14 Days of Giving: Day 14- Restaurant Love

Today is for all the waitresses and waiters out there: Leave a big tip.

I know this may be asking a lot for some people, but if you can spare it, please do.  Waitresses and waiters put up with a lot and sometimes they don’t even get a tip for it! They need the money just as much as we do, if not more, so please help them out.  Give more than the recommended tip especially if they deserve it, and even if they don’t.  They deal with a lot of crummy people and they have bad days just like we do.  It’s hard to put on a smile when you just found out your significant other is cheating on you, a loved one is dying, your car needs repairs you can’t afford, your child needs money for school that you don’t have, Christmas is coming and you have no idea how your going to get everything- or even anything- on your child’s wish list, you got into a huge fight with someone you love, or you’ve been working more hours than ought to be possible.  Think outside of yourself and try to make their day a little better.  If you can’t afford a huge tip (and I am not talking hundreds of dollars), perhaps offer to buy them something to eat or at least do all that you can to chit chat with them, listen and show them that you care, and make them smile and even laugh.  If you can be a blessing to them, then do it!!

Do you have a story to share?  Please share it in the comments!  Happy giving!

14 Days of Giving: Day 13- 4 Ways to Use Spare Change

Today I encourage you to use that spare change laying around for good.  Some people hate carrying around change (and cash) and aim to get rid of it as soon as it is acquired.  Use your spare coins to help someone else out.

  1. As you walk down the street, keep an eye out for meters that are about to expire and slip a few coins in.  What costs you a few quarters saved someone else a huge fine!
  2. Leave stacks of quarters on candy and toy dispenser machines, and imagine little kids holding up your little quarter and a relieved mother stopping her vain search for change and saying, “Yes, you can use that”.
  3. Drop some coins in the Salvation Army red kettle.
  4. Leave some quarters in bag taped to a vending machine.

If you have more ideas of where to use your spare change, leave them below!  Happy giving!

14 Days of Giving: Day 12- Fairies and Gift Cards

Day 12 brings an interesting giving idea: Be a gift card fairy!

Ever wanted to be a fairy?  Have plenty of gift cards or the funds to purchase some?  Then use your undiscovered fairy talents and those gift cards, and sprinkle them around (costume optional, though totally awesome, of course)!  I have mentioned this more specifically in other posts, but this is a more general idea.  Buy gift cards, and lots of them.  Buy gas cards and tape them to gas pumps with a note telling someone to pay it forward if they can.  But gift cards to coffee shops, grocery stores, home improvement stores, pet stores, etc. and leave them on car windshields, in mailboxes, on the shelves of that store, in a book, etc.  Just leave gift cards everywhere, especially if you know the receiver needs them (like a grocery gift card or pet store gift card in the mailbox of a struggling family).  You could also give gift cards to homeless people.  Just spread the love and enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a fairy!

Got a gift card fairy story to share?  I would love to hear, so leave it in the comments!  Happy giving!!

14 Days of Giving: Day 11- The Blood Issue

Day 11 offers an idea that may not be for everyone, but is needed nonetheless: Donate blood.

Donating blood is not for everyone.  If you can muster up the strength to do so, though, then you are a hero.  You’re blood can save someone’s life!  I have donated blood nearly every time that I could since I turned of age to do so.  It isn’t too horrible, though it is a pretty cool experience.  I urge you to give it a try, and if you don’t like it or cannot do it, then that is totally okay.  There are other ways to help people.

Before you go donate, make sure to read the ‘before you give’ information.  Make sure to eat plenty of iron-rich foods and please, please, please drink LOTS of water.  I mean it.  If you are going to do two things before you donate, then absolutely drink lots of water and make sure you have plenty of iron.  If you don’t have enough iron, you won’t be able to donate and it will be a waste of time and you’re emotional stress.  If you don’t drink enough water, I can assure you it will make the experience much less pleasant and a lot more time-consuming.  The more water you have in your system, the faster your blood will flow and the sooner you can be out of there and on your way.  It will also make it easier to donate the blood, as it will flow more easily.  Sorry to all my queasy readers, but it had to be said.  Most blood donation sites will have plenty of before and after information and tips on their website, and reading these will make your experience less stressful and much easier.

Go save some lives. Happy donating!

14 Days of Giving: Day 10- The Shelter Issue

Today’s pay it forward idea is for my fellow animal-lovers.  Donate money or items to an animal shelter.  I personally have been saving up money from each paycheck and plan to use it to buy as much as I can for a local animal shelter that is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter that I adore (Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary, for those of you interested, http://mackenzies.info/).

Check the website of your local animal shelter or call them to find a wish list of items to give them.  They can always use some help, so give it to them!  Perhaps you can’t adopt a dog or cat like you wish you could, but you can still help those adorable little pets.  There are many ways to help animal shelters.  You could give your time as a volunteer walking, playing with, and loving the animals.  You could give money as a donation (which is often tax deductible).  Or you can give items.

