Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holiday Helper Ideas

For those who are able, it might be time to consider how you could help someone in need this holiday season. With so many festivities coming up in just a few short weeks, here are some ideas for things you can do to reach out and make a difference in your community. After all, giving is better than receiving!

- Angel trees. This is a common suggestion, but many people find great joy in looking over trees that are set up in churches, stores, and malls to get ideas for who they can help and how. It is a direct way to get something in the right size, color, or preference to a child who may not have an opportunity to have anything else.

- Donate winter wear. Contact your local schools, churches, or other community resources and ask if there is a donation set up for gently used winter clothing. Boots you have outgrown, winter jackets and snow pants, extra mittens or hats, or even long johns for layering can mean the world to someone who would otherwise be braving the chill without adequate comfort. You can clear out your closets, too!

- Winter break food assistance. Reach out to the schools near you and ask if they do anything to help needy families with food during the long winter break. Many children eat two meals per day at school for free and sometimes their families do not have the money to provide for them when school is out. Your school might have warm meals or lunches for these children, and would love a helping hand. If there is no program where you live, offer to set up a drop box at the school and print flyers for students to bring home. Ask your local food pantry for brochures and posters that you can post in the community, or create some using their location, methods of transportation, hours, etc. Sharing these in a public location will help people in the long term.

- Donate stocking stuffers. Many families struggle to keep the magic alive during the holiday season and need a little help making sure that their children get the whole experience. Even the odds and ends can add up to be more than expected. A low-cost visit to a dollar store or a sales section of a popular retailer can provide you with many stocking stuffers that you can donate to those in need.

- Volunteer at a food cupboard or soup kitchen. This one is great for the whole family! Gather up your loved ones and make giving back a tradition. It will be rewarding to talk to your children about the difference they made in the lives of those who need them most, and you will find joy in seeing the satisfaction of others. Best of all, if you can't afford to give money, you can give your time. You may even find this is something you'll want to do more than once a year.

- Adopt a classroom. Many teachers are running out of the items they need to run a successful classroom safely through the winter. Instead of expecting them to pay out of pocket, ask a teacher what they need. Or, make up a gift basket- almost all teachers agree they need simple items like tissues, hand sanitizers, paper towels, dry erase markers, pencils, and snacks for children who may forget them or simply not have them. It can be difficult for parents to pitch in and help, so alleviate some of their stress and help everyone!

- Collect your change. Set out a jar to collect spare change and commit to donating it every year. While it may be a bit late to collect much this year, you can start now and see how much you make in a year. Won't it be fun to see how the money you don't pay attention to makes a difference next year?

- Call your church. Ask them if they are doing anything for anyone for Christmas, and how you can help. If they aren't, mention one or any of the ideas above, or share one of your own. Most community churches love inspiration and community outreach and will be excited to hear from you!

- Help your neighbors hang their lights or set up their tree. This is especially wonderful if you have elderly folks in your area who cannot do it themselves. Many people would love a little holiday cheer, not to mention a friendly visit. If anyone accepts your offer, bring over coffee or cookies and take time to reconnect.

- Make cards for the nursing home. Nothing is more rewarding than teaching a child to give to others, especially those who are grateful and enjoy their presence. A nursing home is a wonderful place to meet new people with incredible life stories. Many people in nursing homes are eager for your time and attention, and enjoy seeing cute kids and their artwork. Even those who are not up for a visit will be happy to know someone was thinking of them, and nurses are touched and happy to deliver adorable cards and notes. Take a weekend to create and then deliver your creations. Make sure you have plenty of time to spend there without rushing.

- Swap babysitting. Holidays are stressful times for everyone. Exchange an evening of babysitting with a friend or family member to keep the happiness flowing in the home. We all need a little time away, and most parents neglect themselves when money is tight. Giving someone alone time to go on a date, or even do something like grocery or gift shopping, helps keep relationships happy.

- Pay toward heating oil for a family in need. If you have the means, offering money to a heating oil company and asking them to apply it to an account of someone in need is a wonderful idea. If you don't know of anyone in need, ask your church or school if they can make the connection for you. There are many ways to keep the information private and still get your help passed along!

- Cut back where you can. Part of giving back is making sure you're feeling good about the experience of the holidays. You will be doing everyone a favor if you do not overextend yourself, personally and financially! Do not try to make every event, buy the top of the line items if you can't afford them, and take on too many projects at once. Prioritize, and carve out time to make sure you are enjoying your friends and family.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway


Hello all!

Have you noticed the golden and red leaves, the chill in the air, and the dark clouds swollen with rain? (If not, you must be lucky enough to live somewhere nice and warm!) Well, folks, whether you have a big change in season or not, it is most decidedly autumn- which means that it’s time to start planning ahead for the upcoming holiday season.

