Stylish and charitable jewelry: Thoughtful Thursday

May 22, 2014

I like to think that I am stylish or at least I try to be and I am definitely charitable, but what if you could be both? Many companies are becoming increasingly socially conscious. They give back to individuals and communities through charitable campaigns, donations, and grants. I have discovered a few jewelry companies that have affordable stylish pieces and they donate a portion of their proceeds to a charitable cause.

The founder of Bloom and Grace was working in sub-Saharan Africa, and wanted to find a way to connect fundraising efforts to charitable work there. She created a jewelry line called Bloom and Grace which donates a specific portion of each purchase to the Shot@Life campaign. There are four donation levels depending of the cost of the piece. Those donations provide 3 to 12 vaccines per piece purchased. The line has been featured in InStyle, Women’s Wear Daily, and The Zoe Report.

The brand Alex and Ani created a specific division within their own jewelry line to promote charitable giving. The division known a Charity by Design donates a specific portion of a jewelry purchase within that line to designated non-profit organization. The jewelry line uses customized symbolic charms to raise awareness for causes and donating to those campaigns. They have dozens of partner organizations including Blessings in a Backpack, Donate Life America, Farm Aid, and the One Campaign
Pearls Against Polio is an etsy jewelry store started by a champion for the Shot@Life campaign. Jen Lovallo hand makes each piece and donates all proceeds from the line to the campaign. She uses stones such as onyx, jade, pearl, and quartz to make simple and elegant pieces. They timeless enough to be treasured for a lifetime. 
Whether you’re considering adding jewelry to your wardrobe, looking for something to compliment your favorite outfit, or maybe buying a gift for a friend all of the above brands will allow you to be charitable and stylish.
Do you know of a great brand giving back? I would love to know about them. 
Happy Thoughtful Thursday, 

JOLLY TIME popcorn celebrates 100 years with Kernels of Kindness

May 15, 2014
Current Dewitt Elementary playground
Photo Credit: Jessica Urgelles 

Hearing children laugh on a playground is one of the happiest sounds;  you can hear squeals of joy as they slide down a twisty slide or giggles of laughter as they swing higher. They aren’t heard often enough on the Dewitt Elementary School playground because the meager playground can’t accomodate more than a class at a time, and it is still crowded. 

When the weather is clear it can take over 20 minutes to drive from Dewitt Elementary School to the nearest community playground, and residents that live in more isolated areas of the community have a much longer drive. This isn’t uncommon in rural parts of Appalachia; residents living in some of the “hollers” can take 45 minutes or longer just to get into town. Times are tough and gas is expensive, trips into the city and the city’s park aren’t always possible.  

Principal Marcella Walker
Photo Credit: Jessica Urgelles 

The principal at Dewitt Elementary, Marcella Walker, hopes to change that for the community residents and students. She is diligently working with faculty, staff, parents, and community leaders to ensure her “children” have a place to play. The proposed community playground will be publicly available to local residents and will serve more than just the 211 students who attend Dewitt Elementary School. 

Mrs. Walker begins the day by greeting her students with a smile as they enter the school. She encourages her teachers, handles disciplinary matters, and supervises the day-to-day function of the school. She has a very busy schedule and yet makes time to help supervise the school’s fundraising efforts.

Mrs. Marcella Walker and staff at a fundraiser
Photo Credit: Jessica Urgelles 

Mrs. Walker said, “I just want the students at Dewitt Elementary to have the same opportunities as other children.”  There numerous physical and social benefits to playgrounds. Childhood obesity is on the rise, and playgrounds are a great way to help children stay active. Free play is also an integral part of learning social skills. Attributes such as patience, conflict resolution, and even citizenship can be acquired on a playground interacting with peers. A new playground would benefit her students in so many ways. 

How do you measure the dedication of a Principal? Mrs. Walker is devoted to promoting well being and happiness in her students. The annual median household income in the area is just $22,000, and yet the school has managed to raise just over $8,000 in the past year, due in part to the encouragement and supervision of Mrs. Walker. She and her teachers have held a soup bean dinner, sold donuts, held a live auction, and hosted a restaurant fundraiser, all of which is a testament to their dedication. 

This is why I have chosen to nominate the principal of Dewitt Elementary School, Marcella Walker, in the JOLLY TIME Kernels of Kindness campaign. She could use the grant to help fund the much needed playground renovations. 

Photo Credit: JOLLY TIME 

Do you know someone who brings happiness and joy to a community: Is there an individual that goes above and beyond to promote kindness? JOLLY TIME wants to known about individuals and organizations like them.

