Recently in Giving Category

Punjammies: a plug and a give away!


Image via

Y'all, I am really, really trying to get back to regular blogging, but life is just so in the way. That said, nothing energizes me about blogging like a giveaway, so let's get one of those going!

Ages ago, my friend Suebob told me about the International Princess Project and Punjammies, via her blog, Suebob's Awesome Brain. I wanted to get a set of my own, and support the great cause, but for whatever reason I didn't. Probably money. Anyway, recently, in a discussion about making ethical choices when buying clothing, another friend mentioned Punjammies, so I looked up the International Princess Project again. And this time, I pulled the trigger and ordered two sets of Punjammies for myself. I am so, so glad I did.

The International Princess Project's vision is to "restore hope and dignity to women formerly enslaved in prostitution." This is their mission:

Establish self-sustaining enterprises in partnership with indigenous organizations that provide for physical, emotional and spiritual needs of women formerly enslaved in prostitution; AND advocate for women enslaved in prostitution around the world.

One of those self-sustaining enterprises is Punjammies:

The PUNJAMMIES™ Initiative is self-sustaining enterprise which greatly enhances the quality of after-care provided by partner organizations and increases their capacity to serve these women. It leverages PUNJAMMIES™, a premium brand of pajamas, in the United States, to create demand for products made by women in after-care. Not only do the proceeds from PUNJAMMIES™ provide wages for the women who make them, they also provide for living expenses and after-care costs. In addition, creating the beautiful PUNJAMMIES™ by hand helps build their self-esteem and dignity by demonstrating they can create something that has value around the world. The vocational training provided at the International Princess™ Project sewing centers becomes a part of their emotional healing in addition to a way to make a living and provide for their children. 

And, as you can see in the photo, they are beautiful. After a ton of deliberation, I ordered the Leela Capri bottoms with the gray Freedom tee for one set, the Nanu capri bottoms with the black Rajaswari racerback tank for the other, and I love both sets. They are well-made, don't look like anything in stores, and I feel great about supporting the women who made them. I plan to wear them all summer.

One caveat re: sizing: I am a pretty typical, if tall and maybe slightly wide-hipped and small-waisted, size 16 at this point, and I ordered everything in an extra large. If I had it to do again, I'd probably go with the XXL. Everything fits, but things aren't quite as oversized as I'd like pajamas to be, and I am worried about shrinkage. This is a particular issue with the tank--if you have large breasts, it's probably not for you. And XXL is the largest size they sell, with decreased availability, so, unfortunately, the more plus-sized among us are a little bit left out of the Punjammies fun.

Given how stoked I am about my Punjammies, and about supporting the project, these seem like a great thing to re-start the giveaway train here at WINOW! I'm giving away one set of Punjammies--any top (tee or tank), any bottom (pants, capris, or shorts). To enter, use that handle Rafflecopter widget you see! And by all means, consider buying some Punjammies for yourself or for a gift!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I like saying punjammies

Those are really beautiful - I hadn't heard of them before.

I'd choose the Madhavi full or the Mari capri, because I'd opt for the XXL, and colors are limited. Otherwise, it'd totally be the Mari capri with the border.

Ooh! I love the Kalawathi capris and the Aamani full!

Gorgeous! I'd get the Aamani capri (XL), and the Rajasweri racerback tank in coral (XXL, for the girls). :)

Definitely the capris with a border, can't decide on a color, though! Love it all.

I have to look more and decide, but I'm a total sucker for sleepwear, so I'm definitely entering.

I'd pick a pair of the capris, probably the Aamani or the Havila!

These look cool. I'd never heard of them before.

How pretty! I love the Aamani pants!

Definitely capris and a tank but they are all so lovely I can't choose.

Leave a comment

Mother's Day Gifts for Your Cool Mom


So it's about to be my first Mother's Day on the "being honored" side of the fence, and I'm pretty stoked. As I do when I'm stoked about a gift giving or getting occasion, I've been poking around to see what types of gifts folks recommend, what the Top 10 lists are, all of that. And honestly? Most of them don't do it for me. They just don't speak to a young, cool mom like myself (and please read that sentence with the heaping helping of sarcasm with which it was intended). So, I thought I'd make up a little suggestion sheet of my own. Here's what I think you should get your cool mom for Mother's Day. Suggestions range from $13-$138 and are available both online and in your local big box store. Flowers and chocolate are also acceptable. ;)

Mother's Day Gifts for Your Cool Mom

Mother's Day Gifts for Your Cool Mom

What you see here:
-Mother & Child Pendant Necklace, $54-$78, Uncommon Goods
-Vera for Target Sea Flowers Oblong Scarf, $20, Target
-Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler Katie Small Canister, $20, JCPenney
-Joe Fresh Print Smocked Waist 100% Silk Dress, $69, JCPenney
-Brushed Steel Silver Trumpet Based Floor Lamp, $80, Target
-Doctor Who Tardis iPhone Case, $16, Squiggle Case
-Square Plum Tote, $138, Angela & Roi
-Thermos Raya Compact Bottle in Henna, $15, Amazon
-The Pop Object: The Still Life Tradition in Pop Art, $46, Amazon
-Kid Made Modern Charley Harper Paint by Number Kit, $13, Target
-Threshold Outdoor Rectangular Poof Footstool in Red Ikat, $40, Target
-Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, $33,

What about you? Moms out there, what would you love to get for Mother's Day? Kids, are you sending anything special to your Mom?

Leave a comment

Happy Mail updates


As busy as things have been recently, I'm happy to report that I've been able to sneak out a couple of Happy Mail deliveries, both to the kids of friends.

My friend E. has almost-two year old twins who are obsessed currently with dustpans. They can scoop AND be used as guitars! So, when I saw plastic dustpans with bear and frog faces on them in the dollar bins at Target (I think, but it may have been at Dollar Tree...), of course I grabbed two and slapped stamps and labels on them. Only one of them made in intact, the other broke in transit, but I'm told the twins were thrilled with their mail and are happy to share.


More recently, another trip to the $1 Spot at Target (one of my favorite places!) netted me some super cool Crayola coloring rolls and washable mini markers:


A quick snip of the plastic on each end of the tube and I could hide the markers inside, then tape it back up and slap on some labels! A set each went out to the two young sons of another friend. They haven't arrived yet, but I remain hopeful they'll get there intact!



Sent any surprise mail lately, Happy or otherwise? I still have a ton of ideas for these little bombs of joy, so I am hopeful I can keep it up!


I am doing a happy mail project. I am sending anonymous postcards to people in my town who have beautiful yards, saying thank you for making our area so beautiful. It's like a treasure hunt now when I drive around, looking for nice yards and scribbling down addresses.

Oh oh oh, I hope I remembered to say thanks for the Happy Egg Mail! I love getting happy surprises in the mail, of any variety. Even a postcard is enough to make my day, and I should make more of an effort to send some joy out into the world via the USPS. Thanks for the reminder!

Leave a comment

Happy Mail Week 3: The Pre-Made Option


The Happy Mail I intended for this week fell through, due to my own creative incompetence, so I found myself at the end of the week and not having sent anything. I decided that rather than skip a week so early in this project, I'd go with one of my easy peasy back-up options. Something that could just be labeled and mailed.

I bought these two Klutz Build-a-Book kits at the thrift store a month or two back. I just thought they were the cutest little kits, and I could see a kid in the 5-7 year old range having a grand old time with them. Sure, I think something I put together myself out of my own supplies might be cooler, but like I said, this week was a back-up plan kind of week.

All I did was label them using some alphabet stickers I found in the $1 section of Target and some labels I got on clearance at Michael's, add postage at the meter, and pop them in the mail to a pair of not-quite-six-year-old twins I know.

Cheap ($.99 each for the kits, $2.07 for the postage on each) and simple, but I think these will bring a smile, and that's the point! I'll be back next week with something a bit more creative.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a comment

Happy Mail Week 2: Small Gifts for Small Folks


As promised, a second installment of my attempts to spread love via mail! Last week, I sent out three dog toys to some of my favorite folks' favorite dogs. And they arrived! 

Henry liked his happy mail!

Neko and Roger also approved!

This week, I put the canines aside (for now!) and send treats to a couple of my favorite kids. And then another of my favorite kids! For not-quite 2 year-old twins, I decided on a small double-sided white board (Target $1 section) and a set of (washable, because I really do love these kids' parents) dry erase markers (also from Target). I packaged it up with a polka dot label (also from Target) and some rainbow duck tape (thrifted).

All ready to go:

For a slightly older cousin of mine, I found this really cool Alex bouncy ball making kit at the thrift store, so I decided to stick a label and some stamps on that. Cool chevron duck tape is from the $1 bin at Target.

I have more ideas for kids coming up, but I think I'll switch to an adult friend or two next week. I'll keep you updated! In the meantime, have any of you put anything happy-making in the mail recently? Tell me about it in the comments!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a comment

Spreading the love in the mail

| 1 Comment
I've been thinking a lot lately about putting positivity and gratitude and love out into the world. It can sometimes sound really cliche and sentimental to talk about, but I think it's important to try to leave the world better than you found it, to do what you can to spread joy. There are lots and lots of ways to do that, of course, and all of them are better than doing nothing. For me, though, one of the ideas that resonates most, which won't surprise anybody who has read here for long, is to spread joy through the mail.

A few years back, Karen Walrond hosted a photo drive wherein she had her readers send in copies of happy and beautiful photographs they'd taken, which were then distributed to the kids at Texas Children's Hospital. In her explanation of what inspired the project, she posts about sticking a picture of a sunflower an envelope and mailing it off to a friend in need of cheering. It's such a simple thing to do, sticking something in an envelope, stamp, address, and viola, a tangible piece of your love arrives at the doorstep of someone far away. And yet, we do it very rarely. Instead, we write two lines on Facebook. We send an email. We do nothing at all.

Karen's photo project was brought back to my mind by a blog I ran across more recently, Giver's Log. In specific, I've been pouring over the Happy Mail archives. For her Happy Mail, AmberLee sends joyful objects, weighing 13 oz or less in order to make best use of first class shipping rates, through the mail to family and friends. The kicker? She sends them unwrapped, or wrapped as little as possible, so that the surprise of getting mail that isn't junk or bills is compounded by the surprise of receiving something without a layer of cardboard and paper between it and you. Examples have included such simple, happy things as a bottle of sprinkles, a giant car wash sponge, a rubber ball, and a pair of flip flops.

I am absolutely in love with AmberLee's idea, not just for its whimsy, but because it is so very doable. None of it is expensive, none of it takes a lot of time. All that is required is a roll of stamps and a little bit of imagination. The mailed objected themselves can be thrifted, found at the dollar store, or even found around your house. And the possibilities are endless. Anything that makes you happy, isn't too fragile, and weighs under 13 oz is fair game!