Here are some common things shelters need:

  1. Leashes and collars (often nylon is preferred as it is safest)
  2. Toys (tennis balls, plush toys, squeaky toys, rope toys, Frisbee’s, Kong toys, cat toys, etc.)
  3. Brushes
  4. Treats and food (call the shelter to see what type they might prefer, if any).  Some shelters like spray cheese (for giving medications) and hot dogs (for training), but I would call to ask first
  5. Chewies and rawhides
  6. Bedding (gently used towels, blankets, bedspreads, etc.)
  7. Pet store gift cards, and oftentimes they could use supplies for their workers, too (hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, paper towels, office supplies, gift cards to office supply stores, first aid supplies, batteries, etc. etc.)

There are lots of wish lists for hundreds of animal shelters out there that can give you ideas and inspiration.  Better yet, call the shelter you hope to give to and ask them what they need.

Do you have a story of giving to an animal shelter or an adoption story to share?  Leave it in the comments!  Happy Giving!!

20151223_153035[1] Here’s my adopted kitty, Jasmine.  I have to say, adopting her was the best decision I ever made.

14 Days of Giving: Day 9- Using Your Talents

Today’s Day of Giving idea is: Offer your services for free.

If you babysit, offer to watch someone’s children for free so that they can have a well-deserved night out.  Paying for a babysitter and the movie and dinner and gas is expensive!  It’s especially expensive if you have a lot of kids that need to be babysat.  Offer to watch them for free, and I assure you the parents will be very grateful.  If they have a lot of kids, ask a friend or sibling to help you out.

Watch a family’s pet(s) for free while they are on vacation.  With the holiday season drawing near, many families are leaving home to visit relatives, and bringing pets sometimes is not very practical.  This means it’s definitely a good time of year to be a pet-watcher and house-watcher, but be kind and offer your services for free, especially if it is for a family you know is struggling.

If you do lawn care or snow removal, offer to mow or plow for free for someone you know is having troubles making ends meet or doesn’t have the means to do it themselves.  Help the eldery by plowing their driveways or shoveling their sidewalks or mowing their lawns.  Be kind and give what you can, it has the opportunity to make an incredible impact.

The list goes on and on and on.  If you own a business, offer your services for free to someone.  If you are a marketer or advertiser, help a struggling small business get back on its feet.  If you are a splendid seamstress, fix clothes for a struggling family.  If you are a stellar knitter or crocheter, offer to make warm hats, gloves, scarves, and sweaters for a struggling family or to donate to a school.  The point is, give what you can.  If you have a talent, find a way to help others with it!

If you have a story or any ideas, share them below.  Happy giving!!

14 Days of Giving: Day 8- The Food Issue

Today’s idea will most likely require a bit of money, but never fear!  Read on, please.  If you haven’t noticed, I have been trying to offer ideas that vary in cost in terms of money, time, and energy, thus today has a slightly higher cost.  Today’s idea: Pay for someone else’s meal.

I have heard more than a few stories in which someone notices a couple with a VERY fussy and noisy child, and rather than become annoyed and irritated, they understand how hard it is to go out for dinner when you have a new child.  These people then decide to pay for the meal of these new parents and even leave a note on it saying that they know how hard raising a child can be and how nearly impossible it is to get some alone time.  They tell them that they are doing a wonderful job and to keep up the hard work.  I find these stories so inspiring and moving.  It is often hard not to immediately go to our “default setting”, as David Wallace Foster said in his famous speech This is Water, and I truly commend those who manage to avoid falling into this negative setting.  On a side note, if you have not heard of this speech, I highly encourage you to look it up and watch a video on it.  It is truly interesting and really causes you to think.  Here’s a link: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=this+is+water&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=A5F525C94CBE394BEEF2A5F525C94CBE394BEEF2

The point of this story is to show that sometimes, other people are going through things that are a little bit more difficult than what you are currently experiencing.  Of course, there are levels to suffering (poor people living in undeveloped countries who die of starvation and diseases all the way down to people who are inconvenience by long lines and are slightly late to work)  Today, I only want to talk about a middle level.  You can help people on this level just as much as you can help on the highest levels of suffering.  Buy their lunch, pay for their dinner, smile at them even as they are carrying their screaming child out of the restaurant or movie theater.  Show sympathy and love and kindness even when they annoy you.  Even if you cannot pay for their meal, send them a dessert or just a simple note encouraging them and showing them that not everyone in the restaurant now hates them.

On a different note, buy a meal for someone homeless.  Make dinner for a struggling family or neighbor.  Use coupons and donate some extra goods you don’t quite need to a food bank.  Share your lunch with someone who can’t pay for so much food.  Just give.  We were taught as children to share our lunches, snacks, and treats.  Why have we forgotten this simple lesson on sharing?  It makes me smile to see little kids sharing their fruit snacks.  Let’s bring this back (extra points if you actually share your fruit snacks with another adult)!

If you have a story about something like this, please share it below! Happy giving!!

