A Dragon Master teaches us to give

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You may have already seen the story of Santino and his dragons on Facebook or the Today Show, but I couldn’t resist spreading the word about this amazing boy and his business. Not only is this a worthwhile cause, but looking through the site gave me a chance to talk with my boys about how God created each of us (our similarities and differences) and having compassion, an open mind and a loving heart. All while they picked out three favorite dragon prints and begged for their own t-shirts.

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This is the story of Santino, a 10 year boy, boldly nicknamed “The Dragon Master” by his younger brother. A story that I’m sure is full, but is brought to light because of his dragon drawings. Santino was diagnosed with autism at age 5. One way that he enjoyed expressing himself was through drawing dragons. So after being teased one day, his parents bought him a blank white t-shirt and markers in order to help work through his emotions. As a mom to boys, I find this is brilliant on so many levels, as every day is an attempt to understand my children and help them express themselves.

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After a Facebook post from Lisa, Santino’s mom, of him working on a t-shirt went viral and brought in over 100 orders, you can now shop for your own dragon shirts on Santino’s Dragon Drawings website.

“Santino decided to donate half of his money to the Center for Autism, a nonprofit that Lisa said has changed her son’s life by teaching him how to communicate his feelings, problem-solve and understand social cues.

“I don’t want to be the only one who gets the money,” Santino said of why he chose to donate his proceeds. “I want to help other kids with autism.”

Let’s support Santino and his mission to help other kids with autism. Let’s learn from Santino’s generous heart.

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Giving back through photos ~Cara Soulia Photography

How precious are these children and amazing these photographs? The photographer, Cara, just happens to be a friend of mine from college, with whom I’m so excited to have to reconnected with recently. Cara Soulia Photography is a Boston-area photography who specializes in photographing babies, children and families. Not only does she make giving back to the community the heart of her business, but she also lives what she says and makes giving back a priority with her kids.

Cara’s heart for giving is such a meaningful reminder that we have all been given gifts and talents that can be used to help others. 

And I can say from personal experience, she is such a pleasure to work with. Cara photographed my Ginger Lane collection. Blog post and photos to come. But you’ll find sneak peek at the end of this post!

Cara Soulia Photography

Cara Soulia Photography

“I donate my photography services to Cradles To Crayons, which provides homeless and low-income children ages 0-12 the essential items they need to thrive. Each December, I photograph the organization’s biggest fundraising event: the Un-Gala. I love this event because kids participate and it is a hands-on family volunteering experience. In 2012, I brought my own family to volunteer, while I photographed the event. It was so fun to be there altogether and it was a fantastic way to introduce my kids to giving back and helping others.

Separate from the Un-Gala, I have also volunteered with my son at the C2C warehouse sorting children’s clothes. It was there that I got the idea to donate a portion of my fall mini-session proceeds to purchasing new socks & underwear for C2C.”

Cara Soulia Photography

Cara Soulia Photography

In addition to donating her time and talent to Cradles to Crayons, Cara also donates her photography to Solutions at Work, a local nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income people break the cycle of poverty by providing resources and opportunities.

“On several occasions, I have photographed participants shopping in the Solutionswear store and in the Children’s Clothing Exchange. I also photograph their annual Vase Glazing event, where Solutions at Work child participants paint vases which are raffled off at their annual gala. My favorite thing about this event is seeing children, who have been helped by Solutions at Work in the past, paying it forward to support the organization.”

Looking for a way to support Solutions at Work? Donate professional attire, computers or children’s gear or make a financial gift.

Cara Soulia Photography

Cara and Wally at Cradles to Crayons

“I love to give back to organizations that have an emphasis on helping children and families, because these are the causes that are closest to my heart. I am always on the lookout for new opportunities for local giving. I am currently brainstorming a Mother’s Day event which will include a charitable component!”

Sign up for the Cara Soulia Photography newsletter to stay in the loop. Or shoot her an email if you’re Interested in learning more about booking a session with her.

Here’s a sneak peek from my Ginger Lane photoshoot with Cara Soulia Photography

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(All photographs courtesy of Cara Soulia Photography)

Join Team Kate

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Friends, can we all come together an help an old friend from high school? Kate is a 38 year old mom to a 5 year old girl, friend to many. Only she is living the unthinkable.

“The thing that gets me is I’m 38 years old. I’m healthy. I have a healthy weight, I’m a healthy eater. And in just one day … poof.”

