Monday, January 31, 2005

Reduce, reuse, recycle, restore: clothing

(As I mentioned a little while ago, I just started a new job. This new work environment has caused me to investigate and implement some changes in the way I live. I'll be blogging about them periodically in the coming weeks.)

I've had to update my wardrobe a bit, since I work outside the home now. I'm not much of a clotheshorse but I do tend to keep clothes (and other things) for a long time. I'm using this opportunity to clear out the clutter. Here are some things you can do with clothes you no longer wear:

* Sell them at a garage sale or consignment shop. If you want, you can donate the money to a clothing charity like Dress for Success, Salvation Army, or your local "Coats for Kids."

* Donate them to someone who can use them. Consider Dress for Success, an organization that "provides interview suits, confidence boosts and career development to more than 45,000 women in over 73 cities each year" or Goodwill Industries which sells donated clothing and household goods to "fund services for people with workplace disadvantages and disabilities by providing job training and employment services, as well as job placement opportunities and post-employment support. "

* Trade them in a clothes swap. That way, you'll get rid of clothes you don't use in exchange for clothes you will use. And your items don't go to waste.

* Reuse them. If the item has a small flaw, a seamstress or tailor may be able to remake it so that you can still wear and enjoy it. Thankfully, my mother just rescued a favorite dress of mine that had a hole of unknown origin in a very inauspicious place. If items are no longer wearable, then use the fabric for quilting. I love to remember favorite childhood dresses by the pieces used in a quilt I made with my mother and grandmother. If the item is not so loved, cut it up for rags. I just used a bunch when I painted my bathroom. Rags often come in handy for cleaning, dusting, and the like. I've even seen them used as stuffing for pillows!

Any other suggestions? Just list them in the comments below. Thanks!

Volunteer at the VA

Regardless of how you feel about the US military or our current war, the people who return from war may need your help. Consider volunteering at one of the 1134 Veteran's Administration facilities. Opportunities range from landscaping VA national cemeteries to helping with the National Veterans Wheelchair Games to escorting patients at VA medical centers and hospice facilities. Click here to find a VA service center near you. To learn more about volunteering at the VA, visit VA's Voluntary Service.

It's an excellent way to support the troops once they've returned home.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Just click.

Okay folks, this has got to be the fastest, easiest, cheapest way to do something positive. All you have to do is click. That's it. Just visit the six sites below and click the big colored button. Advertisers on the sites make a donation based on the number of clicks, which represent people who've seen their ads. Click here for more information on how it works. The six sites are:

* The Child Health Site sponsors work that helps prevent life-threatening diseases in children, restores vision to blind children, and enables child amputees to walk. Yesterday, clicks helped 1,685 children get and stay healthy.

* The Literacy Site buys books for children through their partner, First Book. Yesterday, clicks bought books for 903.5 children.

* The Hunger Site supports hunger relief efforts of Mercy Corps and America's Second Harvest (see the January 24th post). Each click provides 1.1 cups of staple food. Yesterday, clicks bought 166,541 cups of staple food for the hungry around the world.

* The Rainforest Site helps preserve rainforests through their charity partners. Each click saves 11.4 square feet of endangered rainforest. Yesterday, clicks protected protected 1,094,560 square feet of endangered land.

* The Breast Cancer Site funds mammograms for women who otherwise would not be able to afford them. Yesterday, clicks bought 10.8 mammograms.

* The Animal Rescue Site provides food and care to rescued animals. Each click buys .6 bowls of food. Yesterday, clicks provided 107,301 bowls of food to animals in shelters and sanctuaries.

I've bookmarked one of the sites (they all link to each other) and click each day as soon as I turn on my computer. It takes me less than 30 seconds to click through all six sites. That's a lot of good for less than 30 seconds a day. Try it and spread the word! No excuses. You'll see: it's the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to make a difference.

