to do so. I learned about a site called Schoola Stitch that just opened last week. It is an online consignment shop that gives 40% of every purchase to our schools.

Schoola Stitch sent me a $50 code to go shopping with. I found a lot of quality brands on their site. The condition of all items is listed on the site and most seemed to be in good to excellent condition. Shipping was free on orders over $50. Here is what I got for $52:

1 jacket

1 hooded sweatshirt

1 pair of jeans

1 sweater

4 long sleeve shirts

3 pairs of shorts

1 t-shirt

The GAP Kids sweatshirt is my favorite! Hoodies are definitely a must have for Fall.

Get 30% off your first order using my affiliate link. What will you find for your kids at Schoola Stitch?

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a gift code to shop at Schoola Stitch. All thoughts are my own.)

Sevenly’s Weekly Cause: National Autism Association

I was so happy to see that Sevenly, a for-profit social good company that I love, is supporting another Autism related cause this week! $7 from every single item sold goes directly to the National Autism Association to provide behavioral therapy or communication tools to children with Autism. If you have a loved one with Autism this is a great way to support the cause both financially and with a conversation provoking shirt.

I want to get this fabulous shirt for Lucas:

And this is my favorite one I’d wear myself:

Totally cute, right!? Learn more about this week’s cause and/or purchase an item from Sevenly to support those with Autism here {but keep in mind that each week they change causes so hurry!}

How Parents Can Get Their Kids Heart Healthy

Ensuring children get the proper nutrition is a vital part of ensuring their heart health, says renowned cardiovascular surgeon and president of the Heart Health Foundation, Dr. John Martin. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in three children and teens are overweight, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. And the risk for high blood pressure in American teens and children increased 27 percent over 13 years, a new study published in the August issue of the journal Hypertension reports.

Good eating habits start early and will last throughout life, says Dr. Martin. Here is his heart health advice for kids:

1. Have your child screened for heart disease. It’s never too early to start screening for cardiovascular disease, especially with the rise in childhood obesity. Many doctors don’t believe that heart screenings are necessary for everyone. But Dr. Martin believes everyone should be screened for cardiovascular disease, including children. “They can get used to the process as part of their standard healthcare as they age,” Martin says.

2. Provide the proper nutrition. Make sure kids get:

  • The proper portions (2,200 calories a day for a 14-18-year-old boy, 1,800 for girls)
  • Healthy snacks
  • Fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains and low-fat proteins such as fish
  • Foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars

3. Make sure they exercise. Instead of watching TV or playing video games, make sure kids get at least 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis.

  • The exercise must include activities that raise heart rate
  • Find an exercise that your child likes
  • Make it a habit or routine part of the day
  • You can break it up to two 30-minute sessions if necessary.
  • It’s a great way to start the day

4. Maintain ideal body weight. Define the optimal BMI for your child based on his or her height and body style.

5. Don’t let them start smoking. It’s the easiest way to stop a bad habit.

*****

The Heart Health Foundation’s Dare to Care program is a nonprofit that provides FREE heart screenings. Since 2000, the program has helped more than 40,000 patients. There are 19 Dare to Care screening sites around the country in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 health problem in the United States today. More than half of all Americans will die from complications of atherosclerosis, the root of cardiovascular disease. And one million Americans die of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders every year in the U.S. — that means 2 out of every 5 deaths in the United States, or one life every 33 seconds.         

The Heart Health Foundation believes this problem can be dramatically curbed – and it all starts with heart screenings.

(Disclosure: I am not a Doctor. The post information was provided by a Doctor however please follow your own Doctor’s orders when it comes to your health.)

Chicago “Walk For Water” Charity Event

Image courtesy of Living Water International

Living Water International Chicago is hosting a “Walk for Water” on Aug. 24 in suburban Glen Ellyn. Participants will walk 1.5 miles as a group to Lake Ellyn, where they will collect water in gallon jugs – comparable to the jerry cans used in developing countries. They will then walk back carrying the water, putting themselves in the shoes of the millions of children and adults who spending hours walking each day to reach a water source.

Registration is $20 at ChicagoWalkForWater.eventbrite.com; all proceeds will go toward wells to be drilled in India. Children under 15 may participate for free.

More than 783 million people face the daily challenge of finding water. Many spend 20 hours per week – often trekking seven miles per day – collecting contaminated water, which can lead to life-threatening diseases. Clean water means better sanitation and hygiene, disease and infant death prevention, freed time for paid work and school, full hydration with improved focus and energy and more cooking water for meals.

WHEN: 

Saturday, Aug. 24 at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE:

Ben Franklin Elementary School
350 Bryant Avenue, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

About Living Water International

Living Water International began drilling water wells in 1990. Working in 25 countries around the world and motivated by Christian faith, Living Water strives to implement the most effective and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene solutions. For more information, visit www.water.cc.

Kohl’s Cares Teams Up With Curious George

(Disclosure: I received a few products from the new Kohl’s Cares line but all thoughts are my own.)

Kohl’s Department Stores is inviting children and families across the country to indulge in playful curiosity while giving back to their communities with the latest Kohl’s Cares merchandise. Young readers will be thrilled to embark on new adventures with Curious George, the lovable monkey and adults will be proud to support the program. The Kohl’s Cares program has raised more than $231 million for children’s health and education programs across the country.

I personally love the program because early literacy is so important to me. I think it’s great that these hardcover books are made available to all families at such a reasonable price (each item is only $5) and the money goes to a good cause. The addition of the featured character stuffed animals allow children to retell the stories themselves.

