Bag It Forward With Elmer’s

For the 3rd year in a row I am proud to take part in the “Bag It Forward” campaign. I participated two years ago in the virtual campaign and last year donated a bag full of school supplies to a little girl whose family had lost their home. This year I chose to “Bag It Forward” to my nephew, Camden, who is headed to Kindergarten. I felt like it would really help my brother and his family by not having to stress about the cost and time of having to go get school supplies.

I headed to Walmart with the boys to pick up school supplies. I had the list of everything Camden needed and boy was it a long list! I don’t remember needing nearly as much of those things when I was younger. When we walked in the door we easily found the back to school section because it was in the front aisles.

I love that Walmart has a school supply list holder. It’s so convenient for parents to easily ensure they are buying the supplies that their kids actually need and not just what they think they need. I read the information about the 1st Day app and excitingly downloaded it. What a fun way to document the boys first day of school and easily help give back to others!

One thing my mom told me that Camden really wanted was a Transformers backpack and lunchbox. I found backpacks for only $10 and I thought this was a great find because I had just spent $19 on the backpacks I purchased for Jacob and Lucas at another store.

Jacob loved helping me find the supplies we needed.

Lucas also enjoyed helping mommy shop. He was very excited when I put these watercolors in the cart {I think he thought they were for him!}

After I had gotten most of the school supplies on Camden’s list we head to the toy aisle. Jacob always asks me, “mommy, I look with my eyes?” and circles his fingers into glasses. It’s so cute that I just can’t resist his request! On our way there we saw a great display with school supply kits in it.

Pre-made school supply kits! What a great idea. And for $20 with over $30 worth of coupons in it the price can’t be beat when it’s purchased to give to someone in need. I thought of the supplies on the list that I still needed because they were out of stock and added one of these bags to my cart.

After we looked at the toys we looked at the clearance shirts. I thought it would be nice to get a shirt for Camden to wear on his first day of school. We then picked up the rest of the things we needed and headed for the checkout lines. {You can see more pictures from my shopping trip in my Google+ story}

We headed right from Walmart to my mom’s house for our playdate with the boys’ cousins. Thankfully the kids napped on the way there. Once we got to my mom’s house we surprised Camden with all his school supplies.

My nephew was so excited to see that he got the backpack he was hoping to. I also think he won’t need any school supplies throughout the year because we even got him some backup supplies!

Afterwards, the children sat down to do a craft. I had brought my Elmer’s glue, craft sticks, superhero stickers, and letter stickers so the children could decorate picture frames.

Maddie, Camden, and Jacob enjoyed decorating their frames. Maddie and Camden went crazy with the stickers while Jacob kept it simple with just his name on it.

I love how Maddie’s turned out!

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Do you have someone in your life who could use help getting the school supplies they need? It’s as simple as heading to Walmart and picking up a prepackaged bag of supplies while you do your own back to school shopping. I also created a list on list.ly with my top 10 school supplies young kids need.

Another easy way to give back to others is by using the 1st Day app. It can be downloaded from the iTunes store,  Google Play and from the website www.the1stday.com. This application was especially created for parents to use on their children’s first day of school. It makes it easy to organize the pictures and share them with friends and loved ones. For every photo uploaded, Elmer’s will donate one product to The Kids in Need Foundation (up to 200,000 products). I love that giving back is as simple as uploading photos of my children on their first day of school which is something that I was going to do anyway.

See how others are bagging it forward on Pinterest.

Want to connect with Elmer’s?

Find them on Facebook and Twitter

(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 and Elmer’s.  #BagItForward #CBias #SocialFabric )

Saving America’s Mustangs

I think my love of horses was passed down to me from my {step}mom. She is the one who first introduced me to horses when I was a young child and nurtured my love of them. When I was in second grade we moved to a new house in the suburbs of Chicago and our house was right down the street from a horse stable, the same horse stable that one of my mom’s friends just happened to board her horse at. I was so excited when I found out that this horse stable was within walking distance of my home. I lived in this home until I left for college so through the years I would spend afternoons walking over to the stable, carrot in hand, to visit Rusty. He was a beautiful horse and I enjoyed getting away from the busyness of school and activities.

When I was in my last year of high school my parents talked about moving and one of the things on my mom’s wishlist was a horse stable. Though I was headed off to college and likely not going to be living in their new home I always hoped that they would have a stable and a pool that I could enjoy when I came home to visit. My mom never ended up getting that house with the horse stable she dreamed of, but her life long best friend, who I grew up calling my Aunt, had one and my mom loved visiting the horses. She passed away in 2009 but I recently found some old photos of her and you could just see how happy she was around them. My sister still heads out to Missouri every summer and stays down there with my Aunt and cousins. She just got back a couple days ago and I wanted to share some pictures of my Aunt’s horses:

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Can you see why I love these animals??

I recently learned about a foundation called Saving America’s Mustangs and immediately knew that I wanted to do anything I could to support it. I found out that over 100 yrs ago 2 million wild horses roamed free in the US. and today only about 30,000 remain!

About Saving America’s Mustangs: Wild horses are a living symbol of our American heritage and freedom. These Mustangs must be protected. Businesswoman and philanthropist, Madeleine Pickens, is committed to this promise. Through her Foundation, citizens from all walks of life are uniting to create a permanent home, a Sanctuary, to save these magnificent national treasures.

image courtesy of Saving America’s Mustangs

So why do I support Saving America’s Mustangs? Because every time I drive past horses in a field I think of my childhood and I think of my mom and the time we spent together riding horses at girl scout camps. I think about my children and how I want them to learn about horses and have the opportunity to spend time with them like I did when I was younger. I think about future generations who may not have these beautiful animals and it saddens me.

The good thing is that we can do something to preserve wild horses. I will be sharing all about how you can personally help this cause in the next couple weeks. We also have a Pinterest party this month {from August 10th through August 24th} to raise awareness for Saving America’s Mustangs. Not only can you pin for a cause but you will have the chance to win one of two $200 gift cards. Follow the hashtag #SaveAmericasMustangs for updates!

Connect with Saving America’s Mustangs:

(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 #SaveAmericasMustangs)

Share A Haircut Program {Easy Way To Give!}

I absolutely love sharing about ways people can give to others inexpensively so I had to share about what Hair Cuttery is doing. Now through August 15th they have the Share A Haircut program and are giving haircuts to children in need.

There are two easy ways that you can help. The first is, you can go to Hair Cuttery’s Facebook page and share about the program on Facebook or Twitter. It takes about a minute and by doing so you have donated a haircut to a child in need. The other way to participate is to take your children to get their back-to-school haircuts at a Hair Cuttery location by you. For every kid’s haircut given at one of their salons they will give a free haircut to a local child in need.

Hair Cuttery has donated more than 625,000 haircuts since they started the program in 1999. This year they expect to donate 75,000 haircuts. Wow! Amazing what they are doing to give back to the community. I urge you all to stop by your local Hair Cuttery for all your children’s haircuts and to head on over to their Facebook page right now and share about this program so a child in need can get a free haircut.

(Disclosure: I received a gift card to take my children to Hair Cuttery but all thoughts are my own.)

Free Vision Screenings At The Taste Of Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city. I love walking along the lake and staring out into the water and watching as the boats bob up and down. I love walking down the streets and seeing all of the intricate details of the buildings as I peer up into the sky and see buildings disappear into the clouds. I love seeing nature in the city and walking among flowers in the various gardens that offer green space in between all of the brick and concrete. I love learning about history, science, and more at our many museums. If parking costs weren’t an issue I’d be bringing my children into the city every weekend to introduce them to everything Chicago has to offer. The few times they have been downtown they just stand in awe of the city, especially when they stand next to the skyscrapers!

Transitions Optical is hosting a sightseeing tour and will be listing the 10 top sightseeing spots in Chicago. You can check out their website in the coming weeks as they unveil their list. I’m interested to see if some of my favorites made the list. If I were making it I would include the Sears Tower {yes I know it has a new name but I refuse to call it anything other than it’s “real” name}, Navy Pier, the Shedd Aquarium, Michigan Avenue, and the lakefront.

The Taste of Chicago is in town through the 15th and that brings a whole new variety of things to see. I love going to the Taste and trying new foods. I also love “people watching”. So many people crowded into one area makes for an interesting experience but it’s a lot of fun regardless of the crowds.

If you are headed to the Taste of Chicago make sure to look for the tent to get your vision screened compliments of Vision Works. I think it’s great that these screenings are being offered because I know that when we are all busy it’s not something we think to get done but getting your vision, and your children’s vision, tested is so important. You wouldn’t want to walk around the city of Chicago and not be able to see it’s beauty clearly!

