It's Giving Tuesday - 3 Ways to Give

We have a day for giving thanks. We have a couple for scoring some shopping bargains. Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. People around the world come together to give to causes that are important to them.

Here's three I am taking part in today...

1. Reverse Advent Calendar: The other day I was scrolling through Pinterest and spotted this idea by Julie Van Rosendaal for a Reverse Advent Calendar. Most advent calendars countdown the days till Christmas by having kids (and kids at heart) open a little box or window and receive a chocolate or tiny gift. This Reverse Advent Calendar is a way to really celebrate the meaning of the holiday by giving instead of receiving.

You need:
a couple of wine boxes (the kind with the cardboard dividers) free at Costco, Bev-Mo, Trader Joes
I jazzed my boxes up with red duct tape to make it festive. You could wrap them with gift wrap.
I made the countdown #'s with those free paint chip samples you get at Home Improvement stores and a wide Sharpie marker.
Non-perishable Food Items (one a day)

Starting today, December 1st, place a non-perishable food item into one of the 24 compartments each day. Once the boxes are full, donate them to your local food bank. A perfect thing to do on December 26th, Boxing Day!

Need ideas on what to fill them with you could call your local food bank Find a Food Bank in Your Area they usually have a wish list of their current needs or here's a basic list...

Meals in a can (stew, chili, soup)
Tuna and canned meat
Beans, Rice, Pasta
Flour, Pancake Mix
Peanut butter
Low-sugar cereals, Oats
Canned fruit and vegetables
Baby Formula
100% fruit juices
Powdered Milk
Granola or Protein Bars

Teachers: I was thinking this would be a great classroom project might have to start a few days early to account for vacation. Parents: This would be a fun way to countdown anything. I'm an animal lover so I thought maybe cans of cat and dog food, treats, bones, toys... leading up to a birthday (or to memorialize a pet's passing) to donate to the animal shelter.

Thank you Julie for the inspiration. I hope to continue this tradition every year.

2. Blessing Bags: I've posted about these before but they are still one of my favorite ways to help. Sadly, we have all seen people in need. These are a quick way to help. I always have a couple in my car trunk to hand out (be safe and cautious) or you can also give them to the homeless shelter or a local food bank to distribute. I had run out and gathered together enough to make stuff to make 2. Putting these bags together is a great project to do with kids (your own whippersnappers, Girl Scout Troops or Boy Scouts, Sunday School Class) to teach them about helping others. You'll need a few Gallon Size Ziploc Bags and the stuff (The $1 store is great place to find stuff for your bags and on your next trip save those hotel courtesy lotions, etc.)

Some ideas for items to include...
Packages of tissues
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Soap (place in a separate bag in a bag so it doesn't go near foods)
Nuts or Trail Mix
Raisins, Applesauce, Fruit Cup
Protein or Granola Bars
Tuna or Chicken Salad Kit
Peanut Butter
RTD Protein Shakes
Band Aids
First Aid Kit
Drink Mix
Coins or a couple of bucks
Grocery Store or local Restaurant Gift Card (even remainders of cards w/ amount noted are welcomed)
Hand Wipes
Pen/Mini Notebook
Feminine Products
Cough Drops
Depending on the weather in your area you could also put in a Warm Pair of Socks, a Rain Poncho, Hot Hands (I love these)

3. The Obesity Action Coalition: For those of us that have been affected by obesity (or love a person affected) I'd also like to share an organization near and dear to my heart as an option for giving. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) inspires me to give because their mission is to educate, support and advocate for those affected by obesity (1 in 3 adults in the US.) I first found the OAC when I was denied treatment for my obesity. I remember sitting alone in my car and crying. It didn't make sense to me that my insurance would pay for medications, treatments, specialists for several obesity-related health conditions but I was denied treatment for obesity itself. There were treatments available to help me regain my health, relieve the life threatening and debilitating illnesses I was suffering from and prevent the onset of others, how could they deny that?! It didn’t make sense. I felt alone until I found the OAC. I was thankful to know there was an organization that was working to increase access to care and treatment. I knew I had to get involved. I never want anyone to have to go through what I did.

The OAC provides wonderful free resources to educate the public about obesity, its causes, effects and helping people gain access to the science-based obesity treatment methods available for those that seek them. So much misinformation is out there about obesity and while people often mean well that misinformation can be harmful or worse. The OAC helps distinguish the science from the scams. The OAC also conducts advocacy efforts throughout the U.S. on both the state and national levels educating policymakers about obesity and how treating obesity can help prevent, or lessen the impact, of so many obesity-related conditions. The OAC fights to eliminate bias and stigma those affected by obesity face in world by shining a light on the insensitivity (and sadly often cruelty) those affected by obesity face in schools, workplaces, media, health care, society. I especially love the Your Weight Matters Convention they host each year where I’ve gained friendships, support and the comfort of knowing I will never be that girl crying alone in my car.

The OAC’s mission and good works inspires me to give back as a board member and I hope they inspire you too. You can join the OAC for just $10 till 12/31/15 (10th anniversary price) or if you are already a member consider making a small donation to support the OAC's efforts.