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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. 


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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.”

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

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.

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.

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.

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


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. 


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.

January 21, 2019

The Search for Children’s Charities that Earn Your Donation Dollar

Looking for a Children’s Charity to donate to? Do your research.

As a company that interfaces with literally thousands of charities, we’ve seen various methods for choosing nonprofits to receive proceeds from car donations to children’s charities. The good news is that you have total freedom of choice – you children1can benefit any cause, as long as it’s a bona fide 501(c)(3).

If you need help choosing a cause, there are easy ways to find one worthy of your hard-earned contribution.

One of the best ways to select an organization to receive your donation is by consulting CharityWatch, which is itself a nonprofit. Created as the American Institute of Philanthropy, the staff members conduct research on charities and publish findings, as well as contribute to articles distributed in various media as a service to the public. https://www.charitywatch.org/top-rated-charities

On the CharityWatch website you can search nonprofit groups by name or search an area or a category, such as animal rescues, veterans or local children’s charities, etc.

The criteria used by CharityWatch for grading each nonprofit requires hard work by staff members. Analysts do deep research into each of the charities, looking at their finances, including audited tax forms, reports and government documents. Each nonprofit gets a grade of A+ through F.

To create the scores, Charity Watch looks at a couple of categories of criterion. An important one is the examination by researchers of money spent on programs. This score reveals the percentage of gross receipts that goes straight to the charity’s programming. The remaining percentage is the total spent on overhead, including management and fundraising efforts.

The organization also looks at the cost to raise $100: This is the amount a charity pays out in the process of fundraising $100. A charity is considered “highly efficient” if it spends $25 or less to raise $100 and at least 75% or more goes directly to the charity’s program.

Another part of the process that makes the CharityWatch score stand out in itschildren2detailed analysis is that their researchers analyze expenses to include contributions, not just total revenue. The mission of CharityWatch, to publish accurate statistics, is for the benefit of donors, to help them locate worthy recipients – nonprofits with high standards.

Groups included on the CharityWatch Top-Rated List:
• Don’t hold excessive assets in reserve
• Have met CharityWatch's governance benchmarks
• Openly disclose basic financial information with a great deal of transparency.

Attorney General Website
One of the jobs of the state attorney general is to monitor charity actions, making sure regulations are being followed, and therefore, donors’ interests are protected. This governmental entity oversees charitable assets to make sure they aren’t misapplied. https://oag.ca.gov/charities

The office has two main elements:
• The Charitable Trusts Section has a team of auditors and lawyers who bring legal action against any nonprofit or fundraiser that misuses money from donors or engages in fraud.
• The Registry of Charitable Trusts contains information from each nonprofit in the state, which are all required to register. Charity raffles are also required to register and file a report annually.

The State Attorney General website has a “Guide for Charities” you can refer to for more information. And there’s a webinar to further punctuate the contents of the guide. It’s also available on the Department of Justice website.

You can look up particular charities to see government research and confirm their validity using the Registry Verification Search tool on the Attorney General website: http://rct.doj.ca.gov/Verification/Web/Search.aspx?facility=Y

Identifying a Cause

Once you’ve determined you’d like to make a donation – either cash, creating a trust for down the line, or donate a car to charity – you begin the process of narrowing down a cause you feel passionate about.

children4When searching for the best children’s charities, you have a tremendous number of choices. Your own experiences may affect the type of nonprofit you choose to support.

Adults who suffered from childhood illnesses often feel called to support a medical charity, because they’re empathetic to the burden on families, or they want to see more research go to a particular field of medicine. Members of the nonprofit Adult Survivors of Child Abuse may choose to donate to an organization that supports the emotional needs of kids, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Children who are hungry

Approximately 20% of homes with children in the U.S. are experiencing what’s called “food insecurity,” according to DoSomething.org, a global campaign to do good. That means they lack access, at least some of the time, to enough food for everyone in the household. 

There’s food insecurity in every county in the United States and 49 million individuals have trouble earning enough money to feed the family.

And that’s just in America.

One of the most reputable children’s charities addressing the problem of kids without enough to eat is Food for the Hungry, a nonprofit organization centered on reducing poverty as a solution. The mission of the charity is to end all forms of human poverty, which is fueled by Christian principles and furthered through providing physical relief in more than 20 countries. 

“It’s our responsibility to advocate for the poor and marginalized without any regard to race, creed or nationality and without adverse distinction of any kind,” the website says. “We serve on the basis of need alone. We strive to respect the culture and customs of the people we serve in order to preserve their humanity and dignity.”

Staffed by individuals who are citizens of the nations they serve, the charity’s workers bring clean water, food, medical services and educational opportunities to both boys and girls, empowering young people to help them overcome cultural challenges. Setting them apart from other children’s charities, Food for the Hungry treats their clients holistically – seeking to meet a range of needs and lighten the burdens shouldered by these international children.

Supporting Food for the Hungry is contributing resources to areas that grow in sustainability, where they no longer need help once structures are in place. Members of these communities gain a spiritual center while also rising above poverty level.

Children who need clothing

Underprivileged kids in Southern California have a friend in Felicia Killian, who wanted to provide clothing and shoes for them, which she did when she launched Younited Hearts. A faith-based children’s charity, the nonprofit brings together individuals who demonstrate compassion by collecting clothing for kids, homeless families, veterans and victims of human trafficking.

It has grown to include chapters in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, Coachella and other areas. Younited Hearts seeks to enrich the lives of the financially challenged by redistributing clothing – which seems simple, but can be an important component in the life of an American child.

Anyone can contribute by donating clothes or school supplies to Younited Hearts to exhibit Christian generosity to low-income families. It’s something most Americans have – an excessive wardrobe – and is a more personal gesture than writing a check.

Children who have cancer

The nonprofit Wishers and Dreamers was formed by two sisters – adult women who saw firsthand the suffering endured by children who are victims of cancer. Over the two years that Trish Stuber was battling breast cancer, she and her sister, Pamela Babek, crossed paths with a lot of others struggling with serious illnesses. Among the most needy were children with cancer diagnoses.

They formed Wishers and Dreamers in 2013, hoping to comfort these kids and to bring some happiness to them in the midst of hardship. The name of the nonprofit was taken from the nicknames the sisters had for each other when they were growing up (and still use).

Donations to Wishers and Dreamers provides a hospital gown for a sick child’s dollchildren3or bear, which the founders, their friends and family members sew by hand. The charity has sent thousands of gowns to kids all over the world.

The organization has 4 sponsorship packages:
• Twinkle Sponsorship – covers the cost of material, sewing and shipping for 100 gowns
• Dream Sponsorship – covers the cost of material, sewing and shipping for 250 gowns
• Wish Sponsorship – covers the cost of material, sewing and shipping for 500 gowns
• Star Sponsorship – covers the cost of material, sewing and shipping for 1,000 gowns

For many children with cancer or other serious disease or condition, their little bear, doll or buddy provides them with more comfort than nearly anything else. The handmade gowns can give them courage or be used as a teaching tool.

