Every year I try to write a short list of recommended gift ideas for the holiday season. This year, I am including an eclectic list of suggestions – some that you will find on my Amazon list of holiday ideas and others that are “non- traditional”. I hope they pique your interest! Enjoy!
I wrote this past week about tablift®. Reminder: I am offering a GIVEAWAY CONTEST associated with this product until Dec. 2, 2019. . Simply go here to learn more about this accessory for your tablets and how to enter the giveaway. A super gift idea for most ages.
I love our BLINK and if you are into home devices that are “smart” and convenient check out the BLINK XT2 and ECHO DOT combo pack. On sale CYBER MONDAY on AMAZON. Also, available as individual purchases.
Non-Traditional Gift Ideas
Here is my list of non-traditional gift ideas for this year. If you have any others to add – please do so in the comment section below.
2. Adopt a Senior – An organization to help senior centers or individuals who do not have much family support. If this organization does not resonate with you, please consider donating to your local senior facility. One way is to help is to provide games for their group activities. Balls, giant BINGO games, decks of cards with large print and activity boards are all used in facilities that help our seniors, especially those with cognitive / memory issues. Here are some ideas if you wish to explore.
3. Donate to the arts. Every year there are local theaters, dance companies, museums, and more that are seeking funds in order to provide quality entertainment and activities for our communities. They need our help. Please consider donating locally or globally to keep the arts alive.
4. SHOP LOCAL. Buy goods or gift certificates to local restaurants, book stores, even service shops like cleaners, nail salons, grocery stores and hair stylists! Support our communities as well as your “friends” online.
5. #NoHungryKid.org – NO child should have a day where they feel hunger. Please support this organization (and if you give on #GivingTuesday contributions will be matched!)
Last week I was asked to help start aGoFundMe page for a person I have never met. She is a physical education teacher who through a series of life events now has debilitating back pain due to a spinal disc that has partially broken off. Surgery is needed to alleviate the pain and start the healing, but due to red tape, her insurance company is denying or limiting much of the coverage she will need to pay for the “must have” medical procedures and after care.
I don’t want to make this article about insurance issues in our country, but rather how a community has come together in less than five days to donate a serious “chunk of change” to get Ms. Monica Wood back on her feet again. They have given her not only financial help but the gift of their love and community spirit.
Side note: I know the agony of back pain and my experiences have been nothing compared to what Monica is having to endure. Read related blog.
Monica Wood and I have communicated via good old fashioned texts and what I have learned is this is a vivacious woman who is beloved by the students, staff and parents at Grand View Elementary School in Manhattan Beach, California. She exudes all the traits one needs for a speedy recovery as she is hopeful and keeping a positive outlook. She also believes in not wasting a moment or wallowing on her situation as she recently asked a group of friends about how to get connected with area organizations who knit blankets for families with new babies. Geez – that is one incredible woman!
Monica’s unique story is best told by the many comments and photos that have been left on the walls of the GoFundMe campaign. I am simply inspired by each and every one. These days we are all so busy and focused on our own lives – but, the outpouring of love and generosity to help this educator simply is a testimony to the willingness of community members to stop everything in order to help. Not only are they demonstrating their support with their wallets, but also with their hearts and social sharing to others. Those who are in social media call the act of social sharing: #SocialGood!
From the GoFundMe “Giving BACK to Monica Wood” campaign:
Monica, You are the best! Always positive, encouraging, and energetic. We are so sorry you are having such pain. We wish you a speedy recovery. Love, Kate, JT, Edie and David <B>
Ms. Wood- you were the first person to really see Brendan and to help him have happy time in school. You gave him a safe place and a teacher’s love. I’m so sorry you are going through this. You deserve the best of everything. ~ <B.P/>
We got your back, Monica!!!!! ~ Kari
Monica Wood has responded to all the amazing folks in her GoFundMe “sphere” with these words
Lastly, I conclude this note to all with a video from the GoFundMe page and also my thanks to all for reading this very special story.
About four times a year I receive an invitation to partake at a Celebrity ConnectedGifting Suite. This company, owned by Gene Sheynis , packs beautiful venues with vendors all waiting to meet and greet celebrities and have an opportunity to discuss with them the wonders of their product or service.
After nearly five years of attending these gifting suites I have become friendly with many of the Celebrity Connected staff and really admire their keen eye for picking out brands. Recently, they have increased the number of companies “with a purpose” – meaning those who have a desire to “give back” with a cause. I love meeting folks who truly care about making a difference!
This time it was my friend and associate – Photographer Joy Daunis, who spotted Gems for Gems first at the Oscar gift suite. Apparently, her initial encounter with them left such a huge impression that she came “flying” over to me and said that I shouldn’t delay meeting them. I am glad I listened to Joy, as she was right- they were amazing, inspirational and “sparkly” people!
