We live in a disposable society, so we tend not to think about reusing things. But whether you are spending a few hundred dollars, or thousands of dollars, a little imagination can let you create a celebration that not only gladdens the hearts of your guests, but helps others as well in the days, and months, and years after.
Your celebration is a time when you’ve invited people close to you to share in a special event. Even if you are planning a business function, the people you are inviting have a relationship to you that is beyond casual—no matter where you go, or what you do, you still end up relating to people as human beings. Sharing what is meaningful to you, as a human being, is what makes relationships special.
Birthday parties, weddings, special anniversaries, coming of age celebrations—each presents a unique occasion for you to share with family and friends the hopes and aspirations you have for making the world a little bit better. And what better time is there to do this, than when you are celebrating your good fortune, with people you love?
A theme is a great way to subtly, or not so subtly, communicate with others the values that you hold dear, and invite them to participate with you in helping you achieve your goals. Religious ceremonies, such as Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, consecration, First Communions and the like, are especially good times to connect your celebration with the religious values of charity, sharing the bounty of the earth, and improving the lives of others.
Many of our parties are designed around themes. Some themes are natural—birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. But we also sometimes use other motifs—movies, sports, carnivals, for example—as decorating ideas.
No matter what your theme, it is possible to have fun, make a great looking party room, and still do something to help others. The key is planning your theme and décor so that the individual components have a useful life after the party is over.
You need not limit your party to one theme, nor turn it into a fundraiser for a charity, to accomplish these goals. As you read through the ideas listed, pick and choose what sounds workable and desirable to you, and see what theme runs though them. This will guide you in setting the tone for your celebration, from the invitation to the post-party wrap-up.
One final word: don’t be hesitant to share your passions with others. After all, these are people you’ve invited because you have a special relationship with them. What better way to express the relationship than by sharing what is most meaningful to you? If you are not going to tell these people what you value, and invite them to be part of that part of your life, with whom will you share it? You’ll be surprised—people genuinely want to help. They genuinely care about making the world a better place, and welcome opportunities to do meaningful work with friends. Our experience is that the more meaning we add to a ceremony and party, the more thanks we get. People also appreciate your setting an example—often, it makes it easier for them to do something they really want to do, or gives them ideas on how they can incorporate their beliefs into their celebrations.
Use this space to make some notes about possible themes, and the things that excite you, and the good work you want to accomplish in the way you live your life:
The invitation sets the tone for what is to follow. When you take your mail out of the mailbox at home, you already know which envelope is an invitation, and which is a bill. And there’s a certain excitement when you open the invitation that leads you to imagine what the event will be like. A wedding invitation combines the solemnity of the occasion with the joy of marriage, a 50th anniversary party invokes nostalgia, and a birthday party mixes fun and camaraderie with the achievement of a milestone.
Commercially printed invitations can be very expensive, and, unfortunately, merely something that gets read and tossed. Often, they are chosen because they will look nice as a memento on a photo album cover. I often ask myself why people spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on invitations, when all they really want is one to keep. After all, aren’t the people going to be coming to your party because they know you, and because they value your relationship? Logically, wouldn’t you get the same RSVP response if you sent an e-mail, mailed a flyer, or left a phone message? (Not that I’m advocating any of these—we really can create great invitations that also set the stage for a more meaningful party. But we know that the invitation is not what is going to get the people there—your relationship will.) If you really want a fancy invitation for an album cover, why not create one—but just one, and have it forever?
Here’s what you can do for the other invitations:
Nature themes: These are the easiest. If you are passionate about ecology, nature, wildlife, pets, the environment, museums, and the like, every organization has pretty postcard and note cards that they sell, where part of the proceeds goes to helping that organization. Call the gift shop at the zoo, or visit a museum, or go on the website of organizations that share your interests, and see what they offer. The cards may be expensive, but less so than commercially printed invitations, and a local printer can easily run them through his press to print your information on them. You can also print an insert, on plain white paper or card stock, and use the card as a cover. This also makes the card reusable.1 There is also a card that has seeds inbedded in the paper, so you end up planting the card and watching flowers grow!56,3
For our events, we’ve found that we can generally design an invitation on the computer, and print it out on a high-quality printer at a copy center, or even on a less expensive, slow printer from an office supply store. (You can either keep the printer for your own use, or donate it to a variety of institutions—there are many color printers available for under $100. It will still be less expensive than commercially printed invitations. And any organization with a tight budget can use an extra printer.)
As for reply cards, postcards from charities and museums also work well. Your printer or local copy center can also put your message on the back.2
You might also want to consider email and telephone responses. It saves a lot of money, and they don’t get lost in the mail.
Another favorite is a paper bag—either the plain brown grocery type, or a pretty one, with your invitation printed on an enclosed, or pasted on, piece of paper. This is a great invitation when you are asking your guests to bring something with them, and the bags, all lined up at your party, make a wonderful photo. A folded gift box, like the type you get at a department store, with the invitation printed on a colored sheet of paper and glued to the top, is great when you are asking your guests to bring an article of clothing as a donation to your cause.4
Another idea we’ve seen is the back of an acknowledgement from a charity that you’ve made a donation to. Our favorite is the Jewish National Fund, which plants trees in Israel. They provide a handsome certificate, the front of which acknowledges that you’ve planted a tree in honor of your guest. The back is blank, so you can print your information on it. They also will do all the work for you, including making up the invitations with your guests’ names on each certificate, which, for $7.50 each is a bargain, especially since that covers the invitation and the tree. What a way to make a guest feel special—doing something in their honor as a way of inviting them!5
For one of our children’s Bar Mitzvah, we cut out a meaningful photo from an art book, drew cut-out lines around it (the printer helped us) and had it color photocopied onto light cardboard stock. The instructions were to cut it out, tape it together, and make a charity box to be filled with coins or bills prior to the event, and bring it with them. (I’ll tell you what we did with the money later, and how people responded.) You can also buy plain coin cans, with the hole in the lid, for under a dollar.6 Your printed invitation is inserted inside the can, and after you place an address label and a return address sticker on the outside, it gets mailed, or handed out in school. Your guests open the can, take out the invitation (which can also include a wrapper for the can—either something preprinted, or something with instructions on how to decorate it according to your theme), put the top back on, and leave it on their kitchen counter so they can put a little money in every day. All the cans lined up at your party make a great photo. And if you send out the invitations forty days before the event, and you request people to put in a dollar a day, if you have one hundred guests, you have effortlessly and painlessly raised $4,000 for a charity of your choice!
