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April 13, 2019

Secrets to Maximizing Your Tax Deduction

April is a happier time if you’ve managed to find new ways of maximizing your tax deduction. It means you can spend time at the watercooler talking about binge-8HSzgyQUwatching episodes or your desert trip rather than the government takeover of your bank account.

Unfortunately, however, it’s not a very happy time for a lot of Americans, thanks to changes in 2018 taxes – and along with the new rules there are the usual problems. It’s easy to get bogged down by anxiety about the results, frustration with bad news, plus the feeling that all the work you put in through the year has gone out the window.

That’s where tax deductions come in.

What is a Tax Deduction?

If you’re really new to the process – perhaps you’re an immigrant or a young adult – tax deductions are used to lower your taxable income. You list them when you’re filing taxes and while it doesn’t directly bring down the total you owe to the government, it does it indirectly – by reducing your taxable income.

Think of it as a little bit of good news amid not-so-cheery circumstances.

Standard vs. Itemized

Everyone knows you want to choose a tax write-off whenever possible. But just how does it work?

There are two different types of deductions on your returns – standard and itemized.

A standard tax deduction on your 2018 taxes means you claim a set amount in U.S. dollars which is determined by the IRS. It requires no additional forms or receipts when you file taxes. It’s simple to do, of course, because you don’t have to collect tax receipts or gather together paperwork for your accountant. But it doesn’t grant you nearly the advantage that itemizing does.

The Intuit website has examples of how it works when you itemize tax deductions. If a married couple filing jointly took the simpler, standard deduction in 2009 it was $11,400. But if they opened retirement accounts, made contributions to charity or owned a home, they may have greatly exceeded that standard deduction, but it would have required that they itemize things when filing taxes.

By looking at that case, you can see the prospect of maximizing your tax deduction by choosing to itemize. It means you file a 1040 Schedule A ... or at least your CPA does.

There are particular categories for itemizing that are laid out by the IRS. Before you jump for joy at the prospects, be aware that some categories have thresholds that have to be met. That means the amount you spent last year in a particular category has to exceed a certain percentage of your income.zXXLRY4C

The categories include:
• Medical, dental, prescription drugs, and health care costs: To write off any of these expenses, it needs to cost more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. If it didn’t cost you at least that much, you can’t use it when filing taxes. There are also high-income earners who can’t use this category of write-offs. And next year – when filing 2019 taxes, the threshold will go up to 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.
• State and local income taxes or sales taxes: Sometimes called the SALT deduction, there have been changes to the write-offs you gain on your federal tax return based on what you paid in state and local taxes. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for 2018 taxes instituted a maximum of $10,000 for a SALT deduction. Before this year there wasn’t a limit.
• Mortgage interest: You could previously deduct up to $1 million in mortgage debt cost plus up to $100,000 in interest paid if you took out a second (home equity loan), but that’s changed, says an article on the CNBC website. Now you’re allowed to deduct interest on your mortgage up to $750,000, and that’s just for what you used to buy, build or improve your house or second property. If you’ve got a home equity loan or line of credit, you can use it as a tax write-off only if it was used to buy, build or improve the dwelling. 

• Personal losses due to theft or casualty: The spring thaw comes just after the most dangerous time of year, when it comes to fires. Nearly half of all fires that begin in people’s homes occur in December, January and February, according to CNBC. And when it comes to tax gains from these kinds of losses, there’s less to claim. In the past, Americans could itemize property losses occurring from accidents, theft, vandalism, fires and natural disasters if they exceeded 10 percent of their adjusted gross income. Now the only costs from disasters that count as a tax write-off are those from tragedies declared by the president as official disasters. The 10 percent threshold has remained the same, however. The last year that data is available is 2016, when 154,274 claims for casualty or theft deductions were submitted to the IRS.
• Union dues: For this one there’s bad news. Through 2017 an employee could write off their union dues, but from 2018 taxes through the year 2025 you can no longer deduct them, even if you itemize your tax return. They used to be deducted under “unreimbursed business expenses” as long as they met a minimum. Now, employee expenses are only deductible for self-employed taxpayers under “business expense.”

Hidden Tax Deductions

There are other tax deductions that are “hidden” – they’re lesser-known opportunities to lower your taxable income, which are often overlooked. The newest tax laws made some of these beefier, which is good news. 

• Gas mileage for volunteerism: When you drive to where you are volunteering, the return rate is 14 cents for each mile driven, a standard set by Congress.
• Money spent towards an education: The Kiplinger Letter says that parents can benefit by paying student loan interest. Because the IRS sees it as a gift to the child that was directly applied to debt payments, the son/daughter can claim it as a deduction up to $2,500. Because the mom/dad aren’t liable for the debt they can’t claim it – only their (non-dependent) child can.
• Reserve military travel expenses: Are you a military reservist? If so, keep track of your bills when you travel to or from service, whether it’s meetings or drills. You can write off lodging expenses and half of your food but you need to provide a tax receipt for your deductions. You also get an allowance for mileage.
• Car registration fees: This one is restricted to the part of your car registration fees that are based on the car’s value. Each state calculates the value of a vehicle and that is the only part of your car registration that’s a tax write-off. You itemize this one on Schedule A on the line that says “personal property taxes.”
• Traveling fees: Believe it or not, the IRS may help you out with those baggage fees. If you’re self-employed and travel for business, you can claim extra dollars paid for travel changes, booking fees and baggage.
• Teachers’ out-of-pocket costs: Do you spend weekends designing bulletin boards and hanging seasonal decorations? Save your receipts from Staples or other stores where you put your own hard-earned money on the line for a better classroom. These additional learning tools that are making your paycheck shrink are tax-deductible.
• Home office expenses: Do you work at home? If you’re an entrepreneur or own a small business, you can save on 2018 taxes through home office expense deductions. The IRS standards are laid out for you and they apply to an individual who works at home on a regular basis and uses part of the house exclusively for work. You can deduct rent, real estate taxes, repairs, maintenance and utilities. Believe it or not, this applies if you work from a house (rented or owned), a condo, apartment or even a boat. It does not apply to temporary lodging such as a hotel.
• Gambling debts: At last, you can be a loser in Las Vegas and come out a winner. Believe it or not, you can itemize gambling losses as long as you have reported the same amount in winnings. You need to, at the very least, keep your receipts, but the IRS also suggests you keep a diary of all gambling activity to validate dates and times, wagers, the names of the establishments, etc. They even ask you to declare the people you are with when you were gambling.

Non-deductible 2018 Taxes

zXXLRY4CBecause there have been a lot of changes, it’s difficult to understand (and metabolize) an entire tax code. There are a few standouts to mention that aren’t deductible in the same way they were before.

In the past, some of your itemized tax deductions fell under the category of “miscellaneous.” Now those are no longer allowed.

But some of those that previously fell into the “miscellaneous” category are now in redefined deductible categories. Certain deductions for unreimbursed employee expenses are still permissible. The IRS website says that you may be able to write off expenses if your employment falls under one of these categories of employment:
• In the Armed Forces Reserve
• A qualified performing artist
• Fee-based government official – state or local
• Employee with an expense related to impairment

If you’re in one of these categories of employment, you can consider certain expenses as a deduction from your adjusted gross income. They have to be paid during the tax year you’re filing and have to go toward furthering your business or employment, and they have to be ordinary and necessary.

There have also been changes in fines or penalties deducted in the past, which you may want to check on the IRS website

Improving Your 2018 Taxes through Charitable Giving

Americans give an estimated $390 billion to U.S. charities per year, including corporations, individual donors, foundations and estates. An article on Bankrate.com illustrates what the power of combined giving can do. 

If everyone in the United States gave one dollar, it would support the American Red Cross disaster services for one year. If 5,000,000 individuals gave $5 each, the March of Dimes could do research and offer medical support for one year. And if 1,000,000 people donated $75 each, Goodwill Industries could provide financial wellness and career-building services for 36.6 million individuals. And 100 seniors could have Meals on Wheels for one year if 10,000 Americans gave $25 each.

“We know that most people who donate to charitable nonprofits do so because they believe in the mission of the organization and not for a tax deduction,” said Rick Cohen, Chief Communications Officer for National Council of Nonprofits. “But a lot of research has shown that while people will still give, they will give less without access to the tax incentive. This has been proven when different states have experimented with taking away or limiting deductions on state taxes for charitable contributions.”

Many people think some things should be tax-deductible, such as offering time instead of money. When you offer professional services to a nonprofit for free, it has a direct impact on their bottom line. Turning that value into dollars and cents for the purposes of a write-off seems like it should be a fair trade. The Corporation for National & Community Service says that 62.6 million adults in the U.S. gave 7.8 billion hours of volunteer time to nonprofit groups in 2015. The value translates into $184 billion.

Did you donate goods to a 501(c)(3)? If you followed the KonMari method and cleaned out your closets, you probably took extra clothing and home goods to the Salvation Army or another charity. You can tally up the value of those donations and write them off your taxes. 

You may be overlooking the opportunity for maximizing your tax deduction through goods and services. If you prepared food for a meals program such as a soup kitchen, save your receipt from the groceries and add it as a tax receipt when you’re filing taxes. Even if you bought stamps for PTA or drove for a charity – it all contributes to bringing down your 2018 taxes.

Another popular non-cash contribution is donating a car to charity. Because it’s a necessity for every vehicle owner to send their car down the path when they purchase something new, it’s a built-in method for maximizing their financial situation through a tax deduction.

Ideally, you make it easy on yourself by getting it handled by a company with a good deal of experience processing these transactions. That way there’s a dualww7H5nnA benefit – you get the job done (passing on your old car) in a hassle-free manner plus helping your bottom line.

The name of the game is raising your awareness. The more you know about available tax deductions, the more discretionary spending you have, not to mention money to put away for retirement. A good way to achieve that is through maximizing your tax deduction, thus lowering your taxable income and coming out ahead.

April 09, 2019

Guide to Filing Taxes for the Year 2018

Even an expert needs a guide to filing taxes. And for those of us who can barely balance a checkbook, there’s an even greater need for guidance.

zXXLRY4CEvery American who gets a paycheck is already paying income taxes. Depending on how you claim your taxes throughout the year on your income, it will affect the amount you owe or the amount you receive in a tax refund.

There are a lot of changes to the tax code this year, mostly due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was passed in December of 2017. That means a greater challenge for individuals who were already wondering, “How do I file taxes?” There were new tax brackets created, changes to itemization, and an expansion on the Child Care credit.

More than a quarter of Americans don’t understand the code changes, which means they can’t completely understand how to file taxes, says an article posted by CNBC. And it’s disappointing for many, as refund totals have dropped by 8.7 percent this year based on early returns. 

With or without a guide to filing taxes, parents aim to score the highest on their returns for taxes 2018, particularly those with kids younger than 18 living at home, and primarily in low-income states – Texas, Wyoming and Washington. They’re able to deduct up to $2,000 per child, which is double what they previously could deduct.

There are new deductions for older children still living at home also. College-age kids under 23 give the parents or grandparents, depending on their residence, a $500 credit.

Five of seven tax rates were lowered, so some people see their refund shrinking. Up to 20 percent of citizens didn’t have their employers withhold enough taxes throughout the year, so they may be paying rather than collecting an overage when they file taxes.9PT4t21Y

Ways You Can File Taxes 2018

If you’re one of the approximately one-third of Americans who hires a certified public accountant to prepare your taxes, you probably choose to do so because either your financial situation is complicated, or you just don’t have time. You also may simply like the comfort of knowing someone professional is filing your taxes correctly.

If hiring a CPA is new territory for you, the first task is to find someone who is competent, but also fits your budget. According to personal finance website The Balance, you can expect to pay approximately $273 for an itemized tax return and $176 if you aren’t itemizing your taxes. But be aware, if you’re disorganized and require extra time by your CPA while you collect receipts, your W-2s, 1099s, etc., you’ll be charged more. 

