Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Traveling Got Me Thinking

Social media is a great thing.  We can reach out to people across town or across the world.  It’s an interesting avenue for information and the catalysts for much misinformation.

It’s true, Ray and I are fortunate enough to travel — some for his work and some just for fun.  And, it seems that much of our yearly travel is done toward the last part of the year and people think we travel all the time.  How do I know that?  I read it on Facebook. 🙂


The first week of December, we took Tammy, my sister to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and it was fantastic.  If you ever get a chance to go, you have to do it.  We has mostly sunny skies all week with highs in the 80s.

This trip came just two months after I spent almost two weeks combined in San Francisco, California, and Anchorage, Alaska, tagging along with Ray on conferences he was attending.

I know some of my friends may never get to go on exotic vacations or even fun getaways and that’s a bummer.  Life is too short not to get to do exciting things.

My sister, who’s a server at a local restaurant, stuck to a budget to afford the trip.  And, contrary to misconceptions, I don’t get rich from my job as a morning meteorologist!

The secret to our traveling is an interest-free credit card for a year, so we’d buy our trips and pay on them for a year!

But, that’s not the point of this blog.  That was to clarify that while we travel a lot, we also live on budget like the next man and woman.

Last December, Tammy and Gretel went on an eastern Caribbean cruise with us.

It was amazing.  Both trips, the cruise and trip to Puerto Vallarta, were all inclusive (alcohol with the Mexican trip).  We ate and drank all that we wanted and definitely more than we should.

And, we took along $200 for additional tipping.  While it’s not required, what’s a few dollars for your server that keeps your table clean, the bartender filling your drinks, and the maid that makes your room spotless every day?

Here’s what I learned on those trips.  On the cruises, these hard-working people sign on to work these ships every day of the ten-month contract — every day!  (Now, I’m just speaking of this one cruise line that we were on and the employees we talked to.)

Ten months of being away from their families to earn whatever pay they make and to watch us — appearing like we have no worries in the world — eat and drink (and waste) like gluttonous fools.


While in Mexico, we learned that the servers and bartenders work six twelve-hour days each week.  They come into work in the morning and take a break in the afternoon and then come back to work in the evening for a few more hours.

Honestly, I cannot image that.  I go into work and when my one shift is over, I’m ready to go home to relax and spend the rest of the day with my family.  During severe weather, I obviously have to work extra and go back in on my own time.

Again, I have friends that work multiple jobs and still can’t make ends meet and they can feel the pain I’m describing with the men and women who work on the cruise ships and resorts we visit.

In a perfect world, I wish we could all go on vacations and never have to struggle financially.

While that is a fantasy, I’ll strive to feel less guilty when I get to do these things and make sure that I tip generously when I’m at an all-inclusive resort or on a cruise ship to say an extra “thank you”.

And, when at home, I’ll continue making donations to local charities and do fundraisers to help others.

Reaching out to other and never taking anything for granted isn’t just for the holidays.  It’s my year-long goal.


Charity Begins With You & Me

It’s easy to get distracted this time of the year with everything that we have to get done between work, our families, and the holidays.  It’s easy to forget those in our communities, our country, and around the world that can’t forget that they’re cold and hungry and they won’t have a bright and cheery holiday season.


The holidays are upon us.  There is no way to escape it.  It begins with eating ourselves into a stupor this week.  We then focus our attention on fulfilling everyone’s Christmas dreams by shopping until we drop.  And, then there’s New Year’s Eve where many party and drink like fish to ring in 2013.


In the next six weeks, most Americans will devour so many extra calories and spend so much money for a few moments of bliss, whether it’s eating homemade candy, cookies, or treats, or buying some present that may be re-gifted, taken back to be exchanged, or never used.

I consider myself a very charitable person.  I donate money and my time to emcee and organize fundraisers that help everything from animal shelters to domestic violence centers to fight hunger and to raise awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  I’ve also donated money to fight cancer, to help fund school programs, and just last week, I donated money for Habitat for Humanity, a charity that I donate to on a regular basis.  Those are just a few things that I do.


I’ve even had to wrestle with my conscience when I bought popcorn from the Boy Scouts outside stores when those little faces ask you to help them out.  I struggle with it every time that I drop a dollar into the red kettles for the Salvation Army.  I know both of those organizations do good things for the community and for our kids, but why do they have to be so homophobic and judgmental?  I really struggle with that and I always have hope that both organizations will evolve and love all one day.

But, this is not about me.  It’s about making a difference.

I know many of you struggle to pay your rent and your utility bills, to keep your families fed, and to pay for medication.  I know you may not have extra dollars in your wallet or purse to make sizable donations to charities.  But, it’s true that every dollar and every coin makes a difference.

When it comes to me, I know that if I have the money to buy a compact disc (even if it’s on sale for $9.99), buy a DVD, go to the movies, or plan a vacation, I have the money to make small donations to charities that can help others.


A couple of my friends are asking for volunteers and donations to help their church in Moline, Illinois, present their first ever Thanksgiving lunch Thursday.  I’m sure they could still use some donated food or money to buy what they need.  I bet they could even use volunteers.  Give them a call to find out.  (309) 764-6721.

Thursday afternoon, Ray and I, and our friend, Vickie, are volunteering for Mr. Thanksgiving, a 40-year event that feeds about 2,500 people.  It’s for those that may not have money for food for a feast or for people who may not have family and just want to be around others at the holidays.  It takes place at SouthPark Mall in Moline from 4-6:30 p.m.  You can donate money at many local grocery stores to help offset the cost for the public event or you can drop by Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. to volunteer.


This Thanksgiving and Christmas will be a tough one for Americans living along the mid-Atlantic coast and in New England.  In late October, Hurricane Sandy brought wind, flooding rains, and heavy snow, that caused more than $52.4 billion  (that’s with a “B”) in damages and displaced so many people.


There have been many functions and telethons in the past few weeks that raised tens of millions of dollars to help the American Red Cross in the relief efforts.  Celebrities are donating huge sums of money, too.  Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $500,000 from his Foundation, and “Mother Monster” Lady Gaga has put up ONE MILLION DOLLARS!


It’ll make me feel good to know that when I see Gaga in January 2013 in Las Vegas that part of my ticket price went to helping others.


Here is an update posted on the American Red Cross website Monday:  “Some people are still unable to return to their homes. About 750 people spent Sunday night in ten shelters.”

“The Red Cross is looking ahead to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and will be working with various organizations and community groups to get Thanksgiving meals to people in the areas affected by Sandy. This will include distributing food before the holiday, supporting faith-based and community Thanksgiving meal programs, and serving Thanksgiving meals from Red Cross kitchens on Thanksgiving.”

With that being said, I just made a donation to the American Red Cross to help out in New England and I’ll make it easy for you to do the same by providing the link.  If you donate, I appreciate it and I know those people who we’ll probably never meet will be thankful that you did, too.


My friends, I wish you the very best this holiday season.  Regardless of what is going on in our lives, good or bad, I know that for most of us, there’s another day that will follow.  We can only hope that it’s a good one.

Here’s my last thought to pontificate about before you donate.

We’ve all heard about the good that charities do and we’ve also heard about the few cases of funds being misused.  I still donate and I always will.  When I offer my time or money, I rely on hope and faith that the money is being used to make life better for many.

Happy Thanksgiving early and be thankful for your blessings.


Here’s a bonus — a powerful message behind a powerful and beautiful voice.  In 1997, my idol, Reba McEntire recorded a charity single for the Salvation Army and I’ll share “What If” with you now.