Give Forward on #GivingTuesday

I have been trying to force myself into the holiday spirit this year. Admittedly, I usually kick off the season with some Black Friday shopping – not because I want to knock over unsuspecting shoppers as I attempt to get some deal on a big screen TV, but because I just kind of like being out early on that Friday morning, surrounded by people. This year, Black Friday shopping involved taking the two girls and then it ended up being a little less fun and a little more of a reminder of how focused we all can get on THINGS rather than people.

It’s been one of those years, a year where I have to dial back some of the holiday giving – not because I want to, but because I have to – and so because of that the allure of Black Friday and Cyber Monday — while I’m all about getting deals — has been lost on me. I don’t want to spend money to feel good. Spending money on things isn’t feeling so great right now.

A week or so ago, my friend Nate contacted me about GivingTuesday. Nate is one of my favorite people and one of the big hearts behind LoveDrop. He’s now the Director of Communications for GiveForward. GiveForward is an online fundraising organization for people to help a loved one in need, and they are one of the many organizations participating today in #GivingTuesday.

What’s #GivingTUesday? #GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations.

I remember back when I first took part in LoveDrop in Dallas, Texas a few years ago. Though I had known Nate via Twitter for years before that, it was amazing to see first hand this thing that he and J Money had created. This mission of theirs is what I refer to as “heart work” – work that left me feeling good. At the time, my youngest had been in kindergarten? First grade? And she’d been learning in schoolabout “drops in the bucket” — you’re either putting drops into people’s buckets by doing things that make them feel good, making them happy… or you’re taking drops away by being unkind or otherwise inflicting negative energy on people.

It was in Dallas that weekend that I fell in love with the idea of LoveDrop and the way it made me feel, and how by doing for OTHERS, I was adding drops to my own bucket as well.

Which is why I’m writing to you about #GivingTuesday.

There are a lot of people out there with buckets that need drops.

Families like that of Christian Hannah, a 14 year old born with cerebral palsy. The Hannah’s family and friends are raising money to buy a rear entry wheelchair accessible van. Christian’s mom, Janet, has been lifting him out of his wheelchair and securing him into his car seat – but he’s now about 5′ tall and weighs about 65 pounds. He’s taller than his mom! Between school, doctor’s appointments and day-to-day life, she’s lifting her son into and out of the car several times a day. A wheelchair accessible van would simplify that part of life for their family.

Janet’s a single mom – and admittedly, this is part of the reason the story of the Hannah family tugged at my heart so much. Because good gracious, it’s hard enough to handle the regular day-to-day challenges of parenting on your own, but this woman is doing so much and I love that GiveForward and her family and friends are working to find ways to help her and her children improve their daily lives.

As I’m truly discovering, it does kind of take a village to raise a family, and our villages sometimes extend further than we even know. Like the internet.

Drops in the bucket add up.

Small actions can create big results.

I didn’t bust down any doors on Black Friday. I didn’t take advantage of Cyber Monday sales. But I can kick off my giving season today with #GivingTuesday and fill my heart and my bucket (and my quota for sappiness) by telling you about the Hannah family and encouraging you to click over and read about them and help if you can.

More Drips in the Bucket, Love Drop Style

Not that long ago, I told you about my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and how she has been teaching the kids about “drips in the bucket” – how we can add to, or take from, someone’s bucket with our words and our actions. Kind words and actions and love can add to that bucket, harsh and unloving words and actions take away.

After this weekend, my bucket? It’s so full I need a backup bucket to catch the overflow. Yeah, it was that good.


For the month of March, the kick-azz group at LoveDrop has been working to help out my friend, Katie. I could rehash the details  – but you can just meander back in my archives and read about it, mkay? I’ve watched their plans unfold as we have prepared video for Katie, sent pictures, and there was scheming as to who would be there in Dallas to surprise her and how they would surprise her and what would happen.

The whole while I was thinking, Man. THIS IS SO FREAKING AWESOME. I wish I could be there. It was making me really sad that I wouldn’t – though I knew that no matter what, this was going to be an amazing day for Katie – people from all over brainstormed and really THOUGHT about Katie, thought about her likes and her interests and what they could do to make her happy, make her kids happy. They made mix tapes, sent books and gift cards, sent her to a hockey game. On top of all that, there were monetary donations to help put a dent in Katie’s medical bills.  People with no motivation except to do something nice for the sake of doing somethin’ nice.

I mean, really? It makes the heart swell, doesn’t it?

Monday evening, a little birdie asked if I thought I could make it to Texas if the planets aligned just so. Tuesday morning it was confirmed. Friday? I was on a plane to Dallas to join in the festivities.

Of course, Katie couldn’t KNOW I was in Dallas. You have to imagine how much it killed me to not be able to tweet about anything – like when Erica and I drove twenty minutes looking for IHOP when it was just across the street. (That was SO TWEETABLE, and I had to just let it go. Sigh. All for the greater good, y’all).


L to R: MaryAnne, Erica, Danielle, Danielle, me - prepping on Saturday to drop some luvvvv.

We shopped for Katie, there was cooking for Katie, baked cookies for Katie. There was even a trip to Hobby Lobby. We prepped Saturday and Sunday morning and when the love drop rolled around Sunday afternoon, it was a truly awesome experience. We got to surprise Katie and her kids. We got to shower her with hugs and love – with both tangible gifts and the intangible gift of community and spending time together eating and laughing and sharing hugs.

Surprising Katie with cookies - picture by @AngEngland


Alli & MaryAnne

It’s been a pretty amazing month watching how a Love Drop comes together. The guys that run the organization, Nate and J Money, are not only tremendously full of heart, but they are funny, sweet and really great to be around. I love the concept of LoveDrop – how a little bit can go a long way – even a donation of a buck a month can do great things. I’m kind of a Love Drop fan girl now. If you haven’t yet read about LoveDrop, check ’em out.

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Nate & J$

After spending a weekend with friends – those who have been in my heart for awhile and those who I have just met but instantly adored – I felt truly lifted and blissed out. It was an amazing weekend – to not only get to bestow love upon a friend, but to watch others showing caring and kindness to someone you love? It’s a pretty good thing. Felt good. Drops in my bucket, baby.

This weekend was full of smiles and laughs and conversation. Time with friends, new faces, margaritas. Kindness, generosity, love.

All good stuff. Very much all good stuff.