Philanthropy Friday: Scary Mommy Nation Thanksgiving Project 2014

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.

scary mommy thanksgiving project

The above image came across my Facebook newsfeed yesterday morning (11/6/14). A reminder of just how generous the Scary Mommy Nation is and just how much more need there still is as we head into the holiday season.

I wrote about the Thanksgiving Project last year around this time and how it was started:

The Thanksgiving Project started as a simple blog post from Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy) back in 2011. This post talked about how some people in the Scary Mommy community had a rough year and simply couldn’t provide a Thanksgiving dinner for their families. Some could barely afford a loaf of bread.

Jill had the idea of asking her large community of followers for help. Would they be willing to donate some money, even a small amount, to make sure everyone would be able to celebrate Thanksgiving?

The answer was a resounding Yes. Jill was overwhelmed with people who wanted to donate. She also heard from many others who needed help. The story received a ton of media attention, including on Good Morning AmericaNightline and the home pages of Yahoo and Huffington Post.

An average Thanksgiving dinner costs $50. In that first year of the Thanksgiving Project, the Scary Mommy community raised more than $20,000 and provided meals for more than 400 families.

After the success of the first impromptu Thanksgiving Project, Scary Mommy Nation quickly became a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization powered by mothers helping other mothers. As Jill told me in an email, “Once I saw the impact the site could have, I couldn’t not want to do more. I realized that people really want to help, they just need to be shown how to do it. Being official helped give me the structure I needed as well as a legitimacy that’s needed when collecting money.”

thanks

This project reminds me of how much impact a community of people – most of them mothers – can make in the lives of others. It also makes me proud to be a blogger. Collectively, we can use our blogs and our social media influence to spread the word about helping our peers.

These are families who are having a hard time making ends meet. Any of us could be there. Maybe some of your are. From an anonymous post written by a recipient:

Unless you’ve been in a similar situation, it’s hard to imagine the fear that day to day financial uncertainty can create. Sometimes I feel like I can’t take a deep breath. Sometimes I feel like if one more unexpected thing happens, the delicate facade I have created will come tumbling down and I will never repair it. Sometimes I feel like burning the idyllic picture of my family everyone sees and screaming “help us, save us.”

In the end, I keep going because the alternative doesn’t exist. Because my kids deserve better. Because there is no one to save us. Because no matter how bad things get, there’s always someone worse off than us.

And because I tell myself one day this will all be a distant memory. That day, the idyllic picture of my family everyone sees on the outside will reflect who we really are.

I made my donation yesterday. While applications to receive assistance are now closed, here’s how you can help:

  • If you are involved in blogging or social media, please help spread the word
  • If you can afford to help a struggling family, please donate via Paypal. Fifty dollars buys an entire dinner – you can, of course, give less and be grouped with other donors, or give more and sponsor multiple families. (You can also mail checks to: Scary Mommy Nation, PO Box 20866 Baltimore, MD 21209)
SMN

Join Scary Mommy Nation to Help Support Families in Need This Thanksgiving

scary mom thanksgiving project

The Thanksgiving Project started as a simple blog post from Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy) back in 2011. This post talked about how some people in the Scary Mommy community had a rough year and simply couldn’t provide a Thanksgiving dinner for their families. Some could barely afford a loaf of bread.

Jill had the idea of asking her large community of followers for help. Would they be willing to donate some money, even a small amount, to make sure everyone would be able to celebrate Thanksgiving?

The answer was a resounding Yes. Jill was overwhelmed with people who wanted to donate. She also heard from many others who needed help. The story received a ton of media attention, including on Good Morning AmericaNightline and the homepages of Yahoo and Huffington Post.

An average Thanksgiving dinner costs $50. In that first year of the Thanksgiving Project, the Scary Mommy community raised more than $20,000 and provided meals for more than 400 families.

After the success of the first impromptu Thanksgiving Project, Scary Mommy Nation quickly became a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization powered by mothers helping other mothers. As Jill told me in an email, “Once I saw the impact the site could have, I couldn’t not want to do more. I realized that people really want to help, they just need to be shown how to do it. Being official helped give me the structure I needed as well as a legitimacy that’s needed when collecting money.”

In addition to the Thanksgiving Project, there is also a Birthday Project. Jill hopes to expand the impact beyond Thanksgiving, possibly adding other landmark days such as Mother’s Day and Christmas.

As of Monday morning, Jill still had 235 people on a waiting list for the Thanksgiving Project, and the applications for help close on Friday. While Jill says donations come in as quickly as money, it takes several donations of $5, $10, $20 etc. to cover each gift card.

For my November Giving Pledge donation, I gave to Scary Mommy Nation along with fellow co-authors of The Mother of All Meltdowns. Together we hope to help several families in need this holiday season. If you’d like to join us, you can donate through the MOAM website or directly on the Scary Mommy website.

If you can’t afford to donate at this time, I hope you will take a moment to share this post.

If you need help, you can apply at Scary Mommy’s website up until November 15th.

Will you support #ScaryMommyThanksgiving?

Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.
another jennifer giving pledge

The Power of a Voice

When I attended the Social Good Summit in New York for three days last week, I had the opportunity to watch several presentations and panels on global issues that impact us all. Speaker after speaker talked about things like access to clean water, climate change, hunger, preventable diseases, philanthropy and more.

In addition to the rich summit agenda, I was also invited to off-site events. I heard about upcoming campaigns that support The Global Fund from (Red) over breakfast. I learned more about the humanitarian efforts in Syria from Save the Children, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ONE.org at a luncheon. I had a nightcap with Wateraid to meet the lovely ladies I’ve only talked to through email. I was even escorted through several layers of security to listen to a panel on Factivism at the United Nations Headquarters.

A gentleman from Time Magazine asked a question at one of these events. My fellow social good bloggers and I laughed that we were even at the same table as someone from such a large and esteemed news outlet. We were quickly told that our voices are just as valued and needed because of the strong, personal connection we have with our audience. Moms, in particular, can relate to our blogs because we’re sharing our own relatable perspectives as mothers.

The overall theme of Social Good Summit was how we’re using digital to pave the way for a brighter future by 2030. (Check out the hashtag #2030NOW on Twitter for lots of discussion.) By the time I left New York on late Tuesday night, my mind was spinning and I had several pages of notes. I felt a renewed dedication to my work in the social good world and a desire to dig in deeper to what it means to empower others to give back in the simplest of ways.

And then I saw this picture come across my Facebook feed.

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If you don’t recognize this face, it’s Alexa of the No Holding Back blog. She is a friend of mine and an advocate for those affected by a too little known disease called TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome). As I was leaving New York armed with information and ideas, Alexa was in the trenches in Washington, DC representing the March of Dimes and moms everywhere. She met with representatives and was making change.

When Alexa came home, she buried her beloved Kathryn, the twin she lost to TTTS at only two days old. The next day, a bench was dedicated in Kathryn’s Butterfly Garden.

This month (September actually) I donated to the Historic Columbia Foundation to support Kathryn’s Butterfly Garden, a spot in a Children’s Garden that Alexa and her husband adopted in honor of Kathryn, as part of my Giving Pledge. I can’t think of a more fitting way to end my week.

Alexa is a prime example of someone who is taking an issue and tackling it head on. She is a strong woman and mother and I have no doubt that she is saving lives through her blog and advocacy work. She is doing what we discussed for three days in New York. If you have a moment, I encourage you to take a look at her new website dedicated to Fighting TTTS.

How did you give back in September?

Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.
another jennifer giving pledge

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