Jordan Guildford is the founder of Gems for Gems. She and I had an opportunity to meet during the gift suite and subsequently spoke on the phone. She is simply the rock to this organization and someone who I think will keep Gems for Gems going for a long time!
I asked Jordan to answer some questions for me to share more about her Canadian based charity looking to have outreach in the United States. I also have copied below their powerful mission statement from their website. Please take a few moments to learn more about Gems for Gems – the Calgary Canadian group with a huge HEART!
From the Gems for Gems website:
Gems for Gems is a Calgary based Charity whose mission is to ‘Empower Women to Empower Themselves’. Through the collaborative efforts of corporations and community, this heart centered organization works with shelters to change the lives and futures of women who have experienced abuse. It is our belief that within each woman exists a hero, ready to save the day. We teach, inspire and motivate, through our three initiatives, to bring out that hero in each woman we work with….
(Question 1: Louise Sattler: LS) We met at the Celebrity Connected Oscar Gift Suite (CCOGS). Did you find any of the celebrities sharing their experiences with domestic violence (either as a victim or as a child of a victim) with you?
(Answer 1: Jordan G (JG): Yes! Our whole team was blown away by how willing so many were to share their personal stories… Many cried with us as intimate moments were shared. It was incredibly moving.
(Question 2 : LMS): What are some of the reasons you wanted to attend CCOGS? Did you accomplish those roles.
(Answer 2 : JG):We were invited to attend this past summer and our goal right from then was to (hopefully) get pictures with as many celebs that were willing and had our fingers crossed for some videos supporting the Gems for Gems cause….
What we actually received blew us away! We were never denied a picture, we have countless videos, and over 25 celebrities have given us their personal information to be able to work with us moving forward. it was just incredible and we are very much on a high!
(Question 3: LS): I know that you are asking for donation of jewelry? Why? And what is it used for?
(Answer 3: JG): Gems for Gems began with a Christmas Jewelry Drive in which women donate their ‘like-new’ jewelry to our charity. Our team cleans it and gives packages of them to the women who have survived domestic abuse, and are living in the shelters, on Christmas morning!
Gifts donated with high value are appraised and will be auctioned in support of our Gems for Gems Scholarship Program being launched this year! All donations are very much appreciated and we would love as much support as we can get!
(Question 4: LS) How long has Gems for Gems been around?
(Answer 4 JG): Gems for Gems began Christmas 2015!
(Question 5: LS): . Biggest accomplishment so far?
(Answer 5: JG) Without a doubt, the contacts we gained from attending the Celebrity Connected Luxury Gifting Suite. I am still blown away.
(Question 6 LS): Your plans for the next year? Next 3-5 years?
(Answer 6: JG). GROWTH! Our greatest desire is to positively affect the horrendous statistics on domestic abuse. We are definitely wanting to expand to the U.S.A. and will do so once our program is strong and producing the desired results in Canada. We have a very proactive approach to this staggering issue and want to create lasting change for each woman in our Scholarship Program as we assist in ending the cycle of abuse.
For our team, the most important mission is to show each woman she can be her own hero. This situation can be turned around for herself and her children. We believe education is the key to empowering each woman and, through the ability to stand on her own feet financially and emotionally, the dependency on her abuser will be severed.
(Question 7 LS): Do you have any resources for people who need your services but are Deaf or have family members with Disabilities or disorders such as Autism?
(Answer 7: JG): Thankfully the shelters are a safe place for all coming from an abusive situation. Through our Scholarship Program all applicants with the desire to turn their situation around will have an equal opportunity to be awarded a scholarship. The schools we are partnering with will echo our belief that we are all equals no matter what disabilities or disorders we have. We all have our hurdles to overcome. Some have more, some less, some can be seen and others are internal. Gems for Gems seeks to create change this area for all.
(Final Question/ LS): How can my audience in the United States help?
( Final Answer / JG). We would absolutely love to have jewelry donations sent in of any value! Items of higher vale can be sent in with a note explaining the purpose of the donation is to support the Gems for Gems Scholarship Program as mentioned above. (mailing address below)
We are also happy to take donations of any amount toward the scholarships! We are also open to naming one after a business or individual if the entire costs are covered.
Support can also be as simple as spreading the word! Talk about Gems for Gems and think about those who may wish to get further involved! We are ALWAYS open to collaborative ideas!
Gems For Gems
PO Box Seton PO
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Please go get “gently used” gems and send them in to help their cause. The address provided above!