Another theme that is particularly compelling, in the age in which we live, is showing support for the soldiers who are on the forefront of the battle for our safety and for democracy. Two situations are particularly deserving of support: United States troops around the world, and Israeli troops, both need moral support from us. Supporting the troops consists of letters, small care packages, little luxuries, and tasty treats. You can either have guests bring items, and write notes during your party, or just raise money to send goods. Key contacts are the USO and AACI.7,8
A nice theme is old movies, or anything nostalgic—this works great for lots of events—birthdays, anniversaries, and even any occasion—and presents lots of opportunities. The invitation can be a postcard from a museum, or a commercial supplier.2,9 This also presents a good opportunity for centerpieces—see the chapter below.
If you want to get your guests involved in your favorite cause before your event, you can include in your invitation a request to participate in a letter writing campaign, and even include a sample letter, or a blank postcard, stamped, for them to fill out and send. (It’s a better use of the postage money to have them send a postcard for a cause, and email or call you with an RSVP.) RESULTS is a great organization that lobbies for an end to hunger. Check out their website to get info on what to encourage you guests to say, and who to send it to. This invitation works well if you are going to ask to guests to bring canned goods to your event. 40
If your theme is encouraging volunteerism, you might want to include in your invitation a “personal inventory” form, where your guests can list some of their skills, interests, or areas of expertise, and a time commitment that they would consider devoting to volunteer work—a hour a week, an hour a month, a day a week, a day a month. Have them send back the form prior to your event, like an RSVP, and try to match up their interests and time with a variety of organizations. Their gift to you is the time they give, and the community receives a huge benefit. At your celebration, post a list of who is doing what, and total the hours pledged. Be sure to provide specific information to each person on what agency they’ve been paired with, and who to contact. If you multiply the hours time $15, which is the average used for figuring volunteer time, you’ll be amazed at how much “money” you raised. Usually, the United Way11 or any umbrella social service agency can give you a list of organizations which need volunteers. The local school system is also a good place to check. Big Brothers/Big Sisters works with the schools. They have a mentoring program that takes as little as one hour a week.55
The invitation is also a good place to announce opportunities for guests to help you celebrate, so that they can come prepared. Two great ideas for a gift you and your friends can give to the community on your special occasion are a blood drive12 and a bone marrow registry.13 Let your guests know in the invitation that they can donate blood prior to your party, or sign up to see if their bone marrow matches needed types. Call the local blood donation center, explain what you are doing, and ask they to keep track of people who are donating blood in your honor. The bone marrow test requires a swipe on the cheek to get some cells for DNA analysis. It’s painless.13 You can also structure these programs so that they happen on the day of the event. If you have a morning religious ceremony, and an evening event, you can ask guests to donate blood or be tested on the way in or out of the morning ceremony, or even during it. (They might not mind—I’ve been to some religious ceremonies that were so painful to sit through that I’d rather have been donating blood!) It also lets you tabulate results to announce that evening.
Use this space to make some notes about the types of invitations you might want to consider:
Sometimes we celebrate events that call for a gift, but we really don’t need or want anything. Examples are major anniversaries, or second marriages. People feel uncomfortable showing up without a gift, even though you may put “no presents please” on the invitation. Or you may just want to use your celebration as a way to help others, even if you would like gifts for yourself. I know that at my son’s Bar Mitzvah, where the invitation was a cut-out charity box, he received a substantial number of gifts appropriate for a thirteen year old, as well as checks made out to him, plus over $6,000 made out to a charitable organization that has donor-advised funds. After he added some of his personal money, and we chipped in as well, he had over $10,000 (all of which was tax-deductible to the guests), which we used to establish a donor-advised fund. They manage the money, and handle the tax reporting, and he gets to tell them which charities to send money to, and when. This fund can grow indefinitely, and he can add to it whenever he wants. Our gift to him, as well as our guests’ gifts, was to make him a philanthropist, and give him the resources to make the world better in the years to come, as we teach him his responsibility in this area. And the guests thanked us for giving them the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way. We also found that most guests who made a donation also gave Mikey a personal gift, so he did not “suffer” for his altruism. And that was even after we specifically requested that there be no personal gifts!14
There are lots of other ways to channel people’s good gift-giving intentions to people who really need the help:
One idea is to register at a housewares store, not for silver or china, but for practical items that a destitute family would need to establish a new home. This could also be directed to women and families who come out of an abuse situation, and are put into subsidized housing. Or foster children turning 18, who have graduated from an independent living program, gotten a job, and are just starting to have an apartment. Remember, they usually do not have families to help them out. You can also have guests register for parts of an expensive item, such as a refrigerator or washer/dryer. For a single working mother, with young kids, there’s a tremendous difference between the time she can devote to spending with her children in the evening if she can do laundry at home, as opposed to going to a coin wash.
Another place to register is a sporting goods store, or just ask guests to purchase gift certificates there. Lots of these items are too expensive for underprivileged children to buy, and shopping with them to pick out items they need is a real joy. Often, the right equipment means the different between participating in organized sports or sitting it out, and sports activity is crucial to a young child’s growth, and self-esteem.15,22
Our synagogue celebrates the holidays by encouraging people to send in money instead of sending greeting cards to each other. We then print one card, with everyone’s name listed, and send it to all the members of the congregation. (We buy the cards in Israel to help support their economy). We take the money donated, and buy gift certificates at a local shoe store chain. The chain gives us a discount, as well as $10 off coupons, and we end up with dozens of gift certificates that enable kids in foster care to go shopping for new shoes. Some we give to agencies, and some certificates we give directly to kids who are in a reading enhancement program run by retired women, and we go with them to pick out shoes. Most of these children have never been in a shoe store, have never had a pair of brand new shoes, have never had a pair of shoes that fit properly, or have never had a pair of name brand shoes. It does wonders for their self-esteem when they can walk into school with new shoes just like everyone else.15, 22,46
If you are celebrating a milestone birthday, and just want to have friends over for coffee and cake, and don’t particularly want gifts, you can have another birthday party, for a child in a shelter, foster care, or for a family dealing with abuse. Have your guests bring all the party items, and get them to an appropriate organization. That way you’ll have all the accoutrements at your party—still wrapped up so they can be used again—and your guests can also bring age appropriate gifts for children. You can also decorate with wrapped gifts, and baskets of party items. Remember, for children who deal with survival issues every day, the chance to celebrate, and to have themselves be the focus of attention, to feel special, is something rare. Most of the time they are singled out and feel “special” for negative things—court hearings (yes, foster kids have to appear in adult courts when they are victims of abuse, and it’s not pleasant), sexual abuse, teasing and rejection. What a treat to celebrate who they are! Unfortunately, the welfare agencies regard this as a luxury, when it is really a crucial part of developing self-esteem. That’s where you make the difference.15,16,17,18,20,22
Asking your guests to bring items
The easiest and fastest way to do something meaningful is to ask your guests to bring something with them. Whether you are having 25 people or 400 people, you’ll quickly amass a sizable pile of items that nobody minds bringing, but will make a huge difference in other people’s lives. Here are some ideas.