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Learn more about Transitions Optical, the official sponsor of sightseeing at http://seemoresights.com/

Connect with Transitions Lenses on Facebook

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Ways to give back:

I wanted to share about My Eye Promise. According to Transitions Lenses, nearly 50 percent of vision loss can be prevented with an eye exam. If you make a promise to take care of your eyes, Transitions Optical will donate a brand new book to a mobile literacy initiative. Sounds like a win-win for everyone! Find out more details at myeyepromise.com.

There is also a  “Sight of the Day” photo contestwhere people can enter to win an amazing getaway. For every photo uploaded a quarter will be donated to Optometry Giving Sight.

(Disclosure: I received compensation to participate in a SocialMoms and Transitions Optical blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.)

Kids LiveWell Program

A couple weeks ago I was invited to attend a blogger dinner hosted by the National Restaurant Association. We enjoyed delicious food at Fulton’s On The River while we learned more about the Kids LiveWell program. I had never heard of it before so I was excited to find out more since any program that benefits children is of interest to me.

According to the website, “The National Restaurant Association launched the Kids LiveWell program in collaboration with Healthy Dining to help parents and children select healthful menu options when dining out. Restaurants that participate in the voluntary program commit to offering healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.”

As a parent I really liked this program. It is so hard to find healthy options when dining out and more so than just healthy, they have to taste good or my kids won’t eat them. Over 25,000 restaurant locations across the United States have stepped up and taken the challenge to provide healthy options for kids so that parents can feel good about their choice to eat out. To enroll in the program, restaurants need to follow a number of steps including having side or entree options that meet the specific nutritional guidelines outlined below.

Some of our favorite restaurants are participating including Applebee’s, Chic-fil-A, Chilis, Cracker Barrell, and IHOP. You can view all of the restaurants that are part of the program here. Don’t see your favorite restaurant on the list? Talk to the owner and let them know about this program and how they can participate.

To find out more about the Kids LiveWell program you can visit the National Restaurant Association’s website here. There is also a Kids LiveWell application for iPhone and Android phones that makes finding a participating restaurant easy to do when you are on the go. You can also view a listing of their healthy options before you arrive at the restaurant.

(Disclosure: I was compensated for my time but all thoughts are my own.)

Dinosaur Train Book Giveaway {“Get Caught Reading” Month}

Early literacy is a cause I am passionate about so I am proud to be participating in this Dinosaur Train promotion to help share information about Get Caught Reading month. Get Caught Reading is a nationwide campaign to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. May is Get Caught Reading month, but the campaign is promoted throughout the year.

Research has proven that early language experience stimulates a child’s brain to grow and reading to children gives them a huge advantage when they start school. Member organizations of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) participate in a variety of ways in Get Caught Reading to encourage people of all ages to enjoy books and magazines and to share that pleasure with the young children in their lives.

Image from GetCaughtReading.org

As part of the Get Caught Reading campaign, Buddy, from Dinosaur Train, is depicted “caught reading” in posters made available to teachers and parents for use in classrooms, libraries and other locations. The “Buddy” poster is available here. Posters are FREE plus a $5.00 charge per set (1 – 12 posters) for shipping and handling! The order form is available here.

In Guess Who, Buddy!, “What’s that dinosaur?” is the question Buddy needs to answer as he plays a guessing game with his friends. Kids can play along with Buddy by reading the playful descriptive text for each hidden character, guessing the dinosaur, then lifting the flap to see if they are right!  A surprise pop-up at the end of the story adds to the charm of this fun book. SRP $10.99. Ages 2 and up.

GIVEAWAY

Guess Who, Buddy! Book

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 celebrity or character you or your child would like to “get caught reading”

2) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

3) Follow @hensonparents on Twitter

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Like Dinosaur Train on Facebook

6) Share this giveaway on a social network

7) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

Giveaway ends May 31, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. Thoughts about literacy are my own. The other information is courtesy of Dinosaur Train.)

Energizer Battery Packs Giveaway

For decades Energizer has supported organizations helping to make a positive impact in local communities and around the world. This spring as part of the Energizer campaign—that’s positivenergy—they’re “building” on that commitment in a new way through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity®. Working with baseball legend and philanthropist Cal Ripken, Jr., Energizer is donating more than $300,000 and 1,000 volunteer hours to Habitat through a multi-city series of volunteer projects to help build new homes and revitalize existing homes for those in need.

Here’s where you can get involved.  With the rising cost of utilities, we can all use a little bit of help right?  Especially if we have a really hot summer!  So, beyond helping Habitat, Energizer is doing something to help us all out.  In addition to the series of volunteer projects, you will see the Energizer and Habitat for Humanity partnership coming to the shelves of your favorite stores. Through the Energizer Utility Cash program, you can collect codes from select Energizer battery and lighting products and redeem them online for savings, up to $25 total savings each per person/household/email address, off your own utility bill.  You start earning rewards with just two codes and will need 10 codes total to earn the full $25.  Or you can help make a positive impact and choose to turn the codes into a donation to Habitat for Humanity®.

GIVEAWAY

One reader will win two specially marked packages of Energizer Max AA batteries with special codes.

HOW TO ENTER

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

1) Leave a comment telling me one other way you can reduce your energy bills

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Follow Energizer on Twitter

5) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

6) Like Energizer on Facebook

7) Subscribe to my blog via email or RSS (look in upper right hand corner)

8) Enter another one of my giveaways (find them here)

Giveaway ends May 24, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US only.

(Disclosure: I received products from Energizer for posting this giveaway and promotion information. Content was provided by Energizer. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

#Pin4Autism And Make A Difference {Autism Awareness Month}

I am a huge fan of any company that donates money to a great cause on behalf of it’s consumers so I’m really excited to share about what Lindt is doing. For the third year in a row, Lindt is partnering with Autism Speaks to raise money for Autism Awareness and it’s simple for you to be a part of it.

For every re-pin on Pinterest that Lindt gets {between now and Easter} they will be donating $10 to Autism Speaks {up to $10,000}. I know the majority of you are as Pinterest-obsessed as I am so why not raise money for a good cause while doing something that you enjoy?

All you have to do is visit their #Pin4Autism board on Pinterest and select and re-pin the Easter tradition photo that you enjoy most. Pin donations are limited to one per person but you can maximize your impact by inviting friends and family to get involved by sharing about #Pin4Autism on your Facebook pages, in your Twitter feeds or anywhere else that you connect with others.

Here are the steps Lindt would like you to take:

  1. Visit our #Pin4Autism board on Pinterest
  2. Select the “Re-Pin” button on the tradition photo that you enjoy most.
  3. You can even customize the caption of the repinned image so that it includes your own personal message. Just make sure to keep the #Pin4Autism hashtag along with the donation text within caption to ensure that your donation is included.  Example Caption (bolded portion must remain):  “Egg decorating is my favorite Easter tradition!    [I just donated 10 dollars to the Autism cause by pinning this photo.  Learn how you can #Pin4Autism too by clicking on the image above.]”
  4. Select “Pin It”
  5. You’ve donated!

Want to help even more? Recreate one of the Lindt inspired projects {could be a recipe or craft} that incorporates Lindt products on Lindt’s Pinterest page  and email Lindt and include the image or link to your creation, along with the subject line:  #Pin4Autism Donation.  The amazing folks over at Lindt will donate $25.00 to Autism Speaks in return

And as an added bonus…. if you re-pin something as part of Lindt’s #pin4Autism you get one extra entry into my giveaway for the $125 gift card & Eucerin lotion! All you have to do is follow Lindt’s directions above and once you are done go to my Eucerin/Visa gift card giveaway {found here} and leave a comment saying “I pinned 4 Autism!” AND you can get this extra entry in every one of my Eucerin/Visa Gift Card giveaways in the future {there are about 9 or 10 that will be posted in the months to come}! That is how much I want you to #pin4Autism :)

(Disclosure: I wasn’t compensated for this post. Autism Speaks is a charity I support as a mom of a child with Autism.)

Light It Up Blue Today {Autism Awareness Month}

Light It Up Blue, in its third year, is a unique global initiative by Autism Speaks to help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will Light It Up Blue to show their support on April 2, 2012 – World Autism Awareness Day.

