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The Dollar Challenge

A few days ago I was talking to my children about service projects. I mentioned to them that it’s my job to choose a new service challenge to share every Thursday on this website, and I asked them to think of their favorite way to serve.

The answer was instant.

“THE DOLLAR TREE SERVICE ACTIVITY!”

So here it is, this week’s service challenge, lovingly chosen by my 6-year-old …

Dollar challenge

This challenge is much like The Quarter Challenge. It’s very simple: take a dollar bill and hide it for someone else to find. Leave a little note with it so that the person who finds it knows it’s meant for them.

That’s it!

Here are a few different ideas for you:

* My family likes going to the Dollar Tree to hide dollar bills. (My kids love going up and down the aisles, being VERY SNEAKY, and finding hiding places.) Sometimes our notes just say something like “Surprise!” or “Have a nice day!” But sometimes they get more specific. We always hide at least one dollar in the medicine aisle with a note saying “I hope you get well soon!” It’s really fun to hide dollar bills in the toy aisle saying “Have fun!”.

* Many stores (like Target and Michaels) have a dollar section. This is a great place to go! You can also think of other items that cost $1 or less (like candy bars or toy cars) and leave a dollar tucked/taped in there.

* If you have a little more money to spend on this challenge, perhaps you could think a little bigger. Think of someone who might be in need of some money and hide a larger bill. Tape a $10 bill on a package of diapers for a new parent to find. Stick some cash near an expensive medication. Think of what someone on a tight budget would be buying and leave a little bit of money there with an encouraging note.

* If you’d like to participate in this challenge but you on a very tight budget yourself, you can still help! You can do the Quarter Challenge instead. If you get the Sunday paper (or are friends with someone who does), you can clip out extra coupons and be a “coupon fairy”, leaving them at the store for someone else to use. Or you can just write little notes of encouragement! “Get well” on a box of medicine, “You’re an awesome parent” on a car seat, “Looking good today” on makeup, and so on.

You know why I love this challenge? Because $1 doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things. It’s not enough to end world hunger or to cure cancer or to pay off someone’s student loans for them.

But you know what?

It might be enough to make someone’s day.

I’m in!

Saving Money on Hygiene Kits by Ordering in Bulk

As I have shared a bit with you on Facebook, I recently reached out to members of my (new-to-me) community on a local FB page. I asked if anyone wanted to join me in packing hygiene kits for the homeless. To my amazement, people said yes – and our little group now numbers over 300! We pack hygiene kits monthly, and once to twice a month, I go downtown and join forces with a wonderful catering company. They feed the homeless, and they allow me to set up a table with toiletry kits (and whatever other donations we can gather). What a blessing this has been to me!

Hygiene kits and other donations for the homeless

As we have gathered donations, we have found that there are some items that we can often get for free (shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion). There are other items that we can get sporadically (vanity kits, bags, toothbrushes, toothpaste). And then there are items that we like to purchase to make our hygiene kits more … well, awesome. Many of the people who we serve live and sleep on the streets. Many more live in shelters and transitional housing. And almost without fail, they are grateful for whatever we can give them. And so every month, we try our best to give whatever we can. Before we meet, I do inventory of what we have already, I share what we need with my group members, I include links to order online, and we buy whatever we can. I spend a lot of time researching the very best deals I can find so we can maximize our budgets.

I quickly learned that shopping for items in bulk online was almost always MUCH cheaper than buying them at the grocery store or drug store, even with a coupon. So that’s what we’ve been doing for the last several months – gathering the items that we have been able to get donated, then filling in the gaps with bulk orders.

A few months ago, I started noticing articles about MDSupplies.com. They were all written by people who pack hundreds (or thousands!) of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and who have found that they can save a lot of money by ordering in bulk through this company. I didn’t bother even looking at first – I will be packing 33 shoeboxes this year, and I don’t need to buy toiletry items in the hundreds for them.

Then it hit me: HYGIENE KITS!

I looked at their website and realized that their prices were almost all cheaper than what I had been paying elsewhere. But I was hesitant to ask my group to purchase something in bulk when I had never seen any of their products. So I found them on Facebook, sent them a message, and they generously arranged for me to receive samples of many of the items that I was interested in. So on behalf of my group, and any of you who might also be interested in packing large amounts of shoeboxes or blessing bags, I wanted to share these products with you. (Note: I am listing the prices that are current as of the date of publication. They can, of course, change at any time, so double-check before ordering. I also wanted to mention that I am not being paid for this review and I will receive no commission if you make a purchase – I am just really excited to have found a source that will allow us to do so much more with our money.)