Kitchen items: Wouldn’t it be great to be able to set up a whole new kitchen or two for someone just getting on their feet. (Abused women, foster care graduate, homeless person getting into housing, migrant worker in substandard housing, etc.)15,16,17,18,20,22,23
School supplies: Either regular supplies for poor children, or art supplies for classrooms where budgets have been cut back. Call a local school and ask them what they need. You’d be surprised how mundane some of the needs are, but we take them for granted. You can also ask guests to bring $5 instead. If you collect $5 from each of 100 guests, you’ve raised enough to Adopt A Classroom. This innovative project in Miami pairs a person or group with one classroom, and provides the teacher with $500 to get much needed supplies. It was started by a businessman, who has since made it his full-time job. Check out their website.24 Maybe you can start a similar program in your town.48
Clothing: Here’s a big one. Ask everyone to bring one item of new or nearly new clothing. Lots of places can use this. In Miami, Neat Stuff accepts new clothing only. They’re a “store” where foster kids shop for free. But any place that deals with needy people can use clothing. Just ask.25
Special clothing: Two great projects are interview clothes and gowns. Interview clothes, such as good suits, pants suits, dresses, and coordinated outfits are essential for people recovering from (choose one or more: poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, physical abuse, prison, etc.). They need to look good when they interview for a job, even if it is flipping burgers. It gives them a head start in the process, and makes them feel more confident. Remember, some of these people have great skills and talents. They just got derailed on the road to a decent life, sometimes not thru their own fault. They become amazingly productive once they get back on the right track. (Every social service agency can tell you about clients who made it back into society, and now work as social workers, on their staff, helping people who are in the same situation they once were. It’s amazing—ask!) They also return the clothes, so they can be used over and over. And your friends, like mine, have at least one good outfit in their closet they are never going to wear again.26,27,28
Gowns: Wedding gowns, bridesmaid gowns (come on girls, we have a few of those). We’re just not going to that many formals. But a young girl in tight circumstances turning 16, or going to a prom, might not have the luxury of purchasing a gown. Make her day, and be a fairy godmother. Call your local school district to see if they have a clothing bank. If they don’t, call the guidance counselor, school therapist, or senior class advisor and offer to start one.54
Toiletries: I love this one. You know all those neat little bottles and packages that the hotels provide, that we scoop into our suitcase before leaving? Ask your guests to bring some (or larger sizes from the drugstore, or even the trial sizes that the drug store sells cheap, or the samples from the cosmetics counter at the department store, or even their tester bottles they are no longer using--chat up your favorite sales person and tell her what you are doing, and she’ll amass cartons of useful samples). Ask three dentists for toothpaste and toothbrushes—the manufacturers load them up with tons of samples. Then, make up pretty welcome kits with a variety of items, and wrap them in colored cellophane. These make nice centerpieces, when combined with flowers or other items, and wonderful donations to a charity. Imagine that you’ve just gone through a harrowing experience (rape, abuse, natural disaster), and you are just arriving at a shelter, with virtually nothing. What a difference an attractive, useful package can make! If your function is at a hotel, get them to donate enough toiletries to make gift baskets.16,17,18,20
You can also put together inexpensive and attractive centerpieces with scented soaps and candles, which smell better than flowers, and which make a nice donation later.30
How about asking guests to bring children’s books, and learning books for adults, and “read along and listen to the tape” books, or buying them yourself to make centerpieces? Did I mention this before? Well, I’m mentioning it again. That’s because the single most important factor in predicting poverty and illiteracy in a child’s future is the mother’s ability to read and write. Teach the child and the mother, and you’ve just ended a cycle. Step one: Get the books (and some tape recorders, with plugs, not batteries). Step two: Find out what organization needs them. Call a school or library, or an agency that deals with young kids. Step three: Donate the items, or get volunteers to work one or two hours a week working with these people, teaching them to read. Step four: Feel great, knowing you’ve made a difference.31
Children’s toys: So easy. New items only. We all have extras in our closets.
Canned food: See the grocery bag invitation above.
Medical supplies: Did you know it’s illegal to use perfectly good medical supplies once they’ve been opened, even if they are not used or contaminated? Did you know that these supplies are crucial to aid organizations abroad? Enlist some doctors and nurses to be collectors for you. Enlist patients (and everyone’s a patient at some point or another, but these patients happen to be your guests as well) to make inquiries when they visit their doctor. Check the Resource Guide at the back of this book for details.32,33
Donate miles: Ask your guests to bring their frequent flyer miles. They need to donate them in blocks usable for at least one trip. (This is important. Call a few of the airlines to get more precise information on how this is done.) Make it possible for a child with a life-threatening disease to go to Disney.34 Help send a mitzvah hero to a community to inspire others (see Ziv in the afterword).
Clothing! Especially warm clothing. (Used ski clothing). Try to assemble a closetful or two. Baby clothes make a lovely centerpiece. We have five children. By the time we got to the fifth, we didn’t need any more baby clothes—we had piles. Instead of spending weeks returning the ones we got as gifts, we should have donated them. If I only knew then what I know now about what poor babies (and those born with cocaine in their blood, who are taken away from their mothers) need!35,36
Use this space to note some gifts requests that might work for your theme:
Table seating cards
I’m amazed to see what expense people go to tell their guests which table they’ve been assigned to for the meal. While most table seating cards are nice and appropriate to the occasion, I’ve often seen people go way overboard.
Here’s an ideal place to do something attractive, and reusable. One very lovely table assignment table I saw was beautifully laid out with small picture frames, with the guests’ names and table numbers. These were intended as gifts for the guests to take home, which does make for a nice memento of the occasion. But you could also ask your guests to donate them back as gifts for you (or them) to give when visiting the elderly to deliver food packages. (See post-party activities below.) Or you can use any small art object, which makes an attractive addition to a gift basket.
