the spirit of giving.

help me spread the love this season.

above: feed 100 bag ::


with the holidays upon us, and christmas right around the corner, everyone is super busy preparing for their celebrations and gatherings with family + friends. however, no one works harder during this time of year than the charity organizations who serve the neediest members of our communities. i try to make charity work a year-round effort, yet the holiday season always brings the less fortunate to the forefront of my attention.

as i take inventory of all that i am thankful for this year, i also realize how much i have to share. i believe it is my civic responsibility to help my community, both locally + globally, in every way that i can. more importantly, i’ve realized along the way that donating doesn’t have to be complicated or extravagant in order to be effective. in fact, i’ve been so impressed this season with all the creative ways that retailers are making donating *easy* for customers. i’m thrilled that williams-sonoma and other shops are enabling lots of people to donate a little (just $1!) to awesome organizations like st. jude’s research hospital at the register, and are raising millions. i loved how easy anthropologie made it for me to participate in their local toy drive by offering adorable stuffed animals for around $15 to add to my purchase at check out. and just this week i discovered that for the cost of the ingredients for a few batches of christmas cookies, i was able to purchase a feed 100 bag (above) from whole foods which will provide meals for 100 school children in rwanda.

i feel great about all the little ways i’ve helped to make a difference through these donations. however, what i really love is the ability to make a visible impact by volunteering. my favorite organizations to volunteer with are habitat for humanity (the dc chapter is amazing!) local food kitchens like miriam’s kitchen, and any organization that works with children + education. doing this type of work makes me happier than anything else – i feel fulfilled knowing i am making a positive impact through my efforts. i believe that everyone needs to feel a sense of purpose and a connection to the world that can be achieved through volunteerism, and that this work is essential to the human spirit.

because volunteerism is so important to me i love hearing the ways in which people give back in their lives. there are people who give their time, people who share their talents, people who donate money, and people who devote their entire lives to helping others. from the venerable duties of the hospice volunteers, to the incredible efforts of the food bank workers, the tireless social workers, the driven community organizers, and the quiet philanthropists everywhere – i applaud you, and i thank you.

i honestly believe we shape our lives by the choices we make. therefore, i choose to be inspired by that which is good in this world. 

so today i say to you: INSPIRE ME!

i’m asking that everyone leave a comment and share your feelings about volunteering. tell me about your favorite charity or organization or someone that inspires you through their service. or better yet, share a personal experience volunteering and how it made a difference in someone’s life. 

there are two reasons why your comment is important, check it out…

1) i hope to learn about some fantastic new charities + organizations and to be inspired by your stories of goodwill.  

2) i plan to donate $1 for every comment left on this post to one lucky commenter’s charity of choice, in their name!

so what are you waiting for? leave a comment, and then pass this post on to a friend, and tell them to leave a comment! remember, the more comments left the more i donate!

let’s make a difference together – one comment, one idea, one dollar at a time! 



Filed under charity, holiday, me, news, volunteer

21 responses to “the spirit of giving.

  1. kseidlphoto

    I donated money to the East Asia Institute, the organization started by Greg Mortenson, the author of Three Cups of Tea. He has dedicated his life to building schools for girls in Pakistan and creating other infrastructure for remote villages. It’s taken me years to realize I can’t do alot of the stuff I want to do and there are those out there that are truly selfless and can do a heck of alot better job than me.. $50 bucks in his pocket is going to do a world of difference more than it will in mine. He’s a true hero for me. And if anyone is interested in a blue print for not only helping individuals, but for fighting terrorism, check out the book.

  2. Kat

    You’re so awesome. Giving back to others is incredibly important to me, which is why I chose a career which I believe allows me to help people on a regular basis (psychologist).

    I’ve also coached for Girls on the Run, a program that trains 4th to 6th grade girls for a 5K while teaching them lessons like self-esteem. As part of the program we also do a community service project, this year it was making cards for soldiers. I blogged about it here:

    I’m also a new member of Team Semper Fi, a program where athletes raise money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund:
    I hope that running a marathon in Antarctica will help me raise support for the men and women who were injured while fighting for our country.

  3. casey

    jaime – first of all – you are truly an amazing and inspiring human being…i actually teared up reading this post this morning and i just had to leave a comment!!

    animal charities are near and dear to my heart…i volunteer at the local humane association here in nashville and even though it is sometimes a struggle for me to go (because it breaks my heart to see those animals in cages, hoping to be adopted and to have a better life) i know that just by going and walking them and giving them a little love, i am helping them, and i am helping myself. i am also a big fan of PetSmart because when you check out, you can add $1 to your bill to be donated to PetSmart Charities. its so easy and it helps so much. there are so many unwanted, stray, abandoned, mis-treated animals out there – the “lucky” ones make it to great shelters – but there are so many more that never do. spay and neuter your pets, people! happy holidays jaime…YOU ROCK!

  4. Thank you for your generous offer! I am most involved in homeless outreach. I have been very involved with the Shalom House Women’s Shelter here in St. Louis.

    I have organized groups to set up a computer room, re-tile their pantry floor (24+ hour endeavor), and paint several rooms. In addition I also participated with Rebuilding Together to completely renovate and expand their building.

    I have also helped set up and support a young professionals group called the Shalom Outreach Society which sponsors events targeted to building investment in the shelter for younger people.

    I have a similar event happening on my blog called the Helping Hand Contest. Entries are accepted through the end of today, so stop by and take a look!

    There is also another similar event here where you just have to leave a comment and $1 will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. This is also only through the end of today.

    – Schev

  5. Christina

    Jaime – I am always amazed at all the awesome work you do in our community.

    I am active with two charities – the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (which I actually just blogged about the other day: ) and the Hydrocephalus Association – Since I already blogged extensively about ACS CAN, I’ll tell you about the Hydro Asso.

    Hydrocephalus is a condition where the fluid that travels through the ventricles of your brain (basically the stuff that keeps your brain floating in your skull) does not drain properly from your head. You can be born with it, or have it come on at any point in your life. Children afflicted with it often face a life time of surgeries and other difficulties, including the potential for learning disorders and other developmental issues. Some children, however, grow up perfectly normal – I’m one of those lucky ones. The only treatment for hydrocephalus is to have a tube (a shunt) put in that leads from your brain down to your heart or abdomen. I’m super lucky in that I’ve only had two surgeries – one to put my shunt in when I was six months old and one to lengthen it when I was in 2nd grade. I love to volunteer with this organization because I get to meet inspiring young people who have had 15, 20, 25 surgeries.

    This is not a well known condition, but one that affects every 1.5 in 1,000 births in the U.S.

    Thanks again for everything you do and happy holidays!!


  6. WOW!

    these are such awesome comments! i’m overwhelmed already!

    thanks to kim who highlighted my absolute favorite book ever, and a true champion of peace, greg mortenson! three cups of tea is an amazing, inspirational must-read book!

    great entries!

  7. Jaime – I know exactly how you feel about giving back! It is something that has always been a part of my heart (especially during the holidays) & I thought of a perfect thing to share!

    I recently got involved with The Littlest Heroes Project ( with is a group of photographers internationally who donate photo shoots to families with children who are seriously ill.. It’s my way of giving back with my love for photography!

    Let me know what you think! Can’t wait to meet up sometime in January! You are such an inspiration!

  8. this is so lame compared to everyone else – and therefore, i’m slightly embarrassed to even mention it – but i’m all for adding a dollar to the pot so here goes…

    St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital sends me address labels every year. and every year i use them. so this year, i decided once and for all i would send them some money as a thank you.

    i know. i’m horrible. everyone up there above me – i commend you for doing way more than me…seems i could learn a thing or 2 from all of you.

    • quinn! all acts and even thoughts of goodwill are worthy of commenting!! im proud of you for sending $ for your address labels! you don’t have to be a volunteer machine to leave a comment! if you havent done any volunteering, leave a note saying what you would like to do or an organization that inspires you!!

  9. Katie

    This past Thanksgiving my family and I were going to volunteer at the Capital Area Food Bank. When we called they told us that they did not need volunteers they needed food. So we went to Costco and started buying. Maybe this is something that you could be interested in as well….

    Merry Christmas,


  10. Chris

    From the youngest to the oldest this year Alex crotchet a lap blanket for an elderly person at the church and baby booties for baby clothes in need. I did some donations too but Alex inspires me.

  11. Ashley

    I read your blog at least once a week and I love everything you put up here but this post is definitely my favorite!