Thanksgiving is just a few short weeks away, and with the rising cost of living, we understand that the expense of an extraordinary meal may prevent some people from offering their family the traditional dining experience that has become a staple for so many. In the past, we have successfully helped fund dinners for several families in need who would otherwise be unable to enjoy their holiday season. So of course, we are doing it again!

Please email Cathy (cathy@cathyscreationsjewelry.com) with the name of the person or family you are nominating and a brief description of why you believe this person could use our help. Your email is confidential, so you can rest assured that personal situations or circumstances will not be discussed or shared. For the next four weeks, Cathy will select one nomination each week from all entries received and they will be gifted a card that can be used to purchase food and other holiday essentials.

We know that times have been tough for many families for several years now, but we ask that if you have nominated yourself or someone else in the past, you please allow us to reach out to new people. We would like our impact to be able to affect as many people as possible and bring joy to lives that could use what might be their first or only helping hand.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from Cathy’s Creations!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I Dare You to Care!

As most of you who are reading this are aware, we do whatever we can to give back and try to encourage our Frikes (our lovely followers) to do the same. Paying it forward is more than a motto, it's a lifestyle, and we are always looking for ways to inspire and assist those who need it most. There are hundreds of requests for help or causes that we unfortunately don't have the time or the resources to take on, and there are so many people looking for inspiration and ideas to help out that we decided the best way to handle this would be our most recent project: I Dare You to Care!

Here's how it works. We have all heard of employers, businesses, and corporations offering to match donations in an effort to encourage fundraising and awareness. What we would like to do is encourage you to challenge each other in a similar way.

Choose something that is important to you that you are willing or able to do, and challenge the audience to meet your offer. Someone reading will reply to you, accepting your dare and will complete the action, and prove it with photos if possible. (We'd love to see pictures of caring in action!) Then, you complete the action, too! OR, look through the list of dares for an idea of how you can make a difference, and accept the dare. Complete the action and watch it unfold as your challenger now does the same!

This not only doubles the efforts, but inspires others in new and creative ways. Lots of people are looking for ideas of how to make a difference, and this turns it into a fun game where you can participate in something meaningful to you, encourage others to help along the way, and see twice the effort for your time and energy! It's a win-win.

For example, if you are willing to donate a backpack filled with school supplies to a local elementary school, you would comment on this blog or on the link on Facebook that you dare someone to fill a backpack with school supplies and donate it to a school. If you are the person who reads someone else's dare here or on the Facebook page and are willing to meet the challenge, you reply in comments that you accept their dare. (Make sure you comment in response to the dare so everyone knows what you are doing!) In this instance, you'd take a picture of the backpack and supplies, or yourself handing it to the school staff, so we have a picture of the sharing- what we'd like to do is share the pictures alongside one another so we can show everyone the impact of your caring in action!

You can challenge people to do anything that matters- share a status on their wall that raises awareness, volunteer at a food bank, meet your cash donation to a charity- ANYTHING! As long as you are willing and able to complete your own dare, anything positive and worthwhile is fair game. So get creative, and let's see what we can do!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Operation Welcome Home!


One of our Sofia's Angels reached out today with the wonderful idea of raising funds to help cover welcome home baskets for soldiers who will be returning from Afghanistan to Fort Campbell this September. Many of these young men and women are single and will be living in barracks. After a long and arduous service to our nation, celebrating their safe return with the comforts of home will be most welcome. Instead of hosting a fundraiser, we decided to bring her idea to this blog and ask our readers to contribute what they can in order to help meet the needs of these brave men and women.

Here is the list that was provided for us as suggestions for what they need most:

  • round laundry baskets
  • laundry supplies
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • sample sizes of shampoos and conditioners, soaps, razors, lotions, and other toiletries
  • shaving cream
  • nonperishable snacks (ex: Poptarts, chips, granola bars, Gatorade, pudding cups)
  • paper plates
  • plastic silverware
  • disposable coffee cups
  • bath towels
  • hand towels
  • washcloths
  • large Ziplock bags
  • pillows

This list is only a suggestion; any and all donations of comfort items and necessities are welcome. Gift cards to Walmart are also a great suggestion, so soldiers can purchase any necessary items- and, they're easy to ship!


If you wish to help donate, please send packages, gift cards, or even letters of thanks to:


2LT Logan Byers
HQ/2-44 ADA
6746 A Shau Valley Rd
Ft. Campbell, KY 42223


We are excited to put our support behind such an incredible effort, and hope that everyone takes a moment to share this link and help spread the word. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

RAOK Updates and News


We have lots of news in the random acts of kindness (RAOK) department! The Sofia's Angels Foundation is now an officially licensed non-profit organization with the goal of helping those in need. Originally a group of women teaming up for the Susan G. Komen walk, the Angels have now expanded to include friends, family, and even random strangers who have been inspired to participate in the mission. If you wish to link your RAOK activity with this worthwhile cause, please contact Cathy for cards to leave behind! Please show your support and follow Sofia's Angels on Facebook.