If you’re comparing the cost of tax preparation by various CPAs, you’ll find they may price their services in different ways. Those include:

• Fees from each tax form/schedule needed
• Based on fees from the previous year and adding costs if your situation is more complicated
• A set minimum tax return fee and additional fees if your situation is complicated
• Hourly rates

You may not know this, but there are actually illegal forms of pricing – actions prohibited by the United States Treasury Department. CPAs cannot charge “an unconscionable fee” to file taxes, nor can they charge you based on the content of your tax return.

The Balance article says, “Several cases of fraud have involved tax preparers taking inappropriate deductions and tax credits and charging large fees to their clients. If your invoice is much higher than you anticipated, be sure to ask your accountant how the fees were determined.”

If you’re filing on your own through a tax software program such as Turbo Tax or H&R Block, you get additional instructions from those. 

They have various types of memberships you can purchase, and they each offer an interactive online service to answer questions and clarify throughout the process.

You may also file taxes by going straight to the IRS website where you can manually print and complete a 1040 form. The agency provides online instructions there as well. After printing the Taxes 2018 forms, you mail the paperwork and any payments owed to the IRS to the address provided. 

Paperwork for Taxes 2018

v3XmgjkyIf you’re accustomed to IRS Form 1040 used in the past, you’ll note some changes. For taxes 2018 you won’t use Form 1040-A or Form 1040-EZ. Now there’s a redesigned Form 1040. You may not need to file a Schedule with your 1040 form either.

Schedule Forms for taxes 2018 are designed for use when you have a more complicated return. If you are claiming deductions or credits, or if you owe additional taxes, you need one of them included.

The Form 1040 Schedule A is used by taxpayers who have deductions they need to itemize. These deductions tend to lower your federal income taxes, but you can’t include any expenses you've already been reimbursed for.

Some of the categories for deductions are:
• Medical and dental expenses: IRS instructions say, “You can deduct only the part of your medical and dental expenses that exceeds 7.5% of the amount of your adjusted gross income on Form 1040, line 7.”
• State and local taxes paid, including real estate and personal property taxes: There’s a limit on how much you can deduct in this category. Of your state and local taxes, including real estate, personal property and income taxes, you cannot deduct more than $10,000 if filing jointly. If you’re paying foreign real estate taxes, that is not deductible.
• Home mortgage interest and points: This year there’s a limit to the total dollars Americans can deduct for their home mortgage interest. You can deduct the interest on the first $750,000 of indebtedness. That number is $375,000 if you’re married, but filing separately. You can deduct more if your indebtedness was incurred on or before December 15, 2017. And in an even more dramatic shift, you cannot deduct interest for a home equity loan where the money was used for something other than buying, building or improving your home.
• Investment interest
• Casualty and theft losses from a federally declared disaster
• Gifts to Charity – The Schedule A form says that the limitation threshold for certain charitable contributions has gone up. It says, “For most gifts by cash or check, the total amount of such contributions that can be deducted is now limited to 60% of your contributions base, instead of 50%. See Pub. 526 for more information.” (See bottom for more about charitable giving.)

There’s a comment section on the Schedule A form, where you can provide feedback with your opinion about the form itself and the process of guiding you through how to file taxes. The IRS will not respond to you as an individual, but the agency will take into consideration the comments received by the taxpaying public.

The comment section is not for questions to the IRS. The appropriate place for that is the Tax Law Questions page.

Form 525 is important to check if you need clarification about which of your gifts and income should be taxed. The three forms of income are money, property and services.

Form 525 covers several categories, including:
• Income you get from S Corporations, royalties, partnerships and bartering
• Money from wages and fringe benefits for employees
• Disability pensions
• Public assistance such as welfare
• Proceeds from life insurance

If you’re filing on your own using a tax software program such as Turbo Tax ORVf2bPO

or H&R Block 

you have access to resources provided by these programs. They offer assistance for you through filing your taxes, and ask you questions about your income and any possible deductions. They have various types of memberships to purchase.

If you begin one of these programs and determine it’s too complex, you may want to turn to a professional, especially if you have multiple sources of income or investments. Ask H&R Block or Turbo Tax about refund policies.

Guide to Filing Taxes – the Process

The actual steps are outlined on the websites mentioned, but to get an idea what you’re looking at when considering how to file taxes, here is a list of some of those matters you need to collect or consider for completion.

• Collect any and all W2s, says The Balance. These are received by corporations or small businesses you worked for last year. You’ll see on the form the amount of taxes withheld for federal and state purposes and your social security and government healthcare withholding. Employees must report wages they earned if they exceeded $600. 

• Proof of health insurance
• Receipts for charitable donations, business or medical expenses
• Decide on your filing status. Factors affecting your status include marital status, income and age.

• Understand your tax bracket, which is important in determining how much you owe or how much you will get back

• Add up income, investments, pensions, retirement funds, interest, and the taxes you owe
• Check common available tax deductions, education, claim dependents, or donations

How to File Taxes with Charitable Contributions

If you’re asking yourself, “How do I file taxes so I come out ahead?” there are some win-win ways to do that. One of those is by giving to charity.

Donations to charity fell by more than 6 percent at the beginning of last year, reports The Balance. But if you’re committed to promoting good in the world by supporting such nonprofits, keep it up.

There are many different types of charities, such as places of worship, global contributors such as Reach Out World Wide, Goodwill, CARE and Salvation Army. Other tax-deductible contributions can be made to 501(c)(3) groups, including educational organizations, some hospitals and medical centers, volunteer fire companies, private foundations associated with service groups, some veterans’ groups, and membership organizations that receive more than one-third of their money from the general public.

When you have a cause you care about – perhaps you spend time volunteering for a nonprofit organization – you can benefit the cause and gain a tax credit. You can do a “tax exempt organization search” on the IRS website to determine if the nonprofit you support has tax-deduction status. The organization needs to be a 501(c)(3).

To determine if your contribution is tax-deductible you need to gather for the IRS:
• Your filing status
• Gross income
• How much you donated and to who
• Does that organization qualify as tax exempt

When you make a non-cash contribution, such as when you donate a car to charity, there are breakdowns in paperwork required, based on value of the car. The IRS site breaks it down for you. 

If you donate a vehicle such as a motorcycle, which is valued between $250-$500 you need an 8HSzgyQUacknowledgement from the nonprofit including:

• The name of the charitable organization.
• The date and location of the charitable contribution.
• A detailed description of the car.
• Whether the charity provided any goods or services in return for the car and a description and good faith estimate of the value of any goods and services received.
• If the charity provided solely intangible religious benefits, a statement to that effect.

When your car donation to charity totals $500-$5,000 you need from the nonprofit:
• Your name and taxpayer identification number (TIN).
• The vehicle identification number (VIN).
• Beyond the above items, what the written acknowledgment must contain depends on what the charity does with the vehicle. If the charity sells the vehicle, the written acknowledgment must contain the date the car was sold by the charity, a certification that the charity sold the car in an arm’s length transaction between unrelated parties, the gross proceeds of the sale, and a statement that your deduction may not exceed the gross proceeds of the sale.

When your car exceeds $5,000 in value, the acknowledgement from the charity needs the information from both of the above categories. Section B of Form 8283 needs to be completed and attached to your return.

You don’t have to know how to file taxes to make a car charity donation. There’s an advantage to making your donation through a seasoned car donation company. They should have experience completing the process and it’s ideal if the company fills out all of the paperwork for you.

Vehicle donations through Cars2Charities are handled from start to finish, includingww7H5nnAthe title transfer, and paperwork follows the IRS tax code. And because a car donation tax deduction is based on the sale price of the vehicle, Cars2Charities aims to bring a higher price through making improvements to donation cars when needed.

There are many roads you can take this year in submitting your paperwork for taxes 2018 but everyone has the same responsibility. It’s nice to know there are many resources offering a guide to filing taxes, so you’re not alone.

March 28, 2019

A Clean Break from Old-Fashioned ‘Spring Cleaning’

If you want to start with a clean slate, there’s never been a better time to rethink your spring cleaning routine.

Devotees of today’s tidying up craze are turning to de-cluttering sensation Marie Kondo to help them with motivation. And if you’re using her KonMari method for Juu BE5Hcleaning, hopefully your own version of tidying up will “spark joy.”

Guide for Cleaning Preparation

Getting in the cleaning mood is Job One and it begins with you deciding why you want to dive in, according to the KonMari website. More than just decluttering, you’re actually devising a plan to achieve your ideal life. 

“Think about what kind of house you want to live in and how you want to live in it,” the site says. “In other words, describe your ideal lifestyle. If you like drawing, sketch out what it looks like. If you prefer to write, describe it in a notebook. You can also cut out photos from magazines.”

Kondo sees a big cleaning project as a turning point and she offers a list of 5 productivity tips

• Start your morning with good energy
• Make a to-do list
• Coordinate with your partner
• Clear your mind
• Create a nighttime routine

It really is a mental game. As you can see with shopping addicts or people who can’t clear out the clutter because everything is sentimental, there is work to be done, and it typically starts on the inside.

If you’re a person who only cleans up when you’re having a party or selling your house, you need to access new motivation. It may mean you really need a guide to spring cleaning your mind. Mental clutter gets in the way of attending to things that matter.

Ask yourself if you’re just worrying or actually problem-solving. Some of those thoughts are, doubtless, holding you back. Starting a new project – like decluttering and cleaning your living space – is no small matter, so you have to be in a good psychological place to start.

Cleaning Supplies

You can’t even get started with spring cleaning until you stock up on supplies. Some of the most popular products for spring cleaning include: vacuum, mop, floor8JJup PYsolution, microfiber cloths, dusting spray, new air filters, disinfecting wipes, gloves, baking soda and vinegar.

Every guide for cleaning will have its own list of preferred products, and many of them contain such agents as chlorine bleach, ammonia and acids. You want to do some research before you make your purchases, especially if you have babies, young kids or animals.

If you don’t want to invest in a lot of harsh chemicals, Martha Stewart has suggestions for healthy cleaning products made up of household supplies. 

One universal product she recommends is mild dishwashing liquid, which you can use to clean up spills. She has a recipe for all-purpose cleaner, including: 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of dish liquid that you combine in a spray bottle. It’s particularly good for hard surfaces.

Another household item-turned-cleanser is baking soda. The beauty of the soft, white powder is that it doesn’t cause scratches on surfaces. Martha Stewart creates a paste out of 1 part baking soda added to 3 parts warm water, which you can use to tackle the inside of your oven or to work on stains.

To create a bathroom cleanser, make a paste out of baking soda and dishwashing liquid.

White vinegar is a strong, but natural, cleaning agent also. Add lemon juice and you have a nice scent and you can do mild bleaching when you combine the two. They take care of soap scum, Stewart says, and when you mix equal parts water and vinegar you can clean windows and mirrors.

How to Spring Clean Room by Room

The house in general: There are a lot of matters that should happen on a routine basis. For instance, fire and safety experts suggest replacing the batteries in your fire alarms every time you set your clocks forward or back during a time change.

Other acts to promote cleanliness include: replacing air filters, dusting window sills, bookcases, collectibles, etc., vacuuming, mopping, sanitizing and re-thinking your layout.

Even harmless decorations require cleaning. Anything soft, such as decorative pillows and curtains, need to be removed and either replaced or cleaned.

The kitchen: You probably work on kitchen counters every day. They have to be wiped down and dishes washed, dried and put away. Because you’re dealing with food, you want to disinfect all counter spaces.