So, I'm in. I'm shamelessly ripping AmberLee off and starting my own Happy Mail project. I've spent the last week or so looking around for possible stuff to send, and I have quite a number of things in mind. To start, though, I decided to send a little joy to some of the dogs who share their lives with the people I love.

I was inspired, as I so often am, by the Target clearance section, where I found these:

These guys are among my favorite dog toys. My dog won't actually lower himself to playing with toys, but if he did, I'd make him play with these crazy grinning weiner dogs just because I like them (here are some on Amazon, BTW, or check your local Target--mine has them for 50% off). And you can't tell me you wouldn't smile to find one of these in your mailbox, right? So I made some kraft paper and Avery label labels, embellished with some off-brand washi tape, and they're ready to go!
My first Happy Mail! I'm so excited to get these out. I feel fairly confident they'll arrive more or less intact--they don't break any USPS rules I can find, and they're clearly labeled and have sufficient stamps ($2.07 each, by the way). Hopefully, in a week or so when they hit their desintations, both human and canine friends will smile!

My hope is to send out at least one piece of Happy Mail a week for the forseeable future. It's just a little project to keep me entertained and engaged, and to spread some love. I'll try to keep posting about them, if y'all are interested, and let you know how it's going. And I encourage trying this out yourself--I couldn't stop smiling as I was labeling these guys, imagining their recipients. That's good for the soul.


I LOVE this project. Please, please, please keep us updated!

Leave a comment

Happy Birthday, Suebob! (with a contest!)


Today is my friend Suebob's 50th birthday! Suebob is an amazing lady. I'm not just saying that--I can prove it. In celebration of her birthday, she's spent the last 50 (well, 49) days highlighting great charities. These are all places she'd rather your money go than to buy her a birthday present. Pretty exceptional, no? In the spirit of her birthday, I thought I'd share her recommendations with all of you. If you're so inclined, throw some money to one of these great organizations in honor of Suebob today!

(Psst--read all the way to the end, there's a contest!)

International Princess Project
International Princess Project advocates for women enslaved in prostitution, helping them restore their lives and empowering them to live free.

National Parks Foundation
Official charity of America's national parks.

Paradigm Project
Leveraging carbon offsets on behalf of the poor.

ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures

Lupus Foundation of America
The foremost national nonprofit health organization dedicated to finding the causes of
and cure for lupus and providing support, services and hope to all people affected by lupus.

Scholarship America
Scholarship America mobilizes support for students getting into and graduating from college.

Media Matters for America
Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Boys and Girls Club
Boys & Girls Clubs are a safe place to learn and grow - all while having fun. It is the place where great futures are started each and every day.

Your Local Food Bank

Girls for a Change
Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. We invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Operation Smile
At Operation Smile, our medical volunteers provide safe, effective and free cleft lip and cleft palate repair surgery for children born all over the world.

Wheels for Humanity
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in North Hollywood, California. We refurbish donated wheelchairs and hand fit them to children and adults with disabilities in developing nations.

National Security Archive
An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Books for Africa
Books For Africa. A simple name for an organization with a simple mission. We collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to children in Africa. Our goal: to end the book famine in Africa.

Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.

MAP International
MAP is partnering with Ethicon, a world leader in surgical technology, to provide sutures to physicians who volunteer their time to overseas medical missions.

The Fresh Air Fund
Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend Fresh Air Fund camps.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense.

ARGHAND, the only all-natural, sustainable skincare line from Afghanistan, was founded by Sarah Chayes, a former correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) who covered the fall of the Taliban, then stayed behind to help rebuild the war-torn country.

Impact Personal Safety
The mission of IMPACT Personal Safety is to end the cycle of violence in society by empowering women, children, and men with the self-esteem and the tools necessary to take control of their lives through self-defense, boundary setting and the understanding that your life is worth fighting for.

Kristin Brooks Hope Center
The National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE

Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit set up to provide immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

Light Up the World Foundation
Community development through the design and implementation of renewable energy systems

Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate.

Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in nearly 70 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

Heifer International
Heifer's mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

Team Rubicon
Team Rubicon bridges the critical time gap between large humanitarian disasters and conventional aid response.

We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

The Carter Center
The Carter Center, in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.

Bikes Not Bombs
Lasting peace and social justice require equitable and sustainable use of resources. BNB provides community-based education and assists development projects with recycled bicycles, related technologies and technical assistance, as concrete alternatives to the militarism, over-consumption & inequality that breed war and environmental destruction.

Friends of Maddie
Friends of Maddie support the families of critically ill babies by easing the transition into NICU life and providing an ally until the end of their child's hospital stay.

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

Surfrider Foundation
Our mission is the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.

We provide support to guide people through the cancer experience, bring them together to fight cancer--and work for a world in which our fight is no longer necessary.

United Through Reading
Our mission is to unite families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together.

Operation Shower
Operation Shower is about celebrating and honoring military families. Operation Shower is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides joyful baby showers for military families to ease the burden of deployment.

The Liz Logelin Foundation
The Liz Logelin Foundation was established to assist widows and widowers with young families who find themselves in the heartbreaking, catastrophic situation of having lost a spouse, life-partner, and parent.

Our mission is to create change - so forgotten orphanage and foster kids grow up in families and connected to caring adults.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Our mission, as stated by our founder, Henry Bergh, in 1866, is "to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States."

Kids Vs Global Warming
Kids Vs. Global Warming is a non-profit organization founded and led by Alec Loorz, who is now 15 years old. We are committed to creating opportunities for youth to learn about the science and solutions of climate change, and then take action that will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and influence the Ruling Generation to make good decisions NOW that impact our future.

Help a Mother Out
Help A Mother Out (HAMO) is dedicated to increasing access to diapers for families in need.

Direct Relief International
Direct Relief International provides medical assistance to improve the quality of life for people affected by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest at home and throughout the world.

WriteGirl is a nonprofit organization for high school girls centered on the craft of creative writing and empowerment through self-expression.

Accelerated Cure for Multiple Sclerosis
The Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the cure of multiple sclerosis (MS) by facilitating research that determines the causes and mechanisms of MS.

Women for Women
Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We're changing the world one woman at a time.

Epic Change
Epic Change amplifies the voices and impact of grassroots changemakers and social entrepreneurs.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.

I am in no way being hyperbolic when I say that this list Suebob has put together is the best list of charities I've ever seen. There isn't a single organization listed I don't think deserves my support (and yours).

So, a birthday for Suebob contest! This contest runs TODAY ONLY, so don't wait to comment!

One entry for each of the following:
1. Leave a birthday wish for Suebob in my comments.
2. Leave me a comment telling me you've donated to one of the organization's Suebob has highlighted.
3. Leave me a comment telling me you've Tweeted for Facebooked this contest.

So, THREE ways to enter. And the winners, of which there will be THREE, will decide which of the organizations in this list gets a $50 donation, in honor of Suebob!

Happy birthday again, Suebob!


Happy Birthday Suebob!

Happy, Happy Birthday Suebob!!!

Happy Birthday Suebob! What a great birthday idea!

Happy birthday, Suebob!

Happy birthday Suebob! 50 is the new 30, for real!


Happy Birthday to yooooouuuuuuuuuu!!!

Happy Birthday Suebob!!

Hooray - what a wonderful contest! And a SUPER HAPPY Birthday to Suebob!

Happy birthday, Suebob!

Happy Birthday, Suebob!!!

Happy Birthday Suebob! I think this is a wonderful thing you are doing!

I think what you are doing is amazing! Many happy returns of the day SueBob!

Happy Birthday Suebob! Have a fantastic day and year.

tweeted and fbooked. :)

Happy birthday Suebob! :D

Happy birthday, Suebob! I hope you have a fabulous day!


Happy birthday SueBob!

Tweeted (@angie303)

Thank you for reposting all the links AND for the wonderful contest. You're awesome. And you look nice in that outfit. No, really.

My birthday was incredibly special. Thanks for making it so much fun.

Leave a comment

A few words about Alzheimer's


Recently, I've noticed more and more of my friends and acquaintances being forced to confront the age and even the mortality of their parents. Though my parents are on the young side, given my age, they, too, are getting older. And so, I worry. I worry obviously about all the big scaries--cancer, strokes, heart attacks--but there is one worry that crowds all others out in my mind:


My great-grandmother had Alzheimer's. I was in high school and college at the time, and didn't see her all that often, but I remember the disease's progression very clearly. I remember how it killed her. And I remember how it stole her entire self first. It was one of the most brutal, horrifying things I can imagine.

All of this is why I decided to take part in a PSA campaign from the Alzheimer's Association, Generation Alzheimer's. Basically, the Alzheimer's Association is working to make my parents' generation, who are in their 50s and 60s now, aware of their increased risk for Alzheimer's as they get older. Since the disease cannot be cured, but can be managed (to some degree) in its early stages, early diagnosis and intervention is key. As horrible as it is to contemplate, Alzheimer's is also a disease that needs to be planned for if possible--people with it can live for years or even decades in need of full-time care.

The Alzheimer's Association has prepared a report, "Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers," to shed light on this subject. It can be downloaded for free here.

Another thing to do, if you are so moved, is put your money where your worry is. Go here to donate to the Alzheimer's Association. As per the organization's website, 70% of donation funds are used for research awareness, and advocacy. Charity Navigator gives them 3/4 stars.


I am in the odd position of still having three living grandparents, whose health dominates the discussion, and then being part of (though secretly) the younger generation with health issues that supersede our parents. I wonder how that is going to work, long term.

Thank you for your great post. Hopefully some people click through your link and make a donation.

"My great-grandmother had Alzheimer's. I was in high school and college at the time, and didn't see her all that often, but I remember the disease's progression very clearly. I remember how it killed her. And I remember how it stole her entire self first. It was one of the most brutal, horrifying things I can imagine."

I went through something similar. It was so hard to see the person who helped raise me through much of my childhood retreat into an empty shell and not recognize anyone she loved. My great-grandmother, Ida Mae (Mama Perk).

Leave a comment

March Love Drop


Last month the Love Drop Team raised over $13,000 (and 3 iPads!) to help two little boys with autism receive a service dog. They were beyond touched, and we did this in only 1 month - that's it. Everyone came together and gave a few bucks each to impact one family's life. If you were a part of it, THANK YOU! You can check out the final video of us showing up to their house here - it's pretty cool.

This month we start all over again and rally behind Katie, a single mom out in Dallas battling not only two brain tumors so far (she's knocked out one, and currently working on the other), but who's also dealing with hydrocephalus. We're teaming up with folks at Blissdom this month to not only bring the community her way, but to make a huge dent in her medical bills.

Wanna help? Here are 3 ways we could use you:

1. Give $1.00 - This is the best way to help out and join our team at the same time.
2. Join our blogger network - Blog about our Love Drops each month like I am :) It's easy, it's rewarding, and it REALLY helps spread the word (which in turn helps our families). Love Drop will give you all the content you need.
3. Give a gift or provide a service - Gift cards are always helpful. Places like Target, Safeway, gas stations, etc would definitely help them out.

