Monday, December 31, 2007

Create a New Year’s Eve Tradition

Robin Brande writes about the Korean tradition of ending the year with the abundance for which one wishes in the next: full tank of gas in the car, crisp bills in the wallet, nails manicured, hair coiffed. The author of Home Worked notes the Filipino custom favoring anything with dots or circular patterns — from polka dot clothes to round fruits — to bring good luck for the coming year.

My first attempt at a thoughtful NY Eve ritual came as a 20-something in Washington. My dear friends Sean and David decided we should follow an allegedly Buddhist tradition and, at the stroke of 12, burn slips of paper on which we’d written things we wanted to leave behind with the old year. This was to be followed just after midnight by burning slips of paper marked with blessings we wanted the New Year to bring. Alas, we never made it to Part 2, when the wok in which we were burning Part 1 set off the building fire alarm. We rang in the New Year with 100 or so neighbors out on the sidewalk as the fire trucks screeched up Connecticut Avenue.

Last year in Florida I gamely revisited the ritual-making challenge, with an item that does involve spirituous liquors — and tradition — but does not involve fire or flame. The Joy of Cooking’s classic Bourbon Balls: my favorite! All you need are vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, Karo syrup, pecans, and bourbon. The only modification I make to the traditional recipe: more bourbon! (The paltry 1/4 cup here will never do.) Ideally, to my taste, these emerge as a moist consistency closer to fudgy brownies than a dry cookie. It’s fine if the balls are quite sticky, since you’ll roll them in powdered sugar to finish.

Today’s mitzvah: Dream up a fun activity to endure as a New Year’s Eve tradition. Count your blessings. (And, seriously: make some Bourbon Balls!)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Simple Sundays: Free Clicks Help to Sponsor Children

In a creative spin on “click to donate,” Care2 has pledged to sponsor 14 children through Children International. Each time you click on the web site button (up to once per day per person), advertisers make a small contribution, which Care2 then sends to Children International each month to sponsor Ana Gabriela, Jorge, and Adriana (Ecuador); David and Yeyni (Guatemala); Ariane, Bryan, and Arnold (Philippines); Saony, Jose, and Carlos David (Dominican Republic); and Sirleys, Yelize, and Carlos (Colombia). Sponsorship funds are customized for the individual child’s needs and may include medical and dental care, educational support, clothing, nutritional aid, and family assistance.

Today’s mitzvah: Take a few seconds to click Care2’s children site and help support the kids above, at no cost to you!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Spotlight: Teen Builds Cambodian School

A shout-out to the always inspirational web site for this story. Rachel Rosenfeld of Harrison, NY, now 17, read a newspaper article last year about impoverished children in the Cambodian province of Srah Khvav, who lacked access to education. Yet unlike most newspaper readers who perhaps send kind thoughts and then move on, Rosenfeld (even though ill herself at the time) decided to do something to help Srah Khvav’s children: raise money to build a new school in the province. Rosenfeld sent countless fundraising letters, sold t-shirts, and engaged in basic grassroots fundraising that raised $52,000. She also gained the notice of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which contributed an additional $23,000. On December 26th (my birthday!) Ms. Rosenfeld and her family visited Cambodia to cut the ribbon opening Srah Khvav’s R.S. Rosenfeld School, a primary school for 300 children that also includes five computers and internet access. MSNBC ran a story here — this really is my favorite news story of the month.

Today’s mitzvah: Most of us may not have Ms. Rosenfeld’s energy, but we can still help improve children’s access to education. At no cost: click on Greater Good’s The Literacy Site, whose sponsors will make a contribution benefiting First Book in the U.S. and Room to Read internationally. For $5 or more: consider a tax-deductible contribution to Room to Read, which helps to build schools, provide scholarships, and publish books in local languages for children in developing countries.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Charity Piggy Bank 2008

I’ve been looking for an organized way to keep track of the small sums I receive from odd places throughout the year, with the goal of contributing this money to charity at year’s end. This led to one of my upcoming New Year’s resolutions: create a Charity Piggy Bank. I’ll post periodic updates here on Daily Mitzvah, to help keep me on track. The Charity Piggy Bank will include: rebates and other small checks; the contents of my everything-but-quarters loose change jar; money I find on the street (more than one might think!), left in vending machines, etc; and interest from my two small savings accounts. I’m also figuring out proportional giving this year. My income varies a lot depending on adjunct teaching and other freelance jobs, which makes it hard to estimate in advance. So instead of a fixed sum I’ve chosen a small percentage of my take-home income that I am diverting to the piggy bank. I’ll sweep all these items into my ING Direct savings account, and at the end of the year contribute the money to one or several nonprofits. If you would like to open an ING account for yourself, for any purpose, email me at DailyMitzvahBlog[at]gmail[dot]com for a referral link that will deposit $25 into your new account and also rebate $10 to me. I’ll contribute my portion to the Daily Mitzvah Charity Piggy Bank.

