Dear Santa… please can I have a donation to TINT?

With family and friends back in the UK, we do our Christmas shopping in two halves nowadays. The things we need to mail back to the UK get done first… We’ve been focussing on those, so I haven’t thought about what to get for my friends and family here in New York yet. And I haven’t thought about what I’d like from Santa either…

Santa Rescue

But watching the annual FDNY Santa Rescue at the fire museum this morning got us talking about presents for each other and our little man.

This year, in an effort to be a little more minimalist and keep our tiny 2-bed apartment as clutter-free as possible, we are using something I spotted as a comment on this site… And buying the following for each other…

Something we want,
Something we need,
Something to wear,
And something to read.

Still plenty to open without going present-crazy. My husband, who is a great gift giver was also talking about a few stocking fillers (or stocking stuffers as they say out here in the US). Instead of a few inexpensive novelty items I asked him for something else instead… A donation to The Isaac Nash Trust. (TINT).

Earlier this year, the young boy of an ex-colleague was swept out to see off Anglesey. He was 12 years old. He was swimming with his younger brother Xander when tragedy struck. Their father managed to rescue Xander, but despite heroic attempts their grandpa just couldn’t hold onto Isaac. He was lost.

Isaac Nash

Isaac Nash, the 12 year old boy from Huddersfield, who died after being swept out to sea.

You can read the heartbreaking story here.

The family also have a young girl who’s a similar age to my little one, and although I only knew Adam (Isaac’s dad) for a short time whilst working in Leeds, the news from home deeply affected me. I can only imagine what the family is going through and my heart goes out to those two young children who will forever be without their big brother.

The Trust is aiming to raise £100,000 for a skate park in Isaac’s memory and an additional £10,000 for the RNLI who worked hard on the day of the tragedy (as they do every day of the year – including Christmas Day). They have raised more than £60,000 so far, and it would be a great Christmas gift to help them get a little closer to their target. If you want to help too, you can donate to the fund here, or if you prefer, purchase a Huddersfield Examiner 2015 calendar full of stunning images from the local area for just £6. All profits go to The Isaac Nash Trust.

Feeling inspired? Why not ask Santa for a donation to a charity close to your heart for Christmas this year? There are so many great causes out there, but if you know Adam or the Nashes, or simply want to help this wonderful family, consider a donation to TINT.

It’ll be lonely this Christmas…

NYC Christmas tree home

Taking home the tree

Today has been a day all about one thing – Christmas. This morning we picked out our tree and schlepped it home (New York Style), we wrapped gifts listening to the Salvation Army playlist, and we wrote cards for friends and family back in the UK. It was cold and wet, so it was the perfect afternoon for it. I was only missing one thing – the mince pies.

I know that Christmas cards are becoming obsolete. In fact I read something today that said 2014 is the year the Christmas Card died. One of my best friends has decided to use the money she would have spent on cards to donate to a  charity close to her heart instead, which is a fantastic idea.

I was thinking about a few certain people back home who I really need to write to, and it got me thinking – there are plenty of people who don’t receive cards or gifts and would love to receive something in the mail – especially at this time of year. So I had a look online and found a wonderful organisation called The Forgotten Ones Card Exchange for the Elderly.

Here’s what they have to say:

The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly
 
Walk into any nursing home today, and you’ll see them: The aging lonely. They are easily recognizable. Look for the sadness on their faces, the pain in their eyes. With a television on for company, these men and women sit alone in their rooms. Their shelves are bare, their bulletin boards void of pictures, cards, or any memento denoting love from the outside. Those sad eyes may even hold a twinge of bitterness, asking, “Why am I still here with no one to love me?” by Karrie Osborn 

So I added a few addresses to my card list. I’m sending cards to residents in need of cheer at nursing homes, rehab centers, and hospices – from as close as a few blocks away in Harlem to as far as Nairobi and Australia. I chose a few places close to our hearts too – such as Manchester (where my husband’s from) and Edinburgh (where we got married). I sent a few pictures my son had painted/drawn to add a personal touch, and also included a stamped, addressed envelope in case anyone wanted to reply.

Card Exchange for the Elderly Cards

This is definitely a Christmas tradition I will be keeping. I’m already looking forward to next year. What about you? Do you have a few spare cards? If so, don’t put them away for next year, send them to someone who will really, really appreciate the effort and bring a smile to someone’s face.

Got any comments or suggestions? I’d love to hear what you are doing. Get involved below.

Gifts that give back

I happened to go past Bloomingdales today – one of New York’s ‘best department stores‘. The holiday season is in full swing and this year, as part of Advent of Good Things, I have decided to buy as many gifts ‘that give back’ as possible, and I have included some great links below if you’d like to do the same. But I really needed a few presents for those hard to buy for people to send back to the UK. So I went in. Before I go any further I must explain that I really dislike shopping. Hate is a strong word, but I have used it in the same sentence as ‘shopping’ on numerous occasions.

