Tag Archives: Charity

SHHM Guest Priscilla Oliveras Issues a Call for Help

Giving to Those in Need

When Limecello invited me to join her blog for Hispanic Heritage Month, I jumped at the chance to share my thoughts on a variety of topics related to life as a Latina. But after spending the past few weeks preparing for and dealing with hurricanes Irma and Maria, the focus for many Latino families has rightfully moved from cultural celebrations to how we can help our families, friends, and, for those living in the areas affected, themselves in the aftermath of the storms’ devastation.

From the destruction of homes and businesses to the decimation of agricultural land, my mother’s native island of Puerto Rico and people who live there have suffered great loss.

There is much work to do. Rebuilding will take time and resources. So, as Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, my hope is to take this opportunity to share information for a variety of entities that are working hard to bring aid and assistance to those in need. Continue reading

Social Media for Social Good 2015: Football Edition

Hi friends! So as you know (maybe), I’ve been largely absent the past few months. This means I also missed my annual Social Media for Social Good Charity Fundraiser. I have to say, I’m tapped out. I know people care, but not being able to see it hurts. In the past we’ve supported relief efforts – twice in fact – from famine to child refugees from Syria, clean water for people, against human trafficking, for Native Americans, and more. We’ve done great.

SMSG15 Football

This time … I’m leaving it up to you.

Here’s what I mean. I’d like you to comment with your favorite non-profit charity. If you can, leave a link to the organization etc, so others can check it out, and make it easier on me.

Why do you want to make it easy on me? Well, I think you all know I love football. Like really love. Especially college football. What I’m doing this year is, for every touchdown the Buckeyes score tonight, I’ll donate $10 to a charity. $5 for a fieldgoal. (Hey any points should be rewarded, right?) Uhhh… if there does happen to be a safety I’ll figure it out later.

I figured I’d mix it up, so we hit a variety. What do I mean? Let’s say there are six touchdowns tonight. That means $10 to comment 1’s charity, $10 to comment 2’s charity, and so on and so forth. We’ll just go in order. If there aren’t enough comments to cover all the touchdowns, I’ll probably donate to UNICEF or something. If there are more comments than scores … well that’s cool too. I might donate up to $500. We’re playing this by ear. [Please one charity per comment though, and give others a chance to add?]

Sound good? Feel free to ask questions too. Let’s make this interactive and fun!

ETA: I’m leaving SMSG open through the rest of the season … and post season, so let’s home they win the championship again, shall we? 😉

An Update, SMSG14 Information, & Giveaways

Hello my friends and darling readers who are much better people than I am. I wanted to say thank you, and that I’m sorry.

I took away the hiatus message … but it is obvious I’m still not really on top of things. I will continue to try, and attempt to post on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. We’ll see. Life really really kicked my ass this year. And considering I’ve had a time where [we] had to deal with six deaths in a month … yeah.

Anyway. I’m sorry. I really REALLY appreciate you sticking with me.

So, that’s the update. There’s just so much going on in bookland that is holy fucking crazy that I don’t even want to mention it here. Honestly if you don’t know, I say avoid it. It’s toxic. However, if you’re one of the “curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back” types like I am … I generally comment on “the things” on twitter.

Now! For … happier things. This year I’m just clearly not on top of things, but I’d been planning SMSG14 for honestly the last two years, unofficially. In 2012 I promised Lori that ALS would be the focus charity of 2014. I definitely still think this is a very noble cause and important issue. I’m adding other issues because of a few reasons. First of all, the ice bucket challenges that raised so much awareness and money this year. Secondly, there are major humanitarian crises out there. (Crises is the plural of crisis yes?)

So, the basics. If you’re new here… SMSG stands for “Social Media for Social Good.” It’s my annual charity fundraiser where I ask the romance community (and frankly everyone) to open their hearts and their wallets for a worthy charitable cause. In 2010 (I did this at TGTBTU) – and the charity was (RED) to help fight AIDS. 2011 there was the famine in East Africa so the charity I chose was Save the Children. In 2012 I chose charity:water which helps build wells so people and places that need it can have safe and accessible clean water. 2013 the focus was child human trafficking, and we went with Love 146. (And then Typhoon Haiyan happened so we split the proceeds.)