 
MDSupplies samples

  • Dukal emergency blankets. This is the most expensive item I received to review, and the one that has the greatest potential to be life-saving. If you are in an area with a lot of snow, as I am, these are a huge gift to those who are sleeping outside. They’re heavy duty and water resistant. 50 of them cost $101.49; $2.029 each.
  • Dukal zip bags. I will use the 3×5 bags to hold Q-tips and floss samples – I have been buying snack-sized bags, but these are significantly cheaper at $6.99 per thousand, or $.0069 cents each. And the 9×6 bags are large enough to hold a complete hygiene kit; they cost $33.67 for 1000, or $.033 each. (These are wider than a sandwich bag, so they can hold full-sized toothbrushes. The cheaper, bulk toothbrushes that we buy are a bit shorter, so for most of our kits, we could use the smaller and less expensive 5×8 bags, which are $.016 each.) Price-wise, I can’t find anything cheaper than the 3×5 bags or the 9×6 bags elsewhere. The 5×8 bags are roughly the same cost as generic sandwich bags, but they’re a bit bigger.
  • Dukal combs. These are small but are the perfect size for our hygiene kits, and are as sturdy as the other combs that we have bought in bulk. This is one of my favorite deals: $34.23 for a case of 2160, or $.015 cents per comb.
  • Dukal toothbrush cap. These toothbrush caps were the reason that I decided to look seriously into MDSupplies.com. I know that many times, the simple bag that we give out the hygiene kits in is the same bag that will store all of these toiletries once they’ve been used… meaning the used soap and razor will be hanging out with a toothbrush. I’m not a big germaphobe, but that creeps me out a little bit. These caps fit perfectly with the bulk toothbrushes we buy, and the price is amazing: $72.73 for 1400, or just $.05 per cap.
  • Dukal fingernail clippers. Nail clippers are one of my favorite items to add to hygiene kits. I used to buy them at the dollar store; then I realized that I could purchase them cheaper on bulk online. But these nail clippers are even cheaper than the best price I’d found previously: a case of 288 is $69.88, making these $.242 each. (Goodbye, dollar store nail clippers!)
  • Dynarex twin blade razors. These razors are simple, but they will get the job done. Many men ask for these on our distributions, and we rarely have them, so I’m excited to stock up. They are $23.76 for 300, or $.079 each.
  • Dawn Mist brushless shave cream by Dukal. This is a great way to add shaving cream to our kits – previously the best deal I had found was $1 for a travel-sized tube. And while that is certainly a great gift because it can be used several times, since we are making hundreds of kits at a time, it wasn’t something that has been in my budget. These small packets are $59.56 for 1000, or $.059 each. This means that, by buying in bulk, we can provide a razor and a single-use shave cream for less than 14 cents in each kit. Amazing!
  • Dukal clear soap box, unhinged. As I mentioned above with the toothbrush caps, I love the idea of something that will allow used soap to stay contained, rather than sliming around inside the bag. These soap boxes are large enough to fit a standard bar of soap, or a few smaller hotel-sized bars. It’s very easy to open, but has enough grip that when I hold the box by the top, the bottom piece will not slide loose. These are $18.74 for 144, or $.13 each.
  • Dynarex roll-on deodorant. This is the only sample that I decided to remove from my shopping list. It is a liquid deodorant, and the second ingredient is alcohol. Every agency I have worked with has strongly advised me to avoid products with a strong alcohol content, even sanitizer or mouthwash, so this won’t work for my group. At some point, I might look into the other deodorant options that MDSupplies offers – their Dukal stick deodorant, for instance, comes to under 50 cents each. This is an item that I am asked for frequently but never have enough of, so I’d love to find an inexpensive source for this.

Hygiene kit for the homeless

If you are interested in ordering any of the above items for your own hygiene kits or shoeboxes, I have some good news. First of all, everything above ships for FREE, no minimum purchase required. And second, the awesome people at MDSupplies brainstormed with me to come up with a list that I could share with my packing group to make ordering for the homeless simple, and they linked us to a second list that has been put together for ordering shoebox supplies. So if you’d like to check out anything that they offer, you can go right here. Again, I am not affiliated with MDSupplies and I do not get paid for any orders placed through this link; I am just truly excited to share this to help others maximize their money so that more people can be blessed.

