Mother’s Day – Musings on the Meaning of Mothering

image source: flickr: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

image source: flickr

As a child (and an only child, at that) I was frequently jealous of the attention, love and mothering my mom would give to other children in our community.

Working individually with kids at my elementary school (and later on in her long career in the juvenile justice system), my mom focused intently on helping children with special needs. She treated them all with love, kindness and respect, which is the very best way to teach those qualities. She did everything as a volunteer—from large-scale organizing to providing childcare and tutoring, and even raising awareness about diversity and body positivity—issues that continue to be important to me to this day.

Truly a mother to anyone who needed one, my mom was a lifelong nurturer. At home, she never said no to me . . .  even when I brought in a foundling stray kitten, or once, a pair of miniature aquatic crabs we found inexplicably crawling up Fillmore Street in San Francisco. In addition to the cat I have now adopted, her social justice work and her extensive networks of friends and family, my mom left behind a large number of rather brilliant abstract paintings, a sassy assertiveness I strive to emulate every day, and a deep respect for treating all living things with kindness and care that’s instilled in me.

When my mother passed away unexpectedly on April first of this year, I created a charity registry in her name, to raise funds for animal rescue and nonprofit veterinary organizations ASPCA and Pets Unlimited, plus our local Make-a-Wish chapter. And you know something? Each heartfelt donation and sympathy message that came through my registry made me feel incredibly cared for and loved. It’s amazing that even someone who might not be related to me, or know me very well, can give me that kind of love, strength and support with a simple gesture. It’s certainly made this time a lot easier.

alex_mom

Source: Alex Mechanic

I honor my mother by striving to carry on her legacy of compassion, in the warm, giving spirit remembered by all who knew her. And the best feeling lately has been having that same warmth and generosity offered to me by all the various people in my life who I know in so many different ways. They have all been caring for me like one of their own.

Anyone can nurture like a mother does. It doesn’t depend on gender. It doesn’t even have to entail raising children. Caring and compassion are universal: Every one of us can give love and nurturing to anyone else – a child, adult, plant, or animal.

My good friend Sara can’t help but rescue a dying houseplant whenever she comes across one. It doesn’t matter what type of plant it is, she revives them back to health with a little work and TLC. That’s a perfect example of someone taking time to nurture the world around us in just the way a mother might.

So while it’s in my mother’s honor that I remember to smile and say hello to my neighbors and their kids, offer a listening ear to anyone I see having a bad day, and will continue to adopt as many animals as fit in my house, my models of mothering extend beyond her personal example.

I will never have children of my own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to be mothering, and nurture everyone I share this earth with for some finite time. We can all do it. All we need to do is care for each other.

—Alex Mechanic, Service Team Manager

Three Meaningful and Unique Father’s Day Gifts

Fathers are notoriously hard to shop for. They usually don’t need more ties or another coffee mug, and after a few years, even the latest gadget feels, well…uninspired. So what can you buy for dad that will touch his heart? Is there a personal gift that says thanks and shows him he’s taught you what’s important in life?

Check out our Top 3 most thoughtful Father’s Day Gifts that give back. . . and give Dad a gift that changes the world!

ONEHOPE Wines

Does your dad love wine? We recently discovered ONEHOPE Wine and fell in love. ONEHOPE has a partnership with Robert Mondavi and donates half of their profits to charity. To date, they’ve donated over $1 million to their partner charities for a variety of causes, which range from autism to animals. Send your dad a bottle directly from ONEHOPE, or sign him up for their wine club. Too close to Father’s Day to have it shipped? You can also find ONEHOPE in stores like Whole Foods and Raley’s.

(RED) Campaign Apple iPods

Go (RED)! In case you haven’t heard about the campaign: (RED) was started in 2005 by Bono (of U2) to help end the AIDS epidemic in Africa. There are many (RED) products, which donate a portion of their proceeds to AIDS charities working in Africa. Since it takes only 40 cents a day to keep someone living with HIV in Africa alive, one purchase can make a big difference. Check out their online assortment for men, or visit retail stores like Apple and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Father's Day Charity Gift Guide

Or skip the retail hassle all together, and give directly to his favorite cause. JustGive has many gift options that make charitable giving (and receiving!) a joy. Our new Charity Gift Guide has 12 tangible and “manly” gifts of charity, so it’s easy to find one that fits your Dad. For example:

Another great option (besides donating in his name) is a personalized charity gift card—upload a special photo of the two of you and have it delivered to his email inbox. (You can even schedule it to arrive on Father’s Day!) You choose the amount, he chooses the charity to support.

