Dear World,

Thanks to a recent post by Eventbrite, I’m left reflecting on how I choose to give back and better this universe I live in.

Charitable donations have always been held close to my heart, and as a family, we have chosen companies and organizations that we dedicate a portion of our finances to each year. When it comes to making donations, it easily feels like there are thousands of people, families, groups, organizations, and companies that are in need of our contributions. Every day as I scroll through my Facebook feed, there is tragedy, trauma and unmistakable pain. My heart hurts for so many around me, and yet there is no way that my wallet can keep up with my deep desire to help others.

Near And Dear To Our Heart

The American Cancer Society

My husband and I were united in a charitable bond from day one. At our wedding, we decided to make a donation to The American Cancer Society in lieu of more traditional guest gifts. We came to the table with cancer touching each of our lives significantly, and therefore wanted to know that the chunk of change we would have otherwise spent on table chocolate and personalized koozies was able to reach a far wider audience than those in attendance for our vows. It was also our hope that others would be made aware of this as an act, and allow others the opportunity to make a similar choice in helping others.

Charity Water

Charity Water is an organization that my husband has been donating to for years. I can’t even tell you the specifics of how and why he fell in this with a collection of people that believe everyone in the world should have clean water. Just as they have made it their mission to bring safe and clean drinking water to the people of the world, hubs has made it his mission to support their cause. In addition to yearly donations, he has frequently asked for their apparel, wristbands, and water bottles for holiday gifts, as he knows the gesture will bring money into the hands of the organization that he cares so much about. He has often spoken of leaving his job in corporate America if he could find something that he is passionate about. Dear Charity Water, if you’re looking for an amazing human being that supports your cause and works fiercely, call me!!

The Hope Effect

In a world where over 26 million live without parents, we are honored to have given to The Hope Effect. The best part? 100% of the donations are used to provide family-style homes for orphans around the world. The Hope Effect was brought to our attention when a friend hosted a birthday party and requested the gift of donation. We have been humbled to give to them and affected by their willingness to help our most needy.

The United Way

The United Way is an organization that both of our employers are teamed up with. Knowing how much good they do both local and national, we have no problem double dipping into our paychecks to offer help. The United Way contributes in both big and small ways, in a variety of settings, and impacts the lives of millions.

Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation

As far as weighing in on the “Best State Fair in the land” goes, our choice is a very obvious IOWA STATE FAIR selection! We are loud and (obnoxiously) proud of our love for the ISF, and have chosen to give to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation. Our favorite donation has been purchasing a personalized brick to be placed at the fairgrounds. Our parents instilled in us a love for funnel cakes, the sky lift, and the Bill Riley talent show. To say thank you, we have instilled in them a brick with their namesake on it. One to be shared, loved, stepped on, and visited for years to come!

Habitat for Humanity

My husband’s former employee organized service events within their company, one of which allowed workers and their families to assist with a Habitat for Humanity house project. We were able to restore an ailing house for a family that would have otherwise been unable to do so for themselves. From the feeling of accomplishment in getting my hands dirty to the humbled heart I felt after meeting the family we helped went a long way. Possibly the best feeling from that day, however, was coming home and telling our child how we spent our day. Hoping that he will one day do the same motivates me to continue signing up as a volunteer.

Fundraising Events I’ve Attended

Light the Night Walk, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

My extended family and friends have been walking in the annual Light the Night Walk since 2011. We walk in honor of, and in memory of, my mother. My cherished mom, Diana Gott, bravely fought three different cancer diagnosis over the span of 17 years. Cancer has deeply affected us and has changed our course of living. We are proud to walk alongside so many other family members, supporters, survivors, and fighters of this awful disease. We walk so that one day, cancer can be erased from our world. And our vocabulary.

Make-A-Wish Ball, Make a Wish

Never has my life been more profoundly affected than by a single night at the Make a Wish Ball in Minneapolis. I was invited to attend by a friend and was subsequently blown away by the stories, the families, and the facts that were shared that evening. To all of those who contribute to making wishes come true – WOW. I was so touched that I decided to attend the training to become a wish-granter myself. Although I have let my commitments drop {#bedrest #momlife #lameexcuses), I am excited to reconnect with Make-A-Wish in the future.

The Brain Tumor Association

Hearing the words, “Your son has a brain tumor” sends shivers down my spine. Both literally and figuratively. I cannot, even for a moment, fathom those words and thankfully have never been forced to. A very dear friend of mine, however, has. Getting the call from her that her world was now filled with scans, appointments, fear, and uncertainty, I was left filling helpless and determined to do something. Anything. It hurt to not be able to take away her pain. It ached to not be able to fill in the blanks in her now unclear future. At a time when I wanted to do so much, but ultimately didn’t hold the power to do anything substantial, I volunteered. I showed up. I contributed. I walked. I joined my friend, and her family, at the Break Through For Brain Tumors Run & Walk. This walk is held each fall and donations go towards the American Brain Tumor Assocation.

Involvement Bucket List

As much as I feel like we’ve already done, I know that we have barely scraped the tip of the iceberg. There is SO much more we can do to better the world around us, and we are just getting started! More importantly, as parents, we have been given the responsibility of raising our children to want to help others. It is something we both feel passionately about, and are excited to share our desires with our three children and always have service of others in mind as we raise our family.

In addition to continuing partnering with those that we already contribute to, our bucket list organizations include Faith’s Lodge, Kate’s Cause, and the Children’s Shelter of Cebu.

Faith’s Lodge

Born out of heartache and brokenness, Faith’s Lodge offers shelter, support, and a special facility for grieving and hurting parents. Located in Wisconsin, it is a place where hope grows and love is shared, while hearts are allowed time for dealing with raw emotions.

Kate’s Cause

Sweet Kate Olivia Rhoades was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 26 months. Her time on earth was short, but her smile and spirit were captured way beyond her minutes here. I fell in angst with her mom’s heartbreaking writing first, but later fell in love with the spirit of Kate’s Cause.

Children’s Shelter of Cebu

Imagine raising a family of 10 on a teacher’s salary. Now imagine leaving your only income and moving your family to a third world country to help others. A former colleague, and close friend, is doing just that. It is with his heart of service in mind, that we are excited to support the Children’s Shelter of Cebu in the upcoming years. This school/ shelter has been providing homes {and education} for orphaned, abandoned, and surrendered children in the Philippines since 1979.

Are You Ready To Make A Difference?

Tag… You’re it! Now it’s your turn. Are you ready to make a difference? What are your long-term goals for bettering the world around you? What are your short term goals? What can you do TODAY that will make life easier/ better/ more productive/ more meaningful for someone you know? Are you willing to help someone you don’t know? Can you rest easy tonight knowing you’re doing your part in the universe? Let’s talk! Let’s make goals! Let’s change lives!

No matter where you are in your journey of giving back, this resource from Eventbrite can meet you where you are and help point you in the right direction. Check it out and let me know when you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Photo Credits:: The Walker FamilyCharity Water,  The Hope Effect, United Way,  Do It For Diana, The Collection Connection, The American Brain Tumor Association,  South Bend Habitat for Humanity