How to Be a Thanksgivng Day Philanthropist

Categories: Behind the scenes, Holiday, News

Loyal followers of the Workman blog will remember WorkMan, our resident superhero, and are no doubt wondering what he’ll be doing this Thanksgiving. What do superheroes do on Turkey Day? Well, I can’t speak for where all of them might be (Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Wayne Manor) but WorkMan has personally let me in on his plans. With the day off from his editorial intern activities, WorkMan will concentrate on what he does best: making the world a better place. On this Thanksgiving Day, you may find him tackling any number of activities from How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist. Here’s a sampling:

  • Thanking the Troops: LetsSayThanks.com gives kids (and their parents) an easy way to send a free patriotic postcard to military personnel serving abroad. Pick a postcard on their website, write your message, and Xerox will print the card and send it overseas. You can also send a virtual thank-you card to a service member through Defend America (ourmilitary.mil, click on “Thank the Troops”). These cards let solders know that we’re thinking of them here at home and appreciate their sacrifice.
  • Making Poverty History: Cofounded by U2 front man Bono, the ONE Campaign (one.org) is a powerful grassroots organization that works with policy experts, activists, and political leaders to find solutions to global issues like AIDS, malaria, climate change, and extreme poverty. This campaign does not ask for your money, only your voice. Take one minute out of your day to visit their website and sign a petition to fight against these devastating problems.
  • Wiping Away Shopper’s Remorse: IGive.com is a charity mall with over fifteen thousand organizations to choose from—from Action Against Hunger to your local YMCA (you can nominate your preferred charity if it’s not already on the list.) When you make a purchase through iGive, the retailer puts a percentage in your account. You can then redirect those funds to a partner charity. OneCause.com is another charity mall (with merchants like Dell, Disney, and Sheraton), where you can earn money for causes like American Forests and the American Cancer Society.
  • Sweet Gestures: Do your macaroons come out perfect every time? Donate your cookies and other baked goods to your local Meals on Wheels (mowaa.org). During the holidays and for every birthday, volunteers provide homebound seniors with special goodie bags called We Care Packages—decorated shoeboxes or paper shopping bags filled with edible treats, toiletries and small personal items. Packages can also include a personal note with well wishes from volunteers. Visit their website to find your local Meals on Wheels chapter and look under the Volunteer Opportunities tab.

Impressive list, WorkMan! But you don’t have to be a superhero to change the world. Many of these activities can be done in 15 minutes or less, faster than the time it takes to get through holiday gridlock. There are plenty of ways to help others on a daily basis without having to donate millions or become a full-time volunteer. Pick up How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist (or if your a kid, Do Something!: A Handbook for Young Activists) to figure out how to start and discover hundreds of little to no-cost ways to make a difference. Trust me and WorkMan, “doing good” is just as satisfying as pumpkin pie or your Aunt Cindy’s cranberry sauce, and the best part is you don’t have to choose between the two!

–Editorial Intern Justin would like to wish everyone a Happy (Merry?) Thanksgiving

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It’s Still Good!

Categories: Home improvement, News

When I was in eighth grade I bought an 18 oz. bottle of something called “chocolate crème body wash.” It smelled incredible but washing with it was like soaping up with a Jello-O pudding snack; I abandoned the crème after one vile chocolate-y shower.

My mother, however, despite declaring the stuff  “utterly revolting,” used that body wash until every drop was gone. Why? Because she couldn’t bring herself to pour a nearly full, “perfectly good” bottle of goo down the drain.  Each morning for six months my mother would shower, put on a fancy suit, and leave for work smelling like a stale cupcake.

At the time I thought she was nuts, but 15 years later I find that I truly am my mother’s daughter. April is around the corner and I’ve embarked on some aggressive spring cleaning. For others, that might mean purging, but for me it’s more like shuffling: organizing things I no longer want or need into little shopping bags (which I also hoard) and leaving them by the door to push upon departing visitors like creepy party favors.

My inability to throw out anything that I deem to be “perfectly good” has raised more than a few eyebrows (even as they walk away with a nice wine opener and slightly used dish rack), so imagine my thrill when I read the words of How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist author Nicole Bouchard Boles : “The stuff we’ve crammed into the nooks and crannies of our homes has enormous (unfulfilled) philanthropic potential.”

I knew it! I knew it! I was born for this kind of giving.

Behold the bounty that will be shipped off to benefit the greater good.

Look at all this perfectly good stuff!

Look at all this perfectly good stuff!

