Monthly Archives: August 2012

Headbands of Hope

Hair is important to girls.  Before a recent haircut, my daughter told me she didn’t want hair a boy haircut.  When I was in high school, I had pretty short hair for a while.  My part time job at the time required me to wear a hat and I was called a boy more than once.  Today’s organization is helping girls who have lost their hair still feel girly and pretty.

Headbands of Hope is on a mission to spread hope in all girls, one headband at a time.  They are located in Charlotte, North Carolina and their headbands are manufactured in Bismarck, North Dakota.  The organization was founded by Jessica Ekstrom after she interned with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2011.  She met girls who lost their hair due to chemotherapy treatments and loved to wear girly headbands to still feel pretty and keep their feminine identity.  Wigs can be awkward and uncomfortable and hats are not that girly, so a headband is a great way to boost their spirits when they looked in the mirror.  You can read the touching wish story that inspired Jessica here

Headbands of Hope

Jessica is also an inspiration to girls because she started Headbands of Hope when she was just 20 years old.  She says, “Hopefully my story shows people that it’s never too early to follow your dreams.”  While she admits there are challenges to running an organization while also focusing on school and keeping a social life, she continues, “I wouldn’t have wanted to start it any other way.  I can say I’ve helped hundreds of girls and started a fashion trend that makes a difference, all before I get my [college] diploma.”

Headbands of Hope has a variety of headbands for girls and women on their website.  For each headband purchased, $1 is donated to the St Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.  In addition, headbands are donated to hospitals for girls undergoing treatment.  They work with St. Baldricks to select hospitals or take suggestions by e-mailing  You can read one volunteer’s story of bringing headbands to a hospital here

In a recent interview on the Bellaspire Blog, a young headband recipient named Tori said, “I like headbands because my head is bald! It makes me look pretty and the headbands are soft and don’t hurt my head.”  Tori’s favorite headband is the one named after her, Totally Tori.

How can you help? 

  • Purchase headbands via their website or through a retail location.
  • If you are a retailer and would like to carry Headbands of Hope, you can contact Jessica at
  • You can also spread the word about their mission on social media and sharing with friends. 
  • You can also find out more about becoming a Hope representative by contacting Jessica.

Learn more about Headbands of Hope on their website,  You can also connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.

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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Adopt A Book

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Books have always been an important part of my life.  I always had at least one shelf full of books in my room and my kids are the same, but not all kids have easy access to books.  Several years ago, I read a story about a teacher who asked her students to bring a book in to class.  Several students brought in a phone book because that was the only book they had in the house.  Today’s organization is working to get books into the hands of more children. 

 Adopt A Book

Adopt a Book is an organization based in Loveland, Ohio with a mission to provide new and gently used books to under privileged kids.  It was founded in November 2011 after eight year old twins Hannah and Alex.  They learned of schools in the inner city of Cincinnati losing the funding necessary to provide new books to their students and were shocked.  The twins are avid readers and could not imagine life without a book and asked their parents if they could start a “business” that helped provide books for kids to keep.  Their parents agreed and setup a 501c3 organization.  So far they have collected and donated over 7,000 books to organizations that work directly with foster and adoptive children, homeless children, and families involved in at-risk programs. 

How can you help?

The biggest need the organization has is books for preschool to elementary school children.  They will take donations of new or gently used books.    

You can connect with the organization via e-mail at or on Facebook.  You can also learn more in this newspaper article on the Adopt a Book organization.

Related Post: Read Indeed

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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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The Blessing Basket Project

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”  ~Scott Adams

A tough situation can either lift a person up or break them down.  The founder of today’s organization had some rough times in her life, but she did not let them bring her down.  In fact, she found blessings in the kindness of others and turned that into a ripple of kindness that has become The Blessing Basket Project. 

The Blessing Basket Project Logo

The Blessing Basket Project works to reduce poverty in developing countries by paying Prosperity Wages® for products created by artisans in those countries. The unique financial model they have implemented allows the artisan to earn significantly higher than fair trade wages for a given period of time.  This creates a cycle of entrepreneur driven growth resulting in permanent financial independence for the artisan. 

The Blessing Basket Project was founded by Theresa Wilson.  She considers herself an ordinary person, who decided to ripple kindness out to ensure that good things really can come from a bad situation.  Theresa was born with fetal alcohol syndrome to an imprisoned mother and went through childhood only knowing a life of abuse and deprivation.  She was taken into state custody then grew up to get married and have two children.  Then after 13 years of marriage, her husband left her for another woman.  It was at this time that the acts of kindness started to pour in.  Groceries would appear on their doorstep, cash would arrive in the mail, and the lawn would get mowed while Theresa was at work.  Theresa kept each note, card, and picture in a basket as a visual reminder that she and her children were loved and life goes on.  By early 2000 Theresa began speaking at women’s organizations about overcoming trial using her “Blessing Basket” as a prop.  Women began requesting their own blessing basket and Theresa started selling them.  In 2004, this evolved into the Blessing Basket Project when Theresa started paying the basket artisans directly to help lift them out of poverty.  You can read a more detailed version of Theresa’s story here.

Since the start of The Blessing Basket Project, they have paid over $2,000,000 USD directly into the hands of artisans.  They work with approximately 1,500 weavers across the six countries of Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda.  They do not plan any expansion until at least 80% of their original weavers have achieved permanent financial independence from the project or sales allow expansion without impacting any of the current artisans.

How can you help?

