As you have probably noticed, we here at the North Pole are on a mission to spread Christmas cheer. One of the ways we like to do that is by sharing about good deeds that people do. In a world where we’re inundated with heartbreaking news and unfathomable disasters, it’s refreshing to see acts of kindness, such as those done by Operation Gratitude, an organization on a mission to spread smiles to service members, military families, and veterans.
For most of us, the holiday season brings great joy and treasured time with loved ones, but for those in the armed forces, the holidays can often feel bittersweet when families are separated. So imagine the happiness and hope they would feel upon receiving handmade gifts and handwritten cards from complete strangers! These items (and many more) are what Operation Gratitude includes in the care packages they send out every year. Talk about spreading cheer—now that’s a cause we can get behind!
Read on to learn how you can get involved with Operation Gratitude.
Seeing news of wildfires ravaging California has been so heartbreaking. The photos and videos of the fires look like something out of a film, and yet this horrible reality is what thousands of people are experiencing. Disasters are devastating any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season. At a time when we normally celebrate in abundance and excess, it’s unbearable to think how many families have lost everything.
One city in particular that is heavy on my heart is Ventura. I’ve visited this city several times in the last few years while attending Craftcation Conference. The folks I’ve met at this conference are my crafty tribe, so naturally, I really wanted to find a way to help out. After doing a little digging online, I found a few ways lend a hand.
Keep reading for ways to get involved.
Buy a Ventura Pin
These lovely lapel pins were designed by none other than Nicole Stevenson, co-founder of Craftcation. Each enamel pin costs $10, and 100% of profits will aid fire victims in Ventura via RAKlife, a charity that will use the funds to provide direct assistance to those in the most need. Click here for the Ventura Strong pin or here for the Ventura Love pin.
Ventura Strong was created by Ventura native, Sara Masterson, to help those affected by the Thomas Fire. You can get involved by donating online, purchasing a product from their shop, or by dropping off much needed items at one of Ventura Strong’s drop off locations.
Eager to help, but don’t live nearby? Consider giving to a monetary gift online. GoFundMe has created a list of verified campaigns, which you can view by clicking here. If you, like me, find it hard to select one campaign over another, then you may prefer donating to The Direct Impact Fund, which provides help to all who are affected by the Southern California fires.
The year was 1995. The day, Christmas Eve. As Karen Louck flipped through Parade Magazine, she was moved by an article about a toddler, Laura, undergoing intensive chemotherapy. Karen read about how a special blankie had comforted Laura, enabling her to get through numerous hospital visits for treatment. Inspired by this story, Karen began making security blankets to give to a nearby hospital, and soon thereafter Project Linus was born.
Since that night 22 years ago, Project Linus has expanded to all 50 states and has given more than 6.5 million blankets. That’s a lot of blankets! Given to children from newborn to eighteen, Project Linus specifically aims to bestow these handmade blankets on children who are very ill or traumatized. The blankets that Project Linus receives from volunteers are given to hospitals, social service agencies, shelters, and other places where there is a child in need.
Wondering how you can get involved in this heartwarming mission? Keep on reading!
For their entrepreneurship class in 2012, two friends decided that they wanted to put hats all 15,000 children who are diagnosed with cancer each year in the USA. Thus, Love Your Melon was born. Over the past five years, what started as just a university project has blossomed into something truly amazing.
Since its inception, Love Your Melon has given more than 120,000 beanies to children with cancer and their families. And these aren’t just any hats. Love Your Melon worked to create beanies and caps that are soft enough for a child’s bald head. Besides being comfortable, the beanies are fashionable, so anybody wearing one will feel cozy and cool.
Love Your Melon gives away more than just hats. They also give money—and lots of it. Fifty percent of profits from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is donated to their nonprofit partners, and so far LYM has donated $3.8 million dollars! Their partners include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, and others who work in the field of pediatric oncology, fund cancer research initiatives, and provide support for families.
On top of all this, Love Your Melon has another fantastic program: Superhero Adventures. To help decrease stress levels and generate positivity during treatment, LYM creates a special outing that the child and their family will never forget. The adventure is tailored around the child’s favourite things, and it could include activities such as a helicopter ride, visit to the trampoline park, trip to the zoo, or professional sporting event.
While Love Your Melon is a for-profit company, everything they have done and continue to do to provide warm hats, therapeutic experiences, and financial support to children battling cancer is truly heartwarming. If you would like to get involved with this company, there are several ways to do so.
Buy a Beanie
As I mentioned above, 50% of LYM’s profits are donated to their nonprofit partners. So if you’re in need a new winter cap or were thinking of buying a hat as a Christmas gift, consider purchasing a beanie, cuffed beanie, or pom beanie. Each style comes in a variety of colours, so there’s something for everyone.
Request a Hat
If you know a child who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, you can request a Love Your Melon hat for them. This will be a nice surprise for the child and hopefully bring a smile to their face.
Join the Campus Crew Program
If you’re a university student, you can join the other 13,500 Crew Members who raise awareness for childhood cancer, as well as coordinate and run beanie donation events. Fill out an application here.
Poverty doesn’t take a holiday. And neither does Upper Valley Haven.
The outstanding folks at Upper Valley Haven have been showing compassion in their Vermont community for more than 35 years. They understand the grief and emotional toil people endure when hard times strike. That’s why they are open 365 days and serve 14,500+ people every year. Watch one family’s story of how the Haven impacted their lives.
As you saw in the video, Upper Valley Haven is so much more than a food shelf. The Haven is also a shelter for those experiencing homelessness, and they provide services that help families get back on their feet. Want to know something else? They never charge for their services! How is this possible? The Haven is sustained entirely by private donations given by generous people like you.
If you’re wondering how you can help, keep reading. There are several ways you can support Upper Valley Haven.
Virtual Food Drive
Donate food online through the Haven’s virtual food drive. You can select the item(s) you want to give, be it cereal, milk, eggs, produce, baby formula, or other items. You can even donate larger gifts, such as food for an entire day in the Food Shelf. And, if you wish to remain anonymous, know that any gift given through the Virtual Food Drive can be given anonymously. Simply click the check box that says “I would like this gift to remain anonymous.”
Custom Holiday Cards
When you purchase holiday cards via Picaboo with code CARDS4CAUSES, you will receive 50% off your cards AND Picaboo will donate 50% of the proceeds to Upper Valley Haven. Sounds great, right? But that’s not all. On the back of your custom cards, there is information about Upper Valley Haven, so whether you’re sending cards to friends, family, or colleagues, you can spread the word about this organization.
Making a donation in someone’s honor is a great way to give a Christmas present to someone who has everything. When you donate to Upper Valley Haven’s virtual food drive or support services, you can elect to give in someone’s honor, memory, or in support of an individual. This holiday season you can gift something that gives twice—once to honored individual and once to the person receiving help from the Haven.
Purchase a Limited Edition Print
If you or someone you know likes to collect art, then you may be interested in this limited edition print by Vermonth artist Sabra Field. The painting displays the warmth of the Haven and has become the company’s logo. You can acquire this art by making a donation to the Haven here.
More Ways to Get Involved
If you live near the Haven and are eager to roll up your sleeves, there are many more ways to help. Here are just a few ideas: organize a food drive, volunteer at a service day (yard work at the Haven), or lead a workshop (teach on a variety of topics such as interviewing, parenting, and more). You could even volunteer at the Vermont Food Bank and “earn” food bank money for Upper Valley Haven. Learn more about volunteering at the Haven here.