The spirit of the season should inspire us all to give to those who have less than us. Let us inspire others through our actions. Whether it's actually stopping to drop a dollar into one of the red Salvation Army buckets, donating to the clothing or food drive sponsored by your work or school - every little bit counts and could make a huge difference in the life of someone who really needs it.
My challenge to you this season: be the person who inspires others. Be the one to donate on your walk to work; someone walking behind you may see your act of kindness and, instead of buying that Starbucks latte, they donate those few dollars to someone who needs it more. Be the person who stops at Target to buy canned goods not for the recipe you have planned, but for your local food donation bin. Be the person who holds doors open for others, the person who smiles and says hello. Be someone who cares about others, and show it through your everyday actions - big & small.
If you're looking for more ways to make a difference, I've spotlighted some of my favorite unique charities that are based right here in the Chicago area. These are some seriously cool companies doing some seriously meaningful things. Check them out - I hope you get inspired too.
|Growing Home's Website|
Growing Home's mission: to operate, promote, and demonstrate the use of organic agriculture as a vehicle for job training, employment, and community development. The Benefits of this company are two-fold. First, they provide transitional employment for individuals with criminal backgrounds or those facing homelessness; and second, their programs bring more local and organic produce to the Chicago area, which benefits the entire community. In fact, their produce is sold at the Green City Market, through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program, and to many local restaurants. Anyone can donate to this fantastic organization or even volunteer - learn more about how to do so here.
Founder Jeremy Freeman views himself as a "social entrepreneur who is seeking to change the world. One goat at a time." A statement that may seem humorous at first, but Jeremy has a real cause that is really inspiring. In 2011 he founded Reverse the Curse (the name is a play on the legendary Cubs curse*), which gives goats to impoverished families and entrepreneurs in the Dominican Republic to enrich their lives and help lift them out of poverty. The company partnered with World Vision back in May 2011 and in just a few years they've managed to give hundreds of goats and two chickens to families in need. Going forward, the organization is excited for the opportunity to work directly with partners in the Dominican Republic to develop goat breeding centers and goat farms. Checkout their site for how to donate - and don't miss the comfy lookin' tees for sale here.
*Reverse the Curse is not associated or affiliated with The Chicago Cubs or MLB Licensing.
Working Bikes is a unique company that seeks out discarded or damaged bicycles in the Chicago and surrounding areas. The company also collects bikes, bike parts, crutches, sewing machines and wheelchairs from donors, recycling events and their their many drop-off locations. They repair and refurbish bikes so they can be reused in both the local community and other countries in need. From their website:
"Global Impact: Working Bikes ships thousands of bicycles each year to our partners in countries throughout Latin America and Africa including, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Uganda, Ghana, and many others.
Local Impact: Working Bikes partners with homeless transition, refugee resettlement, and youth empowerment programs here in Chicago to donate bicycles and put them to good use on the streets of our own community."
The company donates over 6,000 bikes a year with the philosophy that bikes are not just one of the most economical and common modes of transportation, providing access to jobs, schools & medical attention, but they also provide a means to transport goods and generate electricity via pedal-powered machines.
Talk about thinking outside the box - each one of these companies is doing important work to better the world, and each one of them should make us think "What more can I do to help?"
'Tis the season to look beyond ourselves