Thanks so much for reading – and if you have any questions, you can comment here, or go directly to the MDSupplies & Service Facebook page. They have been incredibly helpful and have answered all of my questions quickly and kindly.

Happy shopping!

The Teal Pumpkin Project

So … Halloween candy. I love it.

One of my favorite childhood memories is coming home from Trick-or-Treating, eagerly spreading my candy out on the floor, and beginning The Great Candy Exchange with my siblings. And now, as a mom, I love to watch as my kids do the same. (And I might or might not – but definitely do – issue a Mommy Tax, to be paid in the form of chocolate.)

But for kids with food allergies (and according to FoodAllergy.org, that’s one in every 13 kids in America), it’s a little tougher. To look through your Halloween candy and realize that you can’t eat most of it … well, that’s a bummer. And while there’s not much I can do long-term to make life easier for kids with food allergies, I was thrilled to find a way to make Halloween a bit more magical for these kids.

teal-pumpkin-project

The Teal Pumpkin Project began three years ago. The idea is simple: put a teal pumpkin on your porch, or tape a sign onto your front door. This tells parents that you have non-food prizes to hand out. And kids with food allergies (or diabetes, or other dietary restrictions) get a small prize instead. Fun. Easy. Cheap. What’s not to love?

If you’d like to participate this year, there are several ways you can do so!

– Spread information in your community. Share this post with your neighbors. Print off a sign explaining what the Teal Pumpkin Project is and place it somewhere prominent. Start chatting with people and spread the news! Since this is project is new, most people (including parents of kids with allergies) haven’t heart of it.

Print off, or paint, a teal pumpkin. I went to Michaels to buy some spray paint and was able to find my cute already-teal pumpkin for under $5.

– Hand out prizes! This can be easy and cheap. Glow sticks, small party favors (mini Slinkies, whistles, etc.), bubbles, stickers, or (if you’d like to spend a bit more) small cars or dollar store dolls. There are tons more ideas on the Teal Pumpkin Project’s website.

That’s it! Such an easy way to make Halloween safer and more fun for the kids in your neighborhood who have food allergies. Are you in?

How I packed 100 School Supply Kits for $100

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know how much I love Operation Christmas Child. This year, for my 32nd birthday, I will be packing 32 shoeboxes to donate. And since I am lucky enough to live near a processing center, I will be able to volunteer as a shoebox inspector. Which sounds boring, but it is honestly one of the highlights of the holiday season for me. A room full of people, who love the same thing I love, all united to serve children we have never even met … it’s magical.

Last year, I learned something new. Many of the shoeboxes that are donated have items that need to be removed because they are not on the approved list. (Mostly things that might leak or delay the boxes as they go through cutoms, like liquids and food items.) And since it would be really sad for a kid to open their shoebox gift and find it half empty, the processing centers accept donations of “filler items” – things that the volunteers can quickly grab to add to the boxes to make sure that they’re all full. So this year, I had a crazy idea. Why not make some extra school supply kits? Specifically, in addition to the 32 I was making for my own boxes, I wanted to make 68 more, for a grand total of 100. It was a huge goal, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. But I was … and I did it for $100!

Now, this isn’t going to be a post that you can read and say, “I can go to that right this minute!” This project was many months in the making. But I’m hoping that I will give you some ideas that can benefit you for next year … and maybe even an idea or two that you can use to donate a little bit extra this holiday season!

100-school-supply-kits-for-100

So here are my frugal shopping tips:

  • Clearance. Seriously, this is my #1 tip. Learn where the clearance racks are at every store that you shop at, and use them! I have learned, among the 4 Walgreens stores near my home, which one has a manager that often marks things down 90%. I have bought cute pencils for 2 cents, hilighters for a nickel, 9-packs of fun erasers for 20 cents, and much more. When my local Target stores hit their best school supply clearance of the year – 90% off, including many Dollar Spot items that were selling for a dime – I went to three different stores and I stocked up. (I do this after every holiday when they’re marking down their seasonal items.) And randomly in the spring, I was at Office Max when I noticed that they had boxes of 60 pens marked down to 52 cents! That’s less than a penny per pen!