Today’s mitzvah: consider organzinging your small change and other miscellaneous income into a “charity piggy bank.”

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Registered to Vote?

Being home sick and spending the day on the couch, I’ve been watching the sad news of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in Pakistan. Combined with Care2’s Daily Action reminder today to register to vote, this has me thinking a lot about the tremendous risks men and women in other countries take to participate in the democratic process.

The U.S. presidential primaries begin soon (click here for Democratic schedule, here for GOP schedule). Yet 87 years and counting after American women gained a constitutional guarantee of the right to vote, only 65% of eligible American women voted in the last presidential election (although still beating the guys, who had a 62% turnout). Not registered? Not a problem: just click on Rock the Vote’s voter registration page, which will walk you through it quickly and easily. Alternately, the local League of Women Voters can provide information on registration (or just call or visit the local library).

Today’s mitzvah: Register to vote — or if you’re already registered, consider emailing this post to someone who may not yet be registered.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Boxing Day!

“December 26: Boxing Day (UK).” This entry on my birthday mystified me as a child growing up in the Midwest. Each year when the free Hallmark purse calendars appeared on the card store counter, I would flip to December 26 and wonder what the Brits were up to. A day to celebrate pugilism? To throw away boxes? It was a mystery to me. I think it was Upstairs, Downstairs that finally solved the dilemma: Boxing Day, a day to re-wrap surplus items from the Christmas haul, to give to the servants or the poor. The Edwardians understood re-gifting in spirit, if not by name.

Re-gifting emerged as a verb in the 1990s (thank-you, Seinfeld). Why re-gift on Boxing Day? First, it's the day with the most loot. (*I have to say I started this post before Christmas Eve, when I received such lovely gifts from my family. This means no re-gifting at my house, but hypothetically speaking . . . ) Second, most Ronald McDonald Houses post a wish list on their local web sites, such as this one here in town. This charity provides a free or low-cost place to stay for parents and siblings of hospitalized children. Many of these families travel long distances for medical care, and the local RMcD Houses provide a welcoming environment and much-needed financial respite. Like our own households, they have an ongoing need for everything from new sheets and towels, to AA batteries, to toiletries, to non-perishables for the kitchen. (Emphasis on “new”: save the used items for Goodwill or St. Vinny's.) They also often need gas cards as well as items suitable to give as gifts for guest family birthdays and other special occasions. A quick Google search will take you to the Ronald McDonald House in your town: and most of the houses post a Wish List prominently on their site. Donations are typically accepted during normal business hours.

Today's mitzvah: Google the local Ronald McDonald House and check out their Wish List, for your own Boxing Day.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Prayers in the Western Wall in Jerusalem

“Pray for peace in Jerusalem,” was the first thing I heard this morning as the radio switched on. I was only half-awake and I’m still unsure of the context. But this sounded like a perfect post for Christmas Day, and a bit of a thank-you since I’ve appropriated (and probably mistranslated) a bit of Yiddish for the blog’s title.

Visitors to Jerusalem often place small prayers and letters to God in the Western (or Wailing) Wall. For those not able to be in Jerusalem themselves, yeshiva students will accept prayer requests online, print them out, and place them in the Wall on one’s behalf.

Today’s mitzvah: Consider sending a prayer of thanksgiving and peace to be placed in the Western Wall.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Praying without Ceasing: 129 Years & Going Strong

Tucked away in LaCrosse, WI, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are keeping vigil. Yet this isn’t just any vigil. The order’s nuns have been praying without ceasing, 24 hours a day, since August 1, 1878. Day and night, even through difficult financial periods, at least two sisters are always at prayer — praying for all of us.

I hesitated to post on the sisters’ vigil since I know they are sometimes overwhelmed by internet prayer requests, which they receive quite gladly. Yet for me nothing better embodies the spirit of Christmas than these amazing women.