The shopping experience in Bloomingdales is very American. There’s a woman whose job it is to say ‘Welcome to Bloomingdales’ to everyone who walks through the door. Everyone. And that’s a lot of people. The store is so big you need to download an app to find your way around. I walked around and got lost (I didn’t download the app), felt annoyed, and left empty handed. As I was leaving I noticed almost everyone else coming through the door had giant smiles and faces full of excitement and anticipation… people just love to shop!

It made me realise that for me, gifts that give back are definitely the way to go. It’s so easy and you can find something for pretty much everyone. I say pretty much as we all have those people who are particularly difficult to buy for and so in the end I had to go to a normal store to pick up a couple of last gifts. Even then though there was an opportunity to do my one good thing – as I was paying the cashier asked me if I would like to make a donation on top of my purchase, so in the end, that was also a gift that gave back.

Great gifts that give back:

Everyone loves a good bag – especially one that is helping children achieve their dreams.

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Will Bags Wax Coated Dome backpack, ($175

Wax Coated Dome backpack from Will Bags ($175) – helping kids achieve their dreams. I have this bag and I love it.

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Stage Bags Ashton Bag, $150

The Ashton – from State Bags ($150) For every backpack sold they had deliver one to a child in need.

Charity gifts – from an Oxfam goat to a Kiva loan. There are so many charity gifts to give. Make it personal by choosing something specific to the person you are gifting to. If they are a nature or wildlife fan try Animal Adoption, if they are a family loving erm… family, why not sponsor a child through Save the Children or World Vision. (as part of his gifts this year our little one will be sponsoring a child – not sure how Santa will driver that one yet!)

Twillory Shirt

Twillory Blue Royal panama Shirt $79

For the man who has everything, how about a Twillory Shirt? They’ll also get a pre-paid mailer bag in which they are encourage to re-gift an old gently warn garment – all they have to do is put it in the envelope and drop it in the mail. Twillory in partnership with CareerGear will inspect, launder and repackage your donated goods for distribution to those in need helping the jobless, homeless and disaster stricken, both at home and abroad.

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ladies Timex Watch, United By Blue, $88

Anything from United By Blue, such as this ladies Timex Watch ($88). The company are dedicated to helping the environment. For every product sold, UBB removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized and hosted cleanups. (Tip: they also sell socks!)

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Sevenly Limited Edition Together Were Stronger Flowy Long Sleeve Tee, $36

A graphic tee from Sevenely who donate $7 dollars for every purchase to a different charity every week.

Here are some more great gifts that give back ideas from a round the web:

http://www.kitchencounterchronicle.com/holiday-giving-holiday-gifts-give-back/

http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Kids-Gifts-Give-Back-25977951#photo-25977951

http://homewiththeboys.net/guide-gifts-that-give-back/

Food for thought

I’m sure a lot of people think I must have a glamorous life, living in New York City. Truth is, my life is just like yours. Today I had to go to the supermarket, do my washing, and entertain a two and a half year old (lego, play doh, reading, lego again – recognisable?!). I was wondering how I was going to squeeze in a good thing, but with my new friend from yesterday still fresh in my mind , I decided today was a good day to donate to the food pantry.

According to New York City Coalition Against Hunger, more than 1.3 million New Yorkers live without sufficient food – including 1 in 5 of the city’s children. The shocking fact is that kids are going to sleep hungry every night. Kids near me, kids near you. Kids everywhere.

All it took was a quick rummage through the kitchen cupboards and I had a hamper full of food – rice, pasta, canned fish, cereals, peanut butter, crackers and plenty more.

Food bank donation

Trying to explain to a 2-and-a-half-year-old what I was doing was tough… I’m not sure he understood, but he did choose a toy bus to donate to the children who didn’t have any toys (he kept asking why they didn’t go to the store, which makes me realise he is a little spoiled – work to be done there!)

The point of this blog is to inspire others to do ‘one good thing’. I know life is tough for everyone, but if you can spare a few things from your cupboards (that tin of pears at the back of the cupboard that you bought but will never use maybe?) there will be people out there who really, really appreciate it. If you’re in the UK you can find your local for bank here. And for New Yorkers, here’s a great list.

I enjoyed dinner tonight knowing that someone else will benefit from our donation, and am thinking of buying a few extras each week to make it a regular thing.

An alternative advent calendar

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I love advent calendars. Even the old fashioned ones I used to get as a kid with a picture behind each door were enough to get me jumping out of bed every morning in December. Nowadays they’re even better – who can resist a chocolate advent calendar? The excitement of counting down to Christmas one delicious treat at a time – who doesn’t want that?! The thing is, this year (for various reasons) I won’t be getting an advent calendar… I’ll still be counting down the days though – just instead of eating one good thing a day, I’ll be DOING ONE GOOD THING A DAY instead. Whether that’s donating a coat at this year’s New York Cares Coat Drive or something as simple as a coffee and a chat for someone who needs one. I haven’t got 25 things yet – so suggestions are welcome, and of course please feel free to join in. I’ll be posting on here to let you know how it goes, so watch this space.