The featured books and characters available currently include:

  • Curious George’s First Day of School and Curious George plush
  • Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery and Dinosaur plush
  • Curious George and the Puppies and Puppy plush
  • Curious George Visits the Zoo and Kangaroo plush
  • Curious George Goes Camping and Moose plush (online exclusive)

Other items available include:

  • Curious George Backpack
  • Curious George Note Cards
  • Kids Treats Book
  • Taste of Home: The Busy Family Cookbook

Which book and character plush set would your child love the most?

World Vision Experience: Kisongo Trek {Free Nationwide Tour}

I recently had the opportunity to check out the World Vision Experience tour bus when it stopped at my Church. It was just a short 15-30 minute experience but I really wanted to go on the bus as a family. We sponsor a little girl named Rita through Compassion International (another Christian ministry) and she also lives in Africa so I thought it would be great to show the boys how she may live. Images and visuals are 10x better than just words alone. I could never describe, in words, living arrangements or what her village is like in a way that they could understand because they live in a middle-class neighborhood in the United States. This bus really helped them experience life in Africa the best way possible until they can physically go visit the country.

Here’s what the website has to say about the experience:

Through Kisongo Trek, the newest World Vision Experience, you can “travel” to Babayetu’s home and hear the real-life story of how his village moved from poverty to hope with help from World Vision. This immersive experience brings the sights and sounds of Africa to life using innovative technology, state-of-the-art cinematography, and captivating imagery — all in the back of a mobile semi-truck. You’ll go on a bus ride down the roads of Tanzania, get an up-close glimpse of what it’s like to live in poverty, and discover proven solutions that help families build a better life. Kisongo Trek gives you and your entire community the opportunity to step into a world where poverty is in the past and children can look toward a bright future.

Find out where the bus will be next here.

CaringBridge: Hope Conquers All

(Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for CaringBridge. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating. All thoughts are my own.)

Have you or a loved one ever experienced a life-changing illness or event? For more than 15 years, the nonprofit CaringBridge has served as a lifeline of hope, bringing together families struggling with illnesses and tragedies. One of my friends used it to keep friends and family updated on how her son was doing when he was in the hospital. Having to update lots of people is difficult when time is limited and not easy to do at midnight when everything is quiet and one can steal a moment away on the computer to gather their thoughts.

Sona Mehring, the founder of CaringBridge, wants to share stories to inspire hope through her new book, Hope Conquers All. Ranging from young children with cancer to adults awaiting transplants, these first-person accounts share the importance CaringBridge had in their personal journeys. For uplifting tales to share with those who are in need of love and support, or even to just reflect on how brave these individuals were through such troubled times, learn more about Sona Mehring’s book and how to purchase here: http://caringb.org/hope

National Autism Associatio​n’s Give A Voice Program

I wanted to share about the National Autism Association’s new Give A Voice program. If you have a child with Autism and are in financial need, this is a great program that can help you get a communication device for your child. If you are looking for a great cause to donate to, this post is for you, too. The information below is from the NAA.

The intent of this program is to provide communication devices to individuals with autism who are non-verbal or minimally verbal, and whose communication challenges put them at increased risk of injury or harm.

The NAA has very limited funding to begin this program and will provide communication devices to only fifty applicants during this initial round. Every application will be carefully reviewed and all information submitted will be verified by NAA staff. This program is intended for families who are in dire need of financial assistance and are otherwise unable to attain a communication device.

NAA’s Give A Voice Program will provide qualifying individuals with an assistive communication device including:

– A 16GB Apple® iPad® Mini (WiFi version)
– AppleCare+ Protection Plan
– Proloquo2Go Augmentative and Alternative Communication Software app
– Gripcase Protective Case with Stand – generously donated by Gripcase USA.

Grant applications must be postmarked by July 31, 2013.

For full program details and eligibility requirements, click here.

Funding is desperately needed for this program. To make a tax-deductible donation, please click here.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for posting this and I am not a member of the NAA. I just thought this may help another Autism family.)

Autism Awareness Shirts From Sevenly

Each day during the month of April I feature something Autism related. Today I’d like to share about Sevenly and what they are doing to raise money for Autism Speaks this week. (Please note: I am not affiliated with Sevenly in any way.)

This week Sevenly is donating $7 from each purchase to Autism Speaks. Here is what will be done with that money according to Sevenly:

“Technology and sensory therapy play a critical role in helping children with autism develop communication skills. With your support, we will provide tools, resources and therapy to a child with autism. This week, we will provide the most precious gift to families of children with autism; the gift of communication.”

I love this shirt for myself:

buy it here

and this one I want to get for Lucas:

buy it here

Cute clothes for a great cause! They also have men’s shirts. Which one is your favorite?

Light It Up Blue For Autism {April 2nd}

As many of you know my youngest son, Lucas, is on the Autism Spectrum. I’d be honored if you’d join me and Autism Speaks in the “Light It Up Blue” campaign to raise awareness for Autism.

Each April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores are among the hundreds of thousands of homes and communities that take part to Light It Up Blue.

