Category Archives: Philanthropy

Toms Shoes: A Review and a Give-away

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By now you should know that I won’t do a review on Morningside Mom unless there is something about that product that truly impresses me. Well, I have another one for you. Toms Shoes approached me and asked that I review a pair of shoes for them. But these aren’t just a pair of shoes. In case you don’t know about Toms Shoes, I am going to tell you what makes this specific shoe company so very special.

shoe4The Toms Shoes company was started by Blake Mycoskie after he visited Argentina and noticed how many children did not have any shoes. His dream for this company was to create a shoe that he could sell and give away. Let me explain further. He wanted his company to make it possible to donate one pair of shoes to a child in need with every one purchased. That’s right. And he did. After one year, he and his family and friends were ready to donate over 10,000 shoes to children in Argentina. Next stop was South Africa where he and his crew dropped off 50,000 shoes. And in 2008 it was planned that they donate over 200,000 shoes worldwide.

Ok, now watch this.

Pretty amazing, right?

Ok, so lets get down to the shoes themselves. What did I think?

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Well, in terms of style, I was a liiiittle nervous. I’ll admit, I was worried they’d be kind of like grandma shoes. I am just being honest here. I wasn’t sure they’d really be my style. So I looked through all the various patterns available online and went for a fun “Element” shoe style. At least I knew these shoes wouldn’t look anything like what Grandma would wear.

shoes2But here’s the thing. When I got them, they actually looked a lot cooler than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. And my favorite part about the shoes? When I slipped them on, I didn’t want to take them off. Because, my friend, they’re like butta. So dang comfy. Granted, they don’t have a ton of support – these are flat shoes made of canvas. But they are well made and I really, truly never want to take them off. (Maybe I should get Grandma a pair, I think she wouldn’t take them off either.)

Now down to the fun part.

It’s giveaway time!

I have the DVD of their award winning documentary about their first shoe drop in Argentina and a coupon code worth $50 in Tom’s Shoes to give away to a Morningside Mom reader.

How do you enter? Leave a comment below about a time you’ve given back to your community or something you would like to do for your community. Real answers please, don’t just respond with some general Ms. America “I want to save the world” comment. Think about it for the sake of making change happen – like Toms Shoes has.

I will pick a winner at random on Monday March 16th.

Thanks and good luck!

**UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!!**

Ilinap from Dirt and Noise was picked at random and has won the Toms Shoes giveaway! Congrats Ilinap!

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Filed under Africa, Causes, Children, Contests, Gifts, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Reviews

Charities Entered in the HP Giveaway Contest

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During my HP Giveaway contest, I received some amazing entries. And I mean AMAZING. Choosing a winner seemed near impossible and I am about to show you why. But I did choose a winner and the Moms Without Moms Organization spent last weekend opening up all their computers and finding new homes for them at the Laura Walker Project. I am thrilled those computers will make a significant difference in the lives of the women they serve.

But back to my entrants. The stories. The heartache. The charities. And even once I had worked my list down, the remaining folks were honestly all equally deserving. Even since this contest has long passed, I think about their charities and the work so many of these folks do for others. So, I thought that the only small way I can give to these folks might be to introduce some of them to my readers. You see, there is amazing work happening out there, even during these very difficult times. Selfless giving happens daily, without any fanfare or fabulous HP giveaways hyping up the amazing work they do.

Please read along and learn a little something about some incredible charities that my entrants hoped to donate the the HP giveaway to.

But can ask one favor of you though? If you are able to, or if you know someone who can, please consider contributing to one of these charities. Or post this link on your blog encouraging folks to give. Or send this link to friends. Or Stumble it. Or tweet about it. Do what you can do to expose these charities to others. I believe in the power of word of mouth, blogging and community. Maybe some more good can come for these charities after all.

Also, forgive me. Rather than writing my own blurb about each place, I have copied quotes from most of their mission statements. They do a better job explaining themselves anyway. Ok, here we go…

Legacy Cultural Learning Community

“Muscogee-Seminole and Cherokee artist, Dana Tiger, founded Legacy Cultural Learning Community to offer “art making” as part of the daily lives of Native youth.  Since 2002, Legacy has provided art opportunities ranging from outdoor youth and elder camps where traditional foods are prepared on an open fire, to the production of film by 5th through 8th grade camera and technical directors.”

Arise for Social Justice

“Arise is a low-income rights, membership organization based in Springfield, MA. We were founded by welfare mothers who believe we have the right to speak for ourselves about the issues that affect our lives. Our membership is poor people, people who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness, working people and people who have been pushed to the side by society We organize around voting rights, housing, homelessness, access to health care, family rights and criminal injustice.”

Endependence Center

“ECI provides an array of independent living services to individuals with disabilities and to the community.  The purposes of ECI are two-fold; to prepare individuals, and to prepare the community for full integration of persons with disabilities into society.”

Lighthouse International

“Lighthouse International is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to preserving vision and to providing critically needed vision and rehabilitation services to help people of all ages overcome the challenges of vision loss. Through clinical services, education, research, and advocacy, the Lighthouse enables people with low vision and blindness to enjoy safe, independent and productive lives.”

Wyoming Search and Rescue Association

The Wyoming Search and Rescue Association assists with “the employment, coordination and utilization of available resources and personnel in relieving distress, preserving life and removing survivors from the site of a disaster, emergency or hazard to safety in case of lost, stranded, entrapped or injured people.”

Vision Hope

“Presently Vision HOPE’s sole focus is on raising the necessary funds to operate Champions for Life Kids’ Camp. Foster children from the surrounding communities will participate in a variety of fun and educational activities in a non-competitive and non-threatening, loving environment. With a highly trained & devoted staff, these children will discover not only their inner strengths and abilities, but their self-worth as well.”

Peace for Kids

“Peace4Kids provides programs and services for foster and at-risk youth from ages 5-18, and after emancipation until age 24. Peace4Kids is truly on the front lines in addressing the needs of foster and at-risk youth in the South Los Angeles neighborhoods of Watts, Willowbrook and Compton.”

Schweinfurt’s SFAC (Soldier and Family Assistance Center)

“The SFAC is a one-stop location designed to provide support services regarding finances, child care, Family Advocacy, budgeting, Chaplain assistance, Legal Assistance, Military Personnel issues, logistics and transportation, installation access, benefits counseling, education and employment opportunities. The SFAC provides a warm, relaxed environment where Soldiers and their Families can gather to foster physical, spiritual and mental healing.”

Youth Power Center

Youth Power Center (YPC), located in Anacostia of Washington, DC, is a career training program that assists teenagers to empower them to reach their potential.

Zoe’s Heart

This blogger writes about her daughter’s dire need of a heart transplant. Visit her site to learn more.

Talking About Curing Autism

“Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. TACAhelps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them, allowing them to share stories and information to help people with autism be the best they can be.”

Kennebec Valley Community Action Program

“KVCAP offers a range of services for men, women, and children. These include Family Planning; home ownership, repair and weatherization services, heating assistance; transportation; and a teen center. We also support families through home visitation programs for first time parents, parenting classes, childcare and Head Start. Many of these programs are available to people of all income levels.

Capitol News Connection

“Capitol News Connection is an independent and innovative multimedia news service that brings politics ‘home’ to citizens with localized and custom-crafted reporting from Congress. A bridge from the ‘Beltway’ to the ‘Heartland’, CNC connects the dots and ensures all Americans have access to locally relevant, trustworthy, engaging and unbiased information. By bringing new relevance, transparency and accountability to the political process, CNC reporting empowers citizens to shape their own destinies by being active and effective participants in our democracy.”

Sacramento Loaves and Fishes

“Without passing judgment, and in a spirit of love and hospitality, Loaves & Fishes feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless. We provide an oasis of welcome, safety, and cleanliness for homeless men, women and children seeking survival services.”

Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center

“Our mission is to provide opportunities and an environment for neighbors and families in southwest Indianapolis to improve lives, increase independence, and strengthen community through service and collaboration.”

Blogger Kate discussed their amazing adult re-entry computer education program and how it supports and assists “Baby Boomer” adults as they reinvent themselves at various points in their lives.

Ballet Tech

“Ballet Tech is dedicated to seeking out talented New York City public school students and provides a continuum of training from introductory through professional level training. Throughout the children’s instruction, dance classes, shoes and leotards are provided free of charge. During the first year of training, transportation is provided while students attend ballet classes on a school-time release program. Students who show the talent and passion required to study classical ballet are invited to attend The New York City Public School for Dance (NYCPSD) – a cooperative, tuition-free venture between the NYC Department of Education and Ballet Tech. The School offers a rigorous academic curriculum paired with intensive dance training for students in grades 4 through 12.”

Cathedral Square Cooperation

“South Burlington Community Housing offers affordable housing for people with mobility impairments aged 62 and younger…the community offers nine one-bedroom apartments [and] a non-institutional setting where residents can live independently in a group setting. All residents participate in a care-pooling plan, which allows them to pool their resources to direct the caregiver staff of the community in providing their care, which allows more freedom and independence than a traditional care giving arrangement.”

And finally, there were many entrants who were enthusiastic about donating to these very important charities: the Salvation Army, the Make A Wish Foundation and the Ronald McDonald Houses.

Thank you for reading and giving anyway that you can!

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Filed under Bloggers, Causes, Children, Contests, Education, HP, Inspiring people, Money, Mothers, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Women, Working moms

Morningside Mom Announces Her HP Giveaway Winner!

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Congratulations to Laura, the President and Founder of the Moms Without Moms organization!

(Cue the confetti, parade, acrobats and cheering crowds!)

Why this organization? Here is a portion of her submission:

“Moms Without Moms was formed in April of 2006.  The mission of the organization is to provide a caring, comfortable, and nurturing environment of support to females who have lost their mothers, by indiscriminately encouraging positive and personal growth through companionship, leadership, and education. 
 
Moms Without Moms opened a maternity group home, the Laura Walker Project (named after my mother), which serves the needs of teenagers who are either pregnant or parenting.  A teenager living at the Laura Walker Project home receives an array of support and guidance:  emotional, educational, life skills, parenting, job skills, etc.  It is the desire of the Laura Walker Project to ensure that the girls are in a position to effectively care for themselves and their baby when they leave.  We are working with them to break the dependence on the public welfare system.”

If you visit their site, you will learn more about this amazing cause started by a woman with an incredible vision. I can already imagine the computers being used by new mothers looking for jobs, the touchscreen being used for classroom or educational use and the printer printing out pictures of the brand new babies. It feels like a perfect match for all of this hardware that needs to be put to good use (rather than just sitting in boxes, crowding up my hallway).

Regarding this competition, choosing a winner was extraordinarily difficult. I received over 300 submissions, each listing amazing charities and organizations  which would benefit greatly from these computers. There were also endless stories about families who have nothing right now, who are suffering during a very difficult time in our country and are hoping desperately for a little holiday magic to come their way. And there were many entries from abroad – entrants discussed the endless benefits these computers could bring to an orphanage or village who had dated PCs, if any at all.

How could I pick? How can little ol’ me decide whose entry was more worthwhile? It was an impossible task. When I finally cut down entries to a “short list”, even that hardly seemed short. No entry was more worthy than another. But I had to make one choice and go with it. And this was my choice. A wonderful one indeed.

Again congratulations Laura! We’ll be following up with her in the near future. I can’t wait to see how her organization and project benefits from these computers.

Now, to those of you who did not win. Please keep a look out. I will be listing many of the sites and causes you submitted in a future post. I am hoping that perhaps someone reading my blog will consider donating to your causes. I know it’s not a bunch of computers, but its the best I can offer you. Also, do not forget: the other HP bloggers are running their contests through this month. Try and enter at any of their sites too!

Thanks again to every entrant, I was truly inspired by the charity in your hearts. Blessings for a wonderful Holiday Season.

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under Bloggers, Causes, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Inspiring people, Mothers, Philanthropy, Women, Working moms

The Morningside Mom HP Giveaway Has Ended

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Thank you to everyone who has entered. Over the past week, I received over 300 entries. I was deeply moved by each one, there is a great deal of need in the world and every entrant suggested so many worthy causes for this giveaway. Unfortunately, I will no longer be considering any further entries. If you would like to enter in one of the other blogger’s competitions, please go to The HP Blogger Magic website. My competition was one of the first; there will be many more opportunities to enter at the other blog sites this month. Thank you again!

***PLEASE STAND BY. I PLAN TO ANNOUNCE THE WINNER TODAY!***

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Filed under Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Philanthropy

The Morningside Mom Magical HP Giveaway Contest Has Begun

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Hello world! My Magical HP Giveaway contest has officially begun! It will run starting Saturday November 29 and a winner will be chosen on December 5th.

Before leading you to the official rules of the contest, I want to remind my entrants of one important fact. When you give, good will come to you. My regular readers know that I believe in karma and the power that one individual’s decency can have on society as a whole. I hope that entrants have the best intentions and truly expect to affect positive change somewhere in their world with this contest. Gather the magic of this holiday season around you, and let’s do something good.

Please click HERE (scroll to the bottom) to find out my rules and expectations.

And good luck to everyone!

***UPDATE: The contest winner will be announced on December 5th. Contest entires must be submitted by email (morningsidemomgiveaway@gmail.com) no later than 6:00pm today, EST. Those entered after that time will not be considered.***

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Philanthropy, Techie Stuff, Thinking outside the box

Something Big from HP is on the Way

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And you thought I was just a quiet little mommy blogger, going about my boring mommying business, turning over my laundry basket now and again to jump up and go off about politics when the mood strikes. Yeah, just little ol’ me and this quiet blog, fighting off the boars in my backyard, navigating the perils of potty training and fretting over my kindergartner’s report card. Yawn.