Thanks for reading! Here's to love, baby.

Leave a comment

Micro giving at home: Love Drop

| 1 Comment

love-drop-logo-MD.gifI just found out about something I'm really excited to share with you all! It's called Love Drop, and it is a micro-giving network run out of D.C. and Milwaukee. It's an online community focused on giving to one person/family each month, with buy-in as little as $1/month. Here's how Love Drop describes themselves and this month's project:

Love Drop is a micro-giving network of people who unite as a community to make a difference in the lives of one person or family a month. By giving just $1.00, they make it easy for their members to change lives in a fun and super easy way.
At the end of every month, Nate and J$ show up in the town the families live in and present them with everything the team raised -- all the money, the gifts, whatever the community helped get. It's all on film, and it all ends with us making a difference! (And then it starts all over again the next month).
This month we are coming together for 2 beautiful kids with severe autism -- Ethan & Alex. Our goal is to raise $13,000 so we can get them a highly trained service dog. And if possible, two iPads so they can speak again (they can't even say "I love you" to their mom -- these iPads allow them to get their voice back). Here are 3 ways you can help:
1. Join the team - This is the best way to help out, and all it takes is $1.00.
2. Join our blogger network - Blog about our Love Drops each month like I am :) It's easy, it's rewarding, and it REALLY helps spread the word (which in turn helps our families). Love Drop will give you all the content you need.
3. Give a gift or provide a service - Gift cards (iTunes would be great!), two iPads (so we can help the boys speak again!), and anything else you think could help out.
Thank you guys so much -- You rock.

There are no words for how much I love this idea. So, I am doing #1 and #2--becoming part of the Love Drop team with a monthly gift and joining the blogger network. That mean you'll see a notice like this one from me each month, letting y'all know about the family Love Drop is featuring. Please feel free to join me! In the case of this month in specific, I have to say that I have an online friend who has done a ton of advocating and writing about the great things the iPad can make possible for children with autism, so I'm particularly excited at the idea of Ethan and Alex getting iPads of their own by March!

I'm going to put a button to take you to the Love Drop site over there on the sidebar, in case, you forget about it in between this post and next's month's installment. I hope some of you will join, too!


I saw this on your FB feed. Thanks for the link! I'm doing #1, since my blogging is a joke. I really love this idea!

Leave a comment

2010 Giving Round-Up


A year or so ago, I made this post about philanthropy and how to best go about giving. My plan, at that time, was to decide on a charity or group of charities that best met my giving priorities and set up a monthly gift, to be automatically deducted from my account. In this way, I hoped to both help the organizations to the greatest degree possible and meet my personal goal of giving 5% of my income.

Though I didn't blog about it anymore after that post, I did follow the steps I laid out. I identified my priorities, identified the charities I thought best spoke to each one, and set up monthly gifts. The charities I selected for monthly/regular giving were:

Heifer International

Heifer's mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.
With gifts of livestock and training, we help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. We refer to the animals as "living loans" because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal's offspring to another family in need. It's called Passing on the Gift - a cornerstone of our mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace.


Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending


The ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Our mission, as stated by our founder, Henry Bergh, in 1866, is "to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States."

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.

Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

Bitch Media

B-Word Worldwide, doing business as Bitch Media, is the nonprofit organization best known for publishing the magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Bitch Media's mission is to provide and encourage an empowered, feminist response to mainstream media and popular culture.

Engender Health

EngenderHealth is a leading international reproductive health organization working to improve the quality of health care in the world's poorest communities. EngenderHealth empowers people to make informed choices about contraception, trains health providers to make motherhood safer, promotes gender equity, enhances the quality of HIV and AIDS services, and advocates for positive policy change. The non-profit organization works in partnership with governments, institutions, communities, and health care professionals in 25 countries around the world. Over 65 years, EngenderHealth has reached more than 100 million people to help them realize a better life.

Center for Constitutional Rights

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.

The Elephant Sanctuary

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, is the nation's largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically to meet the needs of endangered elephants. It is a non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and accredited by the Association of Sanctuaries, designed specifically for old, sick or needy elephants who have been retired from zoos and circuses. Utilizing more than 2700 acres, it provides three separate and protected, natural-habitat environments for Asian and African elephants. Our residents are not required to perform or entertain for the public; instead, they are encouraged to live like elephants.

I supplemented my monthly gifts with a few one-time donations, as things came up. The organizations to which I made one-time gifts were:

Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 to combat the abuses of factory farming and to encourage a new awareness and understanding about "farm animals." At Farm Sanctuary, these animals are our friends, not our food.


The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

National Women's Law Center

Since 1972, the Center has expanded the possibilities for women and girls in this country. We have succeeded in getting new laws on the books and enforced; litigating ground-breaking cases all the way to the Supreme Court, and educating the public about ways to make laws and public policies work for women and their families. Today, an experienced staff of nearly 60 continues to advance the issues that cut to the core of women's lives in education, employment, family and economic security, and health and reproductive rights--with special attention given to the needs of low-income women and their families.

National Sexual Violence Research Center

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center serves as the nation's principle information and resource center regarding all aspects of sexual violence. It provides national leadership, consultation and technical assistance by generating and facilitating the development and flow of information on sexual violence intervention and prevention strategies. The NSVRC works to address the causes and impact of sexual violence through collaboration, prevention efforts and the distribution of resources.

Scholarship America

Scholarship America mobilizes support for students getting into and graduating from college. The movement began in 1958 with the first Dollars for Scholars chapters. We became a national organization in 1961 -- and since then, we've helped more than 1.7 million students follow their dream of getting to college.

Though I didn't do quite as swell a job keeping track as I'd planned, my estimates show me giving about 4.5% of my pre-tax income. This doesn't quite meet my goal, but it comes close, and it's better than I have done in previous years.

In 2011, I want to follow the same pattern. The monthly deductions were barely missed when I was working full-time (and I, probably stupidly, kept them up when I was unemployed). If all goes as planned, my income will be substantially higher this year, so I should be able to either add some new organizations to my list or increase the amount I am giving to the ones I already have. This is where you come in--what do you think of the organizations I've selected? Do you see any glaring omissions? We all have different priorities, obviously, so if you're going to say something like, "it's dumb to worry about animals when people are starving," please just don't. If you have any helpful thoughts or advice, though, or if you know of a reason why any of the organizations I've selected SHOULDN'T be receiving my giving dollars, please do let me know.


I see you didn't mention your awesome gifts to our soldiers over seas. Certainly philanthropic as well. Personally, Kiva is my current charity. Have you thought about ModestNeeds or other such grant giving orgs similar to Kiva in the US? I think both here and abroad, there is certainly a lot of good that can be done with this type of philanthropy.


I'd also like to suggest Modest Needs, which is focused on microgrants to people in need who have been hit with one big "straw that broke the camel's back" sort of expense. Like a giant heating bill that forces a choice between eating, paying rent, or going without heat in winter.

Oh I LOVE your groups! I got my certification in canine behavior at the ASPCA when I was still living in NYC.

And I adore Bitch. They just released a top 100 feminist YA books list - so cute!

Leave a comment

A little bit more on Any Soldier

| 1 Comment

I'm really pleased at all the response I've gotten from my Any Soldier post the other day. Not only did I get a few comments here and on FB from friends who are planning to participate in the program themselves (and even a great financial donation for the boxes I sent!), but I got a handful of emails about it, as well.

A lot of folks seem to have questions, though, or be not quite sure where to start, so I thought I'd post again and give a few tips. I'm hardly an expert, but this is my sixth (I think) year sending these boxes, and I have learned a couple of things.

1. Expect to cry. Seriously. My sister said she cried all the way through reading the Any Soldier notes on the website. I didn't cry reading them this year, but I broke down in the middle of Target when I was shopping. I don't think I've been through this once without a bawling tangent or two. This shit is sad, dude.

2. Pick our your recipient(s) before you shop. A lot of the recipients on the website have specific wish lists, so it's great to have those in-hand when you go shopping.

3. Don't be afraid of those who don't have specific requests. Some of the soldiers on the site are very clear about what they want/need, but others are very vague, or don't ask for much at all. The first few times I did this, I shied away from those lists. This time, though, I picked one of them, knowing that a lot of the things I was picking up for the more detailed list I'd chosen could be duplicated and used. Once you've read several of them, you see that a lot of the things they ask for are the same.

4. Buy major brands. You'll often see that those who are specific in their requests ask for brand name items. My theory (and it is just a theory, but I think it makes sense) is that one thing the soldiers are homesick for is brand name items. They may have pale imitations available to them, in the PX or whatever, but they don't have the shiny branded packages they are used to back home. I'm not usually a big brand name shopper, but for this, I buy the major brands.

5. Set a budget. I have a serious over-shopping problem in general, and that doubles when it comes to something like this. This year, I intended to send two boxes. I came home with five boxes worth of stuff. That's typical. If I'd set a budget before I shopped, which I knew I should have done, I'd probably have spent a lot less than I did. The problem I have is once I am in the store, nearly everything I see seems like a good addition to the boxes. If you could avoid that, you'd probably be better of. Do as I say, not as I do.

6. Use the APO/FPO flat rate box. The post office has special flat rate boxes for military mail. They cost like $12 each to send, and they are regular large flat rate size (I think). They're easy as pie to use, and you can even print your shipping labels and pay online and have your postal carrier pick them up, avoiding the whole post office scene.

7. Write a note. This is actually the hardest part, for me, but I think it's important. With each box I send, I include a personal note from me to the recipient and his/her fellow soldiers. I keep politics out of it completely, as that's the only way I can feel honest and still respectful. I just say hi, wish him/her luck, and tell him/her to take care. If you have kids, I think it's great to have them write a note or color a picture--I've heard a lot of the soldiers really love that.

8. Do not expect response. I'd estimate I've received responses from about a quarter of the boxes I've sent. The letters are really nice to get, but they are not the point and the very last thing I want to do is add the the stress of any of these folks. Don't send these expecting a response.

Finally, for the curious, these are my packed up boxes for this round:

completed any soldier boxes.jpg

I know it looks like they're all full of just candy, but I promise that's just the top layer. They also contain: tampons, pantyliners, instant coffee mix, fitness water mix, body washes, hair spray and gel, rubberbands and headbands, face cleansers, gum, disposable razors, socks, and laundry supplies. All pretty basic stuff, right? But it's what the majority of the female soldiers asked for, and I think the most important thing is to do the best I can to provide what they request.


Thanks for doing this. With my brother in the service himself, I definitely appreciate when other people support the troops. I unfortunately don't have the budget for this though I'm thinking about going through some stores and picking out some small but useful things.

