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:
- Give without spending a dime at Bhookh, a charity devoted to feeding children in India.
- 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.
- Set a date for you and a friend to give blood at the Red Cross. Then enjoy something sweet afterward.
- Buy name-brand gifts at GiftBack, where 10% of your purchase goes to a charity you choose.
- Use moments of your life (birthdays, anniversaries, other milestones) to raise money for good causes through Causes.com.
- 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!)
- Buy someone on the planet clean, safe drinking water for 20 bucks at Charity:Water. 100% of your donation goes directly to the field.
- 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.