Philanthropy Friday: The #GivingTuesday Thirty-One Hope Kit (+ a giveaway!)

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Disclosure: I received a Thirty-One Hope Kit as a gift from Thirty-One Gifts to aid in the writing of this post. I will be donating the kit to a woman in substance abuse treatment who needs it more than I do. All thoughts and opinions expressed, as per usual, are my own.

Thirty-One Hope KitAs we head full force into the holiday season, I will be sharing more opportunities to make a true impact in your giving. Earlier this week, I mentioned that Hallie Tamez, WaterAid America’s Associate Director of Major Gifts, will  be carrying a 40-pound jerry can filled with water across Manhattan in solidarity with the women and girls across the globe who have no choice but to do this every day. She’s doing it today (November 21) in hopes to raise fund for WaterAid on #GivingTuesday.

World Vision and Thirty-One Gifts have also teamed up for the 3rd annual #GivingTuesday on Dec. 2, 2014. The two organizations are working together to send out personal hygiene supplies to women in need.

For the first 3,100 donations made to World Vision on #GivingTuesday, Thirty-One Gifts will donate a Hope Kit tote filled with hygiene supplies to a woman or girl in need in the U.S.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. The organization works in nearly 100 countries around the world, and serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. You can find out more about World Vision on their website, Facebook page or Twitter.

The Hope Kit is a Thirty-One Gift’s Cosmetic Bag filled with essential hygiene supplies such as a toothbrush, shampoo, hairbrush, soap and a special note of encouragement. I received one of the bags and can tell you it is of far higher quality than any cosmetic bag I have ever owned. Filled with the everyday toiletries that we often take for granted, I particularly like the handwritten note from the person who packed the bag. My note said:

I hope this kit brings you encouragement in your time of need. My thoughts are with you for a better tomorrow.

I will be donating my Hope Kit to Crossroads, a behavioral health organization in Maine that I’ve worked with for about 8 years. They have two residential programs and toiletries are often needed by clients.

The Handle-It Cosmetic Bag comes in Paisley Day, Black Chevron or Plum Chevron. Thanks to Thirty-One, one lucky reader will have the chance to win a cosmetic bag, in her choice of color, with “hope” embroidered on the front. You can enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On #GivingTuesday every donation made to World Vision will make twice the impact by combatting poverty in one of the 100 countries where World Vision works. The donations on #GivingTuesday can be made by phone (1-888-511-6588) or online to World Vision on Giving Tuesday.

How will you celebrate #GivingTuesday? What will you do with your cosmetic bag? 

(Not at all) Wordless Wednesday: Happy World Toilet Day!

NicaToiletCollage

Toilets in Nicaragua. Photos by Jennifer Iacovelli

Is it weird that I’m excited for World Toilet Day? I mean, what other day allows for potty talk all day long? And you can get away with making a photo collage of latrines.

World Toilet Day was created by the United Nations to recognize the life-saving importance of toilets and sanitation and to raise awareness about the fact that one in three people around the world have no safe and sanitary place to “go” when nature calls.

If you follow me, you know clean water and sanitation are important causes for me. You also know that WaterAid America is an organization close to my heart.

I was honored to have traveled to Nicaragua back in March to see WaterAid’s work on the ground. I saw how women and teenage girls were being trained to build and maintain wells and toilets, giving them skills, income and a better way of life for their entire community. I stayed at Linda’s house where I ate dinner with a headlamp on, slept under a mosquito net, and climbed up rickety stairs to get to the outdoor toilet (pictured in the above collage on the left) while dodging livestock.

While there are times I wish I could go back to the simplicity of Nicaragua, the sheer lack of clean water, sanitation and infrastructure still boggles my mind.

WaterAid released the Child of Mine report today. The image below gives you a snapshot of the findings. The statistics are staggering. (Download the full 12-page report)

111314WaterAid_ig_onepger

So what is WaterAid America doing to bring awareness to these issues on World Toilet Day? On Friday, November 21 Hallie Tamez, WaterAid America’s Associate Director of Major Gifts, will  be carrying a 40-pound jerry can filled with water across Manhattan in solidarity with the women and girls across the globe who have no choice but to do this every day.

