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Doing laundry never felt so right.

First, I want to say a heartfelt Thank You to the 12,000 of you who read, commented, tweeted, re-posted or reached out to me about 16 Charitable Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’m truly amazed and humbled by the overwhelming response the article received. A special thank you to my friends & colleagues at the Case Foundation, National Center for Family Philanthropy, and Philanthropy411 for publishing it on their sites, and the real kicker: to Word Press for picking it up on Freshly Pressed.

Now I’m not foolish enough to believe that this article was the smartest or most well-written thing the blogging world has ever seen. Far from it, in fact. Here’s what I do know, and what your response confirmed: At a heart level, we’re all craving simple but meaningful ways to make a difference.

Doing something that matters – whether it’s an act big or small – is one way we can wake up from the grind of daily living, and if only for a glimpse, feel truly connected to one another. We all want to love and be loved – it’s just that simple. Whether it’s through a structured philanthropy or a small act of everyday kindness, giving to others is true love in practice.

Many of you sent me a number of brilliant ideas for being charitable on Any Day (not just Valentine’s). Here are my Top 8 Picks to add to your list:

  1. Give without spending a dime at Bhookh, a charity devoted to feeding children in India.
  2. Throw a cooking party at your place, and ask your guests to pay a small fee for the meal. Donate their fee to a local food bank or another favorite charity.
  3. Set a date for you and a friend to give blood at the Red Cross. Then enjoy something sweet afterward.
  4. Buy name-brand gifts at GiftBack, where 10% of your purchase goes to a charity you choose.
  5. Use moments of your life (birthdays, anniversaries, other milestones) to raise money for good causes through Causes.com.
  6. Satisfy your sweet-tooth with something from Baking for Good, which donates 15 % of your purchase to a charity you choose. (And they also offer vegan and gluten-free cookies. Granola too!)
  7. Buy someone on the planet clean, safe drinking water for 20 bucks at Charity:Water. 100% of your donation goes directly to the field.
  8. Just say no to greeting cards. I know – this is a tough one. I like to send and receive cards just as much as the next gal. But 90% of greeting cards end up in landfills. There are other ways to say Thanks or Thinking of You. Send an e-card, or if you must, a greeting card of the recycled variety. Browse for options on Cards for Causes.

As for me this past Monday, my attempts to prove that Valentine’s Day is about more than romance all but backfired.

As one of a few random charitable deeds that day, I left a stack of quarters in the laundry room of my apartment building. A small act, to be sure, but I pictured the sheer delight of an unassuming neighbor finding those quarters and realizing that, for one day at least, their load had become a little bit lighter. The genius of it, in my mind, was that the giver (that’s me) would remain anonymous, and the receiver (who would have just won the laundry lottery) would remain anonymous to me.

Later that night, I noticed my husband Ted whistling on his way back from the laundry room.

“Wait –  are you doing laundry?!?” I asked with bated breath.

“Yep.” No reaction. I probed.

“Did you, um, notice anything when you went in the laundry room?”

“Yeah, actually. Someone left a stack of quarters in there.” Again, nothing. My plan, foiled.

“Darn it, you found those quarters? I meant to brighten someone’s day!”

To which he smiled, “You did.”

Well, there you have it. I guess if you can’t do something nice for a stranger on Valentine’s Day, you might as well do something nice for your Valentine.

How did it go for you on February 14th? Tell me about your Valentine’s Day charitable adventures–or misadventures. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Showing 12 comments
  • Auburn Meadow Farm

    That’s funny.

    It looks like your post really did hit a nerve; congratulations, I think. That many emails might freak me out a little, lol. I really appreciate your reminders of how simple being thoughtful is and how little time it can take. The links really help too…

    • Elaine

      Thank you Jackie for your comment. Yes, it was quite an amazing experience to have that many emails at one time. Talk about feeling connected! Appreciate you sharing your thoughts…best wishes to you,

    • Elaine

      P.S. I love the photos of the cows on your website. They are adorable ! Thanks for doing the work you do. There are so few farms these days that honor their animals in life and in death.

  • fruitionchef

    haha. I love your Valentine story. 🙂 Thanks for so many great tips. It’s nice to know that there are countless small things we can do to make a difference.

  • Becki Px

    Congratulations on so many visitors and comments! For myself (and I’m sure other readers), I typed these keywords in the search engine: celebrate, alternative, charity, unique, Valentine’s, etc and your blog gave me more than I expected and will refer back to these throughout the year. Keep up with the encouraging blogs! Please let me know if you have a facebook fan page so I can LIKE it!

    • Elaine

      Thank you!! It’s really helpful to hear the google search words you used in arriving at my blog. I’m still new at this, and learning – thanks for the share. I do have a Facebook fan page – it is Four Winds Writing, my writing business. Here is a shortlink – http://on.fb.me/e6IF1V – I appreciate your support! Take care, Elaine

  • eB

    Elaine – congratulations on a very special article, you really challenged us to do good and to do better!

    I had already planned to do hand-made Valentines, which my daughter & I did, and it was surprisingly relaxing and a good stress reducer to sit there with her and cut, color and glue. We sent them to some hurting people we knew about here in our community: A recent widow, a family that just lost a child, etc., and some single people from our church.

    I love the ideas and the links – keep them coming.

    • Elaine

      Thank you for your nice comments, eB! I wanted to do some handmade Valentine’s myself this year, but didn’t get around to it. How lovely that you were able to spend that quality time with your daughter, instilling in her to care about and do something for people in need. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • Yvonne

    Your posts are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing such great tips with all of us. I’m one of those that absolutely loves to give/receive cards and as hard as it may be I need to change that habit or use the website you suggested. Thank you!

    • Auburn Meadow Farm

      You can always repurpose old cards into new ones if you like artsy/craftsy projects….

  • Geraldine

    I really enjoyed your Valentine’s post, i shared it over at my poetry blog. Thank you!

    I am starting a new blog next week, dedicated to happy thoughts, good vibes etc… perhaps you would like to stop by:


    Cheers and thanks for spreading so much good news, G

  • Candace

    That’s so funny that your husband was the recipient of your charity. I found your blog through WordPress Freshly Pressed (congrats) and linked to it on my blog. You’re right, greeting cards will be a tough one to give up because I know so many people appreciate receiving them. I guess that even a handmade card is going to wind up in a landfill at some point, maybe a little farther out but it’s still the ultimate destination. Anyway, I’m glad I found your blog as I do like to do little things to brighten up others’ days.