There are a lot of tricks for cleaning the sink. Some people recommend sprinkling baking soda over the sink, cutting a lemon and squeezing half of the juice on top of the baking soda. Put the remaining piece down the garbage disposal so when you turn it on the lemon can sanitize the drain.

Run your dishwasher without the dishes loaded inside, and if it has a self-cleaning and disinfectant setting, use it. You also want to set up a schedule where you go through the pantry and discard old foods. Wipe down inside and outside of cabinets and finish with a wood polish. Lastly, don’t forget to finally mop the floors.

The bathroom: This is a room with more hidden germs than you want to know  7BJPQVRabout. According to Cleanlink.com, a website providing information for sanitary supply distributors, there are more than 77,000 distinct types of bacteria and viruses found in the common restroom.

To prevent cross contamination, use separate rags for each of the surfaces when you clean. With different colors of microfiber cloths you can keep separate what you use for the floor, sinks, toilet, tub, and shower.

Vinegar is useful, again, as a safe, nontoxic cleaner to use in your bathroom that helps break down limescale and remove stains.

The bedroom: For your guest room, kids’ rooms or master bedroom, devise a plan. One smart idea is to work top to bottom so that when dust falls downward, it won’t make anything dirty that you already cleaned.

Start with dusting the moldings, lights, fans, window sills, blinds, curtains, and then begin on furniture. Of course, you want to wash the bedding, but also use a vacuum to clean your mattress. A surprising amount of dust collects in and under it.

There’s a recipe for cleaning your mattress: Sprinkle baking soda on top of the mattress, then using a spray bottle, mist a water and vinegar solution to activate the baking soda. Turn on a fan and open windows to help it dry faster.

After an hour, vacuum the remaining solution, flip the mattress over and repeat. Once the room is clean, put on clean sheets and bedding. Your final step is to vacuum.

The closet: One of Marie Kondo’s main principles definitely applies here. When spring cleaning the closet, the logical choice is to first toss out what you shouldn’t keep. Purging what you don’t like or need, and what doesn’t fit, is a great start.

Try on clothes and shoes and donate those that don’t fit anymore. When deciding what else to donate, think about what you didn’t wear all year – go season by season. You’re unlikely to wear it if you haven’t worn it in the last six months to a year.

When you choose to donate what you purge, research various nonprofits to receive it all. If you’re torn between calling Goodwill, Salvation Army or some other 501(c)(3), check CharityNavigator.org

Think about it while you finish your organizing process.

After you’ve restructured your closet by color, style, season, or type, you can make that decision about who gets your outcasts. They each have rules about picking up donations and which items they take – some don’t accept electric appliances, while others may not take donations of certain types of furniture.

An article on the Salvation Army website talks about legal restrictions on certain types of donations. They aren’t allowed to resell items that are hazardous, have been recalled or violate other government rules laid out in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guide book.

The Garage: For some, the garage is their crafting center, while others just fill itdTRuxxU2to the rafters with junk. But for individuals who want to improve their tidiness skills, your garage is likely to need some work.

Are you someone with a need for speed? If so, you may have a number of vehicles you don’t use – motorcycles, a sports car collection or a golf cart perhaps. You can turn vehicles you no longer need into support for a cause. 

When you donate a car to charity, you get an easy way to move your car along to another owner, while your favorite nonprofit gets a donation and you get a tax write-off.

Even if your batteries are dead in your Club Car or your vehicle is at the repair shop, through Cars2Charities you only have to call or donate online, and the rest is taken care of for you.

Many people will purchase a boat that sits in a slip and collects dust or an RV that they stop using at some point. Cars2Charities will pick up an RV donation,nlXrkyEaa boat donation or a motorcycle donation or nearly any other car, truck or SUV.

Sweep out your garage, go through the attic and cabinets, donate all the items you haven’t touched in over five years. The garage is one place where a guide for cleaning won’t help you – they’re all unique to the owner.

The Health Benefits of Tidying Up

These may be a lot of good ideas, but if you still need an answer to the question, “why is spring cleaning a good idea?” we can give you one: it boosts your health.

Indiana University researchers found a connection between clean homes and physically fit owners. They aren’t entirely sure which is the chicken and which is the egg. It’s possible that cleaning keeps you in shape, or it may be that people who are physically fit have the energy to clean.

There are other ways that keeping a clean home contributes to your wellness also, says an article on Health eNews, a website for AuroraHealth. 

It lowers stress and fatigue which can rise if you live in a messy environment. And if it’s more than just a little untidy, if it’s dirty, you can develop allergic symptoms or asthma. Bedding, upholstery and carpets tend to trap germs that make allergies worse.

“The more stuff you have in your home, the harder it is to clean,” says allergy and asthma specialist Dr. Uma Gavani. “Messy areas increase the potential for dust, pet dander and mold to accumulate in closets, on surfaces and in crevices.”

You don’t have to look like a house on “Hoarders” to have problems with health and safety. Fires and falling are the two leading causes of death at home and when there’s too much clutter, people trip and fall.

Tidying up makes sure you don’t have any furniture blocking doors or walkways, which are hazards for slips and falls, and they also impede your escape from a fire.

By keeping the kitchen clean you minimize the spread of germs while also discouraging pests. The CDC reports that contaminated food causes gastrointestinal illnesses and cleaner kitchens produce fewer cases of food poisoning.

Bugs like spills from food, pet bowls, dirt and debris that isn’t cleaned up. Cockroaches can carry parasites and numerous bacteria, so they cause suchPJqSNe2cillnesses as gastroenteritis.

Mice also need to be taken care of. They spread diseases from salmonella to hantavirus, so you want to put food away and throw away trash in a covered receptacle.

Purging, cleaning and reorganizing are good ideas year-round. But now that people are focusing on the benefits, perhaps it’s time you experienced some of the “life-changing magic” too. It will be nice to only be surrounded by things that bring you joy.

March 24, 2019

Support Women's Charities to Celebrate Women's Month

It sounds simple, but when you support women’s charities you do more than just provide resources. Studies show there are soulful benefits for both parties and hZLvPa2aeven boosts to your physical health!

Celebrate Women and Bless Everyone Around You

While many Americans look forward to the arrival of spring, the month of March has other notable arrivals. The importance of celebrating women is a major theme, with reminders to focus on females through various festivals and “holidays.” March is “International Women’s Month,” which brings a host of events to the community calendar, including “Women in History” presentations, girls’ night out functions, and awards presentations for programs that inspire females of all ages.

Women’s Month activities serve another purpose: They provide opportunities for women to support each other, which experts say is a major contributor to the health of everyone involved.

An article in Entity Magazine talks about the advantages of female mutual support.

“Creating and maintaining good quality social connections is actually as good for our physical health as regular exercise,” says Olga Levancuka, a life coach and author of self-help book “How to Be Selfish.”

UCLA did a landmark study concluding that women enduring stressful situations McbIrppKexperience chemical changes in the brain that improve their ability to galvanize and maintain their friendships. Instead of “fight, flight or freeze,” women will “tend or befriend” due to oxytocin in their system, and the lower level of stress often results in longer lifespans.

And even more importantly, while they’re living longer they’re staying healthier, Levancuka says. She takes an example from history, comparing experiences between men and women following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The death rate among men in Eastern Europe had risen by 40% during the Cold War which UCLA psychology professor Shelley Taylor explains is due to the fact that women have stronger social foundations than men, so they fare better in negotiating challenging circumstances.

Research shows that when women have these kinds of networks, they:
• Live 22 percent longer than their isolated counterparts
• Have a lower risk of dying from breast cancer
• Are more likely to participate in sports and receive a number of mental and physical health benefits of athletics

Even the so-called “mean girls” experiences have positive outcomes, says Jaimie Krems, an Arizona State University graduate research assistant with a focus on female sociality.

They “better process information about their social networks [and] more adeptly navigate their social landscape,” Krems says. Basically, the more friends you have, the more “in the know” you’ll be ... which could keep you from making a faux pas like asking Andrea how her husband is doing when everyone else knows they’re getting a divorce.

Research shows that when you are socially savvy enough to form even just one friendship in the workplace, you significantly reduce any gossip that’s created and perpetuated about you. It makes a difference in a female-dominated office environment.

While those scenarios may not sound complimentary, there are many, many other examples of women celebrating women. According to Krems, females are great when it comes to cooperative parenting. It’s explained, in part, by early, primitive reasoning. From foraging to survival, there’s a great benefit to females having older friends.

wkr4XsMNTurning to someone who is a stage ahead of you is a way to garner an empathetic ear and even have physical resources handed down. In the case of low-income families, this form of cooperative mothering can be a life-saver.

The emotional support that female friendships give each other is notable when compared to male relationships. While men typically socialize around a shared experience stemming from a common interest, women are more emotionally supportive of one another. Communicating worries and other feelings comes more naturally to women.

Support Charities During Women’s Month

International Women’s Month is a good time to contribute to a cause that benefits females. If you already work with a 501(c)(3) like PTA or Rainbow Girls, then the decision’s easy. But if you want to send resources to other charities supporting women, you have many to choose from.

Single Mothers Outreach 

There is little that’s as powerful in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in society as supporting women’s charities like Single Mothers Outreach. Located in Santa Clarita, California, SMO was established in 1995, bringing resources to women who find themselves in a position where they’re raising kids by themselves.

The nonprofit organization’s mission is “to empower single parents and their children by providing hope, support, and resources so families can become self-sustaining and thrive.” Their work involves helping single parents find jobs, get necessary psychological and emotional support, providing education and managing finances.

“Because we believe that effective parenting leads to successful, well-adjusted children, Single Mothers Outreach scaffolds families facing sudden housing instability, income loss, emotional trauma, and social deterioration as the result of divorce, abandonment, or widowhood,” the website says.

Not only is celebrating women a daily part of the organization’s work, it also brings moms together – to help each other with their shared challenges.

In addition to cash donations, you can contribute to their work in other practical ways. SMO always needs:
• Diapers
• Nonperishable foods
• Toiletries
• Wipes
• Clothing
• Toys
• Shoes

And for individuals who don’t have excess cash, when they replace their vehicle they can make a car donation to Single Mothers Outreach. While it seems like a small thing, the value of the car, truck or RV you don’t need can strengthen a home, a family and a community.

Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center
Santa Cruz families in need of income, supplies and emotional assistance have an

 
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advocate in the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center, and in far-reaching capacities.

Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence: The Advocacy & Prevention Department of the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center has programs in place for both victims of violence and their children. Their mission is to eliminate violence through safety, healing, individual empowerment and social change.

When you support women’s charities like Walnut Avenue you are providing resources such as:
• Domestic Violence Support Services
• Safety Planning
• DV and the LGBTQ Community
• Domestic Violence Restraining Order Information

A lot of the nonprofit’s work is instructional. Children can not only gain safer housing options, the Center provides early childhood education.

Adults can become more informed about the experiences of children who grow up in homes where there’s domestic violence, including the effects on kids specifically according to age. Experts use instructional tools such as a “Child Abuse Wheel” and a “Healthy Parenting Wheel” to increase understanding.

Women who have trouble escaping cycles of abuse can learn how to form healthier relationships through programs and support groups. They’re taught warning signs of an abuser and obtain information about their rights.

Also, all resources are available in Spanish.

The Walnut Avenue Center has a 22-hour hotline for victims, so volunteers can get help to clients as quickly as possible. Crisis intervention advocates go through a certification process and become trained DV Peer Counselors.

Gifting a charity such as Walnut Avenue is a way to keep these types of programs running, so you celebrate women and also help kids out of violent situations, which is the best way to stop cycles of abuse.

You gain a tax write-off if you donate money to the organization or donate a car to Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center. 

Girl Scouts
Approximately half of women have, at some point in their lives, been involved in the Girl Scouts. There are about 60 million adult alumnae of Girl Scouting.