How cool is that? (Actually, I told Hallie she was pretty badass. Because she is. Just look at that photo below.) Hallie says:

The #Steps4Water event will highlight the daily experiences of women and children living without clean water. As we shed light on this issue, we look forward to welcoming new supporters to help raise funds on #GivingTuesday, December 2, 2014.

halliesteps4water

Go, Hallie, go!

You can find Hallie’s route on WaterAid’s website. If you spot her and post a photo to Instagram, tagged with @WaterAidAmerica and #Steps4Water, you could win a dinner for two at Spasso NYC.

So what can you do? Here are some action steps for you on World Toilet Day:

  • Stay tuned for updates from WaterAid America CEO Sarina Prabasi on Twitter via @SPrabasi and @WaterAidAmerica on World Water Day as she talks about open defecation and the challenges for women and girls at a special UN panel alongside representatives from UN Water, the Republic of Singapore and more. The event will be webcast on United Nations Web TV from 1p.m. to 3p.m. EDT on November 19.
  • Ask Congress to support the Water for the World Act. The US House Foreign Affairs Committee will be debating the bill on November 20. It’s our last chance to get the bill passed before year end!
  • Celebrate the importance of toilets with WaterAid and their friends at Go Green Environmental Services at a World Toilet Day celebration (PDF, 300KB) with live music, free food and beer at 119 Rocky Point Road, Middle Island, New York on November 19 at 4p.m. EDT.
  • Test your toilet trivia and learn more about sanitation at the Eww! What’s Eating You? exhibit at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas.
  • Read more about the sanitation crisis

Philanthropy Friday: Heart of Haiti

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Disclosure: I received a beautiful tobacco leaf tray as a gift from Everywhere Society as part of their Macy’s Heart of Haiti initiative. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

high res hoh

With Thanksgiving in just two weeks, gratitude is on the mind. As I head into my first Thanksgiving as a single mother, I am overcome with the amount of things I am truly thankful for this year. Three healthy, resilient and loving boys (two of the human kind and one of the canine kind). A slew of friends, new and hold, who have shown more love and support than I ever expected. A great new place to live. A successful business that is my passion. Amazing trips and opportunities. I could go on an on.

I cannot think of anything I truly want or need that I don’t already have right now.

When I was in Nicaragua earlier this year, I experienced poverty at a level that I had never seen before in person. I was told it was the poorest nation in the western hemisphere second only to Haiti. This January marks the five year anniversary since the devastating earthquake shook Haiti and caused catastrophic damage in an already third world nation. Thinking about the circumstances in these countries keeps things in perspective when I’m having a bad day. We have so much to be thankful for here in America.

heart of haiti

Haitian artisans make tobacco leaf trays. Photos provided by Everywhere Society.

Macy’s went to Haiti shortly after the January 12, 2010 earthquake and realized that, despite the devastation, there was an artist community that existed. They were eager to bring the products of these Haitian artisans to market. Macy’s launched the Heart of Haiti product line for sale online and in stores, including Macy’s Herald Square, Brooklyn Downtown, Metro Center, Chicago State Street, Northland Center, Seattle Downtown, Portland Downtown, San Francisco Union Square, Biltmore Fashion Park, South Coast Plaza Home, Mission Valley Home, Dallas Galleria, Lenox Square Mall, and Dadeland Mall.

To date, Heart of Haiti has employed 400 artists. These artisans are able to create beautiful, unique items using only the scraps and materials they have around them. Materials like old paper, cement bags and tobacco leaves like those that were used to create my gorgeous tray.

tobaccotray

Every item purchased from the Heart of Haiti product line from Macy’s provides sustainable income for a Haitian artisan and her extended family. To put the impact of a Heart of Haiti purchase into perspective a bit, the average Haitian’s annual income is only $400 for an entire year. With an estimated 400,000 artisans (out of a 10M population) who rely solely on their handcrafted goods as a source of income, no other sector of employment even approaches such numbers. Macy’s, using a Trade-Not-Aid approach, has paved the way in helping to rebuild this important sector of a fragile economy.

As we move into the holiday season, I urge you to consider gifts that also give back. Macy’s Heart of Haiti product line is beautiful, affordable, handmade and provides sustainable income for Haitian artists and their families.

What are you thankful for this season?

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