Leave a comment

Thanksgiving and Any Soldier


Note: I'm re-posting a post originally made on November 17, 2006. I'll be doing Any Solider again this year, my own little Thankgiving tradition, and I'd love it if any of you were moved to join me.


I don't know if I've made this clear before now, but I'm sure it's not a surprise: I'm against the war in Iraq. I marched against it before it started (and just after), I've written countless letters against it, I'm against it. I think it's a bad idea. I don't think we ever should have invaded. I think it's bad, bad, bad.

That being said, I have a little tradition I started for myself several Thanksgivings ago that I thought I'd share. The first year, I took up a collection at my workplace to do it, since then I've been doing it on a smaller scale on my own. I go over to and pick out a couple of wish lists, head over to Target to shop, and send a couple of care packages to folks serving abroad. Particularly to women serving abroad.

So why, since I am against the war, do I do that?

Well, to begin with, I don't think that the young men and women who are suffering on the ground have much say in the policy that put them there. Less say than I have in it, probably, due to their lower age and lower socioeconomics. It's not their fault they are there.

Secondly, I empathize with them, for a kind of strange reason. When I was the age some of them are, I was in my first year of college, and I was so, so homesick. I was in a safe, nice place, which I had chosen, which was only a couple hundred miles from home, and I was miserable. And I seriously cannot comprehend how much worse that it would have been to been in a dangerous situation, with few amenities, in a foreign country, where you had the risk of having to kill or be killed. It's beyond my capacity for creative thought. So I feel personally responsible for doing a little something to try to alleviate the homesickness these kids (and they are kids) must feel. For me, nothing helped more than a package from home, and I think it must be the same for them. And I feel especially for the women, whose lists so often ask for things like deodorant and tampons, as they are in a place that has to be alienating to them on a whole other level (both in terms of the military and in terms of the country).

Finally, I believe in being the change you want to see in the world. The change I want to see is for our government not to ever feel that it's the right thing to do to send kids to kill and die a million miles away for spurious reasons. But that's not something I have much capacity to change right now. What I do have the capacity to change, albeit in a very small way, is how horrible it is for those kids. And I want to do that.

Be forewarned that the website is sort of sickeningly ra-ra USA and doesn't mesh with many (if any) of the political views you or I may hold. To me, that doesn't matter. I can look past that, for a minute, and try to just be kind. I think that maybe if more people could try to do that, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Also, if you decide to send a soldier a care package this Thanksgiving (or some other time), please include a letter. From what I've read/heard, personal letters are reallly appreciated.


Grace--can I share this post with my friends? Thanks, Meg

My brother will be back for a few months and in NY. Will getting him so drunk he throws up in a taxi count for this project?

Grace, this rocks! I'm joining you and sharing it, too.

I am going to do this. Just one box, but I hope we can do it well. How long til the boxes get to the soldiers?

Leave a comment

Haiti: where to give


Unless you've been living under a very large rock, you know that the situation in Haiti is pretty awful right now. Thousands and thousands dead, untold damage, people with nothing. They need a LOT of help. So, this morning, I was looking around, trying to figure out the best place to give, and I thought I'd share my findings with you:

WorldVision: WorldVision is an international Christian-based organization working on humanitarian issues affecting children world-wide. Charity Navigator gives them a four-star rating, with a score of 60.34.

AmeriCares: AmeriCares is an international disaster relief organization, not religiously affiliated. AmeriCares is based in the U.S. but has projects world-wide, focusing on disaster relief and medical outreach. Charity Navigator gives them a four-star rating with a score of 61.28.

Habitat for Humanity: Habitat is a Christian-based organization focusing on providing housing for those who need it, both within the U.S. and worldwide. Charity Navigator gives their international branch four stars and a rating of 60.78.

Feed the Children: Feed the Children is a Christian-based international organization focusing on providing food, medicine, and clothing to people in need. Charity Navigator gives them four stars and a 69.19 rating.

Doctors without Borders: Doctors without Borders is an international organization focusing on providing medical care in high-needs areas. Charity Navigator gives them four stars and a 61.23 rating.

Red Cross: The Red Cross is probably the most well-known organization and the one that gets the most donations in times like these. It is an international organization focused on emergency response and disaster relief. Charity Navigator gives the Red Cross three stars and a rating of 54.62.

Hands Together: Hands Together is a Catholic-based organization dedicating to helping the poor, particularly in Haiti. Charity Navigator gives them four stars and a rating of 67.36.

Hope for Haiti: Hope for Haiti is another Haiti-focused organization. It is not religiously based and focuses on empowering Haitians in the areas of education, health care, and nutrition, but also runs a disaster relief program. Charity Navigator gives it a four star rank and a rating of 64.82.

These are clearly just a few options. Charity Navigator has provided a list on their site of organizations they evaluate who have Haiti programs; there are several more highly-ranked options there. They also provide some pretty good advice on how to choose where to give and why.

For me, it's a combination of which particular work I want to support the most (medical, housing, food, whatever) and the organization itself. Out of personal preference, I don't generally give to religiously-based organizations (note: this is NOT me saying that nobody should, just that I prefer not to when there are other options). In a situation like this one, I'm also more inclined to give to an organization with a history working in the country in need--Haiti--as they're more likely to have a good idea what is needed and where, and already have some structure. So, this time around, I'm directing my dollars to Hope for Haiti. But really, anywhere you give is better than not doing it at all, you know? So if you've got any extra cash at the moment, please do think about putting it towards these folks who need it pretty desperately.

One more thing: if you have the cash, please don't donate on a credit card. The CC processor gets part of the donation that way, and you really want all your money to go to folks who actually need it, right?

Also, if you have other organizations you want to suggest, please leave them in the comments. I'd be happy to add to the post with your suggestions.

Additional suggestions from WINOW readers:

World Society for the Protection of Animals: WSPA is a non-profit focusing on animal welfare worldwide. They do work with companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife, as well as disaster relief work for all types of animals. Charity Navigator gives them two stars and a rating of 49.96.

Yele Haiti: Yele is a grassroots organization working for the betterment of Haiti. It was founded by Wyclef Jean in 2005. It has not been evaluated by Charity Navigator.

Best Friends Animal Society: Best Friends Animal Society is a Utah-based animal sanctuary and rescue network. In Haiti, they will focus on pet rescue, once that is possible. Charity Navigator gives them four stars and a rating of 60.71.


It's a little bit early to start worrying about animal rescue in Haiti, since the aid organizations are having a hard enough time dealing with saving the people and the entire country's infrastructure has collapsed. Nevertheless, the Best Friends Animal Society is one of the few national relief organizations that is even talking about animal rescue in Haiti, and they have experience with airlifting animals out of disaster areas and war zones. They admittedly are not doing anything yet, but are monitoring the situation and will act as soon as conditions on the ground are decent enough that they can mount a successful rescue operation.

You can also try Yele ( You can donate by texting "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to the effort (the charge shows up on your cell phone bill).

We are planned givers to World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and they're deploying rescue workers to deal with the animals, both domestic and farm.

I have read negative things about Wyclef Jean and his organizations. I'd thoroughly look into him/them before donating to Yele Haiti.

Leave a comment

Philanthropic methodology


I've already started jotting down a list of goals for next year, and one thing I know I want to focus on is more responsible, planned philanthropic giving. I've heard and been told that gifts that can be counted on (i.e. monthly gifts, or seasonal gifts that happen every year, like memberships, or whatever) are both more useful for organizations and increase giving for individuals. I can see why that would be the case--if your giving is just one of your bills, you do it automatically, not just when you feel like you have extra. (It would also help greatly with keeping track of your charitable giving for tax purposes.)

So, I think I want to try to standardize my giving next year. I want to figure out an amount, based on a percentage of take-home, to give, then plan how the majority of it will be given and when, and set up direct payments. This is going to take several steps, though, and I'm going to have to think about each of them.

First, I need to figure out what the right amount to give is, given my income, my other financial priorities, etc. So I looked around at tithe amounts. Tithe literally means ten percent, and some churches are strict about that. However, lots of churches ask for half-tithes (5%) or quarter tithes (2.5%). I'm not a person of faith, and even if I were, I'd be uncomfortable, I think, with a church that demanded any percentage. Still, this gives me a place to start thinking about it. Remember that kerfluffle a year or so ago about how much given rich people give to charity (or, more likely, how little)? Thinking about that, I did some Googling and found that the national average for charitable giving in 2005 was $1,800/year per family, about 3.5%. I haven't decided what my magic number is going to be, but it will be in this range somewhere.

Next, I need to decide how to split it up. There are a lot of worthy charities out there. Which ones do I want to sponsor? At what levels? That's a much harder question than how much to give. I'm working on compiling a list, and then I'm going to see about ranking it. I'm also going to leave myself some money that isn't ear-marked, as things always come up. This is the part I'm really stuck on. How do I decide who needs my money the most? I'm finding the idea a little bit overwhelming, honestly.

Once I get my priorities lined up, though, I am going to set up automatic payments. I'll divide my annual amount into a monthly amount and set up payments to equal it, either on annual or quarterly or monthly basis, just like any other bill. And that money will just be gone, and I won't spend it on things I don't need, and it will get to places that can use it.

Or at least that's the plan. What do you think? Does that make sense? Any thoughts on amounts, percentages, or organizations to which to give? I have given to charities for several years, but I've never been all that disciplined about it, so this is all kind of new. I think it's important, though. I want to be a person who lives my beliefs--the older I get, the more that's a priority--and one of the things I believe is that it is absolutely the responsibility of those who have more to assist those who have less. And it should also be the pleasure of those who have more to do it, as we are very lucky to be in the position we are in. In 2010, I want to do a better job expressing my gratitude.


Grace, I think this is a lovely idea and a great goal. Like you, we've never given regularly but I like your plan and outline for giving monthly with bills. Some of my favorite charities are local ones. It just feels good to help a little known non-profit in your own backyard who is doing so much good on a local level.

One problem I've had with giving to the larger organizations is the junk mail I get afterward. I also don't like all the "free" gifts they seem to have the money for in order to get you to send more money, seems counterproductive. The Wildlife Federation has been horrible in this respect. Although I believe in their cause and will probably give again, it's very annoying getting something from them every month or more. Just seems like a waste. But maybe the free gifts are donated and the mailings are done by volunteers.

You inspire me to be a better giver. I'd been following your lead in giving about a certain amount per month. This year has been tougher with major paycuts.

I have some charities I give to every year and would like to continue. But part of me wants to give all my money to the Fistula Foundation because I feel the good there is so tangible.

This all reminds me that I haven't given to NPR yet this year and I listen to them all the time so I better get on it...

I've been doing kiva, which isn't really fully charity, since they pay it back. But I keep "reinvesting" in Kiva people. I like the one on one nature of it--that I get to pick the exact person. Also the kind of person who wants money short term & would pay it back seems like a person who takes it seriously.