The sisters receive prayer requests on their web site. They also welcome donations — this is a cause for which I don’t hesitate to suggest a contribution if you are able.

Today’s mitzvah: Send a thank-you to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and consider praying for them as they pray for us.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Simple Sundays:
Click for the Gift of Children’s Health

The Child Health Site
In the midst of gift buying and holiday hurrying, The Child Health Site offers a quick, easy, and free way to give the gift of health to children around the world. Every time you click on the site’s blue button (once per day per person), the site’s sponsors make a small donation to charity partners. Together these individual clicks add up to help children each day by:
  • funding Vitamin A supplementation, to help prevent 400,000 cases of childhood blindness each year
  • providing oral re-hydration formula to children with severe dehydration, a major cause of death for children under five worldwide
  • making a prosthesis for child amputees, many of whom have have lost a foot or leg to landmines
  • restoring lost eyesight through simple surgeries that reverse blindness caused by cataracts and trachoma
  • testing pregnant mothers for HIV as a step toward preventing mother-to-child transmission of the AIDS virus

Today’ mitzvah: Click on The Child Health Site to give a gift of health to a child this holiday season

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Last-Minute Shopping? No Prob!

I’m cleaning, cooking, packing — running around like all of you today. And of course this morning I realized I’d forgotten one gift that needed to be sent by mail. Not a problem: several web sites offer a happy confluence of gifts that give back and can be delivered instantaneously.
  • Amazon offers seemingly everything on earth, and they will email electronic gift certificates to arrive on the date you specify. If you use this affiliate link, Amazon will rebate a portion of the purchase price to benefit Kiva, the microloan group. Or shop Amazon at Nonprofit Shopping Mall to choose from a long list of charity partners.

  • Support Kiva directly with a gift certificate that allows your recipient to choose a low-income entrepreneur and help fund his or her microloan. The gift certificates are downloadable PDFs that you can print yourself from Kiva’s site, or email to your recipient.

  • I’ve posted previously about Tis Best, the charity gift card site. Their gift “cards” are delivered by email — to you or to your recipient — and can be used to donate to any of 200 partner nonprofits, supporting everything from animals to the arts.

  • Heifer International allows you to donate anything from a flock of chicks to a water buffalo in your recipient’s name. They offer printable gift inserts and e-cards for last-minute giving. also offers online gift cards you can print out yourself.

Today’s mitzvah: For our friends who celebrate Christmas, consider a gift that gives back — either as a last-minute “oops!” fix or as an extra stocking stuffer.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mitzvah Toolkit:
Caring Bridge and What Friends Do

Here are two wonderful resources I hope we will never need to use. Caring Bridge is an online service that allows a person or family facing a crisis to stay in touch with family and friends through a free and easy-to-create web site. During a serious illness, hospitalization, or other life-altering situation, Caring Bridge facilitates communication by providing a template that includes a patient update journal, a photo gallery, and a guestbook for messages of support.

What Friends Do is a web-based concept that allows friends and family to come together as a team, via a centralized site, to offer coordinated and organized support during a health or other crisis. Once the group’s “coordinator” completes the sign-up process, a web site allows the team to: coordinate schedules for meals, childcare, errands and other needs; provide information updates via a team blog; share photos; and post messages of support.
The main site also contains practical suggestions for how friends can help, as well as insight into maintaining a relationship with someone who is seriously ill or otherwise in crisis.

Today’ mitzvah:
Check out Caring Bridge or What Friends Do for your mitzvah toolkit, to keep in mind in case a friend or family member might need them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Things: A Holiday Thank-You to 13 Blogs I Enjoy