Recently, I asked some of my friends and colleagues to generate a list of their favorite local charities. I particularly wanted organizations that were lesser known and perhaps overshadowed by the larger non-profits that get much more press and recognition. Please take a moment to read the list and consider opening your hearts and wallets to one or more of these charitable organizations. Thank you.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to these very worthy causes:
The first organizations listed provide services to those who are homeless or are in need of safe harbor.
The mission of the Eddy House is to promote self- sufficiency and empowerment to homeless youth in the Reno, Nevada area. At risk youth can find safety, attention to their basic needs and community supportive services. Focused on helping those who are homeless, run away and a history of foster care, this facility is amazing and worth our help.
All volunteer and donation driven – they provide a ‘home’ for kids coming out of the system that get dropped in the cracks. Thank you Joy Daunis for sharing with us this organization dedicated to helping youth who are so very vulnerable.
From their website:
A SENSE OF HOME (ASOH) began very organically. From a random act of kindness into a community movement. A young man who had just aged out of the foster-care system asked me for help with his first-ever permanent living space. In responding to his request and in turning his barren, doleful space into a functioning home, I came to understand that he had never felt at home – anywhere – in his entire life. And that that very fundamental feeling I know so well – the feeling of home that had anchored and guided me – was something he was bereft of. This caused him to feel adrift in the world; without a sense of home, we do not have a sense of belonging in the world; without it, we do not have a foundation from which we can build a future that reflects our hopes and dreams.
Melissa Tilman, introduced me to the Downtown Women’s Rescue of Los Angeles. She had helped with outreach for another favorite organization of mine the AVIVA CENTER. The DWC is dedicated to helping women who have severe financial struggles and/or are homeless. Their program provides wrap around services to help women feel safe, valued, supported and educated. (Thanks to Rebecca and DL for this recommendation, too.)
Rich Cruse has an annual birthday request – to help him provide blankets for the homeless. I gave and I hope you do, too.
My friend, Heather Miller offered the Christian Legal Aid of Los Angelesat their monthly clinics and they are always looking for more attorney volunteers and clients. Clients qualify based on income, no requirement they be Christian.
Let’s not forget the animals, too
The Peter Zippi Memorial Fund is a local South Bay organization that cares for cats in all manner – take in strays, spay/neuter, adoption, amazing care. My friend, Lynette Vandeveer from BCBC , who is a huge cat lover recommends this tribute organization and so do I! They also have a great group on Facebook.
Do you really need another _________?
“There are things you want and things you need.” I heard that phrase a lot growing up. But, being born in to a family of “shoppers”, I often bought things I wanted – over and over again. Now I am more “mature” and I see my world through a different lens. I now recognize that the best gift is not for me to receive…. but to give.
Comments are open for other referrals for charitable organizations that you support. And, given changes in tax laws – there are even more reasons to give before the calendar checks to 2018.
2017 has seen more than its’ share of tragedy. Mother Nature was angry this year – very, very, very angry. Our world experienced multiple devastating earthquakes, hurricanes that tore apart whole islands and deadly fires that also ravaged homes and businesses. Then there was the broken hearts caused by recent acts of violence and rage – Las Vegas, Barcelona, London, throughout Africa and the mid-east and of course, New York City.
Despite the tragedy and profound sense of losses, we can still hope and seek a silver lining this holiday season by giving from the heart to heal hearts.
I have compiled a list of organizations or companies that want to help the greater good by doing good. Please consider their efforts when you are gifting others’ during the holidays or just “any day”.
This year the grape crops of Northern California were nearly obliterated due to numerous fires of unprecedented magnitude. One Hope has pledged to help the farmers and wineries and sent a note from their CEO with their vow for assistance.
The statistics are staggering as to how many animals are destroyed annually. That is a polite way to say killed. That’s right – thousands upon thousands of dogs, cats, bunnies, etc. are euthanized because of bad luck. They were throw-aways. BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL RESCUE works tirelessly to save animal lives and educate humans.
Sponsoring a pet is the perfect gift to give someone who is allergic or unable to care for a furry family member due to living circumstances. Last year I adopted a dog and horse to gift someone!
Sponsor a Classroom!
Organizations are abundant to help teachers get the essentials (and occasional perks) funded for their classroom. Don’t believe that school districts in 2017 are flush with money to help our student’s learn. Many have shoes-string budgets and can hardly cover the basics, like textbooks or science equipment. I would love to think that we don’t need a bake sale each time our students need uniforms or basic science equipment. But, that is the reality.
Here are some alternate ways to help without having to crack an egg for cookie-dough.
Click on the links below to learn more about each organization.
Last but not least, one of my favorite charities is the SANDY HOOK PROMISE foundation. They do AMAZING work – year ’round. Their goal – to stop senseless violence, especially from guns, and increase tolerance and compassion in this world.
Their store has items that would make groovy gifts!Shop here