Another idea is to use a nicely wrapped bar of specialty soap, with the same scent as your flowers, with a simple card attached, with the name and table number. These then can go into the gift baskets described above.30
If you want to get really clever, use a variety of toiletries, or specialty foods, and make sure that each guest at the same table gets a different item. Then, at the tables, provide baskets, wraps, and ribbon, and see which table can put together the most attractive basket. It's fun, and beneficial.
You can be really creative with table seating cards. Make some notes here on ideas that relate to your theme:
Flower arrangements and centerpieces:
Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not opposed to flower arrangements. They are lovely, I enjoy them, and they make the room look festive and elegant. But they can be very expensive, and unless you’ve got a good use for them afterwards, I find their fragrance morally offensive. And there needs to be a reasonable limit. How much joy are you going to get out of an arrangement that costs hundreds of dollars, and will be dead in two days? Isn’t there some room for compromise?
With that in mind, here are some ideas that benefit everyone:
Bonsai plants—look great; make a nice gift to nursing homes and hospitals. Try this one out: see if your hospital gift shop will take them as a donation, to be rented out for a dollar a day to patients. Use the money to buy more. Soon, you’ll have a big enough supply for every patient to have a living plant in his or her room. It gives them something to easily care for, while others are taking care of them. Watch—the patients will get better faster.37
Variations on the theme: small bushes, small trees, etc., either by themselves, or as part of a dried or fresh flower arrangement. Donate them after the party.
Things stuck in flowers—kids toys, sports items, party favors. Donate them the next day.
Bowls with floating candles, surrounded by flowers—use the bowls as vases the next day to put flowers in—distribute with meals to the home bound.
Scented soaps, plus a few flowers. The soaps get donated.30
Bird feeders. I love these! Surround them with flowers, then donate the bird feeders, and seeds, to a school or nursing home.29
Terrariums: Glass containers, like fish tanks, with live plants. These go to hospitals, nursing homes, and schools after.29
Mix and match—different themes at different tables
Stereo sets. One of my favorites. Ask your guests to bring a cd—either a random one, or around a theme. Have a small, plug-in stereo at each table, and get the guests to prop up their cd’s around the stereo. The whole package becomes a gift to a hospital, nursing home, shelter, school, or whatever, depending on if you’ve asked for educational cd’s, inspirational, or cool teen music. (You can also have your guests be dj’s, one table at a time. This works great with teens.) See if you can get a hospital to do the dollar-a-day rental program. Do you have any idea how nice it would be to have music in a hospital room, instead of just a television and those horrible paging announcements? Get some headphones, too, so the patients can turn the music up loud, and be transported out of there.37
Suggestion: Have your friends participate in making the decorations, so that they have a real part in your celebration. You can supply the basics, and ask them to provide the rest. Most people really appreciate the opportunity to be part of something meaningful.
Order book bags, diaper bags, and toiletry bags from Guatemalan women, who run micro-weaving businesses to improve their lives. These women live in impoverished communities, and their small businesses make it possible to get health care, adequate food, and provide opportunities for their children to get an education.49 We ordered one for each table, and asked one family per table prior to the event to stuff the bags with appropriate items. After the party, we brought the bags to various shelters for abused women. 15,16,17,18,19,20 Some were used by the clients; others were sold in the thrift shop. Remember, women and children who come to these shelters generally arrive without luggage and possessions, so an attractive welcome gift that has useful items helps restore their sense of self-esteem. (If you are having a Jewish event, take note: the Guatemalan women make wonderful kippot).49
A wonderful centerpiece can be created around stuffed animals—in particular, I like the angel that comes in beige, yellow, or brown, with a book and a cd. It’s called “Angel of My Own,” and tells a wonderful, non-sectarian story about the child’s own angel, who is always there for him or her. It’s a wonderful self-esteem builder, especially useful for donating to kids in foster care, shelters, and hospitals.21
Holiday baskets as the centerpiece. You love getting these, and so does everyone else. They are pretty to look at, and the treats inside make you feel special. You can order these ready made from a lot of places, or do them up yourself. After the party, deliver them to nursing homes, hospitals that care for indigent people, or shelters, and enjoy them all over again as you watch recipients enjoy them. You can also have your guests sign up to deliver the baskets.47
Photos are an important part of our celebrations. We have albums of our children from the day they were born. Children in foster care, or in shelters, generally don’t have any photos. They families either didn’t care, or couldn’t afford the luxury. A great centerpiece is a lovely album, and a Polaroid camera with two packs of film. One can be used by your guests to take pictures at your party, and the other can be given with the camera and album to the shelter. The kids will have something to treasure forever.
The cameras are also useful for visiting the elderly. Older folks love to have mementoes of the visits, and talk about it for months afterward.
Note: Disposable cameras don’t work—in addition to not immediately producing a picture, confidentiality rules prevent you from taking pics and taking them with you. You can, however, take all you want and leave them there. Polaroid has a base model for under $25.
Like fish? A tank of fish, complete with aerator, makes a wonderful and unusual centerpiece, and helps demonstrate your commitment to the environment. Best of all, when the party is over, it makes a wonderful healing gift for the elderly in nursing homes. A fish tank on a cart that can be wheeled room to room brings joy to those confined to their beds, and an opportunity for some of the residents to care for something, instead of being cared for. Or you can donate it to a preschool or elementary school, where kids will enjoy it and learn responsibility. And it may cost less than a flower arrangement, plus it can be tax-deductible.
You can also use terrariums, or animal cages, but they are not quite as attractive as a centerpiece.
If you insist on flowers, the self-contained biospheres, which have everything needed to support plant life in a globe, or an arrangement of live plants, planted in soil and landscaped in a fish-tank, looks lovely, and can be donated as well.29
New or used books can be crafted into centerpieces. Have your guests provide them before the event, or bring them when they arrive. You can focus on themes, such as children’s books, or just try to collect as many books as possible. Dozens of institutions in your area would welcome donations. If you are having a morning ceremony and evening event, books brought in the morning can easily be made into centerpieces at night. If you are focusing on children, you can design a centerpiece around your theme, and the guests can add the books as they arrive. Try having a contest, with prizes for the best centerpieces. It’s fun, unusual, and lends a spirit of participation to your celebration.
Angels: Craft angels and other ornaments into centerpieces, and when the party is over, you have all the fixing’s for a Christmas decoration that a shelter, clinic, or hospital might need.