Donate a car to children’s charities

There are limits to how many checks we can write to nonprofit groups each year. For many of us, we are giving a lot of time to charity already – through our kids’ schools, for a place of worship, or maybe through membership in a service organization or club.

At times, we have the means to support something we care about, such as local children’s charities, but we don’t realize it. Donating cars for kids offers something we own that has value – but without the hassle of liquidating the car ourselves and minus the money physically changing hands.

Imagine the car you were already thinking of replacing providing comfort for a child battling leukemia or juvenile diabetes? The power to heal is sometimes in your hands, which is made easier when you have a resource to take control of the transaction for you.

It’s what we do at Cars2Charities. 

If you’re “going green” and getting an electric or hybrid vehicle, you can donate a car to Younited Hearts and turn the gas guzzler into a gift for underprivileged individuals. Imagine how many gently used outfits your old car could purchase!

Or what about using the value of the car you no longer need to provide food for the hungry? Perhaps you need a more reliable set of wheels for your work or to carpool your own kids. If you think about it, you can benefit your own children while you help others across the world who need clean water and fresh food.

A car donation to Food for the Hungry does just that.

Just as there are many 501(c)(3) organizations you can support, there are many ways to do it. You can search your heart for the place you’re most passionate. Which nonprofit personally tugs at your heartstrings?

Then you can consider how many options you have to support that group. The win-win from a car donation to children’s’ charities can’t be overstated. When you have a vehicle you need to sell, trade in or give away, it’s a hassle. Through Cars2Charities you have zero work to do!

children5You can make a simple call or donate online and your car is picked up and the paperwork completed. You collect the tax write-off and your favorite charity receives a check.

Children are society’s most valuable resource, and it’s rare to find a person who doesn’t want to benefit them in any way possible. They just need to know there’s a path where they can do that, and it’s not as difficult as they imagined.

There are many prospects when you want to donate to children’s charities. And each nonprofit group can be researched and their process explained to you by reaching out to them.

January 13, 2019

Benefiting Pediatric Patients by Donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation

By donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation, philanthropists and other generous individuals are supporting programs in more than 250 hospitals across CLeuk1the United States.

Founded in 1992, the Foundation announced its mission – to create programs for kids with cancer that enables young patients to have fun and increase their self-esteem. Utilizing various strategies, the nonprofit organization seeks to educate and empower youngsters under the age of 21 who are living with serious illnesses.

Children’s hospital donations sometimes go to the CLF program “Hugs U Wear.”

Donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation supports the many programs operated by the nonprofit, including Hugs U Wear, which provides wigs to pediatric patients who have lost their hair.

Most of us can imagine the fear and embarrassment associated with witnessing your hair falling out in clumps, a by-product of chemotherapy that a lot of children with cancer have to endure. An article in Kids Health explains the process of hair loss, which is a condition that occurs because the treatment interrupts the normal rate of hair growth. At the same time the chemotherapy is disturbing the division of cancer cells it also temporarily damages the cells in hair follicles. 

Also called alopecia, a patient’s hair loss can be minimal – just thinning – to severe, which means the harsh treatment leaves them completely bald. It’s usually temporary and sometimes hair regrows during the course of treatment. Hair loss can occur more than once, however, and it may or may not include other body hair such as eyelashes and eyebrows.

The negative feelings associated with this experience are sometimes what fuels donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation Hugs U Wear program. It offers patients custom wigs made of 100% human hair as a gift for children suffering from a loss of self-esteem when they lose their hair due to treatment. The wigs have detachable hats for kids who want to top their hair with a fashion accessory.

Children want to fit in, and the pain of being different just adds to the burden of fighting a life-threatening illness. Donations to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation have provided thousands of wigs to pediatric patients in the hope that it adds some normalcy to their trying situation.

Donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation provides a basket of gifts to each pediatric patient.

When we donate to children’s charities, most of us want the money to go directly to the comfort of kids and their families. The Childhood Leukemia Foundation’s “Wish Basket” program is dedicated to improving the outlook for kids with cancer, 

CLeuk4a distraction from the seriousness of illness. When kids are hospitalized, a Wish Basket is delivered to them, which contains age-appropriate gift items that are designed to help improve and maintain the skill sets necessary for continued development. Each of the items serve to do more than just comfort the patient – they offer challenging and engaging recreation for lengthy hospital stays associated with cancer treatment.

Seeing the effect of the Wish Basket program on young cancer patients is one of the benefits of donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation. After a grueling spinal tap or chemotherapy treatment, patients typically need their spirits lifted, which is the aim of these gifts. In addition to items that promote cognitive thinking and comfort during their hospital stay, the baskets also include a $75 gift card so they can purchase another wish item on their own.

The “Hope Binder” is another program you support by donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation.

Some children’s hospital donations serve practical purposes not necessarily related to the health of the child. And in the case of pediatric cancers, families need other kinds of assistance. The Foundation’s Hope Binder program offers parents or other caregivers an organizational tool to keep track and prioritize the burdensome medical information they receive throughout the treatment period.

Sorting the overwhelming number of documents given to them, plus keeping track of costs associated with their child’s treatment can become less difficult with the help of a Hope Binder. There are pointers for keeping track of medical appointments, nutrition recommendations, insurance benefits, medicines, etc. It’s a tool that provides some feeling of control, which grants peace of mind to those caring for a child with cancer.

Donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation helps purchase technological support for pediatric patients.

“Keeping Kids Connected” is a program where children in the hospital receive iPads so they can communicate more easily with friends, family and school personnel. Not only does it serve a practical purpose – to increase connection – it’s another form of distraction from the grueling, often painful, experience of battling a life-threatening disease.

By providing laptops or iPads to pediatric patients, the Childhood Leukemia Foundation’s Keeping Kids Connected program addresses more than social connection. Kids Health has an article discussing the importance of academics for school-age kids with serious illnesses, because balancing treatment and academics can be a pretty big challenge.

CLeuk3“Not only does staying connected to school bring academic, cognitive, psychological, and social benefits — it's also your child's legal right,” the article says. “Kids with chronic or life-threatening illness and/or disabilities are entitled to educational support.”

Still, the healing process takes precedence. While academic isolation is a downside, the social isolation is possibly harder for a child. “When an illness means an extended absence from school, kids can feel that their classmates and teachers have forgotten about them. This can lead to depression, as well as anxiety, about returning to the classroom,” the article says. “Maintaining ties with classmates and teachers can help your child retain a sense of normalcy during this difficult time. Your child might even be able to Skype or FaceTime into a lesson at school over the computer.”

The best charities to donate to are those that offer a range of resources for kids with cancer.

The Childhood Leukemia Foundation has an ongoing blog with tips and information to benefit parents of pediatric patients. An article on the charity’s website entitled “Can We Talk?” addresses the challenges of communicating with medical professionals, such as an oncologist or surgeon. It includes a list of suggestions to improve the quality of a parent and child’s interaction with their health providers: 

• Be your child’s best healthcare advocate. As a caregiver, you need to educate yourself so you know you’re making the best, most informed decisions. Ask questions and let the answers sink in. With an increase in understanding you will gain confidence in your decision-making.

