Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Your Guide to Giving Tuesday: Ways to give this holiday season

'The person who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.' - Confucius

Now that we've surpassed Cyber Week, it's time to talk about something much more important-- and really what the entire holiday season is about and that is giving. I update this and post it each and every year and have been since 2015! 

Giving Tuesday is a nationwide day dedicated to giving. Give time, money, love--whatever you have to give. Obviously, it's great to give often, but it's a worldwide effort today to remind people to be generous with what they have.

We all know giving is important, I know you are all so incredibly giving and so I don't need to preach to you or anyone. But sometimes, and I can only speak for myself, I can get caught up in the busyness of day-to-day life and it's nice to get a gentle reminder to think of others. I also find it helpful to be reminded of ways to give. I think many don't give because it can be overwhelming and they are unsure of where to begin I also think many people think their donation of $20 is meaningless and that's just not the case! Any amount of money, time, kindness, empathy, patience- whatever you have to give- it always feels so good when you do it, right?! 

Now, as a disclaimer, I couldn't possibly share every single non-profit nor could I donate to every single one and I'm sure I'm leaving out SO many wonderful organizations. I'm also focusing mostly on the Pittsburgh area. This is meant to be a positive post to inspire you to give and potentially provide you with a jumping-off point- NOT the be-all and end-all.

When you are choosing to donate financially, it is so important to do your *own* research to make sure that the organization you are giving to is legitimate. There are, unfortunately, so many scammers out there trying to take advantage of good people so just be cautious and donate to legitimate causes close to your heart! Charity Watch is a resource that you can check out for more information on doing your research before you donate!
Give to Organizations:

Ronald McDonald House
Since I met my husband, the Ronald McDonald House has really hit home for me. My husband's brother passed away from leukemia when they were young children and although I have heard of the struggles, it's still so hard for me to fathom the loss of a sibling or having your child pass away. Life is hard and stressful even when it's going OK, the added heartbreak of having a sick child is just too much. The goal is to provide families who have sick children in the hospital with a place to stay for an extended period of time. This is so they can keep their other worries to a minimum so that they can focus on their child's health. At the house, meals are served daily, there are common rooms/playrooms for children, and the locations are very close to the hospitals, too.

This non-profit fulfills wishes for children with critical illnesses. This is where you can donate for the local PA/WV chapter. And this is where you can find your local chapter! My husband's brother made a wish when he was ill. My husband tells the story of how selfless his brother was even in this instance. He had a few wish options but his brother ultimately chose Disney World so his siblings could join him and partake in everything with him. I think that is so incredibly touching... I really can't even think about it without tearing up. In hearing about something like this first-hand, I see that the wish was not only wonderful for my husband's brother but how priceless the memories are that my husband holds onto from this. 

WFS provides behavioral healthcare services and support programs to children, adults, and families over the course of their lives so that they are empowered to reach their full potential. 

There is nothing worse than being cold during the winter and in Pittsburgh, the cold is unbearable at times. No one should ever have to be without a coat. Project Bundle-Up has helped since 1986!

This is similar to Project Bundle-Up but on a national level. I just learned about it last year. You can put in your zip code and see if there are local chapters and many of them will come and pick them up. There are tons of non-profits here in Pittsburgh that will accept the coats and pick them up. They take gently used coats, but if you don't have any of those, Costco has tons of really affordable coat options. Many are under $30. 

Shriners Hospitals for Children
The organization raises money for Shriner hospitals around the country that provide care to children at no cost to families, specifically burn care, orthopedics, cleft lip and palate, and spinal cord injury treatment and care. My dad and grandfather are both Shriners! They've helped over one 1.5 million children in need.

Pittsburgh Food Bank
Unfortunately, the need is so great here in Pittsburgh and with the cost of groceries so high right now, food banks need financial support to keep up. I imagine this is sadly a similar situation in a lot of other cities and towns across the country. Donate, donate, donate! If you are physically donating food, they have guidelines on what they accept so be sure to take a look at their website to review those.

Washington Area Humane Society
This is a no-kill 501(c)(3) animal shelter and where we saved Mac, our Australian Cattle Dog- he passed away almost 5 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long), but he was the absolute BEST. I'm a huge dog person. Tracy's Dogs, where we adopted Henry is no longer functioning but has since changed to Tracy's Paws. If I could adopt all the dogs in the world and give them safe, warm, happy homes, I would. Since I can't, and most can't do that, adopting just one dog can help! I know SO many of you have done just that this year and seeing our local shelter's adoption posts warmed my heart. If a dog is not for you, you can also donate your time or money to help! Another shelter in the Pittsburgh area is Animal Friends, which is also a no-kill.