One of our most exciting recent projects was leaving a thousand dollars in $10 bills randomly around Boston last Tuesday, but not everything has to be so profound. Here are some RAOK ideas to inspire you!

  • Take the time to talk with a cashier at the register and show them recognition. Slow down and appreciate the people around you!
  • Use your talents to help a friend. If you're good with kids, babysit for a neighbor so they can go out on a date or have some alone time. Help someone clean their house, mow their lawn, or bring a friend or family member a dessert. Use what comes naturally to share joy with others!
  • Send flowers to the hospital and ask them to decide who needs them most.
  • Become an organ donor.
  • Praise your partner with a genuine compliment.
  • Hand out popsicles in the neighborhood or on campus for a refreshing treat.
  • Pass on a coupon or savings you won't be using.

There are millions of things you can do to bring someone more joy and happiness in their lives. Even the smallest gestures of kindness can change someone's life. You never know if the person you smile at on the streets needed to know just one person cared about them.

And kindness is contagious! Inspiring others to help is as simple as showing them how easy it can be. Author Dete Meserve recently wrote a book about RAOK called "Good Sam," and the hype from the book has created a ripple effect of connecting with real life good samaritans who are making a difference in the lives of others. Cathy will be heading to Los Angeles next week to perform some RAOK in California and will additionally be honored along with another good samaritan, Daniel Smith (featured in our blog in the past!) at the book launch event on June 22 in Downtown Los Angeles! In an exciting return of kindness, Dete Meserve has arranged for anonymous donors to contribute funds in order to continue the efforts of Cathy and Daniel's random acts of kindness.

Thank you for taking the time to catch up on our latest news. We appreciate your support and, as always, your help.

"People who are crazy enough to think they can
change the world, are the ones who do." - Steve Jobs

Friday, April 4, 2014

Daniel Smith's four weeks of random kindness




Sometimes, exceptional people and their kindness catch our attention and we wish to bring them the accolades they deserve- one such person is Daniel Smith of Salt Lake City, Utah. Daniel created a $125 a week budget to perform four weeks of random acts of kindness, but was soon laid off from his job. At first, he was feeling distraught and concerned but quickly decided not to let the job loss become so overpowering that he lost sight of his goal.

Armed with the money he had already saved and a videographer, Daniel hit the streets, taping his charitable acts in hopes of inspiring others to follow suit. For the first week of his random acts of kindness, Daniel handed out a dozen care packages of blankets and snacks to the homeless. (Click the links to view the videos of how it all turned out!)

During week two, Daniel worked the drive thru window at Great Steak restaurant in Provo, passing out the meals he had anonymously paid for and enjoying the reactions of customers as they received the good news. He was touched by the way something so simple was able to brighten the lives of nearly a dozen people, all through paying for one small meal.

In week three, Daniel handed out gift cards in the Wal-Mart parking lot. While some people walked past him, ignoring his efforts, others were receptive and even needed the help. One man admitted that he was laid off as well and really appreciated the card. Another woman, at first skeptical and cold, finally broke down into tears and shared that she had struggled lately and the card really helped her out.

Daniel has one week left to his personal goal of four weeks of random acts of kindness, and we would so like to see him succeed that we wish to sponsor his generosity and provide the funding necessary for him to carry out whatever he wishes. Daniel, thank you for continuing to give despite your personal hardships and thank you for caring about those around you- we appreciate your efforts and we are glad to know you!

You can support Daniel by following his page on Facebook!

Monday, March 17, 2014

RAOK & The Tutu Project

A few of my closest friends (including some of the incredible Sofia’s Angels) and I will be traveling to New York this weekend to show support for the Carey Foundation. We will don our lovely pink tutus for a photo shoot and bring along a $1,000.00 donation to help support families impacted by breast cancer.

The Carey Foundation was started by Bob and Linda Carey after Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. Starting off as a photography project, The Tutu Project became so successful that the nonprofit foundation was established.

A year ago this weekend, Linda’s mother Betty passed away. While we are in New York, we are going to honor Betty’s memory and the long year without her with 365 random acts of kindness. Among Betty’s favorite things were flowers and gambling, so included in our acts of kindness are flower hair bows, bouquets of flowers, and scratch tickets for New York and New Jersey, as well as Dunkin Donuts gift cards, Wawa cards, metro cards, paying to fill up someone’s gas tank, paying for a breakfast, lunch, and dinner while out, handing out dollar bills, giving one homeless person $50, giving out Hershey’s Kisses, and passing out hats created by Mary of Mary Originals, who generously donated her time and energy.

 Linda's mother, Betty
 
We are pleased to be able to spread joy and love in honor of Betty and to show our friendship and support to Linda during such a difficult time, all while supporting the tremendous efforts of the Careys and their incredible foundation and project.

Flower hair bows

A screen shot of the cards that will be handed out with our RAOK gifts

Please feel free to spread the love and create your own random kindness this weekend in memory of this special woman. If you do, share your stories below- we will show Linda the replies and support.