Dads may be hard to buy for, but that doesn’t mean you need to settle for a boring gift. These are our three favorite inspired ideas. For more, see our Great Charitable Products guide on Pinterest. (And don’t forget to follow us!)

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Wait. There are how many days ’til Christmas?

Twelve. (And Hanukkah is in just a week!)

Despite all the emails, ads, music, and festive decorations (not to mention the holiday clichés all around) – it’s easy to put off shopping while your list continues to grow. The stress of what to get, how much to spend, and the time it takes to wrap and send can be overwhelming….

Have no fear. Here are some great holiday gift options for any procrastinator. Unique, meaningful, and hassle-free–they may be last minute gifts, but they’re coming from your heart.

GiveNow Charity Gift Cards

You choose the amount, they choose the charity. And now, you can upload your own photo for that personal touch. Select an email card and schedule a delivery date or print the card at home to hand deliver. (And here’s a secret: On Tuesday December 20 all email and printed GiveNow cards purchased on the JustGive site will be fee free!)

They’re perfect for Hanukkah, Secret Santas, stocking stuffers, host gifts, client thank you’s and more.

Donate in their Name

It’s not hard to find a cause or charity that your friend or family member cares about. Maybe they have a love for animals, have served in the military, or recently ran a marathon to benefit breast cancer—try checking Facebook to learn about their favorite organizations and interests. Then just use the JustGive search tools and donate in their name for a personal gift that means more.

 Choose a Charity Gift Basket

Select from 16 Charity Collections that feature four nonprofits supporting a specific cause. From education to global aid, women’s rights to health, military to peace – there’s something for everyone!

Each of these charitable gift options shows you care. Even at the last minute—these are memorable gifts that share the true spirit of the season.

P.S. Follow us on Facebook for more holiday tips, ideas and stories.


– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

A Gift from the Heart

Mother’s Day is a time when we look at the mothers in our life, appreciate all that they do for us, and try to give something back to them.

Turning 30 this year made me realize I have been giving funny little gifts to my mother and grandmother over the years. Not only is it hard to think up new gifts to buy them, but I find they no longer need or want things. They already have too much stuff as it is.  As a mother of a three year old, I also think about what I would really want from her on Mother’s Day.  Although it sounds cliché, a drawing or something that she makes for me—from her heart—would make me the happiest.

I’m older . . . and crayon masterpieces for my grandma or mom don’t quite cut it. Then there’s the flower option: Most women (including me) love receiving flowers. They brighten up your living space and are a nice treat. But for me, they’re not quite enough. So I’ve found another way to honor the special women in my life – with a gift that’s a bit more personal, from my heart.

My Grandma was a wonderful elementary school teacher for many years, so I made a donation in her name to DonorsChoose.org — a great organization that helps teachers raise money for special projects or classroom materials that they need. Since she doesn’t really like to use computers, I didn’t want her to have to go online and search for a project or an organization. So I printed the donation confirmation to enclose in a special card with the flowers I’ll give her, letting her know how I am honoring her on Mother’s Day.

I wanted to do the same thing for my mom. She supports organizations that protect the environment, and gives to local food banks and rescue missions. The arts and public education are also important to her. And I wasn’t sure which organization to donate to: What would she appreciate the most this year? So I decided to give her a charity gift card with a bouquet of flowers. Letting her make the choice. She can go to JustGive.org and find the charity (or charities) she wants to support right now…there are more than a million on the site. And I’ll know that her donation will make a difference for a cause that is both meaningful and personally close to her heart!

This Mother’s Day, consider a charity gift collection that gives back and says thank you from your heart—donating to a cause that’s special to your mother’s (or grandmothers, or wife’s, or…you get the point) heart!

