These are the heroes helping Boston homeless friends make it through the night, and how you can help.

“I often ask for gifts that have nothing to do with money. There are always things one can get. What I desire is the presence of the donor, for him to touch those to whom he gives, for him to smile at them, to pay attention to them.”

Mother Teresa, No Greater Love

Sometime giving money can be the easiest way to give. The least sacrificial. The least intimate. This is not to say that everyone has piles of cash ready to be handed out. But for the majority of us, we have something we can give away. Even if it is the coins nestled between your couch cushions.

But giving your time, giving your love, that is the challenge. To hold hands with a homeless woman, to look here in the eye, and hand her a meal. In these quiet moments you hear their needs, such as the whisper asking if there are any available bras or feminine supplies.

This is what Generic Ministry is doing twice a week in Boston. I’ve learned about them from a dear friend, who goes out in the van to distribute supplies.

Generic Ministry is an all-volunteer organization that provides clothing, food, toiletries, blankets, and friendship to homeless and needy people in Boston. Two nights each week our well-stocked van delivers supplies to designated stops in the city, meeting directly with our homeless friends on the streets. Our goals are simple: to help destitute people make it through the night, and to engage people to help those in need.

I admire their goal of helping the homeless friends make it through the night. What gratitude we should all feel to not worry about making it through the night! And with that gratitude, we should give. Let’s fearlessly love our neighbors and give to those that are holding their hands and giving them respect and love and sustenance.

How you can help:

Support their GoFundMe campaign to raise $1000 to rent storage space for (and purchase) much needed supplies.

Donate through Network for Good:

  • $10 Provides a 2-week supply of water for distribution
  • $50 Keeps the van on the road for 1 month
  • $150 Purchases socks and underwear for 1 month
  • $500 Purchases insurance for the van for 6 months
  • $1,000 Pays for the rent for our garage for 4 months

Donate:

  • New underwear & socks (in packages – nothing used!) for men and women
  • Men’s cotton shirts (long sleeve t-shirts) and Hoodies XL, XXL, etc
  • Women’s bras
  • Hats, mittens, coats
  • Travel-sized toiletries

(Visit their website for more donation information.)

Maybe it’s time for a Fashion Diet

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By now, we’s all heard about the dangers of GMOs,  overeating, junk food, processed foods, pesticides. Fast fashion is no different. Our need for more and cheaper – our over consumption of basically disposable clothing – can be damaging to all involved in the lifecycle. The documentary True Cost is unveiling the human suffering, the damage to communities and their environments, just so that we can have a $5 t-shirt that we may wear only once. A few short sentences will never convey the destruction of the mass produced fashion industry, so I highly encourage you to watch the movie (Netflix/Amazon/iTunes). (For more info, here is our Beginner’s Guide to Ethically-Made Fashion.)

One of the many facts that you can’t unsee or unlearn:

Only 10% of the clothes donated to charity or thrift stores are sold.

The other 90% ends up in landfills or flooding markets in developing countries overseas. Hurting their economy and environment.

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(True Cost film still. Source.)

“The global trade of second-hand clothing is a multi-billion dollar industry for developed countries. With our clothing waste being sent overseas by the tons, there’s little chance of African countries, as a whole, developing their own textile trade. In the last 10 years, local industries, such as garment-making and tailoring, have collapsed, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers unemployed.”

Shannon Whitehead, “What really happens to your donated clothing

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I’ll be honest, I have always loved the idea of donating my clothes. You think you’re doing something to help out another person. I will be the first to tell you that I’m the Queen of Rationalization. I can find a bright side to most anything. Need a new dress for a party? No prob, I’ll just donate it later.

Before watching the documentary, I happened to read the popular The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and am slowly “Konmari-ing” the crap out of my house. Reducing and organizing my clothes was freeing, but also eye-opening. I had A LOT of clothes I didn’t wear. Either it didn’t fit or I didn’t really like it anymore, whatever the reason, I had clothes just sitting there. Taking up space and collecting dust. So after an honest purge, six garbage bags were filled.

