Friday, November 29, 2019

Few Good Friday - REI #OptOutside

Some people call it Black Friday but it will always Feel Good Friday to me. Another group that encourages you to do something other than shop today is Recreational Equipment, Inc., more commonly known as REI.

REI is an 80-year old, member owned co-op that sells everything you need for an outdoor adventure. Since 2015, they've closed their stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving, paid their 13,000 employees for a vacation day and encouraged them to #OptOutside.

Four years later, REI is taking it up a level and encouraging people to join them in a nationwide day of action they're calling Opt to Act. They'll be hosting events with different organizations to clean parks, beaches and riverbanks across the United States. If you need some inspiration to get motivated, watch this one-minute video then search for a cleanup effort near you.

Today's day of action is only the beginning. REI has created a 52-week plan consisting of simple actions you can take to "reduce your impact, get active, and leave the world better than you found it". Examples include switching to electronic bill notification and payment, bringing washable cutlery to use at work, and checking your tire pressure to maintain optimal gas mileage. If you're interested in participating, you can read about all the actions here and sign up for weekly calendar notifications.

In addition to recommending ways for all of us to make a positive impact, REI is taking steps of their own. They've expanded their rental offerings and are piloting a used gear buy-back program for members so that gently used gear can be resold and its life can be extended. They're also aiming to operate at zero-waste by the end of 2020 and reduce plastic packaging for both themselves and their partners.

Whether you start your action today or at some point this year, be sure to let the people in your social media circles know. Post your stories and photos on the REI Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @REI. Be sure to tag them with #OptOutside!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Alameda Food Bank

Thanksgiving is less that a week away and I've got food-related organizations on my mind. That's why I'm focusing today's Feel Good Friday on one close to home, the Alameda Food Bank.

The website explains their history and mission: "Founded in 1977, the Alameda Food Bank is a non-profit organization that helps Alameda residents in need by providing nourishing food in a compassionate and respectful manner with the support of dedicated volunteers and local partners."

In the 30+ years the Alameda Food Bank has existed, it's gone from 2 volunteers serving 35 recipients a month to over 160 volunteers serving 5,000 people a year! That's 7% of the island's residents. If you live in Alameda and need food assistance, you can read up on the eligibility requirements and food bank locations here.

The Alameda Food Bank volunteers work hard to distribute more than 1.3 million pounds of food on an annual basis. Over 900,000 pounds of that food comes from community partners, such as local grocery stores and community gardens across the island.

Volunteer opportunities include picking up donations from community partners, helping clients shop for their shelf stable and produce items or washing and sorting donations. You can find out more and sign up here. If you need convincing, watch this video of volunteers explaining what they love about the time they spend volunteering.

If you don't have the time to volunteer but still want to support the Alameda Food Bank, you can drop off a turkey for the 2019 Turkey Drive or make a donation of food or cash. Stay in the loop year-round and promote their work on social media by liking their Facebook page.

Whether you spend it with family, friends or all of the above have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Feel Good Friday - No Kid Hungry

We're less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving, a U.S. holiday that people celebrate with family, friends and food. That's why today's Feel Good Friday is focused on an organization working to end childhood hunger, No Kid Hungry.

No Kid Hungry was launched in 2010 as a national campaign of the nonprofit organization Share Our Strength. Their promise is that "every single child in America has the food they need to grow up healthy and strong."

The No Kid Hungry website outlines some startling facts about hunger. More than 11 million children in the U.S. live in food insecure homes, meaning their families don't have enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life. That's equivalent to 1 in 7 children.

No Kid Hungry has a variety of programs to tackle this problem.

Examples include:
  • providing guidance to educators on maximizing healthy school breakfast programs so that every child gets the nutrition they need
  • working with local organizations to launch and operate free summer meal programs and funding mobile meals trucks
  • helping schools secure resources for after school meal programs
  • teaching parents and caregivers how to shop for and cook healthy, affordable meals
  • researching the issue of child hunger and sharing resources and best practices
  • advocating with government agencies to strengthen programs for children's nutrition
Since they started in 2010, No Kid Hungry has provided over 1 billion (yes billion) meals!

If you want to be a part of the solution, and have something to talk about with these celebrity supporters, there are many ways to get involved: donate, attend a fundraising event, or contact your representative and advocate for kids! As always, share the social media love by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @nokidhungry.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Military Mama Network

It's the Feel Good Friday before Veterans Day and I want to highlight an organization that is supporting veterans, the Military Mama Network.

Founded in 2013 by five people sending care packages to the troops in 2013, the Military Mama Network now has over 20,000 volunteers who support their mission of "sending love to our troops and their families at home and overseas."

As explained on their website, "we support our veterans and their families, whether by food donations or visits on behalf of far off family member, cards or a warm scarf for the winter." They also have a page for veterans which includes links to resources such as chiropractic care, guitar lessons to help cope with PTSD and support while transitioning from military to civilian life.

Work with currently deployed troops and their families includes sending care packages, cards and a tradition called Fallen Fridays where people are encouraged to tell the story of a loved one who has died in the past week and perform and act of service in their honor. You can read about all the Military Mama Network missions here.

If you'd like to support the work of the Military Mama Network you can make a donation, shop for merchandise or get involved by joining a local chapter or joining their Facebook group. Stay current by following them on Twitter @MiliraryMamaNet.

Happy Veterans Day!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Soldier's Angels

How was your Halloween? If you've got leftover candy that you would rather donate than eat, I've got a Feel Good Friday recommendation for you... Soldiers' Angels.

As explained on their website "Soldiers' Angels provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and their families." It was founded in 2003 by Patti Patton-Bader, after she realized other soldiers serving in the Army alongside her son would appreciate care packages like the ones she was sending him.

In the early days, a small team assembled and sent care packages to the troops. Today, Soldiers' Angels has teams that operate internationally. Their programs are broken into categories based on the populations they serve: veterans, deployed, wounded and families.

Examples include visiting patients in VA hospitals, writing cards and letters to deployed soldiers, providing adaptive laptops for the severely wounded or injured, adopting and supporting a family during the Christmas holiday and sending sympathy and remembrance cards to families who lose a loved one in the line of duty.

Finally, there's the Treats for Troops Halloween candy collection program. Local businesses, often dental offices, accept donations of Halloween candy from kids in exchange for buyback prizes. Soldiers' Angels takes that candy and adds it to care packages for deployed service members.

Details of all the programs can be found at this link and if you want to register for services you can do that here.

In 2018 alone, Soldiers' Angels supported over 500,000 service members, veterans and family members. Since their founding they've sent over 850,000 care packages, over 6,000 voice-controlled/adaptive laptops and sent 1.8 million cards and letters!

If you want to support the work being done by Soldiers' Angels, you can look for a candy drop-off location, make a monetary donation, become an Angel volunteer, and support them on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them Twitter @soldiersangels.