If you’d like to honor all she’s done in a bigger way, all year round – make it a monthly recurring donation.

Enjoy a very special Happy Mother’s Day!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes

Last minute holiday gifts? No problem…

It’s the last few days before the Christmas holiday and I’m in countdown mode. Given the traffic, craziness in grocery store and mall parking lots, I know I’m not alone. How does the holiday always seem to sneak up on us?

What I really want this Christmas is to make time stop and enjoy the season more. Pausing to take in all the wonder and joy. Having time to wander around and see lights. Talking with friends I haven’t caught up with in a while. Singing at a local convalescent center. And finding time to bake and fill the house with cinnamon and chocolate aromas.

Charity’s my choice

When it comes to gifts, I think less really can be more in some cases—For me, less shopping and less time in retail shops frees up time to do more of the things that make the season special.

It’s not a magic formula, but I’ll let you in on how I make that happen, even at the last minute: Charity gifts. Gifts I don’t have to leave home to buy, and that make me and the person I give them to feel good. Gifts that do so much more than anything I pick up in a store. Giving happiness and help while banishing holiday frenzy!

 

To thank a client of mine, I’m sending a GiveNow charity gift card. She can use it to donate to any charity she wants (JustGive has 1.8 million of them in the database). I like the online poinsettia thank you card, and sending it via email makes it easy for me to get this gift to her before the holiday.

  • A charity Gift Collection is perfect to honor my future mother-in-law’s love of animals. And giving to four charities in the “gift basket” that protect and prevent cruelty to animals helps me spread the giving around to nonprofits whose work I know she appreciates.
  • For a good friend who’s passionate about helping stop the spread of Aids, I’ll make a donation in her name to the Palo Alto Face Aids charity, which is engaging youth from around the world to help fight HIV/Aids.

     

    With only days to go before Christmas, I can take a few minutes tonight and get these gifts without driving anywhere. Wrapping up my giving before I start baking….

    Do you still have gift to buy? Follow my lead and choose charity. These gifts are truly in the spirit of the season and will generate smiles, joy and hope. Taking away stress and frantic last minute shopping—with gifts that matter more and leave you more time to enjoy special once-a-year activities and time with family and dear friends.  Making sure you have a very Merry one.

    Pass it on!

     

    Giving Back on Father’s Day

    Visit www.justgive.org for Father's Day Gifts

    Honoring the Men who Made Us Who We Are

    I was eight years old when my father stepped back on the wrestling mat after more than twenty years. His first opponent turned out to be one of the best wrestlers in the high school’s history, a hulking, punishing, future Marine. That matchup was no mistake; it was a trial by fire.

    He made it through that first day and kept going until I graduated from high school. He was 55. His choice to throw his hat onto the mat was a formative experience for me; coming with him to practices and matches, watching him interact with my boyhood heroes. Looking back what really influenced me was his passion for the sport and for life.

    The Gift that Says More

    This Father’s Day I want to show my father how much his exuberance for life influenced me. And a tie just won’t do. That’s why I’m dedicating a donation to Beat the Streets in his honor.

    Beat the Streets funds a program that is expanding wrestling into urban New York areas for middle school and high school students who otherwise would not be exposed to the world’s oldest sport. Wrestling builds confidence and capabilities for young people and helps them develop mental toughness and work ethics. These inherent requirements are critical to success in every sport as well as to success in academics and to success in life.

    I learned about Beat the Streets when they were promoting their annual gala. Each year, Beat the Streets celebrates wrestling with some of the thousands of students whose lives they’ve touched. This year their Main Event was conducted on the deck of the USS Intrepid with over 1,200 people witnessing some of the nation’s top wrestlers including several wrestlers from Beat the Streets.

    Athletes of all shapes and sizes can excel and enjoy wrestling. And all can benefit from the physical activity, strength and healthy self-esteem that come along with the sport.

    My father was never a coach, never paid, and never came back excited that he was able to beat a wrestler. He was patient, helpful, and enthusiastic with every wrestler. His team’s wins and losses mattered in the moment, but they weren’t held onto with ego or regret. My father wrestled because he loved the sport. That passion is what I carry with me every day, and what I want to give back.