Here are some ideas of how you can participate as an individual or family:

  • Where blue clothing tomorrow
  • Purchase a blue light bulb (Walmart and Home Depot stores have them) and change your porch light to a blue bulb
  • Spread the word via social media by updating your Facebook status or tweeting out an Autism fact.
  • Sign the petition to ask President Obama and Congress to develop and implement a comprehensive national plan to address autism.
  • Participate virtually by taking photos on your smartphone and lighting them up blue with a festive picture frame. Email them, or share on your social networks to become part of the Light It Up Blue movement. (Get the app here)
  • Make a donation to Autism Speaks

Here are some facts from Autism Speaks that you can share:

  • Every 11 minutes, a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases

If you participate I’d love to see pictures! Feel free to share them on the Making Time For Mommy Facebook page :)

Blue Flowers For Autism Awareness

In the month of April you will see a lot of reference to the color blue here on my blog and elsewhere. This is because on April 2nd it is Autism Speaks’ “Light It Up Blue” day to raise awareness for Autism. Some buildings even turn blue! I’ll be sharing more about it on my blog in a few days but wanted to share about FTD’s deals, donation towards Autism Speaks, and especially their BLUE flowers! What a great gift to give a parent raising a child with Autism.

Here’s more information:

FTD is going blue for Autism Speaks! FTD has created a website for all supporters of Autism Speaks! All customers get a 15% discount with orders bought through here: http://www.ftd.com/34384/

PLUS they’re offering an additional 10% of each purchase to be donated back to Autism Speaks. Their network of more than 12,000 florists offer a huge selection of fresh flowers, plants, premium gourmet foods, gifts and gift baskets. Let’s Light It Up Blue and buy something special for your special someone!

(Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with FTD, just had to share what they are doing to help families like mine who have a loved one with Autism.)

$1 Today= 1 New Pair Of Shoes For A Child

Photo courtesy of Soles4Souls

For every $1 you donate today to Soles4Souls, they can provide one additional pair of shoes to someone in need. $20 provides 20 pairs of shoes. $500 will change the lives of 500 people – maybe an entire community! You may even make your donation in honor of or in memory of a loved one.

Learn more and donate over at the Soles4Souls website!

 

World Water Day 2013

Clean water is a cause I’m passionate about (I’m even running 26.2 miles to raise money for the cause). You may wonder why it’s so important to someone like me who has plenty of clean water and I would just say look at the picture below.

This woman above? Until recently, Ayelech, a 22-year-old mother of two living in Lehayte, Ethiopia spent over two hours a day searching for water and carrying it home in two large jerry cans on her back. She gave birth to her second child, Oytiba, while on the side of river filling her cans. I just can’t imagine having to spend hours of my day walking to get water. And while pregnant? No way! I had a hard enough time waddling through the store with my giant belly and having to be on my feet for more than twenty minutes at a time.

If we have the ability to help people why aren’t we all helping? We can’t help all 783 MILLION people that don’t have access to clean water but we can make a difference in the lives of a few.

Lives are transformed when hours spent carrying water are instead spent with family, tending crops, raising livestock or starting a business. Simple access to water, toilets, and hygiene education keeps families healthy, women and girls safe, and children in school. In communities around the world, WaterAid has helped 17.5 million people take the first steps out of poverty.

Join in today 1o:30 PST for a Google+ hangout with WaterAid America, Water.org, Charity Water, Water for People, People Water, and Whole World Water where they will be discussing the water crisis at large, and how we can take action. The link to the hangout is here.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. I am a member of the Global Team of 200 which is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.)

Contest For Non-Profits {And A $50 Tiny Prints Giveaway}

Wanted to share about this for those of you that are on boards of non-profits or active on the Parent-Teacher Association of your child’s school. This is a great contest from Tiny Prints!

Facebook Contest details:  

Tiny Prints is offering nonprofits (including nonprofit schools and PTAs) the chance to win one of ten $1,000 weekly prizes by entering the Tiny Prints Storefront Contest from February 22 – March 22, 2013. To enter you must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (including nonprofit schools and PTAs). US only.

Contest Steps:

1. In order to apply for a Tiny Prints Storefront, nonprofits must first apply to become a Tiny Prints affiliate through Shareasale’s simple signup process here. Shareasale will notify applicants of acceptance or rejection generally within two business days via email.

2. If nonprofits are accepted into the Tiny Prints affiliate program, they must apply for a Tiny Prints Storefront here. Successful applicants will receive a Tiny Prints Storefront URL.

3. After they have completed these two steps and agree to the Official Rules below, they will need to fill out the registration form here to enter the contest. This is where they will enter their Tiny Prints Storefront URL. Entrants must have a valid Tiny Prints Storefront created during the Entry Period.

GIVEAWAY:

$50 promo code to TinyPrints.com

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me what your favorite product from Tiny Prints is

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Like Tiny Prints on Facebook

4) Comment on another one of my blog posts

5) Subscribe to my blog via email {look in upper right corner}

6) Share this giveaway on a social network

Giveaway ends April 3, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time.

(Disclosure: I am receiving a gift code for posting about this contest but am giving my code to a reader to enjoy. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

I Just Signed Up To Run My First Marathon…

{Funny story….}

I sat in a meeting where I signed up to run a marathon. Then, after the meeting, I discovered Sinisa had not picked the boys up from their Sunday School classroom {like I thought he would do while I was at the meeting} so I sprinted through Church to pick up Jacob. By the time I got down the hallway I was out of breath.

Yet I somehow think I’m going to make it 26 miles…

What did I get myself into!?

***

I’ll be running {err more like gasping for air with each step I take} the Chicago Marathon in October and raising money for World Vision to give clean water to children in Africa. I love the cause and I love the Charity so I’m really excited to be doing this. Who has good tips for beginning runners? I’d love to hear them :)

 

2013 Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program

Kohl’s is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program, recognizing outstanding kids ages 6-18 who have made a positive impact through volunteering!