• Bring someone else to appointments. It’s helpful to have support, and another set of ears to metabolize what your doctor says. Remembering details can be really challenging.

• Prepare your questions in advance. Be sure to ask specific questions and be brief, as most doctors have limited time. It’s another good reason to ask your most important questions first.

• Write down the doctor's answers. If you take notes you can more easily remember your doctor's responses and instructions. Go over the information later when you have more time to give it your complete attention and continue your research.

• Use your phone and record your visit with the physician. Specific instructions are there for you to revisit and confirm. You can also share it with family members or friends to obtain feedback.

The article also has suggestions for questions you should run past your health professionals regarding your child’s treatment.

• What are the options for treatment?

• What treatment is recommended?

• How often is the treatment?

• What are the possible side effects?

• What are the risks and benefits?

• What is the total cost? 

There are many ways to donate to children’s charities through the Childhood Leukemia Foundation.

The Childhood Leukemia Foundation will accept donations by mail, online or in person, but giving can be set up in several different donation formats.

Make a Monthly Donation

You can lock in a regular total donation through the charity’s website. For just $15CLeuk5per month you can be a member of the Circle of Smiles. You get the satisfaction every 30 days that you’re sharing your resources with someone who needs care, knowing that even the smallest amount makes a big difference.

It’s a way to be a part of a successful program without having a lot of administrative work to do. And you can make children’s hospital donations in your name or someone else’s, as a form of honor for a retired teacher, neighbor or grandparent, for example. It may be a birthday present or a way to honor someone’s anniversary, or other special occasion.

Planned Gift Donation

When you draft your will, there are many options for giving to a nonprofit entity. Donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation is made easier with the more than 25 years the charity has been processing such gifts. It’s ideal to prepare a will while you’re young and healthy, though it’s not always possible. You can give to Childhood Leukemia Foundation in your will or during your lifetime, but either way, the advantage of making those decisions today is the enjoyment you can get from watching the fruit of your labor which, in this case, is happy kids who are in a stressful situation.

You probably know that donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation or any other 501(c)(3) is tax-deductible. But in addition, you’ll want to know the tax implications of a planned donation in your estate at the event of your death. It may also help to reduce federal estate and gift taxes significantly. Gifts made to Childhood Leukemia Foundation are exempt from gift tax. 

Combined Federal Campaign

Your company can support the Childhood Leukemia Foundation by working with the largest, most successful annual workplace campaign for charity in the United States. The Combined Federal Campaign seeks to support philanthropies by creating cost-efficient, employee-focused giving opportunities.

With more than 200 CFC campaigns across the United States – nationally and internationally – the Combined Federal Campaign has helped raise millions of dollars each year.

Employers can choose to participate in a matching gifts program to maximize the benefit of each employee's charitable contributions. Check with your company's human resources department for further details. You can also contact the Childhood Leukemia Foundation to learn more, as well. Email contact@clf4kids.org.

If you are a business owner interested in donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation, you may choose to activate employee Matching Gift paperwork directly to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation at this address: 807 Mantoloking Road, Suite 202 in Brick, New Jersey.

Vehicle Donation

When you get to the point when you’re ready to purchase a new vehicle, you can donate a car to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation through Cars2Charities. 

The partnership with Cars2Charities means you can make a donation to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation without using cash you have in your savings or investments. It parlays the value of the car you don’t need into a form of comfort and happiness for kids with cancer.

It's easy to forget that there's value in a car, truck or other vehicle, just because we no longer find it useful. And dealer trade-ins only grant the owner a small portion of its worth. But a donation to children's charities, as long as it's a nonprofit, gets you a tax write-off for its full resale value.

CLeuk2You can donate a car to charity and designate the proceeds to a special aspect of the program. Donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation in someone else’s honor, for a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion, is also possible.

There are other suggestions for supporting the cause by tapping into opportunities to donate to children’s hospitals. And if one of the CLF programs resonates with you, it’s always an option to choose any one of the formats listed for donating to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation.

December 31, 2018

Worthy Options to Make a Difference When You Donate to Children

Seeing the good work of others can inspire you to donate to children and help relieve suffering, provide healing or bring comfort to hurting kids and their families. Nonprofit organizations that raise revenue and provide manpower to further their 48391208 755038714869359 5086386505723674624 omissions are worthy of our attention and support.


SocialGood Fund is a powerful nonprofit force in developing projects that support individuals, local communities, and the environment. It offers sponsorships, fiscal support, and fundraising tools to aspiring leaders, which fuels humanitarian causes throughout the country. With the proper fiscal backing through such agencies as SocialGood Fund, individuals are able to pursue their dreams of benefiting others. 


This organization is a lifeline to some of the best charities to donate to, including Chat with Champs, a 501(c)(3) providing walkie talkies to children with cancer in order to minimize the feeling that they are suffering alone. These little “champions” are inspiring to even healthy adults, showing strength and hope that sometimes seems unimaginable. 


Chat with Champs enables individuals to donate to children with serious illnesses.


When 10-year-old Sarah Loza was enduring treatment for stage 4 cancer at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, she was so generous of spirit that she developed a plan to help others who were also in pain. While Sarah’s treatment frequently involved periods of isolation to protect her from infection, the loneliness did not hold her back. In fact, it was one of Rady’s programs that helped to dispel the feelings of isolation that gave her an idea that would lift the spirits of other patients. Rady had a weekly Bingo game where pediatric patients were able to play by hearing the numbers through walkie talkies.


Sarah’s idea was “Chat with Champs,” which is a program to help children connect with each other during their cancer treatments by providing them with walkie talkies. This outreach program strives to never let kids and their families feel alone while fighting cancer.36087514 618340198539212 2723891885738295296 o


Chat with Champs helps kids going through cancer treatments by connecting them with a champ. Most kids are hospitalized for weeks and too weak to get out of their rooms, while others will be placed in isolation due to fevers or infections. Some are left alone when both parents are forced to return to work.


No child should fight cancer alone, so anything that contributes to connectivity with others helps to counteract the emotional toll on the kids. The goal of Chat with Champs is to expand the walkie talkie program to include more pediatric hematology-oncology hospitals and spread joy in a time when kids feel isolated, alone and trapped. Their mission is to improve the quality of life of the communities’ cancer warriors, and to bring a level of hope and support to families affected by pediatric cancer.


Efforts to help kids with cancer by minimizing emotional stress are ongoing.


The average age that children are diagnosed with cancer is 6 years old, says CureSearch, a nonprofit foundation that seeks to accelerate the search for cures to childhood cancers. There are 43 children a day diagnosed with cancer, but the good news is that 7 out of 8 kids battling cancer will have the treatment needed to survive, thanks to those who donate to children by supporting such programs as Chat with Champs.


34419182 601861633520402 6109526386546835456 nSome of the things that need funding include more expedient medical research and the need for safer, more comfortable treatments for children fighting acute illnesses. The medical community needs more teams of people providing resources and education to lessen the suffering of kids enduring cancer and its treatment programs.