HOW YOU CAN SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:

1) Wear blue today

2) Purchase blue light bulbs from Home Depot and replace your outdoor lights with blue ones

3) Change your Facebook status or profile picture to the Light It Up Blue logo (found here)

4) Bake cookies and ice them with blue frosting to pass out to friends or coworkers

5) Tweet facts about Autism and use the hashtag #lightitupblue

6) Donate to Autism Speaks

7) Add the Light It Up Blue logo to your email signature

8) Shop at places that are donating a portion of today’s profits to an Autism organization

Together Counts- Encouraging Families To Get Outside

Our family loves to spend time outside together. One of our favorite things to do at the end of the day is to go on family walks. This is a nice chance to talk about our day while we get exercise. In the Fall we like to go on nature hunts and look for leaves, twigs, and other items for collages. In the Spring, we like to watch as the world blooms around us. In past years we have pushed the boys in a stroller or pulled them in a wagon but this year I’m excited because they are older so they can walk beside us. We also like staying active together by playing t-ball and soccer in the backyard. If it’s hot out we enjoy running through the sprinkler and do anything else water related.

Together Counts is a nationwide program inspiring families to be active together and to eat healthy. The principle behind the program is Energy Balance, which means balancing the calories we consume with the calories we burn. I first heard about Together Counts last summer at the Type A Parent conference and I really like that they focus on getting families to spend time together doing things that will make everyone healthier.

Together Counts has some exciting things going on. They are holding a fun sweepstakes on their Facebook page to celebrate their first anniversary. Prizes include gift cards, George Foreman Grills and a membership to Anytime Fitness. They are also going to be having a Twitter Party on 4/3 from 8-9 PM EST to celebrate Child Nutrition Month. Prizes include $50 same-as-cash gift cards. For more information and to RSVP to the Twitter Party you can visit Resourceful Mommy.

How do you and your family stay active?

(Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but all thoughts are my own.)

Earth Hour 2012

Tonight at 8:30pm, millions of people across the globe will turn off their lights for one hour- Earth Hour. This movement is the world’s largest public environmental action and acknowledges a commitment to go beyond the hour with actions that benefit the planet in the year ahead.

Here are ways that you can support Earth Hour:

1) Turn off the lights in your home from 8:30-9:30pm. If you can’t turn them all off, at least switch off the non-essential ones.

2) Register your commitment at www.earthhour.org.

3) Share Earth Hour with others through Social Media. You can add banners to websites, share via Facebook, or tweet using the hashtag #EarthHour.

Have young children? Check out this fun Earth Hour activity book:

DVD Giveaway- A Mile In His Shoes {Charity Hopping Around The World Giveaway Event}

Welcome to the Charity Hopping Around the World Giveaway Hop
Hosted by:
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Reading Away the Days
Reading a Little Bit of Everything
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Purpose: To promote a charity that you support.

All bloggers will be giving away an item related to their charity or something book related.

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The charity that I am featuring for this event is Autism Speaks. My youngest was diagnosed with Autism recently and Autism Speaks has really been a great source of information. They even have a 100 day kit they provide to families {free of charge} to help them get through the first 100 days after their child is diagnosed. See my post about their free resources here.

GIVEAWAY

My giveaway for this event is the DVD ‘A Mile In His Shoes’. This movie is about a child who has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Here is more about the movie:

“Only a miracle can help baseball coach Arthur “Murph” Murphy (Dean Cain) and his losing minor league baseball team. As Murph sets out to recruit new talent, he stumbles upon Mickey (Luke Schroder), a young farmer with an incredible pitcher’s arm. However, Mickey’s parents are reluctant in allowing him to join the team because he has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Murph convinces Mickey’s parents that life in the minor league will benefit their unique son, but he doesn’t realize just how much his new recruit will help the team’s game and, more importantly, their spirit. Based on a true story, A Mile in His Shoes is an inspirational film that celebrates faith, determination and the power of friendship.”

HOW TO ENTER

Leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win this movie.

For an extra entry you can share this giveaway with others through social media.

Giveaway ends April 4, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but did receive a copy of the movie.)

Find more giveaways at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

World Water Day 2012- It Starts With A Drop

Today, people from all over the world are celebrating World Water Day, an observance begun by the United Nations in 1993 to advocate for the sustainable management of our most precious natural resource – fresh water sources.

On this very special day, I hope you can help spread awareness of the importance of conserving water by sharing these facts with your family:

  • 66% of the human body is water; a person can only live without water for approximately one week
  • Up to 75% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water but less than 0.03% is drinkable
  • More than a billion people in water poor regions around the globe survive on the same amount used to flush a toilet or take a 5-minute shower, just over 1 gallon of water each day.
  • Each day almost 10,000 children under the age of 5 in Third World countries die as a result of illnesses contracted by use of impure water.

Another great way to educate your children on this very important topic is to get them directly involved. As part of Siemens’ commitment to helping communities make big changes in how they consume, manage and recycle fresh water, the company has developed these fun and interactive family-friendly tools to help educate your children on water usage and make a household commitment to conserving water:

1.      Water Discovery Center: Features fun, interactive water-themed games and puzzles based on your kids’ favorites such as “Memory” and infused with interesting water facts. The Discovery Center also includes a digital coloring book so your kids can share images with their friends!

2.      Personal Water Footprint Calculator: A family-friendly tool for parents to educate their children on water usage and make a household commitment to conserving.  After completing a simple quiz, your family can commit to making small changes in your daily lives that make a big difference. Then, you can share this commitment with family and friends via Facebook to help spread the word. Help Siemens reach their goal of conserving 200 million gallons of water this World Water Day!

(Disclosure: This information was provided by Siemens but I was not compensated. I posted about it because clean water is a cause I am passionate about.)

7 Ways To Help Other Women

Today, March 8 is International Women’s Day when thousands of events are held to honor the achievements of women around the world. Cindy Breilh, Women of Vision national director, offers seven easy ways for women to provide for daughters, sisters and mothers — women around the world, right in our own neighborhoods and here at home.

1. Save a woman’s life in child birth:
Did you know that in countries like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Bolivia, having a baby is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do? By helping train local midwives in remote communities, you could save a life. Visit StrongWomenStrongWorld.org to learn more.

2. Mentor a girl close to home:
A growing poverty rate, poor-performing schools, and teen violence make it tough to be a girl growing up here in our own country. Reach out and influence the life of a young girl in your own community by volunteering as a tutor or mentor. Get connected at BBBS.org.

3. Use your voice to stop trafficking:
Human trafficking and sexual exploitation affects girls and women in horrific ways all around the world, but the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in the US Senate can help end the practice. Contact your Senators and ask them to renew this bill to protect women and girls, both here in the US and around the world.

4. Invest in a small business owner:
Websites like WorldVisionMicro.org or Kiva.org connect you to hardworking women entrepreneurs, waiting to realize their dream of a dressmaking business, chicken farm, or food stall that will help them provide for their family. Even better, when the loan is paid off, your donated funds are loaned out again and again to make a bigger impact.

5. Provide the ticket to education—clean water:
One of the most common reasons girls in poor communities miss schooling is the lack of clean water in their village. Millions of girls and women spend several hours each day fetching water—often dirty and dangerous to their health—instead of attending school. Give the gift of clean water, and open the door to education for a young girl.

6. Band together with like-minded women:
Whatever your passion for helping other women, you’ll do it better—and have more fun doing it—with other women excited about the same cause. National movements like Women of Vision can connect you to a network of resources while allowing you to grow your own local group of women who want to make the world better for girls and their mothers.

7. Tell the women in your life that you care:
Empowering women starts right in our families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Celebrate this International Women’s Day by writing a note of thanks to that teacher who encouraged you years ago, picking up coffee for that new mom in your office who’s struggling to balance it all, or telling your own sister, daughter, or mother how much you appreciate them.

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

Love With Food Review & Giveaway- 5 Winners! {Crazy Cupid Love Event}

Welcome to the Crazy Cupid Love Giveaway Hop hosted by Just Married with Coupons & Sweep Tight. This giveaway hop will run from February 1 – 7th. Close to 100 bloggers are participating so make sure to check the linky at the bottom of this post for more giveaways you can enter!

I am giving away Love With Food sampler boxes to FIVE winners! Each box is valued at $14 and features gourmet foods. Mine included items from The Ginger People, Nuts About Granola, Sahale Snacks, Somersault Snacks, Stretch Island Fruit Co, and Mighty Leaf Tea. I really enjoyed the almonds that were glazed with an “orange blossom honey” and tossed with cranberries and toasted sesame seeds. The tea also sounded good- it was chocolate mint truffle flavored.

My favorite things about the Love With Food boxes is that for each box purchased a meal is donated to No Kid Hungry! Love With Food can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

ENTER TO WIN:

Visit the Love With Food site and then come back and leave a comment telling me one thing that you learned or like about Love With Food.

ADDITIONAL ENTRY:

For an extra entry, share this giveaway on a social network and leave a comment telling me where you shared this giveaway.

Please note: Items in the boxes change monthly so contents in the box may vary.

Giveaway ends February 7, 2012 at 11:59pm. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Mom Blog Society. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)


She Can’t Get A Transplant Because She Has Mental Delays

“Did you just say that Amelia shouldn’t have the transplant done because she is mentally retarded”

“She is not eligible because of her quality of life, because of her mental delays.”