The worst was the tiny little dagger I felt when looking at an item that I loved and it just sat there reminding me of time when it did fit. How freeing it was to kick those clothes – and the negative self-talk that came with them – out of my house.

These, the clothes that I loved but couldn’t wear, were the ones I gave to friends. What an absolute joy it was to see them try them on, twirl around, and feel beautiful. Clothes that give the gift of happiness. Another bag went to my dear friend who hand delivers clothing and food to homeless people on the streets of Boston. Clothes that can help keep them warm. The rest was dropped off at Savers. Clothes that will find a new home (and hopefully not in a landfill).

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  • Buy less.
  • Invest in quality pieces that will last. Here’s a list of some of my favorite ethical fashion brands.
  • Have extra jeans? Host a Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party to cut shoe patterns to be made into shoes for kids in Uganda to protect their feet from harmful jiggers.
  • Trade/share clothes with friends.
  • Shop at thrift, vintage and consignment stores. Go rock a vintage Valentino jacket at your next holiday party. And jeans are always better worn-in.
  • Pull together clothes to be given directly to homeless or similar missions. Cradles to Crayons does an excellent job of involving the community (great for kids!) and giving directly to those in need.
  • Reduce the amount of cheap, fast fashion clothes you buy. I’m still working on this too, especially shopping for my boys. They only wear athletic pants (what they call “fancy pants”) and destroy them/grow so quickly that I end up at cheaply made places like Old Navy and Target.

Just as we teach our children: actions have consequences. Our need for more more more + cheaper cheaper cheaper has massive ethical and environmental consequences. The surprising thing for me, especially after Konmari-ing my own clothes, was the psychological impact of fashion in my own life. Why do we buy so much? Why do we feel like more will make us happier? Why do we feel like we deserve it? Stuff will never fulfill us. Stuff will never bring lasting joy.

As a side note, True Cost covers how horrible the cheap leather industry can be. At Bevy Goods, we are committed to investing in and using responsibly-sourced leather, which means our leathers are vegetable-tanned (reducing the amount of dangerous chromium that used) or comes from facilities that adhere to strict environmental codes and conditions. We are creating bags with lasting style + purpose: ethically-made bags that carry you from day to night. 

Sign up at Bevy Goods to join us on this journey and be the first to know when we are launching. And while you’re at it, let’s connect on InstagramFacebook & Twitter!

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

Ginger Lane

(All photographs courtesy of Cara Soulia Photography)

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.

Reece’s Rainbow (Host a Lemonade Stand)

I’m excited to have Rachel, a fellow Influence Network-er, here sharing her story and giving project. This is a great way to get your kids involved in giving: host a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to Reece’s Rainbow.

The mission of Reece’s Rainbow is to rescue orphans with Down syndrome through the gift of adoption, to raise awareness for all of the children who are waiting in 25 countries around the world, and to raise funds as adoption grants that help adoptive families afford the high cost of adopting these beautiful children.

About Reece’s Rainbow

Please visit Rachel’s blog for a list of great tips for hosting a Lemonade Stand for Reece’s Rainbow  and let her know that you will be joining her Lemonade Stand Campaign!

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I am thankful and honored to have this opportunity to guest post today.  So that you know a little bit of who you are hearing from here are the basics, I am 34 year old wife to a soon to be pastor, (he is finishing up seminary this summer.) I am a mother to five wonderful(most of time) children(one of which is due to be born any day now.) Our life is often messy but in the mess we get to see God make something beautiful in our lives.  I would love for you to come by my blog, www.make-something-beautiful.com and get to know my family and I better.

 My heart grew significantly for orphans with Down Syndrome and special needs after the birth and Down Syndrome diagnosis of my first Son Sam in 2009. 