Cancer is the number one cause of death by disease in American children. There is no difference in frequency of cancer between ethnic, economic or gender. The cause also brings together people from every walk of life who seek out the best charities to donate to.


Every year, more than 40,000 kids are receiving treatment for cancer. The range of cancers affecting children include – in order of prevalence:
Brain and central nervous system
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Wilms tumor
Bone tumors
Hodgkin Disease
Thyroid carcinoma
Germ cell tumors


It’s nearly impossible to prevent childhood cancer, says the CureSearch site in an article talking about the challenge of anxiety for pediatric cancer patients.


Treatment side effects sometimes include:
Appetite problems
Low platelet count
Low red blood cell count (anemia)
Low white blood cell count (neutropenia)
Mouth sores and dry mouth
Nausea and vomiting
Skin changes
Weight gain or weight loss


Children respond to painful procedures in many different ways, and for parents it can be very difficult to watch their child in the midst of fear and pain. Even though these procedures are necessary for fighting cancer, the child may not understand, because it’s hard to see how something is good for you when it also causes you pain. Helping your child get ready for procedures can make them easier to deal with.


It’s a good idea to prepare a child for medical procedures, including strategies for handling pain and providing them with coping skills. Though practitioners cannot completely eliminate pain in most situations, there are some basic steps you can take to ease pain. It is also helpful to talk with your child’s doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers or pain specialists (if available in your hospital).31317790 583770695329496 1670615838601773056 o


Physical Pain

Because pain is subjective — in other words, it’s experienced differently by different people – to gauge the level of pain someone is in you need to talk to them and observe their actions. Since parents know their child best, doctors rely on their feedback to help them understand the child’s pain.


All pain has three parts: biology, emotions and thoughts. They’re intertwined, so feeling nervous, scared or anxious has a strong bearing on how you experience a painful circumstance.


Pain is worsened by negative emotion. You may have observed how young children tend to get fussy as a simple reaction, like the screams from a toddler due to discomfort when she falls down, but it changes in an instant to a complete recovery. With intensive medical treatments, a child may be reacting to the dread of a procedure rather than the physical pain he/she is enduring. Feeling scared and paying attention to the pain makes a big difference in how we experience it.


Even healthy adults tend to feel scared or nervous before a medical procedure or any other big event. Professional athletes or performers can experience painful waves of anxiety, even though they’re good at what they do and have rehearsed it thousands of times. They have to learn how to manage their feelings so that they can perform well under pressure.


Have you ever noticed how a professional basketball player takes a big breath when standing on the foul line ready to take a free throw shot?


Parents of a pediatric patient can help their child feel more calm by using methods that the little one finds soothing, such as music or reading. And even more importantly, parents and family members need to stay calm themselves. Because young people read body language, they can see someone grimace when a needle disappears into their arm or they are connected to a machine. Also, when you’re the parent of a patient, staying cool and calm shows that you believe they can handle it.


CureSearch offers other tips you can share with a seriously ill child who’s undergoing a procedure:

• Breathe slowly. We tend to breathe fast and our hearts race when we panic, so you can calm yourself by attempting to slow your breathing. Sharing this tip with a sick child also helps to shift his/her focus onto something besides the procedure – they are thinking about breathing instead of their pain.

• Hold your hand still and make it relax. It’s like giving the child a job. When you ask pediatric patients to find a comfortable place for their hands, which may mean the edge of the bed or a chair, their focus is shifted once again. If the little one’s hand is shaky, you can rest yours on top of it to aid in relaxation. It’s hard to be scared when your hands are calm and relaxed, and sometimes it causes you to slow your breathing also. The child can employ this exercise anywhere and anytime without anyone even noticing, which makes it useful at school to use before tests or presentations.


Before a procedure even begins, sometimes it’s just thinking about how much it’s going to hurt that contributes to a child’s anxiety and, therefore, increasing the pain. During the procedure as well, paying a lot of attention to the pain while watching what is happening can make the pain worse. Here are some ideas to help your child manage his/her thoughts and attention to pain:

• Think about something else. If the child is worrying about the procedure, talk about other things or read a book or magazine, tell stories or sing songs.

• Distraction. An extension of the previous tip, when you find a more engaging focus for the child’s attention, such as a toy, a video, bubbles, etc., it can take him/her away from the pain of the procedure. The best activities for distraction are simple, appealing and require a response so you can easily see if the patient needs more encouragement. Obviously, the activity can’t interfere with the medical procedure (so things that require a lot of action are not good for keeping children still during the procedure). For older children, letting them choose favorite music, magazines, videos or apps can be helpful.

• Go to a happy place. Coach your child to use his/her imagination and pretend to be in a favorite place. The child should relax, breathe slowly, close the eyes and imagine seeing, hearing and feeling something familiar and comforting.

You can join the effort when you donate to children through Chat with Champs.

32873697 594175244289041 6937846679672455168 oChat with Champs began a fundraising campaign and their goal is to raise $20,000 by January 2020. They have currently raised $2,122 to provide patients with walkie talkies. Imagine what more they can do with added support! 


And if you don’t want to pull out a checkbook, you can, of course, make a car donation to Chat with Champs. We don’t always remember that even a vehicle we no longer need has value.


If you’ve been thinking of downsizing to a sedan instead of a gas-guzzling SUV for instance, or investing in a hybrid, you have the opportunity to contribute to the comfort of kids. It’s kind of an irony where everybody wins: You gain the comfort of a car with better features, such as climate control and accident avoidance, with better wi-fi connectivity, while children in isolation get better connected with others and gain the comfort of community.


Of course, a tax write-off is one of the advantages of car donation to charity as well. It’s a really no-fuss method of supporting the cause of kids with cancer, and it requires virtually no effort by you. To make a car, truck or SUV donation to Chat with Champs through Cars2Charities, click here

Through SocialGood Fund you can donate to children’s charities and other causes.

The tax benefit an individual gets from supporting Chat with Champs is issued through the nonprofit SocialGood Fund. The 501(c)(3) organization provides fiscal sponsorship of various humanitarian efforts by impacting aspects on several fronts, including:

Administrative back-office support
Bookkeeping and accounting
Human resources


Of course, there are many charities you can donate to. But whether you become a part of their program through direct giving or when you donate a car to charity, usc verdugofiscal sponsorship is a format for bringing the vision of the pursuits of individuals to life. The social mission of the nonprofit is to promote and cultivate positive influences, which means for various purposes and projects, such as social justice, public art or social change, SocialGood Fund steps in to provide support.


It’s an organization aimed at helping new charitable efforts get started and further their causes. What makes the nonprofit a leader in the field of humanitarian sponsorship is how broadly it sows, in addition to its low administrative costs.


When you support the nonprofit and donate to children, you are impacting their endeavors, such as giving hope to kids with cancer and sharing in the mission of those who seek to make the world a better place.

December 22, 2018

Find Out How to Save Money on Taxes

It’s that time of year again – when we all start the search for how to save money on taxes. There’s no threat of filing late ... yet. But the process all money 2696234 640Americans go through in the first few months of the year – has a history that began over 100 years ago.