I think this is such a good idea. I give to 3 different organizations on a monthly basis. I've been thinking about your exact dilemma lately though too. I like Rachel's suggestion of giving local. I'm thinking food bank here. Everyone deserves food to eat, and in tough times, food is hard to get when you have other bills. If you want to lean towards a larger, more global organization, I'd suggest trying to find one that fits your values, or just speaks to your heart. Would you like to help folks get eyeglasses? Do you want to give a goat? Do you listen to public radio? Would you rather help abused and neglected animals? There are organizations for almost everything.

I think if I give more, I'm leaning towards something more local so that I feel like I am helping folks in my area. Food bank, Penelope House, my local animal shelter, somewhere around here. The Red Cross gave us food after Hurricane Katrina, so I'd consider our local RC too.

Just my ideas. Good luck and please, let us know what you pick. I'd really be interested.


I gave to the ASPCA in Kate and Ted's name for their wedding. Problem is, since then, they won't stop mailing solicitations to us. :-p Nevertheless, a worthy organization that you would be interested in donating to as well, I'm guessing.

Leave a comment

The giving that keeps on getting


I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine today. It's a variation on a conversation I've had before, but my friend put it very succinctly. She is not, she said, getting anyone a Christmas gift this year. There is nobody on her list who needs anything, so she's just not doing it. Instead, she's donating the amount of money she would have spent buying her family and friends things they do not need to a local food bank.

This logic is, I think, completely correct. And it made me think--is there anybody on my Christmas list who needs anything? No, there isn't. In past years, I could have made the argument that my unemployed or under-employed little brother actually did need gifts, but he's had a good job for the past year or so, so I think he's got what he needs these days. And really, there is nobody else on my list, adult or child, who needs a damn thing. And neither do I need anything.

So why do this thing at all? Why spend the hours and hours picking things out? Even though I'm doing it in what I consider a "responsible" way this year, with almost all handmade or used gifts, I'm still ending up with stuff for each person, and I am still spending money on that stuff. Why not direct that money to a source where it's actually needed and call the whole thing off?

For me, the biggest reason why not is a selfish one. I love gifting. I love receiving gifts, and I really love giving them. I love plotting and planning what people might want or like, I love shopping, and I love seeing people open things I've chosen for them. The whole thing just fills me with joy. Which isn't to say that I don't feel any Christmas season stress--there are holes on my list that I'm beginning to fret about, I've already spend too much, and the wrapping and shipping elements of gifting when your family and friends are spread to the four winds doesn't thrill me at all. But the good outweighs the bad for me every time.

That's really not a good enough reason though, is it? I take all this time, and all this cash (which I could be using to pay off my debt, or to help any of a million good causes), and I do this thing basically because I like it and because it is expected of me (at least I like it--a lot of people are doing it only for the latter reason). Honestly, that's stupid.

The problem isn't, and never was, the custom of gift-giving itself, though. The problem is that gifts can't fill the space they used to fill when you live in a time and a place and a socioeconomic class where people can and do buy for themselves everything they need and much of what they want. As a child, growing up in a working class family, we got fun stuff for gifts, but we also got a lot of things we needed wrapped with paper and bows. So much so that getting "socks in a box" remains a running joke in my family. That makes sense. It makes something that is needed fun, and there isn't a lot of excess in it. But along the way something has changed. Now, if I asked not what I want, but what I need, I can't come up with anything.

So who can we fix it? I tend to think that my friend is on the right track--those of us who are lucky enough not to need anything, and not to have folks on our list who need anything, should stop this silliness, and put our money towards folks who do actually need things. Alternatively, though, we could stop buying ourselves so much crap year round, so that when gift giving occasions come around, there will actually be something legitimate to request. But I don't really see that happening.

Maybe, with spending half of what was spent last year, some American families are working towards less excess. I know that even though I am gifting, I've tried to be more reasonable this year. My focus has been mainly on the gifts I choose being from sources I feel good about supporting, but I've also just cut down on the number of things I'm giving and the amount I'm spending. And it sounds like both my family and Mark's are doing something similar (though I'll believe it when I see it). I'm seeing a lot of similar thoughts around the net as well, with folks relying more and more on handmade gifts (some of which are homemade, some swapped for, some purchased) and a smaller number of gifts in general. But I have to wonder--does this really imply any cognizance of how stupid and wasteful gift giving has become, or is it simply a response to a bad economy? When the economy gets better, will those gift spending numbers go back up? What would have to happen to make the change permanent?


If I was to make a list of things I need, it would be hugely long, but none of the items are things. I needed a new iPod (and in terms of my health feel ok with saying it was a need), but I for sure bought that for myself - I would never expect anyone to spend that kind of cash on me and I wanted it in time to occupy myself with at chemo.

What I need is people's time - I'd love to have people there in chemo with me, or even better, over at my house after, happy to watch mindless TV and distract me from the impending operation. I'd like people to show up to events they say they will - it costs me so much energy to get out, so it's disappointing to me when others don't follow through. I'd like an hour of coffee and chat with people willing to talk to me about their lives, without trying to edit out the parts they think they can't tell me because my problem is bigger. I'd like people who call "just to talk" because y'know, I'm also happy to pretend you aren't just calling to make sure I'm still alive because the thought is lovely and there are times when I really could use a friendly voice.

And naturally, I'd like the chemo to work and the operation to go off without a hitch and to find some vaguely fiscally responsible way of paying for all that. But mostly, I'd just like to see people.

I think for a nation of consumers, for whom shopping is a daily, weekly or monthly recreation, gift-giving is valuable because it uses a form of recreation (shopping) that is often narcissistic and makes it into an activity that involves some small amount of empathy.

I certainly wouldn't elevate figuring out what tchotckes your loved ones wants above charitable giving on a moral scale, but I do think it involves a more specific empathy for the individual needs of people than the much broader "people need food" "the cold need shelter" goals of charities.

I don't need a specific person in my mind to motivate me to give money to the John Birch Foundation for christmas - I just do. But to figure out what the hell my mom wants, I really have to, for three or four hellish seconds, imagine what her life involves and what she might enjoy as a gift.

P.S. I need another iPod shuffle, but this time I need a silver or yellow one. The purple one only goes with half of my gym outfits.

Unfortunately, I think, it is because of bad economy and not the result of a mental shift. Over here, the economy is slightly better and for our "Saint Nicolas" the spending has never been so high. Apparently, flatscreen tv's, laptops and game consoles are what people "need". Sigh.


You're so right that most of us don't NEED anything. Last year I tried to suggest giving to charity in lieu of gifts and got roundly shot down. So I spent hours and $$ getting frustrated at the mall and probably not satisfying DH's family, but at least *I* got less crap (several people did give me animals from Heifer project).

This year theoretically we are scaling back adult gifts - I just hope everyone does.

There's only 1 thing on my list that might be a need, as in I will buy it if no one gets it for me - a TV converter box for the switch to digital TV.

Leave a comment

Help Huey?

| 1 Comment

Huey close upRemember I told you about Huey, the beagle/porpoise cross we've been fostering who likes cat boxes? Well, it turns out that Mr. Huey needs some surgery. It's nothing huge--he blew out his ACL and it needs to be repaired. It's a fairly common surgery for dogs and has an excellent success rate. Huey will need several months of post-surgical recovery time, but Mark and I love him to death and will be happy to have him into the spring. After that time, there is no reason to believe that he won't go on to leave several more happy and healthy years.

The problem, of course, is that the surgery isn't cheap. As I believe I've mentioned, Hound Rescue has been really swamped these past months--the worse the economy gets, the more dogs are in need. Right now, HR just can't afford a couple of grand for a beagle surgery that isn't life-saving. So, for at least the time being, we're in a holding pattern. Huey is on three legs and we're trying to raise funds.

If you can, please consider helping Huey out. If you click on the Huey button in this post, or on the sidebar, you will be taken to Hound Rescue's donation pages (through Paypal). If you can make a donation, that would be great. Please indicate in the comments that it is for Huey's surgery. And if you can't give but want to help, or want another way to help, please grab the button and post it on your blog or online space.

Thank you!


FYI, it doesn't let you provide a comment within Paypal, but there is a note: "or addt'l notes: email", so I guess that is how you indicate how you want the donation directed.

Leave a comment

Why yes, this is a solicitation


belle in basketAs I've mentioned, Mark and I are very active in dog rescue. We currently have two foster beagles, Belle (who you see in the basket here) and Huey. For the last couple of years, we've been fostering through a great local organization, Hound Rescue. Today we had a Hound Rescue meeting, and we learned, among other things, that the organization is not doing great financially. Mostly, this is due to a recent influx of older and sicker dogs, due, at least in part, to the general economic downturn. People give up their dogs when they can't make ends meet, especially if those dogs are elderly or have health issues (like both Huey and Belle do). In order to keep taking in and taking care of these elderly dogs, the organization needs to refocus on fund raising.

And that's how I want you to help. No, I am not asking you to write a check or Paypal over some cash (though we of course wouldn't turn it down). Rather, I am asking for some mouse clicks. If you go over to The Animal Rescue site, you'll find a contest they are having, the Petfinder Shelter Challenge. Once a day on each computer, you can go there and vote for Hound Rescue in Austin, Texas. If we get the most votes in our state, we get $1,000. If we get the most votes in a given week, we get $1,000. If we win the grand prize, we get $25,000 (that's a lot of beagle care, folks). $1,000 goes quite a long way for these guys, and voting is really no big deal to do, so please take a second (or as many seconds as you can, on different days between now and December 14), and give us a vote.

Over on my side bar you'll see a button that will take you straight to the voting. Just come back to WINOW and click on it anytime.

Thank you!


Leave a comment

What do Vern Yip and Beanie Babies have in common?


Back when I used to watch Trading Spaces, Vern Yip was always my favorite designer. I liked his simple, non-silly designs, and he seemed like the closest thing the show's designers had to a real person. So, when I saw that he had another show, Deserving Design, I was all over it. Now that I've watched the show, I love it even more. The premise is simple--Vern goes into the home of "deserving" regular folks and redesigns two rooms--one that they know is going to be done, one that they don't. "Deserving," here, means people who have given of themselves in some way. The most recent episode I saw featured a family who had fostered 62 children, some of them very high needs, and adopted 6 of them (all of whom had to have been under 12). Vern's makeovers focus on what the families actually need and how they actually use their space (and he uses tons of photographs, which I think is great), which is fantastic. What really gets me about the show, though, are the families themselves. The things they give to their communities and the sacrifices they make are inspiring.

So I was thinking about that. And about how, not so long ago, I was more focused on how I could help other people (my monthly giving, among other things). Lately, though, my focus has gone inward in a way I'm not proud of. And while I was thinking, I was, like I often am, thrifiting. At the south bins. Where I came upon an entire table of new with tags Beanie Buddies. Clearly these are no longer collector's items, I said to myself, but couldn't you have donated them to a homeless shelter or something? Kids can still play with them if they don't get destroyed here! And then it occurred to me that I could make that happen.