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Do those quotes from this post enrage you as much as they do me? Just because a child has mental delays does not mean that they don’t still deserve the same care as everyone else.

This is a story I have to share because this is not okay and I think if we all stand up to this hospital maybe something will change. Probably not for our medical community as a whole but even if it’s just for this little girl it’s been worth it!

Read the whole story here

Contact CHOP on Twitter here

Contact CHOP on Facebook here

AND PLEASE SHARE THEIR POST!

Take The Brave Woman Pledge

I wrote about Brave Woman a couple weeks ago. Today I want to ask you all to join me in signing the Brave Woman pledge.

Pledge to stand up for women and children in trouble. Pledge to not turn a blind eye when you suspect something. Pledge to provide a listening ear to your friends and really listen. Pledge to support women who have left a relationship and are standing up for themselves.

These are all things that I pledge to do in 2012 and beyond because no woman or child should have to be in a situation where they are belittled, threatened, or put in harms way.

To learn more about Brave Woman you can view their website, follow them on Twitter, or “like” them on Facebook.

(Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias but all thoughts are my own. #CBias #BraveWoman)

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day here in the U.S. Human Trafficking is a modern day form of slavery and illegal. As I was driving Lucas to occupational therapy this morning I heard human trafficking statistics that sickened me.

The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked around the world for purposes of forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation every year.

Think it doesn’t happen here in the U.S?

50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States from no less than 49 countries every year. As many as 750,000 women and children have been trafficked into the United States over the last decade.

I didn’t realize that Human Trafficking was so widespread and affected so many women and children! It really upsets me to think about all those women and children who are forced to live like this.

What you can do:

*Pray for people in these situations

*$2 provides emergency supplies to a survivor

*Report a tip if you believe someone to be involved in human trafficking

*Buy Fair Trade products and support companies who pay their workers fairly and give them good working conditions

*Share information on human trafficking with your friends

*Participate in the Human Trafficking photo campaign

*Host a fundraiser to raise money for a local anti-human trafficking charity

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What will YOU do to help stop human trafficking?

Brave Woman

Did you know that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? With that statistic I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads this post has either experienced violence or has a loved one or friend who has been physically abused by a domestic partner. Maybe some of you reading this are still in an abusive situation and you feel too scared to leave. Even more saddening is that someone reading this might think this abuse is somehow their fault or they may feel stuck in the situation they are in and feel like they can’t leave. To them I just want to say, it’s not your fault. You did nothing to cause this and I am begging you to reach out to someone you know and trust to help you get out of the situation you are in. Leaving a violent relationship requires one to be brave because they are leaving a situation they are familiar with but guess what? You will NEVER be alone in the journey. There is a whole network of women who want to support you and show you that you deserve a better life!

Brave Woman is an online community of people who believe that every woman who escapes domestic violence is not a victim but someone who is strong and brave. They provide support and resources to those starting their lives all over again so that they can become independent  and start the healing process. The website gives women a chance to share their stories and the opportunity to listen to and learn from women who have gone through similar situations.

Want to support the Brave Woman cause? Consider making a donation, advocating against violence, or sharing about this important topic. You can also sign the Brave Woman pledge and stand up for yourself and other women.

Brave Woman can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

(Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #BraveWoman All thoughts are my own.)

 

Giving To Others With Champions For Kids and Disney #DisneyCFK #CBias

A week or so ago I shared with you all how I was working on a campaign with Champions For Kids and how I was going to give a stocking to my blogging friend, Paula. As a boy scout leader, Paula donates her time every week to give children a sense of belonging so I felt that she was the perfect person to give my stocking filled with goodies to. Since Paula has three children I figured I would give not one but three stockings so each child could have their own.

I went shopping at Walmart where I found a lot of stocking stuffers and cute little stockings. I got one Tinkerbell one for her daughter and two Cars themed ones for her children. I brought them over to Paula’s house last night and her children opened them this morning. Here are some pictures I wanted to share:

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I really enjoyed putting together stockings for Paula’s children and hope she knows how much her service to the community is appreciated :)

If you want to see more pictures from my shopping trip you can view my Google+ story. Champions For Kids can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own.)

Giving Back During The Christmas Season With Champions For Kids

Giving to others is very important to me and during the Holidays it seems like there are even more opportunities to do so. I try to get my children involved in the giving whenever I can. When we pass the Salvation Army buckets I always give the boys money to put in the buckets. We put together boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Every year we also buy gifts for a family in need. A couple years ago we bought presents for children whose parents are in prison and donated them through the Angel Tree ministry. This year we gave gifts to a mother who we knew. She is now able to wrap something to put under the Christmas tree for her young daughters.

This year I am also excited to be involved in a campaign for Champions for Kids. Their vision is to see a world where millions of people work to ensure that no child dies from hunger or easily preventable diseases, that ALL children have the nutrition and food they need to thrive, that every child has a home, and that every child has someone who cares and a place to belong.

For my part in this campaign I get to go shopping and give a person I know a Christmas stocking full of goodies. When trying to decide who to give it to I wanted to give it to someone who was working to ensure that children had a place to “belong” and I thought of my friend, Paula, from Frosted Fingers. She is a boy scout den leader and every week gives boys a sense of belonging in the community by putting together activities and outings for them to partake in.

I’m looking forward to thanking her for her commitment to making life better for children and will be sharing more with you all after I give her the stockings.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #DisneyCFK All thoughts are my own.)

Tips to Teach Children & Teens the True Spirit of the Holidays‏

Tips courtesy of World Vision:

There is not a better time of the year than the winter holiday season to involve children and teenagers in charitable giving and teach them why the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive,” is true.  World Vision offers five great ways for parents to lead by example and teach their children the true spirit of the holidays:

–    Consider do-it-yourself gifts, like no-sew fleece blankets that you can make with your children. Donate those blankets to a local homeless shelter.

–    Cherish the stories of your family. Have your children talk to their grandparents and write down the stories of their past. Create a book to share with the entire family or record it online.

–    As a family, select a charitable organization you’d like to support. Use online tools like Charity Navigator to find an organization that you trust. Give your children a budget and encourage them to decide how your family will donate to that organization this holiday. For example, flipping through the World Vision Gift Catalog will give children an idea of the difference they can make in other people’s lives.

–    Work with your children to create a coupon book for your neighbors that might need an extra hand this year.  Coupons could include shoveling their sidewalk, watching their children or providing a meal.

–    Bake cookies or sweets with your children and deliver them to your local nursing home or school-in-need. Get started with this list of holiday recipes.

In addition to teaching children how to give during the holidays, it is equally as important but possibly even more challenging, to show teenagers the true spirit of the holidays. World Vision Teen Engagement Expert, Michele Tvedt has several tips for parents including:

–    Start with conversation. Watch the nightly news together, and take time to discuss stories that touch on people struggling with poverty, unemployment or other tragedies. Let your teen lead the discussion and listen for them to express interest or passion in a particular social issue.

–    Begin to give teens a voice in family giving. Let your teen know you would like to give a charitable gift as a family to mark the holiday season, but that you’d love to let them be the final decision maker.

–    Take advantage of volunteering requirements that your teen may have to fulfill at school. Offer to help your teen find an organization that fits their interest. Keep in mind that teenagers are eager for authentic, powerful experiences. They will respond best to opportunities that allow them to experience poverty firsthand.

“The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. There are gifts to purchase and wrap, cookies to bake, and family and friends to visit, but when we pause to help our neighbors in need, we all experience the holidays in a more meaningful way,” said Traci Coker, charitable giving expert and national director of World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

For each item in World Vision’s Gift Catalog, the giver makes the purchase in the name of a friend, family member or business associate. World Vision then sends special cards to those individuals, describing the gifts and their impact. Last year alone, World Vision’s Gift Catalog raised $32 million and provided assistance to more than 800,000 people worldwide. The Gift Catalog launched in 1996, and while a goat ($75) is still World Vision’s number one seller, there are many affordable items for $35 or less.

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For more information on World Vision’s gift catalog you can check out my post (and be sure to enter the giveaway, too!)

(Disclosure: Post from WorldVision. I was not compensated for sharing this.)

Boxes Of Cheer {sendCheer}

Last week I told you about Cheerios wonderful sendCheer campaign and this week I get to share with you how I sent cheer! I had so much fun with it!

Here are some pictures from my shopping experience and what I did with the boxes of Cheerios:

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First, I headed to Walmart to buy my Cheerios. It was a busy day at the store because everyone was getting their items for Thanksgiving.

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I headed to the cereal aisle. I saw many different boxes of Cheerios but I was looking for specially marked ones.