One of the fun things about writing a daily blog: it gives me an excuse to wander the blogosphere looking for inspiration and kindred spirits. I’ve also met some terrific bloggers who have been kind enough to send me email about Daily Mitzvah — an extra hurdle I especially appreciate since I’ve disabled the comments feature here (it’s a spam thing). Anyone who knows me in my non-cyber life may have noticed that the Christmas cards just aren’t happening this year (I got started too late for the USPS). I would, though, like to atone partially with a holiday Thursday Thirteen thank-you to the blog authors whose work I’ve been enjoying so much over the past few months:
  1. Bob in the Middle East has terrific photos and stories from one of my favorite people and former colleagues
  2. Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things, is an award-winning group blog filled with odd and (often) wonderful items they gather for posting
  3. Brighter Days for You and Me, a fun and creative personal blog, has one of the happiest home page photos in the blogosphere
  4. Dane 101, our sturdy local group blog, includes “Breakfast Links” each morning as a quick round-up of news (and oddities) one needs to begin the day
  5. The Devil Dog is not a devil at all but a little dog named Roxy Dragon Pebbles who blogs about the humans in her life, and sometimes broccoli
  6. Dollar Philanthropy hasn't been updated recently, but it's a wonderful concept and worth a look
  7. Fun Spirit, by the same author as Brighter Days, is devoted to fun and laugher
  8. Marty Finestone’s Activity Book has charmed many award groups and offers a little bit of everything: DIY meets whatever interests Marty at a given moment.
  9. Eric B’s Random Acts of Kindness blog features his self-challenge to perform an act of kindness every day for a year. He is on Day 32 and counting!
  10. Skeet’s Stuff, another personal blog, introduced me to my new favorite group, Chemo Angels, and features a terrific Tuesday contest, plus it's always a good read
  11. A Soviet Poster a Day has nothing to do with mitzvahs, it's just a cool and visually rich site
  12. Tree Hugger is the all-things-sustainable blog. Like Boing Boing this is in many ways more like a web site, but posts with dates = blog, and it is full of good ideas
  13. Upgrade: Travel Better is a must-read for frequent travelers (as well as savvy non-frequent travelers)
Today's mitzvah: Visit a new blog and post a nice comment.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Angel Mail with “Chemo Angels”

I was blog surfing yesterday enjoying entries for the Bloggers Unite “Acts of Kindness” day. Among the wonderful and inspiring posts, I stumbled on Skeet’s blog and a mention of a lovely group called Chemo Angels. The organization matches cancer patients with volunteer “angels” who send a card or a small gift ($5–$10 range) each month during chemotherapy treatment, just to keep the person’s spirits up. Is this cool or what? Everything is done through the mail, so location is unimportant. The organization has also started a Senior Angels program, with a longer time commitment but the same premise: a monthly card or small gift to let the recipient know they are remembered and appreciated.

Today’s mitzvah:
Check out Chemo Angels/Senior Angels to see if this is the right volunteer opportunity for you, or if you know someone who might need an “angel.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Gifts: Everybody Wins

I'm trying to make a shift this year from material gifts to gifts that give back. Yet just making a gift to a charity in someone else’s name can seem a bit heavy-handed, and it doesn’t really allow the recipient to be involved in the gift. Our favorite person in North Carolina discovered a terrific site that solves this dilemma. Tis Best Charitable Gift Cards (as in T’is better to give than receive) elevates the gift card concept to a new level. They partner with 200 charities and nonprofits and offer attractive gift cards in a variety of designs. Your recipient is able to enjoy a gift from you while also choosing which organization is the lucky recipient of both of your kindness. Delivered by email, Tis Best cards are also ideal for last-minute shoppers!
Kiva - loans that change lives, the microloan site, is one of my favorite organizations — I included them in my very first post on this blog. Giving a Kiva gift certificate allows your recipient to choose a Kiva entrepreneur and help to fund a microloan to the individual. As the loan is repaid, your recipient will receive Kiva Credits, which can be reinvested in other microloans (or withdrawn). Note that Kiva gift certificates are NOT tax-deductible since they fun
d loans that will be repaid. Kiva gift certificates are printable online, so they also work for anyone who saw the calendar today and panicked.

For even more flexibility, and a tax deduction for you, Charity Checks will send you a special check or checks in the denominations you specify, which you can then give to friends and family. Recipients may make these checks out to any of the 800,000+ charities registered as 501(c)(3)organizations with the U.S. government. The charity simply enters its Tax ID number on the back when depositing the check. (Deposits from groups that are not 501(c)(3)s are not honored.)

Today’s mitzvah: Consider replacing a traditional gift with a gift certificate from Kiva, a gift check from Charity Checks, or a cool gift card from Tis Best.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Bloggers Unite: Acts of Kindness Day

The folks at Bloggers Unite: Blogging for Hope periodically organize a day for blogs to post on a unified subject (most recently on Domestic Violence awareness in July). They’ve designated December 17th “Acts of Kindness Day.” The task is simple: take a break from the usual blog topic to post a message about an act of kindness one has recently performed, with the goal of inspiring others to do the same.