    Donate Now to a charity your Dad cares most about. Add a personal message and we’ll take care of all the delivery details, if you like. Every gift made through JustGive can be designated as a memorial gift—the perfect way to honor and remember your Dad if he has passed.

    Don’t know what charity your Dad is passionate about? Personalize a GiveNow charity gift card your Dad can redeem to give to his favorite charity.

    Visit us on Facebook and tell us about a charity that reminds you of your Dad!

    Rethinking holiday gifts

    Tonight, I’ll tell my one-month-old baby that I’m giving him a baseball stadium for Christmas. I figured this out at 3:30 in the morning when his cries made me appreciate the small conveniences of life. Take our bottle warmer: The process to heat a baby’s bottle is not really difficult, but in the early hours of sleepless nights, a bottle warmer can give a new father some semblance of ease.

    Convenience is something we often take for granted: easy access to food, shelter, and, at this time of year, presents. I recently saw a commercial for Burger King, touting its “Dollar Holidays” card promotion–sending a holiday gift card containing a dollar bill to “casual friends.” According to BrandWeek, more than 8,000 of these gift cards were sold on the program’s first day alone. There’s something in the magnitude of that number that disturbs me. Perhaps it’s the new baby making me ask questions, but is this really what the season of giving has become?

    Don’t get me wrong. I like presents. I like giving. I like getting. Some of my fondest memories are of avoiding creaking floorboards on Christmas morning to see our tree lit up, presents arranged underneath, the cookies and milk left for Santa Claus gone. When it comes to Christmas presents this year, Gallup’s first look at 2009 spending found that Americans plan to spend an average of $740 on gifts this year. That’s starkly down from two years ago – and 65 percent of Americans return holiday gifts every holiday season. We are a country that likes to give and get, and return.

    Starting a giving tradition that generates many happy returns . . .

    As a recent addition to the JustGive family, I’ve decided to start a new tradition this year and give a gift that that keeps on giving: A donation to a cause I believe in.

    Imagine if the 8,000 people who jumped at the chance to give their friends a BK cheeseburger did the same and gave to the Capital Area Food Bank For that same $1, the food bank can provide three meals to someone in need. But what personally interests me is the Capital Area Food Bank is leading the DC-area Farms to School movement: remaking school lunches into nutritious and delicious meals while supporting local farmers. In a culture beset with Dollar Holidays, that’s something a whole lot better I’d choose to support.

    Convenient, meaningful gifts

    JustGive makes it easy to give back – the type of convenience I appreciate. Three thoughtful e-gifts they offer can make a difference, starting with as little as $10:

      • Donate to charity in your friend, family member or colleague’s name.

        Make the gift personal and donate online, in a few short minutes. You don’t even need to know the name of a charity. Use convenient search tools to quickly find one that supports the cause your recipient cares about.

            This holiday season, you can select from a wider variety of charity gift cards. More than 12 available images make it easy to find one that expresses your sentiment best. Designed for every need, the cards fit Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years, and represent many charitable causes, including education, children, and peace on Earth.  It’s the perfect gift of choice for your recipient, who redeems the card to support their favorite charity.

            A few of the gift card images available

              • Give a Gift Collection—A “gift basket” of four charities supporting a specific cause.

                A dozen already-packaged gift collections focus on feeding the hungry, creating homes and jobs, mentoring children, protecting animals, respecting elders, planting trees, saving the earth, promoting human rights, pursuing peace . . . and more. Gift Collections start at $40 and are available for any amount.

                My choice

                A small donation to a grassroots organization like City Green, an organization that promotes environmental equality through inner city gardens and education, can make a big impact in the life of a community. City Green supports the Cougars Go Green student club, which is now in its second year. These young students – with the help of donors such as my family – are working to restore the crumbling Hinchcliffe Stadium in their backyard to the thriving city asset it once was when the New York Black Yankees played the Philadelphia Stars in 1933.

                That means that tonight, during my next 3:30 a.m. feeding, I’ll have more than a warm bottle to give my son. I’ll be able to share the joy of giving back.

                Now there’s an idea to share with your friends!

                – Grant La Rouche