I am a huge advocate for pet adoption. There are SO many dogs who need good homes and giving the gift of a wonderful life for a pet is so selfless and wonderful. Although, adopting Henry was the best thing I have ever done and I'm pretty sure I benefitted even more than he did. When you adopt from any organization or shelter around the world, you are actually saving 2 dogs. You save the dog you adopt and the dog that gets that open spot in a shelter. If you go through an organization like Tracy's Paws, you end up saving 3 dogs because you open a spot at the organization, too. 

Meals on Wheels
This serves older Pittsburghers and those who are unable to prepare nutritious meals for themselves. It's a great organization and you can help by donating your time, money or in-kind donations such as food and/or kitchen supplies.

Children's Hospital
One of the worst things is having something happen to one of your loved ones. It's truly heartbreaking. If you are a Pittsburgher, consider donating to Children's Hospital. There are Children's hospitals all over the country, so be sure to look up one near you if you are not in the Pittsburgh area.

Dress for Success
This promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women. I love that one of my favorite brands, Talbots, hosts a big drive for this non-profit every year.

United Way
There are so many ways that you can help the United Way of Allegheny County and there are so many ways that the United Way helps so many of the people in your local community. From children to adults to senior citizens, there are programs that support every member of the community.

The Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
The Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh not only collect donations but also collects old cell phones that can help women who have been victims of intimate partner violence. Maybe you have an old phone sitting in a drawer somewhere that could be a big help to someone in need!

Toys for Tots
Looking back on Christmases growing up, my sister and I were so fortunate to always wake up to gifts from Santa under our tree. Many are not that fortunate. Toys for Tots provides gifts for kids that may not have otherwise received any gifts for Christmas. 

Because you want where you live to be beautiful, well-kept, and conserved! Such a wonderful way to support the area where you live. 

I learned about St. Jude through my sister who was a Tri Delta. This is their philanthropy and it supports research on childhood cancers and other illnesses as well as treats sick children and never presents the parents with a bill. They have a goal that by 2030 they will cure at least 60% of children with the most common types of cancer worldwide. 

Spread Love and Happiness...

- Pay for someone's coffee or toll ticket behind you. It's harder to pay for the toll now that EZ pass is so prevalent, but coffee is so easy to do at the drive-through at Starbucks! 

- Help the elderly by delivering their groceries to them or placing an online order for them so that they can get the items they need to be delivered safely to them. Check on your neighbors and see if they need anything. I think it can be helpful even if you just let someone know 'hey I'm placing my grocery order, do you need anything' to anyone you're close with. It's nice to save someone a trip to the store if they just need something like eggs or whatnot for a recipe they are making!

- Tip your full bill amount To me, this one is SO much fun. 

- Give someone a genuine and encouraging compliment. Whether that be on social media or in person or by text. 

- If you are not having your annual holiday party this year, in lieu of gifts ask for donations to a charity of your choice. 

- Use a local florist to send flowers to someone 'just because'. You are supporting a small business and making someone's day!

- If you pray, say a prayer.

- If you have an Amazon account, remember to shop through Amazon Smile which automatically donates to the charity/cause of your choice. This one is a no-brainer! 

- Recognize those who help you on a day-to-day basis: ex. mailmen/UPS/FedEx/etc., coaches at your local gym, your neighbors, valet, doormen, coworkers, etc. We put out the treat basket for our delivery people, we always tip our garbage men and when I lived in a doorman/valet building, I always gave them tips and gifts! If you don't have money to give, show your appreciation by writing a note of thanks! It's always nice to be appreciated for the job you do! 

- Help local businesses that you love in your community by going online and reviewing them or recommending them to your friends and family on social media. 

- Be a mentor. Whether it's professionally or personally, be someone that can help a person pursue their goals and dreams and guide them in the right direction. I have so many great mentors in my life and am so lucky to have them. I'm also a mentor to several and it is so much fun to cheer someone on while they are pursuing their dreams.

- Take on an in-kind project. For example, if you are a web designer and have some extra time, help design a struggling startup's website. Or if you're an accountant and know a family that is struggling, offer to help them create a great budget.