I’m on the fence about posting one’s personal good deeds, which seems a little showy. But in the spirit of the day, here’s mine. My grades were due yesterday, and when I looked at the cumulative scores I saw one student was going to miss passing the class by a close percentage. This student was failing for reasons of her own making — the problem was less about the quality of her work than how infrequently she submitted it. Yet she had also been trying harder toward the end of the semester, and she was the only person on the roster who was going to fail.

I decided to go back and re-grade some of her previous assignments. I was able to identify one where I could stretch and justify increasing her score by a couple points, which allowed her to squeak by with a passing grade for the class. Did the student “deserve” this? Who knows. But people have done me favors in the past that I certainly didn’t deserve, so I decided maybe it was time to return the kindness.

Today’s mitzvah: Join bloggers around the world for Acts of Kindness Day.”

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Simple Sundays: Got Chocolate?

I’m back from a business trip, I missed my first day of blog posting (where is a sad face emoticon when I need one?), I have a slew of grades to finish today, and the Christmas shopping isn’t anywhere close to complete. So who could be happier to learn today is “National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.” It must be true — I read it on the web!

Today’s mitzvah:
Be kind to yourself in this busy season and observe National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Too Few Miles for A Ticket?

The business trip is winding down, but my quest for travel-related mitzvahs continues. I’m a happy frequent flyer mile accumulator — I often face a dilemma: buy things via a charity portal to help others, or a via a miles-earning portal for me! Yet even for a mile hoarder like myself, FF miles on some airlines are unlikely to grow into a free ticket anytime soon. A random flight, an airline that no longer flies into my city — these account balances will languish in the 1,000– to 2,000–mile range until they eventually expire. One option: use the miles for magazine subscriptions. Yet, if one has all the magazines one needs, excess unusable miles can often be donated to charities via a program with the airline. Here are links to several major carriers’ programs. If your airline is not listed here, the programs are easy to find on GoodSearch.
Today’s mitzvah: Consider donating those unused frequent flyer miles to a good cause.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Travel-Size Me

The business trip continues. After turbulent flights and a very rough landing yesterday, I finally made it to the hotel. The high point of the day: a very nice array of HBA (health and beauty accessories) upon arrival. Yet this reminded me I’ve also amassed quite a collection at home, too. So, in the spirit of the blogosphere’s “Thursday Thirteenmeme, here are 13 organizations that would be happy to accept new and unopened travel-size toiletries. (It’s worth double checking before sending.)

  1. Arkansas Children’s Hospital (Little Rock), Family Packs
  2. AmeriCares, Healthy Kids Kits for international shipment
  3. Casa Esperanza (Albequerque, a home base for families of cancer patients)
  4. Cathedral Shelter of Chicago
  5. Crossroads House (Portsmouth, NH)
  6. The Hoboken Shelter (Hoboken, NJ)
  7. Operation Blessing, Disaster Relief Kits (see site for specific instructions on contents & packaging)
  8. ROOTS Young Adult Shelter (Seattle)
  9. Shepherd's Table (Silver Spring, MD)
  10. Starlight Ministries (Boston & Cambridge)
  11. Samaritan House (Atlanta)
  12. Various “support the troops” sites (Due to military and security regulations, these sites have their own specific requirements. Find the right fit via a GoodSearch.)
  13. Your local Ronald McDonald House — most post wish lists on their home pages, like this one

Today’s mitzvah: Consider sending travel-size items on a trip to a worthy organization.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Carbon Offset Purchases: “Does it help or just feel good?”

The business trip begins: 6:30 a.m. at the airport. Flying this week has me thinking about carbon offsets. It’s a controversial idea: make a donation (to plant a tree or take a related action) that allegedly helps “neutralize” the environmental damage from the flight. The video below touches on both sides of the issue. The narrator is skeptical — yet he donated $7 to to plant a Douglas Fir to help offset the carbon produced on his flight. (For a less skeptical perspective, visit Care2’s Race to Save the Planet, which includes a clickable link to reduce 1 lb. of carbon.)

New programs at Travelocity and Expedia offer carbon offsets as add-ons when booking a flight. (If you book through iGive or GoodShop, you’ll also be making a donation to charity, whatever the effects of your offset.)