Make your good idea a reality, part 2

So now that you're motivated to make your dreams real, how will you make it happen? This is a bit a harder since I don't know what your dreams are (sometimes it's hard to know what my dreams are!), but here are some tips that hopefully someone will find useful. Please use the comments link to add more suggestions.

* Consider getting more training to better prepare yourself. There are certificates and degrees available in all sorts of new areas, some of which you may not be familiar with, but may be interested in. and are good places to start. They have information on schools, degrees, financial aid Or enter some key words in Google to start your search.

Don't let cost be a hindrance. The financial aid office at your school should be able to tell you about scholarships, grants and loans to help you pay for your education. (Remember, reasonable student loans are considered an investment. That's good debt.) Also, consider the numerous on-line programs that are available. Don't give up just because the university down the street doesn't offer your program. You could get your degree from a school a hundreds of miles away. (I'm doing this myself!).

Also consider continuing education courses, certificate programs and other short term options. These may be all you need. And you may be able to volunteer or do an internship to get the experience you want.

* The US government provides numerous grants for education, and work abroad. There are programs for American citizens and noncitizens. Visit the State Department education office for more information. These include the Fulbright Program (named for an Arkansan!), the Humphrey Fellowships, and the Gilman International Scholarships.

* Perhaps you need to patent, copyright or trademark your good idea or creation. Contact the US Patent and Trademark Office to get the information, forms and protection you need.

* Travel suggestions and guidelines can be found at (for health and safety issues), and at (for visas, passports and emergencies).

Good luck with your good idea! I wish you the best, especially if your project will cause positive social change.

Make your good idea a reality, part 1

A few years ago, it occurred to me that a major way people can make a difference (in their own or other's lives) is by making their ideas a reality. Most of us have brilliant, interesting, or useful ideas from time to time, but how many of us act on them? That's the key: to make your ideas, your solutions, your dreams real. Whether you want to clean your house, lose weight, learn another language, be more social, write a book, start a school, or something else entirely, you can make it happen. Here are some ways to do that:

* Write your goals down. Put them someplace where you can see them and be reminded of them frequently. One friend used the bathroom mirror. Another used an e-mail alert service to send reminders to her inbox. (Here's a free service I found through Google. And here's another.) I like my journal (paper, not online) to record thoughts and inspiration. I often flip back through it to see what progress I've made and what more I need to do.

* Set small, quantifiable goals. It's easier to get discouraged when the goals are too big. You should be able to measure the results, so you know you're making progress. Instead of saying "I'll clean my house," try "I'll throw away or recycle at least five items each day."

* Reward yourself when you reach your goals. After exercising as planned for a month, treat yourself to a night out or a spa day.

* Talk with a group of like-minded friends. Tell them your goal and ask them to hold you accountable for what you say you will do. You can do the same for them. This works really well in my bookclub, the Sisters of the Yam. After we eat dinner together and discuss the book-of-the-month, we have Dream Circle. Each of of talks about our dreams and the progress (or lack thereof) we've made toward making them a reality. If one of us falls off track, our sisters are there to offer encouragement, support and suggestions to get us started again. We love it!

With the new year, the vernal equinox and my birthday, I like the first three months of the year for making plans and setting goals. Of course, you can set goals any time. Now is the perfect time to get started. So think about what you really want to do, and do it! Make it happen!

Just FYI, I thought about starting a newsletter or website like this blog for years before I launched So what can I do? It's never too late!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Join a credit union

I was listening to WRFG yesterday, and heard an interview with staff from a local credit union (BOND Credit Union). They told the story of a homeless man who regularly collected and sold aluminum cans and deposited the money in their credit union. So not only did he own part of the bank (like all credit union depositors), upon application, he qualified for and received a $200 loan. He couldn't have done that at a commercial bank. I think that's a great story. And if credit unions can benefit this homeless man, think what they can do for you!

