Monday, March 11, 2013

Not-so-dirty 30

I turn 30 this year.  30!  The big 3-0.  In a month, in fact.  I was thinking about what kinds of adventurous, fun, exciting, momentous things I wanted to do for this milestone.  Travel Europe?  Host a killer dance party?  Cruise?  Skydiving?  Unfortunately my current financial situation won't allow for much more than a really tasty dinner and a movie at Rave on $7 Tuesday.  I'm really okay with that, but I still want to make some kind of a positive impact on the world.  Two thoughts:

A little over a year ago I read a blog about a lady who, for her birthday, did one random act of kindness for every year she'd been alive.  I LOVED that idea.  Then I read some research that says random acts of kindness maybe aren't the best because rather than feeling kindess, people feel skeptical.  Also, a lot of the acts of kindness involved things like leaving a big tip for a waitress, or buying dinner for people in line behind you.  As I said, I don't have lots of funds.  So, I will probably still look for opportunities to open people's doors, and offer a friendly smile, but may leave "placing random gift cards around Barnes and Noble" for another day.

Late last year, through a series of clicks on the internet that I could in no way replicate at this point, I happened upon a website for a charity that does something with clean water in Africa.  They had a button on their page labeled "dedicate your birthday".  The purpose was that instead of getting presents, you dedicated your birthday to donations for their project.  I saw that and thought, "What a cool idea!"  And while I understand the great need for clean water in Africa (I was in a PSA for it, after all), I believe that to truly make the world a better place you need to decrease the suck and increase the awesome, and I really live more on the increase the awesome side of that equation.

So here's the plan:  If you were planning on giving me something for my birthday (or even if you weren't), instead I'd like you to pick a charitable organization of some kind and make a donation.  Here are a few of my favorites:  "Teachers ask.  You choose."

We all know that education is not the most well-funded of programs.  Teachers are constantly in need of supplies.  Donors Choose allows you to be part of the solution.  Teachers from around the country request money for things like books, art supplies, field trips, science equipment etc.  The website is set up so that the teachers don't handle the money, and they update their profiles with how their supplies etc. are being used.  All kinds of accountability, and you can feel safe knowing the money is going where it's needed.

Kickstarter is a website where artists of all kinds can go to get funds for their artistic endeavors.  Everything from short films to CDs.  Artwork to books.  Find a project you like and help it get funded!

Story Pirates is an organization that I'm involved with, as many of you know.  They take stories that elementary students have written and turn them into musicals, plays, and even short animated films.  They also teach workshops on writing.  This does all kinds of stuff for kid's confidence, creativity, etc. etc. etc.  It's pretty cool stuff.

The great thing about these websites is that you can donate as little as $1, or as much as you want.

If you're more of a "decrease the suck" kind of person, feel free to donate to clean water in Africa, or medical supplies in the Amazon ( is a great place to find stuff in this arena).  Either way, find an organization you feel passionate about - or even just one that you like - and make a donation.  Small or large.

Lastly, leave a comment with where you made your donation, or what kind of project you funded (i.e. if you went to donorschoose, tell me about the project you picked).  You don't have to say how much you donated, cuz that's kinda tacky, but I would like to know what kinds of things people are donating to.

Let's make the world a better place!