Friday, December 10, 2010

easy ways to give back right now!


Ok friends, we are taking a quick break from the creative inspiration for another kind of inspiration. For the last few weeks I have been putting together a list of easy and attainable ways to give back this holiday season and not just because "it's that time of the year" but because we are moving into a new year, a time to make promises, changes and to start fresh. And while typically I don't publicly share my resolutions or goals (or even a lot of my personal feelings about things for that matter), this year I am. My one and only resolution for the year is to give- in small and big ways.

While I already give of myself in so many different ways, I ache for MORE, more giving and less of myself. I'm actually tired of me (and this "me culture" that we live in), of always thinking about my little world, the people, the things, the drama, the keeping up, the distractions. Me me me me me me me me me me me- thats how it all starts to sound after a while! I am so ready to re-prioritize this area of my life.

I would like to invite all of you, my wonderful blog friends to join me in making this a holiday and a new year about giving of ourselves. In the months to come I will be providing inspiration, opportunities to get involved and sharing my own journey of using creativity to give back.

To start- I put together a list of easy ways to give back right now- kind of like a warm up for the things that will come next. please note there are no pretty pictures- just my words :)

Often it feels that in order to give its gotta be big (at least this is how I think). You don't have to travel to the ends of the earth to find someone or something that needs you. My dream of working with kids in Africa may not happen tomorrow but I can treat all the other opportunities that come my way as such- with the same follow through, energy, passion, respect and honor. Find someone or something in your life that needs you, that needs your gifts, your time, your skills, your knowledge, your kindness and give like you have never given before- give BIG to them.

Instead of using your your social network to play Farmville, stalk people from high school or report what you ate for dinner -this I AM so guilty of- try using it to promote a cause, raise awareness or even raise money. Word travels fast in cyberspace so why not make it meaningful.

Did you know that right now we are all one click away from personally thanking or sending encouragement to the military? Whether or not you agree with the wars that we are fight- we have men and women whose lives are dedicated to serving our country, who are far away and have families that are affected. Why not send a message, spread some love, reach out and say thank you. I LOVE how easy yet profound this is!

I know it sounds cliche and impersonal but as a former fundraiser for a non profit, I truly know that every single penny counts when it comes to philanthropy and these days there are so many organizations that fit with our individual passions. From buying chickens for a family, to cancer research, to digging a well, to supporting education there are SO MANY opportunities to give. You could even consider giving donations in someone else's name instead of buying gifts!

To find just about any charity organization- visit Charity Finder and look for something that fits you.

If you have ever visited a retirement home, you will know that we have so many elderly just waiting for friendship, interaction and purpose. Contact a local retirement home and find out if there are opportunities to get involved, be a friend or even organize and event. Most assisted living or retirement homes will have an activities director that is always looking for new ideas, activities and programming. Messy graffiti painting might be just what your local retirement home needs!

My husband is really good at this one- instead of just the standard 15% leave a HUGE tip for your waitstaff, slip $20 (instead of $2) to the shuttle driver at the airport or give your taxi driver a big something extra. It is so easy to take the men and women in the service industry for granted, why not show some extra appreciation.

Did you know (according to Feeding America Stats) that EACH WEEK 5.7 million people receive emergency food from a food assistance agency? This number blows me away! Local food banks, food drives, community programs are everywhere- especially during the holidays- and it couldn't be easier to participate and donate to. Find a local food drive in your community or visit Feeding America for ways to get involved to fight hunger in the U.S.

Simple, easy and something we all probably need to do! But instead of giving all the old stuff you don't wear anymore, try to also pull things that you just don't need (like that really pretty jacket that you never wear but it cost too much to get rid of) or consider going shopping for new clothing that you can also donate to a drive. This time of year is a great time to find opportunities to donate clothing (blankets, toys, etc) in communities everywhere. From shelters to schools, take a little time and do some research to see who is collecting.

This holiday instead of your typical shopping, shop for charity- can you believe there is actually something called charity malls? Tons of companies and non profits organizations provide the option to shop and a percentage of your purchase goes to charity. Visit for a list of resources and participating stores.

Are you a good cook, great photographer, talented graphic designer, fabulous handyman or woman? Put your passion and your gifts to use and share them with someone. Offer a free photo session, teach a workshop for free, cook a fancy meal for friends, help a neighbor with home repairs. We all have gifts, something that comes easy and things we are comfortable doing- share them with those around you and expect nothing in return.

As amazing as volunteering, getting involved with programs and giving back is, often it seems finding time in today's world is the biggest obstacle in being consistent. With the holiday madness soon behind us, start now by making a schedule for giving. Do a little research, find some opportunities that inspire you and pull out the calendar and schedule time for the year. Make giving just as high of a priority as the other important tasks in your life.