- Start a 'you've been jingled' chain. This happened to us during Halloween- it was 'you've been boo'd' and it was so cute. I found a holiday version, here, that explains how it works. It was so much fun to do and adorable for children!
Brands that Give Back
Brands that give back in both big and small ways are amazing and make you feel good about placing an order! I know I am missing a ton of brands so if you have any good ones, let everyone know in the comments! 

Leesa Mattresses (we LOVE our Leesa mattress!)

Bark Box (Henry loves his BarkBox toys!)

Rusi Hats (sent in by a follower whose family member started this!)


Unknown said...

Fabulous post for this time of year! I have a couple of cheques waiting to be written and will do it for sure this giving Tuesday.

Becky said...

I think this is one of my favorite posts that you've ever done!!

Sandy Martin said...

Shrines is a great charity to give to. My husband is a Shriner...in fact he will be the Potentate (head guy) in 2016 for Central and Eastern Missouri. We always say our hospitals have the happiest patients. It is amazing to see the work they do. The reason my husband is a Shriner is because he was a Shriner's kid for 18 years and he always says without them he would not have the life he has today. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Sydney. This proves even more why I still read your blog and don't read others anymore. Your elegance, Grace and selflessness always shine through.

Lauren said...

I love this post!


Victoria said...

Some of my friends recently became ambassadors to a company called Love Your Melon (www.loveyourmelon.com). Their mission is to put a hat on each child battling cancer in America. Their hats are actually super cute and warm, and 50% off the proceeds from each hat are divided between CureSearch (research) and The Pinky Swear Foundation (keeping the families of the patients financially afloat). The other 50% goes into running the company, which is a non-profit. This company has partnered with celebrities and college campuses of all sorts to try and bring joy and comfort to children battling cancer, and yesterday alone they raised over $300,000 from Cyber Monday sales. They are a truly wonderful company to support, and their products make great gifts as well.

On another note, I'm really glad you took the time to post about Giving Tuesday. It deserves just as much recognition and attention as Cyber Monday, and I applaud you for doing all of the research and writing to compile this post.

xx, Victoria

Sasha said...

FOCUS Pittsburgh is an amazing organization located in the Hill District. They provide meals, have a free health clinic, job training, emergency relief, document recovery (i.e. licenses & birth certificates) and lots more. My sister works for their headquarters and it is amazing to hear about how many lives they are changing right in Pitt! https://focusnorthamerica.org/centers/pittsburgh/

Christy F. said...

Sweet girl- this is so lovely! I especially like your idea of charitable donations in lieu of hostess gifts! I am definitely going to use this one! Your post really brought a smile to my face this morning :)

Haley A. said...

Sydney, this is the most wonderful post! This is one of the reasons I look up to you so much. My mom always tells us to "let our lights shine", and I think you are the perfect example of that. I will definitely be downloading your friend's app- what a great idea. Hope you have a great week! :)

Margaret said...

You are truly a beautiful woman inside and out.

Tess Felber_Sequins are the New Black said...

Beautiful post! I think this time of year in the blog world we sometimes are so focused on consumer spending that we forget to step back and talk about being charitable. You're a real class act <3
xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

Anonymous said...

This is why I read your blog and follow you — you are truly a role model!

Just Jess said...

I love this post! I will be adding that app to my list. I love finding charities to give back to throughout the year but especially during the holiday season.

Unknown said...

I have been following your blog for several years, and I want to say that your content, your intent, your happiness and good cheer are just what this world needs. You stick to your program, show alot of fun and useful items and ideas and continue to have the faith - especially with todays post. If every one of us participated in just one of these ideas - the world will be a much better place.

Thank you for all that you do, not only for the blogger community, but for your own.


Landlocked Mermaid said...

I work for Malala Yousafzai, and we are working to ensure free , safe and quality eduction for the 130 Million out of school girls in our world. Educate a girl - change the world. malalafund.org xox

Anonymous said...

I read a lot of blogs and not one other blog has even mentioned Giving Tuesday. You are a class act.

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Victoria Norris said...

I love that you share about Giving Tuesday every year! You're the only blogger that I've seen consistently share about it and I really applaud you for taking a step back from Black Friday/Cyber Monday/general sale madness to focus on helping others. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This is such an incredible post! Thank you for sharing.

Hayden Deason said...

This is such a wonderful post! My family and I have been cooking and serving Thanksgiving to the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House for over 20 years in Mississippi. My grandmother started the tradition and it’s something we look forward to every year! Love that you mentioned them - it is a wonderful organization!

sally said...

thanks for including so many great organizations and ideas!

Anonymous said...

I always love this post every year, Sydney! Thank you.


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