    I’m a senior at Penn State University and I donate my time to Penn State’s Dance MaraTHON (known to everyone as THON), the largest student-run philanthropy in the world! The money donated to THON supports the Four Diamonds Fund which provides financial and emotional support for children with pediatric cancer and their families. THON takes place once a year in February, when over 700 PSU students dance without sitting or sleeping for 46 hours. It’s really a great event because the kids and families supported by the Four Diamonds Fund come to THON every year where everything is kid-friendly!

    This is my fourth year donating my time and money to THON. This year I’m an entertainment captain at THON and our job is to provide the entertainment and music throughout THON weekend (we bring the fun!).

    I could go on and on about THON because I love it that much but you can find out more about it at Thanks!

  12. kseidlphoto

    ooh, quinn gettin’ schooled for self deprecation! you bring pure joy to the world through your blog. you make me giggle and get nuthin in return- that’s public service right?

    (can i soak you for an extra buck for donating my time to write this?)

  13. casey

    i just had to leave a response to ashley’s post…b/c i too danced in THON in 2000 and it was the single most rewarding experience of my life. check out the link she provided – it is a wonderful event, a great philanthropy and a huge source of PENN STATE PRIDE! it is truly part of what makes penn state…well, penn state! WE ARE…

  14. this is such a wonderful post, jaime! we need more people like you in the world :)

    for the past 3 years, i’ve been helping raise money for the down syndrome network of montgomery county ( and the national down syndrome society ( my sweet nephew vinnie was born with down syndrome, and my family and i want to do everything we can to help spread awareness and to promote acceptance and inclusion. we participate in our local buddy walk every year, and it’s always a blast: i’m also an advocate for banning the r-word: i hope that moving forward, this word will not be a regular part of people’s vocabularies.

    oh, and we’re also participating in the polar bear plunge for special olympics this january. maybe we’ll see you there? :)

  15. It has been mentioned a few times already but St. Jude’s is definitely an organization that inspires me. I think this is a great post Jaime, thank you for all that you do and for inspiring the rest of us to give more of ourselves to our community:)

  16. MK

    The US Campaign for Burma! (

  17. Brian

    I must admit, I am not normally one that has much time to volunteer (or possibly I do, but I enjoy my time off a lot). Every year I try to go out of my way to donate some money to any cause I come by through the holiday seasons. There are plenty of people out there that could use that $5 much more than me.

    In addition, this year I decided to volunteer a Saturday of my time to the Children’s Life Saving Foundation ( Holiday Program. I was inspired by a friend of mine who volunteers so much of his time to tutor and help children through these programs.

    I agree with so many people posting here that any time or $ that you can give at this time of year is so generous. We all get caught up in our own lives and getting gifts for those that are close to us, giving back anything or any time to someone that is in need is an amazing gift of sacrifice.

    Happy Holidays to all!

  18. sedax

    Thank you very much, your site is perfect :)

  19. I love this idea because giving back is so important to me personally. I give every year to the Connecticut Special Olympics in honor of my friend, Matt.

    When I was in high school, there was a Downs Syndrome kid in my class named Matt. He had a huge crush on me and I, in turn, had a huge crush on him! He was hysterical and could usually be found dancing in the hallways with his Walkman on his head. I spent a lot of time with Matt and eventually with his family, and I learned that just because someone seems less fortunate than you doesn’t mean they are living their life any less than you are.

    I have grown up and moved away, but I think of Matt often and continue to visit him when I go back home. Matt is a continuous blessing in my life, and any organization that helps people like him live as normal a life as they can is just spectacular in my book.

    You can give to the CT Special Olympics by clicking here:

    Thank you so much for raising awareness not just of this important cause, but of all volunteer efforts. Making the difference in the life of an individual is the greatest gift there is.

    Happy New Year!

  20. * * UPDATE * *

    i want to thank everyone for the awesome comments and your amazing efforts! i recently joined the littlest heroes project (thanks natalie!) and just donated my first session! i am very proud to be part of this organization.

    also, as a follow up to this post – i donated $50 (150 MEALS!) to the capital area food bank in katie mitchell’s name – a worthy and deserving cause right here in dc. thanks katie and congrats on helping make a difference!

    keep on doing good everyone!!


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