This year, along with ALS, I’d like people to donate to Doctors Without Borders because of the Ebola crisis in Africa. And you know, anywhere else – it’s just I think the USA is freaking out a bit too much. (No thank you, 24 hour news cycles.) Then also, UNICEF. (Because why wouldn’t you want to support children in need?) But this especially because … yes another humanitarian crisis. There are too many child refugees from Syria. (In fact the situation was on the front page of MSF – Doctors Without Borders – when I visited.) Did you know many of the child refugees have become field hands? They’re hired to work, as young as 8 years old, because it’s cheaper to hire children than adults. Then after a long day in the field, they’re happy to go to school. I believe I read that $15 is enough to provide for a classroom. (I’m not going to give more details at this time because the main post will be coming next week.)

Kickoff of Social Media for Social Good 2014 will start on [International] Make a Difference Day, which is October 25, 2014. Saturday.

Would you or anyone else be willing to make a pledge? I also say this is a social media fundraiser, because I know times are tough for people, and maybe monetary donations aren’t a possibility at this time. That’s why I ask people who can afford to give make a pledge based on the number of comments. Comments help because it makes the fundraiser something we all can own. You have a goal and a vested interest. I have talked about it and explained my rationale in the past.

I know many people don’t want to announce their amounts – which is cool too. I go both ways – why brag? But on the other hand – many an amount will spur others to donate as well. You know – competition. We all have a part of that in us. I use SMSG14 as my main “tithe” (let’s not even go into explanations there.) – so this year I’m pledging $1,130. I don’t know how I’ll divvy it up, but for now that’s what I’m putting up for sure. I’ll say I’m giving it if we hit 1,000 comments on the main post. [But pssst I’m good for it regardless.]

Would anyone else like to make a pledge? Someone want to take 50 comments? 100? 150, 200, 500? Whatever? 33? Pick a number?

Any moneybags want to do a per comment amount? $1 per comments? ;D Hell, 10¢ per comment?

And then … the giveaways. You might not have noticed, because it’s “just” in the sidebar, but author Michelle M. Pillow has bought ad space at ALBTALBS (yes I offer it!) for all of 2013 and 2014. So pretty much she has single-handedly kept this site afloat. (Thanks Michelle!) I asked her a question somewhat related to SHHM … and you know what? She offered up an audiobook for one of you! Yes! Someone can win a copy of Barbarian Prince! Tell me in the comments if you’d like to win this. Then also, a few weeks ago The Ohio State Buckeyes won a game with more than 60 points … so *I* am having a giveaway too! Someone will win the kindle copy of Frost Maiden, Love Potions, or Fierce Competition. (>.> I may or may not have!!! picked them based on the covers – and that they were either first in the series…)

Lastly? Another giveaway! (Sorry, this is only for friends in the US or Japan …) because it’s a free one month subscription to hulu plus!

Anyone interested in any of those things? 😀 Let me know! Any or all of them! (Also if you make a pledge now for SMSG14, I’ll add you and whatever link you like to the main post!)

Thanks all! Xoxo

Happy Birthday, Priscilla Shay!

Hello my lovelies! (And Happy [Early] Easter to all of you who celebrate it!) Guess what else? Today is also Priscilla (who for some unknown reason I always want to call “Patricia” :\) Shay’s special day! She’s finally 12, so welcome our little preteen! (I kid, but yeah – I won’t mention her age cuz it might make some of you dislike her. ;))

As you know, I looooooooooooove birthdays! (The highest of ironies since mine is always so awful. But that’s ok – I’m an eternal birthday optimist!) And all the more reason to celebrate everyone else’s! So! Without further ado, a message from the birthday girl! (Yes, I did get Priscilla to come write a post on her day! You’ll see why it’s especially fitting in her case. <3)

Birthdays: Celebrating Others

Hellooo out there!

I want to say today is a very special day…but we (my family and I) have never put any particular emphasis on it. In fact, if someone (or, nowadays, Facebook) doesn’t remind me I usually forget.

What day is it?

My birthday.

Don’t get me wrong. We celebrate birthdays…just not in the conventional sense.

My family has never been big on the *showering-your-kid-with presents for a pretty simple reason: We didn’t have the money.

