Tag Archives: charity

Want to help animals? Can’t adopt? Here are some other ways

I really like this post, it reminds us that there’s pretty much always a way we can help, even if it’s not in the most obvious and direct ways we might think. From MNN, Mother Nature Network, “25 creative ways to help animal shelters”. Some highlights:

Spread the word
• Hang up fliers for upcoming adoption events or adoptable animals in pet stores, vet offices, parks and other places where potential adopters will find their perfect companion. Distributing fliers and other marketing materials is an easy and important way to get the word out about adoptable pets.
• Share adoption profiles on social media: Your Facebook timeline, Twitter stream, Pinterest board, Tumbler page and other social media accounts are all perfect ways to help advertise pets that are in need of a home. Simply sharing the profiles of adoptable animals to your followers takes hardly any time or effort yet could play a part in creating the perfect match for an animal in need of a forever family.
• Transport animals: Have a car? Then a shelter might need you. Some shelters have a hard time arranging to get animals from the shelter to vet appointments, or from shelters to rescue facilities. Donating a little of your time and your driving skills will help animals get the care they need when they need it, and frees up time for other shelter volunteers to get more work done.
• Walk dogs: Many times shelters are short on staff to help exercise and socialize their animals. If you’re good with dogs, take an hour once a week (or more!) to drop by and take a dog for a walk. Play time has huge psychological and physical benefits for waiting animals.
• Pet cats: Cats need socialization too. If you’re a cat lover, take an hour once a week (or more!) to hang out with cats — petting, playing and interacting with them to get them ready for a new home.

Gathering supplies

• Donate wish list items: Every shelter has a wish list of items, whether it’s food, toys, bedding, litter, crates or cleaning supplies. Pick up a couple items next time you’re shopping to drop off at the shelter.
• Scan Craig’s List, Freecycle, eBay, and other resources for items being sold or given away, and collect them to donate to a shelter.
• Call local hotels to see if they have any unusable bedding, towels or cleaning supplies that they will donate to a local shelter.
Bust out your special talents:
• Crafty folks: Create homemade toys and bedding using old T-shirts, jeans or blankets. Or sew up “Adopt Me” vests and bandanas for adoptable animals to wear while they’re out for walks or at events. A quick search for “How to make [insert dog bed, dog toys, cat toys, etc.]” will bring up loads of patterns and ideas.
• Carpenters and DIY whizzes: Help out with carpentry or other skills needed to repair and improve shelters. Anything from renovating parts of a facility to building a new cat tree will be hugely appreciated.
• Lawyers: Shelters need lawyers too. Lend your knowledge and skills to help shelters stay on top of legal forms, contracts, copyright on videos or brochures made for advertising, and so on.
• Accountants: Shelters definitely need to stay on top of accounting paperwork. You can help shelters keep organized about fees paid by adopters, donations and grants, as well as balancing expenses for caring for the animals.
• Dog trainers (or trainers in training!): Take a dog to obedience class. Often dogs need some training before they’re ready to be adopted. You can help shelters by volunteering your skills as a trainer and working with the dogs. Or if you’re a novice, take a dog to obedience classes where you both can learn. Basic commands like sit, stay, lie down, and loose leash walking all make a dog more adoptable.
If you have experience with dog or cat behavior, volunteer to do behavior evaluations for new arrivals, and help the shelter determine each animal’s personality, social skill level, find any triggers for behavior problems, and other important information that’s needed for determining how adoptable an animal is or what kind of home they need to thrive.
• Website designers: Shelters need to constantly update their websites as animals are
adopted or are made available for adoption. Everything from maintaining upcoming events information, calls for donations, blog updates, designing a professional look and other aspects of a great website are things you could help out with.
• Writers: Shelters do a lot of writing. They need adoption profiles for each pet put up for adoption, newsletters must be written and sent, ads for events and fundraisers must be crafted, grant applications must be written, and so on. Your skills as a writer could make all the difference for a shelter’s success.
• Social media experts: Social media is a must for getting the word out on adoptable pets. Shelters need to post updates constantly on who is looking for a new home, who was adopted out successfully (everyone loves hearing success stories!), requests for much needed supplies or donations, and other news. Someone skilled with the etiquette and best practices for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other platforms, including skills for writing and scheduling updates, can mean a big uptick in successful adoptions.
• Photographers: High-quality photos for adoption profiles make an enormous difference in how quickly animals get adopted. Volunteer your skills with a camera to photograph animals, showing off their personality and making them look their best so potential adopters will click on their profile and, with luck, visit to meet and adopt them. Check out HeartsSpeak, an organization that helps photographers partner up with shelters.
Fun fundraising ideas:

• At work: Put up a glass jar with a sign on your desk or countertop, and send out an email to coworkers asking for donations for a week. Or take it a step further by organizing a supplies donation drive, bake sale, raffle or other fundraising drive for a week or more.