And so I came, inspired by Vern Yip, to purchase 40 Beanie Buddies. I had no idea how cute these things were! A couple of them (the octopus, the ladybug, the moose...) might have to live at my house and become gently loved dog toys. The rest, though, can go to a local DV shelter, or be saved for Christmas-time toy drives. What toddler is going to care of his/her lovey is still in style?

It's nice to wake up and remember why I'm here.


So this is weird--my sister's dad sponsored a kid at christmas and the charity it was through said NO stuffed animals. Which I thought was weird....

good for you! You know those toys will be loved and loved well.

Leave a comment

Where is your stimulus check going?


Like most people, I'd expect, I have a lot of plans for my stimulus check. I may think giving them out is a crappy idea, but since I'm going to get one, I have lots of ideas on how to spend it. Clearly, what I should do with it is not even consider other options and just pay debt. But I need new shoes! And something off my Etsy favorites! And some summer clothes!

Or, I could give it away.

There was a piece on Marketplace on Friday about why it might be best to consider giving all or part of your stimulus check to charity. You can listen to it below, but basically the upshot is that charitable organizations are suffering right now just like everyone else, and there are those (myself included) who believe that the money these checks represent may well have been better spent bolstering social services. So, if you think like that too, maybe we should both put our money where our mouth is and give some of our stimulus checks to charity?

The question then becomes, of course, which charity? The piece on NPR mentions food banks in specific, and that makes sense. I have a couple of weeks until my deposit is supposed to show up, so I'll be thinking about it.


The next charity I am giving to is the Imagination Library. It's Dolly Parton's charity (she mentioned it at the concert) where kids get a book a month to instill a love of reading and literacy in the poorest of areas. Important, as you know, in these times when school budgets are being cut and libraries in some places eliminated entirely.

Mine is going to a $340 (not incl tax & tip) dinner at The French Laundry in Napa. One crazy, foolish thing.

Leave a comment

May Giving


This month, I am excited to be giving to Femme Film Texas. They're a local organization who teaches film making, Internet publishing, and media literacy to young women. Plus, I dig their logo.

Leave a comment

April Giving


Sorry, day late...

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so my giving dollars are headed out to the National Sexual Violence Research Center.

May you be safe from sexual violence this month and always.

Also, on a semi-related note, if you are following my debt reduction tally at right, you'll see I'm down $2,806.27 since 1/1/08. I feel pretty good about that.


I had, in fact, noticed that and was damned impressed. I even set up my own speadsheet to track my debt (hopefully to track it downward), though I am too much of a wimp to post it on my blog.

So, congrats on paying it down and being far braver than I!

I just stopped by here--I'm not online as much anymore--and that was the first thing I saw! That's great. Very nicely done :)

Leave a comment

March giving/List 4: Local charities


In November, I posted about I Live Here, I Give Here, which is an Austin campaign to make people aware of local charitable organization and non-profits and increase giving. As one of my giving goals for 2008 was to increase local-level giving, it's a great resource for me. In honor of NaBloPoMo: The List Edition, here is a list of some places I'd like to give to this year, many of which I discovered through I Live Here, I Give Here:

1. Femme Film Texas
"Femme Film Texas teaches filmmaking and internet publishing to young women and girls through hands-on educational programs that promote media literacy and encourage self-expression."

2. Health Alliance for Austin Musicians
"The mission of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians is to provide access to affordable health care for Austin's low income, uninsured musicians, focusing on prevention and wellness."

3. Rude Mechanicals Grrl Action
"Grrl Action helps teenage girls find voice and vision through the power of performance."

4. Seedling Foundation
"The Seedling Foundation supports public schools by encouraging and facilitating community involvement. Major program areas include a school-based mentoring program, which matches children of incarcerated parents with caring adults in the Austin area community and public school campus beautification projects at low-income public schools."

5. PeopleFund
"PeopleFund is a nonprofit financial institution that promotes financial opportunity and stability for low income people by assisting them to: build successful small businesses, purchase safe and affordable homes, achieve financial security and independence and, form prosperous communities through providing fair and just loan products, training in business management, financial literacy and homebuyer preparedness."

6. Breakthrough Austin
"Breakthrough provides a path to college, starting in middle school, for low-income students who will be first-generation college graduates. The program admits students as 6th graders and makes a six-year commitment to helping them graduate from high school and enter college."

7. Coalition for Emotional Literacy
"We believe there is a direct correlation between animal abuse, family violence, and criminal behaviors. We strive to increase positive behaviors and diminish destructive behaviors towards humans and non-humans through education programs. We also establish temporary shelters for pets of families fleeing abusive conditions and seniors that go in for extended care."

8. Girlstart
"Girlstart is a non-profit organization created to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology. Founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas, Girlstart has quickly established itself as a best-case practices leader in empowering, educating, and motivating girls to enjoy and become more proficient in math, science and technology."

9. Truth be Told
"Truth Be Told is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing transformational tools for women behind and beyond bars."

10. People's Community Clinic
"People's Community Clinic works to improve the health of medically underserved and uninsured Central Texans by providing high quality, affordable healthcare. 1 in 4 Central Texas has no health insurance. We deliver a full range of primary care and wellness services to the 11,000 patients who call the Clinic their medical home."

There are, of course, dozens of other worthy organizations listed. However, I'm keeping it to 10 to highlight this month. For my own personal giving dollars, I am choosing Truth be Told for March.

Leave a comment

February Giving

| 1 Comment

I've been reading a lot about moral eating recently (I just finished Plenty, about the 100-Mile Diet), and in that spirit, the charity I am choosing to give to and highlight on my blog for February is Farm Sanctuary.

Farm Sanctuary works to end cruelty to farm animals and promotes compassionate living through rescue, education and advocacy. We envision a world where the violence that animal agriculture inflicts upon people, animals and the environment has ended, and where instead we exercise values of compassion.

For those who are new to the blog, I do this every month, both to remind myself to give and to let readers know about giving opportunities about which they might not otherwise be aware. The logo for Farm Sanctuary will be featured over on the sidebar all month.

And no matter who you support, don't forget to save receipts of your donations--they're tax deductible!


They're tax-deductible if you itemize. That basically means homeowner, rich, or catastrophic medical expenses.

Leave a comment

January Giving


This month's charity bucks are going to assist those who are in dire straights beginning this year due to the Writer's Strike, which I fully support. There are a couple of ways to send help to these folks, but I chose the The Actor's Fund, since it supports all those in the business, not just those who are in the writer's guild. Given the jillions of "little people" who are likely being laid off due to the strike, many of whom do not have union support, that makes sense to me.

Leave a comment

Gifts that give

| 1 Comment

As you may have already noticed, everyone who is anyone has a charitable holiday gift giving guide, listing their favorite holiday gifts which also contribute to charity. Well, I'm a sucker for a trend, so here are a few I like:

  1. Want to give a donation in someone's name, but not sure where they would like the cash to go? As JustGive, you can buy a charitable donation gift certificate, and the recipient can then choose which of over 1,000,000 local and national charities to use it for.

  2. Eco-Libris. Eco-Libris is an organization from whom you buy credits to plant trees to offset the books you read (like carbon credit purchasing). A good gift for a book geek? For the holidays, they have packages of a holiday card and 5 book credits for $6.50, 10 for $12.00, 25 for $25.00, and up.

  3. Humane Society Woof Doormat. Cute, heavyweight doormat, made of natural fiber and eco-friendly dye, benefiting the Humane Society. $35 plus $5 S&H.

  4. Dog Breed Bottle Stoppers. Also benefiting the Humane Society. How freaking cute are these? Comes in tons of breeds, $18 each.

  5. Recycled Silk Throw Rug. This throw rug is not only gorgeous, it's made from recycled silk scraps by a family-owned fair-trade certified Indian business. Buying it for $39.95 through Greater Goods also provides either 28 bowls of food for shelter animals (if you choose The Animal Rescue Site store) or something similar through one of the site's other charitable stores (The Breast Cancer Site, The Hunger Site, The Child Health Site, The Literacy Site, or The Rainforest Site).

  6. Stone Mala Necklace. These hand-strung fair-trade semi-precious stone necklaces are blessed by the nuns at the Dolma Ling nunnery in Tibet, whom the proceeds from their sale help support. The $24.95 you pay for a necklace at Greater Good will also provide 50 cups of food if you order through The Hunger Site, or similar from the other options.

  7. One Laptop Per Child. If you haven't already heard of this program, the premise pretty simple. Through the "Give One Get One" program, you spend $399 and get one specially produced XO children's laptop and donate one to a child in the developing world. Gotta do it now, though, as it is available only through December 31.

  8. Can I Sit With You? I've mentioned it here before, but buying the $14 Can I Sit With You? book, to the dual purposes of giving kids stories to help them believe they really will make it out alive and supporting the Special Education PTA of Redwood City (SEPTAR), is an excellent plan.

  9. Life saving essentials for Burmese families. Partners World asked Burmese refugees what they needed to stay alive, and they came back with the following heartbreakingly simple list, for a family of 5 for a month:
    1. 75 kilograms of rice; 5 kilograms of salt
    2. 1 cooking pot
    3. 1 lighter
    4. 1 machete
    5. 1 large plastic sheet for making a roof in the jungle
    These things can be provided for $50.

  10. Finally, whatever you are going to buy, you can probably sign up through iGive to buy it and make sure some of the proceeds to to the charity of your choice.


FYI, we are doing the One Laptop Per Child for H, under the "give one/get one" program. Folks doing likewise should be advised that the machines won't ship until early '08. (Thus, we are planning to give it to H for her birthday instead of Xmas.)

Leave a comment

December giving


Over at the right, you can see my December giving choices. Both have already been mentioned here, but just a reminder, Operation Paperback sends books to soldiers abroad, and Orange Santa is my local "giving tree" type program. Go forth and give. 'Tis the season.

Leave a comment

Operation Paperback


As I mentioned last year, it has for a few years now been my Thanksgiving time custom to send a care package or two to enlisted folks via I was about to head on over there to get some lists to fill this year, but then heard about a different project, Operation Paperback. Operation Paperback is a troops-supporting endeavor as well, but it is specifically to send gently used books to soldiers living abroad. I can definitely appreciate why books would be a great comfort when you're so far away from home, as well as being a source of entertainment (my understanding is that extreme boredom is one of the biggest problems for soldiers) so I'm going to do that this year instead.

I know I've said this before, but I in no way equate wanting to make this season a little bit brighter for those people who are unfortunate to be stuck on the ground in this stupid fucking war with supporting it. I can both be intensively, obsessively against them being there and want to make being there as easy for them as possible. And, if you are so inclined, so can you.

