Category: Causes + General Do-Gooding

Quick, easy ways to volunteer while the kids are young

This is National Volunteer Week, a time to think about all those ways you can use your spare time to help others through good deeds and hard work–unless you are like me, and that first sentence makes you spit out apologies about not having any time or money to do anything significant.   I get it. It’s really hard to regularly commit to any single organization when the kids are young and we’ve all got so much going on in our lives. But keep reading because there are simple, affordable ways you can help make a big difference, even...

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New York City to consider ban on Happy Meal toys. Are you lovin’ it?

Ahhh, the Happy Meal. Regardless of whether or not you ever step foot in a McDonald’s, you probably know exactly what you might find if you open up that brightly colored container: A little hamburger or set of nuggets, pouch of fries–and a cheap plastic toy. How many of our kids ask for the toy before the food? Or ask for the food because of the toy? I’ll sheepishly raise my hand. It now looks like New York City may ban Happy Meal toys following in San Francisco’s footsteps. NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie asserted his desire to “limit fast...

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A lovely lullaby CD created to help some kids who really need it

I, along with probably many of you, had never heard of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, though it it is the number one genetic killer of children–1 in 40 people unknowingly carry the SMA gene. When I read more about SMA1, the most severe form of SMA, and the likely fate of “Getty,” the nickname for a sweet little baby afflicted with the disease, I had to put my head down on my desk and compose myself. But when I read that there is a very real chance that a cure or treatment for SMA could be found in as little...

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Brady Rymer’s new CD celebrates differently-abled children. And it rocks.

If you know a child on the autistic spectrum, you know how special they are and maybe even some of their personal day-to-day struggles. It seems fitting that on World Autism Awareness Day, I let you know of this soon-to-be-released CD from CMP favorite (and Grammy nominee) Brady Rymer with lyrics that will touch your family and point out so many ways kids with autism aren’t all that very different from any other kids you know. Oh, and the music is awesome too. {keep reading for a chance to win this new CD} This is a project Rymer took...

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10 beautiful items to help support Japan

It’s been just over a week since the earth shook just off the coast of Japan, and the devastation and loss has rocked us all. However I’ve been heartened to see how families and companies are so quickly finding ways to help raise money for the people of Japan, from the family organizing a community yard sale in our neighborhood, to the fantastic Chronicle Books which held a bake sale out of their San Francisco storefront. Some of our favorite small business owners and artisans are doing what they can too, by donating as much as 100% of their...

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Lovely, love my etsy artists

Lovely, Love My Family by the Roots is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head in a good way. My girls discovered it after watching it on Yo, Gabba Gabba! oh, maybe 6,000 times and it’s been a favorite around here ever since. So when I saw they had inspired a talented artist, my interest was piqued. Especially after learning they help a great cause too. The Lovely, Love My Family prints at the wonderful Tuesday Mourning Etsy shop come in a variety of colors and would look smashing in any child’s room, or even over...

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Have a heart on Valentine’s Day

We were first introduced to the Children’s Heart Foundation when we donated the proceeds from last year’s color-your-own Valentine’s Day card contest to their worthy efforts. So this year, we figured it was timely to remember their fantastic cause on a day that is all about spreading the love. This lovely organization provides support and assistance to children and their families who are affected by congenital heart defects (CHD), which just so happens to be the number one birth defect in the USA. In fact, a child is born with CHD every fifteen minutes. Wow. If you were looking...

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Putting the art in heart, times a million.

See that gorgeous iPhone case over there? It’s printed from original art and signed by the artist. Impressed yet? You will be. The artist’s name is Anwar, and he’s from Kuwait. He’s also a child cancer patient. All of the lovely goods from The Children’s Art Project are based on the artwork of child cancer patients through an inspiring program at the the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. But as you can see on their website, they usually strike through the word Cancer and focus on the Children and the Art. Working with trained artists as part...

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What are your dreams for your children?

 No matter how you choose to spend Martin Luther King Jr Day–either at a local event commemorating his contributions to society, by participating in a volunteer event on this Day of Service, or simply using it as an opportunity to start a meaningful conversation with your kids–may you see the light of his vision reflected all around you today.  My dream is that we all continue to work to bring our children up in a world where Dr. King’s vision of equality, fairness and brotherly (and sisterly) love is much more than a dream but a reality. We’d love to hear...

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Save Handmade update: C’mon, Congress. Help us out.

As you probably know by now, there’s a bill in Congress to ensure that toys and clothing are free of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Which is good. Unfortunately, while the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act is well-meaning, the way it’s been implemented has impacted not only the major corporations accused of making faulty products, but also caused tremendous hardship for small businesses, individual crafters, consignment sales, and our beloved Etsy–folks who have been doing things right all along. Plenty of them have even gone out of business. Horrible, right? Here’s the update: The law is officially set to...