Credit unions are fully insured (like the FDIC) and operate much like commercial banks, except that member depositors own the bank and receive profits in the form of higher interest rates on deposits and lower interest rates on loans (as compared to commercial banks). You may well qualify to join a credit union and it may be in your best interest to do so. Learn more:

* Use this site run by the Credit Union National Association to learn more about credit unions and to find a credit union that you can join. Federal employees may also want to consider the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

* "The National Credit Union Administration is the federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions and insures savings in federal and most state-chartered credit unions across the country through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), a federal fund backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government."

* The National Credit Union Foundation is "the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement, having both the knowledge and resources necessary to undertake national programming, serve as the financial intermediary between credit unions and governmental agencies, and fund innovative initiatives in support of consumer savings and asset accumulation."

So make the most of your money: join a credit union!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Fight hunger in the United States

At the time of this post, 6,162,118,356 pounds of food have already been wasted this year in the US. That's over 6 billion pounds. And January's not even over yet. All this, while more and more people are food insecure, or hungry or at risk of hunger. This describes urban, rural and suburban folks, children, senior citizens and families, the working and the unemployed. But you can help. Here's how:

Visit America's Second Harvest to learn more about hunger and food distribution in the US. On their site: you can:

* Learn more about hunger in the Unites States. Get the facts. They are sure to motivate you to act.

* Identify a food bank near you. Here you can get services for yourself or for someone in need. Or you can volunteer, or donate food or money.

* Give funds. Every dollar puts 15 meals on the table. Every little bit helps.

* Give food. Learn how to donate excess perishable food from your wedding, party, conference, or other gathering. Get information on how to conduct a food drive.

* Give time. Find volunteer opportunities near you. People are needed every day to sort, distribute and deliver food.

And here are two suggestions for cutting down on waste from my own life.

* Let people (children too) serve their own plates. My grandmother's rule was that we could always have seconds but had to eat whatever we put on our plates. Less waste saves money. If you don't need to save money, do so anyway and donate it to an organization that fights hunger.

* According to my mother, as a child my eyes were always bigger than my stomach when we'd go out to eat at the local cafeteria after church. After several weeks of me ordering food and not eating it, she decided to make me pay for the food I didn't eat out of my allowance. I stopped wasting food.

So when you sit down for your next meal, consider those who are without. Then do something to combat hunger in your community. It's a solvable problem, we just have to work at it. It's the right thing to do.

Friday, January 21, 2005

[New Year's Housekeeping]

I wanted to bring a few things to your attention:

* Please visit by January 28th to vote for Nyaka AIDS Orphans School. Do it now. Thanks.

* If you're new to the blog (or even if you're not), check out the archives for more tips. (see right). There are now over 100 posts now on a wide range of topics, from AIDS vaccine trials and HIV testing to fair trade coffee, chocolate and clothing. Many of the suggestions require no money and little time. Have you read them all?

* If you like, subscribe to So what can I do?. You'll get one e-mail a day with the first few lines of all my posts for that day (see right).

* The Weblog Review recently reviewed 'So what can I do?'. Read their opinions here.

* You may want to reread the comments of some of your favorite posts. I (and others) often update posts with new information, so check back for new content.

* Thanks in part to readers like you, Bloggers were declared people of the year for 2004.

* As always, your comments, questions and suggestions are welcomed. And remember, you can email a post to a friend by clicking the white envelope.

Thanks to all of you for reading, commenting and spreading the word about So what can I do?. Please continue to do so. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog . . .

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Visit and volunteer at National Parks

After visiting Brunswick, GA for a dance performance this weekend (Savage Jazz Dance Co was excellent! [see comments]), Kwadjo and I stopped by St. Simon's Island. We were on a mission to find Ebo Landing (see comments), but ended up visiting Fort Frederica National Monument. It was beautiful and I didn't even know it was there!