Leave a comment

Empty Bowl Project

| 1 Comment

Today is World Food Day. All over, there are events to raise money to feed those who need feeding and remind those of us who are lucky enough to have constantly full bellies that we live in great privilege. One of my favorite of these projects is the Empty Bowls Project. In an Empty Bowls Project, participants make clay bowls and serve soup in them to guests, who pay a suggested donation (usually $10-$20) for the soup and then keep the bowls, to remind them there are empty bowls all over the world. The donations fund projects working towards ending hunger.

Here in Austin, there is an Empty Bowl Project at Clayworks Studio on Burnet every Sunday before Thanksgiving. That's this Sunday, November 18, from 11am-3pm, at 5442 Burnet Rd. The suggested donation is $15 per bowl. Local restaurants provide soup and there is live music. Get there early, because last year I came late and there was a line around the block.

If you aren't local, you can go here and see if there is an Empty Bowls Event in your neck of the woods.


I would like to go to this, however the one nearest me is only from 3pm-6pm? What weird times. Who wants dinner at 3? It's also on a weekday, so pretty impossible. Weird.

Leave a comment

I Live Here, I Give Here

| 1 Comment

On my travels through the Internets today, I came upon something I didn't know about: the website for the I Live Here, I Give Here campaign. Basically, the deal is that Austin is ranked 48th of the 50 largest cities in the country when it comes to charitable giving (though, interestingly third in volunteerism), and this campaign is striving to increase charitable giving by Austin residents by educating them about community needs and the organizations that are in place to meet those needs.

The goal of the campaign is to get Austin residents donating 3% of their incomes, while working towards 5%. Giving that church-based tithing is generally 10%, that seems doable. Right now, the average American household gives 3.2% of its (post-tax, I think) income to charity.

I think the campaign has the right idea--people would give more if they knew how and where their money could be best used. As for myself, their goals and the use of their handy giving calculator (under "How do you compare?") have once again opened my eyes to how much more I should be doing. I'm giving less than 2% of my take-home right now. Given my fairly low financial responsibilities (no kids), I ought to be doing better. And I am hoping this campaign will help me to find ways to do that. I'll definitely be re-checking their site when I decide on December's blog-highlighted charities.


That *is* really interesting that Austin ranks so low in charitable giving but so high in volunteering. It represents a different mentality to others in that money can't fix everything. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely 100% support (and participate in) active giving but doing hands on volunteer work isn't something to be sneezed at. So many more people are willing to open their check books than their homes or hearts so I find that commendable.

Leave a comment

Giving list


Someone inquired as to what my criteria are for the organizations to which I give and highlight each month. I answered truthfully--I have none. Got me thinking, though--where exactly is my money going? What's the breakdown? Does it reflect my values? So I thought I'd tally up my former giving orgs and see where it all falls out.

The name that shows up on my blog most often is SafePlace, a local organization working to eradicate domestic and sexual violence. I have given to them four times in the past two years. SafePlace is followed in popularity by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Amnesty International, each to whom I have given twice. After that, there are a bunch of one-time donation organizations. These include:

Dog organizations
Rocket Dog Rescue
Blue Dog Rescue
Lucky Mutts Rescue
Spindletop APBT/AST Refuge
The National Canine Cancer Foundation

Other animal organizations
Austin Zoo
The Elephant Sanctuary

Feminist/women's organizations
National Women's Law Center
Lilith: A Fund for Reproductive Equity
Feminist Majority Foundation

Health organizations
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Covered the Uninsured Week
Doctors without Borders

Arts/culture organizations
Blanton Art Museum
Austin Public Library
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Environmental organizations
Texas Campaign for the Environment
Austin Parks Foundation

Labor organizations
Sweatshop Watch
Texas State Employees Union

Human service organizations
Katrina Relief Fund
Catholic Charities Justice for Immigrants
Half the Sky Foundation
Any Soldier
Orange Santa

The Special Olympics
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Basic Rights Oregon

A total of 32 different organizations, 12 of them local, 16 national, and 4 local to somewhere else. As I expected, animal organizations are overrepresented. Labor organizations are really underrepresented, as are feminist organizations, and that is something I hope to fix in the next year. I like and hope to keep my fairly local focus. All in all, I'm pleased.

Leave a comment

November Giving


The organization I am giving to in November is one that is very near and dear to my heart, and has been since Mark made me a member as a birthday present several years ago: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. I hope to someday be able to afford to give at the $5,000 level, because the you get an invitation to go visit!

The mission of the Elephant Sanctuary is:

To provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures, old-growth forests, spring-fed ponds and a heated barn for cold winter nights.
To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense, playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.

For the most part, the elephants who live there are former circus and zoo elephants, and many of them have been treated quite badly in captivity. The sanctuary seeks to let them live as peaceably and naturally as possible for the remainder of their lives. I love elephants, and hate how they are treated around the world, and I am 100% in support of the sanctuary's mission. So today I am renewing my newly-expired membership and I encourage anybody out there who is interested to consider becoming a member.

Leave a comment

Another financial thing


Oh, and another financial thing I need to do in order to get myself back into a healthy place is to resume my monthly giving campaign on the blog. I suspended it several months ago, and I can't even quite remember why now, and I have been resenting myself for it ever since. So, for the month of October, I'm giving to Basic Rights Oregon. Basic Rights Oregon is a group dedicated to "ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Oregon," and right now they are fighting for a comprehensive domestic partnership law in Oregon.

That's them on the right, if your giving dollars are still burning a hole in your pocket this month.

Leave a comment

June Giving

| 1 Comment

A slight bit early due to my upcoming vacation and Internet-hiatus, here is June's highlighted charity: The Special Olympics. I'm sure you already know what they do, but I will add that their summer games are coming up in October in Shanghai, China, so that's pretty cool. As I mentioned earlier, picking this month's charity was the prize for my Beanie Baby contest, so thanks to Shara!


Thanks for giving to the Special Olympics. You're the best!

Leave a comment

May Giving


I've delinquent in my monthly giving post, sorry! I kept meaning to put it up and forgetting. And I know you were waiting with baited breath, too...

For May, in honor of the real Labor Day, May 1, I'm highlighting a great organization called Sweatshop Watch. Sweatshop Watch grew up around California's garment industry and has since gone international. They're a great group who agitate for workers rights and work towards awareness of lousy labor practices. They also provide a fantastic resource in their Shop with a Conscience Shopping Guide. If you have extra pennies lying around this month, they definitely are worth supporting.

The banner under their logo there on the right of the page is for my union, the Texas State Employees Union (CWA Local 6186 AFL-CIO). They're currently fighting the good fight in the state legislature, trying to get a reasonable raise, some health care reform, and some other things for all of us state workers. Anybody who knows anything about this state knows that is a hard battle to fight, so I wanted to give them a shout-out (and a little bit of cash) this month as well.

Leave a comment

April Giving


safeplacewalk.gifDue to my being a bit of a scheduling numbskull and double-booking myself for April 14, I am not going to be able to take part in this year's SafePlace Walk. However, I am still a huge admirer of SafePlace itself and of the walk, so that's where my April donation dollars are going.

Leave a comment

March giving

| 1 Comment

For March, my donation dollars are going to Austin Parks Foundation. We take our boys to a city dog park nearly every weekend, so the least I can do is show my support by becoming a member of the park foundation. It's only good sense.

How are the parks where you are? Do you use them? Support them?


I hear parks here are good. I avoid them tho. I do generally like park district facilities for working out in other cities I have lived. There's a big park here that is mainly in my way.

There's a sculpture park here I have yet to go to which sounds good.

Leave a comment

February Giving

| 1 Comment

You probably know that February is Black History Month. Did you know that it's also Library Lovers' Month? In acknowledgment of both of these things, my February dollars are going to my local public library and to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. If you have the notion, think about where these to month-long observations would lead you to give your time or money or resources, then proceed accordingly. If you are anything like me, you'll be glad you did.

Edited on 2/2/07: Mark and his mom went to visit the Austin Zoo yesterday, and on his request, I am adding them to this month's giving. Like some other zoos (and unlike others), the Austin Zoo is based on providing a safe and happy home for animals rescued from abusive and inappropriate situations, including private ownership and circuses. It's as much sanctuary as zoo. I can definitely support that.


I am quite excited by your choices!

Also, there is some interesting info online about segregated libraries in the civil rights movement.

If anyone is looking for anywhere else to donate, the Freedom to Read Foundation which fights censorship.

Leave a comment

January Giving


For my first-of-the-year giving, I'm renewing my memberships in a few worthwhile organizations for 2007. These organizations are:

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Feminist Majority Foundation
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Amnesty International USA
KUT (Austin's public radio station)

These are organizations that I believe are worth my membership every year, at least in our current climate. I encourage you to take a bit of time this January and consider whether you have similar organizations, and pledge your support to them--at whatever level--for 2007. You don't have to make a big donation to become a member, and increasing membership is as important as money for some of these groups, as they can bring down more funds of other types when their membership numbers go up, among other things. It's a good thing to do.Plus they send you stickers. And address labels. And this year the ASPCA send me really cool wrapping paper. So there's that...

Leave a comment

December Giving: Orange Santa


Orange Santa graphicDecember already!

And, of course, that means that I need to put up my choice for December giving. It's really a no-brainer this time of year--Christmas gifts for those who might do without otherwise. In my particular case, I will be making some gift donations to the University of Texas' Orange Santa program, which collects donations into a "store," which is then open for parents to "shop" for presents for their kids. Obviously, if you aren't local, it doesn't make sense for you to give to this particular program, but there is something like this (a giving tree, a Toys for Tots donation barrel, something) in every town, I think, and I highly encourage you to include a donation to one of these programs in your Christmas shopping list.

Leave a comment

Any solider

| 1 Comment

I don't know if I've made this clear before now, but I'm sure it's not a surprise: I'm against the war in Iraq. I marched against it before it started (and just after), I've written countless letters against it, I'm against it. I think it's a bad idea. I don't think we ever should have invaded. I think it's bad, bad, bad.

That being said, I have a little tradition I started for myself several Thanksgivings ago that I thought I'd share. The first year, I took up a collection at my workplace to do it, since then I've been doing it on a smaller scale on my own. I go over to and pick out a couple of wish lists, head over to Target to shop, and send a couple of care packages to folks serving abroad. Particularly to women serving abroad.

So why, since I am against the war, do I do that?

Well, to begin with, I don't think that the young men and women who are suffering on the ground have much say in the policy that put them there. Less say than I have in it, probably, due to their lower age and lower socioeconomics. It's not their fault they are there.