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These are the boxes I was looking for. They were mixed in with the regular boxes of Cheerios.

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I bought a bunch of boxes and put them in my cart. I also got some other items that were on my grocery list.

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Once home I took the cereal out of the box, cut the postcard out of the box, and then had my three year old color the postcard.

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Once the postcard was done I had to figure out what to do with the other boxes I had bought. I decided to wrap them with wrapping paper.

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After the boxes were wrapped I put notes on them.

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It is so fun to spread Cheer so I would have my friends help me spread the cheer.

Each box has a note on them that says:

Happy Holidays!

Here is a box of CHEER for you!

I’ve dropped off this box in hopes that you will help me thank our military.

Inside the box you will find directions on how you can help me spread CHEER this season.

I hope you will join me in thanking those that serve us every day

and I hope your family enjoys eating your box of CHEERios!

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I’m going to be putting the wrapped boxes of Cheerios on porches and watch the CHEER spread!

Won’t you join me?

You can find specially marked boxes of Cheerios at Walmart.

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(Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a sponsored charitable opportunity for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own. #cbias #sendcheer )

Pack For A Purpose This Holiday Season

Pack for a Purpose

For those of you traveling outside the United States this Holiday season I hope you will consider participating in Pack for a Purpose and use available  space in your luggage to provide supplies to communities you visit.

Pack for a Purpose has supply lists for destinations on their website that are provided directly by the local community-based projects that will receive them, enabling travelers to make informed decisions and bring items which meet the needs of the people who will be using them.

It’s easy to participate in this program. First you look on the destination list for the destination you are going to and find your lodging and a project it supports. You choose the supplies you wish to take, pack them in your suitcase, and when you get to where you will be staying you drop the supplies off when you check in. They will then be delivered for you.

Check out their website for more information!

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Are you traveling out of the country?

I’d love to hear if you Pack for a Purpose so leave a comment about your experiences if you do :)

World Vision Gift Catalog {Thai Bracelet Giveaway}

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Give This Christmas Away by Matthew West and Amy Grant. The song talks about giving Christmas away- “it’s feeding the hungry”, “telling the Orphan they aren’t alone anymore”, and giving “someone hope beyond their wildest dreams”.

One organization that does this on a daily basis is World Vision. I’m so excited to share that they have created a gift catalog to help make it easier for people to “give this Christmas away”. The catalog offers over 250 gifts, the most affordable ones starting at just $16. You can give self-sustainable gifts to those in other countries and also to people right here where we live. Some of the gifts you can purchase include clean water, goats, food, and school supplies. You can visit “The True Spirit of Christmas Tour” Facebook page and follow the World Vision staff as they travel across the world this December to see the impact that goats, sheep and other gifts have on families and children..

Another option is to purchase a “two for one” gift from the catalog. The beauty of these items is the two-for-one benefit they provide:  1) a meaningful and affordable gift for a loved one; 2) proceeds that make a difference in the lives of children and families living in poverty in the U.S. and around the world. With a financial contribution, the gift giver selects one of 36 items that can be given to someone on a holiday gift list and at the same time help a person in need.

One of the gifts in the “two for one” gift catalog is a beautiful hand crafted Thai bracelet. With a donation of $40 you receive a beautiful bracelet to give to someone and you have helped prevent sexual exploitation.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a black hand-crafted Thai Bracelet

HOW TO ENTER:

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each you do)

1) Tell me what gift you would give from the World Vision gift catalog

2) Follow @WorldVision on Twitter

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Share this giveaway on a social network

5) Tweet: “Win a hand crafted Thai bracelet from @aliciamarie112 at www.makingtimeformommy.com ”

6) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS (look in upper right corner)

7) Blog about this giveaway

8) Enter another one of my giveaways and let me know which one you entered

Giveaway ends December 20, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet from the gift catalog but all thoughts are my own.)

Send Cheer To Military Families With Cheerios {sendCheer}

I am honored to share information about the Cheerios sendCheer campaign with you all! I often write about how you can give a lot without spending a lot and this campaign from Cheerios and the USO is a perfect example of how you can do that. Specially marked boxes of Cheerios can be found in Walmarts across the country with postcards on the inside of the boxes. Once cut out, you can write a special note on the pre-addressed postcard and send it out. The USO will then send it to a military family. In addition to that, $1 from each card received will be donated by Cheerios to the USO. For the price of a stamp and a box of cereal you can provide encouragement, words of thanks, support, and help fund programs to support military families. It may not seem like much to you but I have friends in the military and friends with spouses and family members in the military and I know that support from others is so important to them!

As with anything, I think it’s important to get the whole family involved in giving to others. In the past I have taken the children shopping for supplies to include in care packages to send out to those in the military. We have also baked cookies together to include in the packages. My children are 2 and 3 so I don’t think they understand what we are doing yet but my hope is that they will grow up and giving will just be something that they do without thinking.

We will be shopping for the specially marked boxes of Cheerios this weekend and I will share next week about what we found and what my family did to spread love and celebrate ThanksGIVING :)

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I’d love to hear what you do to support the military.

Leave a comment below if you’d like to share!

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(Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a sponsored charitable opportunity for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own.) #sendcheer #cbias

Operation Christmas Child {Shoebox Collection Week}

Just a reminder that THIS WEEK is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child.

What is Operation Christmas Child?

Fill a shoe box with small gifts and then Samaritan’s Purse gives it to a child who wouldn’t otherwise be getting any gifts this Christmas. You can learn more about OCC on their website.

What can I put in the box?

Checkout my list of shoebox ideas here.

What do I do with my shoebox once it’s filled?

A list of places you can drop off your box can be found here.

I can’t fill a box, how else can I help?

You can pray for the children around the world who receive the shoe boxes.

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Are you filling any shoe boxes this year?

I’d love to see pictures of what you are including in them to get ideas for next year.

10 Fun Literacy Activities

Today is National Family Literacy Day!

Since 1994, National Family Literacy Day has helped communities celebrate the wonders of literacy and reminded people of the importance of literacy. The entire month is special as well – many families, programs and communities now join us in celebrating family literacy throughout the entire month. That’s right, November is National Family Literacy Month!

Here are ten fun activities to do with your children throughout the year:

1) National Children’s Book Week is November 13-19th. Read your child’s favorite book together and talk about what happened in the story afterwards.

2) National Cookie Day is December 4th. Make cookies with your child and use a recipe to talk about sequence. (ie. “first we have to preheat the oven, next we get the ingredients out”)

3) January is National Soup Month. Serve alphabet soup and spell words using the noodles in the soup.

4) The first day of Spring is March 21st. Help your child make a list of nature’s first signs of Spring and then go on a nature walk and have your child check off the signs that they see.

5) Mother Goose Day is May 1. Take turns reciting all the Mother Goose rhymes you can think of or read them from a storybook

6) June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. Ask your child to try to name a fruit or vegetable for each letter of the alphabet. Try to eat as many as you can during the month.

7) July is National Picnic Month. Use the newspaper to find a day that will be nice for a picnic.

8) The first Sunday in August is friendship day. Have your child write a letter to one of their friends.

9) September is Library-Card Sign Up Month. Take your child to get a library card if they don’t have one yet.

10) October is National Popcorn Popping Month. Enjoy popcorn with your child while your child makes a list of all their favorite things about popcorn.

These ideas came from the National Center For Family’s  Celebrate Literacy Calendar. Check it out because it has lots more ideas for activities to do with your children!

This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top 10 Tuesday.

Free Mammogram Reminder

According to the American Cancer Society, yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Since it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to share this free tool that will help you never forget to schedule your annual mammogram. You can fill out this form and each year (on the date of your choosing) you can receive a reminder via email.

Also, don’t forget that if you are younger than 40 the American Cancer Society recommends the following:

  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
  • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.

Child Passenger Safety Week

Each year, thousands of children are tragically injured and killed in motor vehicle crashes. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-13.

The reason? Most parents and caregivers don’t understand how car seats work and are not familiar with the milestones a child must reach before he or she can be safely transitioned to the next car seat type or seat belt. The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration is aiming to increase awareness during Child Passenger Safety Week (September 18-24) by educating parents and caregivers about this issue and motivate those who thinkthey are securing their child properly to seek help, even if they’re sure their child is correctly restrained.  Child Passenger Safety Week concludes with National Seat Check Saturday on September 24, where community events nationwide will have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to provide hands-on car seat inspections and advice — for free!

Find a Child Car Seat Inspection Station here.

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Plum District Deal {And A Fundraiser For Chicago Schools}

The busiest people in the community — moms — are often the most plugged-in.  And for them, the Internet is often the best tool to (re)discover what’s in their own backyard.  Plum District was created just for moms.

