Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide Day 12 Charity by Crista Taylor

As the Holiday Gift Guide has finally come to an end, there seems to be room for just one more. My favorite thing about the Holidays is the fact that we finally slow down( a bit)and try to think of others besides ourselves. Yes, there is the spirit of giving and I can't tell you how impressed and inspired I was by all the amazing gift guides. But there is another type of giving, and that is for those that are in desperate need of help. Now...One thing I absolutely despise is when people make you feel bad because you haven't given time or money to a particular cause. I, my friends, am not going to do that...All I am going to do is offer some ways (only if you want) to give back.

In my opinion..there was only person that I thought would be perfect for this guide...Not only is she absolutely gorgeous but she has a soul and a personality to match. She makes me laugh till I snort, loves the Monster like her own, and is there for anybody in need. She is one who will show up at your house with chicken soup,a magazine and some crazy herbal concoction when you're sick in bed. She has been at our local elementary school every day this week helping with the kids, all the while forgoing her Christmas shopping. I am truly blessed to have her in my life..She is crazy, fun, giving, loving, thoughtful,and feisty.
She is one of the few people that we can agree to disagree and remain friends in the process.

Who is this fab woman you say..well it's none other than Miss Crista Taylor!
She certainly knows about giving and charity as she has worked for the Make a Wish Foundation. But just because you work for one doesn't necessarily mean you are a charitable person...She is definitely someone who on a daily basis does something good for someone else. Some things are small and some things are big but isn't it about the day to day?

So..without further dear friend..Miss Crista Taylor..

I think there's a part of every person that wishes they could do something more to help make the world a better place.  There's such a deep sense of accomplishment and self worth that comes with knowing that you helped someone or something in need.  Unfortunately you sometimes feel that there's so little to give that you might as well not bother at all.  Before you click to the next blog in order to avoid the impending guilt post, hear me out.  I have a good solution.

Believe me when I say that  I am well aware that this is a hard time for people to find the extra money to give to charities but what about the gift of time?  Nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to raise funds for their causes and their hearts are dedicated 200%. They rely on the help of volunteers and financial or in-kind donors to help carry out their mission.  You'd be amazed at the number of hats these offices need to wear to get the job done each day and something as simple as 2 hours of envelope stuffing can make all the difference.  "I am already overbooked!"  "I don't have an extra penny to my name, especially at Christmas!"  Look, I say it, too.

Then there's also THIS problem...
What in the world do you get for the person who has absolutely everything?  How about the person whose taste you just can't seem to figure out?  What about the yearly struggle of finding that last minute gift that doesn't have the generic feel of getting pulled from your re-gifting closet AND shows that you really care?  As much as I love to receive sparkles in pretty packages with ribbons and bows, to really blow me away all you need to do is give to a charity that is close to my heart.  If you think a small donation here and a small donation there won't make a difference, think again.  Every little drop in that bucket counts!  What if you were to take that $25 or $50 that would've been spent on a gift and instead give the money in honor of that person to a charity that has somehow touched their lives?  Put a handmade card in my stocking letting me know that a donation has been made in honor of moi... (or in memory or tribute of a loved one of mine) and  I will instantly become a puddle of sweetness.  For those of you who don't know me, that isn't my usual mood. 

There are millions of worthy causes out there in need of support.  So how do you choose?  
I've been the recipient and giver of two different scenarios... some people give based on their passions with hopes of raising awareness and creating a wave of aid and others give based on the recipient's life experiences and passions.  I love, love, love children and animals and can think of oodles of ways to help, but if a loved one has a passion to help a different voice to be heard there always seems to be a non-profit angel out there that can help.  In my eyes, both ways of approaching this type of gift are pretty darn great.

Since I've mentioned my loves, I'll give you a few examples of ways that I can give... and help.

When it comes to children I can truly think of no better organization than the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Most states have their own chapters and some are grouped into regions, but if you don't have a specific area to support, the National Chapter is a great way to go.  The Foundation grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses from the age of 2.5 to 18 years old.  I had the immense pleasure of working for this foundation in my previous life (before mommyhood) and saw firsthand the joy and hope that it brings.  You can donate online (google your state and 'Make-A-Wish' for the local page or click the link above to locate a chapter) and have instant notification to your recipient sent via email or by printable card.  If you do have the time to volunteer, there is nothing cooler than becoming a wish granting volunteer.

As far as our four legged friends go, the first local charity that came to mind is  The CT Animal House.

The super-fabulous Chris Lamb started this amazing organization where she provides various services for mostly dogs living in CT pounds and shelters, some deemed "un-adoptable."  Whether it's grooming, de-worming, improving its nutritional state, or all three services and more, she focuses on giving them the best chance for adoption.  Imagine a gorgeous, rescued Mastiff whose been used as a breeder for "fighter" puppies and then turned out onto the streets once her job was done.  Although giving her to your dog-lover hairdresser may not be appropriate, consider making a donation in his/her honor so that she may eventually find the loving home she deserves!

Once these pups are no longer skin and bones, had a few "good citizen" classes and are ready to join a new family, in steps Go Dog Days.  These wonderful people host adoption events in cities and towns throughout the state to assist the local rescues and shelters in finding forever homes for many dogs at risk of euthanasia.  For example, one of their past events in Guilford, CT placed 160 dogs with loving homes.  Why give?  These events are free of charge to the shelters and rescues and all events are paid for through the efforts of fundraising.

 For our feline friends, check out Borough Cat Tales.  Miss Lucinda Wesson is the proud new owner of a Borough kitty, a great success story.  This organization is as generous and helpful as can be.  Not sure about having a kitty for the next 15 years?  Become a foster parent!

a few other notable organizations worth checking out...

Want to check out more?

Whatever charity you choose, it's the perfect choice.  For more suggestions, ask your local library, school or hospital and ask your friends!  Ask Oprah or google!  Everyone knows of a place where help is needed.  Skip the fruitcake for your neighbor or the coffee mug for the teacher and let them feel the satisfaction of knowing that for their gift this year, they helped someone, something out there in our big, beautiful world.  

Merry Christmas  xo

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