Movie posters: I love this theme, from the postcard invitations to the framed movie posters on the walls of the party room, and the smaller framed posters on the table. If you do it for a teen party, you have teen appropriate items to give to shelters and foster homes. These places strive to provide food, clothing, medical care, and an education. Artwork for the walls is not high on the agenda. Visit one, you’ll see.2,9
Wind chimes: Use these as party favors or centerpieces, or as parts of centerpieces. They look nice, make a lovely sound, and decent quality chimes make a nice gift for shut-ins, institutional lobbies, and gardens.
Make notes on other creative floral or centerpiece ideas here:
During the party
One of the most common issues hosts and hostesses have is a way to make everyone have a good time, while the guest of honor is properly feted. Too many bored kids can ruin an event, and too many bored adults at a kids' party just makes for unpleasant memories. The key is keeping everyone active and interested. The challenge is to do some good for others while you are doing it.
Kids' activities: Have a carnival, with different booths. You can easily and inexpensively mimic the booths at a county fair. Get the adults to help run the booths. Give tickets to winners, and let them accumulate tickets for prizes. Here’s the catch—they don’t keep the prizes, they get to choose where to donate them to. Here’s a better catch—arrange for the guests to donate them in person. Going to a hospital to visit sick kids, especially poor sick kids, and giving them a big stuffed animal or a remote controlled race car, brings smiles to everyone’s faces.39 And your kids don’t need these toys! If you are going to these types of parties, or giving them, chances are your children have enough toys already. They have birthdays and holidays every year. Some kids never have a birthdays or holidays—at least, not like your kids have them.
Another way to do this is with tabletop games, such as knock-hockey, or even board games. No adult supervision is needed, the kids have fun, and these slightly used games are needed everywhere.
Make bird feeders. Make dried floral arrangements. Paint pottery. Do other craft projects. Choose a photo to go in picture frame. Donate them afterwards.
It’s nice to give your guests a gift, to thank them for coming. It’s even nicer to give a gift that has a special meaning:
Charity support items—t-shirts, mugs, etc.
Items made in sheltered workshops—see what’s available in your community. Often these are quite nice, and inexpensive.
Homemade jams and jellies. Especially if you are supporting a cottage industry. Check out your local farmers market.
A box of greeting cards from a non-profit organization. They all sell them—zoos, museums, etc.
Postcards, pre-addressed for people to write advocacy letters to government officials. This is a variation of the idea of including it with your invitation, discussed above. It has more impact here, because you’ve introduced your cause in other ways during the celebration.40
The (wedding, bar mitzvah, communion) cake
I hate this. It’s neither on my diet, nor on anyone else’s either. And by the time they serve it, I’m not hungry any more—I’ve gorged myself on food, and the last thing I want is a piece of cake. And yet I read recently in the New York Times about the emergence of $6,000 designer cakes that take a week to build, and that are the new status symbol. I don’t mean to offend all you celebrity bakers, but if I was at an event that had a $1,000 cake, much less a $6,000 cake, I’d lose my appetite.
How about a simple cake, just for the bride and groom? Or four layers, three of which are plastic, and one real? Get your bakery to agree to recycle it. Or divide it up into three plastic cakes, and let three nursing homes use it to celebrate birthdays. Everyone gets to sing and have a good time, and blow out the candles, and then the cake gets taken to the kitchen, and all the residents get a piece of a dietetically appropriate sliced cake that has been prepared beforehand.47
This is actually a booklet I wrote several years ago. Due to space limitations on the site, I've broken it up into several sections. To create a copy of the complete booklet, copy and paste each section into a word document. Or send me an email, and I'll send it to you.
A Foreword for Parents
Stop reading for a moment, put this booklet down, and think hard about two goals for your pre-teen—a short-term goal for the next five years, and a long-term goal, for life. Don’t continue reading until you can articulate these goals.
Chances are you’ve come up with a variation of the following:
Short-term: Over the next 5 years, I’d like my child to get prepared for the best college experience possible—one that will set the stage for his or her future successes in life.
Long-term: I want my child to grow to be a “mensch”—a well-rounded human being, living a meaningful life, with a value system that brings him or her happiness beyond wealth.
Now is the time to reinforce all the work you’ve done so far. Now is the time when your child will begin to emerge s a miniature adult, exercising independence, and forming a distinct persona or his or her own. Now is the time when you will begin to see what the seed you planted and nurtured will turn out to be.
The life you help your child shape over the next five years will determine his or her success in getting into the college of his or her choice. In five short years, your child will be asked to distinguish his or her self from two million other young adults applying for the same few coveted college admission spots. What will distinguish your child, essentially, is not grades (which will be great) nor school activities (which will be numerous) nor even community activity (which is practically mandatory everywhere), but what kind of human being your child has become. And this, in turn, will be the foundation for the “mentshlikite” of the rest of his or her life. And what will make your child stand out is a college application that screams “mentsh!”
So what does this have to do with Bar and Bat Mitzvah?
The program you follow between now and the celebration will convey graphically to your child the value system you have, and the value system you wish to impart.
We’re very lucky to live in a time and place where we have a lot of things in our lives to celebrate. And it’s important to celebrate happy events and milestones.
But we’re also living in a time and place where life is rough for many people who are less fortunate than ourselves. While we celebrate, we can use our events to subtly teach others that it’s easy and rewarding to help make people’s lives better while we enjoy our lives to the fullest.
This book is the result of years of study of clever ways that we’ve observed people celebrating and making the world a better place, but it’s only the beginning. Use your imagination and tastes to come up with more ideas. When you do, please share them with me, at www,lamedvuvnik.org
A Foreword for Pre-teens
I know your parents are making you read this, and I know the last thing you want to hear is a lecture from a middle-aged man with five kids who have been thru Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and I know you want a really great party, but you might find some ideas in here to make the whole Bar or Bat Mitzvah thing really cool. There’s a way to have a great time, and do something really fabulous as well—something you’ll enjoy while you’re doing it, something you’ll remember always, and something that makes you feel really good about what you are doing.
This booklet is definitely NOT an instruction manual on what to do and how to do it. Rather, it’s a bunch of ideas of things other people have done, that may be interesting to you. If you find something you like, take it and change it to make it your own, reflecting your own personality. If it stimulates you into thinking of even better ideas, let mw know, so we can share it with other kids. You can reach me at my website, www. Lamedvuvnik.org.
