For most of us, our basic necessities are met, and we can easily access the other things we need. But for many others around the world, resources are limited, and they need a helping hand to get back on their feet. That’s where Kiva comes in.
Kiva is on a mission to alleviate poverty by supporting people around the globe. How does it work? People like you lend money through Kiva to help impoverished people grow or start their business, or help with education costs. The loans are dispersed through Kiva’s Field Partners, which are microfinance institutions who interact directly with the lendees. When the lendees repay their loans, you can either withdraw your money or loan it again. In the spirit of giving, we are naturally in favor of lending it again to another person.
Giving is easy and fun! When you visit Kiva.org, you can choose who you want to lend the money to. If you love South American culture, you can choose an artisan or other small business owner that interests you. Have you always wanted to visit Africa? Perhaps you’d like to choose someone from Kenya or Nigeria—or any other country, for that matter! In this way, you can support people and business that are special to you.
If you want to join the millions who lend through Kiva, there are several ways to get involved.
Give Kiva Goods as Christmas Gifts
Visit the Kiva Store to purchase gifts, such as a water bottle or iPhone case. Sales from the store help support the organization as they spread the word about Kiva.
Create a Campaign
Instead of asking for presents for Christmas (or any other life event: birthday, graduation, etc.), ask your friends and family to donate to your Kiva campaign. Learn how to start a Kiva campaign here.
Send a Kiva Card
If you know someone who doesn’t need anything for Christmas, then sending a Kiva Card is great way to give your loved one a meaningful gift! When you give a Kiva Card, the recipient can hop on Kiva’s website and choose who they want to receive the loan. The great thing about this is that the recipient can pick a lendee who inspires them. If you’re giving a Kiva Card to a family, I’m certain the children would enjoy selecting who they lend the money to! Plus, because Kiva has such a high repayment rate, the family can lend the money again and again, making this a gift that really does keep on giving.
Dedicate a Kiva Loan
Dedicating a Kiva Loan in honor of a loved one or in someone’s memory is another way to give. There are two big differences between a dedicated loan and a Kiva Card. The first is that you select the recipient of the loan, which means that the recipient doesn’t have to do anything to redeem the gift. The second difference is that when the loan is repaid, the funds convert to a donation to Kiva (instead of being returned to the lender). Personalize a dedicated loan to fit the personality of the recipient: for the coffee fanatic, give a coffee loan; for someone with a sweet tooth, give a bakery loan; for your bestie who loves to travel, give a loan that reminds her of a favorite destination.
There are a few different ways you can volunteer for Kiva, and the easiest way is to volunteer from your own home! Kiva’s Review and Translation Program is operated by folks who volunteer their time translating and reviewing loan profiles. For others who desire a more hands-on approach, click here to learn about Kiva’s Internship Program and Fellowship Program.
Elf. Need I say more? That film is one of my all-time favorites! Like Buddy states in the movie, an elf’s four food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. Send this sweet card to your friends and family who share the same love of sugary treats and Elf as I do.
We’re almost half-way through December, can you believe it? By now I bet most of you have already put up your Christmas trees, which is why I thought it would be the perfect time to remind everyone of some general safety tips. The infographic below contains lots of handy tips to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way this holiday season.
Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via visual.ly
Earlier today, I told you about Raymond’s visit to a farm. Since I’ve had reindeer on my mind, I had to feature these laser-cut reindeer. These would look quite charming on a mantle or a coffee table. The natural wood grain would perfectly accent your rustic decor, or if you prefer a more finished look, you can easily paint it, bedazzle it, or coat it with glitter—because EVERYTHING is better with glitter! (Note: The reindeer are sold individually, so click here for the small one and here for the large one.)
Generally speaking, I don’t travel quite as often as Raymond and Becky do, but that’s because when Raymond’s home at the North Pole, he and I spend a great deal of time thinking of fun shenanigans like blowing bubbles, trying on outfits and posing in front of a camera, or baking cookies. This year, however, I had the opportunity to visit some relatives in rural Virginia, so Raymond accompanied me there.