(*Please note, I have nothing against showering your kids with gifts. If you have it, by all means! I sure intend to do it if I have children someday. Also, I was not devoid of presents as a child; it simply was not the focal point.)

I was born in Guyana (the only English-speaking country in South America) and we emigrated to America when I was five years old. Like every other family just starting out, we didn’t have much. Any and all money that was made paid the bills. They didn’t buy McDonald’s, candy from the supermarket, or a new toy for Christmas. They paid the rent, the electric bill, the phone bill, etc.

The kids at school would show up every day with their new dolls or shoes or backpack. I nodded, smiled, and congratulated them. It will sound odd, but I was genuinely happy for them. I wasn’t secretly jealous or try to steal their things.

Why? Was I a body-switched alien child who didn’t experience basic emotions?



For the five years that I was in Guyana, for every holiday or birthday my mom would cook tons and tons of food, my dad would pack it and us into his little blue car and drive to the local orphanage.

(To the left is a picture of Priscilla’s family… sans Priscilla!) The orphanages in Guyana are a little different. For one, Guyana still has orphanages. America is now on the Foster Care system and orphanages have become obsolete (think Samantha: An American Girl Holiday). Two, the orphanages aren’t only for children who have lost their parents or have no family. Majority of the children in the orphanages (there is a boys orphanage and a girls orphanage) are there because even though their parents are alive, they can’t afford to take care of the children. Rather than abandon to child on the street, they deliver the child to the orphanage where he or she will be taken care of, educated, and given a better chance at life.

Did I understand all of that at three? No.

However, when we arrived with the food, we didn’t just drop it off and leave. My parents would talk to the adults while I played with the kids. We would spend all day there. And this wasn’t a once a year or lifetime thing. Like I said, every birthday or major holiday my mom cooked. LOTS.

(A little secret, I’ve wanted to adopt a child since I was three years old. I guess you can say I’ve wanted to be a mother before I even know how to write.)

In high school, I volunteered at nursing homes and community centers, in college I organized a fundraiser to keep a bookstore open, and last year (into the beginning of this year) Jodi Meadows and I hosted a Knitting for Charity. Looking back, I realize I’ve been involved in a charity of some sort for most of my life and they have been charities I have to be involved in. I haven’t done it because it’s expected of me or because I want to look good for others. It’s just something that’s engrained in me.

Don’t get me wrong, last week I DID ask my mother what she’s getting me for my birthday. (Mommy did not reply.) Whenever people ask me what I want, I have the simplest answers. Since I turned 16, the only thing I’ve asked of my parents is for flowers (a different color each year). Although, this year I stepped it up and want to go to dinner and see the Cherry Blossom Trees in Washington D.C. 😉 This’ll have to wait until next week, however, since I’m working at an Easter Egg Hunt today!

How do you celebrate your birthday? Also, does anyone have any suggestions for this year’s good-will event?

Bio: She is fascinated with all things historical and the only way she can explain it is by claiming she was – clearly – born in the wrong century. (Although, she has been dabbling in the Paranormal and Young Adult.) She holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing, Honors (with a minor in History) and currently lives in New York pursing a M.A. in History. She is also a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America). When not writing she can be found in a corner crafting, drawing, or baking.

I also asked Priscilla if she wanted to say anything to all of you or make any sort of request. (I think people should get what they want on their birthday, yes?) So this is what she added. 🙂

One thing the orphanage and many people I speak to ask for are more books. If anyone is interested, there is the ProLiteracy Worldwide, an international charity that support programs to help adult learn to read and write. RWA holds a “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing every year at the national conference (this year in Georgia) and has raised over $700,000 for literacy organizations. If you are so inclines, you can donate your time at their local literacy organization (find yours here) or if you’re able to, a financial donation.

Guest: Maggie Robinson <3

Ladies! (And gentlem[a]n? No seriously – are there any dudes who read this blog? I want you to fess up. You might get a cookie. No joke.) Anyway. Today we’ve got awesome author Maggie Robinson visiting with us! Double bonus (which I first somehow typed as “donus” which obviously must mean I have donuts on the brain…) Margaret Rowe is here too! ;D Funny how that works, eh?