And according to research by the Girl Scout Research Institute, the experience has many positive life outcomes.

Females who spend time in Scouting show a greater degree of success in:
• Volunteerism/community involvement
• Education
• Socioeconomics
• Sense of self
• Civic involvement

Most alumnae rate their memories of involvement in a Scout troop in positive terms and rank the experience at high levels and nearly 20% reconnect with Scouting later in life. Among the benefits they cite are having a safe place to connect with others and exposure to nature.

“Girl Scouts helps girls develop their full individual potential; relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect; develop values to guide their actions and provide the foundation for sound decision making; and contribute to the improvement of society through their abilities, leadership skills, and cooperation with others,” says the Girl Scouts website.

The scope of International Women’s Month is extremely compatible with this organization’s goals, as Scouting has grown to include girls across the globe.

More than 22,000 girls experience new adventures every single day and form lifelong friendships. They pride themselves on teamwork, friendship, and community, which are the types of qualities we focus on when celebrating women.

Some of the organization’s activities are hands-on projects relating to science, technology, life skills, and outdoor training. Leaders are flexible enough to adapt to growing changes in culture, while offering the benefits Girl Scouting has produced in its 100-year history.

The monetary resources you add to the nonprofit is tax-deductible and can go to the international organization or to your local chapter. A vehicle you no longer need can be turned into cash for their work as well. When you donate a car to the Girl Scouts, you solve your own problem of moving your car in a simple fashion and adding to the experience of girls at all ages.

College Area Pregnancy Service 

pz6H2GZECelebrating women – society’s youngest female adults – is what the College Area Pregnancy Service aims to accomplish. The San Diego-based nonprofit opens clinics near college campuses to provide early medical assistance and peer counseling to those who are facing an unwanted pregnancy.

Licensed in the state of California, CAPS is accredited to meet standards of care that provide sensitive, confidential assistance to young women at a pivotal time. All services are free.

Those pregnancy services include:

• Low-cost/no-cost STI/STD testing
• Pregnancy Testing
• Ultrasounds
• Post-abortion support

Donors to CAPS are individuals who want to support women’s charities that set standards for the level of care they’re giving females. The College Area Pregnancy Service educates and supports women who are in some stage of the pregnancy process – either newly pregnant or in need of prenatal support or following an abortion procedure. Part of that care includes support groups and interventions for women.

According to the CAPS website, the nonprofit’s commitment includes:
• Serving clients without regard to age, race, income, nationality, religious affiliation, disability or other arbitrary circumstances.
• Treating clients with kindness, compassion and in a caring manner.
• Receiving clients with honest and open answers.
• Providing information with strict and absolute confidence according to HIPAA guidelines.
• Giving clients accurate information about pregnancy, fetal development, lifestyle issues, and related concerns.

You can donate a car to College Area Pregnancy Services through Cars2Charities. 

Celebrate Women with a Car Donation

If you own a car, you know the signs. You spend more time at the auto repair shop than you do at work. Or you find knobs falling off and see a few rips in the seats, which makes you salivate when you pass an auto dealer.

It’s a fact of American life that we sometimes need to replace our cars. The goodnDAKLV0nnews is there’s a very simple method to turn the value of your car into money for a cause.

International Women’s Month is a symbolic time to make a car donation to women’s causes – and there are thousands to choose from. Because the lives of females are so complex, you can typically find a nonprofit that benefits them in whatever need you can imagine.

At times in your life when you can’t offer elbow grease to a nonprofit, you can still reap that good feeling you get when you support women’s charities with a donation, either a vehicle or cash. And as research shows, you’ll feel even better when you join forces with fellow females.

March 16, 2019

International Women’s Day: Cause for Female Celebration

When you see women wearing purple on March 8 every year, it can mean one thing: a celebration of International Women’s Day. March is Women in History Month, so it’s a great time to double down on the opportunity to recognize women in countries everywhere. The main focus behind efforts to create a women’s month AWF5zw2gis to highlight the achievements of females worldwide, regardless of their culture, economic level, ethnicity or politics.

History of Global Women’s Rights

The United States celebrated its first International Women’s Day on February 28, 1909.

The Council on Foreign Relations website looks back even further, emphasizing the history leading up to the present time when we celebrate women much more freely.

It begins in 1792, when philosopher and writer Mary Wollstonecraft published “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” In her treatise, Wollstonecraft makes an argument that women merely lack education, they aren’t naturally inferior to men. She also makes a pitch for co-educational learning.

About 50 years later, abolitionists were leaders in the Seneca Falls Convention, which led others to press for more women’s rights. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton led delegates in presenting the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 beginning with “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The First International Women’s Day

On March 19, 1911, International Women’s Day was recognized in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Denmark. A meeting in Copenhagen the year before set in motion an act of one day per year to honor the women’s rights movement.

The goal at the time was primarily universal suffrage. It involved a million women and men, who went to rallies, urging each woman to achieve the right to vote, to gain vocational training, hold public office and become a member of the labor force without discrimination.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was adopted December 10, 1948. It was the first time an international document asserted “the dignity and worth of the human person and the equal rights of men and women.”

The UN adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against BOJm1v QWomen in 1979. Women’s rights were recognized worldwide as fundamental in 1995 at the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.

And finally, there was the record-breaking Women’s March on Washington, D.C. in 2017. The event was the largest one-day protest in the history of the United States. There were simultaneously more than 600 cities holding marches the same day and the marches continue to be held annually.

Important Figures in the Women’s Rights Movement

About 100 years of activism led up to the first time women had the right to vote, and the effort came from a wide variety of Americans, which are outlined in an article on History.com.

Susan B. Anthony
Born in 1820 to a Quaker family, Susan B. Anthony grew up in Massachusetts, raised to be an independent woman. Like her family, she believed in treating men and women as equals, in part to complete a mission to eradicate cruelty and x3RkOylAinjustice in the world.

She became a women’s suffragette as part of the cause of temperance while teaching at a girls’ school in New York. Believing that imbibing alcohol was a sin for anyone, Anthony felt it was worse when men were drinkers because it typically resulted in poverty and/or violence, which was harmful to women and children.

It was one reason women needed to gain the right to vote – to affect legislation for the sake of moral causes. She campaigned for married women’s property rights in 1853 and became a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1856.

At the end of the Civil War, Anthony wouldn’t join the fight for an Amendment to give black Americans the vote until they included women. The National American Woman Suffrage Association was formed in 1890 and Anthony was elected its first president. She died March 13, 1906 before seeing the success of the 19th amendment, which gave women the vote in 1920.

Alice Paul
Taking a more militant approach than her predecessors, Alice Paul led more assertive activists in the women’s suffrage movement. Like Susan B. Anthony, she was also born to Quakers – but 65 years later, in 1885.

The New Jersey native earned a biology degree from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in sociology at University of Pennsylvania. As a graduate school student, she went to London and discovered the Women’s Social and Political Union, which was a radical group. She brought more extreme tactics back to the U.S. when returning in 1910.

Paul established the National American Woman Suffrage Association and was one of the members to coordinate a parade during President Wilson’s inauguration.

She was put in jail for some of her flamboyant protests, even enduring solitary confinement and force-fed throughout a hunger strike that she and her colleagues conducted. But it actually helped their cause. When people heard about the brutal tactics by law enforcement, public sympathy went their way.

After they got the vote, Alice Paul proceeded to push her cause, this time advocating for an Equal Rights Amendment.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Another big name in the earliest days of women’s rights was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was born in 1815 in upstate New York. She grew up in a wealthy family who supported a climate of reform activism.

In 1840 she married Henry Brewster Stanton, who joined forces with her in promoting the abolition of slavery. When they went to London to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention they weren’t allowed to attend because Elizabeth Stanton was female.

A few years later, she was a part of planning the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. There were 100 delegates – 68 women and 32 men.

Ida B. Wells
A Mississippi native born in 1862, Ida B. Wells was a black journalist who becamegb7gGBGQdedicated to the cause of eradicating lynchings. She was a teacher writing for a black newspaper in Memphis and voiced her opinions condemning injustice to African Americans in the South. It was the time of Jim Crow laws, where there was segregation, disenfranchisement and a lack of education.

When Wells exposed such practices through her writing, she developed enemies, which finally drove her away from Memphis through the rise of angry mobs and threats to her safety.

Wells joined the suffrage parade at the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson in 1913.

The Role of Men in Promoting Equality Among the Sexes

While celebrating women is an important part of a society’s experience, making true gains in eliminating gender bias is the ultimate goal.

Most men agree that women need their help when it comes to creating a society where both genders are treated equally.

There are differences, however, in how much is expected of men in order to create a proper balance, according to the King’s College Global Institute for Women’s Leadership in London. Forty-three percent of people say that men are expected to contribute too much to the cause and 46 percent disagree with that opinion.

An International Women’s Day annual study found that half of those surveyed believe that young women are destined for better lives than their mothers were. Approximately 65 percent say that gender equality is important to them.

Another change is how childcare decisions are viewed by individuals throughout the world. Three-quarters of people polled contend that a man staying home to take care of his children is perfectly reasonable, where no stigma remains. When asked about working for a female boss, the same percentage gave an affirmative response.

World View: Issues Facing Women

The same study through King’s College analyzed the main detriments to progress for women. Citizens of European countries tend to see equal pay as a top women's issue, while globally, 30 percent of men and women choose sexual harassment as the main problem for women.

Residents of various countries had differing views on domestic abuse. The following statistics show the number of respondents claiming abuse as women’s most pressing issue:
Serbia 40%
Russia 21%
Poland 24%
Australia 40%

Asians held a different view, however. Thirty-one percent of South Koreans and 26 percent of Japanese individuals say that the balance of work and childcare makes the biggest impact on the goal of gender equality.

When it comes to solving the balance of power between the sexes, most of those surveyed believe education is the arena where equality will be seen first. Nearly 50 percent believe that women will cease to experience discrimination within the next two decades.

How can you celebrate women this month?

The International Women’s Day website offers ideas for making sure this special day does not go unnoticed. The theme for 2019 is #BalanceforBetter.

Ideally, we all make choices that benefit others throughout our lives. But bringing the importance of women’s issues to the forefront is a reminder that there are Nsh8tweQthings all of us can do – no matter how small or insignificant.

Donate your car to women-focused nonprofit organizations.

Have you been considering a change in vehicle? Are you starting to shop around? You can use that opportunity this month to make a car donation to women through a worthy non-profit. Through Cars2Charities, the value of your vehicle can benefit any 501(c)(3).

Maybe you know a female-led charity that could use some cash for its cause. We work with hundreds of organizations benefiting women, including Single Mothers Outreach and Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center.

Would you like to provide resources for girls? You can donate a car to the Girl Scouts and invest in the leaders of tomorrow. And it’s very, very simple. Pick up your phone and either donate on our website or give us a call at 855-520-2100.

Let Cash Benefit Women

If it’s not time for an upgrade, or you don’t plan to “go green” with a new hybrid, you can make cash donations to female-centered charities as well.

And there are other uses for your money that promote women’s causes. When was the last time you went to hear a female music act? And there are almost always films in theatres with largely female cast members.

If you like movies created from comic book characters, check out “Wonder Woman” and the newest “Captain Marvel.” They are pushing the narrative of female super powers through media exposure.

On the nonfiction side of things, there are also a few TV specials and movies about “the notorious RBG” (Ruth Bader Ginsberg). She’s an inspiration to so many. In a country that’s more than 200 years old there have only been four female justices on the Supreme Court: currently, that’s RBG, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The first justice, who served from 1981 to 2005, was Sandra Day O’Connor.