Using this book
I’ve divided the book into sections, each dealing with a different aspect of your celebration. Many of the suggestions can easily be incorporated into particular themes, and many of the ideas are interchangeable between one theme and another. Therefore, some of the ideas for flowers, for example, may also relate to centerpieces, and some of the ideas for invitations may work well with pre-party and post-party events, or what guests can bring. Pull together what works for you, and skip around as you read the book.
At the end of the book, I’ve listed people and places to contact to implement many of these ideas. They’re numbered, and are referred to in the text by superscripts, like this.1,14 If there is more than one number, there is more than one place to contact. Check them out, and see what works best for you. These resources are places to buy things, places to send money or donations of goods, or just people and places that may give you good ideas on what you can do. Not all the places listed are charitable organizations—some are regular, for profit companies that either perform a special role in bringing items to market or promote a social good, and some just have items that make nice donations when you are done with them.
Pre-activities and post-activities
If you are planning an evening event, you may want to consider asking people to show up during the day for a group activity—cleaning a park, painting a mural on a wall at a charity,41 donating blood at a blood center (or having a bloodmobile come to a particular location),12 visiting nursing homes with pets,42 or leading a songfest at the nursing home. You can also arrange to help feed the homeless, even preparing food yourself with your friends. That way, when you get together in the evening, you and your friends will have some additional to celebrate—the work you’ve done, plus the original cause for your party. There is literally an endless list of places looking for volunteers for projects that are limited in scope and doable by a group in a day. Contact your United Way, Habitat for Humanity, or other such organization for ideas. If there’s a building site in the neighborhood, or an unattractive blank wall, contact the owners, and see if they would be receptive to your group painting a mural.
Many of the elderly or house bound who receive hot meals from a community provider value the companionship as much as the meal. Sign your guests up to make visits with you, or as a group. Bring the items we’ve mentioned above. Always bring a Polaroid camera. Take a photo and leave it—it makes the visit last longer. If you are re-using little picture frames that once were seating assignments, it’s even better with an instant camera.
If you are getting married, you may want to try to work with a nursing home to find an excuse to visit there in your wedding dress before the event. Everyone loves to see a bride, and for people confined to a nursing home, where they see doctors, nurses, orderlies, and lots of old sick people, it would be a delight to have a chance to “ooh” and “ahh” over a bride.
One organization I like specializes in finding out what fantasies nursing home residents have, and trying to make them come true.43 I’ve heard of parties with motorcycle riders in full gear (where there’s food, fun, seeing the bikes, and selecting a Biker Babe and Biker Brute from the home).44 Another organization discovered that some of the residents missed doing things for others, like baking, so they set up some tables in the dining room, and dozens of people came out. Imagine what it would be like if you were to be able to tell your guests that some of the desserts were made for them by the elderly! You could then bring back pictures to the home, for the residents to see the delight they brought others.43
For the circumcision of one of our children, we held the Jewish ceremony in a nursing home, where both of my wife’s parents were confined. Not only did this allow my in-laws to participate, but it gave the residents an occasion for a party, and an event to talk about. Since dozens of our friends showed up as well, it provided much needed visitors.
While the priest or rabbi or justice of the peace is performing your wedding
Do you have down time during parts of your event? If you are using a limo to pick you up, and take you to a ceremony, and then having the driver wait around to escort you away, you may have substantial time when you are paying the driver to sit there, doing nothing. Why not use that time to have him pick up a group of kids in a foster home, and go to a pizza joint for a quick bite. The added cost will be a few pizzas, and the kids will talk about it for months. Don’t forget to provide a Polaroid camera for them to preserve their memories of a limo ride.
If you are having a religious ceremony, such as a wedding, and plan to use a few musicians to play as you walk down the aisle, and have a full band at the party, you are probably paying for all the extra musicians for the whole time. It may be possible to ask some of them to play a short concert at a nearby nursing home while they are waiting.
At one of our kid’s Bar Mitzvah, we had a guy with a trained monkey perform. The guests got to hold the animal, feed it, and help it do tricks. We tried to bring him to my in-laws nursing home—the residents would have gotten a kick out of it—but the distance was too far to make it work. I’m sorry we just didn’t do it at a nearby nursing home instead. We’ve also had a magician during the cocktail hour. He would have delighted the old folks no end—next time, we’re going to have him come to us for an hour, and then to them for an hour.
Timing: Many events are held on weekends, and the prices of services such as caterers, photographers, and musicians reflect this. See what it will cost to have your event on a Thursday night. It’s still convenient for people from out of town, who will only have to miss one or two days of work, and leaves the weekend for you to socialize with distant friends and family in a relaxed manner. The money you save can be donated to charity.
Leftover food—nearly every town has a food bank that takes leftovers, and every party has lots of leftovers. Take the time and trouble to find out beforehand where it should go, and how it will get there. It’s too late, when the party is over, and you are pooped, and you are looking at all that food, and saying, “Isn’t it a shame that this will go to waste? Does anyone want to take it home? Please?” After one synagogue bar-b-q, there was so much left over, and no one wanted to take it, that I grabbed two friends, put the top down on the convertible, and drove downtown, towards the direction of the soup kitchen, with trays of hot dogs and burgers on our laps. We hit one corner, and were besieged by hungry people. The food disappeared in a flash!45
Afterword: Two Great Organizations
Of course its my favorite—I started it! Check out www.lamedvuvnik.org.
Another great one:
One of the greatest teachers in showing what individuals can do in making the world a better place is Danny Siegel, who runs the Ziv Tzedakah fund. Tzedakah is a Hebrew word that means both justice and charity, because Judaism teaches that helping others is not an act of charity, but something that we must do, because we are only custodians of the good fortune with we are blessed—that which God entrusts us is justly due to those less fortunate as well. Danny’s fund collects nearly half a million dollars a year, in small donations, which he distributes to “mitzvah heroes.” Mitzvah is the Hebrew word for commandment, and mitzvah heroes are people who exemplify what Scripture tells us that we are commanded to do. The prophet Micah says “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” The Bible says “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” The Talmud tells us: “On the merit of three things the world endures: study of the Scripture, worshipping and serving God (by following the commandments), and doing deeds of loving-kindness, for which we reap no reward.” Danny publishes a list of stories, names, and addresses of his mitzvah heroes every year. Send ZIV a (tax-deductible) donation as befits your means, and he’ll send you a copy of this impressive annual report. (There’s no minimum, but please, send at least $18—it does cost money to keep you on a mailing list and to send out the reports.) Many of the ideas in this book are based on what we learned by reading them year after year, and some of the contacts are from his reports. Visit his website for more ideas (www.ziv.org) Send checks made out to ZIV Tzedakah Fund, Inc. (which is tax-deductible) to Ziv, c/o Naomi Eisenberger, 384 Wyoming Ave., Millburn, NJ.