We also can tell just how fantabulous Ms. Robinson-Rowe is, because I’m being… well, me+. (I’m on “sick-brain” still and it’s after midnight and I’ve been very sleep deprived.) Haven’t you guys missed me?! Anyway, the point is, I feel comfortable being insane in the introduction.

I’m sure Maggie now regrets this and will never guest again. So I hope you guys make the most of this, okay?!

Lime, thanks so much for having me here to talk about Lord Gray’s List, the first book in the London List Trilogy. And thank you also for doing your annual online charity drive. You’ve proven what one person can do, and provided me with a blog topic as well, LOL.

The London List is my fictional Regency newspaper, a kind of combination National Enquirer/craigslist, but it also serves as a charity for trouser-wearing termagant Evangeline Ramsey. She has so many requests for help that she can’t possibly publish everything or she’d be cutting down swaths of forest for newsprint. So she has a little private business on the side, matching employees and lonely hearts and collectors with the objects of their desire. She’s sort of a fixer, but she ignores her own needs until hero Benton Gray comes along. Here’s what he thinks after they’ve worked side-by-side for a week:

Ben could see Evie’s breath in the air as she stomped in irritation at the curb. She reminded him a little of an unbroken thoroughbred, all lean lines and attitude. But according to her, she’d never be broken to bridle.

Ben wouldn’t even bother trying.

Evie was a shrew. A confirmed spinster. True, she could be soft-hearted with all her cases of people to place and protect. He’d now seen the drawers full of begging letters for which she took no coin. What kind of businesswoman was she? She was more like some demented fairy godmother.

Anyone looking less fairy-like would be hard to find. Although perhaps his mother’s tales of sweet, inoffensive winged creatures dancing at the bottom of the garden were at odds with some of the older legends. Some fairies were spiteful—clever and capricious, quick to trick the unsuspecting innocent into giving up their best chance for happiness. Or even their babies. Ben drew the line at thinking Evie would kidnap a child, but he could see her meting out her own brand of justice from her Fairy Court in solemn pronouncements and punishing seduction.
Right now she wasn’t speaking to him, not even thanking him as he helped her into the hack. Which he shouldn’t have done, as she was still in her trousered disguise. The merchants on the street would think it very odd.

The street lights had been turned on, and Ben saw people locking up and scurrying home to their suppers. The List’s office was dark, the new window glimmering in the gaslight. A raggedy girl selling roasted chestnuts tended the flames on her brazier at the corner, and if Ben weren’t so full he would have asked the driver to stop. The carriage lurched through the thick evening traffic, the familiar sounds and smells of London Ben’s only stimulation. Evie seemed determined to ignore him despite their working so seamlessly together just hours before. How was it that the glow of their mutual accomplishment had dimmed so suddenly? One minute they’d been chuckling over their ale, and the next Evie looked ready to chuck him out in the street.

He’d insulted her independence, he supposed, but really, she was just a lady beneath her clothes, even if she chose not to act like one. She might have a walking stick and be taller than the average man, but it wasn’t as if she fenced and boxed and built up her slender limbs. Anything could happen to her as she walked the chill streets of London. Anything at all.
Yesterday it was the shattered window, when she wasn’t even out in the elements. What if she’d been cut by flying glass, or worse yet, conked on the head with the brick?

Perhaps some sense might have been knocked into her, but Ben doubted it. She was the most stubborn, most vexing creature he’d ever met. His usual tricks to charm women were proving useless, but damn him if he was going to sit across from her like a lump as she shot daggers at him the whole way home. So he took a time-tested, easy route.

“I’m sorry.”

“What for?” she asked, suspicious.

Ben grinned. “I don’t really know. It seemed like the right thing to say.”

Ben is an easy-going guy, and Evie is anything but. Her difficult childhood has honed her independence, and made her aware of injustice. She’s really a crusader, and Ben shows her he can be every bit as dedicated as she can, with especially deep pockets. Ben thinks the way to win Evie’s heart is through generous donations to her causes—but he really won it despite her resistance long ago. Kirkus Review called Lord Gray’s List “a charming, fun Regency romp that combines an innovative, compelling plot with characters that jump off the page and a hot, captivating romance that will tug at heartstrings.”