Secondly, I empathize with them, for a kind of strange reason. When I was the age some of them are, I was in my first year of college, and I was so, so homesick. I was in a safe, nice place, which I had chosen, which was only a couple hundred miles from home, and I was miserable. And I seriously cannot comprehend how much worse that it would have been to been in a dangerous situation, with few amenities, in a foreign country, where you had the risk of having to kill or be killed. It's beyond my capacity for creative thought. So I feel personally responsible for doing a little something to try to alleviate the homesickness these kids (and they are kids) must feel. For me, nothing helped more than a package from home, and I think it must be the same for them. And I feel especially for the women, whose lists so often ask for things like deodorant and tampons, as they are in a place that has to be alienating to them on a whole other level (both in terms of the military and in terms of the country).

Finally, I believe in being the change you want to see in the world. The change I want to see is for our government not to ever feel that it's the right thing to do to send kids to kill and die a million miles away for spurious reasons. But that's not something I have much capacity to change right now. What I do have the capacity to change, albeit in a very small way, is how horrible it is for those kids. And I want to do that.

Be forewarned that the website is sort of sickeningly ra-ra USA and doesn't mesh with many (if any) of the political views you or I may hold. To me, that doesn't matter. I can look past that, for a minute, and try to just be kind. I think that maybe if more people could try to do that, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Also, if you decide to send a soldier a care package this Thanksgiving (or some other time), please include a letter. From what I've read/heard, personal letters are reallly appreciated.


Uh oh. I am going to become addicted to this site and the hopping it leads to.

Leave a comment

November Giving

| 1 Comment

Half the Sky logoNovember is National Adoption Month. In that spirit, and in honor of my best kid friend, H., who is soon moving very far away and whom I will miss more than I can say, I've decided to send my November giving to Half the Sky Foundation. Half the Sky's mission is as follows:

Half the Sky was created by adoptive parents of orphaned Chinese children. Our purpose is to enrich the lives and enhance the prospects for the babies and children in China who still wait to be adopted, and for those who will spend their childhoods in orphanages. We establish early childhood education, personalized learning and infant nurture programs in Chinese welfare institutions to provide the children stimulation, individual attention, and an active learning environment.

A little bit of money can make a huge difference in the lives of the kids in China Half the Sky serves. For example, $50 pays for a month of nanny services, and $100 buys a month of art supplies for a preschool. Please consider honoring the kids in your life--adopted or not--with a donation to Half the Sky or some other adoption organization this month.


Thank you for spotlighting Half the Sky. from everything I've seen, they really do some great work and in addition to helping the little ones in Chinese Orphanages, they have also helped provide skills training for older girls about to age-out of adoption eligibility who will need to find a job or school with no family to reassure or help them in any way.


Leave a comment

In 1987, October was declared "National Domestic Violence Awareness Month". In honor of this month of recognition, I'm directing October's giving towards a local domestic and sexual violence shelter and organization, SafePlace. Please consider giving to your own local DV shelter this month, or to one of the many national level organizations combatting domestic violence.

Leave a comment

National Canine Cancer Foundation

One of my favorite blog-dogs, Mrs. Kennedy's gorgeous bulldog Katie, had to be put down this week due to cancer. In her name, September giving goes to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, to support research into cancer in dogs.

Leave a comment

August giving


Besides being the month of my birth, August is also National Immunization Awareness Month. In that spirit, my choice for August giving is Doctors without Borders. Doctors without Borders is a great organization that provides emergency and basic medical care, including immunizations, to those in need worldwide, including and especially in some of the world's saddest and most frightening places. They do great work and are worth supporting.

Leave a comment

July giving


July's giving is going to Spindletop APBT/AST Refuge. I came home to yet another sad, sad story about pit bulls. Rest in peace, Fred.

Leave a comment

June giving


I just realized I'd been remiss in changing my May "Give" selection for June, and here it is the 9th already. For June, Mark and I gave to two local dog rescues, Blue Dog Rescue, and Lucky Mutts Rescue, both linked at left. In return, they kindly listed Bridget, our foster dog, on their referrals page. And now I just wait for the phone calls and emails about her to come pouring in...:)

Anyway, support your local dog rescue this month, if you have the inclination. They're doing good work, and they could use your help.

Leave a comment

May giving


I'm a little bit behind, but my choices for May giving are on the right. I choose Covered the Uninsured Week as something to highlight, even if there isn't necessarily anywhere specific to donate, because it's this week, and getting health care to people who don't have it in this country is one of my top priorities. I chose Amnesty International because they sent me some frighteningly dire mail a few weeks back and I put them on the top of my pile of future choices. Timely, I guess. Anyway, those are my picks for this month.

Leave a comment

April Giving


One day early, but oh well. My choices for April Giving are:

1. The Catholic Charities Justice for Immigrants project. This may seem an odd choice for me, and it is, but there is reasoning behind it. My great-grandmother, an Italian immigrant and a devout Catholic, died last week. This donation is in her honor. May she rest in peace.

2. Lilith: A Fund for Reproductive Equity, a local organization providing funding for low-income women to get abortions. From their website: "Lilith: A Fund for Reproductive Equity believes that the right to choose an abortion is meaningless without access to abortion services. Restrictions on abortion access and funding are discriminatory because they especially burden low-income women. We oppose all efforts to restrict abortion rights and are committed to fighting for access to abortion for all women. We believe that it is the responsibility of government to provide public funding for abortions, but that we must act now to support women who want abortions but cannot afford them." I'm behind that.

As always, please check them out (butttons at right), and give if you feel moved to do so. Happy April!

Leave a comment



Next month, I am participating in a benefit walk for Safe Place, a fantastic local women's shelter/organization combating domestic and sexual violence. So, I'm soliciting contributions to sponsor my walk. My current goal is to collect $300 for Safe Place. If you think you might want to contribute, please go to my walk web page.

Thanks in advance!

Leave a comment

March giving


Since the month has changed already, it's time to choose new charities to highlight on WINOW. This month, I've chosen two charities. The first, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, is in honor of my friend Suzanne, who is currently fighting for her life against breast cancer. The second is Rocket Dog Rescue, the organization run by my new personal hero Pali Boucher, about whom I wrote an entry last month.

Please check out these orgs and give if you can. Happy March!

Leave a comment

Texas Campaign for the Environment


Due to some very convincing and cute canvassers coming by last night, I've added another reputable cause to my giving list.

Among other things, TCE convinced Michael Dell to take back old computers and recycle them responsibly. Excellent!

Leave a comment

Meet my new hero, Pali Boucher


The other day, Mark and I caught a show on Animal Planet called "Rocket Dogs." Rocket Dog Rescue is a dog rescue in San Francisco, run by an amazing women named Pali Boucher. The show did not just talk about the rescue, but about Pali's life and how she came to be doing what she's doing. I have rarely admired anyone more. Born a ward of the state with a drug addicted mother who died when she was 10, Pali had a rough, rough childhood and early adulthood. A number of years back, she was homeless and drug addicted. Then she met a dog named Leadbelly (looked to be a hound/Rott mix of some time) and wanted to be able to take care of him so badly that she went into rehab and got clean.

Pali had several good years with Leadbelly, during which she also fostered other dogs. Then Leadbelly died, and Rocket Dog Rescue was born. Pali doesn't just rescue any dogs, but dogs that are on their last chance. She specifically chooses dogs that are old, or sick, or have other issues that are keeping them from being easily adoptable, and she often swoops in in their last hours and saves them from being put down by city and county shelters. Judging from the both the show and the rescue's website, Pali has quite a network, but she also fosters up to a dozen dogs at a time at her house, and it was clear in the program that she is tireless in the work she's doing. The show said that she'd placed about 700 dogs in the five years since she founded Rocket Dog Rescue, and that is an amazing number, particularly given the type of dogs she takes in. And though Pali's active time may be limited (she's HIV-positive), she also has big plans for the future, including an urban sanctuary dog shelter in San Francisco.

I could go on and on about how amazing Pali is and how great the work she's doing is, but I won't. There's a pretty good little article about it here, or, if Animal Planet plays the show again, set your DVR.

Or hey, send a donation Pali's way. I'm gonna.


You said "set your DVR" and I went, "set my what now?" Dog Video Recorder? Dangerously Volatile Redneck? I can't work it out.

I'm a friend of Pali's and I was very touched by what you wrote. She's an amazing lady and you echoed my sentiments exactly about the tv show. Pali wished more of the volunteers could have been shown but I think the human interest angle of what she went through made the show so watchable. I've sent your link on to Pali. It looks like a lot of people were moved by the show.

Hey! My name is Laura and I am a volunteer for Rocket Dog Rescue. I stumbled upon your AWESOME blog and was wondering if you could help me by posting info about a new book that is coming out where 100% of the gross proceeds will be going to 5 non-profit animal groups in the SF Bay Area (SFSPCA, PAWS, Friends of Animal Care and Control, Pets Unlimited and Rocket Dog Rescue. For more info on the groups, please visit: The author even donated the cost of the publishing so literally every cent raised goes to these non-profits! Anyway, the book is amazing - full of stories about people (from Amy Tan to Robin Williams to the woman who lives down the block from you!) and the animals who share their lives. It's a beautiful, full color coffee table book and would be a great mother's or father's day gift! I do think that blogs are a huge way that people communicate these days so I thought you would be a great person to get the word out and help raise a load of money for these amazing groups. The more books sold, the more lives saved. It's just a fact. Please let me know if you want more information on Tails Of Devotion or you can get it at Thank you so much for your time and help ? Best, Laura Beck 510 205 3945 Rocket Dog Rescue San Francisco, CA

Pali Boucher is my new hero too. To see SUCH a beautiful soul makes life inspirational. I wanna be like her one day, love Roshelle. xx

Leave a comment

February Giving

| 1 Comment

The month has changed already! For my February giving choices, I went local. The Blanton Art Musuem is UT's art museum--it's been undergoing a big remodel and will be re-opening in April, which I'm very excited about. Safe Place is a fantastic organization that helps women and children get out of abusive situations. Both are definitely worth your time and dollars, so check them out.


Ooooh, I LOVE the Blanton. Good for you for supporting them.

Leave a comment



I thought I already wrote a post about this, but I can't find it, so perhaps it was in my head. Anyway, aside from the 12 New Year's resolutions I posted the other day, I also have one more. This one was actually made way back in September, after Katrina hit, but it's one I plan to keep for 2006.

I resolved at that time to give a set amount of money each month to charity. After giving it some thought, I decided that the way I'd do this was to pick one or two or three charities each month and give to those. In order to spread the word, I started posting buttons to link to the charities I'd chosen over there -->, changing them when I gave to something new (ideally each month, but the Katrina Relief Fund was up for several months, for obvious reasons). So that's what those are there for. Thanks to the reader who asked!

This month's highlighted organizations are the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the National Women's Law Center. Both are great organizations and I encourage you to check them out.

Leave a comment

Network For Good


Today I learned that you can go here and make online charitable contributions to a whole bunch of charities. Good information to have.

Leave a comment

May 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Follow Me on Pinterest