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Our favorite charities for that very last end-of-year tax deduction

As we come to the end of an amazing year at Cool Mom Picks, we all have so much to be thankful for–our families, our friends, the fact that we get to do what we love. And of course, the support of the coolest readers on the planet without whom we couldn’t do what we do here. When we’re feeling thankful, our hearts and minds turn towards those less fortunate than ourselves. So once again, we asked some of the team here to offer up their favorite charities, in case you’re looking to squeak in a final bit of...

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Send cookies to the troops without turning on your oven

Just around this time last year, my husband was returning home from his deployment in Afghanistan and he mentioned how he and his fellow troops really did appreciate the goodies and treats folks sent their way. With that in mind, I couldn’t help but pass along this great initiative from Kenmore (yes, that Kenmore) who’s thanking our troops through cookies–hopefully with your help too. Through their Baking for the Troops program, Kenmore is hoping to donate 250,000 cookies to troops who won’t be able to spend the holidays with their family. And if they can reach their goal, they’ll...

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Wondering what to do with your spare change? How about save some animals.

Before I was a Mom, what seems like a lifetime ago (oh, a whole four years back), I worked for the Audubon Society. It was thrilling to be involved in a community that was so passionate about conservation and protecting the wildlife we share the planet with and now I’m devoted to passing those values onto my own kids.. I’m pleased to hear that there’s a great new program to help kids get involved with national conservation in a very easy way.  Pennies for the Planet, created by The National Audubon Society in alliance with Toyota, is a program...

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More birthdays? Sign us up.

We’ve been thrilled to have the American Cancer Society as a long-time sponsor on Cool Mom Picks; it’s always nice when the people who support us are the ones we want to support right back. And now their MoreBirthdays.com website has taken on new life with a totally amazing roster of artists, performers and other creative types, all giving a little bit of themselves to help promote the celebration of more  birthdays for all. Jack Black singing Happy Birthday? Artists like Jon Burgerman (above) creating cool posters for sale? Hello! Over the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some...

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Small Business Saturday: That’s our kind of Saturday!

This post and the first ever Small Business Saturday, November 27, is sponsored by American Express. You can “like” the Small Business Saturday Facebook Page to help generate a $1 donation to Girls Inc., and help spread the word about supporting the kinds of small businesses that Cool Mom Picks know and love. If there is any day that screams Cool Mom Picks, it’s one totally designed to support the small local businesses, boutiques, and hard working mom-and-pops in your neighborhood. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the idea is to support the little guys (and gals!) near...

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Cool art for a great cause. Besides the cause of your blank walls.

We have a lot of art on our walls these days. Most are originals. In watercolors. With titles like, “Barney with a glass of orange juice.” Of course art by professionals is more than welcome, too, and so my husband and I are always on the lookout for artsy pieces that have something to say. With Working Proof, we sort of hit the jackpot.  The art goes beyond just saying something: it actually does something, too. It benefits charity. Every Tuesday at 1:30 PM, The Working Proof puts up a limited-edition new print by an artist, created just for...

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Donating extra Halloween candy? Reader Q&A

Dear Cool Moms, I seem to remember you once wrote about donating used Halloween candy. I was hoping to get it out of the house a little earlier this year for a change! -Amanda R   Hey Amanda. We feel you. Really we do. Especially now that Kristen has four kids at home bringing home pillowcases full of Milky Ways and Smarties. I tell my own girls that they can pick a certain number of pieces to keep and the rest they donate to people who don’t get any treats at all, and they love that idea. (Of course some...

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Do Fun Stuff and help some kids with some seriously fun kindie tunes

I’ve never doubted the power of music to unite people–though it does bring to mind those big events like Woodstock or Live Aid. But it’s the effort of one dad and some very cool bands with loads of heart that now deserve to get people behind an important cause: Helping build awareness and support for people born with the little-known Smith-Magenis Syndrome. Even if you’ve never heard of this condition, or some of the indie bands involved in this project, don’t let that stop you: This is a baker’s dozen of sweet songs you’ll want to add to your...

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Fighting fire with Halloween cards

When an enormous fire roared across San Bruno, California, on September 9, it destroyed homes and uprooted hundreds of people. Scary–unbelievably scary. But it couldn’t have been more terrifying for anyone than the children and families whose lives were suddenly changed forever.  So as Halloween slinks into view and we start planning parties and costumes for out little ghosts and ghouls (and–sigh–wannabe Lady Gagas), here’s a good way to help those in San Bruno who have had to face real-life scary stuff. Paper Culture, a Cool Mom Picks favorite, is donating 100 percent of proceeds from its amazing Halloween...

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Breaking News: Fisher-Price recalls 10 million toys

Check your tricycles, high chairs, play mats, and more, mamas – Fisher-Price has just this morning issued a recall of nearly 10 million toys and baby gear for all sorts of safety issues. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website, the recall  includes: – 3 brands of Fisher-Price high chairs -Fisher-Price trikes and Tough Trikes -Infant toys including Baby Playzone Crawl & Cruise Playground, Baby Playzone Crawl & Slide Arcade, Baby Gymtastics Play Wall, Ocean Wonders Kick & Crawl Aquarium This is in addition to yesterday’s recall of Little People Wheelies Stand n Play Rampway and three toys...