During the holiday season, a lot of people wonder what kind of difference they can make to those less fortunate. I support two local food banks all year, and wish I could do more. Wow, what if I’d won the recent big lottery? Think of the good I could have done! (Of course, I would have had to buy a ticket, LOL) What charity would you like to give unlimited support? I’ve got a signed trade paperback of Lord Gray’s List for one commenter, and a $25 donation to their cause.

As if I needed any reason to like Maggie more. I, obviously, am fully behind this giveaway. In fact, no need to hang around. The winner is drawn… and it is ME! (And you know what’s sad? I had a moment’s pause and wondered “is that grammatically correct?” And then I thought “damned if I know – that was my worst subject and it’s my blog so I can mess up if I want to. And feel stupid. Which is why I’m drawing so much attention to it.)

… I’m never formatting posts ever again. I also thought about deleting all/most of this in the extremely lengthy times I had to wait while my broken computer chugged along… but I figured I’d leave it so you guys know what I’m like with less of a filter. You see why I schedule so many guest posts? It’s to save you from me. And while I was doing this I saw the next cover is up, so here’s Captain Durant’s Countess – you’re welcome. 😛

And you know – speaking of saving and all, in a real way – what charity would you wish to donate to? Inquiring minds want to know! (Not just for the usual, but hey – SMSG13, 14, and so on will be upon us sooner than we think!)

Oh and, uh, for anyone who might be wondering – no, I’m not the winner. I was joking. It’s going to be one of you.

Planning for Social Media for Social Good

Hi friends! Some of you might remember my annual Social Media for Social Good drive. (SMSG) – I started it in 2010 because I saw talk of “Make a Difference Day” where (RED) and maskable had a big project. I then saw blogs that said something like “I’ll donate $1/comment on this post up to X amount.” And I thought about it, then said to myself, “I can do that.” So I posted to TGTBTU (where I was a reviewer/blogger at the time.) It was incredible. In less than twelve hours, the romance community raised more than $1,337.

I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, so in 2011, I researched charities for a long time. I wanted to find something I cared about, and that would be reputable, and international. There was sadly a humanitarian crisis going on in the Horn of Africa – so I decided to choose Save the Children. (Regardless of your politics, or how you feel about your country’s involvement in the area… I can’t se how you’d hold it against children.) I decided to go for a full month, and we raised $8,484.50.

For the past year I’ve been considering at the back of my mind which charity to chose. (It is incredibly difficult to find a reputable organization that is international, and won’t cause offense to anyone.) I decided to go with charity:water.

Everyone needs water to survive. Everyone. And it’s something every person can relate to, and sympathize with. We take water for granted. Some of us refuse to drink anything but filtered water. I can’t even imagine what life would be without easy access to clean water.

So starting on Saturday, October 27, Make a Difference Day, I’m starting a charity drive. Social Media for Social Good is a way to get everyone involved. It’s a fundraiser, and an attempt to raise awareness.

How can you participate? Give money. Spread the word. I know it’s hard out there right now. Some of us can give a lot, some of us can give a little. Believe me, as someone who is making painfully less than the poverty rate, I know it’s difficult. But this is my pet project. I’m asking you to give what you can. Even a dollar makes a difference. Imagine, if a group of people can spare a dollar, that’s huge. 10 people, 15, 25, 100. Whatever.

Some of you might wish to have a correlative rate. E.g. $5 for every 50 comments. Whatever you think is best, or you can afford. A flat rate is fine too. I’ve had people say they’d pay $100 for 100 comments – at different levels. Because remember, the idea is to get as many people involved as possible. (E.g. One person will donate X amounts when we get 100 comments. Another person will donate Y amount when we hit 200 comments, and so on.) I’ve also talked about why I decided to go with a comment drive, and not something else.

I’d love to have something in place before the “official” post goes live.

So – tell me – are you in?