In this part of Virginia, there are a handful of farms that grow fresh fruits and veggies, as well as raise animals. We stopped at one dairy farm to get ice cream, and then we walked the grounds to visit all the animals.
First we saw a pig taking a break from the shade to soak up some sunshine.
Look what Raymond saw when we entered the stables—silly goat!
What are these chickens doing under a tractor?!
The cow didn’t want to look at Raymond. Maybe she’s shy?
Raymond saying “Hi” to a donkey, who’s munching on some hay.
Speaking of hay, check out these minion haystacks!
Look at the size of that silo! Wowser!
Raymond stopping to take one last photo before we left the farm.
Where else do you think Raymond went this year? Let us know in the comments below!
It’s that time of year when ice rinks are popping up all around. We’ve hand-picked a few popular ones to highlight today that are located in large cities. As one might expect, most of these pop-up rinks charge admission, but some lucky souls can get in for free! So round up your troupe, gather your friends, or grab your honey’s hand and head to over to pop-up ice rink near you for some festive fun.
In midtown Atlanta, the ice rink at Park Tavern is a go-to spot for a gliding-good time. The rink is fully enclosed and temperature regulated, so it’s heated—or air-conditioned if Atlanta’s experiencing warm winter weather. While skating, you can enjoy music that plays over the speakers, and when you need to rest your feet, have a seat at a table and gulp down some hot chocolate. The last day to skate is February 15, 2016, so get your tickets today. They are available to purchase here.
Well, this is something I’ve never heard of before—skating on a roof! Yup, that’s right, at a Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas you can skate on the top of a building! Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? If you live within driving distance of Austin, head on over to the Plaza and take your turn spinning around this rooftop rink.
Know this before you go: Friday nights and weekends are always open to the public, but weekdays may be booked for a private event. To confirm that a weekday is open to the public, call Guest Services at this store.
In the heart of San Francisco, you can find a pop-up rink in Union Square. One unique feature about this rink is that they have a mobile app, so tech-savvy skaters can jump in the “virtual queue” instead of waiting in line. I’m sure you’ll enjoy spending that time scouting out some hot chocolate in the square!
While the rink is open now until January 18, 2016, you may want to go ahead and buy your tickets online as certain times are already sold out.
Skating at Skyline Park is free—yippee! And, renting a pair of skates is only $2, or free if you’re a student (just show your MY Denver Card). With rates like this, it’s the perfect opportunity to come out again and again all winter long. Since the rink is open until February 15, 2016, there’s no rush to cram in your skate sessions before Christmas.
The Winter Village at Bryant Park is the only rink in New York that offers free admission! Since there’s no fee, it’s an inexpensive way to entertain all your relatives who are visiting. Or if you work nearby, you can pop over for a quick twirl on the ice during your lunch break! With the rink being open until March 6, 2016 you’ve got plenty of time schedule a slippin’ good time!
For our British friends, plan on visiting the ice rink at Canary Wharf. It is home to London’s only skate path and can proudly say it’s one of the city’s largest rinks. The trees surrounding the area are beautifully lit with fairy lights which add to the magical holiday feel. If you’d rather watch the icy action from the sidelines, you can make yourself comfy on the viewing terrace. The rink is open until February 27, 2016.
Isn’t this copper lantern gorgeous? So festive and cozy, it would be a wonderful gift for someone who loves luminaries. I really like how the curly swirls perfectly complement the holly as it envelops the phrase “‘Tis the season to be jolly.”
Cover your gifts with colorful nebulas and twinkling stars so that you can give presents that are out of this world! I have one elfy friend in mind who I know would love to receive a gift in this galactic gift wrap. The paper comes in a set of 12 sheets, each one measures 13" x 19", which is perfect for wrapping small boxes.