In the beginning there was no tax deduction list.


It all started way before our time, according to an article on the IRS website. From the beginning of our nation – 1776 until 1802 – Americans paid few taxes. Mostly the government received funding through taxes on goods such as sugar, liquor, carriages and tobacco, and another sales tax was instituted during the War of 1812 to offset costs of fighting the British. 


During the Civil War, there was an office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue established and income tax was instituted by Congress in 1862. Nothing like our system today, only employees with an annual income between $600 and $10,000 paid taxes – at a rate of just 3% – plus those with earnings above $10,000 paid taxes at a higher rate. If citizens didn’t pay the taxes, the Commissioner could seize assets, including income or property.


Income taxes got closer to what we do currently, where we pay attention to things like charitable donations tax deductions and look for how to save money on taxes in other ways, when it became a permanent system in 1913. The 16th Amendment enabled Congress to assess taxes based on the incomes of residents and corporations. The annual tax collection totaled more than $1 billion by 1918, and two years later it exceeded $5 billion.


When Ronald Reagan was president there were changes made to the tax code. The Tax Reform Act reduced taxation of individuals and increased the burden on businesses. President George W. Bush made one of the biggest tax cuts in our country’s history in 2001. It created a low-income tax rate of 10% and increased the tax credit for children, plus made adjustments to the tax structure for married couples.


The laws are constantly changing, which makes it challenging for the average citizen to maintain a full awareness of the tax structure such as the current charity tax deduction. But even as April 15 comes near and we don’t feel we’ve done all we could in the last calendar year, there are experts we can turn to for help with our charitable donations.


There are many tax preparation services to help you with your tax deductions.


If you’re the DIY type, you may be a Turbo Tax “regular.” First developed in the 1980s by Michael A. Chipman of ChipSoft, Turbo Tax became a hugely successful fintech company, acquired by Intuit a decade later.


It’s definitely the route a lot of savvy taxpayers choose who know how to save money on taxes. You need to re-purchase the online software each year. And while mailed-in paper tax returns take about 6 to 8 weeks to process (once the IRS gets your return), e-filed tax returns typically get processed within 21 days. So, it’s a much better prospect, as far as speed goes!


calculator 1680905 640

TaxACT offers a range of online products to calculate your own taxes. So if you're a college grad who's new to the process or a grandparent who knows the ropes, you have options.

There’s a basic service that’s free, and several other levels:
• Basic costs $9.95 and covers individuals filing who have dependents and college expenses, etc.
• Deluxe is a $29.95 option and includes homeowners, those with deductions, credits and adjustments.
• Premier costs $34.95 and is designed for filers with rental properties or other investments and offers prioritized support.
• Self-Employed service is the most expensive, at $49.95, and has a “deduction maximizer” with tax resources for the user year-round.


TaxAct guarantees 100% accuracy in your tax return and backs that promise with $100,000.


But, do you sometimes feel you need a tax deduction guide? Many do.


There are sources who know how to save money on taxes and are trained to counsel clients in the best decisions toward that goal.


H&R Block is one of the best-known tax preparation companies in the country, having been in the business since 1955. Brothers Henry and Richard Bloch founded the powerhouse, which is run in various communities by franchisees.


That local ownership has contributed to the company's reputation for serving families from generation to generation.


In addition to offering tax filing help, H&R Block has courses you can take so you can become a tax preparation pro too. There are several tax tools on the website, plus a number of levels of tax filing assistance. They range from free filing to self-employed online tax filing, plus in-office appointments are also available.


Any of those options can help you with the charity tax deduction aspect. You should be able to find the right formula for how to save money on taxes – with a little help from your friends.


Tax deductible donations are available for every type of taxpayer.


We all know tax deductions are good, but we may not truly understand how they work. And in order to find out how to save money on taxes, we need to know where and when they’re applicable.


Tax deductible donations lower a person’s taxable income. You begin with the total gross income and apply each of your deductions, which are defined as certain expenses that subtract from that total.




The money used to purchase both required coursework materials (books, computer software, etc.) and non-required materials (notebooks, backpacks, pens) may be eligible as tax deductible items.


Of course, regulations change, which is why you need to either pay attention to small print or hire a professional who knows how to save money on taxes to prepare you for filing.


graduation 2038864 640You can gain a benefit known as the Lifetime Learning Credit, which is a tax deduction with some particular elements. This applies to you if:

• You pay qualified expenses for higher education
• You pay the expenses
• You are the student, the spouse of the student, or the parent of the dependent you file for




Teaching professionals can deduct up to $250 of unreimbursed expenditures from the purchase of classroom materials. Examples of items that can be deducted include books, stationery supplies, professional development merchandise and computer software.




If you pay for most of your kids’ living expenses, children may be listed as dependents on your tax return. If you’re financially supporting them, you may be eligible for up to $4,000 in exemptions for your taxable income.


Other articles used by parents, including breastfeeding equipment and supplies, may be used to exceed the 10% medical deduction thresholds.


Believe it or not, there are actually circumstances where you can write off payments to a babysitter. The federal tax court explains that you can list babysitting services as a charitable contribution only if you needed childcare while

brothers 457234 640

performing volunteer work.


Health Insurance


Last year, if you completed a form with itemized deductions, you could deduct as much as 10% of your income. But if you are self-employed, you may be able to deduct up to 100%. Again, check to see if these regulations have changed.


Charitable giving equals receiving – a tax benefit.


Though consumers may joke about real money being obsolete, most 501(c)(3) charities accept cash donations. Some financial planning experts suggest operating with a budget that takes a fixed amount of your paycheck out for charity giving first – before proceeding with bill paying.


It might sound crazy to carve charitable donations tax deductions into your budget – and to take that right off the top – but it’s a financial modus operandi that’s a part of some popular programs.


Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey suggests the Judeo-Christian “tithing process,” where 10% comes out of your gross income, designated for a nonprofit, such as a place of worship. He is world-renowned for offering instruction in how to save money on taxes and in every other aspect of the budgeting process.


To those who feel it’s an impossible task to not have access to all of your take-home income, Ramsey poses the question – “If you cannot live off 90% of what you make, what makes you think you can live off 100%?”


His precepts have been outlined in seven best-selling books, including “The Total Money Makeover” and “Financial Peace.” medical 3447369 640He largely advises individuals who have found themselves in a financial crisis due to medical bills or other unforeseen expenses.


One of the biggest goals of his program is to encourage individuals and couples to become debt-free, which then makes it more possible for them to make tax deductible donations.


Ramsey has “7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom,” and the final step is “Build Wealth and Give” which he points out is the most fun stage in the process. Charitable giving isn’t about moving money, he says. It’s the realization that others are less fortunate and the importance of developing a desire to help them.


Ramsey has a blog talking about the vast financial loss to Americans when they don’t take advantage of the tax credit they’re allowed. He says that 2 million American taxpayers overpay the IRS every year, totaling a billion dollars. The finance expert says that 27% of taxpayers fail to take their rightful charitable donations tax deductions.