After Sam was born while doing research on the Internet on his condition, Down Syndrome I discovered an amazing organization called Reece’s Rainbow. They are in the business of redeeming orphans with special needs. Special needs orphans are the bottom of the barrel as far as orphans go, they are often living is horrible conditions with out adequate housing, clothing, food, medical care and worst of all human interaction. Often children with mild and moderate disabilities are left in crib rooms for there whole life, never escaping the bars and white walls.

JOIN US and “MAKE A STAND FOR ORPHANS!!” Host a lemonade stand in the month of May or collect change to give toward the redemption of beautiful special needs children around the world.  You can give  directly to Reece’s Rainbow and receive a tax deduction. FOR MORE TIPS PLEASE VISIT MY BLOG AND LET LEMONADE BE USED TO REDEEM!!

Shoes for Shriners

Katie and Bryan, friends from a former church, recently reached out with a new giving project they are launching: Shoes for Shriners. Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston is one of the world’s leading centers for pediatric burn care. And, unfortunately, they experienced the hospital first-hand when their then toddler, Eden, was accidentally burned.

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In their own words:

People come from all over the world to be seen at this hospital, and for good reason; the care is phenomenal. What’s more, Shriner’s does not charge its patients a penny. Not a penny, whether they could afford it or not. They only recently began accepting payments from insurance.

One of the beautiful things about this place is that they are committed to making patients – and their families – comfortable while they are at the hospital, and providing tangible goods to make the stay easier. Within twenty-four hours of our arrival we were given a bag with toys, some regular clothing, and a handmade blanket (which Eden still sleeps with every day at daycare). We didn’t know we “needed” these things, but the level of care and thought that they represented literally brought us to tears.

Shriner’s gets donations from many places, and they thankfully always have plenty of toys. But the one thing they always need is shoes. We see this need as an opportunity for our family (and hopefully some of you!) to serve a place that does so much good, that has done so much good for us in particular, and to help them serve and bless others as they did us not so long ago. We are all very excited about this opportunity, and we hope you’ll join us! But if you can’t swing it this year, no sweat, we understand! We plan to make this an annual tradition, so there will be more chances.

Click to read more about Shoes for Shriners.

How can you help?

1. Purchase sneakers in any size from toddler size 7 up (all the way to adult sizes!) and get them to Katie & Bryan by May 4 (Email them: shoesforshrinersboston@gmail.com for the mailing address.)

and/or

2. Donate funds which we will use to buy sneakers on May 4th/5th. Donations can be done through Paypal using the email: shoesforshrinersboston@gmail.com
They are planning to deliver the shoes to Shriner’s sometime during the first full week in May.

To Boston, with love

I was born in Boston, raised here and still live in the vicinity.

Marathon Monday has always been my favorite day in the city. The cheering is relentless. The runners, inspiring.

I worked in the building behind where the first bomb went off. We used to gather in the windows to watch the marathon, having the best view of Boylston and the finish line. I would walk home along the marathon route, clapping and cheering for those who had been running 5+ hours. But they were still going. They never stopped. Their will and determination always left me with goosebumps.

I am heartbroken for my city. For the families who lost loved ones. For those that lost limbs. For those whose lives will never be the same. For the runners who didn’t get to finish. For the evil that remains in this world.

But I am also encouraged by the love. Of the first responders. Of strangers. Good will always triumph over evil.

OldTryPatriotsDay

Within hours of the bombing, my favorite print shop, Old Try, created a print, based on the first flag of New England, where 100% of the profits will be donated here to benefit the victims.

Please join TUGG and the technology community in supporting those impacted by the bombing at this year’s Boston Marathon. All proceeds will be donated completely to programs working with victims of the attacks including Red Cross, Children’s Hospital, and others. Both TUGG and fundraise.com are donating 100% of their fees so that all of your support goes directly to helping those in need. This is a terrible injustice and we are proud to stand as a community to help repair the lives of those who have been hurt.

Learn More: TUGG (Technology Underwriting Greater Good) on Fundraise.com

Buy the Print Here

or

Donate Directly