This holiday season, you can see ol’ Saint Nick dive into the deep and swim with the fishies at an aquarium near you. We’ve hand-picked a few locations around North America, but he may be making additional appearances, so contact an aquarium in your area to see if they are expecting Scuba Santa this Yuletide!
Scuba Santa will be visiting west coast folks when he makes a splash at the Kelp Tank Dive Shows at the Birch Aquarium. Not only can you seize the opportunity to see Scuba Santa, but your kids can also make a holiday craft on weekends. Here are the dates and times you can see the jolly old man from December 2, 2015–January 3, 2016: Tuesdays & Thursdays at 12:30pm; Saturdays at 2pm; Sundays at 10:30am. (Closed on December 25th.)
2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, California 92037
If you live in North Georgia, consider driving to Atlanta to see Scuba Claus at the Georgia Aquarium. Kids can catch a glimpse of Scuba Claus plunging into the largest aquatic habitat in the world during the 12:00pm and 12:30pm dive shows, Thursday through Sunday from now until Christmas. Hang around for a chance to talk to Scuba Claus on the “dry side” in the Ocean Voyager Theater.
Scuba Santa will be enchanting folks who visit the Newport Aquarium this month. Whether you live in Newport or across the river in Cincinnati, plan a family trip to see Scuba Santa. The undersea festivities include Scuba Santa’s magic bubbles, dancing lights, and cheery holiday music. After Scuba Santa’s swim, children will have a chance to meet him in person and tell the big guy their Christmas wish. Enjoy this magical experience daily from 11am–4pm (except on 12/25).
Scuba Claus will be taking a plunge into the Great Ocean Tank at the South Carolina Aquarium on select dates this month. He’ll be there from 11:00am–3:00pm on December 12–13 and 19–23, so plan a visit to watch him swim with the sea creatures. You might even see whether his belly jiggles like jelly underwater! There will be lots of other fun family activities, too; contact the aquarium for more details.
Scuba Claus is visiting the Vancouver Aquarium every day until December 24th. He’ll be swimming through the Straight of Georgia exhibit, so you might see him swimming with belugas, halibut, sturgeon, or starfish. There’s also a possibility he will plunge into other galleries, so keep your peepers open as you stroll through the aquarium! Scuba Claus will be diving daily now until December 24th. Check the Vancouver Aquarium’s schedule for more information to plan your visit.
It all started in 1980 with Chris, a seven-year-old boy with leukemia. His dream was to be a police officer, so family friends and members of the community pulled together to make his dream come true. He received a custom-made officer’s uniform and hat, earned motorcycle officer’s wings, rode in a helicopter, but shortly thereafter, Chris passed. As the story of Chris’ wish spread, it inspired a group of officers, friends, and family to start an organization. Later that year, Make-A-Wish was formed.
Here’s a video that describes Chris’ story more in depth:
Today, Make-A-Wish’s vision is as strong as it was over 30 years ago, and this vision is fueled by the belief that granting wishes of severely ill children fills them with joy and helps them to feel like a normal kid again. But granting wishes is so much more than just making a child happy—the impact of a fulfilled wish has a far-reaching impact! Such positive experiences help kids feel stronger, enabling them to fight their illnesses and face certain medical treatments.
In 2014 alone, Make-A-Wish granted 14,000 wishes, which averages out to one every 38 minutes! While that is certainly a lot of wishes, this covers only about half of all eligible children. Make-A-Wish wants to be able to grant a wish to every eligible child.
Volunteer at Your Local Chapter
As you can imagine, it takes a lot of help to grant wishes to so many children, which is why volunteers and donors are so instrumental in carrying out Make-A-Wish’s mission. If you’re interested in volunteering, consider this: Volunteering takes on many different roles and tasks, so use your strengths and talents to find a volunteering project that suits you. The easiest way to find volunteer opportunities is to check out your local chapter’s website. You can search for a chapter here.