Posts Tagged ‘Charitable Living’

7 Ways to Make a Difference on World AIDS Day

Today marks the 24th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Each one of us has the power to end the epidemic. Below are a few ways that you can educate yourselves while also contributing to the greater cause.

Educate:

    • Have you been tested in the past six months? If not, today is as good as day as any to go find out your status. Visit this site to find a testing location near you.
    • Join Alicia Keys, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for a Twitter chat about AIDS in America at noon ET TODAY.
    • Tonight, MTV will air “I’m Positive,” a documentary that follows the daily lives of three young people who are living with HIV. The hour long special airs at 7p ET/6p CT. Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 make up 24 percent of new HIV infections in the US.

Shop:

  • Dance (Red) – Download this high-energy dance album produced by global DJ Tiesto. All proceeds from the sale of the album will be donated to the Global Fund.

  • Starbucks – For every handcrafted beverage, Starbucks will donate five cents to The Global Fund. (It’s easy to scoff at five cents until you think about how many drinks Starbucks moves on a daily basis.)
  • MAC Cosmetics – TODAY only, MAC will double the donation of your online Viva Glam purchase. View the collection here.

Serve:

  • Identify community organizations in your area that provide HIV services and/or resources and get involved. That can be doing anything from passing out condoms, volunteering at a health fair, or even answering the phones at a clinic.

Today, I’ll be preparing lunch for women attending a support group at the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project before going to support my church’s Community Health Fair. Every action counts.

How will you honor World AIDS Day today and moving forward?

Opening My Windows

Today while browsing through Twitter, I came across this quote, tweeted by the Angel Rock Project:

Quote of the Day: The charitable give out the door and God puts it back through the window…Traditional Proverb.

I read it and had to stop, think, and say a prayer to God. It went a little something like this…

God, as long as I can, I promise to use the gifts that you gave me to help others, while at the same time helping my spirit and soul. As I send these blessings out the door, I will open my heart and mind to receive any and everything that you see fit to put through my window. Thank you for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Amen.

Knowing that you reap everything that you sow, what blessings and positivity are you giving out your door? If you’re not already doing so, I encourage you to find a way (any way) to start investing in others and in your community. The reward is there for the taking, and trust me…You will be blessed.

Happy Friday!

-kb

Photo: Gentle Breeze by Lyle Huisken (as featured on Fine Art America)

3 Tips When Donating Items To Charity

You know the routine. You look up one day and decide that you have too much stuff in your home and something must go! Maybe you’ll try and give the items away to family and friends. OR you may decide just to donate it.

While you may think that thrift stores and consignment shops should just take whatever you give them, I’m here to warn you that is NOT the case.

Here are three super simple tips for donating to charity thrift stores:

Check the store’s website to see what they can and cannot accept.

You’d be surprised at some of the things that can’t be donated. I once tried to give away plastic hangers and college textbooks and was denied! I couldn’t believe it. So, the hangers are still clogging the closet and the books are in a box until I find a good home for them.

Check to make sure that clothes aren’t dirty, ripped, or soiled.

When the staff is sorting through the clothes, any damaged (or smelly) clothes are thrown out because they don’t have the resources to wash or repair each item. Remember, the goal is to get the goods immediately on the sales floor and make some moolah!

Make sure that you get a receipt for the value of the items.

Yes, of course, most of us donate out of the kindness of our hearts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the tax benefits. When you donate items to a thrift store run by a charitable 501(c)3 organization, you can deduct the “fair market value” of the items when you prepare your taxes. “Fair market value” essentially means that you estimate the value of that item today. So, don’t list your 2000 Gap blouse with the missing button at the price you paid, especially since we all know it’s not worth that anymore! For more guidance, ask your accountant or visit irs.gov!

Okay, so you’ve given your stuff away and are probably wondering what to do with the unacceptables. Well, my suggestion is to look around for nonprofits or shelters that take items in and give them away, not sell them. And, if that doesn’t work, then just take them to the trash. I ended up giving my chipped table to the junk man. Hey, sometimes it happens…As long as you tried to donate, that’s all that counts in my opinion!


I’ll Never Forget Why I Give Back

Within the past 72 hours, I’ve been blessed to say that to two individuals that I’ve helped and it’s been the most AMAZING experience. On Saturday, I joined my girlfriend Ashley, her mom, aunt, and another family friend at The Glass Slipper Project. The Glass Slipper Project provides prom gowns to high school girls who might not be able to afford them due to financial circumstances. Actually, let me correct myself. The Glass Slipper Project provides a gown, shoes, a handbag, accessories, and even makeup for the girls.

volunteering glass slipper project

I had the pleasure of being the personal shopper for Miss T. After 3 trips to the dressing room and 10 gowns later, we found a gown that she loved and felt amazing in…Score! Moving on to shoes, she found a pair of heels that wouldn’t cramp her style and (of course) matched her dress. After we conquered accessories and makeup, our time together was up. I’m not going to lie…I kind of wished that the day would continue on forever. Or at least the feeling. We spent over an hour together, and for that hour, NOTHING else mattered. It was all about helping her get dressed for a night that she would hopefully remember forever.

As we hugged goodbye, she said “It was fun hanging with you. Thank you!” My response…”No. Thank You!”

***

Fast forward to yesterday… While strolling to Kinko’s, I was approached by a woman, Miss Rose, who told me that she was just laid off and that she needed food to feed her children at home. As her voice cracked while explaining her situation, something in my spirit whispered to me, “Do this.” As we were walked to the neighborhood convenience store, she told me about her oldest daughter, a freshman in high school, who was celebrating her birthday on that day.

“Mom, I know you’re waiting for your unemployment, but do you think that you could bake a cake for me today?” the daughter asked earlier that morning.

“When she told me that this morning, I just broke out in tears,” Miss Rose told me.

As Rose continued to talk, I felt a lump forming in my throat. As the daughter of a mother who often had to choose medication over clothes, or who had to scrounge up dollars for our school field trips, I was familiar with the tears of a mother who wished that she could do just a little more, give just a little more.

When Rose and I arrived at the store, she asked if I could just get her a can of chili for the kids. “Absolutely. And, don’t forget the supplies for the birthday cake,” I replied. After our mini-shopping treat was complete, we walked back outside and I gave her an extra umbrella for her walk back home and two hugs.

She said “Thank you.”

I replied, “No, thank you.”

In both of those experiences, I don’t know who was more grateful. Me or them. Giving is not just a transaction of dollars or products. It is a demonstration of the human spirit. As we continue to hear stories of our neighbors, our friends, or even strangers going through hard times, none of us can afford to act like we’re living in a bubble.

While some would say that the emotion tied to both of my experiences is directly related to my past and how I grew up, I have to say that it’s more than that. These interactions reminded me why I love to give. It’s because I’ve been the recipient of kindness and my donations are the price I pay to be alive. There’s no other way to describe it.

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