The numbers refer to the superscripts in the preceding texts—check back in each section to learn more about how these organizations can fit into your plans. Of course, this list is not comprehensive, and many of the ideas discussed previously can work for more than one organization or theme. Donations, especially, are welcome at most of these organizations. If you think of other appropriate organizations, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
1—For nature themed cards that can be made into invitations, or used as invitation covers, and then reused by the recipient, try the gift shops online for the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (www.bbg.or) or Longwood Gardens (www.longwoodgardens.org) or www.savethewhales.org.
2—For other cards, try any museum or charitable organization. Particularly good selections are at the gift shops for the Jewish Museum (www.thejewishmuseum.org) and the Museum or Modern Art (www.momastore.org) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org)
3—check your local nursery or gift shop—I’m trying to find out some manufacturers—let me know if you discover any.
4—There are a lot of companies that sell pretty paper bags. Search the web, or try Nashville Wraps, 800-547-9727 or Bags & Bows, 888-395-BOWS.
5—The Jewish National Fund let’s you order gift certificates on-line, or you can contact them about sending them your guest list, and getting one tree per person. www.jnf.org. 800-542-TREE.
6—Order coin collection cans from Freund Container, 800-363-9822 or Cin-Made Corp., 513-681-3600.
7—To contact the USO, call 800-876-7469, or www.uso.org.
8—Send a package to an Israeli soldier. A Package from Home/AACI, Barbara Silverman, Keren Kayemet 12, Jerusalem, Israel, 011-972-2-623-2548,email@example.com, www.apackagefromhome.org.
9—A great selection of vintage movie posters and notecards can be found at www.classicosanfrancisco.com, or 800-us-cards.
10—Learn about donating leftovers from Rachel’s Table, 1160 Dickinson Street, Springfield, MA 01108, Attention: Pamela Finer, 413-733-0084, fax: 737-4348, www.rachelstable.com
11—United Way’s web site is www.unitedway.org
12—American Red Cross is at www.redcross.org.
13--Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, Inc. 7700 Congress Ave., Suite2201, Boca Raton, Florida 33487, 800-9-MARROW (962-7769), 561-274-8200 fax: 800-707-5343, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.giftoflife.org
14—You can set up a donor advised fund with as little as $5,000 at the Foundation of Jewish Philanthropies. 305-576-4000. They are part of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, but you can direct your funds to any charitable organization, in any community, Jewish or not. They will also accept checks into your fund in any amount.
Some of the commercial charitable funds have more restrictions, so make sure you understand the rules before you open one.
15—CHARLEE stands for Children Have All Rights: Legal, Educational, Emotional. It’s based on the idea of supporting the care-givers, who raise abused children in a wholesome family environment. The Miami location is 305-665-7365. They have lots of needs, and lots of volunteer opportunities. They also run group homes, shelters, and independent living programs.
16—A Woman’s Place—305-358-2063. A shelter for abused woman and families.
17—Women in Distress in Ft. Lauderdale (954-760-9800) has a thrift shop, needs donations of goods for its own use, and needs volunteers. www.womenindistress.org.
18--Shalva, 1610 W. Highland, #9 Chicago, IL 60660, Attn: Hedvah Campeas-Cohen, 773-583-HOPE, e-mail email@example.com Their ultimate goal is to intervene and eradicate domestic abuse in Jewish homes. They accomplish this by helping women and their families who have been and are presently in abusive relationships, by offering social services, and community awareness prevention programs.
19--Jerusalem Shelter for Battered Women, POB 10403 Jerusalem, Attn: Rachel Hadari, phone: 02-671-7581 cell phone: 051-275-071, fax: 02-671-7386
20--CHANA, 101 W. Mt. Royal., Baltimore, MD 21201, Attn: Naomi F. Aiken, 410-234-0030, Helpline: 800-991-0023 or 410-234-0023, fax: 410-576-9388 is a specifically Jewish shelter for victims of abuse.
21—Go to www.jerusalemartistsgallery.com to order products from Israel
22—Guardian Ad Litum and Court Appointed Special Advocates. Contact www.nationalcasa.org to find a program near you.
23—Donations are always welcome at Migrant Association of South Florida, Inc., 8645 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Boynton Beach, Florida 33437 Attn: Caridad Asensio, 516-737-6336 (w) 391-5327 (h) cellular phone: 561-271-0924, fax: 737-9232 or call Caridad’s assistant, Connie Berry, 561-368-7132. They provide medical and social services, as well as food and supplies.
24-Adopt A Classroom. You can do this on your own—it’s a simple idea with tremendous impact. www.adoptaclassroom.com.
25—Neat Stuff accepts new clothes and other items only. They especially need hip clothing for teens. If there’s not a similar organization in your town, start one. Call the foster care providers to check it out. The one in Miami is at 305—638-5878.
26—Jewish Community Services—every town with a significant Jewish population has one, and there are tremendous donation and volunteer opportunities.
27--The Working Wardrobe, 1515 Land Title Building, 100 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA, 19110, Attn: Barbara Pittman, phone: 215-568-6693, fax: 568-5998, or phone/fax
464-3955 (h) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website:www.libertynet.org:/wardrobe
28--Street Clothes Project, POB 52208 Philadelphia, PA 19115, Attn: Scott
Pittman, phone/fax: 215-464-3955 Scot and Barbara runs literally dozens of programs that help people in need. They are excellent models for many programs that you can implement. Barbara is a former battered spouse, so she understand first hands the needs of this community. Send them some money, and they’ll send you a 8-page list of their programs!
29—Buy a copy of a book on what the benefits of bringing nature to the elderly are. You’ll be amazed at the results! Rebecca Reynolds, Seabury School, Inc., POB 155 Concord, MA 01742, 978-369-2585 e-mail: email@example.com
30—There are hundreds of places to buy scented soaps. Try to find one made by a non-profit or a cottage industry. I buy mine from a man who makes them in his garage, and sells them himself. The Blue Ridge Soap Shed. 828-765-6001 or www.soapshed.com.
31--WorldCare-Tools for Schools, POB 64001, Tucson, AZ 85728, Attn: Lisa Hopper, 520-797-7773, fax: 628-1580, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. They work overseas on educational initiatives for children.