Plum District connects moms with daily deals and inspirations from businesses in their community, and helps them get the most out of their day—for their families and for themselves.

Plum District deal and giveaway that ends TODAY, Sunday, September 18th:

  • Use the code fall2fab at checkout for an extra 15% off all Plum District Deals!
  • Plum District is also giving away a virtual gift basket of deals to one lucky winner.  (How do you win? Just purchase a deal TODAY and you are eligible! Virtual gift baskets are worth $230. Winner will be notified the following day by email. You are eligible by purchasing any local or national deal.)


EASY FUNDRAISER FOR CHICAGO AND NORTH SHORE SCHOOLS:

About Plum District’s School Fundraisers for Chicago (city only) and North Shore Schools

Plum District offers Chicago and North Shore schools the EASIEST SCHOOL FUNDRAISER EVER!

Every time a parent from your school (or their friends and family) subscribes to Plum District, Plum District will donate $3 to your child’s school.

And the best part – this fundraiser does not require ANY BUYING OR SELLING!

Here’s How It Works…

  1. Fill out this online form for your school.
  2. Plum District Chicago will send the appointed person your school’s unique referral link and an email template to send to parents.
  3. Publicize your school’s unique link to your school families and friends (email newsletter, fliers in the students’ backpacks, etc).
  4. For every parent that signs up as a new subscriber to Plum District using your school’s referral link, your school will receive $3!

Some of the Logistics

  • There is no cap on the number of people that can sign up (and no limit to the amount of money your school can raise).
  • Plum District will send a check to your school within 4 weeks from the fundraiser end date.
  • No buying or selling is required.

School Fundraiser Contests

  • If you fill out the online fundraising form before September 30, your school will be entered into a drawing to win an additional $250.
  • The Chicago school that raises the most money for their school through Plum District’s fundraiser by October 31 will get an additional $300 for their school!

(Disclosure: This is a compensated post and the information is provided by Plum District.)

Buying School Supplies #BagItForward

Jacob is headed to preschool in a few weeks and with that comes buying school supplies! Jacob was very excited to do this so we headed to Walmart. While there we also bought items to give to a family in need. One of my friends told me about a family who had just lost their home and a young girl who could really use some new supplies so we wanted to pack a bag of school supplies for her, too. We got everything we needed at Walmart including many Elmer’s products like Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks and a school supply “must have”, Elmer’s School Glue. You can learn more about my shopping experience here.

School supplies we are donating :)

Supplies in a cute bag ready to be delivered and a special gift for the girl's mom.

Bag It Forward is a great program and I encourage you to join in if you are able to. Here is a little more information about it from the website:

“As students head back to school this fall, many will head out to shop for brand new, shiny school supplies. But some will not have the resources they need to be successful. That’s where you and Elmer’s come in. This year, let’s join together and Bag It Forward, by picking up an extra bag of school supplies and donating it locally in your community.”

You can find all the details on Elmer’s Bag It Forward website.

In addition to Bag It Forward, Elmer’s is donating items to the Kids in Need Foundation. From July 25th through September 1st, for each “like” on the Elmer’s Facebook page, the company will donate a product to the Foundation’s national network of free stores, where teachers from disadvantaged schools can “shop” for free for school supplies.

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(Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Elmer’s #BagItForward #CollectiveBias but all opinions are my own.)

Awesome Opportunity For A Young Woman!

I love being a part of the #GlueNGlitter community in Collective Bias because I get to connect with some of the wonderful people at Elmer’s and be a part of some awesome things they are doing. Today I want to share one of those opportunities with you! Here are the details:

At the 2011 International Year of Youth Culmination Celebration, girls will have the opportunity to speak out, change the world and be heard. And your young girl (or neighbor, friend, niece, etc.) can be part of this!  The celebration will be held August 11th, 2011 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It’s a 1-day event from 8:30am until 5:00pm. This event is powered by AllyKatzz, an amazing on-line community for teen/tween girls only.

Elmer’s is a proud sponsor for this amazing summit and they want to see girls from the Glue ‘n Glitter family right there in NYC on August 11!

While 192 delegates will be selected from across the country, THREE will be selected directly from the Glue ‘n Glitter family and their blogging communities (that’s YOU guys)!

So who do you know that is interested in changing:

1.     Poverty and Hunger

2.     Universal Education

3.     Gender Equality

4.     Child Health

5.     Maternal Health

6.     Combat HIV/AIDS

7.     Environmental Sustainability

8.     Global Partnership

These are the eight millenium goals that were adopted by the United Nations.

Please help us find that special girl and have her apply to be a delegate at the Celebration! Click here for the application. They will need to register as an AllyKatzz too. Applications must be received by JULY 11, 2011, so help her apply asap! In addition to the huge honor of being a delegate and having her voice heard, girls will also hear from awesome mentors like Monique Coleman and world leaders (TBA).

In order to be considered for the Glue ‘n Glitter delegate seats, she must answer the question “How did you hear about the Youth Celebration?” with “Elmer’s Glue ‘N Glitter”. This question is right on the application.

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If you, or a young woman you know, are applying I’d love for you to share in the comments below. Good luck to everyone who applies!

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

Storytime At The UPS Store #ToysForTotsLiteracy

Early literacy is very important to me and has been for years. I took classes about it in college and made it a focus of my classroom when I taught Pre-Kindergarten. When I had the chance to organize a storytime to benefit the Toys For Tots Literacy Program I was really excited to participate and happy that another blogger, Paula of Frosted Fingers, could join me in planning a great event. We made a Facebook event for the storytime and invited all of our local friends who had young children. We also made flyers with our children. Since both my boys are young (1 and 2) I had my oldest color a white sheet of paper and then I added all of the information to it. I went to The UPS Store to copy it. One of the employees made the copies for me. I love the service at this store and even told the manager I’d be coming back next time I needed anything.

I used to think of The UPS Store as a place to ship packages and nothing more. I learned back at Christmas time that they had other services when I went in to ship a package to my sister. I used The UPS Store to make a bound book of art as a keepsake, too. This trip I noticed they made banners. I loved the one with a giraffe that was made into a growth chart. What a great idea! There was also a sign saying that the store could turn your picture into a canvas print. After that I was wondering if there was anything The UPS Store couldn’t do?

On Friday we had the storytime at The UPS Store. Melisa Wells, local author of the newly released book, Chicken In The Car and The Car Won’t Go, was our “celebrity” reader.  We found a little corner that was perfect for keeping attention spans. The cookies and juice helped, too! Melisa kept the children engaged through a number of short stories and the children really enjoyed listening to her read. After the storytime we collected money for the Toys For Tots Literacy Program. The children all dropped their money into a jar and then we put it all in the donation box on the counter. You can see those bills really filled it up!

Me, Melisa, and Paula

(Disclosure: This  project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #ToysForTotsLiteracy. All opinions are my own.)

Chicago Area Families- Event Today! (And Recap of #gmchiCARgo Event)

Today at 4pm in Naperville, IL we will be hosting a storytime to raise funds for the Toys For Tots Literacy program. Melisa Wells, author of Chicken In The Car And The Car Won’t Go: Nearly 200 Ways To Enjoy Chicagoland With Tweens And Teens, will be our celebrity reader. If you have young children and a heart for the cause you can find more information on the Facebook event page. Feel free to invite your friends, too!

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(Picture from ChickenInTheCar.com)

I had a chance to meet Melisa Wells at her book launch on Tuesday night during her #gmchiCARgo River “Cruze”. I had a great time meeting other Chicago area bloggers, tweeters, and brand representatives at the event while enjoying a boat ride. I loved that as a group we filled a Chevy Cruze with items for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwestern Indiana. You can read Melisa’s thoughts on the success of the event here.

My thoughts on the book:

I am the mom of two toddlers so I didn’t think that I would find much useful information in a book written for families of teens and tweens but I was happy to find that most of the information in the book worked for families with children of all ages. I love that the book includes information about places that are located in the suburbs. So many Chicago “travel” books forget that not everyone who calls themselves a Chicagoan lives within the city limits. Along with places to go for family fun, Melisa shares her tips for creating a personalized family summer camp which is a great alternative to costly, traditional summer camps.

(Disclosure: I was invited to the book launch by Melisa but all opinions are my own.)

Earth Day Energy Conservation Tips

In the spirit of Earth Day this Friday, Siemens – a leading provider of energy efficiency solutions for homes – has shared the following energy conservation tips and facts families can adopt to reduce their carbon footprint and have a greener, earth-friendly home. They are small changes that make a LARGE impact on utility bills. For example, we all know about turning off your light and shutting off the tap, but did you know….