Many people celebrate birthdays by receiving presents, but JOLLY TIME popcorn wants to give them. In honor of their 100th birthday JOLLY TIME has launched the Kernels of Kindness campaign: They want to give 100 grants worth $1000 each to deserving individuals and organizations to celebrate their birthday. You can visit the their website to learn more and to nominate an individual or organization. A panel of judges will ultimately select 100 winners from the nominations. 

I shared my nomination and their story, and now I want to know who would you nominate and why? You could be entered to win a $50 JOLLY TIME prize pack full of goodies and a $100 Amazon gift card, you just leave a comment on this blog post telling us who you would nominate and why, and then record your entry in the Rafflecopter widget below. There are several ways to earn bonus entries.

Help celebrate the birthday of JOLLY TIME popcorn by spreading the word about the Kernels of KIndness campaign, and nominating someone who demonstrates kindness.

Please take a second to visit JOLLY TIME on their social channels. Maybe you could wish them a Happy Birthday and make a nomination? 

Disclaimer: I received financial compensation for this post, all opinions and thoughts contained herein are entirely my own.

Happy Thoughtful Thursday and Happy Birthday JOLLY TIME,

    Liebster Award: My First Blogging Award Nomination

    April 11, 2013

    So apparently people actually read my blog.. lol I was nominated for my first Liebster Award by Krista over at Rollin With the Fruit Punches.  Thanks for the nomination Kristin.  I hope everyone will head over and check her blog out. 

    Liebster means dearest in German.  The Liebster award isn’t really a contest.  It is a way of lesser known bloggers to honor other less known bloggers.  The nominee will nominate 11 other bloggers, answer 11 random facts about themselves, answer 11 questions from their nominator, and create 11 questions for their nominees.  So here we go! 

    11 Random Facts about Me
    1. I love garden tomatoes and I could eat them like apples.
    2. My son was named after the archangel Gabriel.
    3.  I might complain alot but I love my life as an Army wife.
    4. I do alot of charity work because I want to set an example for my son
    5.  I am not always sure why anyone else is interested in reading what I write.
    6. I started writing for Ask Miss A kinda by accident
    7. I am not nearly as outgoing as people think I am.
    8. I won the 4-H state forestry competition as a kid. 
    9. I love my southern accent
    10. I love all things Tory Burch
    11. I hate cats, well strongly dislike hate is a strong word. 

    11 Questions from Rollin With the Fruit Punches:

    1. If you could have a super power for a day, what would it be?
    If you knew how funny or appropriate this question is.  My good friends from the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign all claim to have super heroine alter egos.  Mine is the Black Canary. 

    2. What is your guilty pleasure song?
    Anything Pitbull 😉

    3. What would your plan of action be if there was a zombie apocalypse?
    Go to the nearest cupcake store and die happy 😉

    4. What is your favorite cartoon character?

    5. What does your blog name mean?
    I paid homage to my southern roots and Bluegrass Belle was born

    6. What inspired you to start a blog?
    I needed an outlet to vent after my brothers murder and to deal with life.

    7. What is your favorite vacation spot?
    Scrub Island, British Virgin Island

    8. What was the last good book you read?

    The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society by 

    9. Mention one of your obsessive compulsive habits(like not stepping on cracks, or always taking the stairs two at a time, or never sitting with your back to the room or door.)

    I always sleep facing the door.  

    10. If you were give a million dollars to donate to a charity… which one would you choose and why?
    The United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign to provide global vaccine access.  I am a champion and advocate for Shot@Life.  I believe every child deserves a shot at a healthy life.

    11. Who was your childhood idol / hero?
    Marilyn Monroe.  Who doesn’t want to be a busty blonde when your a little girl?

    11 Blog Nominations:
    1. Roots and Wings Library
    2. A Dose of Jules
    3. My Mommy Reads
    4.Pastry to Pediatrics
    5.Caudill Connection
    6.Advocate Momma
    7.Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness
    8.Emily Does Stuff
    10.This Running Moms Life
    11.What does She Do All Day

    11 Questions for my Nominees:
    1. What do you do for fun?
    2.  What do you hate to read on the internet?
    3.  Strangest comment anyone has left on a blog post or Facebook wall?
    4.  Most embarrassing moment? 
    5. Do you sing in the shower?
    6. Do you have a charity you love?
    7. Have you pledged your support for the Shot@Life campaign? 😉
    8. What is your favorite Pet?
    9. How many hours do you sleep at night?
    10. How do you feel about cats?
    11. What was the best day of your life?