If you love comedy, you can support female comediennes by seeing their showsE57Gn bgwhen their tour brings them near you. Of course, comics like Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman can sell out Madison Square Garden, and Ellen DeGeneres tours every few years, which you can catch on Netflix. But there are other lesser-known talents who are right behind them. Tig Notaro, Wanda Sykes and Margaret Cho are examples of successful women in the business.

For live theatre, check your town’s stage shows. When plays like “Steel Magnolias,” “Little Women” and “Auntie Mame” are in production, get a ticket to support them.

There are many ways to draw attention to both the plight of women and celebrate their many victories this month. International Women’s Day brings with it the synergy of worldwide recognition, which tends to multiply the benefits.

March 08, 2019

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

The name Dr. Seuss is synonymous with fun, nonsensical poetry such as “I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham.”

Everyone is aware of this famous author’s work, and he is celebrated every year in March, the month he was born. Called the “Read with Me” program, one of the most notable aspects is that schools nationwide draw adults from outside academia – parents, teachers, or people in the community – to simply read a Dr. Seuss kfpWfilQbook inside a classroom.

A Dr. Seuss Bio makes it clear there’s a lot you don’t know about the writer.

1. Dr. Seuss was not a doctor, but there’s a medical school named for him. Believe it or not, Dr. Seuss did not have a doctorate when he chose his now famous pen name.

Born March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the writer graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1925, according to the National Education Association, or NEA.

He went overseas to the UK and attended Oxford University to pursue a Ph.D. in literature, but didn’t complete the degree program. Instead, he returned to the United States to begin a career publishing humorous cartoons and articles for several publications, including Vanity Fair, Judge, and Life magazine.
Working for an advertising agency, the young writer and cartoonist created a successful campaign for an insect repellent called Flit. A tagline he wrote became widely known to the public at the time: “Quick, Henry! The Flit.”

Other ad campaigns he worked for between 1927 and the 1940s, says an article in the Business Insider, included NBC, GE, Standard Oil, Ford and Schaefer Beer. Some of his advertising cartoons look similar to the characters he would create later as Dr. Seuss.

One of his ads was a promotion for short films sponsored by the Ford Company. It included a character that looks strikingly similar to the Cat in the Hat. He’s holding a sign that says, “There’s a New ‘feel’ in Ford Movie Selling for ’49” and there are other lines in the cartoon such as “They’re Funny, They’re Fast!”
The images are obvious precursors to later books written by Dr. Seuss.

Another of his vintage ads portrays a character burning in flames who’s addressing Satan – an ad that would never be allowed today. His byline for that creation is “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss.”

Like many men of the time, Geisel enlisted in the Army but ended up in Hollywood, tasked with writing documentaries to give a voice to military messages. His cartoon, Gerald McBoing-Boing, earned the artist an Oscar.LD8bcKxA

It was Life magazine that was responsible for one of Dr. Seuss’ best known children’s books. His publisher read an article in May 1954 about the problem of illiteracy among American children, stating that kids thought books were boring. The publisher came up with 400 words that he felt children needed to learn and sent them to Geisel. He told the writer to cut the list to 250 (he ended up using 225) and what resulted was “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss.

He was not a medical doctor, of course, but Dartmouth honored the writer and his second wife when officials named the university’s med school the Audrey and Theodore Geisel School of Medicine in 2012. Dartmouth had awarded Theodore Geisel an honorary doctorate in 1956 and he received one from Princeton University as well, in 1985.

2. Alcohol played a part in Geisel’s decision to change his pen name to Seuss.

It’s somewhat ironic that Theodor Geisel was born into a family of brewers (who changed course when Prohibition went into effect), because it was alcohol that would later incite another big change for him as a writer.

He was born Theodor Seuss Geisel to Theodor Robert and Henrietta Geisel, and his grandparents were German immigrants. His mother’s maiden name was “Seuss,” and it was given to him as a middle name.

As a side note, most of the public pronounces the name “Seuss” wrong. From his German heritage, it is actually pronounced “zoice,” though Americans still pronounce it today in rhyme with “Bruce.”

Called “Ted” by family and friends, Geisel actually got the chance to meet his namesake, former president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. According to History.com, as a young Boy Scout, Geisel was a top seller of war bonds and was invited to stand in a group of 10 Boy Scouts to be awarded medals. Sadly, Geisel stood at the end of the line of boys and President Roosevelt, for some reason, had only nine and ran out of medals when he came upon the young writer. The president asked at that awkward moment, “What’s this little boy doing here?” and the scoutmaster moved young Theodor out of the way.

As a result, Geisel-turned-Seuss would have stage fright for the rest of his life.

As a college student, Geisel was editor of Dartmouth’s humor magazine, the “Jack-O-Lantern,” which was sold by retail news sources in Boston and New York.

The Darmouth website says: “The Jack-O-Lantern usurped the classroom as the space in which he received the most valuable instruction,” writes Donald Pease, Dartmouth professor. “Classmates would find Geisel asleep in the magazine office with his head face-down on the typewriter.”

That role was an important part of his college experience, but other actions put an early end to his editorship. Caught drinking gin in his dorm, the dean made him resign from not just the Jack-O-Lantern; he was unable to participate in any extracurricular activities.

ypygZpPgThat didn’t stop Theodor Geisel, who continued to write for his college publication – but under the name “Seuss.” And he added the title, using “Dr. Seuss” for the first time as a byline for an article in the magazine Judge.

The country continues celebrating Dr. Seuss for his prolific writing for children.

When an official choice was made to establish a day to celebrate Dr. Seuss, it made sense to ask – when is Dr. Seuss’ birthday?

Every March 2nd we honor his legacy with the Read with Me program. He was born on that date in 1904, but the beginning of his fame was December of 1937.
His first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which was released in 1937, was rejected by multiple publishers. It was The Great Depression and financial interest was not easy to come by.

Theodor Geisel’s Dartmouth classmates came to his rescue. Marshall “Mike” McClintock, a 1926 graduate, was an editor at Vanguard Press, the company that would agree to print the first Dr. Seuss book. McClintock wrote an ad for it with a memorable tagline, perhaps unknowingly forecasting a bright future: “This is the start of a parade that will take you places!”

The same year, the new author and his wife, Helen Palmer Geisel, found out they could never have children. And, interestingly, he was not alone – in fact, many famous children’s writers had no children of their own, including Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Beatrix Potter, Margaret Wise Brown, Crockett Johnson, and Maurice Sendak.

Critics of Dr. Seuss questioned his authority to write for children, considering he was not a parent himself. He responded with, “You make ‘em. I’ll amuse ‘em.”
We don’t know everything about Seuss’ inspiration for his books, but he based two of his characters on himself: The Grinch and the Cat in the Hat.

According to seussville.com, after “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” appeared in 1957, Seuss explained its origins to Redbook magazine:
“I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noted a very Grinchish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! Something had gone wrong with Christmas, I realized, or more likely with me. So, I wrote the story about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost.”

The Read with Me program has infinite possibilities, as Dr. Seuss wrote a number of books in his lifetime. The following are some of his best known, listed in chronological order:
1. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937)
2. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938)
3. The King's Stilts (1939)
4. Horton Hatches the Egg (1940)
5. McElligot's Pool (1947)
6. Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose (1948)
7. Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949)
8. If I Ran the Zoo (1950)
9. Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953)
10. Horton Hears A Who! (1954)
11. On Beyond Zebra (1955)
12. If I Ran the Circus (1956)
13. The Cat in the Hat (1957)
14. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1957)Fm siJiw15. Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958)
16. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back! (1958)
17. Happy Birthday To You! (1959)
18. Green Eggs and Ham (1960)
19. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960)
20. The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961)
21. Dr Seuss's Sleep Book (1962)
22. Dr Seuss's ABC (1963)
23. Hop on Pop (1963)
24. Fox in Socks (1965)
25. I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew (1965)
26. The Cat in the Hat Song Book (1967)
27. The Foot Book (1968)
28. I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! And Other Stories (1969)
29. My Book About Me (1969)
30. I Can Draw It Myself (1970)
31. Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? (1970)
32. The Lorax (1971)
33. Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! (1972)
34. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (1973)
35. The Shape of Me and Other Stuff (1973)
36. Great Day For Up (1974)
37. There's a Wocket in my Pocket! (1974)
38. Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! (1975)
39. I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)
40. Oh Say Can You Say? (1979)
41. Hunches in Bunches (1982)
42. The Butter Battle Book (1984)
43. You're Only Old Once! (1986)
44. I am Not Going to Get Up Today (1987)
45. Oh, The Places You'll Go! (1990)

 
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There is a lot we can learn from Dr. Seuss Day by looking closely at the messages in the author's books. Dr. Seuss shaped ideas for many children in an effort to teach some philosophical truths and the Read with Me program gives individuals a chance to bring Geisel's principles to life. 

The following are among the lessons communicated in his books.
BE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT - Dr. Seuss wrote about this lesson in “Happy Birthday To You.” He wrote, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER - In the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” he wrote about how the world is at our feet and we just need to walk. He said, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so ... go on your way.”
CHANGE STARTS WITH YOU - In “The Lorax” Dr. Seuss speaks on issues relating to change. He wrote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED - In “Horton Hears a Who!” Seuss talks about what many people know as the golden rule. He wrote, “A person’s a person no matter how small!”
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS - In the book “Green Eggs and Ham” Seuss writes about how things that are new may not be the easiest to accept, but you shouldn’t be afraid to try. He wrote, “You do not like them, so you say? Try them! Try them! And you may.”

Make a car donation count – the Dr. Seuss way!

You can get personally involved in the Read with Me program at your neighborhood school - they'd be happy to have you as one of their visitors. But there are other ways to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday.

If you're thinking you'd like to make a change in what you're driving, it gives you an opportunity to benefit a charity for children to honor an author that did so much for the entertainment of youngsters.

Do you want to donate a car to charity and make sure it helps your favorite cause? When you donate a car through Cars2Charities you make your car donation count! We partner with more than 500 different organizations with a multitude of different causes to support. So, whether it’s one org, two orgs, red orgs or blue orgs, there is a worthy nonprofit to receive your generous contribution.

What’s even better is that donating a car to charity is child’s play through Cars2Charities. It’s as easy as doing a dealer trade-in (which is a money-loser, by the way). You simply call 855-520-2100 or donate online and we pick it up! You get to pick the charity to receive proceeds from the sale of your car (which we do for you!).

You can celebrate Dr. Seuss Day by donating to a children’s charity. We currently partner with more than 40 organizations that help children. If you choose to donate to one of those causes you would be helping to contribute to Dr. Seuss’ legacy.

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Imagine the verse from a Geisel creation when children get proceeds from your car donation.

Celebrating Dr. Seuss Day doesn’t have to include such crazy attempts to mimic his style, but suffice it to say: If people keep making children, he will continue to amuse them, even beyond the grave.

February 27, 2019

Award Season Sets the Stage for Support of the Arts

When you support the arts – painting and sculpture, music and poetry or theatre and dance – you contribute to the education and experience of beautiful forms of messaging. Creative efforts, which date back to the beginning of time and now t Kjo e0include video and digital imaging, are a unique part of our culture.

According to TheConversation.com, the arts are representatives involve communication among a society’s members.

“Art objects have special resonance because they come into being through human agency,” says an article entitled “What’s the Point of Art?” by Derek Hodgson, research associate at the University of York. “This involves considerable emotional investment and, consequently, art acts as a crucial node in the complex web of things that make up a culture.”

Art isn’t practical, but it’s made more potent when executed in conjunction with ritual. It’s also clear that in the past, such as the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras when art was a sort of “social glue,” the value of it wasn’t the final product, but the process, he says. It was common for artwork to be destroyed or defaced shortly after it was created.

But today art is more focused on the final product, which is aimed at entertainment and/or attaining status within a social hierarchy.

