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.


Advent of good things day 2 – a quintet on 34th St

Today was a tough day for good deeds.

There’s a Salvation Army bell ringer on my street. I can hear her from the roof deck, when I open my door. Brrrring, ring, ring. All day.

When I told my 2-and-a-half-year-old why she was there he decided he wanted to take some money out if his money box and put it in her bucket. So we put a few quarters in his coat pocket. (He doesn’t understand the paper money thing yet, so they had to be coins). Thing is, every time we go down to donate them, she’s not there. I feel like she’s avoiding us.

Today it’s cold in New York. It’s also #GivingTuesday, so there are plenty of options for my one good thing. From Reading Empowers to NYRR Youth Programmes. I’ve had suggestions from friends (thanks to the lovely Dallas from Skilled With Kids) and emails and facebook alerts from all sorts of charities and organizations needing help. They are all worthy causes, and I will be giving to a couple of charities close to my heart this evening. But I would have done that anyway, so I wanted to get something for the elusive Salvation Army woman too. When I spotted her outside Wholefoods this lunchtime I ran in and grabbed her a coffee (to warm her up) and a muffin (just because). I was already feeling good just carrying them through the store. But when I got outside she had gone. Again. So today’s deed hasn’t been so easy. I even tried to give the coffee and muffin to the doorman on my way into the building but he declined too. So did the maintenance guy.

We ventured down to Macy’s to see Santa this afternoon – another disaster. My little boy wouldn’t go near him, let alone sit for a picture. It then took us fifteen minutes to persuade him to put on his coat back on and get outside. Feeling utterly deflated we trudged back to the subway in the rain. And then we (heard then) saw these guys doing a brass band version of the Eye of the Tiger. With choreography. Brilliant. Take a look at the video here.

Lucky Chops CD

Lesson of the day. A chance to do something good always presents itself. We had a chat with the guys, complemented them on the music, bought a ten-dollar CD and gave them the change out of a twenty. They loved it. Just shows, it’s the little things that make our day. My little one has watched the video at least twenty times, which has definitely been the best part of his day. Oh and my husband got to eat the Wholefoods muffin, so everyone’s happy.

Oh, and if you’re around Lucky Chops are playing at Grand Central 12-3pm on Thursday. Don’t miss them.

A warm feeling inside

Day one of good deeds. A good chance to explain why.

When I moved to New York just over a year ago, I wasn’t worried. I love this city – always have. I knew it would be beautiful, crazy and cool.

But I didn’t think it would be friendly. In fact, in the first few weeks we were here, a woman screamed in my face in Wholefoods for “crowding her”. When I was nice enough to give someone directions he shouted an aggressive “Good!” In my face and strode off. And I said sorry to everyone who bumped into me on the ‘sidewalk’ and the subway.

Safe to say I was not feeling the love.

However in the last 12 months, people have brought soup to the door when I was ill, brought books when the little monkey was sick, left $200 under my door when my credit card got cloned, walked my dog, babysat my child, helped me sort everything from doctors to gym classes to swimming lessons, and just been there for me with help and advice and a friendly face at every turn.

These things are far more beautiful than the view from the top of the Empire State Building at dusk, better than any fancy restaurant meal, trendy coffee bar, or show on (or off) Broadway. These things have made me feel not just welcomed, but amazing. This is my way of passing that on.

Today is the first day of my ‘advent of good things’, and being stuck inside all day with a poorly child was not part of the plan. But doing one good thing, it turns out, is pretty easy. I pulled out three coats (including a down jacket that got me through my first excruciatingly cold NY winter) and sloped off in the rain this evening to donate them to NY Cares Coat Drive. Easy? Yes. Worthwhile? Definitely. It kills me to think there are families out there who don’t have something as basic as a coat to keep them warm.  I took ours to our local Police Precinct, and the guys on duty were very friendly and grateful. You can donate at any police station and plenty of other drop off locations in the city. Find your nearest here. And if you’re reading this in the UK you can find something local from the Winter Coat Amnesty in the North East to Wrap Up London. These may have stopped collecting now, but I’m sure there are plenty of people happy to receive a warm winter coat.

To make it a really good thing, I put a little extra donation in the pockets to help – purely for selfish reasons…It made me feel great. Roll on day two.

Got ideas or suggestions? Want to join in? Let me know.