32—Recycle medical supplies. Learn how from Remedy, 3 TMP, 333 Cedar Street, POB 208051, New Haven Ct. 06520-8051, 203-737-5356, fax: 785-6664, Attn: Emmy Riccio, email@example.com, www.remedyinc.org
33—Learn how to recycle medical supplies. Liisa Nenomen, RACORSE Network, 385 Jayne Ave., #401, Oakland, CA 94610, 510-832-2868
34—Make A Wish Foundation helps children with life-threatening illnesses realize some of their goals—like a trip to Disney. They work closely with the airlines—depending on the carrier, you can even donate less than a full trip’s worth of miles. www.wish.org.
35—The Ark in Chicago does great work with the poor. One of my doctor friends, a surgeon, spends one night a week there, free. 773-973-1000. 6450 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60645.
36—DC’s N St. Village works with Washington’s poor. 202-667-2728. 1333 N St., NW, Washington, DC 20005.
37—You are on your own here—I don’t know of any hospital that does this, but they should. If you know of one, let me know. And try to start one.
38— The Happy Birthday Foundation, attention: Stacey Wolsten, PO Box 7, East Brunswick, New Jersey, 08816, 732-254-5914, 888-671-BDAY, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.birthdayfoundation.org. They provide children’s birthday parties in shelters.
39--Books, Bears, and Bonnets, Merrily Ansell, 10844 Antigua Terrace, #103 N Bethesda, MD 20852, 301-881-2883 email@example.com, www.booksbearsbonnets.org. They make sure kids in hospitals, primarily those in for cancer treatment, get some comforting toys. They involve the community in preparing the boxes. It’s amazing to hear about the responses from patients—on a bleak day, when you are dealing with cancer news and treatment,a gift from a stranger does make a difference.
40—RESULTS lobbies for relief from hunger. www.resultsusa.org. They need you for their letter writing campaigns.
41--Groundswell Community Mural Projects, Inc., Amy Sananman, Executive Director 231 11th Street #2, Brooklyn, NY 11215. Phone/fax 718-965-9475, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.groundswellmural.org. Learn how to beautify your community with a mural.
42--Huntington Hospital Volunteer and Customer Services, PAT Program, 100 W. California Blvd., POB 7013, Pasadena, CA, 91109, 626-397-5208, fax: 626-397-2923. Learn how to bring pets to hospitals to help patients recover faster.
43—Help nursing home and elder care community residents make their dreams come true. For ideas on what has worked, or to purchase their date book, which they use as a fundraiser, contact Second Wind Dreams, P.O. Box 529, Alpharetta, GA 30009 Attention: Jan Nelson, 678-624-0500, fax 678-624-9578, email@example.com, www.secondwind.org
44—Stanley Manor. They figured out how to bring some fun to their nursing home in Albermarle, NC 28002 Get details from Beth Haber @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
45--America’s Second Harvest, 35 E. Wacker #2000 Chicago, Illinois 60601 phone: 800-771-2303, fax 312-263-2303, www.secondharvest.org. They can provide you with details on a food retrieval service in your area.
46--Shoes that Fit, Attention: Elodie Silva McGuirk, 689 West Foothill Blvd, Suite #B, Claremont, CA 91711, 909-482-0050, fax: 482-0085, email@example.com, www.shoesthatfit.org. They provide shoes and clothing to poor elementary school children.
47--Get involved in making life better for residents at your local nursing home. For ideas, contact Judith Minkove at 410-601-2296, firstname.lastname@example.org. Then order a copy of Dr. William Thomas’s “Learning From Hannah” from publisher VanderWyk and Burnham, 800-789-7916 or www.vandb.com. Learn more about Dr. Thomas’s Eden Alternative from The Eden Alternative, c/o Dr. William Thomas, 742 Turnpike Rd., Sherburne, New York, 13460, 607-674-5232, fax: 674-6723 email@example.com, www.edenalt.com.
48--Educate the Children Foundation, 14422 Hammon Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92647, Attention: Frank and Faye Clarke, 714-901-7237, fax: 901-5337, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.educatethechildren.org. They work with American school districts to make up where budget shortfalls take away needed services and supplies.
49--MayaWorks, Kathleen Morkert, 4421 N. Malden 3N, Chicago, Illinois, 60640,
Phone and fax: 773-506-4905, email@example.com, www.mayaworks.org. Mayaworks empowers Guatemalan women by marketing their colorful, high quality products through a volunteer network in the USA. Products include colorful crocheted kippot and beaded mezzuzot covers. Mayaworks provides scholarships to over 100 children, and small start-up loans to artisans in Guatemala.
50--Rev. Linda Tarry-Chard, The Project People Foundation, 110 East 59th Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10022, 212-415-2280, fax 415-2049, 332-0717 (voice mail)
firstname.lastname@example.org, www.projectpeoplefoundation.org. Fascinating work with the poor in South Africa. You can support them by buying items their clients make—add them to your centerpieces.
51--The Giraffe Project, 197 Second St. POB 759, Langley, WA 98260, Attn: Ann Medlock, 360-221-7989, fax: 221-7817, e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.giraffe.org. This organization identifies people who “stick their necks out” to make the world a better place. Get inspired here.
52--The Caring Institute, 513 C St. NE, Washington, DC 20002 Attn: Val Halamandaris, 202-547-4273, fax: 547-4510, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Alana Calfee at email@example.com, website: www.caring-institute.org. They also recognize those people who are doing great work—another place to look for ideas and inspiration.
53--Foodchain, The National Food-Rescue Network, 912 Baltimore #300 Kansas City, MO 64105, Attn: Christina A. Martin, 816-842-6006, toll-free information: 800-845-3008, fax: 816-842-5145, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.foodchain.org
Information on food collectives.
54--The Glass Slipper Project, PO Box A-3609, Chicago, IL 60690. Phone 312-409-4139 e-mail: email@example.com. www.glassslipperproject.org. See how used gowns can be reused successfully.
55—Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Lots of programs, lots of local chapters. Check the internet by doing a search for “big brothers big sisters” and select the one closest to you.
56—Stationery with seeds imbedded in it makes lovely invitations and thank you notes, and produces a flower when you recycle it. Order from Don Martin, Blooming Flower Co. 800-894-9185, bloomin.com or Wildflower Trading Co., 888-836-8384 www.wildflowersof.com (postcard packets only).