History of the Academy Awards

There’s possibly no better window into American arts and entertainment culture than the Academy Awards. The annual culmination of the world’s best filmmaking efforts, this awards program applauds winners chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, based in Hollywood, California.

The history of the Academy Awards began in 1927 when they held a gathering in the Crystal Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The meeting laid out the organization’s goals, including devising a method to honor superior moviemaking achievements.

The first Academy Awards presentation took place on May 16, 1929 in the Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, recognizing the movies released from August 1, 1927 through June 30, 1928. At the time it was called the Academy Award of Merit and winners received a golden statuette known as the “Oscar.”3RFrDYfA

The first Academy Awards show to be televised was in the United States was in 1953, and the show aired internationally beginning in 1969.

The Oscar Statue

The Oscar statue is the most famous trophy in the world, according to Oscars.org. It is the image of a knight with a sword who’s standing on a film reel and stands 13.5 inches tall, weighing 8.5 lbs. It was designed by Cedric Gibbons, an art director at MGM, and created by sculptor George Stanley. 

To explain how it acquired the nickname, the website says it’s a story popularized by Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky, who wrote a piece about Katharine Hepburn, winner of the first Best Actress award in 1934. Encyclopedia Britannica says that the story goes that Academy librarian Margaret Herrick – who later became an executive director – said the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar.

But Bette Davis also claimed she nicknamed the statue when she said the backside of it looked like her husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson, while she was backstage at the awards show. However the true origin of the nickname is unknown. The Academy actually adopted the nickname in 1939. 

The famous gold statues were made of 24-karat plating until World War II, when they made them out of painted plaster due to a shortage of metals. They are now crafted of solid bronze with 24-karat gold plating.

Purpose of the Academy

Symbolizing recognition for excellence in acting, directing and other aspects of filmmaking, the role of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences includes:
• Supporting education and research related to film technology
• Preserving and documenting motion picture history
• Publishing reference materials including the Annual Index to Motion Picture Credits
• Encouraging film-study programs
kvliB3eo• Awarding scholarships
• Drawing creatives into cooperative relationships
• Promoting the prestige of the film industry

Support the Arts

Perhaps you have a background in entertainment. Or if you don’t, you are likely a consumer of top movies, TV shows or plays. And you may be a fan of music concerts, dance or art museums, where you can appreciate Renaissance paintings or 20th century pop art.

If you’re someone who not only appreciates the value of art but believes it’s important, you may want to play a philanthropic role. When you support the arts, you contribute to the individuals who grow and benefit from creating it – oftentimes children and youth. And if you support local charities, you can choose which causes are the most important.

Make a Car Donation to the Arts

A car donation to charity is one way to boost the finances of a nonprofit. If you want to support artists, there are a multitude of ways – both locally and internationally.

The Academy of Arts and Sciences, for instance, is actually a nonprofit. You could donate a car to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences through Cars2Charities and let your support go straight to the top.

The National Arts Program is a nonprofit that partners with nearly 100 venues in more than 30 states to enable artists to have their work on exhibition by providing galleries at various workplaces.

According to the NAP website, it is the only nonprofit that is dedicated to showcasing individual creativity in an effort to transform artists by showcasing their work.

If you’d rather be a benefactor for the arts in your own community, it’s also easy to do. Local community arts programs abound, in some cases providing learning opportunities and others supporting scholarship awards.zY4n3w 4

Become a Museum Member

Another way to support an arts source is through membership, and much of the time it’s tax deductible. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has 5 different levels of membership available, beginning at only $80 per year. Members gain free entrance along with one guest and children, plus they receive complimentary guest passes, so they can bring friends, and they are invited to special events and celebrations. There are discounts in the Dining Room at The Met and in The Met Store. 

Some cities have a highly popular Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA. The Los Angeles MOCA is in three locations:

• MOCA Grand Avenue on South Grand in DTLA
• Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on N. Central Ave. in L.A.
• Double Negative at Mormon Mesa in Overton, Nevada

While the first two MOCA sites are indoors, Double Negative is a work of “land art” by artist Michael Heizer. It’s in the Moapa Valley in Nevada, acquired by MOCA in 1985. And it’s always free to visit.

Established in 1979, MOCA is the only artist-founded museum in Los Angeles. The website offers a definition of contemporary art, which is an explanation of what the museum acquires. “We question and adapt to the changing definitions of art,” the website says. “We present, collect, and interpret the art of our time.”

The contemporary museum also has multiple levels of membership. Established in 1956, MOCA San Francisco has annual members-only sales and special events that include 20% off the purchases in the museum store. Memberships range from $79 to $375 and an opportunity to become an “Art Advocate” with a higher contribution level. 

Volunteer

You can also contribute time to any number of art sources through volunteerism. Museums, theatres and youth music programs will typically welcome volunteers, especially to entertain school groups and other student visitors.

Golden State Youth Orchestra invites members of the public to partner with the organization, including a number of volunteer opportunities. 

UrWQzb5sIf you’re a dance aficionado, chances are good you can become a docent at a ballet in your city. There are youth academies and professional programs that need volunteers, as there are a lot of moving parts with those complex productions.

Whether you’re in the Southeast and want to serve in Charlotte, or you’re seeking opportunities at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, performances require the efforts of multiple parties to hold engagements from family matinees to formal affairs.

Donate Money to the Arts

Nonprofit arts organizations offer a tax break to donors, whether it comes in the form of a car donation to charity or cash contribution.

SAG-AFTRA
Formed for the protection of media artists, members of SAG-AFTRA are “actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJ’s, news writers, news directors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals,” according to the organization’s website. 

The scope of the Guild’s partnerships with unions is international. The organization aims for diversity of “race, national origin, color, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, veteran status, gender identity and expression.”

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is a nonprofit arm of the union and you can specifically donate to such aspects as the John L. Dales or the George Heller scholarships.

Dales was an attorney, the resident counsel for the Screen Actors Guild in 1937, later becoming executive secretary from 1943 to 1973. Heller was founder of the American Federation of Radio Artists, or AFTRA. He was the executive director in 1946 and became the first national executive director until 1955 when he died unexpectedly at the age of 49.

Venice Arts
When arts programs end up on the chopping block in educational institutions, there are groups that crop up to return the opportunities to the kids. Venice Arts was created in 1993 responding to cuts in arts education within Los Angeles. It began with just 10 kids learning to use some cameras and is now made up of “450 low-income young people” who engage in community arts programs. Venice Arts puts on exhibits, screenings, and public programs.

Key City Public Theatre

Located in Jefferson County, in Port Townsend, Washington, KCPT produces theatre year-round, serving regional audiences with “thought-provoking and visually stunning” performances. The public has entertainment that includes concerts, outdoor theater productions and musicals, in addition to plays and special events.

When you donate to the arts by supporting KCPT you connect with 15,000 patrons with more than 200 performances, classes and workshops annually.

Your contribution can make events possible such as the Port Townsend Play Fest Festival of New Plays or “66 women Producers.”

The nonprofit theatre group aims to expand the availability of expression, education, and engagement for its community members.

St. Elmo Village

A Los Angeles entertainment venue, St. Elmo Village offers festivals, workshops and enrichment programs where developing artists receive instruction and the opportunity for creative output. The aim of the nonprofit is to build the skills of participants while also improving their self-esteem. http://www.stelmovillage.org/

The art center was founded in 1969 and events include a Festival of the Art of Creative Survival, annual drum and jazz festivals, and poetry celebrations. You can donate to St. Elmo Village to put your expendable income support the arts donateUrWQzb5sto the arts

There are many ways you can support the arts, which perhaps resonate strongest during award season, when people are mindful of the important place entertainment has in our lives. For some, offering support to a nonprofit art organization is a natural outgrowth of the desire to spawn more availability and opportunity. To donate to the arts simply requires choosing a worthy recipient of your cash contribution, car donation or volunteerism.

February 21, 2019

Black History Month: Knowledge is Power

It was more than 100 years ago that Black History Month got its start in the United States and it’s grown in proportion, now shared with millions through media, as well as educational institutions. In answer to the question many people have – GECdqIIQWhat is Black History Month? – channels such as PBS and BET lead the way in providing content to honor African Americans.

History of Black History Month

According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or ASALH, the idea came from Carter G. Woodson, a University of Chicago graduate who, in 1915, joined thousands of other African Americans in celebrating the 50th anniversary of emancipation.

They gathered at the coliseum in Chicago and visitors were able to observe the progress that black Americans had made in the cause of freedom through informative exhibits. Crowds of up to 12,000 lined up outside to wait for a turn for the three-week exhibition, where Woodson was a contributor.

Three years earlier, Harvard University had awarded Woodson a doctorate degree and he had grown concerned as he discovered through research how little black American history was included in school curriculum; in fact, he said, they were basically ignored. The history of black history month is steeped in Woodson’s desire to bring it to importance as a society by raising the exposure of the African American experience.

First, he created Negro History Week after earning his Ph.D., and later sought to bring national attention to the need for more study and release more information about slavery in America. In 1915 he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History with a group that met at the Wabash YMCA.

Woodson launched The Journal of Negro History in 1916, where the group of intellectuals could publish their findings, hoping to bring it to the collective consciousness.

In 1920, he sought civil organizations made up of African Americans to advance the exposure of the research, and he asked members of his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, to further the work as well. They created Negro History and Literature Week in 1924, which was later called Negro Achievement Week.

“We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements,” Woodson said to an audience of students at Hampton Institute.

In an attempt to bring national attention to The Journal of Negro History, Woodson made Black History Week the second week of February to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Black communities had long been celebrating the birthday of Frederick Douglas, who was born Feb. 14 and, of course, Lincoln’s birthday – Feb. 12 – was nationally recognized.

Eventually, the timeline of recognition for black Americans grew to include a month of celebrations when it became Black History Month in 1976.

Read more about the history at https://asalh.org/.

African American Achievements

When the achievements of some segments of society are not recognized and rewarded, it leaves a gap in the mindfulness of that people group. The Society for Community Research and Action lays out some reasons why it’s important to recognize African Americans for their accomplishments.

In an article titled “Why Black History Matters for Community Psychology,” writer Dominique Thomas of Georgia State University explains the mental health benefits to individuals when awareness spreads. Research says that when the general public is made more aware of the vulnerability of African Americans and the structure of racism in America, you tend to see academic improvement, prosocial behaviors and higher self-esteem.

“This is the idea that one must know their history to seek guidance for action towards the future,” Thomas says. “It’s this idea of using history to drive future action that is part of the goal of Black History Month, but it is also a goal of community psychology. Think of the social climate from which community psychology was birthed. Imagine all the historic events that occurred during the 1960s that still impact us to this day.”

Thomas brings up some of the victories brought about by the Civil Rights era, including segregation. They’re positive reminders of progress, especially when you remember famous “firsts,” which is a great idea for individuals wondering how to celebrate Black History Month.TgGxvKlQ

James McCune Smith: The first African American doctor was James McCune Smith, who practiced in New York in 1837. Dr. Smith graduated at the top of his class at University of Glasgow in Scotland. He was born in 1813 and attended the New York African Free School, where his intelligence stood out.

It was because of his race that Dr. Smith had to get his medical degree overseas. He not only graduated at the top of his class, he also earned two other doctorates.

A prominent abolitionist, Dr. Smith joined Frederick Douglass in creating the National Council of the Colored People. Part of his life’s work involved publishing the following:
• “A Lecture on the Haitian Revolution”
• “The Destiny of the People of Color”
• The introduction to “My Bondage and My Freedom” by Frederick Douglass

The New York Academy of Medicine reversed the racism that kept Dr. Smith from entrance to medical school by awarding him a posthumous fellowship a full 171 years later.

John Mercer Langston: The first African American lawyer was John Mercer Langston, who became a leader, educator and diplomat and, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, is possibly the first African American to be elected to public office in the United States. 