Today’s mitzvah: Check out TerraPass or the Conservation Fund’s Go Zero Calculator to take a quiz and measure your own carbon footprint, as well as steps to reduce it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Extra Mitzvah for Obama Supporters

I put myself on the Barack Obama mailing list very early. It’s all about the accessories, of course — I wanted to be the first kid on the block with an Obama button! Today I received an email message from a volunteer coordinator in Iowa with the open-me subject line “An Unusual Request.” I’m nothing if not a target market, so of course I opened it. The request? Send an online note of encouragement to one of the Iowa precinct captains. The captains work long hours and it’s all volunteer. The campaign provides a link with a page that’s all set to email: just enter your message. The only personal information required is an email address and your zip code. After sending the message, a heads up that you’ll see a page asking if you’d also like to make a financial donation (it’s a campaign, after all). But no contribution is necessary to send a note of encouragement.

Today’s extra credit mitzvah:
Click here to send a note of support and thanks to an Iowa precinct captain.

Travel Tix That Give Back

I have a business trip to Pittsburgh and there’s no way around it — unless I can convince someone at my favorite weather site to create some snow tout de suite. But the prospect of travel has me thinking, as usual, about how to snag some money for charity in the process. If you’re taking a trip and making your own reservations, shopping portals iGive and GoodShop will rebate a portion of your purchase to the nonprofit of your choice. Both sites partner with Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz, as well as Hotwire and Priceline. Additionally, you’ll find links to a more limited number of individual airline, hotel, and car rental partners on both sites. There are other charity shopping portals out there, but I like these two because they’re transparent about the percentage of each purchase that will be rebated to your designated nonprofit.

Today’s mitzvah: Consider using a charity portal such as iGive or GoodShop the next time you need to make travel reservations.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Help Save Carnegie Hall Artists’ Studios

Looking for a way to start the week? Help save Carnegie Hall’s legendary Studio Artist Towers. Why? In the group’s words: “For more than 100 years, a unique collection of musicians, painters, sculptors, actors, drama coaches, photographers, architects, educators and related professionals have occupied the studios above Carnegie Hall as part of Andrew Carnegie’s mandate to house a comprehensive creative community.” Carnegie Hall now wants to demolish the interiors of this historic space, possibly to make way for luxury condos, and has begun evicting its current tenants, including educational groups and working artists. More information, and stunning photos, are available on the preservation group’s web site. Care2 is hosting a petition drive to stop the demolotion, with the goal of gathering 100,000 signatures to present to Mayor Bloomberg.

Today’s mitzvah: Sign a petition to help save the Carnegie Hall Artist Studios.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Simple Sundays: “Click to Donate” Ideas by Email

Many of us have a favorite click to donatesite, like Free Rice, yet it often seems there are just too many of these sites to keep up with. A simply designed web site, Daily Free Donation, offers a streamlined solution: submit your email address and every two days you will receive a message featuring a random “click to donate” link. These web sites follow the familiar model: a sponsor or sponsors agree to make a contribution for every click, at no cost to you or me. A neat added feature: many of the Daily Free Donation sites are located in countries other than the U.S. — and might otherwise be unknown to English-only speakers — supporting local food, health, and education programs. (Not sure where to click on a page in an unfamiliar language? Look for the left sidebar with instructions and an arrow to direct you to the appropriate button.)

Today’s mitzvah:
Consider signing up for an every-other-day email message — and “click to donate”!

A Musical Interlude . . . and Everyday Superheroes

No special mitzvah in this post, just an unsolicited plug for CNN’s awe-inspiring Everyday Heroes special. This awards program is re-airing frequently this weekend. But more than the awards, the really moving and get-all-teary moments are the stories of everyday men and women from around the world who have taken anything-but-everyday actions to improve life for their fellow humans.

The evening also includes music — my favorite is Sheryl Crow’s rendition of her new song, Shine Over Babylon. I’m including a YouTube for the song, my little extra mitzvah for you.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Update: “Modest Needs” Now a Starbucks Partner

I recently blogged about Modest Needs, the charity that helps out individuals facing short- term financial emergencies. I’m happy to report that Starbucks stores in the Mid-Atlantic states have chosen Modest Needs as their Pass the Cheer partner. On Saturdays in December, these regional Starbucks stores will make a donation to Modest Needs for every specialty holiday drink sold. Hmm . . . this means a Peppermint Mocha is good for you. (I knew it!)

Today’s mitzvah: Visit a local Starbucks and kick back some cash for charity while enjoying a fancy coffee drink. (Not in a Mid-Atlantic state? Buy yourself a nice coffee drink and ponder freelance mitzvah possibilities!)

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