    Some birds were meant to fly

    February 10, 2013

    Some birds were meant to fly and I flew the coop a long time ago.  I have always been adventurous and slightly audacious.  When I graduated high school at 17, I was ready to leave that sleepy little town that I loved to explore the world.  I have been fortunate to travel and meet lots of interesting people along my path, and yet I feel like my journey has just begun.  

    Today, I took my another big leap out of my nest.  I left my son with my mother while I am gone to Washington, D.C..  I know we are both ready and we need this.  In his three years on this earth, he has traveled to Idaho, Nevada, throughout South Florida, along with the countries of Colombia, Curacao, and the British Virgin Islands, and countless stops inbetween.  If you count the 9 months I was carrying him, he has been a few other places too!  I was determined to teach him to have wings too, but sadly I realized I have been hindering him.  We have never slept in separate rooms  and tonight will be our first night apart.  I have never been away from him for more than a few hours.  

    I am an Army wife, and I have an Army life.  My husband is gone alot.  He has been gone since shortly after Gabe turned one year old.  In honesty, if you counted up the days, he has been gone close to half our marriage.  It is the life we chose and I am grateful for his career.  Sadly, I sometimes feel like Gabe is being short changed in the parental department.  My family lives about two hours away.  It is just Gabe and I most days.  I feel guilty leaving him when his Dad is gone all the time.  

    I believe in teaching a child by example.  I need to teach Gabe to fly by watching me.  He needs to know that I have dreams and I am not afraid to follow them.  I can’t make him afraid to leave the nest or always need me to fly with him (although I gladly would).  Leaving him asleep this morning wasn’t easy, but in my experience nothing that came easy was ever really worth it.  

    Today I dusted off my wings and hopefully Gabe will start to use his own.  Watch out Washington this Bluegrass Belle is on her way!  I am so excited about advocating for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.  I say this repeatedly, I may not be able to change the World, but I can work to make it better even if it is just one person at a time. 

    Dear Boo, 
    Momma will be home soon enough.  I miss you bunches and love you more than you will ever know.  Big a big boy and don’t be too mean to Escobar. 

    Happy Soaring Sunday,

    Cold and hungry..

    January 24, 2013

    I was walking my french bulldog Escobar this morning, I shivered and thought to myself this is too cold!  I thought about all the kids standing out waiting on their school buses, my friends and old co-workers at the University of Kentucky hospital who have a long walk in the mornings, and anyone else who had to walk their dog.  I gave myself a quick reality check, I really have no idea what it is like to be truly cold.  I have been cold by choice but never from lack of necessity.  Most of us never know what it is like to be truly cold or hungry.

    Escobar and I, such a spoiled puppy

     The coldest I have ever been was running the Maysville Tough Mudder in October.  My teeth chattered and I covered my hands in mud to keep them warm.  There were others treated for hypothermia that day but we all made the choice to be there.  When have you been cold that you didn’t have access to a blanket, adequate shoes, clothing, or heat?  What about hunger?  When was the last time you were truly hungry?  I don’t mean stomach growling hungry, but instead when your stomach aches in pain from days without adequate food.  There are children and families within your own community, state, our wonderful nation, and across the world that go without basic necessities.

    I was laughing in an attempt to keep from freezing following a dip in the arctic enema at the Tough Mudder

    I am as guilty as the next with having more than I need.   I tend to focus on wants instead of true needs. There are shelters in need of lots of things that are laying around our homes.  You can donate your old coats, shoes, and clothing to various local organizations that can distribute to those in need.  They are often also in need of towels and bedding.

    Clean out your pantry before things expire.  While I was living in Bogota, Colombia, I got to see first hand what hunger looked like.  People digging through the trash set out at night looking for food that wasn’t too spoiled to eat.  The thought of wasting food while others went hungry truly sickened me.  Few people have seen the heartbreak of looking out your window and watching someone plunder through rubbish looking for food.  There is enough food in this world wasted that no one should ever go hungry.

    There are so many organization on the local, national, and international level that focus on poverty.  Recently an organization called RESULTS was brought to my attention.  They focus on poverty within the home front and abroad.  Food banks, shelters, and community centers are often a very good local start.

    You might not be able to change the world but you could change someone else’s life.  I hope todays post inspired a little good and made you rethink about ever complaining about being cold or hungry.