He was born in 1829 in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of a planter with a mother who was a slave. He was about 5 years old when he became an emancipated American.

He graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1849, and after the Civil War ended, Langston moved to Washington, D.C. to practice law. In 1869 he was elevated to dean of the law department of Howard University, where he became vice-president in 1872.

Langston was appointed U.S. minister to Haiti and charge d’affaires to Santo Domingo. The former congressman died in Washington, D.C. in 1897.

Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler: The first African American woman to become a physician was Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, who had a classical, prestigious education. Born in 1831 in Delaware, Rebecca Davis was raised in Pennsylvania and attended the West-Newton English and Classical School in Massachusetts. She worked as a nurse beginning in 1852 and was accepted into New England Female Medical College in 1860.

Hiram Rhodes Revels: The first black U.S. Congressman lived as a freeman his whole life, beginning with his birth in 1827 to free parents in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Hiram Rhodes Revels filled a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate as a Republican from Mississippi in 1870.

His mother was Scottish, and he claimed to have a mixed heritage, including Croatian and Indian. His father was a Baptist preacher and Hiram Revels also became a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

Horatio Julius Homer: The first African American police officer in the city of Boston, Horatio J. Homer was born in Farmington, Connecticut in 1848. When he was 30 years old, he became Sergeant Horatio Homer, and it ushered in a new day in the Boston police force. Over the next 10 years, the department hired about six more African American officers, thanks to his influence.

Hattie McDaniel: Every film fan knows “Gone with the Wind,” the Oscar winning movie from 1939, recognized at the 12th Academy Awards in 1940. And many of us remember the inspiring acceptance speech by Hattie McDaniel, the first African American Oscar winner for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role.”

She said: "I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion pw3IvWAwpicture industry."

You can watch her speech at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7t4pTNZshA

Thurgood Marshall: Most school children learn the name of the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed in 1967.

Born in 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, Marshall graduated from Howard University and served as counsel to the NAACP. He won the famous case Brown v. Board of Education.

He became a lawyer and civil rights activist, making him a top choice for the highest court in the land, where he served for 24 years. His reputation is sustained as an individual who was pivotal in ending legal segregation.

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm: Both the first black female elected to Congress and the first female to run for president, Shirley Chisholm was a trailblazer. The title of her autobiography was also her motto: “Unbossed and Unbought.”

She was a powerful advocate for women and people of color throughout her long life. The future leader was born in Brooklyn in 1924 to a factory worker from Guyana and a seamstress from Barbados. Shirley St. Hill went to Brooklyn College and graduated with a master’s degree from Columbia University.

She began working as a preschool teacher, eventually becoming a consultant to the Division of Day Care in New York City. She found a purpose in promoting equality between the sexes and among minorities, joining the NAACP, the Urban League, the League of Women Voters and the Democratic Party Club in Brooklyn.

Shirley St. Hill married a private investigator, Conrad Chisholm, in 1949 and the couple divorced in 1977. When she sought the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, the racial bigotry was clear. She was not allowed to participate in televised debates in the primary election. But despite these setbacks, she ended up with 10% of the votes, totaling 152 delegates.

How to Celebrate Black History Month

The classroom is often the best place to start when it comes to changing the collective consciousness about an issue. And some of the most effective methods so far in the history of Black History Month are programs that are found at every level in American schools. Famous African Americans are featured throughout the month of February, and curriculum is aimed at increasing knowledge about America’s past history of slavery.

Students and teachers can spearhead novel and memorable ways to celebrate the progress African Americans have made over time. And the more creative, the better. Some suggestions are:

• Assign each student an African American person in history to research and report through a biography.

• Take a virtual tour of the online exhibit of the Brown v. Board of Education. It was created in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case, which ended school segregation in 1954.

• You can celebrate Black History Month with Snapchat. The social media platform launched a virtual art gallery featuring the work of black artists to bring attention to African American culture, styles and messaging. The digital art gallery is titled "For Us, By Us: Art Through the Eyes of Black Millennials."

Perform MLK's “I Have A Dream” Speech. Then ask students to write their own “dream” speeches.cEmYBdPQ

You can also take a free ride from Lyft. The transport company is celebrating the rich and diverse culture of African Americans by offering free rides (up to $10) when the destination is to any "Black history museums, memorials, and relevant cultural sites, as well as to black-owned businesses." You can see their website to see the participating locations and businesses. 

 

View the NAACP website to find more ideas for the month of February. The organization, which is more than 100 years old, has an article called “28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month.”

The suggestions include donating to a black organization and supporting businesses owned by African-Americans. They also recommend spending quality time with a black senior citizen or reading a book by a black author.

Some other suggestions are: 

Every year, you have 28 days to honor those who have accomplished so much --- and the only thing to limit you is your imagination. There are countless creative options to choose from and it involves more than just looking backwards – you can make an impact on today’s culture.

The awareness our country achieves by casting such a bright spotlight on Black History Month is hard to come by in any other way. It’s a reminder that the future is set for a more successful outcome than to repeat the mistakes of the past.

February 12, 2019

Valentine's Day Traditions All Over the World

One thing Valentine’s Day does a good job of proving is that love makes the world go ‘round. Some version of a holiday that “celebrates love” is embraced in countries across the globe, in more regions than you may realize. And it comes into Val9plain view when you look at Valentine’s Day fun facts both within and outside the United States.

We all recognize Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to share our love with someone special, typically a significant other. Most of us think of chocolate and flowers – roses, mostly – and romantic dates with gifts of jewelry or intimate clothing.

But how did it all begin?

There are various theories about the origin of Valentine’s Day, which stems from long before Hallmark placed the date on our calendars.

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, St. Valentine’s Day began as the Roman festival called Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February and commemorated the arrival of spring. The celebration included rites of fertility, where men and women were paired up by lottery.

Pope Gelasius in the late 5th century changed it to St. Valentine’s Day and it shifted into a holiday about romance in the 1300s.

Among many martyrs named Valentine, it’s thought that St. Valentine’s Day was named for a priest martyred by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus in the year 270. As the legend goes, he had befriended the daughter of his jailer and signed a letter to her “from your Valentine.” Some accounts say he also had healed her from blindness.

Another possible origin of Valentine’s Day is a saint named Valentine who married couples in secret so the husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. He was defying the emperor’s orders and, thus, placing himself in danger.

The evolution of Valentine’s Day history continued to be recorded, says an article on the Historic UK website. 

A French citizen, Charles the Duke of Orleans, wrote to his sweetheart from the Tower of London after he was captured during the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. In a poem enclosed he referred to her as “my very sweet Valentine.” A few hundred years later, beginning in the 16th century, Valentine greeting cards were exchanged, and they became a regular part of Valentine’s Day traditions in 1601. William Shakespeare writes about the holiday in “Hamlet” with Ophelia’s comment:
“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.”

Valentines became commercially printed in the United States about 200 years later. One of the most common icons for the holiday was initially, and still is, Cupid – the Roman god of love, and the main symbol is, of course, the heart.

A book was published in 1797 entitled “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer,” which offered lovers some guidelines for effective communication with their sweethearts.val1Inside were sample rhymes, so they didn’t have to compose original ones.

When the Penny Post was created in 1840, anyone could afford to send greeting cards, including Valentines. That’s when they began mass producing them with pictures and verses.

Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday in the United States, with approximately 190 million cards sent yearly – just for this February holiday. But it has a following all over the world, as there’s an estimated 1 billion Valentine cards sent across the globe. Other countries with celebrations include South Korea, Great Britain, France, Argentina, Mexico, Australia and Canada, among others. The way it’s celebrated, however, is different in other countries.

Asian Celebrations


South Korea
Valentine’s Day is a big part of South Korean culture – in fact, it’s part of a much bigger celebration. It begins on February 14 and continues until the month of April, during which there are 12 “Love Days” and Valentine’s Day is one of them.

Women get to be on the receiving end of gifts on White Day, which is March 14. It began more than 30 years ago in Japan, when men were encouraged to communicate their affection for their significant other through sugary sweet edibles and other gifts, typically white. Some of the usuals are white chocolate and lingerie, but some people include dark chocolate and lollipops, etc.

There’s a “rule of three” that some Koreans follow, which says that the present a man purchases for a woman on White Day has to be three times the value of the gift he received from her on Valentine’s Day.

Black Day, held April 14, carries a tradition for individuals to mourn their status as singles. It applies to those who don’t receive gifts on Valentine’s Day or White Day – they get together for Black Day and eat Jjajyangmyeon, or black bean-paste noodles. It’s a kind of “sad singles” celebration for 20-somethings.

Most of the money changing hands during Love Days in South Korea is spent on Valentine’s Day and White Day. While the one-day experience on February 14 resembles American traditions including gifts of flowers and candy, the country’s Valentine’s Day has a twist. In the case of South Korea, it involves women giving presents to the men.

On February 14 women primarily give chocolate to their male partners to communicate affection. It’s a day for both members of the couple to share, and several retail stores have special merchandise and displays for the holiday. Some of

 
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the most popular candies are Ferrero Rocher, Twix and Chupa Chups.

Other relationship celebrations on the calendar in South Korea include Diary Day in January, Rose Day in May, Kiss Day in June, Silver Day in July, Green Day in August, Photo Day in September, Wine Day in October, Movie Day in November and Hug Day in December.

Indonesia
During Valentine’s Day in Indonesia, flower and chocolate gift sales spike. Estimates say that 250 percent more flowers are sold in the season and chocolate jumps by 650 percent. Jakarta has become a destination city lately, successfully drawing holiday travelers.

India
Business Today Magazine says that an increasing number of Indians are including travel in their Valentine’s Day traditions. Travel agency Thomas Cook India has research showing a rise in bookings of 27 percent in recent years. 

Travel on or near the Valentine’s Day holiday in India are mostly departing from Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai. Travelers seem to be heading to distances as far as Morocco and South Africa, as well as parts of Europe such as France and Italy. Short-distance travel takes couples to such destinations as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi, Indonesia and Thailand.

Most Valentine’s Day travelers are millennials – a total of 47 percent, according to Business Today. They spend their holidays bungee jumping, zip lining, and enjoying water sports and activities from kite boarding, to wind surfing and snorkeling.

China
Valentine’s Day brings economic advantages that Chinese retailers count on. Decorations are popular purchases and the holiday can dovetail with Chinese New Year celebrations. The Presbyterian Blue Stocking, an online newspaper from Presbyterian College in South Carolina, consulted Chinese student Baofang Zhang to report about the practices in China. He said it’s similar to the Valentine’s Day traditions in the Western Hemisphere, but it crosses over with the Qi Xi Festival, or Tanbata Festival, which is an ancient celebration stemming from the Han Dynasty. It’s referred to as the Double Seventh Festival, as it occurs on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Lunar calendar, which is the schedule followed by the Chinese. It’s a celebration of an annual meeting between star-crossed lovers, which is explained in a story. Zhang explained in the newspaper:

"Long, long ago, there was an honest and kind-hearted fellow named Niu Lang the Cowhand. His parents died and ... he was driven out of his home by his sister-in-law, so he lived by himself, herding cattle and farming. One day, a fairy from heaven, the Weaver Maid, fell in love with him, came down secretly to earth, and married him. The cowhand farmed in the field and the Weaver Maid wove at home. They lived a happy life and gave birth to a boy and a girl. Unfortunately, the God of Heaven soon found out they were married and ordered the Queen of Western Heavens to bring the Weaver Maid back. With the help of celestial cattle, the Cowhand flew to heaven with his son and daughter. At the time when he was about to catch up with his wife, the Queen Mother took off one of her gold hairpins and made a stroke. One billowy river appeared in front of the Cowhand. The Cowhand and Weaver Maid were separated on the two banks forever and could only feel their tears. Their loyalty to their love touched the magpies, so tens of thousands of magpies came to build a bridge for the Cowhand and Weaver Maid to meet each other. The Queen was eventually moved and allowed them to meet each year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. They became two stars in the sky, called Altair and Vega.”