Packing 100 school supply kits for $100

  • Supplement your budget by earning gift cards. If you have a little bit of free time, try mystery shoppingShopkick, or Swagbucks. These are all programs that I use regularly, a few minutes at a time, that allow me to earn gift cards to stretch my budget. I often cash in for Target gift cards since that’s where I do a lot of my clearance shopping.
  • Shop the sales. This seems pretty obvious, but it’s worth a reminder. I often hear people say that they get the best deals by just going to Walmart and the Dollar Tree. And if you’re in a hurry, go for it! But it is definitely not the cheapest way to shop. During back to school time, I carefully watch the store ads, and I am able to beat Walmart and Dollar Tree prices on almost everything. I had awesome luck with the penny deals at Office Max this year, and there were lots of great sales at Staples and Walgreens as well. And there were times when I could earn rewards for buying things I needed to purchase for my family anyway (like ink and copy paper). I would purchase those items, then use some of the rewards I got back for my school supply stash (such as good kid scissors for a quarter, and the penny items like packs of pencils and glue sticks).
  • Ask for help. To be honest, I am new in this area and don’t know a ton of people yet. But I reached out to a few families and invited them to come join me to assemble these school supply kits. They were happy to help, and we all had a fantastic time. I had all of the supplies purchased anyway, but if you are just starting out, feel free to ask people to bring a few items! People typically want to help, and this is a great way to make more than you’d be able to on your own.
  • Get creative. I really like having some kind of container or pencil case for each shoebox. I was able to get some pencil boxes for a penny at Office Max, and I found some “slider boxes” on clearance at Target, but I didn’t have anywhere close to 100. So I got a bunch of Hefty slider bags (free, with a rebate), scoured clearance racks for Duct tape, and my helpers and I made all of the bags we needed!Packing 100 school supply kits for $100

So that’s it – and look at this beautiful pile of school supply kits. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to give a small gift to 100 kids that will hopefully be both helpful and fun, and to have been able to stick to my budget. This has been so much fun to do! Now time to move on the the next stage – shoebox wrapping. Wish me luck!
100 school supply kits for $100

Stretching Your Donation Budget: Mystery Shopping

A few weeks ago, I decided to try something that I’ve been curious about for a while – mystery shopping. The idea has intrigued me for years, but when my kids were tiny, I was intimidated by the thought of managing my kids while trying it out. But now that they are a bit older and I have some more free time, I decided to go for it, hoping that I’d earn some extra gift cards for my “donate fund”. So this month, I tried two different mystery shopping programs. I’m still waiting on payment for the first one, but the second was amazingly easy, and I have earned $25 so far. So I thought I’d share details in case you’re interested in expanding your budget, too!

Mobee is a mystery shopping company is really simple to navigate. All you need is a smartphone and their app. That’s it! You find jobs, take pictures, do reports, and earn (and redeem) gift cards all through this app.

Basically, here’s how it works. You download the Mobee app. Open it up, look at the map of your area, and see what mystery shop jobs are available. (Note: in my area, most jobs seem to be released on Wednesdays at noon, so if there isn’t anything right away, just wait a few days). Jobs that are available show up as an orange dot, and jobs that will be available soon appear as a grey dot. If there is an assignment near you that looks interesting, just head over and accept the mission, complete the task (usually 10-15 minutes, answering questions and taking a few pictures with your phone), and get paid! Your money posts to your account as soon as your task is reviewed – in my experience, typically in two business days. Reward opportunities include gift cards to Target, eBay, Old Navy, Walmart, iTunes, and more. (You can even use your rewards to make donations to organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and Ronald McDonald House Charities.) When you redeem a gift card, it is emailed to you instantly. Just open the email and have the cashier scan the barcode at checkout. I’ve done it twice this week and it worked perfectly!

A more of my honest thoughts …

Cons:

– You can’t save a job for later, and you can’t accept it until you’re at the location. If you’re out and about and shopping, or if you live near a lot of stores, it works great. If you live in a rural area and would have to drive a long way to do a mystery shopping job, it might be pretty tricky.

– The pay isn’t a ton. Most jobs range from $1.50 to $3.50.

– Since most jobs (in my area) are released at the same time, by the time I do one or two, the other jobs are usually taken up, so I can only complete a few jobs per week.

Pros:

–  Although the pay isn’t very high, it’s pretty good when you consider how fast the jobs are to complete. If I can earn a few dollars in ten minutes by answering questions about a store I shop at anyway, I consider that a good use of my time.