The National Park Service began in 1916 and administers 385 areas hosting 270 million visitors each year. There's something for everyone: National Battlefields, National Lakeshore, National Parkways, National Cemeteries. Hot Springs National Park, AR is part of a city, and I'm an alum of Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. These parks provide a wonderful opportunity to get out and learn something and enjoy nature, often for not much money. Consider visiting one. Even better, consider volunteering at one. Here are some of the opportunities that are available:

* The Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program offers a way for volunteers to "help in such a way that is mutually beneficial to the National Park Service and the volunteer." We met a lot of these friendly and helpful VIPs when we camped at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. One of them even taught me to catch a sand flea!

* The International Volunteers in Parks program offers "more than one hundred individuals from all over the world training in park management, wildlife research, environmental education, etc."

* The Artist in Residence program operates in 29 parks and "offers opportunities for two-dimensional visual artists, photographers, sculptors, performers, writers, composers, and craft artists to live and work in the parks."

We had a wonderful weekend, in part because of our visit to a National Park. The volunteers there were very helpful in locating information on Ebo Landing and clearly loved the work they did. Consider visiting and volunteering at a National Park. You're sure to have a ball!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Vote for Nyaka AIDS Orphans School

This just in:

"Global Giving (, an organization supporting global philanthropy, asked for nominations for social entrepreneurs and Nyaka School and 149 other organizations were nominated for a prize of $100,000 that will be given to 3 organizations. The nomination will go through a process of public online voting begining Jan 21st ending on the Jan 28th, 2005. That is seven days to get in as many votes as we can.

For information of voting go to for more details. You may also vote at where you will be asked to register as a member. That is, user name, password, email and zipcode. Then you can cast your vote for Nyaka AIDS Orphans School.

This is another way for our many supporters to participate in helping Nyaka. Please tell everyone you know to help us and donate few minutes to vote online.

Thanks in advance and happy new year.
Twesigye Jackson Kaguri"

Remember voting starts on January 21st you must vote by January 28th. Learn more about Nyaka AIDS Orphans School on the November 18th post. This is a fast and free way to help. I hope you'll help make a difference and spread the word so that others can too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Clean the air with plants

I started a new job today and the first question my mother asked me was if my office had space and light for plants. I'm pleased to report that it does. Plants are great to have around. The beautify the environment, produce oxygen and clean the air. Given the high levels of insulation in today's modern buildings, plus the fact that many buildings have windows that don't even open, indoor air quality can be quite low. Some types of carpet, furniture, plastics, plywood, varnishes, stairs, and adhesives emit toxins that may result in "Sick building syndrome".  But don't worry, plants can help clean the air you breathe. Here are a few you can use:

* Boston fern - Ferns are great! I love to see them sporulate. They are easy to grow in medium to bright light. As with most plants, water them only when the soil feels dry.

* Peace lily - These have lovely white blossoms. And if the ever start drooping just give them some water and they'll perk back up again.

* Spider plant - One of my favorites! I like to clip and root the babies and give them to my friends. They are easy to grow in bright to medium light.

* Corn plant - This won't produce corn but it will clean your air. And it doesn't need much light.

* Snake plant/mother-in-law's tongue - Since I love and enjoy my mother-in-law to-be, I prefer the name "snake plant". (Of course, I like snakes, too!) These grow well in almost any type of light, and will forgive you if you forget to water them.

* English ivy - These look great as hanging plants, and are easy to grow in bright light.

* Janet Craig/Striped dracena - I haven't grown this plant but it sure is pretty! It needs bright to medium light.

So consider adding some plants to your work or home environment. Your lungs will thank you!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Live Ethically (Do the right thing)

We're all supposed to know the difference between right and wrong, but sometimes that distinction is not so clear. Get some help on ethical decision-making from these sources:

* The Ethics Guy - Bruce Weinstein's column is syndicated in my local paper, and may be in yours. On his site, you'll find an ethics quiz, a form to sign up for a free newsletter, and information on ethics training.

* Everyday Ethics - Joseph Telushkin's column tackles common ethics problems and questions.

* - This blog is run by the editors of the American Journal of Bioethics and tracks bioethics stories around the world. It's updated sometimes three or more times daily so there's always something new. I like this site for two more reasons: 1) I'm working on an MA in bioethics so it helps me keep up-to-date for class. And 2) I started this blog as a direct result of hearing about They were the inspiration. Thanks y'all!

I believe very strongly in doing the right thing. I like to think that most of us do. Even when it's more work. Even when it's unpopular. Even when it's inconvenient. Even when it is different from what you've done in the past. Most of the time we know in our hearts what's right, even if we don't choose that path. Those choices are easy (even if the actions aren't). These sites are for those times when the choice is not so clear.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Fight breast cancer

Want to do something more than just click in your fight against breast cancer? How about running or walking to raise money for research, education and patient support. Here are two options, both sponsored by the Komen Foundation:

* The Breast Cancer 3 Day "is a 60-mile walk for women and men who want to make a personal difference in the fight against breast cancer. Participants walk 60 miles in three days, help raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research and patient support programs." Register at The or call 800-996-3DAY.

* The Race for the Cure "is a series of 112 Races in the United States and two international Races, and the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world. This year, 1.5 million people are expected to participate." Remember you can run or walk.

And if you need more information on breast cancer call 1.800 I'M AWARE (1.800.462.9273) Monday - Friday, 9 am – 5:00 pm Central Time (TDD available).

These are two great ways to get some exercise (which is thought to reduce rates of cancer) and make a positive contribution as the same time. By participating in these walks and runs, you'll not only be helping others, you'll be helping yourself.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Control your TV

The television can be a great tool for education and entertainment, but you may not want to watch everything it has to offer. in addition, all television programming is not suitable for children. But how do you know which programs to avoid? There are several sites geared toward helping you make educated decisions about television viewing:

* Control Your TV is developed by the cable industry to help you make viewing decisions for your children.

* The National Cable and Telecommunications Association has prepared a report on "the industry's efforts to offer consumers choice, control and education."

* The TV Parental Guidelines site offers information on the TV ratings and the V-chip (which electronically reads television-programming ratings and allows parents to block programs they believe are unsuitable for their children.)

Most importantly, plan what your children can watch and stick to it. As I young child, my mother and I spent Sunday afternoons reviewing the newspaper's TV guide for the week. I'd let her know what I wanted to watch, and she'd circle what I was allowed to watch (usually no more than an hour a day). Amazingly enough, this actually worked. Being a kid, it was all I knew and I didn't know any better, so if a program wasn't circled I didn't watch it. I'd find something else to do, like read, play outside or call my grandmother.

So consider using these tools to regulate your or your child's viewing. Of course the best control is the on/off button. Use it liberally, and don't let the TV control you (or your children).

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Insist on justice: Innocence Projects

Can you imagine being wrongly accused of a crime? And then convicted? And then sentenced to death? Unfortunately many people in the United States have lived (and died) just that scenario. Some, including the state of Illinois, argue that the number of innocent people sentenced to death (a punishment that is not reversible) is reason enough to outlaw the death penalty. I agree. But even if you don't, you may still prefer that your tax dollars not be used to incarcerate and kill innocent people.

With the advent of new scientific testing methods, particularly forensic DNA testing, many cases are being reevaluated. Innocent people are being discovered in prisons in every state. Here's how you can help free them:

* Get more information on the death penalty and innocence.

* Learn about and support the innocence projects in your state.

* Spread the word. Click the envelope below to e-mail this post to a friend, or compose your own letter.

Thanks to Jenrae for mentioning the Georgia Innocence Project in a comment which inspired this post.

Don't make the innocent pay for the sins of the guilty. Insist on justice. 152 innocent people have been freed so far. Who will be next? How will you help?

Learn more about Heifer

I just got the following e-mail:

"Dear Karama,

Heifer has learned that the CBS news show "60 Minutes," airing this Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. CT), will feature the inspiring story of Heifer recipient Beatrice Biira.

In the segment, CBS Correspondent Bob Simon accompanies Beatrice back to her home in Uganda to learn how an animal gift from Heifer helped transform her family's life.

Please help us spread the word by forwarding this email to all your friends!"

As regular readers know, Heifer is one of my favorite organizations for sustainable development. I hope you'll watch and enjoy this segment tomorrow night.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Recycle computers and electronics

Ever wonder what happens to computers and other electronics when they're no longer needed? Many folks simply trash them, meaning that chemicals such as cadmium, lead and mercury could leak from landfills and pollute our soil, water and air. Here are some other reasons to be concerned:

* In the next three years, individuals and organizations worldwide will replace more than 400 million computers.
* The average cell phone in the U.S. is replaced after just 18 months.
* More than 75 percent of all computers ever sold remain stockpiled in our closets, garages, office storage rooms and warehouses.

"So what can I do?"

* Visit EBay: Rethink to get more information on reusing and recycling computers and other electronics. In cooperation with several computer manufacturers, they offer ways to sell, donate or recycle your equipment.

* Read my October 14 post on cell phone recycling, to learn about ways your phone can be used to support your favorite nonprofit or end domestic violence.

* Read my November 10 post on donating office equipment to support college scholarships.

I have an old laptop by my bed that I haven't used in over 4 years. Guess it's time for me to do something with it. What about you?

Support your favorite non-profit

In my last post, I talked about working for non-profits as a way to improve your life and the lives of others. In the comments, Steve left a wonderful suggestion, upon which I'd like to expound. He suggested that we modify our email signatures to include a link to our favorite nonprofit. Here are some reasons why this is a great idea:

* It's a free and effective way to spread the word about your favorite organization.

* Someone you email might just need to know about that particular nonprofit.

* You can tailor the link to specific goings-on (e.g. CARE for the Tsunami survivors or United Way for King Day service projects)

So identify your favorite nonprofit(s) and link to them in your email signature. They'll be happy to receive the free publicity and you'd be doing a service for them and for your community. Thanks Steve!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Work for a non-profit

One of the ways we can be unbought and unbossed is by working for an organization whose purpose and mission we agree with morally and ethically. Often that can be accomplished by working for a non-profit organization. By definition their goal is not making money. One of my friends just left a large corporate law firm to work at a nonprofit, and she's so much happier. Consider these sites to start your non-profit job search:

* (southern California)

Consider working for one of the organizations you support financially or otherwise. They'll already be aware of your commitment. Or investigate schools, libraries, churches and other organizations that have a mission other than profit. Note that you'll have to do off-line work as well. Brush up on your networking skills, get business cards (here for free), and polish your resume (consider putting it online for easy access). Feel free to share your tips as well. Good luck!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Claim unclaimed money, reprise

I originally posted on this on October 10, but thought it deserved a revisit. Last night, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a while, and she said that three of her family members found money using this site! Maybe now it's your turn . . .

There is great site that allows you to check for unclaimed money and other assets that may belong to you or your family. On my first visit there, I put in a family surname and found that the children of two of my deceased cousins have money waiting for them. I got in touch with them immediately to let them know.

To start your free search, visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, a nonprofit organization. You never know what you might find! And if you happen upon a windfall, there are many worthy organizations that would be happy to receive a donation. You could send it to CARE for their work in Haiti, or donate to Heifer for their work in Armenia, or contribute to Doctors without Borders for their work in Sudan.

I'd love to hear about some success stories. Just comment below!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Drive hybrid

We're running out of excuses not to buy hybrid vehicles (and the automotive industry is running out of excuses not to build them). These cars, trucks and SUVs use gasoline and electricity to improve gas mileage and retain power. Some get so much gas mileage, that I could drive from Atlanta to Little Rock (535 miles), never have to stop for gas, and still have fuel left over! Here are some other reasons to consider hybrids:

* They're gentler on the environment since they have lower emissions.
* They reduce our dependence on foreign and domestic oil.
* They never have to be plugged in.
* They get excellent gas mileage. (This one bears repeating.)
* You'll spend less money on gas.
* You may receive a tax break for driving one.
* They're very quiet.
* Currently, four cars (Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Civic and Accord), two trucks (GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado) and and an SUV (Ford Escape) are available so you're sure to find something that fits your needs.

To make your decision even easier, the federal government has a side-by-side comparison of currently available hybrid passenger cars and SUVs and trucks. So if you're considering a new car, think hybrid. What's your excuse now?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Be unbought, be unbossed

Reflecting on Saturday's death of Shirley Chisholm, I was reminded of her famous slogan "Unbought and unbossed." In honor of her, I considered the ways in which I am sometimes bought or bossed. How can I change that? Am I living an authentic life? Am I true to myself? I encourage you to consider these questions as well. It's an interesting and useful exercise, one that can be life-changing. I believe that is is our duty to God and to ourselves to continually strive to be better people. That mission ensures that the work of Shirley Chisholm and others like her is not in vain.

Avoid waste: disposable camera batteries

If you use disposable cameras, you may be throwing away a very useful part of the camera. Cameras with a flash have a battery that you can use again, usually a single AA. Remember, it's only been used a few times for the flash, and likely has a lot more life left in it. Click here for instructions and more information. Read it carefully so that you don't get shocked. You may be able to collect enough batteries to stop buying AAs, or at least you can get enough to replace the batteries in the TV remote (my goal).

Monday, January 03, 2005

Help increase mobility and increase independence

Sometimes, it doesn't take much for a person with atypical mobility to be independent, and contribute to society. Often, all it takes is a wheelchair, a walker or a cane. To learn more, read personal stories about the positive difference mobility equipment can make. Note that the need for wheelchairs and other equipment is higher because of the recent Indian Ocean Tsunami. Here are three ways you can help:

* The Mobility Project accepts donated mobility equipment (including wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and crutches) which they refurbish, and deliver to people all over the world. They also provide "sports programs for the disabled, to help them achieve greater confidence and health as well as ability with their mobility equipment" and they've "established wheelchair repair and refurbishing workshops in some of the countries where we work, [which provide] an opportunity for the disabled people in that area to learn valuable job skills as they work on the chairs." Click here to donate.

* Wheels for Humanity will recycle you donated wheelchair, deliver and personally fit it, at no cost, to children and adults in developing countries. In eight years, they've delivered over 21,000 chairs to people in over 50 countries. They also accept other ambulatory equipment. Click here to get more information and donate.

* The Wheelchair Foundation has donated or committed over 300,000 wheelchairs to people in 129 countries. If you donate $75, they will provide matching funds and deliver a wheelchair to a child, teen or adult without mobility,

Do you have a cane, wheelchair, walker or crutches gathering dust? Put it to work! Help someone increase their mobility and increase their independence. Most contributions are tax-deductible. Donate today!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Commit random acts of kindness: an open forum

Happy 2005!

I'm trying something new with this post. The goal is to offer you, the reader, a way to engage each other about a single topic. Let's discuss random acts of kindness. Perhaps you can list ones you've committed. Or maybe you can send a thank you to someone who was kind to you. Or you can send mad props (thanks and respect) to someone you've seen be randomly kind.

I'll start: My mother was in a long line a shoe store. Folks were grumpy since there was only only person working and the line was moving slowly. My mother had just gotten in the back of the line when the sales person ran out of quarters. Now he's making change with pennies and dimes and people are getting grumpier and more annoyed. He can't leave to get more quarters, and there's no one to send out to do it. My mother, seeing the situation, got out of line at went down the street to the bank where she got a $10 roll of quarters. Back at the store, she exchanged the quarters for a $10 bill much to the surprise and pleasure of the sales person and all the customers. Now that was a random act of kindness! Much props to Mommy!

Now it's your turn. Post a comment, read for ideas, and commit a random act of kindness today. It's a great way to start the new year, and a nice goal to have as the year progresses.