Thermostat

·        Setting the thermostat to the highest setting will not make the house warm up faster; rather, it will just keep the furnace running longer.

·        During the summer, a 5°F higher setting on the air conditioning thermostat will save about 10% on cooling costs; in the winter, lowering the temperature 3 to 5°F can save up to 20% on heating costs (about $180/year!)

Appliances and Electronics

·        Appliances account for about 20% of household energy consumption (taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator).

·        Power strips let you easily turn off multiple products with just one button to push.

Refrigerator

·        After buying a new refrigerator or freezer, don’t put the old one in the garage or on the porch and keep using it. You only think you’re saving money.

·        A 10° increase in temperature around your fridge can trigger 20% higher energy consumption; the refrigerator should be kept at 37 and 40° and the freezer between 0 and 5° degrees.

Landscaping

·        Plant trees that lose leaves in the fall as they will protect your home from the summer sun and then allow winter sunlight and warmth to get inside.

·        For shade from the hot summer sun, plant trees on the south, east and west sides of the home and to stop cold winter winds, create a windbreak with evergreen trees and shrubs.

Cooking

·        If your food needs to cook for more than an hour, there’s no need to preheat your oven.

·        Use an electric burner that is the right size a 6” pot on 8” burner wastes 40% of the energy.

(Disclosure: This is a guest post with all information coming from the company. I was not compensated for this post.)

Earth Hour Is Tonight!

To learn more about Earth Hour visit the website.

For fun children’s Earth Hour activities visit Pocoyo’s website.

Will You Wear Purple Tomorrow In Memory Of My Mom?

Tomorrow, March 26th, is Purple Day. Purple Day was created in 2008 by a girl named Cassidy Megan to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. Purple Day has now turned into a national day to promote epilepsy awareness.

Epilepsy is a cause that is dear to my heart. I lost my {step}mom to Epilepsy in 2009, a week before I gave birth to my youngest child. My mom left behind four children and 2 grandchildren (my oldest son and my nephew).

It would mean so much to me if you could wear purple tomorrow in memory of my mom and everyone else that has lost their life to Epilepsy.

*If you and/or your children wear purple tomorrow can you please share it with me? (@aliciamarie112 or [email protected])*

I’d love to say thank you.

Give Clean Water

Today is World Water Day and I’m participating, with over 100 other bloggers, in the Keep It Clean campaign. Please take a minute to read more about this campaign and if you would like to donate money to this cause there is a link at the bottom of this post.

Our Goal

Our goal is to raise $10,000 USD in one day. We know that’s epic. And this campaign has never been done before. But if we succeed, we will help bring clean water to 300 additional people each month. That’s 3,600 people per year!

Problem

One third of all handpumps installed in the last twenty years in developing countries are now broken. And 4,000 children die every day because of lack of clean drinking water. We feel that’s unacceptable. So we’re thinking differently.

Solution

Instead of drilling more wells, we’re using our charitable gifts for something revolutionary – to train and employ handpump mechanics. The mechanics earn an income, bringing themselves out of poverty, and they save lives – turning water back on for thousands of people each year.

*CLICK HERE TO DONATE*

Celebrate National Nutrition Month With Dinosaur Train

March is National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s National Nutrition Month theme, “Eat right with Color,” encourages everyone to remember to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day.

With the month of March focusing on nutrition, it’s the perfect time to look at some great ideas and resources provided by The American Dietetic Association to eat a healthy diet! To help parents, the American Dietetic Association provides many resources available at their website. They even have a list of 25 healthy snacks for kids, including these five great ideas:

1. Peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze.
2. Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Top with raisins. Enjoy your “ants on a log.”
3. Stuff a whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
4. Mix together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag for an on-the-go snack.
5. Smear a scoop of frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add sliced banana to make a yummy
sandwich.

Next, Buddy from the hit TV series, Dinosaur Train, can help you and your child prepare a vegetarian (herbivore) picnic. The Have A Brachiosaurus Picnic activity helps young children to learn what foods fit into an herbivore’s diet (fruits and vegetables); reminds children about the importance of hand washing before eating; and also creates an opportunity to discuss why all animals need to eliminate waste from their bodies (a.k.a. “poop”).

The website also includes a list of ingredients needed to prepare a picnic filled with great food and fun with a menu including:

o Brachiosaurus Super Salad: The kids will have fun tearing up green leafy veggies into bite-size pieces and mixing ranch dressing with green coloring to make a tasty topping.
o Sauropod Sandwich: With a plastic knife, cut pieces of whole wheat bread in the shape of a favorite dinosaur and spread with cheese spread or peanut butter.
o Herbivore Herb and Spinach Spread: Mix frozen spinach, dried onion soup mix, sour cream, celery sticks and crackers
o Green Juice: Fill a child’s plastic cup with apple juice and add green food color to make a green beverage fit for an herbivore.

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Dinosaur Train® airs daily on PBS KIDS® (check local listings).

Information about the NEW Dinosaur Train DVD:

Get on board the Dinosaur Train with Buddy, a Tyrannosaurus R ex, and his adoptive family of Pteranodons as they embark on a roaring, exploring world tour adventure to discover a variety of dinosaurs inhabiting the globe as they journey to Asia, Europe and Africa.  From the world-renowned Jim Henson Company, PBS KIDS and Paramount Home Entertainment, the DINOSAUR TRAIN: PTERANODON FAMILY WORLD TOUR ADVENTURE DVD includes eight exciting edu-tainment adventures, interactive games, coloring pages, a dinosaur reference guide and parent information.

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(Disclosure: I received a copy of the new Dinosaur Train DVD but all opinions are my own.)

 

 

Helping Japan

By now I’m sure every one of you has seen the devastating news of Japan’s natural disaster. My heart goes out to all the people who have lost loved ones, homes, and possessions.

Click here to be taken to the NYTimes website to view before and after pictures of Japan

If you are thinking of donating I recommend World Vision and American Red Cross. Many organizations also accept donations via text message. If you text REDCROSS to 90999 you can easily give $10 to the cause.

If giving financially isn’t an option for you right now you can pray for the people of Japan (and also the other areas affected by the tsunami and earthquake).

What other ways have you heard about to help Japan? I’d love if you could share them in the comments below.

Help Conquer Kids’ Cancer With Spark Energy Chicago

Spark Energy Chicago to Raise Some Green for St. Baldrick’s!

It’s time to raise some “GREEN” for St. Baldrick’s!  For every “Like” Spark Energy Chicago gets on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter now through the end of March, the company will donate $1 to The St. Baldrick’s Foundation – to conquer kids’ cancer.

Make the Switch to Spark Energy and an Additional $25 Goes to St. Baldrick’s

Want to raise more money for St. Baldrick’s while saving 16% on your monthly electric bill? Make the switch to Spark Energy (www.sparkenergy.com) and enter the code BALDRICKS and they will donate an additional $25 (through March 31, 2011). Spread the word!

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(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post- just wanted to share how a quick Facebook “like” or Twitter “follow” could help a child with cancer.)

Today Would Have Been Her Birthday

Today my mom would have been turning another year older but instead, she is in Heaven.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, over 50,000 people die each year from Epilepsy.  My mom was part of that statistic in 2009.

I’m sharing information about the Epilepsy Foundation today in hopes that you will consider donating to this worthy cause. According to their website, their “mission is to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences and to work toward prevention, control and a cure for epilepsy through advocacy, education, research and support services.”

How you can help:

1) Donate to the Epilepsy Foundation in honor of a loved one or friend (if you’d like to donate in memory of my mom, her name was Jan)

2) If you live around Washington, D.C. you can register to walk in the 2011 National Walk For Epilepsy.

3) If you live in the Chicago area you can donate your used clothing to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. They have a drop-off site or you can schedule a pickup.

*If you donate or support The Epilepsy Foundation in any way, or have a loved one with Epilepsy, I’d love if you would share with me in the comments below.

Heart Of Haiti

One year ago today an earthquake hit Haiti and claimed the lives of over 220,000 people. Haiti is still rebuilding after this tragedy and you and I can help by purchasing something from Macy’s Heart Of Haiti Project.

The Heart of Haiti Project, according to the website, features crafts that “reflect a rich culture and history and the Haitians’ unwavering drive to rebuild their lives in the face of tremendous adversity”. The proceeds from the Heart of Haiti purchases “help provide better nutrition, improved education and healthcare”.

Here is one of the items in the shop, a papier-mache watermelon bowl that is signed by the artisan :

They also have a beautiful Heart of Haiti tray that I love!

I hope that if you are planning on making any purchases in the near future you will consider buying an item from the Heart of Haiti Project.

(Disclosure: I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.)

Pray For Logan Fundraiser Tonight

This is my friend Tracy and her family, husband Aaron, son Jack, and son Logan.