And last I want to share with you a video of one of CNN's Heroes of 2010- Narayanan Krishnan. As I was finishing up this post, I bounced over to Facebook to find this video on a friend's wall (yep, Facebook can be used for good!). I am so profoundly moved by the simplicity and the power of what he is doing with his passion and talent in India- it is SO inspiring, humbling and a perfect way to end this post, I had to pass it on to all of you.

Narayanan Krishnan is an award winning chef who worked for a 5 star hotel group, he quit his job and moved back home to India to feed the poor.

For more about Narayanan visit CNN


martinealison said...

Effectivement plein de bonnes résolutions... Il n' y a qu'à piocher...
Bonne fin d'année à vous et plein de bonnes choses pour 2011.

Unknown said...

You might want to check out - a place where a small donation (min $25) is pooled with other donors to make micro-loans to our world's working poor. You choose your own loan(s).

I really like some of your ideas and have been wanting to clean out my closets (and those of my grown children) for months now. I'll do it tomorrow. /Cathy

Ariadne said...

Thank you for giving us all this,you made me really sit down and think!Ariadne from Greece!

hawkeyejlp said...

Fabulous post. Your beautiful heart shines through your work, but this post makes it concrete.

Cheryl said...

I have loved your willingness to share as an artist. Now I love that you are a generous caring human being who reminds us of what we can do in this world to make it a better place. You are inspiring.

Sandye said...

Thank you for all that you have given to those of us who follow your blog. And thank you for this excellent reminder that we can all give something to someone be it money, food or time.

Thank you also for sharing the video, it brought tears to my eyes, what a wonderful man.

Denise said...

Thank you for inspiring me beyond the arts. I needed to read this this morning and my mind is spinning as to how I can give more of my gifts. This year I made a huge move....from Corona del Mar, CAlifornia to Denver Colorado. So many of my family and friends joined in to help get me here.....body and soul. I have focused on giving back to them for their support but you have reminded and encouraged me to go beyond those I know and to give to those I have never seen or met.
Thank you

SewLindaAnn said...

My son (18) came home from school yesterday really disgusted. When we talked about what was bothering him it was almost your exact sentiments. He was tired of hearing around him about what the kids wanted, needed, had to have. He was disappointed in the commercialism and how people forget that many don't have a "Christmas" in the material sense. Together, him and I, are trying to help in our small ways wherever possible. Thank you for sharing a wonderful post.

Bonita Rose said...

such a beautiful post.. I too wanna give more of myself this coming year... I saw your video on FB last nite and right away posted it on my wall too.. after watching it.. man.. we need more ppl in the world like him.. and it starts with me.. Me.
I can do so much more.. xo
love you.

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Amen! You have just voiced everything I feel. The school my kids attend is community service oriented so there are always opportunities for giving and I give to all. The HS homerooms adopt a worker and tomorrow I will be buying winter supplies. Our Elementary PE teacher is going to Uganda over the Christmas break where her parents are volunteering -- I donated money and clothes that my kids no longer need. I am also donating clothes from me and my husband to Operation Hope. I fix a bag lunch for the street worker in our area. I do all this, and yet I am always looking for ways to do more. More folks need to look beyond their own backyard and realize they have it good. Everyone should take every opportunity to give back big! Wishing you a happy holiday season. Tammy

Jane LaFazio said...

We have a new insurance agent this year. a very young, lovely woman, just starting out. We got a holiday card from her...she's made it her goal to collect 100 blankets for San Diego's homeless, and she's started by buying 25 of them herself. She asked us, her clients, to donate $5 or a blanket. I LOVE THAT.

Deb's Artful Journey said...

Thank you for all that you give to us... your blog readers. I read you every day and am always inspired by what you offer!

As someone who works for a non profit in SF that feeds and clothes the poor, I loved this video (and made a donation).

Thank you for this post!

Barbara L. said...

Check out YouTube and look for Rick Boosey's World Garden. Another person(s)' giving back. He's from a big family of givers.

marilyn said...

Great Ideas. I'm already planning what I'm going to do and I'm going to get my friends involved too.

Emily said...

Alisa, the video that I posted on my FB page a few days ago kept coming to mind as I read further and further down your post. I am one of those 5.7 million people who have received emergency food assistance in the past year, but still find that I have more than many in this world. That video is the same one you just posted and it brought tears to my eyes- especially this time of year when you encounter so many people caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I am far from perfect, but am always looking for ways to give back; your list is a great resource and very inspiring. I know you reach a lot of people, thank you.

Aubree said...

Thanks for sharing this!

Faiza said...

thank you for giving BIG right here.

krex said...

Thanks for sharing some great ideas . Couldn't agree more that we can some times get so warped up in our own person (and often petty )daily dramas that we lose track of reality .


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