  • If you live near their St Louis, Missouri location, you can volunteer to assist in the warehouse, prep baskets to be sold, or assist with special project in their office.
  • Monetary donations can be made through The Blessing Basket website.  All donations will go directly to the project of your choice, including general operations, travel, education, or more. 
  • You can also shop their online store or find retail locations to purchase baskets, bags, and other products. 
  • You could also host your own Seeds of Blessing party to view and purchase baskets or become a Seeds of Blessing consultant.  Learn more about Seeds of Blessing at

You can learn more about The Blessing Basket Project on their website,  You can also connect with them on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Related post: Bead for Life

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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I Do Foundation

The summer months are wedding season in Minnesota.  Just yesterday I was enjoying some time with friends at a local restaurant when a wedding party caught our eye across the street.  Fun pink dresses and pink vests for the wedding party paired nicely with the bride’s pink high heels.  When I got married, I remember all the gifts we received, and then all the returns of duplicates!  Today’s organization is for those couples who would rather give back on their big day. 

The I Do Foundation is a national pioneer in wedding occasion giving.  The organization was launched on Valentines’ Day in 2002 by a group of nonprofit leaders to link engaged couples with charitable wedding choices.  The organization works closely with corporate and nonprofit partners to provide a variety of ways for couples to give back and Celebrate Generously™.  In 2009, I Do joined forces with JustGive

I Do Foundation allows couples to give back on their big day.

I Do Foundation’s mission is to help engaged couples bring a charitable focus to their wedding.  The goal is to share the joy and wealth of these wedding celebrations with nonprofit organizations by providing couples with unique and easy-to-use I Do services. The foundation believes that giving brings meaning to life and they have a passion for connecting soon-to-be-wed couples with the charities and causes they care about most.

More than 10% of all engaged couples visit I Do each year to learn how they can give back through their celebration.  Over 100,000 couples have sent more than $5.7 million to charity through the I Do Foundation and its partners.  The average donation for charity through an I Do wedding is about $420.  The top five charities include: Doctors Without Borders, Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.

If you (or someone you know) is getting married in the near future, consider one of these no-cost ways to give back:

  • Through I Do’s Charity Registry, couples can share the generosity of their guests with a favorite charitable cause. Guests make secure online donations through I Do and support the chosen organization as their wedding gift to the couple.
  • A Gift Registry through the Wedding Channel allows the couple to register for gifts online with their partner stores and have up to 3% of guests’ gift purchases donated to their selected charity.
  • Favors for Charity allows couples to honor their guests and share their values by making a donation to a favorite charity for their wedding favors. They’re a great way to get guests involved in causes that are close to the couple’s heart.
  • Charity Gift Cards can be given to thank attendants.  These GiveNow charity gift card is a green gift for good that shows a couple’s appreciation by giving back by allowing the recipient to redeem it to the charity of their choice!
  • You can also shop for good for your honeymoon, invitations, and more to donate a portion to charity. 
  • The I Do website also offers several tips and suggestions on giving to your local community on your big day.  Some tips include recycling your wedding dress, donating your leftover food and donating your flowers.

Weddings aren’t the only way to give back.  JustGive also offers memorial registries to allow you to honor a loved one or gift registries to give back on your birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion. 

Just Give Allows you to Give Back in more ways

You can learn more about the I Do Foundation on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You can learn more about JustGive on their website,, and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts: Wish Upon a Wedding and Donors Choose.

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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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826 National

According to the 2007 “To Read or Not To Read” Executive Summary from the National Endowment for the Arts, 49% of employers rated writing skills as very important for newly hired employees who are high school graduates, however 72% of employers rate high school graduates as deficient in writing skills.  In addition, remedial writing courses are estimated to cost more than $3.1 billion for large corporate employers and $221 million for state employers. Today’s organization is attempting to make a difference in the writing skills of America’s youth. 

826 National is a non-profit organization with a mission based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.  The 826 National organization provides strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of its network of eight writing and tutoring centers across the United States. 

826 centers are located in Ann Arbor, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.  Each center offers a variety of inventive programs that provide students age 6-18 with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.  They also aim to help teachers get their classes excited about writing.  In 2011, their writing centers served over 29,000 students.

The 826 organization was founded ten years ago by award winning author Dave Eggers along with educator Ninive Calegari.  They started by opening the 826 Velencia in San Francisco’s Mission District.  Their initial mission was to assist young people in the neighborhood who needed extra help after school with their homework and to assist these students with their writing skills.  They aim to fill the gap as youth reading and writing skills continue to wane.  Their programs include tutoring, writing workshops, field trips, and publishing projects.  In 2011, the eight centers served 29,060 students, 849 teachers, completed 959 publishing projects, and conducted 646 field trips, 387 writing workshops, and 1,537 after-school tutoring hours.

Each center is unique because the students enter through a whimsically themed retail storefront.  The San Francisco location sells supplies for the working pirate, in New York they sell superhero supplies, Los Angeles has a Time Travel Mart, and the Ann Arbor store fills your robot supply needs.  You can see photos of each unique storefront here.

You can see a video about the 826 centers here: 

How can you help?

Each of the centers are always looking for volunteers to help with after-school tutoring, leading educational Storytelling and Bookmaking workshops, in-school opportunities, and volunteer graphic designers.  You can read more about their volunteer opportunities on their website

You can also support the 826 National organization by shopping their online store that offers many unique gifts including their Emergency Novel-Finishing Kits; the Don’t Forget to Write collection, featuring over 100 creative writing lessons for elementary and secondary students; and 826 student publications, t-shirts, coffee mugs, snuggies, and tote bags.

You can also provide a monetary donation to the organization via their website.

You can learn more about the 826 National organization and connect with each chapter on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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