Special Guest: Fedora

Friends, we’ve got a totally awesome post from Fedora today! She’s a lovely reader I’ve met online at various places. I definitely don’t get to talk to her as much as I’d like to, but I’m glad to have finally pinned her down for a guest post. 😀 She was really nervous about it, so I hope you show her some love.
Also? She’s amazing – we’ve got another post coming (hopefully later today) about my annual charity drive, and we didn’t even discuss and – and look at what she wrote! *big hugs to Fedora*

Hi, I’m Fedora, and I’ve probably met some of you already! That’s one of the lovely things about the Internet and how the online world has been a great thing for us readers! I’m a wife, mom, and life-long reader, and thanks to the dawning of the Internet/electronic age, I’ve been blessed with an ever-growing TBR and so many friends that I’ve yet to meet in person. 🙂

Although it’s a little early for Thanksgiving, I think it’s never too early to be grateful and I also think it’s never the wrong time for kindness. One of the things that I do love about the Internet is that in some ways, it’s truly made the world a smaller one, in a good way. Not only can we make friends with all kinds of people in all kinds of places, we can use our connections for good.

I know I’m a bit of an ostrich—I don’t like to watch the news and rarely read the papers. I don’t care to hear about the bad stuff—I guess if that makes me a fool, then so be it. It isn’t that I don’t think bad things are happening—alas, they are a part of reality, but I don’t feel I need to put them front and center in my life or the life of my family.

What I WOULD love to hear about is the good things—what is one kind thing, one generous thing someone has done for you or you have done for someone else recently? One great thing about the world we live in today is that we can truly reach out and touch someone else (remember that commercial? No? Feelin’ old here ;)) without leaving our homes. A heartfelt thank you that needed to be said. Words of encouragement just as someone’s feeling really down and out. Even a giftcard or gift shared with another person. Or just a hilarious post on FB that’s cheered you.

Some of the causes, groups, or people that most touch my heart are ones that support children, families, the military, and of course, reading. There are local ones that our family supports throughout the year, but a few that are farther reaching include:

Paperbackswap is a way to trade books you’re done with for books you want; they regularly also have ways to share books with schools in need, military personnel, and so on. I joined PBS years ago because DH thought it’d be a great way to get rid of some of the books in the house, and well, I wouldn’t say that we now have fewer books—we just have more books that we actually want to read 😉

Another for us readers is Operation Paperback, which works directly to connect military personnel with books to keep them company.

This one focuses on serving military families, who make huge sacrifices on our behalf every day: Operation Home Front

And I recall Reading Is Fundamental advertising even from when I was little.

And while it’s key to hook kids on reading, there are adults who need that same gift. ProLiteracy addresses adult illiteracy and helps get these people the lifechanging help reading provides.

I personally also like the work that Partners International does, especially with women and children. Plus they have a cool Harvest of Hope catalog which is very fun for our kids to go through, especially as we’re heading into the giving season.

So, what is near and dear to your heart? Please share either a group or an instance with us, and let us know how we can help, too! (I have books and swag I’d love to share with at least one of you—that’ll help me, too! My husband is often ready to toss my packrat self into the street ;))

I embedded the links to the organizations into the organization names – so just wanted to point that out to you in case you wanted to look for them. Thanks! (Also, as such I take full responsibility for weird sentences etc.)

Helping and Social Good

Remember when I talked about the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation a few weeks ago? Well we gave at least $725.00 to various charitable organizations that help there! Fantastic! (I’m saying at least because I don’t know all the amounts and I’m pretty sure others gave as well.) And, just as fantastic, I know a number of you donated books, clothes, and other items as well.

I was really touched to see how many of you already knew about the situation there. I’m totally behind the curve! It’s insane how things like that are happening in the United States, isn’t it? And yet so common. I remember one of my extremely privileged friends was shocked when he started volunteering in college. I was part of this program called Healthy Asian Youth – where we tutored/mentored at-risk underprivileged Cambodian children, grades K-12. I never went inside their homes, but I know there was one family that couldn’t afford … well basically anything. They only had one light bulb, and moved it from room to room as needed.

Sadly it’s only gotten worse in the past few years with our economic turmoil.

Anyway, my point though, isn’t to drag us all down – it’s to say that every little thing makes a difference. And it matters, and that you’re all lovely, awesome, and wonderful for caring. So much so, that… well I’m going to ask you to do something else.

Author Melissa Schroeder has a charity post up at her blog. It’s a “Veteran’s Day Fundraiser” for Fisher Hope. All you have to do, is leave a comment, and Melissa will donate to Fisher Hope. Simple as that – she’s giving up to $250, and this is only going until Monday at 8 AM Central time, so please take a minute to go there now! I’ll wait.