• At school: What better place to learn about animals in need than at school? Enlisting the help of teachers and classrooms full of students could mean major donations to a local shelter. Talk to the faculty and staff at a school about ideas, from donation drives to raffles. The shelter you’re helping could bring in a couple adoptable pets to the school to show kids how (and who) they’re helping. It’s the perfect opportunity not only to raise funds and goods for the shelter, but also to raise awareness at an early age about caring for pets.
• Say “thank you”: Shelter workers give their whole hearts to their jobs, and are usually buried under never-ending to-do lists and urgent tasks. They usually are overstressed and under-paid. So little things like someone showing how much they appreciate what they’re doing goes a long, long way in restoring the energy and drive they need to continue to help animals. You can do something simple like sending in a thank you card or a bouquet of flowers. Or maybe deliver cupcakes or cookies, or order pizza or sandwiches for the whole crew one day. Anything that shows just how much their efforts are appreciated will make a big difference. When the staff are encouraged and energized, all the animals in the shelter benefit from that positive energy.
I must admit I never even considered how simple it would be to just give one hour a week of my time to help walk dogs or play with cats. That’s very doable and would be a help. I know there is a big ongoing problem with the fact that most people will buy new puppies or kittens instead of adopting rescued animals.

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Director : Amy Schumer.
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Release : March 7, 2017
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Language : English.
Runtime : 57 min.
Genre : Comedy.

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Tab for a Cause – Calling all heavy internet users!

Have you heard of Tab for a Cause? If not, the idea is super simple. TFAC is a browser extension (available for multiple browsers) that you can set up and when you open a new tab in your browser, it will display a page for a charity (of types that you’ve indicated you support or are interested in) which raises money. You don’t even have to click on anything (I never have). I just hit ctrl+t, and then type whatever URL I want to go to in the address bar (or tab over and type into the search bar since I primarily use firefox) and off I go.

You can set the frequency of how often new tabs display charity pages (mine is set to “every time”), and choose from a list of causes within the extension’s settings to support.

They have a FAQ page, but I can’t link directly to it due to the way their website is set up, so just head over to www.tabforacause.org and click on FAQ in the sidebar. It explains how it works.

Tab for a Cause supports:
Action Against Hunger
Room to Read
Human Rights Watch
Conservation International
International Peace Institute
Save the Children

I’ve also added this to the resources page.

Go Halfsies, help fight hunger

A few years ago I heard about a new (at the time) initiative called “Go Halfsies” (www.gohalfsies.com). Essentially what they do is allow you to order a smaller portion size (as well as healthier) meal, and instead of giving you a giant plate of food, they donate half to someone else who needs it (presumably like a shelter).

When I discovered them, they were just launching their pilot project in the US, in select cities. I was just randomly reminded of the project this week and thought I’d share it here (and added it to the resources page). I do think it’s a cool idea, because while the portion sizes here in Canada are regarded as being more reasonable compared to America, I still think they can be too big up here.

So, if you like the idea, go check out their website, read up, find out if they are in your area and support a good cause. Or heck, if you’re feeling extra helpful, maybe volunteer to get involved.

Movember and “Manning Up”

I came across a couple of items this week related to men and being a man that handily challenge the concept and turn your attention to some important and seldom talked about issues related to the concept.

First is a video challening the idea of the phrase “man up”. Some excellent beat poetry:

Next is an article written by a muslim man (Riaz Sayani-Mulji) about Movember. I really appreciated the perspective he gives, rightfully pointing out how Movember is really a “white bro” centric thing, and sadly/shamefully, said white bros have taken something that is supposed to be positive, and turned it into yet another thing they can discriminate and be king sh** about.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

Yet my moustache wasn’t looked upon too kindly by my predominantly white classmates — I remember being laughed at for what some had deemed my “Paki stache.”

Living in a post-9/11 Canada rampant with Islamophobia, I was hesitant to grow facial hair. I had already been called a “terrorist” enough as a clean-shaven, brown-skinned young man — the idea of growing more facial hair, and giving strangers even more of a reason to do things like shout “Go back to Afghanistan” from their cars while I crossed the street, was out of the question.

We live in a society that likes to separate gender into two categories — or binaries — which stipulate specific roles and characteristics to each of them. So if women have even small amounts of facial hair, like moustaches, sideburns or goatees, they endure ridicule and shaming as a result.

When we consider that women of colour are more likely to have this facial hair be visible, or are coming from cultural contexts where facial hair on women is the norm and thus don’t take steps to remove it the way Western women might, it highlights how facial hair can be such a triggering subject along the lines of race.

And this shaming is exacerbated during Movember, with some “Mo Bros” openly jeering at women with facial hair and demanding that Movember be for men only [emphasis added].

Not to mention that the realities of “man” and “woman” aren’t reducible to gender binaries. For cis-people, where gendered experience easily maps onto their sexed body, Movember might not seem so threatening. But for trans people, what if they decide to grow a moustache — how are they included in Movember? Or how about a trans woman with testicles — are they allowed to participate?