Clockwise from left:  A: Electronic odds and ends, mysterious wires, used CDs, power cords to long lost electronics. For the cost of a $6.99 shipping label, GreenDisk will recycle and safely dispose of all your techno-trash.  B: Miscellaneous books. They’re heading off to New York’s Prisoners’ Reading Encouragement Project, a non profit that works in with prison libraries. C: Knitting supplies. I picked up knitting in the spring of 2002 and by the winter of 2003, the love affair was over.  These barely used needles and balls of yarn are going to a woman who mentors a group of girls and wants to teach them how to knit. D: A phone I replaced over three years ago. It’s going to Cell Phones for Soldiers, an organization that sells old phones for parts and uses the money to buy prepaid calling cards for soldiers stationed overseas.

Cleaning up, paring down, passing things along to people who can actually do right by them. It’s about as satisfying as tossing an empty bottle of chocolate crème body wash into the recycling bin.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

–Assistant Editor Maisie Tivnan would like to record her knitting legacy for posterity: one third of a red mitten and a mysterious yellow triangle.

My knitting legacy: One-third of a red mitten and a mysterious yellow triangle (I think it was going to be a capelet).
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Workman’s Stinky Sneaker Drive

Categories: Behind the scenes, News

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Put another way, one kid’s nasty pair of kicks is another kid’s rubbery playground surface.

Inspired by the hundreds of no-cost ways to make a difference featured in How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist,  we decided to do our own small act of no-cost giving and hold a sneaker drive.  At the end of the week, we had collected a whopping 130 beat up, stinky, too tight, too old sneakers.  donated sneakers

The sneakers  were for the Nike-Reuse-a-Shoe program which recycles the sneakers into Nike Grind, a rubbery material used in athletic surfaces like running tracks, basketball courts and playgrounds. Nike has donated Nike Grind to 300 sport and playground surfacing projects across the country.

The picture above doesn’t do the pile justice.  It took three people toting four huge garbage bags through the hot, crowded streets of midtown to get them to the Niketown store.

It may not be John D. Rockefeller’s brand of philanthropy, but then again, the scientists of his day never found a clever way to recycle top hats.

John D. Rockefeller and son discuss results of Standard Oil Spats Drive

John D. Rockefeller contemplates the merits of a Standard Oil spats drive

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How To Help Others

Categories: How-to, Kids

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The noblest question in the world is what good may I do in it?” And many of us have the impulse to “do good,” but don’t really know where to start, who to contact, and what is needed. Nicole Bouchard Boles’ How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist, shows you how to help others on a daily basis – without having to donate millions or become a full-time volunteer.

She explains how to use your talents, trash, family, computers, and community to contribute to a cause, along with the names and websites of organizations to contact. Maybe you can start by cleaning out your cluttered closets and donating no-longer-needed belongings to one of the groups below:

Be a Fairy Godmother: The Glass Slipper Project (glassslipperproject.org) collects new and gently worn formal wear and accessories for girls who could not otherwise afford prom night finery.  Check out similar organizations like Fairy Godmothers, Inc. (fairygodmothersinc.com), Cinderella Project (cinderellaproject.net), and Becca’s Closet (BeccasCloset.org).

Give the Gift of Sight: Breathe new life into your old eyeglasses and pass them onto one of the 1 billion people around the world who need glasses but can’t afford them. OneSight (onesight.org), New Eyes for the Needy (neweyesfortheneedy.org) and Unite for Sight (uniteforsight.org) are a few organizations that help facilitate the donation process.

Send Toys Abroad: Operation Give (operationgive.org) distributes supplies and toys to civilians in combat zones; The Orphans of War Campaign (orphansofwarcampaign.org) collects toys and soccer balls for Iraqi children who have lost their parents; Beanies for Baghdad (beaniesforbaghdad.com) sends used Beanie Babies and other toys to children in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, and SAFE (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies) (stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org) collects gently used toys to be redistributed to emergency personnel and organizations to help kids cope in difficult situations.

Books For Schools: Reader to Reader (readertoreader.org) is a national organization that brings gently used (and new) books to schools and libraries in need across the United States.

Trade Some Tools: Help people become self-reliant by donating old tools to the U.K.-based Tools for Self Reliance Program (tfsr.org), or Habitat for Humanity (habitat.org) is also always looking for screwdrivers, saws, shovels and rakes.

Don’t Forget the Pets!: Pet food is easily overlooked when donating to food banks, but when people are struggling to provide for themselves, they are often struggling to provide for their pets. To find specific locations for animal food banks, head to SaveOurPetsFoodBank.org.

Freecycle: The Freecycle Network (freecycle.org) is a large community of people across the U.S. and Canada devoted to reusing items and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Everything listed on the site must be free for the taking.

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