– You usually don’t have to spend any money. A lot of mystery companies require you to buy something, then you wait to be reimbursed. Most of Mobee’s missions do not require a purchase, and if they do, that is clearly stated before you begin. I recently had a mystery shop at a store that required a $2 minimum purchase, and the pay was around $3.50. I looked at that store’s ad and found something on sale that I needed to buy that week anyway, so the job was totally worth it for me.

– They offer bonuses. Right now, you earn an extra $1 after your first trip, $2 after your third, $3 after your seventh, $5 after your fourteenth, and $20 after your thirtieth. There are also store-specific bonuses. As the first jobs take a bit longer than later ones (because you’re getting the hang of the program), it’s nice to have little bonuses to make up for the extra time. They also give small bonuses for things like your first visit to a store, or for traveling outside your normal area.

– The rewards are instant. This was SO helpful to me this week! I had already earned $25 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it yet. But I was lucky enough to stumble across a bunch of 90% off clearance at Target this week, so I started cashing out my rewards. This morning, I redeemed a $10 gift card and gave myself a challenge: how much could I buy with that $10? Look at the haul I was able to get! (This is why I bargain shop!)

10-mobee-shopping-trip

(Guess what schools need? School supplies. Guess what women’s shelters need? School supplies. Guess what adult ESL classes need? School supplies. I could go on and on … but seriously, almost every organization that I’ve donated to needs school supplies. This is a fantastic time of year to shop! You can donate these things right away, or do what I do – start a “donation stash” that you can draw from when you find out about a local organization that needs some help.)

If you’ve decided you’d like to try Mobee, just go to the app store and download it! And right now, they have a refer-a-friend promo. If you enter my code (5DQG) when you sign up, we’ll both get a bonus $3 when your first mission is approved. Which, if you shop the way I shop, means we can both get a pile of stuff that looks like this:

3-mobee

So have fun mystery shopping!! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions, and if you’re able to donate some cool stuff with your Mobee gift cards, come back and share with us!

(Note: this isn’t a sponsored post. The cool people at Mobee have no idea I’m writing this. I was just really excited to find such an easy way to earn gift cards and wanted to share. And if you happen to use my referral code when you sign up –  that would be awesome! Thanks!!)

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Okay. Maybe it isn’t ACTUALLY the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s one of my favorites? Why?

SCHOOL SUPPLIES ARE ON SALE!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “This girl is really weird.” Well, yes/ I am. But mostly, I’m thrifty. I love being able to donate items to people in need. School supplies are needed by SO many different people and organizations. And this is the time of year to stock up!

I have already been hitting the sales for Operation Christmas Child. This year I’m packing 32 shoeboxes, so I need to stock up. But as I have been shopping, I’ve been picking up extras. Pens on the clearance rack for less than a penny each? Bought hundreds. (Okay. Over a thousand. Ahem.) “Penny deals” at Office Max? I shopped the sales for my kids’ school supplies, then bought items at a penny apiece for my shoeboxes. And always, I felt the need to grab more. I just wasn’t sure why.

But this week, someone reached out for help on my neighborhood’s Facebook page. Her husband’s work is arranging a school supply drive for an elementary school in an underprivileged area. It immediately caught my eye, so I offered to help a bit. And as I researched the school, it caught my heart.

Y’all, there are over 40 languages spoken at this school. 40!! Can you imagine sitting in a classroom where no one else speaks your language? Can you imagine being a teacher, knowing that you cannot communicate with your students (or their parents)? Can you a school where 95% of the students are receiving government assistance, and likely cannot afford the very basic list of supplies that the school has asked for?

Within 30 minutes of my home, kids know that they are going to be headed back to school empty-handed.

That is not okay with me.

And suddenly, I knew why I’d had the feeling to buy extras.

I bargain shopped a bit more. I price matched. I told managers what I was shopping for and politely asked if I could go over their “item limit”. And this … this is what I was able to do with $35.

Donating School Supplies on a Budget

 

This isn’t extreme couponing. This didn’t even take me that much time. I just shopped smart, I kept my eyes open for clearance deals and great sales. And hopefully, this labor of love will be a blessing to dozens of kids.