14 Days of Giving: Day 7- Exercise Your Green Thumb (Even if You Don’t Have One)

Today’s idea for giving takes a bit more physical work.  Volunteer your labor in a neighbor’s yard.  I don’t know about you, but where I am located, the lovely Great Lakes or the clouds or the northern lands or the jet stream or whatever it is just dumped a whole heck of a lot of snow on us.  Actually, that’s why I’m doing so much blogging today.  Not only is my school closed, just about all of western Michigan and onward is closed, including one of my favorite places in the world, the library.  The point is, whether you have snow or even grass doesn’t really matter.  You can still get involved in today’s giving.

Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk or plow their driveway.  My neighbor works long, hard hours to support his family, so oftentimes my father will take it upon himself to plow his driveway for him so that he doesn’t have to come home late at night and shovel the entire thing.  There seems to be an unspoken agreement between them, because in the summer, when my father is quite tied up with his two jobs, my neighbor mows not only his own lawn but also our lawn.

You can also help a neighbor rake up their leaves, which, in case you are wondering, are really beneficial to your garden.  Help someone weed their garden or flowerbeds.  This might even get you a basket full of fresh, home-grown veggies and fruits, or a vase of flowers.  Remember, though, what you get in return doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you are thinking of and actively helping another human being.  The point of this idea is to simply help out your fellow neighbors.  Doing so can help create a feeling of community and, as a bonus, insures that when you need someone to help you out, your neighbors will be more willing to lend a hand.  Also, you can get some exercise doing this, not that anyone here in Michigan cares about their beach bod right now.

If you have a story or some ideas, leave them below!  Happy giving!!

14 Days of Giving: Day 6- For All My Book Nerds Out There

Today is for all my fellow book-lovers out there!  I’d say put your hands up, but they are probably holding a book, so… put your books up! Not on the bookshelf, though.  Finish that wonderful book first.

Now, where was I?  Oh, yes, Day 6 of giving.  If you can’t tell from my blog, I absolutely love to read.  If I could choose to do anything, it would be reading.  If I could only bring a few things to a deserted island, my list would probably be made up of mostly my favorite books.  If I suddenly got a million dollars, besides giving a lot of it away, I would buy a truckloads of books.  And I would build my dream home library.  *Gets starry-eyed*  Ehem, my point is, books are amazing.  So, why not give to your fellow book-lovers? Day 6 of my 14 Days of Giving challenge is: Love your fellow book-lovers.

How?  There are lots of ways!  Here are a few.

  1. When you go to the library to pay off your overdue fines (even the best of us have them) offer to pay for someone else’s.
  2. Leave a nice note in a book when you return it.  It can be an affirmation note, “you’re awesome, read on book nerds, woot woot!”, etc.  Or it can be a “hey, this book is amazing, you’ll be glad you checked it out, oh and if you loved this one, read such and such books from this author, too”.  Looking for the other books by an author can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you are currently reading the author’s first book, as all his/her following books probably won’t be on the back cover.  Or it could be “If you liked this book as much as I did, I would suggest reading these other books which are somewhat similar to it that are written by these authors”.
  3. Along with a note, you can also leave a few dollars in the book to pay off fines, grab a coffee or tea to go with the book, or to use for whatever a book nerd needs (Umm… more books?  And bookmarks?).  It doesn’t cost much, but it could really help someone out and encourage them to read more.
  4. Leave a note and a gift card for a popular bookstore in a book that you really loved.  Perhaps if they are checking out a book from the library, they cannot afford to buy the book or are uncertain as to whether or not the book is worth buying.  Encourage them to build up their own personal library by buying the book(s) for them.  It doesn’t have to be a lot, especially if you really cannot afford it.  $5-$20 is probably a good suggested range, but if you can do more then go for it!  Or you could split up that huge amount and bless a few more people rather than just one.

These are just suggestions.  Do what you can, but please, be kind to book nerds.  We are AWESOME!  If you have any stories or suggestions for giving, leave them below!  If you want to give a shout out to your favorite book or author, do it, because us book nerds can never have too many suggestions (I say as I look at my stack and lists of need-to-read books).  Happy giving!

14 Days of Giving: Day 5- Pay it Forward (or Backwards)

Today’s idea is what people usually think of when they hear “Pay it Forward”: Pay for someone in line behind you.

There are so many possibilities here.  Pay for someone in line behind you at fast food restaurant, coffee drive-thru, etc.  I have heard a few stories in which someone decides to do this, and upon hearing that someone else paid for their order, they were moved and decided to keep it going.  And going.  And going.  For hours!  It is such an incredible thing for so many people to pay it forward.  Hundreds of people got involved and the employees were moved and excited and energized.  It’s absolutely amazing!  All because one person decided to do something kind for another person, he or she started a movement.  Now, of course, this might not happen to you, but don’t be discouraged.  You still have helped someone else!

You can pay for someone else in other places, too.  Pay for someone else’s toll at a toll booth or for someone’s train ticket.  Pay for someone in line at a store.  Or, when you go in to pay for gas, pay for someone else who is filling up and chose the pay inside option.

Do you have a story of when you paid for someone else?  Share it below!  Happy giving!