Thailand
This country in southeastern Asia launches its celebration before the rest of us. The entire month of February is devoted to special celebrations, including romantic dinners, chocolates and gifts. It’s a popular time for individuals to propose and travel industry companies to promote travel associated with Valentine’s Day traditions.

European Celebrations

UK
The site Historic UK says that Geoffrey Chaucer brought the idea of “love birds” to the holiday back in 1382. In “Parliament of Fowls,” Chaucer writes about the engagement of Anne of Bohemia to King Richard II in a poem including, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh to choose his mate.” 

English women are encouraged to put bay leaves on their pillows on February 13 to help them dream of their future husbands. A character called Jack Valentine knocks on doors and upon answering it, children find small candies and gifts on their porches.

Italy
When young women in Italy wake up before the sun on Valentine’s Day, there’s aVal7tradition declaring that the first man they see is the man they will marry, or at least an individual who looks like him, sometime within the year.

There is a traditional chocolate candy associated with Valentine’s Day in Italy. Couples exchange Baci Perugina, which contains chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped in a romantic note with a quote in four languages.

Bulgaria
Bulgarians also celebrate Valentine’s Day, similar to countries including the United States. February 14 in Bulgaria is called San Trifon Zarezan, meaning “day of winemakers” and couples typically celebrate by spending the day together while drinking wine.

It’s thought to be based on the pagan customs associated with the Thracian god of wine, Dionysius. Trifon Zarezan was a legendary wine grower with an involved plotline. The real St. Trifon was a martyr who died during Roman persecution of Christians.

It’s a robust enough holiday that there are websites devoted to celebration resources for Trifon Zarezan Day such as lists of holiday packages at hotels and resorts.

African Celebrations

South Africa
Women in South Africa wear shirts bearing the name of someone they admire and they pin hearts on their sleeves.

Ghana
The Republic of Ghana in West Africa has a holiday on the same day – February 14 – called “National Chocolate Day.” They created it in 2007 to boost tourism in the country.

Val4According to the Ghana News Agency, the Ghana Tourism Authority collaborated with the Cocoa Processing Company to launch the 2019 National Chocolate Day. The commemoration is aimed at promoting the chocolate industry. The country has been successful at shifting the attention from Valentine’s Day to Chocolate Day. Ghana Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Catherine Abelema Afeku released a statement claiming the boost in tourism is leading to substantial improvement in the economy, including a benefit to the cocoa industry.

Like many things, there is more that unites widely varying cultures than the aspects that divide us. One of those is the existence of meaningful celebrations during holidays. Possibly because it’s not steeped in religious tradition, Valentine’s Day is one of those. It’s no surprise it would be an emphasis on love that would bring the world together.

February 04, 2019

14 Ways to Say I Love You This Valentine’s Day

Romantic, creative or extravagant ... it’s on you to find unique Valentine’s Day gifts every February – to come up with new ideas to meet the expectations of your sweetheart. If you’re like most people – male or female – you’re often stumped. or at least you wouldn’t mind a few suggestions (especially cheap Valentine gift Val6ideas).

If you’re open to a new round of fun gifts for your partner, read on. Valentine’s Day is all about showing affection and appreciation to the one you love, but you’re probably interested in saving some money too. Here are 14 inexpensive ways to say “I love you” this Valentine’s Day.

Breakfast in Bed

Begin your morning by cooking your partner a yummy breakfast and serve it up in bed, because it’s one of the easiest ways to say I love you in a practical way. Taste of Home magazine has a list of top-rated breakfast recipes so your Valentine can sample a first-time effort:

• Blueberry French Toast – A Minnesota blueberry grower shared a recipe that one reader said was the best breakfast food she’s ever eaten. The combination of white bread cubes and squares of cream cheese form the base, and a mixture of eggs, milk and syrup are poured over the top. You bake it the next day and serve it with a blueberry sauce.
• True Belgian Waffles – The best thing about Belgian waffles is that you can choose your favorite topping: powdered sugar or whipped cream with fried apples, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or something else.
• Amish Breakfast Casserole – You don’t have to live on the farm to appreciate a hearty breakfast. Taste of Home selected this modified recipe from an Amish Inn for its ease. It has just 7 ingredients including bacon, cheese, Swiss cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, sweet onion and frozen hash browns.
• Fluffy Pancakes – We’ve all made pancakes, but this Virginia family recipe rises to a level above most. The balance of power between the baking powder and salt creates a noticeable fluff factor.
• Oven Denver Omelet – There’s no standing over a hot stove when you bake your omelets. This egg dish comes from Taneytown, Maryland, not Denver, but has the requisite ham, green bell pepper and onions.
• Fruity Baked Oatmeal – If your loved one likes when you put the “sweet” into “sweetheart,” he or she may like a nice, homemade breakfast bar. This winning recipe includes fresh or frozen peaches, blueberries and tart apples sweetened with brown sugar and held together with oats.

Homemade Coupon Book

If you’ve ever received a handmade coupon from your mom, child or a loved one, you know the lasting effect it has for the recipient. Bring back the joy with a custom, updated promise book for your Valentine. Imagine the possibilities – you can fill this book with creative ways to say I love you throughout the year.

Is he active? Every page can offer another challenge. You can plan/register the two of you for:
• Iron Man competition
• Charity obstacle course
• Half Dome ascent
• National Parks tour

Is she a foodie? Consider a home-cooked dinner with delicacies like scallop sashimi, a standing rib roast or pork rillette hand pies. Don’t forget the champagne.Val8

If money’s an issue, you can fill an entire coupon book with free offers. Promise your partner neck massages, foot rubs or washing the car. You can create pages for various chores such as reloading the dishwasher or schlepping the kids to after school activities.

You’d be hard pressed to find cheap Valentine gift ideas to rival this one.

Donate Your Vehicle

The spirit of Valentine’s Day is love, and there’s no better way to express that emotion than by giving. Donating your vehicle through Cars2Charities is a way to send some love to the charity of your choice.

Do you just LOVE your kids’ school? When you donate a car to charity the proceeds can go to the PTA if you choose. If you’ve tried to think of ways to say I love you as a reward for the service of a favorite organization, you can make a car donation to charity and throw them your support.

Most nonprofits rely on gifts in order to survive, and if you don’t have a lot of expendable income to simply write checks, you can transfer the value of a vehicle you don’t need and put money into their programs.

Hide Love Notes

You don’t have to be in elementary school to appreciate messages in your lunch bag. You can strategically place notes in his or her coat pockets or dresser drawers – let them count the ways you love them. In fact, you can start early and brainstorm ways to say I love you and leave a note-a-day with a separate sentiment on each one.

Be Present

Val5When Matt Killingsworth was doing his Ph.D. research at Harvard, he designed an app to gather data on happiness. He determined, among other things, that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

His conclusion is very simple – we’re typically happier when we’re lost in the moment, and by contrast, when our minds wander, the less happy we can be. If you look around you will find the same statements from such sources as Deepak Chopra, who says that present-moment awareness gives you better control.

Philosophers and psychologists agree that being fully present instead of dwelling on past failures or future expectations will give you better opportunity for connection. But with busy lives, it’s easy to forget that principle.

When it comes to Valentine gift ideas for him or her, aside from expensive jewelry or travel tickets, simply “being completely there” is a good start.

Mail a Letter

Nothing says I love you like an old-fashioned, handwritten letter – to send your significant other either at work or at home. In a world of email, text messaging and voicemail, there’s a certain elegance to the effort of the snail mail system.

And talk about cheap Valentine gift ideas! All you need is a pen, paper, an envelope and a stamp. You do need some forethought, of course, because it can take a few days for delivery.

As an extra fun idea, you can forego the roll of flag stamps and order a special one. The Post Office considers postage stamps miniature works of art and is always rolling out new designs. “From legendary poet Walt Whitman to the entertainment genius of Gregory Hines to the majestic beauty of our Wild and Scenic Rivers, this program is diverse and wide ranging and tells America’s story on stamps,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Executive Director Mary-Anne Penner.

It's a way to customize fun gifts for your partner, whether you mail cards or letters. If he or she is a musician you can buy the Marvin Gaye stamp or the one commemorating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Is your beloved a veteran? How about the USS Missouri stamp? Or you can always celebrate the holiday with the Hearts Blossom stamp.

Make a Book

If you’ve ever created a gift on Shutterfly, you know it’s quick, easy and high in quality. Do you have beaucoup photos of your significant other? If so, put them together and create a book: about the moment you knew you were in love, or a page for each year you’ve been together. You can add on to this keepsake every Valentine’s Day. There are numerous other customized items you can buy, such as a photo blanket or a mouse pad.

Celebrate a Day Later

You love them all year long, right? Celebrating this holiday later than the rest of the crowd means half-priced chocolate and discounted flowers.

And when Valentine’s Day lands midweek, you have to race home early to get up for work. Imagine the possibilities if you shelf it for a Friday or Saturday night!

Have a Picnic on the Floor

What’s better than an expensive dinner? A cheap, tasty dinner in the comfort of your own home, starting with takeout from your favorite restaurant. Next, cover your living room with blankets, pillows and battery-operated candles, put some

 
Val2
 

tunes on and you’ve got a great evening ahead of you. 

If you want to throw in a couple of bucks, you can add Valentine gifts for him or her to punctuate the occasion.

Homemade Treats

A lot of the best Valentine’s Day gifts are expensive if you buy them retail, but they’re cheap Valentine gift ideas if you make them yourself. For instance, chocolate covered strawberries are a classic Valentine’s Day treat. If you order them from Shari’s Berries you pay $29 plus shipping for just 6 of them. But if you purchase fresh strawberries (about $5) and chocolate for melting and dipping (about $5) you come out WAY ahead. 

Houseplants

Bringing home a dozen roses is the classic Valentine’s Day surprise, but they tend to be expensive and are thrown away after a week. Houseplants bring color and life into the house all year long, with different types offering various benefits, like air purifying plants or stress-relieving plants. 

If your significant other has trouble keeping anything green alive, Good Housekeeping has some suggested plants for you.

• Chinese Money plants survive fine in shade and only need watering once a week.
• A yucca plant, by contrast, likes sunshine. It needs very little water – great for anyone who’s forgetful.
• African violets win the popularity contest. It has beautiful blooms and thrives in indirect light.
• An air plant can survive without any dirt, but it needs water. Ideally, you set it in water for 3-4 hours every week and a half.

Give the Gift of Music

Because it’s the thought that counts, taking the time to create something special for your Valentine is a way to say I love you. If his car has a CD player, you can burn him a playlist of his favorite songs. Or you can download a series of romantic music on his device.

If you’re the one who typically sets the mood in the house, you can create a playlist that includes all your favorite love songs. Then determine just the right time to hit the remote control to blast it on the speakers.

Poker Night

Do you like to play games? Step away from your screens and pull out a board game. New games can be fun gifts for your partner, but even an old faithful can make for some friendly competition. If all you have is cards, play a romantic round of poker.

You don’t have to bet money and it doesn’t even have to get X-rated. Set rules, such as loser has to do laundry for the week or the winner gets a neck massage!

Volunteer for a Charity

What are your favorite nonprofits? Let the generosity of volunteerism be an outcropping of the level of love you share. It’s a way to spread the love to those VAl10who need it, which gives you both some satisfaction while offering practical help.

Think outside the box of chocolates this year. There are choices that save money, score points for creativity and choose many ways to say I love you to your Valentine this year.

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