As I was pulling together my donations, I thought of the teachers who taught in this tough enviroment. And suddenly, I wanted to do something for them. And although it’s simple, this made me so happy to do. I looked on the school’s website and counted the faculty and staff (because those aides and those specialists and those secretaries – they deserve our thanks, too). Then I bundled up my school supplies into little gifts. Such a small thing, but hopefully enough to let these wonderful people know how much they are appreciated. These little bundles, along with homemade cards that my kids and I put together, will be waiting for them in the teacher’s lounge.

Simple gifts for teachers

Whatever your circumstances, can I encourage you to consider joining in my school supply challenge? Whether that means picking up an extra package of glue sticks on sale, or hopping from store to store to stock up – whatever you have the time and the means to do – there is always, always going to be someone who needs your help.

So get out there and do some good today.

Serving with School Supplies

 

Giving Gifts that Make a Difference

It’s that time of year again. So many fun things are going on: Christmas lights, holiday parties, baking days, spending time with loved ones, standing in endless lines to check out at the store to buy gifts that you’re not sure if people will even want.

I love it all!

Well … except for maybe that last part.

Changing lives with your holiday gift budget

I really love gifts (I enjoy receiving them, and I LOVE giving them)… but have you ever sat down to make your Christmas shopping list and just been tired of all of the STUFF? I sure have. So this year, as you’re preparing to shop, I’d like to encourage you to think outside the box a little and to look at Christmas shopping a different way. Let’s shop with purpose this year. Let’s let those dollars in our Christmas budget count.

This week, will you join me in my simple service project? Just take a moment to look at your holiday gift budget, then consider this: is there anyone you’re shopping for who really doesn’t need STUFF? Or is there anyone on your list who would love to receive a gift, knowing that the person who made that gift is being given the opportunity for a better life?

If the answer to that is yes … or even just maybe … join me this week in using those holiday dollars to change lives. Come see the work of The Mercy House, Compassion International, and many more, and see if you get any ideas. And then come back and share your thoughts with us!

Kindness Matters Monday: Hot Wheels

And today’s Kindness Matters Monday story is brought to you by … Facebook?

This morning, Facebook “reminded” me of this story that I shared three years ago today. And since it is a perfect fit with this week’s kindness challenge, I wanted to share it. Keep packing those shoeboxes!

Kindness Matters Monday

Who’d like to read a heart-warming story?

(Hands begin waving in the air. “Me! Me!”)

Okay then …

Today I took advantage of my both-kids-in-preschool day to do a little bit more store-hopping. I went several places, poking through clearance racks and looking for good deals on fun stuff for Operation Christmas Child (especially for little boys – I mostly have girly things). At Kroger, I found a fun little toy truck on the clearance rack, and I noticed there were little “collectors packs” with a small Hot Wheels car and some stickers for 80 cents each. I grabbed a few and went to check out. The cashier said, “Some little boy is going to be very happy!” I laughed and told her, “I hope so!” I explained a little bit about Operation Christmas Child. We chatted, I paid, and then as I started to walk away, I looked at my receipt and realized that the Hot Wheels were only 40 cents. I turned around, grabbed a few more, and hopped back in line. The cashier smiled at me and I explained that I couldn’t resist such a great deal. The elderly gentleman who was checking out ahead of me asked how much the toys cost. I told him, and then he opened his mouth and made my day.

“If I give you two dollars, will you go buy some more and add them to your shoeboxes?”

I hadn’t even realized he was listening to me talk to the cashier a moment before, but he was, and he decided he wanted to help. He opened up his wallet, pulled out three one-dollar bills, handed them to me, and said, “There you go. Go get some more.”

Choked up, I thanked him, ran back, and grabbed another handful of toys.

I don’t know anything about that man. I don’t know if he has millions of dollars sitting in the bank, or if those three dollars were a real sacrifice for him. But somewhere in the world, probably in the midst of poverty we can’t really imagine, on Christmas morning, a little boy will open his box and find several toy cars to play with. I hope that sweet old man remembers that on Christmas. I hope he is blessed for his kind, giving heart.

The Power of a Few Quarters

To ring in service Thursday, I have a little story for you.

Once upon a time (two months ago), I lost my everloving mind and agreed to host my daughter’s school book fair.

It’s been … an adventure.

We’ve been at the school an hour early and stayed an hour late (plus one evening) all week. My kids are exhausted. I’m exhausted. And not everyone has been terribly friendly. (Sidenote, y’all. Be nice to cashiers and volunteers. They’re people, too.)

So this morning, I was feeling discouraged and just wiped out. I tried to put on my happy face, but it was hard.