Veteran’s Day was yesterday (and I only post on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday “technically” – have you noticed that?) but I hope you all had a nice holiday, whether you were off work or school or not. All my uncles served, and my mom’s side of the family all the guys have been in the military as well. Hats off to all of them, as well as the men and women who serve, and have served their country. <3

Oh and bookwise? Yesterday I bought SEAL of my Dreams an anthology that eighteen authors contributed to, for a great cause.  All proceeds from sales of SEAL of My Dreams go to the Veterans Research Corporation, a non-profit fundraiser for veterans’ medical research. You can, and should get it too. 😉 The book is available in both print, and electronic format.

Another Plea, Another Need, Another Way to Help

This time my cause is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and specifically… as always, the children who live there. I saw the ABC News 20/20 special – A Hidden America: Children of the Plains. Just the evening news clip had me in tears. I can’t embed the ABC video, and I looked for pictures, but there just aren’t any that fit. They seem too manipulative, or out of place. There is a slideshow you can click through, or videos to watch. I do hope you’ll look at a few. (*Note, the video is the episode, so it might be available only to those in the US. You might be able to watch the clips though.)

I don’t see how you can read some of these things and not be touched. For example, a six-year-old girl, who wants fresh water. You guys! Fresh water. Water. This from a little girl who lives in South Dakota.

“If she could, she’d ask President Obama for ‘Fresh water…and bubble gum…and a backpack.’”

  • Forty-seven percent of the Pine Ridge population lives below the federal poverty level
  • It is the poorest county in the USA. The average family income is just $3,700 per year.
  • 65  to 80 percent of the adults are unemployed
  • 80 to 90 percent of adults suffer from alcoholism
  • There’s an obesity epidemic
  • The director of the sole substance abuse program on the reservation said children have their first drink as young as five or six
  • Pine Ridge has the highest teen suicide rate in the US

I don’t even have words for that situation. You can read more about it here, and here.

And then there’s this. If you can believe it, Subway was their best bet for nutrition. I scoffed, until I heard the rest. In fact, this is something that happened shortly after the first Subway opened. A customer – an elderly Lakota woman.

“She came in here and literally was crying because of what having this kind of a store or food restaurant in the community meant,” Banks said. “Not only because you see people investing in our own community, but also because, she said, ‘I haven’t eaten a cucumber in years because they’re so expensive.'”

It broke my heart that she not only considered cucumbers and expensive food, but that she hadn’t had one for years because she couldn’t afford one.

You can read the article and see the video. The average life expectancy is 58 for men, 66 for women. Fifty eight. … If I and my family lived there, not only would my dad, and all my uncles be dead… some of my cousins would be dead too – assuming they made it to the maximum life expectancy. It’s the lowest in the entire country. Some sources have an even lower number.

Sixty percent of all households in Pine Ridge qualify for public assistance. Eligible households can get monthly “commodity boxes” – which only contain “canned meats, cheese, with limited options for fruits and vegetables, and a lot of starchy carbohydrates.” Mind, the Lakota are only about ~150 years from being hunter/gatherers. (Which explains the obesity problems.)

I wanted to say “if you can believe it…” but I’m actually not surprised. Al Jazeera reported about the area well over a year ago. You can see the news clip. And yes, this made me cry. And this… well… it’s just tragic. Over a year ago the international community has known about this situation. It’s already been brought to the attention to the United Nations. I’m a little ashamed, and upset that I didn’t know about this until now. As in, this particular place, and just how bad it is.

And yet, there are some incredible, amazing, and inspiring children.

What’s the point of this?

Well, there are numerous ways to help. In fact there are numerous organizations you can look into here.

One thing I think pretty much everyone can do, is collect the “Box Tops for Education” – at least in the states. They’re on probably half the household items you buy regularly.  I don’t know if products internationally have them. I checked the Red Cloud Indian School site and they’re trying to save up for resources for the children. For the box tops – check the last bullet point here. I’ve got a pile I’d been saving, and it’s perfect that I can mail them in.

I wanted to do something, but wasn’t sure what, or if you guys would be receptive to it considering I just had the “Social Media for Social Good 2011” drive not long ago. But as you’ll remember, I try to bring up worthy causes when I hear of them.