The 2013 Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program will award $425,000 in scholarships and prizes to more than 2,300 young volunteers across the country.  To nominate young volunteers for a Kohl’s Cares scholarship, visit kohlskids.com. Nominations will be accepted through March 15, and those wishing to nominate a youth volunteer must be 21 years or older.

The scholarship program is open to the public, nominations are free.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for posting this information however, I am working with them on other projects.)

Box Tops for Education® Pantry Stock Up {Giveaway}

Box Tops for Education®, the nation’s largest school fundraising program, announced that it has earned more than half-a-billion dollars for schools across the country since it started in 1996. The General Mills program includes more than 240 participating brands providing needed cash for 90,000 enrolled K-8 schools. At the heart of the program is more than 75,000 volunteer Box Tops for Education coordinators who motivate local school communities to collect the 10-cent coupons which are redeemed for cash schools use for whatever they need most.

To celebrate the milestone, this winter, the program is offering a variety of bonus Box Tops on more than 50 million packages at grocery stores and at btfe.com, allowing shoppers to double their earnings with select products.

School budget cuts have made the program more and more important over the years as it provides unrestricted cash to help schools with their basic operating needs and programs that would not be possible otherwise, such as field trips, textbooks, musical instruments, playground equipment, classroom technology and arts and cultural programming. On average, schools in the U.S. earn around $900 annually through the program, but many schools earn more than $20,000 by clipping Box Tops, participating in bonus programs and shopping 300 online eBoxTops® retailers at the Box Tops Marketplace®.

In celebration of reaching more than $500 million to schools, Box Tops for Education® and its popular brand partners are offering one lucky reader a chance to stock their shelves with some of the most trusted household brands. Filled with delicious and nutritious snacks and meal solutions, home organizing and cleaning products and cost- cutting coupons, the Pantry Stock Up gift pack includes:

  • New Peanut Butter Toast Crunch® cereal
  • Nature Valley® Chewy Trail Mix Dark Chocolate Cherry and Protein Salted Caramel
  • Fiber One® Protein Bars
  •  Progresso® Recipe Starters
  • Food Should Taste Good® Chips
  • Green Giant Fresh® Box Tops for Education pencil pouch
  • Hamburger Helper® Sweet & Sour Chicken and Parmesan Crusted Chicken
  • Betty Crocker® Mac & Cheese and Au Gratin potatoes
  • Kleenex® wallet pack and 184 count box
  • Scott® toilet paper (4 roll) and paper towel roll
  • Avery® dry erase weekly calendar
  • Ziploc® bowls and bags
  • Yoplait® Frozen Yogurt free product coupon

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me why you want to win this Pantry Stock Up giveaway

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

4) Like Box Tops For Education on Facebook

5) Comment on another blog post

 Giveaway ends March 5, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. US residents 18 and older only.

(Disclosure: Information, products and promotional items have been provided by General Mills and Box Tops for Education and its program partners. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

FREE 40-day eBook Devotional

I heard about this ebook devotional from the MOB Society and just had to go check it out. The Seed Company is offering a free 40-day devotional for people to use during Lent. I was unfamiliar with The Seed Company so I poked around their site a bit.

Did you know that nearly 2,000 languages – 300 million people – worldwide still do not have one verse of scripture in their language? I mean, I knew there were some people that didn’t have it, but 300 million? That number is too high. I literally have tears in my eyes right now at the thought of all those people who have never, ever heard the word of God. 300 MILLION.

I knew I had to do something. An obvious way to help is to donate money. Another way to help is by praying. The Seed Company wants prayer partners for the different projects going on throughout the world.

While you are on the site getting your free devotional, I’d ask you to take a look around the site, check out the prayer requests, and, if you feel led to, sign up to pray for this vital ministry.

Girls Night Out: Be Bold. Go Red. {Ticket Giveaway}

Be Bold. Go Red and join B96, 104.3 K-HITS and Bath & Body Works to celebrate the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement on Thursday, February 28, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Alhambra Palace Restaurant, located at 1240 West Randolph Street in Chicago.

Treat yourself to a Girls Night Out! Get the red carpet treatment, with complimentary hors d’oeuvres, beauty services, consultations and more when you Go Red!

Plus, VIP Attendees will receive a beverage ticket and a Girls Night Out Swag Bag packed full of fun goodies including Bath & Body Works Forever Red fragrance mist, Garrett Popcorn, cosmetic and hair care samples, sweets, treats and more!

Top off the night with a high style Spring fashion show, previewing collections from Chicago Fashion Incubator’s top designers.

You can purchase VIP and general tickets on Eventbrite here.

GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive 2 VIP tickets to the Be Bold. Go Red. event

HOW TO ENTER

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want to attend this event

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Follow @SassyMomChicago on Twitter

Giveaway ends February 17, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Winners must be 18 or over. This giveaway only includes tickets to the event. Transportation, parking, and any other fees will not be covered. Since this is a dated event, the winner will have only 24 hours to respond to my email or I will have to choose another winner.

(Disclosure: Be Bold. Go Red and join B96, 104.3 K-HITS and Bath & Body Works for a fun and charitable event on Thursday, February 28th, at the “Girls Night Out Benefiting Go Red for Women” at Alhambra Palace Restaurant. I was selected to host this giveaway by Sassy Moms in the City. This is not a compensated post…just sharing for a great cause!)

AutisMate: iPad App For Children With Autism {$149.99 Value Giveaway}

AutisMate, a new iPad app from SpecialNeedsWare for those with autism, stands among the most respected and innovative options to help children develop communication and behavioral skills despite the challenges of autism. Individuals are given a comprehensive set of tools to navigate life with ease, providing for the lifelong learning, development and changing experiences of those across the spectrum.

While most autism apps on the market focus singularly on promoting one expressive form of communication, AutisMate recognizes the unique nature of every case of autism and works to first build comprehension on a personalized level to unlock a more varied set of expressions and needs. It allows children with autism along with their caretakers and teachers to easily import personal images, video, audio and other information into a visual scene-based platform.

To save time and effort, users also have the option of uploading videos, stories, and schedules geared specifically for autism from a vast content library. A GPS feature allows scenes to change according to the user’s location, making the software even more intuitive and applicable in real-time. This platform grows with the user and caters to his or her unique needs.

The research-supported app has already helped hundreds of users to fully express themselves and improve connections with their families. Many users have expressed their support for AutisMate and shared stories of success and progress. One testimonial that SpecialNeedsWare has received is from a mother of a 7-year-old boy with autism: “I recently used [Autismate to help my son] understand what would be happening at a hospital visit to have tubes put in his ears (a procedure he had done before and had gotten very upset). This last visit he was calmer and cooperated really well! Thank you so much for providing a tool that gives me a way to help my sweet, loving son find understanding by allowing him to ‘think in pictures’.”

You can learn more about AutisMate at www.autismate.com. To purchase the app on iTunes, click here. Please follow AutisMate on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY

One reader will win a download code for this app (a $149.99 value)

HOW TO ENTER

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me why you need this app

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Share this giveaway directly with another parent of a child who has Autism

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @autisMate on Twitter

6) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

7) Like AutisMate on Facebook

8) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends March 3, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 18 or older to enter. Note: This giveaway is for the app only and does not include the iPad.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and do not have an iPad so I have not used the app. I am posting in hopes that it will help one of my readers. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

 

 

Send A Virtual Valentine To Newtown

Valentine’s Day marks the two month anniversary of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. As we celebrate those we love, Sandy Hook Promise is asking all Americans to keep the community of Newtown in their hearts.

Send your love and support to the community today. SHARE a valentine, make the Sandy Hook Promise, and help send #1MillionHearts to Newtown.

WaterAid {How You Can Help Give Clean Water To Those In Need}

Clean, safe water is something most of us here in the United States take for granted, yet worldwide 800 million people do not have access to it and 2.5 billion have nowhere safe and clean to go to the toilet. As a result, 2,000 children die every day from easily prevented diseases with countless more unable to attend school. Millions of women are unable to work because they spend so much time collecting water and caring for sick children.

Founded in 1981, WaterAid transforms lives by helping the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water and sanitation. Together with local organizations, communities and individuals, WaterAid uses affordable and locally appropriate solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to people in developing countries.

5 WAYS YOU CAN HELP:

-Spread the word! Here’s a quick tweet you can share:

“2,000 children die every day because they don’t have access to clean water. Do something about it! http://www.wateraidamerica.org/”

-Donate online here

-Shop for life here

-Organize an event to raise money

-Change your Facebook cover page in support

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. I am a member of the Global Team of 200 which is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.)

Love Locks Getaway Sweepstakes {And A Giveaway}

I love working with brands who make it easy for people to give back so I’m excited to share this special promotion and sweepstakes Master Lock is doing. Don’t miss the fun Valentine’s themed item one lucky reader of this blog is going to win as well!

To raise awareness for American Heart Month, Master Lock is offering people the chance to win a trip to Paris, France through their MasterLoveLock.com website. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Lock Up Love & Getaway Sweepstakes encourages visitors to the site to create, send and have their recipient accept a virtual love lock, and by doing so, become eligible to enter the sweepstakes while simultaneously benefitting a worthy cause.

In 2012, Master Lock donated more than $10,000 to the American Heart Association and is stepping up to the plate once again this year. In addition to another $10,000 base donation, Master Lock will donate a dollar for each completed and shared love lock on the site through the month of February, up to an additional $5,000. Besides being the month of love, February is also American Heart Month, a time dedicated to bringing awareness to heart health and building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease.

Visitors to MasterLoveLock.com can lock up their love virtually and enter to win the Lock Up Love & Getaway Sweepstakes, which includes flights, hotel accommodations and spending money for two guests. While in Paris, the couple will have the opportunity to witness the love locks tradition in person at the Pont de l’Archevêché. For decades, sweethearts have participated in this romantic custom around the world by affixing padlocks to fences, gates and bridges, and then throwing away the key, to symbolize their everlasting love.

Those who participate in the sweepstakes will also have the opportunity to win additional prizes, including a $1,000 Visa® gift card; Valentine’s Day themed gift packs filled with flower arrangements, luxury candles, chocolates, romantic DVDs, the Master Lock 1509DLOV Love Lock and more.

To enter, visitors select a lock and one of seven famous bridges to virtually affix the chosen lock. Next they upload a personal message for their loved one. A customized “love lock invitation” is then sent to the recipient via email. Once the invitation is accepted, the love lock sender will receive confirmation and a link to the sweepstakes entry form.

GIVEAWAY:

One Making Time For Mommy reader will win Master Lock’s heart-studded 1509DLOV lock

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment letting me know why you want to win

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

4) Like Master Lock on Facebook

5) Enter the Master Lock sweepstakes

Giveaway ends February 16, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents 18 years of age and older.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. This post is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

Send A Valentine To The Kids Of Hurricane Sandy

The Postal Service wants to surprise 650 students at the John C. Thompson School (PS-52) of Staten Island and you can help.