Another reason why I don’t participate in Movember is because growing a moustache is such a strong symbol of masculinity in our society. Masculinity, or what it means to be a “real man,” is directly connected to the idea of dominance over women.

Just look at how Movember is promoted — it’s common to hear, “sluts should do anything for a Mo Bro,” or something along those lines, giving me the impression that some of the men participating in Movember tend to be the same ones at house parties, nightclubs and in dorm rooms ignoring consent and committing acts of sexual assault and rape.

So if growing a moustache is a part of masculinity, and if this masculinity includes things like not caring about consent, what does that imply for Movember? Is Movember contributing to rape culture, by re-enforcing this idea of what it means to be a “real man?”

Even though it’s nearly the end of Movember, and we’ll be seeing a lot fewer moustaches around, please start to think about some of the issues I’ve raised, especially if they’re true for your “Mo community.” It’s time to seriously consider why you grow the moustache, and the impact you’re having by participating in Movember.

I hate to be a downer, but I think he has some very valid and legitimate points and much like how clicking “like” on a charity facebook page doesn’t do anything to actually help the targets of that charity, growing a moustache doesn’t really do a whole lot to actually fight cancer. While raising awareness IS good and important (certainly!), we have a problem in our society where that’s largely ALL we do – raise awareness, talk about things in passing, but never actually directly act or contribute. I’m guilty of this too, for the record. Even just throwing 10 bucks at a charity and thinking we’ve “done our part” isn’t really right. Statistics suggest that in many cases, only a small fraction of donations actually go to helping the cause. Here is more info on why donating to charities isn’t such a great thing.

I think everyone needs to step up a bit more. We all grow moustaches but we still hold up the macho facade of being tough guys who don’t need to go see a doctor and get checked out.

We can do better, folks. We can and we must. And we shall.

What charitable cause is most important to you, and why?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject of education lately, as it has become apparent to me that so many of the problems in society are largely due to lack of knowledge. The more people know, the more well-informed decisions they can make.

A question I have been thinking about lately, that I have been running by a few people to see what they think, is “should a certain level or standard of education be mandatory, and if so, how should it be regulated and by whom?”. I feel that a certain standard or level should be mandatory, it’s the second half of the question that is tricky.

Just this morning I found this recent video by the vlogbrothers which really made me smile. I’ve never seen anything like this before and it seems like a darn good idea!

John talks about having viewers upload videos talking about their favourite charities and why they think those charities deserve more support, and at the end of the project the community decides together which charities will in fact receive additional support from viewer donations.

One thing that caught my attention was when John mentioned “charities to combat illiteracy”. That caught my attention because I had completely forgotten about the fact that in order to learn, you kind of do need to be able to read. It’s something I take largely for granted (and I read A LOT), but once it was put back into my awareness it jumped to the front of the line for me as far as importance goes. People who can’t read are certainly limited and disadvantaged in this world. My own father is only semi-literate, and I’ve seen how he has struggled with this. At an even higher level, if you can barely read, you have little to no hope of being able to catch subtle wording in for instance, political reporting or news, you are far more likely to not be able to parse what you read to separate the truth from the BS and be able to ask good follow-up questions.

As far as other charities go, I have donated to Open Media, I have supported United by Blue (not specifically a charity, but a non-profit org) and Because I am a girl, among others.

So check out the Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck and consider getting involved however you can.

Helping instead of Arresting

Whenever I see these, I will post them. There’s a lot of unpleasant things happening in the world and it is always good to have a reminder that good things happen too! Bravo Officer!

On the right: Miami Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas, who is a wonderful human being.

The woman on the left is a mother from Miami who was so desperate to feed her hungry family that she was trying to steal a lot of food. The woman on the right is Miami-Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas. Officer Thomas was about to arrest Jessica Robles but changed her mind at the last minute. Instead of arresting her, she bought Robles $100 worth of groceries: “I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn’t going to solve the problem with her children being hungry.” And there’s no denying they were hungry. Robles’ 12 year old daughter started crying when she told local TV station WSVN about how dire their situation was: “[It’s] not fun to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, ‘There is nothing here.’” Officer Thomas says she has no question that what she did was right: “To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas. That $100 to me was worth it.” But Officer Thomas did have one request: “The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out. And she said she would.” And guess what? The story gets even better. After word got out about what happened people donated another $700 for Jessica Robles to spend at the grocery store. And then best of all a local business owner invited her in for an interview and ended up hiring her on the spot as a customer service rep. She started crying when he told her: “There’s no words how grateful I am that you took your time and helped somebody out. Especially somebody like me.” And to think it all started with one veteran police officer trusting her “instinct” instead of going “by the book”. Courtesy WSVN

From Facebook via Frank Somerville KTVU.