Saturday, April 6, 2013

Guest Post: Christine @ Extended Arms

Today I have an old friend guesting for me with a fantastic post with great ways to give back.  Like I've said before, I work for a youth development non-profit, and I never stop wanting to help others.  
Okay, so like seriously, Christine is an old friend...  You want me to prove it?  Check this one out: First Holy Communion.
I am third from the right and she is second from the left.  Yeah, sorry, Christine, I had to go there.

Oh yeah, and junior prom too!  She is in red and I am on the right in turquoise.  

Hi, Borrowed Heaven readers, I’m Christine from Extended Arms and I’ve known Meg since Kindergarten.  I am here to tell you a bit about my new blog: Extended Arms!  You might know me from my other blog, Amasterism.

I took a writing class in college that required me to take up a cause and raise awareness of it for the entire semester. Getting involved with helping people (my cause was AIDS awareness) was such an incredible feeling that it’s definitely something I can see myself spending my life doing. My only problem was figuring out how I could make a difference. I recently started Extended Arms as a way to start talking about the causes I believe in – it’s a really new blog and it’s still growing and changing as I sort of figure out what I’m doing, but I’m dedicated to using it as a tool to raise awareness of and try to help the causes that need it. Okay, let’s move on!

One issue that I run into a lot while trying to plan my posts is money. As a 20-something with bills and student loans it’s really hard to monetarily support the causes that you believe in, so that’s what I want to talk about today: how to get involved without having to drain your bank account. I have three ways to share with you today that’ll have you making a difference with little to no extra effort needed!

1. Charity Miles
I’m going to start with the one that’s probably the most well known. This is a completely free app that lets you donate to charity simply by going for a walk (or a run, or a bike ride)! If you already exercise regularly, or plan on starting now that it finally feels like winter is over, then all you really need to do is remember to turn the app on (I’d put the icon near your home screen or music icon so you’ll easily see it). Then just pick your charity and go! You can choose from Feeding America, Stand up to Cancer, the ASPCA, and more. You donate 25 cents per mile while walking or running, and 10 cents per mile while biking. It’s easy, it’s free, and if you’re already a walker/biker/runner then it doesn’t require you to do much more than you do already. And if you’re NOT much of a walker/biker/runner, maybe this will give you some motivation! The only down side is that you have to connect it to Facebook, which isn’t that big of a deal but some people still don’t like it. You might be able to adjust who can see posts from the app – I’ve done that to other apps that require Facebook.

Pretty much everybody uses search engines, right? Switch from Google to goodsearch you can quickly and easily start donating to your non-profit or school of choice. There are a ton of charities to choose from, but if the one you’d like to support isn’t on the list then you can always submit it. That’s really all there is to say – change your homepage to and watch your donations add up with every search! I think they donate one cent per search, but that definitely adds up over time. Especially if you’re like me and search for way too many useless things throughout the day (I believe my most recent search was “is kindergarten a German word?” which clearly shows that I have far too much time on my hands). This is literally the easiest thing to do, and using the search engine is the simplest way to contribute, but if you want to take it a step further then there are more ways to get involved:

3. Protect Seals
I actually wrote about this in my last Extended Arms post. You can read that to get more information if you’re interested, but it basically talks about the seals that are brutally killed for their fur every year. The Protect Seals movement, ran by the HSUS, has a restaurant locator that shows you which grocery stores and restaurants support the boycott of Canadian seafood (the HSUS encourages us to boycott Canadian seafood until the slaughter stops). Supporting these establishments is a great thing to do, but sometimes there aren’t any in the area – I used the locator and there weren’t any in my town. If you’re particularly motivated, there’s a “take action” section on their app (which is called Protect Seals and can be downloaded from the app store or from the restaurant locator link on my blog) that encourages you to recruit local restaurants to the boycott. The picture below is an example of the restaurant locator; I randomly chose to search Florida so you can see how the map shows the restaurants that support this cause. Basically, if you can support the places that are joining the fight to save the seals, then please do so!

Those are three really simple, 100% free ways to start making a difference in the lives of others. A lot of people get charitable around Christmas or decide to help a certain cause when tragedy strikes (take hurricane relief, for example), and that’s a really great thing to do, but let’s try and make giving back a year-round thing. As you can see, it’s not all that hard, and if everyone helps a little bit then it can really add up to something big!

If anyone else has any suggestions or wants to share how they get involved then I’d love to hear them. And thank you, Meg, for letting me share this with your readers!


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