Some of my first customers were a brother-sister duo. She had a $1.99 item, he had a $2.99 item. He proudly handed me a $5 bill. I explained to them that there was tax added on top and that they’d need a little more money. I offered to hold the items until tomorrow if they wanted to bring the change then. The sister, without a single complaint, said, “No, it’s okay”, and reached to put her item back on the shelf.

Something about her quiet self-sacrifice touched my heart. I immediately decided to reach for my own wallet, and the volunteer next to me was turning for hers as well.

But suddenly, a hand reached toward me with a dollar bill in it.

Another child’s father, standing behind these kids in line, quietly stepped in and paid the difference.

It’s a small thing, folks. A few quarters.

But that little girl … that kind father … they made my day. They reminded me what all of this time and effort are for. And from then on, the smile on my face was genuine.

Thank you, strangers, for reminding me of the power of a few quarters.

So let’s take one more week and continue our fall service challenge. Let’s go and make a difference.

Your quarters? They’re powerful, y’all.

Ghost with quarters

“31 Gives” Giveaway

Edit: The giveaway has ended and the winner announced here. Thank you so much for entering, and for your thoughtful comments!

 

This week, I was thrilled to get a message on Facebook from a great friend, offering to personally sponsor a giveaway for us. I have had several people offering to sell here at Let’s Do Some Good Today, but just giving away something to one of you? Something that promotes an excellent cause? I was thrilled, and I hope you will be, too. I’ll let her explain it to you in her own words. Thank you SO much, Amber!

My name is Amber.  I have been a friend of Kimbers for many years.  More recently I have become a follower of her blog.  Even more recently than that I became an independent consultant with Thirty-OneWith Thirty-One we have a mission is to celebrate, encourage, and reward. Thirty-One has a charity called 31 Gives . We work with Girl Talk and Ronald McDonald House. We have special products that a portion goes directly to help and encourage others. I would like to reward a reader with one such product. 

-31 Gives- Giveaway
The U R U Collection is synonymous with the Gives mission to celebrate others for who they are, giving them the support and self-esteem needed to lead a purposeful, thriving life. Each product is personalized with an inspiring message on the inside, symbolizing internal beauty – U R Strong, U R Bold, U R True, U R U – encouraging all of us to be strong enough to be bold and bold enough to be our True Selves.

In February 2012, Thirty-One Gives launched to help Thirty-One Gifts to pay back the many blessings we’ve received as a company. We are dedicated to three key pieces of our heart – girls, women and families. Since 2012, Gives has donated $36 million in cash and product and touched 8.5 million lives.

Our Mission

We have a passion for serving and supporting girls, women and families. We believe strong, confident girls will grow up to become strong, compassionate women, who will be the driving force behind strong, healthy families and communities. Our mission is to celebrate others for who they are, giving them the support and self-esteem needed to lead purposeful, thriving lives. When we all work together and give a little piece of our heart, we can make a huge difference.

Did You Know?

  • A girl’s self-esteem peaks at age 9
  • Only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful
  • 62% of girls are insecure about themselves
  • Less than 7% of national philanthropic dollars are for women and girls

3 Pieces of Our Heart

Girls, women and families make up the three pieces of our heart. We primarily focus our national giving on one national mission partner for each piece of our heart.

Girls: Girl Talk, Inc. is our mission partner aligned with our mission to build, strong confident girls.

 

Women: The Gives Care Council is working hard to identify a national mission partner who shares our mission to build strong, compassionate women.

Families: Ronald McDonald House Charities® is our national mission partner aligned with our mission to build strong, healthy families.

 

We are excited for you to learn more about who we support and ways to give!

Amber, Thirty-One Consultant

Mission of 31 Gives

Thank you, Amber! And now, the giveaway!

If you’d like to enter to win this fantastic URU Uptown Mini Pouch for yourself or for a loved one (hint, hint – Christmas is coming), you have three ways to enter. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway closes Tuesday, September 8th at midnight CST, and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 9th at 2 pm CST.

  1. Leave a comment letting us know what you like, or what you learned from, the facts Amber shared with us today (or about this specific product).
  2. Share this giveaway on the social media platform of your choice.
  3. Let us know … if you have $1000 to give to any charity, where would you donate it?

Thanks for participating! Good luck!

 

Edited: The original post stated that a girl’s self esteem peaks at 91. The correct age is actually 9. Sorry about the confusion!!!