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From Team Kate Fundraiser

In June of 2013 Kate felt a little off, a little fuzzy. She was concerned enough about the way she was feeling to have a friend drive her to the ER. Once there, the Doctors could find nothing wrong, and she was sent home. Soon thereafter, she found herself waking up on the kitchen floor alone. She later found out it was a seizure that caused her to black out and fall. This scare prompted her to, once again, take a trip to the hospital. It was this hospital visit where the Doctors realized something was really wrong.

Kate endured a spinal tap, CT scans, MRI’s and countless other tests to find out she needed a brain biopsy.  The results of this biopsy confirmed something none of us wanted to hear. Kate was officially diagnosed with a malignant, grade II, astrocytoma brain tumor contained in the left frontal and temporal lobes. The doctors told her the tumor, which is the size of a plum, had infiltrated her brain with a growth rate at 8-10%.

This part gives me goosebumps. Though the powers of Facebook, Kate reconnected with our fellow classmate, Lisa, who just happens to be a nurse practitioner for the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, here in Boston. As a result, Dana Farber doctors have been able to work with her doctors in Florida, determining the best course of action. (Here’s their full story from our local paper. Remember the Sudbury Mafia? See, we’re everywhere…)

Here’s how you can help:

Give Money

Kate has not been able to work since June. Besides the usual bills, let’s help with medical bills. A single mom, unable to work, she is now on Medicaid, which does not cover many of her medical expenses. Let’s help her fly to Boston for future testing and possible surgery. Even just $5 helps. Make a donation on the Team Kate Fundraiser page.

Online gift cards to help care for her family are also a huge help: Whole Foods, Target, Publix. Send them directly to Kate: teamkate38@gmail.com

Give Love

Head over to Facebook and like Team Kate. Follow her story. Genuinely pray for her, for health, for her daughter, for the wisdom of the doctors. Help ease any burdens. Encourage. Connect. Give Love.

Another giveaway!

On a much lighter note from my previous post…Another giveaway! I’m so excited to offer one of my Ginger Lane Black & White foldover clutches for the Fancy Little Things Giveway. Look at all these other fun goodies you could win! Enter now…the giveaway is about to end. (Click here to Enter)

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Thank you for entering — so glad you stopped by!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Adoption fundraiser: Giving away a Ginger Lane clutch

I’m honored to give away one of my Ginger Lane metallic shimmer linen foldover clutches to help Lauren and her family raise money for their adoption. It is included with over $350 worth of other gifts.

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This giveaway is a great way that you can contribute to their adoption costs (with the added benefit of being entered in this great giveaway). How much does an adoption cost? Read Lauren’s breakdown of costs.

Want a chance to win over $350 worth of prizes, including my metallic clutch? All it takes is a $5 donation to their adoption (100% of donations go directly to the adoption) to be entered to win.

$5 donation = 1 Giveaway entry

>>>> Click here to see all of the prizes, donate and enter to win! <<<<

The giveaway will end Wednesday July 24th.

Give with Purpose: Free online Philanthropy course starts today!

Yes.

The Learning by Giving Foundation is offering a free online course for Philanthropy called Give with Purpose. And the best part? As part of the class, and you have the opportunity to distribute Doris Buffett’s (Warren’s sister) foundation money. Get it? Learn by Giving. Genius & generous!

But before you do anything, know the course starts today, July 15!

Go sign up!

Curious to learn more about the course and what Guest Speakers Cal Ripken Jr. and Ben & Jerry will discuss? Check it out here.

And best of all, the course has “Learner” and “Giver” tracks. If you’re on the Giver track, you nominate a non-profit that will compete for the foundation’s grant money. Once I realized Sole Hope would not be eligible (outside the US, beyond 50 miles from my zip code, etc) and looked at my time commitment, the Learner track is definitely best for me. As an aside, I appreciate the fact that the giving requirements focus on investing in people and communities in the US.

Friends, who’s with me??

Big news!

It’s here. After months (years) of prayers, listening, waiting, dreaming, tinkering, playing…it’s here.

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Inspired by Al Andrews, to become an improbable philanthropist.

Inspired by Jon Acuff, to Start. (First inspired by Quitter, but I can’t quit my day job as a mom.)

Inspired by Rebecca at Better Life Bags (where I first admitted my dream “Design something awesome + Change people’s lives”), Megan at She Does Justice and Sarah at BeCause to start a business that combines creative talents & giving.

Inspired by Mike Donehey to sponsor children through Compassion.

Grateful for the encouragement of friends and strangers that have purchased bags already.

Come on over to GingerLaneGoods.com or the Ginger Lane Goods Etsy store or the Spoonflower fabric store!