Following Hurricane Sandy, the school was closed from Oct. 31 to Nov. 19. Many children and their families lost everything. Today, the children (grades pre-K to 5) are working hard.Things are getting back to normal but will never be the same.

Operation Bear Hug hopes to make February 14th extra special by providing Valentines to every child in the school. Send your Valentine wishes to:

Operation Bear Hug

PO Box 10213

Staten Island NY 10301

 

Cards will be delivered to each child by the Postal Service’s “I Love You” Bear mascot on Valentine’s Day along with as many hugs as they can bear.

(Disclosure: This isn’t a compensated post. I just love the cause and wanted to share a fun way to give back for Valentine’s Day.)

Verizon’s HopeLine For Domestic Violence

This holiday season you can support Verizon’s fight against domestic violence.  Nearly one in four women, one in seven men, and over 3 million children have been affected by domestic violence. Wireless phones and technology can serve as a vital link to emergency or support services in a time of crisis or as a reliable, safe connection to employers, family and friends as survivors rebuild their lives.

HopeLine® from Verizon puts the nation’s most reliable network to work in the community by turning no-longer used cell phones into support for domestic violence victims and survivors. If you will be receiving a new phone this Christmas please consider donating your old phone to this great cause.

(Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Moms program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.)

Hunger In America {And How We Can Help}

One in six Americans does not have access to enough food to sustain a healthy life.

One in six.

In America.

I’m not talking 3rd world countries here, I’m talking in this nation that I live in and most of you, my readers, live in as well. This country where myself and so many others go to our fridge, open it up, look upon all the food in it and close it declaring “there’s nothing to eat!”. What we really mean is there is nothing we feel like eating.

Never again.

Never again will I look into that fridge full of food and say I have nothing to eat because there are many people in my town, and in your town, that really don’t have anything to eat. They could only wish to have near the amount of food that I do.

When I think about how many go hungry every day it hurts me and I am moved to do something about it. Thankfully there are companies that want to do something about hunger, too. Unilever is one of those companies.

Unilever is committed to donating more than two million meals to families in need with Feeding America and every item on your shopping list counts.  Show your support by adding Unilever brands to your cart next time you shop.  Together we can help to Cross Off Hunger.

How will I show my support? By purchasing some of my favorite brands this season!

Ragu Sauce for pasta

***

Imperial Margarine for Santa’s cookies

***

Axe Shower Gels for stocking stuffers

Another way you and I can help those who are hungry is by learning more about food banks and providing items that they need. When I thought of food banks before I always assumed they only accepted food items but I recently learned that’s not the case. According to an article I read about the top 10 needs of food banks, personal care items and baby items are also greatly needed.

Volunteers at food banks and soup kitchens are needed as well, so that’s another way that you and I can make a difference and help cross off hunger.

What are your ideas to help those who are hungry?

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and  Unilever  #CBias #SocialFabric #BetterTogether )

A Last Minute Gift Idea From Global Giving

GlobalGiving, a virtual marketplace for philanthropy, allows anyone with an internet connection to support more than 1,000 pre-screened charities in the U.S. and around the world. These are groups providing real-world solutions to help educate children, feed the hungry, build houses and infrastructure, protect our environment, empower women (and men), rescue animals, and support active military and veterans – just to name a few.

The best part? You can support this extensive network of impactful charities with a simple gift card that your friends and family will love this holiday season. For as little as $10, you can make things easy on yourself and purchase a gift card that everyone on your gift list will enjoy – from your kids to your Uncle to the mailman – and give them the complete freedom to choose a cause they wish to support. Plus, it’s the gift that keeps on giving long after the holidays with regular updates from those on the ground on how your donation is making a difference.

I was given a gift card to donate to a project of my choice. I have a handful of causes that I’m passionate about so I looked at all of my choices. I decided to donate my money to Develop Africa, Inc. which goes to providing mosquito nets and medication in Sierra Leone. Here’s a little bit about the cause:

Proven insecticide-treated nets save lives by protecting them from mosquito bites and the killer disease of malaria. Project also provides preventive anti-malaria tablets to Sierra Leoneans. The nets are useful particularly for protecting vulnerable children who are less resistant to the malaria. Additionally, when people fall sick, there is considerable lost time and loss of productivity for all members of the family. By providing a net, you are helping to support economic development.

Want to donate to a good cause in honor of someone you love or purchase a gift card to give to someone? You can do so here.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. The gift card I received went right to the project I supported.)

 

Ability Path’s Holiday Gift Guide For Children With Special Needs

I’m excited to share the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide For Children With Special Needs put together by Ability Path. The guide features gift ideas from many bloggers, including a suggestion from me. If you have a child with Special Needs on your “to buy for” list you have to check this guide out.

You can find the Holiday Gift Guide here. Enjoy! :)

 

Maternity Worldwide- Save A Life This Christmas

 

Having a baby should be a time of great joy and hope. But every year across the world 287,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth. That’s one mother dying every 2 minutes, 800 each day. These women do not need to suffer and die; most lives could be saved relatively easily and cheaply. Many mothers die as a result of conditions which would be treated routinely in other parts of the world, for example complications from high blood pressure and hemorrhages at delivery.

This year for Christmas you can give the gift of life to a mother in sub Saharan Africa. For less than $25 you can sponsor a safe birth. Want to sponsor an emergency caesarean for a mother? You can do so for around $80. Wouldn’t that make a great gift for someone who has just given birth themselves or for the person who seems to have everything? You can find out more about Maternity Worldwide here.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. I am a proud member of the Global Team of 200 which is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.)

Making A Difference With World Vision {Giveaway}

Looking for ways to make a difference this season? Here are three good ways to do so, courtesy of World Vision:

•Volunteer Virtually: Not everyone is able to physically volunteer, but you can volunteer virtually by donating food kits online through World Vision. Each ‘kit’ contains enough food to feed a family of five for one day ($16 per kit).

• Give a Meaningful Gift: World Vision’s Gift Catalog has hundreds of gifts such as goats, fresh water wells, and life- saving medicines that can be given in the name of a family member, teacher, co-worker or child and help one of more than 825,000 people around the world who benefit from gift catalog items. Gifts range in price from $16 to $39,000, and there are more than 250 items online to choose from. After purchasing a Gift Catalog item, the person whose name the gift was given in, can receive a special card describing the gift and its impact.

•Teach Generosity: Help children understand the importance of generosity and giving to others. World Vision’s Gift Catalog can be a helpful educational tool. The Pendleton family, of Colorado, adopted their son from Kazakhstan. When he saw the Mongolian Ger in the catalog, he immediately wanted to buy one for people in his homeland. “I didn’t know how to explain to a 10-year-old that $1,862 is a lot of money, so I didn’t,” said mom Amy. “And sure enough, he raised it all!”

I shared how my four year old created a “giving list” from the World Vision catalog. You can read that post here.

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 GIVEAWAY:

One of my readers will win an Artisan Beaded Necklace from World Vision

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me how you give back to others

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS {look in the upper right hand corner}

4) Comment on another blog post

Giveaway ends December 23, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I received a scarf from World Vision but this is a cause that’s important to me and all thoughts are my own.)

Giving Tuesday: 5 Unique No-Cost Ways To Give Back

World Homeless Day

Today has been designated as “Giving Tuesday“. It’s the Tuesday after two huge shopping days (Black Friday & Cyber Monday) and a day to give back to others. I’d like to share 5 creative ways that you can give back to others. These 5 ideas from Call 2 Recycle won’t cost you a penny but will greatly bless another.

1.       Offer a Veteran a Ride

The Disabled American Veterans’ Voluntary Services Program provides numerous opportunities for men and women of all ages to help make a difference in the lives of disabled veterans: http://dav.org/volunteers/

2.       Spend time at a Shelter

You don’t have to be an animal expert to help out at your community’s shelter. You just need to have the time and desire to lend a helping hand: http://www.aspca.org/adoption/help-your-local-shelter.aspx

3.       Help safeguard the environment

It is as simple as recycling batteries. The kind that get recharged, like the ones in laptops and cell phones, contain mercury and lead, heavy metals that can contaminate the air, topsoil, and water if they’re tossed in the regular garbage.  Call2Recycle has partnered with major recycling facilities in the United States and Canada to process and reclaim materials from rechargeable batteries and cellphones. You can find a Call2Recycle recycling location here: http://www.call2recycle.org/locator/

4.       Declutter and Donate

You might not think so, but you can donate your old running shoes (they’ll recycle them!), same with your old mattress, and much more: http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-10-2010/savings_challenge_give_your_stuff_to_a_good_cause.html

5.       Offer to babysit for free, it could be a friend or relative

There are a few things you can do to help out families in your neighborhood and even your own that would be much appreciated: http://www.kidsforcommunity.org/family-community-services.html

Operation Christmas Child: Collection Week Coming Up!

Operation Christmas Child

With National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child coming up in less than a couple week I wanted to share a video about how much these boxes touch the kids who receive them.

To learn more about Operation Christmas Child you can check out the Samaritan’s Purse website.

Supporting Hesed House, A Chicago Area Ministry To The Poor & Homeless

As you all know, I have been sharing about making this an “others” focused holiday season instead of a “gift” focused season. I’ve shared about many issues lately that are focused on other countries but I wanted to show Jacob that there are people near us that need help, too. We talked about how some people in our town and towns around us don’t have any homes and sometimes stay at a place called a homeless shelter. We found one near us, called Hesed House, and looked at the list of items they were in need of.

Knowing that we could easily provide some needed items, Jacob, Lucas, and I headed to our local Walmart and shopped the health and beauty aisles.

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We bought soap, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and deodorant to donate to the shelter.

We put everything into bags and headed to the shelter. Once there I told Jacob to hop out of the car and help me with the bags. It wasn’t until we were standing outside in front of the shelter that I had noticed Jacob hadn’t put his shoes on and was standing in his socks outside the homeless shelter office.

Once we were let inside we dropped off our bags full of toiletries and briefly learned more about the mission.

Hesed House’s mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and give people the chance to hope again. Today, Hesed House is a national model for ending homelessness – one person, one family at a time. It is the culmination of nearly three decades of strategic evolution from a formerly acceptable model of “eats and sheets” to a Comprehensive Homeless Resource Center – a campus of centralized highly skilled professionals collaborating to provide the tools necessary to help individuals and families break free of the shackles binding them to homelessness.

I think it’s a great ministry and one that I plan to be more involved with in the future as a volunteer. We’ve also already started a donation basket for our next visit to the shelter and will be shopping off of their Christmas wish list as well.

If you live in the Chicago area and would like to donate to this shelter please leave a comment and I’d be happy to meet and pick up donation items from you. :)

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This post is part of a #DialCFK Simple Service Project with Champions For Kids. They believe that no child should ever go to school hungry, cold or without the resources they need to thrive and as a mother I am thrilled to support them. You can connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook.

See my Google+ story for more pictures!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Dial Soaps  #DialCFK  #CBias #SocialFabric )

Is Your State Pink Enough? Help Spread Breast Cancer Awareness!‏

I love sharing about easy ways to help causes. Here’s another one! Visit www.PaintTheCountryPink.com to virtually paint your state pink. For each painter, dressbarn will donate $1 to the American Cancer Society (up to $100,000 in total). I just did it and, in about a minute, painted Illinois pink and helped raise money for cancer research!

What state are you painting pink?

Jacob’s Christmas GIVING List

Jacob is a typical four year old. He sees a commercial. He wants the toy featured. He goes in the toy aisle at the store. He wants this toy and that toy and oh, this one, too.

He started his Christmas list months ago and it includes more toys than he will ever get. And it keeps on growing and growing {which is partially our fault because they’ve been very spoiled on past holidays}.

My goal this year is to get him to think about how he can give to others and focus on what others might need instead of just what he wants. We started by looking at the World Vision Gift Catalog which is full of gifts we can give to others to truly change their lives. Gifts like cows to feed families, chickens to produce eggs they can eat and sell, and water, something we take for granted everyday. As we looked through the catalog I read him what each thing was and explained why someone would need the gift. For example, there were soccer balls in the gift catalog and I explained that some kids kick around a ball of trash and leaves because they don’t have any balls to kick when they play soccer.

After we looked through the whole thing I asked him what item he would like to buy for someone else.

He took the catalog from me, opened it to the first page and said “2 chicks”.

What happened next surprised me and brought me to tears.

“and a cow. and 3 pigs….” and on he went until I had to grab a paper to remember all he was saying he wanted to give.

And so his Christmas Giving List was created.

When I told him that all of this was a lot of money he suggested we sell his “baby” toys to get the money for all of the things he wanted to give. How sweet is that?

How do you help your children think of ways they can bless others?

Remembering 9/11

Image from Ground Zero, taken on my trip to NYC in 2010

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My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who lost friends and loved ones on September 11, 2001.

Help Save America’s Mustangs

I wrote earlier this month about my love for horses and how every time I saw one I was reminded of my mom who passed away in 2009. I shared that I look forward to helping my children see the beauty in these animals and sharing my passion for horses with my children. I also briefly mentioned a cause that is important to me called Saving America’s Mustangs.

Saving America’s Mustangs is a foundation that was created to protect wild horses. Businesswoman and philanthropist, Madeleine Pickens, started this foundation so that American citizens from all walks of life could unite to create a permanent home for these horses and save them from the unnecessary and cruel Government scheduled roundups.

Wild horses being rounded up by the government {Image courtesy of Saving America’s Mustangs}

Honestly, when I first heard about Saving America’s Mustangs I didn’t understand why there was a need for such a foundation because I was unaware that a problem even existed here in our country. I didn’t know that innocent horses were being inhumanely rounded up and killed. The thought of it made me sick to my stomach. Did you know that in the United States it is not illegal to slaughter horses?! American horses are being sold to killer buyers who slaughter them for financial gain! And it’s not just a few horses being killed. According to Wikipedia, 110 years ago there were 2 million mustangs roaming free and now there are only about 30,000. That’s not just a small fraction of them. That’s an alarming amount and a number that makes me think that at the rate they are being slaughtered they may not be around for my grandchildren to enjoy. That just makes me mad!

The United States government has allowed the slaughter of horses but they aren’t their horses. The Bureau of Land Management manages them but they don’t actually own them. In 1971, the Wild Horse and Burro Act ruled that these horses should be protected under federal law but they belong to the American people. Know what that means? It means they are mine. And yours. And I did not say that slaughtering my horses was okay. And I’m going to guess that you didn’t give the okay for this to happen either. Why are they deciding the fate of our horses?

What’s even worse is that, not only are they allowing this, but we are paying for it! Our hard earned tax dollars {about $85 million per year} are being spent on the removal and holding of the horses. Madeleine Pickens wants to instead bring them to her Mustang Monument where she could humanely house these horses for almost 4x less the cost. The horses would be saved and the American people would save millions each year. How does our government not see that this is the best choice?

I hope you will join the cause and unite with others who want to protect America’s wild horses. I also urge you to contact Government representatives and let them know that you are not okay with what they are allowing to happen to our horses. You can contact your local legislators, Nevada’s Senator, the US Secretary of the Interior, the Speaker of the House, and President Obama.

We also have a few ways to spread the word via social media.

Facebook: If you are on Facebook you can “like” Saving America’s Mustangs page.

Twitter: There is a Twitter party coming up on August 22nd at 1pm EST that you could join in {more details here}. Besides supporting a great cause there are prizes to be won. Our hope is to get the hashtag #saveamericasmustangs trending to bring awareness to what is going on here in America.

Pinterest: We are also having a Pinterest party where you can pin to win {more details on that here}. Whoever wins the Pinterest contest also gets a donation made in their honor to Saving America’s Mustangs.

EXTRA CHANCES TO WIN HERE AT MAKING TIME FOR MOMMY:

Since this cause is important to me I am going to offer one extra entry into any of my open giveaways for what you do to support this cause! You can get one extra entry for each thing you do above and an extra entry if you share about this cause on one of your social networks. All you have to do is comment on this post what you have done and comment on the giveaway post you want an extra entry for! I want to thank you for helping me support this cause that I am passionate about!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Saving America’s Mustangs.  #CBias #SocialFabric All thoughts are my own!)