To be honest… I’m not in a great financial position either. In fact, the SMSG11 total is more than quadruple what I made in 2010. :X Nevertheless, I know I’m lucky, and I’m not in dire need of anything in particular. I also want to raise awareness – so, I’m asking for you to read this, to share it, comment, and possibly see what else you can do. You can also give monetarily to Red Cloud School  – which I like because it’s a 501c3. If you’d like to join me in a monetary donation, they have a site here. Or you can write them a check. I looked into the school as much as I could. They’re not on Charity Navigator, but they do have a BBB rating. I spent days looking over these things, trying to find information on charities, and which would be the best most responsible one to donate to. I did see the school spent 63%, instead of the required 65% of total expenses on program service activities. If any one of you can find a better organization, with the financial etc information, I will be happy to donate my money there. (I’m in for $25. I’d say $25 for 50 comments… but we all know I’ll give regardless.)

Lastly, full credit to Sarah M. Anderson who gave me this final nudge to write this post/ask all of you to give a little too. With this tweet, my mind was made up. How could I resist spending $500 of someone else’s money for charity? Well, I couldn’t and I can’t. Sarah has decided to give to Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project, Ltd.  which is also a 501c3. They also collect toys, clothing, books, and school supplies. For all the readers in us, the books part is very appealing as well. And it also means anyone who can’t give money, can still give in other ways. Perhaps instead of the local good will, ship one bag over to LPRCEP. Or a similar organization. (*I looked LPRCEP up on Charity Navigator, and the BBB, but they aren’t listed – I’m guessing merely because they’re a small and relatively new organization.)

I’d love if you would join us. Let me know what you’re planning to do – donating money, items, to which organization, etc. Thanks so much for your generosity, and for always letting me get on my little bleeding heart soap box. <3 I’m going to say let’s make this a two week push, okay? And see what we can do between now and November 3rd.

Life is a circle and we as common people are created to stand within it and not on it. I am not just of the past but I am the past. I am here. I am now and I will be for tomorrow. – Lakota Saying

Swagbucks: Charity Edition

I’ve talked about Swagbucks before in a post – and I mention it every so often on Twitter as well. What I like about Swagbucks is the variety of things you can get with it (NB I think it’s best to search using Swagbucks only, not any of their “partner sites”… but I digress.) What I also really like about them, is their charitable efforts. Sure, they’re probably making money, and lots of it, but they do give back. Through “Race for the Cure” type donations, and here, Tornado relief. They also have had funds for Haiti, Japan, and so on.

In fact, here’s the current Tornado Relief Fund Donation Page: http://swagbucks.com/p/prize/25155/Tornado-Relief-Fund-Donation. It ends on Tuesday, May 31, so that’s something to consider.

Now if you don’t have swagbucks yet, but would like to donate – here’s an easy way. Sign up. And, with the code provided below, you start out with five bucks. Even if you never want to use Swagbucks ever again, at least through ridiculously minimal effort, you can donate to charity and Tornado relief without spending any of your own money. (I will say, I do recommend using them otherwise. I’ve donated, and entered some sweepstakes, but otherwise I generally cash in my Swagbucks for giftcards, and in ~26 months I’ve gotten $600. Just for doing internet searches I would’ve run anyway, really.)

Swagbucks, the best place to get free stuff from searching and more is celebrating Memorial Day next week with a special Score Four and Twenty Swag Bucks promotion – they’ll have 4 special Limited Edition collector’s bills available, and if you can snag all four by the end of Thursday, you’ll get a bonus 20 Swag Bucks. ALSO, this Thursday they’re have a Swag Code Extravaganza, a day filled with fun, games and the opportunity to snag over 40 Swag Bucks worth of codes throughout the day. Be sure to visit Swagbucks all this week for opportunities to win big!

Not a member yet? Sign up through my referral link (http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/limecello) and enter the code MEMORIALDAY when prompted – it’ll pad your account with an extra 50 Swag Bucks on top of the 30 that everyone starts with. Get started earning your reward points today!

I’d provide actual links/clickable text, but WordPress seems to hate Swagbucks. And obviously Charity. Bastards. :X