See this little boy below? He’s a fighter!

Logan was welcomed into the world on January 17, 2009. When he came to Tracy after delivery, he was a little blue. While in the nursery for a bath with the nurses,  he stopped breathing and they moved him to the NICU.  Quickly after, they found out that he had a heart condition called Tricuspid Artesia.  His medical journey began there.

His first year of life was spent taking care of his heart problems and fighting several colds.  To work on his heart condition, he had two major heart surgeries. It was there that they discovered he also had other congenital defects such as an extra digit on his thumb and an undersized outer ear.  He also has an inverted 17th chromosome, the effects of which we are unsure. Logan also has hearing loss and vision problems.  He has a paralyzed vocal chord from the result of his heart surgeries, so this has effected his swallowing and he has needed thickened liquids to drink for nourishment.

At the beginning of his second year of life, they went to the hospital for a routine MRI of his eye and discovered that Logan has a small pituitary gland, for which he now receives a daily shot of growth hormone to keep his blood sugar stable.  They also discovered Portal Vein Thrombosis, which has started a whole new series of complications.  The Portal Vein Thrombosis is caused by a blood clot in his portal vein.  This has caused varices (imagine varicose veins on your insides) to be enlarged due to high pressure in the network of veins.  He has had several bleeds from his varices and so they have started treatment with a scope and scorlosis.  This past August, he had another major surgery where the surgeon removed varices from his stomach and esophagus.  Due to his size, not all the varices were removed. In September he had another scope where varices in his upper esophagus were treated.    He also spent much of the winter of early 2010 in the hospital with respiratory infections.

More information about Logan can be found on his website, Pray For Logan.

This little boy has gone through so much so to help the family with their medical bills a fundraiser is being held.

ABOUT THE FUNDRAISER

Date: TODAY, Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Time: 5-8pm

Location: bd’s Mongolian Grill

619  E Boughton Rd #200

Bolingbrook, IL 60440

How it works: For every person who walks in the door and says “I’m here for Logan”, the restaurant will donate $3 to the family. There is no purchase necessary! For those that are eating, Tracy and Aaron and some of their friends will be grilling food that evening. All tips put into the tip jars will go to the family. We’ll also be holding a raffle- no attendance necessary. (Baskets can be viewed and raffle tickets purchased here)

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Baskets need to be picked up in the Bolingbrook, IL area. If you would  like to enter the raffle and don’t live in the Chicago land area I would be willing to pickup your basket if you win and pay the shipping costs myself. Please contact me at [email protected] for more information BEFORE you buy your raffle tickets.

World Kindness Day

Today, November 13th, is World Kindness Day. I am joining with Bloggers Unite to encourage others to do random acts of kindness throughout the day.

Here are 20 random acts of kindness I shared in April in this post:

1. Hold the door open for people coming behind you.

2. In the drive thru? Pay for the car behind you.

3. Leave a dollar in a library book where a child may find it.

4. Keep gift cards to a local grocery store in your car to hand out to homeless on the side of the street.

5. Send flowers to a friend with an anonymous encouraging note.

6. Leave some cookies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.

7. Drop off some food at a local food pantry.

8. Make a dinner for a new mom or a family going through a hard time.

9. If you are sitting somewhere and there are a lack of seats offer your seat to someone else who may need to sit.

10. Standing in line at the store and have a large order? Let the person behind you with only a couple of items go first.

11. Think of someone who you come into contact with on a regular basis that doesn’t get thanked for their hard work and write them a letter of appreciation and thanks.

12. Give a genuine compliment to someone- whether it’s their smile, their shoes, or the way they treat others.

13. Welcome new neighbors by visiting them and introducing yourself.

14. Be kind to those working in retail, wait staff, and anyone else that works in a customer service job.

15. Write a note to someone you love (spouse, parent, child) and leave it somewhere they will find it.

16. If someone drops something pick it up for them.

17. Shovel a neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk after it snows.

18. Volunteer to help with a cause you feel passionate about.

19. Give away clothes that don’t fit and items you don’t use to others who could use them.

20. Give someone your umbrella if it’s raining and they do not have one.

Here are 10 more:

21. Rake leaves for a neighbor.

22. Have your children make cards for someone going through a hard time.

23. Give a larger than normal tip to your waitress.

24. Complete a chore that your spouse normally is in charge of.

25. Visit someone in the hospital who doesn’t have many visitors.

26. Make a special breakfast for your family.

27. Send a text message to a friend or family member to let them know you are thinking of them.

28. See someone carrying a large load? Offer to help them.

29. Treat your best friend to a mani/pedi.

30. Get a group together to go caroling and visit some homes of elderly people who can’t drive.

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas

Last week over on Inexpensively.com I talked about how people could put together shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child without spending much money. You can read my post here.

A few of the items we bought for our shoebox

Since National Collection Week for shoebox gifts is coming soon I’d like to brainstorm ideas on what can be put in the box. Here is a list of items I can think of:

General:

*Flip flops *Hard candy *bouncy ball *comb *crayons *paper/coloring book *playing cards *travel sized game *book *toiletries *small stuffed animal *socks *unopened happy meal toy *play dough *small puzzle *chalk and a mini chalkboard *animal figurines *small musical instruments *finger puppets *pencil case *stickers *stamps and stamp pad

Boys:

*cars *dinosaurs *trains *paper plane kits *legos *trucks *baseball cap

Girls:

*lip gloss *small purse *doll *princess tiara *dress up shoes *Barbie *comb/brush set *stick on earrings *inexpensive jewelry *jacks *hair accessories

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What other items can you think of?

Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward

Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom

with your participation. Join now!

The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward is a charity blog meme, bloggers are able to raise $10 per blog post for Adopt-A-Classroom by writing a blog post or Facebook note and donating a virtual bag of school supplies . Elmer’s will donate $10 for each post written for Adopt-A-Classroom, up to $10,000.

HOW CAN YOU JOIN? It’s easy.

  • Participate in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward by giving away a virtual bag of school supplies and creating a blog post or Facebook note with specific rules described below.
  • Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom.
  • You can give as many virtual bags as you want.
  • The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward will officially begin at 12 AM EST on July 22, 2010 and end at 12 PM EST on August 12, 2010. Blog posts submitted to us before or after that time period will not be counted.
  • The blog post link has to be submitted in the comment section below for your participation to be counted.
  • In addition copy and paste the following text into your blog post:

ELMER’S VIRTUAL BAG IT FORWARD RULES

  • Copy and paste these rules into your blog post or Facebook note.
  • Create a post giving a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or write about your Back to School shopping trip at Walmart.
  • Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
  • Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
  • Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there.
  • Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by August 12, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post per blog url will count towards the donation.

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My virtual bags go to the three women I traveled to BlogHer10 with: Heather, Valerie, and Maria :)

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(Update 8/14/10: This campaign has been extended until SEPTEMBER 10, 2010)

Buzzed Driving IS Drunk Driving

With one of the biggest Holiday weekends upon us, it’s time to plan now for a safe and sober way home.

Many of us will be on the road this weekend traveling from family parties, viewing the fireworks, or barbecuing with our friends. Many adults will be drinking during the course of the Holiday weekend and there are a few things that you can do to protect your loved ones and other people’s loved ones who will be on the road this weekend:

  1. Designate a sober driver BEFORE you leave for your Fourth of July events.
  2. Be ready to take alternate transportation such as a bus or taxi.
  3. Have the phone number of a taxi service stored in your phone before you leave.
  4. Call 9-1-1 if you see an impaired driver on the road.

Even if you will not be drinking alcoholic beverages this Fourth of July, keep in mind that over the course of 2008, 1,179 people in other vehicles were killed in crashes involving drivers who had been drinking. Over the Fourth of July Holiday period alone (Thursday, July 3rd at 6pm to Monday, July 7th at 6am) there were a total of 491 traffic fatalities.

I am sure that all of those people that got into their cars after drinking did not plan to kill anyone. I’m sure many of them said, “I am just a little buzzed. I’m not drunk.” Sadly, even though some of them didn’t plan on over-indulging, a buzzed driving crash looks the same as a drunk driving crash.

Remember: BUZZED DRIVING IS DRUNK DRIVING!

(Disclosure: I am participating in a campaign to get the word out that Buzzed Driving IS Drunk Driving and may be compensated for this post. Like always, all opinions are my own. I truly feel that this campaign being run by the Ad Council is an important one!)


New On Inexpensively…..

Inexpensively Network Contributor

ME!!!

I am excited to announce that I have recently joined the Inexpensively team as a weekly contributor. I will be sharing about charities and how others can give “inexpensively”.

Feel free to stop by and say “hi” to the other site contributors: