Archive for the ‘ Doing Good ’ Category

The Gift My Mother Gave Me—What Did Your Mother Give You?

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Mother and Daughter Mother's DayWhat’s the biggest gift your mother gave you? Is it your strong independent streak? Your insane sense of humor? Or was it post-soccer-practice Taco Tuesday that she somehow pulled together every week?

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, we’re thinking a lot about the beautiful gifts that mothers give—and about how we can pass along similar gifts to the children in our lives. (It’s no surprise that 89 percent of moms say they’re happy to be turning into their own mother when it comes to parenting—our moms are incredible!)

Maria Shriver lost her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, more than three years ago—but that doesn’t mean the incredible gifts her mom gave her have faded in any way. In fact, Maria has made a short (and holy-wow, seriously emotional—get out the tissue box!) film celebrating the gifts her mother, founder of the Special Olympics, left her with.

Beyond being super moving—it WILL make you want to call your mom!—Maria’s film, “The Gift My Mother Gave Me,” is available to watch and share with other parents right on Facebook. And one of the most touching things about it is that, thanks to the people over at P & G, each time you share the film with a Facebook friend, they’ll donate a dollar to the Special Olympics—up to $50,000 that will help to promote the basic tenants of acceptance, encouragement, and community—three things I think almost any mom hopes to instill in their children.

Have you seen the video? Did you go through two tissues like I did? What’s the biggest gift your mother gave you? Tell us in the comments!

Image of mother and daughter via Shutterstock.

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Give an Amazing Gift This Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

If you’re still trying to figure out what to give Mom this Sunday, consider a floral arrangement that does more than brighten up the room. This FTD Bright Bounty Bouquet is not only beautiful but powerful as well — just like the mothers in your life!  The colorful arrangement includes 13 stems of pink and yellow daisies and yellow tulips, perfect for a lovely spring day. The bouquet was named the Editors’ Choice by Parents magazine editors, and proceeds from every purchase will help fund a $10,000 donation to CARE headed by our parent company, Meredith Corporation.

CARE International is a global relief organization that fights human poverty. In 2012, the organization worked in 87 countries to support nearly 1,000 different poverty-related projects.

Each Bright Bounty Bouquet purchased will help CARE’s mission to fight poverty. It’s a simple way to give back and a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

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28 Acts of Kindness—for Sandy Hook

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Last week’s tragedy left so many of us drowning in sorrow and feeling helpless to do much about it. What on earth could we do to make things better, when confronted with such an overwhelmingly sad event? It’s not like Hurricane Sandy, when you could pitch in to help a neighbor clean out their home, or donate toward helping those who lost so much rebuild. There’s nothing we can do to help the families affected in Sandy Hook get back what was lost.

And that’s when I read about Ann Curry’s brilliant plan—to accomplish acts of kindness in honor of those who died. Many people are doing 26 kindnesses, for the children and teachers who died at the school. Others are including Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter who also lost her life. I’m choosing 28, in part because there can’t be enough kindness in the world, and in part because I believe strongly that Adam was a victim of his own, untreated mental illness.

I’m hoping to accomplish all of my 28 in the next week, before the new year…and I’m drawing inspiration from the Twitter feed #26ActsofKindness. So far, I’ve managed four:

1. Sent an extra gift and a heartfelt note to my daughters’ teachers (we already went in on group gifts for them with the rest of the class).

2. Donated to Toys for Tots in honor of the students of Sandy Hook.

3. Hosting a friend’s daughters over for the afternoon, after her regular babysitter fell through.

4. Left a Starbucks gift card and a note on a random car in our school’s teacher parking lot.

(Actually, I could kind of count #5, which was—against my better judgement—caving and getting an Elf on the Shelf for my daughters, who have been begging for one all week. Because basically, this week, I’d probably get them a pony if they asked.)

Imagine if we all committed to doing just a few acts of kindness this week…maybe it would become a habit. Let me know if you’re on board—and share your  ideas for sharing the love.

Photo: Margaret M Stewart /Shutterstock.com

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Kiss Bullying Goodbye

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In case you didn’t already know, October is National Bullying Awareness month – a time dedicated to increasing bullying prevention and decreasing the amount of bullying-related suicides. In support of the cause, beauty company Soap & Glory has teamed up with Stomp Out Bullying (the leading anti-bullying program in the U.S.) to create the Proud Mouth Campaign. The new campaign encourages everyone to not only respect, but also celebrate others’ similarities and differences by being cautious of their words and actions.

Over the next year, Soap & Glory will donate $1 from every sale of Baby Doll Sexy Mother Pucker plumping gloss ($15; sephora.com) to help fund the Stomp Out Bullying Helpchat, a live and confidential chat line available for 13 to 24-year-olds facing bullying issues. Every purchase gets this team closer to reaching its $25,000 goal—and making kids feel a whole lot safer. 

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Good News About Kids and Hunger (Really)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Last month we asked you to help bring 1,000,000 meals to American children in need through No Kid Hungry’s campaign with Macaroni Grill.

In less than a month, the campaign exceeded its goal by raising enough money to bring 3,000,000 meals to hungry kids!

You can continue to fight for the 1 in 5 American children who struggle with hunger by donating to No Kid Hungry or visiting their website to learn more about how you can be an advocate for hungry kids in your community.

Thank you to our readers who participated in this campaign! Let us know in the comments if you supported No Kid Hungry’s fight against child hunger.

 

 

Image: Happy girl on field of wheat via  Shutterstock

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American Baby’s Hot Mamas: Rebecca Minkoff and Jessica Seinfeld on Moms Helping Each Other

Monday, September 24th, 2012

In some ways, Jessica Seinfeld is just like us. True, she’s married to Jerry Seinfeld and will never hurt for money. But twelve years ago she gave birth to a daughter, Sascha, and like many women, wasn’t prepared for how it flipped her life upside-down. She admits that while it was fantastic, it was also “very new and stressful.” She found it hard to get out of the house. She couldn’t imagine how women who were already having a tough time in life also dealt with new motherhood. And quickly her charity, Baby Buggy, was born.

Cut to newer mama Rebecca Minkoff, designer of fabulous handbags. When she welcomed her first child a year ago, a son named Luca, she also got inspired to help moms. She found her way to Jessica’s charity through Bravado, makers of comfy and cute nursingwear. (Rebecca tried to get away with just wearing a sports bra, but her milk came in, and like many a new mommy, she quickly realized why nursing bras exist!) Starting now, 20 percent of Rebecca Minkoff-designed nursing tanks will go to Baby Buggy. Also, for every nursing tank sold, one is given to a mom in need. Check out the $39 tanks for sale at Diapers.com; they’re also shown below.

I sat down with Jessica Seinfeld to ask a few questions about giving and getting baby items:

American Baby: One question we get is, “How can I help families who need baby supplies?”

Jessica Seinfeld: You can check out BabyBuggy.org and see our network. [They have dropoff spots in New York City and Los Angeles.] Also, if you can’t find one of our partners across the country, you can go to a domestic violence shelter, or you can call, depending on where you are, a help line, like 311 in New York City or 211 in LA. Whatever your local help line is, you can call and find out how you can give back, and what organizations in your town accept donations for families in need. Head Start centers are another important place you could try.

American Baby: If you’re one of the families who need things, do you turn to those same places?

Jessica Seinfeld: Yes. Though it so depends on your circumstances. I’m not totally qualified to answer, since it depends on on where you’re from. You can reach out to a help line first and foremost, and if you have a social worker in your life, that person will be able to connect you to the right place to get donations. 

American Baby: We always ask people to not take secondhand cribs and car seats if they can help it, because there are safety hazards associated with those hand-me-downs. But how do you get around that, if you’re having trouble affording them?
Jessica Seinfeld: We would love to be able to help with those, because there’s such a critical need and they’re so expensive. It sort of kills us to not be able to do it, it breaks our heart every time we have to say no. But the safety and liability issues are too great. Certainly, if you have neighbors or friends or relatives who have that gear and can assure you that everything has been safe and okay with those items, you can go that route.
American Baby: And in your opinion, what are a few of the must-have items for a new mom?
Jessica Seinfeld: What’s really important to one mom is maybe not so important to another. But a great baby carrier is a very important item, I think. It allows you freedom and accessibility to the world when you’re home and maybe feeling a little low, because you haven’t been out of the house much. For me in New York City, a stroller that was small enough to go on the subway and bus was really important. Basically anything that allowed me to be mobile was really important to me. And I stuck to basics. Swaddling blankets were my luxury item, I just loved a good swaddle. I didn’t really get a lot of stuff, to save clutter. I had just started Baby Buggy, and getting too much stuff would have defeated the whole purpose of what I was trying to do!