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Be good in honor of National Family Day.

My kids are already super kind, generous little people, but that doesn’t mean a little more conscious kindness isn’t in order. That’s where the folks at  Boom Boom! come in. Their line of pay-it-forward cards (which we’ve already fallen in love with) now include two new approaches to kindness, and right in time for National Family Day. Which is today. If you didn’t know. (We didn’t.) The Boom Boom! Family Edition encourages you to work at kindness within the expectations of being a family, and I sure enjoyed when one of the kids pulled the “do a family chore without...

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Time to start thinking Halloween? UNICEF is.

When I was a kid, we carried our Halloween treats in pillow cases because we were greedy little goblins who didn’t mind having candy-corn stuck in our hair later on. But again, my kids get to have all the fun with none of the hideous polyester paisley. UNICEF, which really is synonymous with Halloween for plenty of us, is now making it both cute and easy to gorge on sugar whiling help kids in need. When you buy the adorable cotton burlap FEED trick-or-treat bag bag from HSN, $3.50 goes directly to UNICEF and provides an entire year’s worth...

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9/11: A day to remember, through service

I have struggled with how to explain September 11th to my children ever since they were old enough to understand that something big and terrible happened that day nine years ago. I still struggle, but now that this has also become a National Day of Service, I like the idea that my family can honor the day by doing something good for a charity in need. Last year, we learned of 911DayofService.org, a website that was created to give people a place to share their service projects with others, or to find an organization in the community that can...

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In support of the hardest laboring folks of all.

Happy Labor Day, mamas! On this day, we really wanted to give a big hooray to the hardest laboring folks of all: Moms. (No pun intended.) Of course Labor Day really is about, well, labor. Or unions, to be more specific. And while there’s no such union for parents, we thought we’d give a mention to an organization that comes pretty darn close. If you’re not familiar with Moms Rising, get thee to the website! Then celebrate the fact that there are brilliant women (and men) over there working hard to mobilize moms and advocate for good stuff that...

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Happy Women’s Equality Day!

It’s official: Today, President Obama officially proclaimed August 26 Women’s Equality Day, 90 years after we were given the right to vote. While we’ve currently got three women on the Supreme Court, 17 in the Senate, and a whole bunch running fantastic businesses–like this very website–we’ve still got a ways to go. We’re thinking that paid family leave (for men too) would be high on our agenda, along with earnings of more than 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. So let’s keep fighting the good fight. At the same time, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come. And...

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Notebooks that help trees, kids, monkeys, pandas, and probably teachers

It’s hard not to want to incorporate EcoJot products into your back to school shopping, which is why they nearly always end up in our back to school shopping guides. Their notebooks are 100% recycled, the designs are adorable, and they donate money to various causes and to kids in need around the world. In fact, if they were named for a St. EcoJot, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Now, the Canadian company have a whole new line that I think kids will really flip for. EcoJot‘s brand spanking new Jane Goodall Institute notebooks were specifically created to...

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Stuffed animals that help real animals

Thanks to a certain animated show, my daughter now ties her stuffed animals to chairs and then attempts to save them using only teamwork and a pom-pom hat. It’s not my cup of tea, but I do like the idea of encouraging kids to help animals, which is why I like Oomfy. This new business turns that cartoon altruism into real world good. Every time you purchase a stuffed animal and its companion book from Oomfy, a portion of the proceeds goes to support the rescue, rehabilitation, and eventual release of displaced and orphaned baby wild animals. The stuffed...

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Many hands–and voices–come together to help Haiti

I was a teen when Live Aid rocked the world, and saw how powerful musicians can be when they come together for a cause. Now, many years later, another group of musicians has come together, this time on a fabulous children’s CD to benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project which helps the people in Haiti who are still recovering from the devastating earthquake. And, in case you were wondering: The music, like the cause, is awesome. Conceived by versatile musician and CMP favorite, Dean Jones, the album Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti quickly became a reality after receiving the support and label backing from Spare...

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Let’s get a million books to the kids who need them most

I’ve read to my kids since they were wee little things and have never felt like they were lacking in books. Especially since birthdays, holidays and frequent trips to the book store insure they always have new titles to enjoy.  But, then again, I’ve never had to decide between books and food. Or new shoes for school. Reach Out and Read knows too many families have to make hard decisions like these, which means that many young kids don’t have books to be read to them at bedtime, or to flip through on their own. So, in conjunction with...

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One more reason to love Klean Kanteen

We all know that drinking lots of water is essential, especially since this summer has been hella-hot. And while the reusable bottle movement is hardly new, these special-edition Fill. Drink. Repeat. bottles from Klean Kanteen give you even more incentive to switch over to an eco-friendly drink container you can use over an over again. First of all, they happen to be designed by Shepard Fairey in partnership with SHFT.com; he’s the awesome contemporary artist behind the Obama “Hope” posters. Secondly, 10% of the proceeds from the sales of these bottles go to water.org, a non-profit organization, co-founded by...

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