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? 

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.


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?

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.”


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)
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