Well. In fact. Something BIG is on the way to the Morningside Mom blog. In fact, I got all the confirmation numbers this weekend. Seven of them.

And now you ask: what the hell is going on here?

Thanks to my wonderful friends at Buzz Corp, I have once again been brought into the fold with HP and Microsoft. But instead of silly little me being the lucky recipient of their products… YOU ARE. Well, to be more specific, the lucky recipient will be someone who enters and wins my upcoming give-away contest.

Thats right. Did you pick up the key words here?

HP. Microsoft. Contest. Give-away. BIG.

But not just anyone can win this, you know. You better get your thinking hats on folks. This give-away will, in fact, be about GIVING. Times are hard right now and you know I believe in earning karma, paying it forward and taking care of one another. So for my give-away? Its about giving, on your part and mine.

You’re dying now aren’t you? What IS it? What is the prize? Well, I guess it’s time to direct you to My HP Giveaway page. Go on over and check it out. And then just try to tell me your eyes didn’t bug out at the list of amazing hardware and software being delivered to my doorstep any day now.

How much is the entire package worth? $6,000.

(Cue Christmas carol from trumpeting angels above: “Joy to the world!”)

Then make sure you jump over to the HP Giveaway site to learn even more. Because I am one of 50 bloggers who is doing a give-away like this. I have listed them on my page. 50 of us – worldwide – are offering this give away JUST in time for the holidays.

Seriously, I am just giddy. For real, if you could see me now: giggling and clapping my hands with glee.

So. You better get used to checking back here to find out when the contest starts. Because I can’t say. Soon though. Like I said, just in time for the holidays. And for someone, it will be a magical holiday time indeed.

Until then, my friends. I bid you an anticipatory adieu.

(‘Course… I’ll be kicking around yapping about my regular topics. But nothing more about this whole HP giveaway phenomenon… until later.)

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Filed under Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Karma, Philanthropy, Techie Stuff

Can You Give $5 to a School in Need?

Ok, raise your hand.

How many of you have kids? Yup, so do I.

Oh, no? Ok. How many of you went to public school? Yup me too.

How many of you think every child should have equal access to books, supplies, playground equipment and technology at school? Heck, yeah.

How many of you have five dollars? Shoot, even *I’ve* got that.

…How many of you might even have a little more? Ok, stop laughing.

Here’s the deal folks. You all know how hung up on giving I have been recently. Well, I guess I have been making enough racket about it that I was approached about a wonderful cause. It is called the DonorsChoose.org 2008 Bloggers Challenge.

DonorsChoose.org is a non for profit website aimed at collecting wish lists from teachers at schools in need. The website organizes and lists their needs based on state, poverty level, subject, etc. Then folks who have a little to give come and visit the site, pick a project, and donate to it. Easy as that. Donations can even be as low as $5 and all donations are tax deductible. Very cool, huh? (More details about how it works can be found here.)

And how do bloggers get involved? Well, we get to promote the site from our blog. (And no, we don’t make a dime off of this, I promise you.) We simply get to encourage all of *YOU* readers to visit their site and donate. And I have even taken the liberty of setting up a special “Morningside Mom Givers” page. This afternoon, I went through the site and dug out four projects that seemed to resonate with me.

What was I looking for? That was tough. It seemed so arbitrary to pick projects and decide which were more worthy than others. I finally decided to look into lower income schools in Florida and I found five really interesting projects. I encourage you all to go onto the site and read about them.

One is looking to provide children instruments in a North Miami school.

One simply needs books because they have practically none.

One is looking for P.E. equipment at a school with no playground, one ball and 1/3 of their students are overweight.

One is looking for technology to bring math alive to her students.

One is looking to buy “green” books to help educate students about recycling in their communities.

All of the projects together have put a total for our Morningside Mom Givers Project at $3,000. I am asking you to give a little when you can. Has anyone joined the 29 day Giving Challenge I have been obsessed with? This would SO count. And so would spreading the word about my page. See if you can get some others to check this out and donate if possible. It’s a wonderful cause. I sincerely hope you will consider visiting our page and learning more.

And I am also planning on some sort of incentive for giving. I am not sure what it will be. Possibly a raffle for a give-away. Or maybe I will promise to do something crazy for all of you to laugh at. Last year one blogger dressed up as a tomato and danced through Rockefeller Square when they reached their goal. Oh the possibilities, huh? I’ll keep you posted. Any suggestions are always welcome.

Thanks in advance to every Morningside Mom Giver!

Note: I’d have a cool widget up if I could get it to work. Instead go click on the simple text widget on the right panel if you ever need to find our page!

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Filed under Bloggers, Children, DonorsChoose.org, Education, Florida, Money, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness