10 Ways to Give Back During the Holidays

giving back

Giving back to the community is important – we especially think about this during this time of year.  The ladies at The Children’s Product Team who recently launched THE CHRISTMAS PICKLE TRADITION have come up with their favorite 10 ways to give back.

1. Toys For Tots, the Christmas classic sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, collects new toy donations and distributes them to less-fortunate children. Help instill the idea of giving by letting your kids pick out the toy they want to give, wrap the present, write the card and deliver it to the drop-off spot.

2. Organize a food drive in your neighborhood, school or workplace. Organizations like Feeding America will help you with logistics, and some will even pick up what you collect.  Help make sure local food pantries are not barren as the temperature begins to drop.

3.  Pledge to GO GREEN. Mother Nature loves gifts. And she loves them all year round. Think of what you can do to give back to her the coming year. Here are 10 easy things you can promise to do:

— turn off lights that are not in use
— unplug electronics that are not in use
— bring your own bags to the grocery store
— buy local
— use natural cleaners
— drive less and carpool more
— use gray water
— start a compost
— print double-sided
— stop junk mail

4. If you have a friend or co-worker who may not have plans, invite him or her to celebrate with your family. Give the friend an easy task to make them feel part of things. It’s a gesture they won’t forget.

5. Leave an empty jar in the kitchen or by the front door for your family members to toss their spare change into. Then, donate it to a good cause at the end of the year (or whenever it gets full).

6. Speak with your work’s human resources or finance department to see if they will sponsor a holiday charity program where the company matches the donations its employees make to a charity of their choice.

7. Your toes might be nice and toasty but the bare necessities are not so easy to come by for some. Socks for Seniors collects socks around the country for the elderly who might otherwise have to go without. You can download a sock-drive packet with ideas and templates for posters and brochures from Hannah’s Socks, which distributes new socks to homeless and domestic-violence shelters. Or, you can easily purchase socks online for several different shelters through Operation Warm Feet.

Have you heard of Bombas? Bombas are purpose built for athletic performance and engineered for extreme comfort. They realized the #1 requested item at homeless shelters was socks…they designed bombas and in turn for every pair you purchase 1 pair gets donated to someone in need.  We love this!

8. Charity contributions have hit the next level of convenience with donations-via-text. The charge will show up on your monthly bill, so there’s no extra paperwork or hoops to jump through — talk about streamlined philanthropy . Here are some of our favorites:

— Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to give $10 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief
— Text “KOMEN” to 90999 to give $10 Susan G. Komen for the Cure
— Text “SURVIVE” to 20222 to donate $10 to help Save the Children provide help to children in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia
— Text “ALIVE” to 90999 to donate $5 to Keep A Child Alive, a non-profit organization that provides medicine to HIV and AIDS-inflicted families in Africa and India.

9. Empowering people is the idea behind micro-finance organization Kiva: Give people in low-income communities loans to start their own small businesses and you give families and communities the tools to pull themselves out of poverty. You can donate your money to a specific community, or offer a loan to the overall effort.

10. Donate pajama’s – Snuggling up with a good book, in your jammies, is pretty much the best. And now, you can share that simplest of joys with thousands of children living in orphanages, group homes, shelters and foster care by donating books and pajamas to the

The Pajama Program. Since 2001, the program has given out more than a million pajamas and books. You can buy the items off the organization’s Amazon Wish List or host a pajama drive for a local chapter (sounds like a good excuse to throw a slumber party).  Even better, give locally this year.  Join Plaid Pajama Project to provide new pajama’s local children for the holidays.

How to make bath towels softer and more absorbent

stack of fluffy towels_608x355

Ever notice that your towels do not seem as absorbent as they once were? The culprit: Detergent and Fabric Softener Build-up!

Over time, your bath towels will build up detergent and fabric softener residue. This not only attracts mildew, it can essentially “waterproof” your towels. If water can’t get into the fabric to clean it, the towel won’t BE or SMELL clean either.

The solution is quite simple.

What you’ll need:

1 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of baking soda
HOT water

1. Put towels in washing machine. Mix Boiling water with a cup of vinegar and add to load.
2. Run cycle with HOT water.
3. Leave towels in the washer and refill again with boiling water and 1/2 cup of baking soda.
4. Run through another HOT cycle.
5. Now dry towels thoroughly.

The “science” behind this method: Vinegar (which contains acetic acid) breaks up water mineral deposits and dissolves buildup, and baking soda (which contains an alkali—sodium bicarbonate) neutralizes odors and dissolves dirt and grease.

Need to keep those towels clean and absorbent

Be sure that your towels are 100 percent dry before putting them away.
Make sure you hang up towels after they are used. Even bathmats should be hung to dry.
Make sure you’re not using too much detergent. Too much detergent leaves a residue, especially with high-efficiency washers that use less water.
Don’t use commercial fabric softener on towels; it coats towels with a thin layer of chemicals which makes them less absorbent. White vinegar is a GREAT natural fabric softener. It prevents further build-up, eliminates static, and makes towels softer.
Make sure towels are drying quickly enough after using them. Hang them on towel bars or spread across two hooks until they’re completely dry.