 

 

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Engage Your Kids in the Election

Monday, September 17th, 2012

History is always in the making. Important events that your kids will read about one day are happening now. We offered some tips for raising a good citizen, and this election season is the perfect time to get your kids excited about civics.

We spoke with Michael J. Berson, Ph.D., professor of social science education at the University of South Florida, about ways to engage your children during this exciting time in history.

1.  Hold a mock vote at home.

The Electoral College can be difficult even for adults to understand and kids may not be able to grasp the concept of the popular vote. A better way to familiarize kids with the notion of voting is by holding a mock election at home.

“Your family can vote on small things, like what to have for dinner that night,” says Dr. Berson. “The idea is to show them the power of choice, which they will carry with them later in life.”

But what happens when one sibling outvotes the other’s choice of mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner? Show your child how to “campaign” for her favorite meal the next night! This will not only teach her how to react when she don’t get her way, but will also help her understand how to enact positive change for an issue she cares about.

2. Read to your kids about elections

“One of the best ways to teach your children about the political process is by reading to them,” says Dr. Berson. “Read biographies of former presidents and don’t forget to read about first ladies as well.”

Here are some of our favorites: 

Ages 4–8: Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting Campaigns and Elections by Peter and Cheryl Barnes

 Ages 4–8: So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George

Ages 9 and up: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman

Ages 9 and up: First Ladies (DK Eyewitness Book) by Amy Pastan

 

3. Avoid negative TV ads

We often leave the TV commercials on in the background without thinking about them, but negative political ads could send the wrong message to kids. “It’s important for children to have visuals of the candidates,” says Dr. Berson. “Try muting the TV when negative ads come on and use the visuals to explain in positive terms who the candidate is and what issue the ad is talking about.”

 4. Attend political events as a family

This is a great way to for kids to participate in an election, but not all political events are appropriate for children. “Younger children may be frightened by hecklers or negative protestors at speeches and rallies,” says Dr. Berson. “A more developmentally-appropriate option would be to attend a parade that a candidate is in.”

5. Show your patriotism

It may not be appropriate to dress your child in t-shirts or stickers that promote a candidate they are too young to fully understand. Dr. Berson says that a better option is to give your child a flag to wave if you are attending a political event.

6. Keep it positive

Dr. Berson says that it’s good to show children your sense of connection to a particular party or candidate. However, you should always speak respectfully of opposing parties. Teaching your child to respect both sides is a great lesson that will carry over into other relationships in his life.

7. Discuss platforms, not parties

Encourage your child to create his own opinions by talking to him about different sides of issues as opposed to talking about the different parties.

8. Relate the election to your home and community

The best way for kids to understand politics on a national scale is by showing them ways to actively get involved in their home or community. You can start by letting your kids think of ways to improve the area around them by working on community service projects that they are passionate about. Sites like Volunteer Match, Do Something and The Volunteer Family offer great ways to learn about kid-friendly service opportunities in your community.

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The Hardest Walk

Monday, June 4th, 2012

When your child takes his own life, what on earth do you do? For Denis Asselin, the answer has been to walk. For seven weeks and for more than 525 miles, Denis will have stopped along the way at some of the schools, homes, and hospitals that played a pivotal role in the life of his son, Nathaniel.

Nathaniel Asselin, the exceptionally handsome young man at right, suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is when an imagined or slight flaw in one’s appearance becomes all-consuming. Up to 80 percent of people with BDD attempt or commit suicide; Nathaniel died in April 2011, at the age of 24. As difficult as his life was, it was filled with bright spots and much love. He and his younger sister, Carrie, shared an extraordinary bond, and he had a tight circle of close friends. Nathaniel was also a volunteer with his local EMS, and a middle-school cross-country coach beloved by his team.

Denis has found an incredible way to honor the life of his son and to raise awareness for BDD in particular. You can read a day-by-day account of his journey on his blog—and for those of you in Massachusetts, you might check out Denis’ route and track him down to say hello as he wraps up his final days of walking. This Thursday, June 7, the emotional odyssey will end in Boston, at a rally at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. If you’re unable to attend, you can still show your support for OCD and BDD by making a donation to the International OCD Foundation, and note that your contribution is in the memory of Nathaniel Asselin.

If you worry that you may know someone affected by BDD, look over this list of signs, and learn more about how to get help.

I just love this beautiful map drawn by Nathaniel’s mom, Judy.

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