Learn how to save money on taxes through non-cash charitable gifts.


Even Ramsey admits that especially in the beginning stages of establishing a budget, his tax deduction guide would include something other than cold, hard cash. He suggests getting creative and finding alternate modes of giving, such as knowledge, time or service to help others.


Item donations


Have you cleaned out a closet and taken a load to the local thrift store recently? Depending on the size of your home, condo or apartment, it’s a good idea (for your sanity alone) to do that several times a year. Of course, don’t forget to accept a receipt for your records!


A couple of years ago, says environmental nonprofit Planet Aid, Newsweek had an article with a statistic claiming that Americans throw away about 14 million tons of clothing each year, which is about 80 pounds per person. 

And well into the 21st century, stats show that Americans throw more than 80% of our old clothes in the trash. 


What about your other things? Chances are you have toys and games in the closet with a pile of dust on them. If your son is in his teens, he won’t be picking up his “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” weapon anytime soon, and chances are you don’t have an 8-track player to hear your Barry Manilow tapes either.


Car donations


One of the best ideas when you want to know how to save money on taxes is to donate a car to charity. It’s an everyday item that practically everyone has, and at times you probably dream of an upgrade, a downgrade, or simply finding a vehicle that meets your needs better than your current vehicle.


If fiddling around with finances isn’t your bailiwick, don’t worry, because many of us understand the process of supporting the charity you wish while also garnering your charity tax deduction. At Cars2Charities, for instance, we literally handle the entire process, from towing away your vehicle donation to completing the paperwork, including the title transfer.


With a car donation to charity, you typically just turn it over to the company that’s processing your gift. For instance, when Cars2Charities gets an online donation or a call, we arrange a time for pickup and tow it to one of our technicians, who assesses it for possible alterations.


Not only is the value of your vehicle transformed into support for the charity of your choice, our process tends to raise the selling price of your car by about 25-50%. And because your tax write-off is based on the selling price of your car, it makes your tax break stronger.


You don’t have to be rich to score on your taxes. The truth is, when you look at the particulars regarding how to save money on your taxes, it’s actually very simple – don’t neglect the potential to pay less to the IRS by not participating in charitable giving and accessing your charity tax deduction.


Downturns in the economy can kill a nonprofit’s ability to survive. If you think about it – not only do consumers havedollar 499481 640less money to give to charity, the demands on their services typically rise. Meeting the needs out there with dwindling budget numbers plagues many charities, possibly one of your favorites.


Though America has been recovering from the recent Recession, there are still unmet needs out there.


If you want to give a car to charity or simply fund a 501(c)(3) directly, there are many to choose from – more than 1.5 million in the United States, to be exact. You can consult a tax deduction list of charities if you need ideas, but chances are you’re already involved with some nonprofit entity. Your child could be involved in Scouting or you could be a member of PTA. Or you may choose to give to your non-profit gardening club or performing arts group.


If you need more detailed information, it’s available here.


The prospects are really wide open, as your bottom line benefits whether you’re donating to veterans, rescuing animals or you’re throwing it in the offering plate on Sunday mornings. When it comes to how to save money on taxes, giving to charity is a winning way to achieve it. All it takes is a little creativity and attention to resources available to you.

December 15, 2018

The Best Donations for Fire Victims and Firefighters

When fires rage and people need help, we sometimes forget that donations for fire victims need to include the firefighters who suffer alongside residents. The California Fire Foundation is a non-profit organization providing emotional firefdtn1and financial support to families of firefighters who fall in the line of duty, at the same time supporting other victims of natural disasters. 


Professional firefighters in the state of California formed the Foundation in 1987 to aid in the aftermath of devastation from fires and the suffering that results. From the losses experienced by California fire victims to the sacrifice made by families of firefighters, there are unmet needs on every side of the equation.


Those with resources can become a part of the healing process through nonprofit agencies such as the California Fire Foundation.


Ceremonies at the California Firefighter Memorial are reminders of the heroism of emergency personnel.


When the public becomes keenly aware of the devastation of a natural disaster, its’ easy to remember donations for fire victims, but forget the sacrifices being made by the firefighters and their families. The California Fire Foundation constructed the California Firefighter Memorial, which is a public symbol of the work of first responders. It reminds our citizens of the dangers they face when they battle wildfires and protect citizenry in other ways.


An important part of ceremonies held at the memorial is the music. The Pipes & Drums of California Professional Firefighters is a group that was created to perform at memorial services honoring firefighters who have died in the line of duty. It’s made up of more than 25 musicians who are each either a paid, career or retired firefighter. It’s a volunteer musical group that was originally designed to provide a dignified presence at the California Firefighters Memorial in Sacramento.


Like the image many of us have of a proper firefighter funeral procession, the Pipes & Drums bring Scottish bagpipes to important gatherings and memorial occasions. Members of the group come from counties as far north as Sacramento to as far south as San Diego County. They have also appeared at such events as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in San Francisco and the Firefighter Olympics.


The aim of the California Fire Foundation is to support firefighters through many different means.


California Last Alarm Service Team, known as Cal-LAST, was developed to provide support to fire departments that have lost one of their members in the line of duty. The team arrives to comfort individuals going through the grief process while providing the administration skills necessary to access funding through state and local benefits.firefdtn3


Funded by the Department of Justice, Cal-LAST values:
• Family and department above all
• Ask first, act later, tread lightly
• Maintain transparency
• Assist, do not take over unless requested
• Do all things well
• Provide accurate and timely information
• Personal and organizational integrity are paramount
• Honor, dignity and respect at all times


The Fire Foundation also contributes to scholarship and grant programs. Children of a fallen firefighter who are younger than 27 years old can apply for the Daniel A. Terry Scholarship, which offers financial support for higher education. The Foundation raises money to provide grants to individuals needing to take the Firefighter Candidate Testing Center, or FCTC, Physical Ability Test or written exam, but do not have the finances.

The nonprofit also funds the National Child ID program, which seeks to benefit the search for the nearly 800,000 kids reported missing each year. That’s one child every 40 seconds that parents or other family members are hoping to recover.


Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency, or SAVE, is a program reaching out to such victims as those who survived the recent California wildfires. Mastercard gift cards are handed out to people who need to replace lost items and purchase groceries.


Prevention is also an important goal for the California Fire Foundation. Firefighters on Your Side provides education to help lower the chance of mistakes that people make simply because they aren’t informed. Sometimes these cause fires that end up costing lives and resources.


The fires of 2017 were lesson enough in the need for adjustments to address climate change, which has been affecting issues from wildfires to flooding. The Foundation provides fire prevention funding to make the kinds of adjustments needed to further the goal of reducing the likelihood of disasters.


The California Firefighters Benevolent Fund is a relatively new program providing necessary assistance to those firefdtn2responders who are battling fires while their own homes are impacted by natural disasters.

The California Fire Foundation built the California Firefighters Memorial.

The Foundation designed, built and maintains a memorial at the Sacramento State Capitol in Northern California. It’s a tribute to California firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty since the state’s inception in 1850, and it currently totals more than 1,300 individuals.


The Memorial had its inception in 1992 when the California legislature passed a bill authorizing the presence of the memorial on the grounds of the Sacramento State Capitol. The physical structure of the California Firefighters Memorial was dedicated in 1995 and has three aspects to it.


The Memorial Wall is a wall made of limestone which lists every firefighter who died while on duty. It’s two-sided and has bronze statues on each side.


The “Fallen Brother” is a statue made of bronze that sits next to the wall and depicts a firefighter who is removing a fellow firefighter through flames.


“Holding the Line” is the name of a statue of four firefighters who are using a hose line to fight a fire.


Every year for almost two decades, the Foundation holds a ceremony to honor the bravery of their colleagues who died in the line of duty. The California Firefighter Memorial Ceremony is held on State Capitol grounds and the names of additional fallen firefighters become a part of the listing on the wall.


You can view photos of the California Fire Foundation’s memorial ceremony, including families of fallen firefighters andfirefdtn5see the Pipes & Drums musicians, on Flickr.

SAVE is a fire service charity program providing for victims of natural disasters.


SAVE stands for Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency and is a service to provide short-term financial assistance to California natural disaster victims. To suffer the losses of fire, flood, earthquake or disaster is impossible to imagine unless you’ve been affected as well. The grieving process is painful for those who suffer collateral damage, such as losing a loved one.


The California Fire Foundation implements the SAVE program to offset the hardship caused by the financial hit victims endure from the aftermath of wildfires. These experiences are not only emotionally damaging, but also affect finances and physical challenges.


Through the program, the Foundation seeks to provide immediate support following a fire or other natural disaster to displaced victims. Firefighters from up and down the state work together with the CFF, firefighters throughout the state of California, will distribute gift cards, in an amount designated by CFF at a minimum of $100, to eligible victims of fire or other natural disasters so they may purchase basic necessities such as food, clothing or medicine.


Firefighters working with the CFF on the SAVE program provide assurance that those impacted by disaster will receive instant, direct relief before, during and after the alarm. All parties will work together in partnership to ensure the program is executed and overseen efficien


The aid often comes through a SAVE gift card, which is handed out to both civilians and firefighters who need financial assistance. The California Fire Foundation depends on donations to continue the program, which grants victims a gift card carrying a value of $250.


Individuals can donate directly to the program, thereby becoming a generous donor to those in need. Last year more than 2,700 SAVE cards were handed out to natural disaster survivors.


The CFF fire safety charity provides a large number of resources to California residents.


A firefighter donation through the California Fire Foundation is a way to fund more public education about issues related to fire safety.


The nonprofit provides free online resources that help educate the public on fire safety, evacuation plans, and staying safe on the roads. They also provide resources for victims of wild fires by informing them of the various programs offered throughout California.


These are the kinds of programs you support with donations to fire victims through te California Fire Foundation.


In a collaboration with PG&E, the CFF has a safety campaign reminding homeowners and contractors to call 8-1-1 before digging. It’s an information line with fire safety messages in multiple languages. The messages come from firefighters themselves.


One of the CFF’s fire safety taglines is “Get Ready, Get Out, Get Help!” It’s another attempt to offer individuals with language barriers the chance to gain the necessary preparation for disasters like fire.


Some of their effort has been directed at meeting needs in the Chinese communities. The Foundation has partnered with fire unions and departments to bring their safety messages to Chinese individuals living in America. There is printed information as well as public service messages provided.


In an attempt to curb the number of auto collisions with emergency vehicles, the California Fire Foundation sponsors an information campaign regarding street safety. They have produced video public service announcements that are available to local affiliates through FireStar Productions. Two of them discuss the need to pull over when a driver sees lights and hears sirens.

There are many means to donate to firefighters and California fire victims.

The California Fire Foundation accepts donations on an ongoing basis or as a one-time gift. They can total anywhere from $25-$1,000. It gives donors the opportunity to play a part in fire prevention by supporting the work of the firefdtn4Foundation in dispersing necessary tips and funding public service messages.


Financial support for the Foundation also contributes to scholarships for the children of fallen firefighters. Though you may not know a firefighter’s family personally, you can be personally involved in caring for them when they have experienced a loss of life on the job.


A donation to fire victims and residents who lose their homes due to mudslides is made possible through CFF. And because it’s a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donors receive a tax deduction for the gift.


You can also make a purchase to support the California Fire Foundation. When you order a $50 personalized firefighter license plate, it send proceeds to the Foundation. 


In an effort to enlist help from every avenue conceivable, the California Fire Foundation will accept car donations to fire victims. By donating your used or unwanted vehicle to Cars2Charities, proceeds from the sale of your car, truck or SUV goes to support the nonprofit.


We handle the pick-up and the paperwork of your car donation to fire victims and firefighters – even the title transfer. You can also donate a boat, golf cart or RV to support the cause. After the donation vehicle is sold, a donation check is sent to the California Fire Foundation, and you receive your tax deduction!


Find out more ways to get involved and help support the California Fire Foundation by attending their events. 


It’s easy to feel the weight of devastation when fire sweeps through a town or city and destroys tens of thousands of acres in the process. You can see the needs when you turn on your news channel or look at your pone.


When nonprofits do the legwork – arranging easy, reliable, trustworthy means to contribute, you become an active participant in giving comfort to your fellow man and woman. In the case of California wildfires, there are many ways to make donations for fire victims – even through a singular charity, the California Fire Foundation.

December 08, 2018

Impressive & Inexpensive: This Year’s Guide to Gift Giving

We all need one this time of year – a guide to gift giving so we can wow our friends, family, boss and co-workers while scoring the best deals to save a little cash. Of course, there’s no perfect list, unless you’re Santa Claus, and everyone’s gift1got their own field of recipients. But when someone else does the legwork for you, its a big help.

Everyone needs a guide to gift giving that includes affordable, last-minute ideas.

We all want to find cheap gifts – the trick is to locate the kinds of presents that either: look more expensive than they are; actually are more valuable than what you paid for them; or are so unique that nobody has any idea what the price tag was.


The affordable guide to gift giving is a different priority than just a clever gift guide. Sure – you can go to Neiman Marcus, but will another down vest or faux fur boots really impress again this year?


The key is to shake it up a little, maybe get away from ordering off your daughter’s Amazon Gift List and put on your thinking cap.


Good news! We did it for you.



For the Family: It’s not just a club membership for cheap toilet paper anymore!


There are big advantages to membership warehouse stores, according to an article on the site Money Crashers, beginning with how easy it is to make up the membership fee – usually around $50. You get it back from the savings you get on everything from low-cost household supplies to cheap gifts for everyone year-round. According to Kiplinger, most retail stores have a 25-50% markup, which is why warehouse stores can offer lower prices – because they’re collecting membership fees.


This kind of business model uses a no-frills approach to pass on the savings to the public – which is why you can get affordable gifts for him and gifts for her. FedMart was a discount store in the 1950s, sort of a precursor to places like BJs, Costco and Sam’s Club today. They just keep growing too. Whereas they used to be known for cooking supplies and household paper goods in the ‘80s, now you can purchase travel, tires, and even insurance, through such stores as Costco.


The guide to gift-giving through a membership warehouse store would certainly include discounted movie and amusement park tickets https://www.costco.com/gift-cards-tickets.html Costco sells cheap movie tickets by the bundle, and discounted tickets to parks like Disneyland, Universal Studios and Legoland.


And it’s not just a few single amusement parks. The Costco site has categories of discounted tickets and passes:gift5
• Movie Tickets
• Theme/Water Parks
• Tourist/City Attractions
• Gyms/Spas/Weight Management
• Restaurants
• Skiing/Winter Activities
• Sailing/Water Activities
• Jewelry/Watches
• Helicopter Tours
• iTunes Gift Cards
• Gift Baskets


Prepaid gift cards are a popular gift for him or her, because your gift recipients get to spend the credit cards at their leisure. There’s scarcely anything more practical, considering they can buy gas with it, dine or shop with a card.


For the Kids: Under the category of “clever, though affordable guide to gift-giving,” a Surprise Activity Box subscription would be a keeper. 



Every month the company sends the recipient activity boxes filled with all the supplies needed to spark creativity and enrichment. It’s a creative idea hatched by Donna and Rosy Khalife, who aim to inspire kids to do more than spend the American average of 7 hours a day in front of a screen.


Donna Khalife has a Harvard MBA and a background studying non-profit entrepreneurship. Rosy has a marketing degree and worked in advertising and media buying for companies in Europe and the U.S.


These two women offer parents the chance to get their kids doing off-line, hands-on play activities.


For the Traveler: This wallet has more pockets than your old purse and wallet combined. A waterproof wallet will keep your passport, cash, and tickets safe from all your adventures.

There’s nothing worse than sitting on the sand and either forgetting to take your wallet out of your pocket or not feeling secure to leave your ID with your towel on the beach. This makes it possible to hang ten while hanging onto your identity.


For the Beard Grower: To some, the Civil War is never out of style and today that’s true for a lot of men! Gifts for him aren’t always easy to find, but this one is a no-brainer if he’s got facial hair. A beard grooming kit includes: beard wash, beard lube, beard conditioner and a comb. 




For the Beauty Guru: A number of beauty industry companies offer a subscription service these days, which can be great gifts for her. Like a wine club, you let them know your preferences and they send out products to your door, which means these are gifts that keep gifting. Monthly beauty services are a newer phenomenon, though they’re much like the Avon Lady from the mid-1900s.


One of those is Birchbox, which is an app you can use on your phone to set up a subscription for five monthly beauty treats. You get a box of both prestige and niche brand beauty supplies, which is a way to sample different products and see which ones you’d like to use on a regular basis.


When you find a favorite, you can purchase a full-size version of the product and the company ships for free.


You can also send personalized beauty products through Ipsy, which was founded on a mission to “inspire individuals around the world to express their unique beauty.” The purpose is to customize options, so clients are getting exactly what meets their needs.


The company began in 2011 with a name derived from the Latin “ipse,” which means “self.” If your guide to gift giving has the individual in mind, Ipsy is probably a good bet. The Ipsy Glam Bag includes five products personalized for the “ipster,” and there’s more information available on the website, including videos and articles. It’s a way for the shopper to try more beauty options in the process of defining their beauty style.


gift4For the Coworkers: If Secret Santa is a “thing” at your place of business, you need to come up with new ideas every year that outdo your last. But depending on the size of the company, it can be expensive! For cheap gifts, turn to the lottery. One idea is to buy scratchers in bulk for your fellow employees, because a cheap scratcher could be a $100 gift for a lucky coworker.


 Visit Brostrick for more last-minute gift ideas if you’re still stumped.


The site has some unique ones on the market this year, which are hot-linked to Brostrick. If you’re hunting cheap gifts for a child, you can check out the balloon animal night light. For the other end of the spectrum – a drinker (hopefully an adult) – there’s the Micro Brew Beer Gift Basket or the Whiskey Ice Wedge.

Your friends will think of you all year with gifts that keep gifting.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the present you pick out serves them beyond the 25th of December? The greatest gift of all is a gift that keeps on giving, which in many cases includes helping some of the thousands of charities that need donations this holiday season.

Animal Charities

If the sad eyes of a puppy needing a home is what pierces the heart of your friends and family members, chances are a donation to an animal charity would please them this year. There are many ways to buy gifts for animals – and if you do it in an individual’s name, he/she gets the satisfaction of saving a dog, cat or other animal.

And the good news is, it fits the bill in the case of gifts for her or gifts for him.

Pasadena Humane Society
You can send someone a contribution to the Pasadena Humane Society and express it to them in one of many ways. You can pay for the donation and obtain the receipt, which you send to your gift recipient in a holiday card. You may also create “tribute giving,” where donations are purchased in memory of someone who has passed away.


What animal donations can provide is food, shelter, blankets and medical care, plus more opportunities to find adoption families. Many animal shelters and rescue centers have wish lists that you can access online if you’d like to donate items for care. 


You can also donate a car to an animal charity through Cars2Charities. It’s an option in any cash-saving guide to gift giving, because you don’t have to pull out your checkbook! You’re simply turning the value of your vehicle into support for animal charities. 


Golda’s House
Golda’s House accepts online donations, plus you can shop from their unique merchandise at their store, which is located at 67802 E. Palm Canyon Cathedral City, California. The hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Check their wish lists online; and know that every purchase goes to support animal rescue, volunteering, and adopting.


Because it’s a 501(c)(3), all donations to the organization are tax-deductible. You can also donate your vehicle to Golda’s House and receive a tax break.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

If someone on your list loves environmental causes, you may want to do some “green gifting.” One idea is to donate to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in the Coachella Valley. Not only is it a worthy cause, it’s a way to show your friend or family member that what they care about is important.


Whether you make an annual donation or a one-time gift, it goes to keep animals fed and housed. Even a minimal gift makes a difference. For instance, $5 feeds a snake for a month; $50 provides a week of carrots for the entire collection of animals; $200 purchases one month of meat for a cheetah; and $1,000 takes care of one month of supplies for many of the animals.


If that price tag sounds high, what about a car donation to animals through Cars2Charities? It doesn’t involve scraping up cash, and you get to write it off of your taxes.


Support local firefighters through gifts that keep gifting.


Both fire personnel and victims of wildfires need help. You can donate a vehicle through Cars2charities, and again, it gift2offers disaster relief to those in need and improve your tax situation.


The Monterey Firefighters Charitable Foundation per Community Foundation of Monterey can offer you that benefit to your bottom line. If your car donation to disaster relief is made in the name of a person on your gift list, he/she will be proud to be a part of the cleanup effort.


You can donate your vehicle through Cars2Charities to support these charities and many more.
It’s the gift that keeps gifting, while putting in no cash on your part, and minimal effort. We tow away the car you no longer need and handle the entire process for you.


There aren’t many options in the guide to gift giving that are this easy. And you can choose the charity of your choice!


See the site for video details.

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