Value Village – The Gift of Giving All Year Round

For the past seven months I have been working with Value Village to bring helpful articles to my readers on everything from busting myths about thrifting to having fun with vintage dishes in your backyard  to money-saving tips for back to school. It’s been fun and I love that they have encouraged Life in Pleasantville to share useful information with readers and not just a “sales pitch”.

value village, gifts under the tree

I haven’t shared very much about Value Village as a company in the last seven months and it’s been hard, because I actually adore them. Value Village is a company that does a lot of good and since it’s December and it’s all about the giving, I thought I’d end my last post of the year for Value Village by sharing what they give back in our communities.

  • When you donate your used goods to a Value Village, you’re helping to support local nonprofits such as the Canadian Diabetes Association, Developmental Disabilities Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
  • Over the past 10 years alone, Value Village has paid over 150 nonprofit offices $1.5 billion which helps fund their community programs and services.
  • Customers can earn up to 30% off their entire purchase with Value Village’s new donor program.
  • Value Village gives a second life to over 1.8 million pounds of reusable items every single every day….that’s equivalent to 600 midsize cars.
  • Value Village is one of the largest recyclers in the world and diverts more than 650 million pounds of quality goods from going into landfills each year.

When I donate my used (and sometimes new) items to Value Village I feel good about that because I know that my donation will keep on giving….to the person who got a bargain, to the environment with one less item in landfill and to the charities that benefit from Value Village’s generosity. I also know that when I seek out bargains myself in their stores I’m still giving. It’s a shopping experience that truly gives all year round.

The next time you have items to donate consider dropping them at your local Value Village and if you’ve turned your nose up at thrifting in the past, be sure to check out their bright, organized stores and you might find yourself hooked.

vintage dishes

 *Photo credit Flickr

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Gifts for the Do-Gooder

We all have that one person in our life that just radiates goodness. Who always thinks of others before they think of themselves. Who balks at extravagant gifts thinking of the good that could have been done for someone in need. Yes, it can be hard to buy for a do-gooder but it can also be one of the most fulfilling gifts you buy this holiday season because it comes attached with meaning. Last year, my friend Annie from PhDinParenting shared her Top Gifts for the Philanthropist. These are all still EXCELLENT choices again in 2013. It’s possible though you exhausted that list last year, so here are this year’s Best Gifts for the Do-Gooder.

Plan Canada Gifts of Hope

This year I asked my girls to put one thing on their list for someone other than themselves. So this year we’re gifting a stack of books through Plan Canada. Books are meaningful to us and so we hope they deliver joy to others. Plan Canada has many other options though to give to your do-gooder that will fill their heart and help someone truly deserving this Christmas. You can find the catalogue for Plan Canada Gifts of Hope here.

gifts for the do-gooder


Tradeworks 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments

I love giving people ornaments for their trees at Christmas. I find them to be very thoughtful gifts and they tend to be used year after year. I absolutely fell in love with these Tradeworks 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments for their true beauty and craftsmanship. If you’re buying for a do-gooder thought, then you’re going to love the story behind these stunning hand-crafted ornaments. Tradeworks Ornaments are made in a Women’s Workshop in British Columbia that gives women and at-risk teens training in carpentry and skills to gain employment. It’s an incredible organization and I seriously can’t say enough good things about these heirloom ornaments!

gifts for the do-gooder

UNICEF Survival Gifts

There are so many choices when buying for your do-gooder, but a UNICEF Survival Gift is a gift that gives life. Quite literally. This year UNICEF wants to help change the conversation and so they created this new 50-second video about giving, so parents, aunts/uncles, teachers, or anyone with children in their lives can use it to start a discussion about the importance of giving-back during the holidays and beyond.

Hosting for Hope Canadian Women’s Foundation

Sometimes, just for fun, I go in to Homesense and wander the aisles senselessly. Seriously. It’s one of my favourite things to do, exploring all the new home goods that come in to the store every week. So when I saw these Hosting for Hope Gifts at the cash of my local Homesense and Winner, I thought they were absolutely perfect hostess gifts! You know who else these gifts are great for? The do-gooder of course! These Hosting for Hope gifts are priced under $20 with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

gifts for the do-gooder

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Give Back When Traveling – A How To

It’s fair to say that most of us want to give back when traveling. But how?

When you visit someone’s home for dinner, you bring along a little something for the hostess. It is, after all, the polite thing to do when someone opens their doors to you and invites you into their personal space. The same premise applies to tourism. Everyday thousands upon thousands of travelers enter foreign countries in an attempt to soak up a new culture and in return they are welcomed with open arms by their hosts. So what do you bring your host when it’s a nation and not a person? Obviously, a bottle of wine isn’t going to cut it. Plus, you want to know that your gift mattered. Here are five ways we’ve helped when away from home.

1) Through my business Best Tools for Schools, I’ve packed a few less outfits and crammed in as many school supplies as I could bring.

give back when traveling

2) Instead of exchanging our money back at the airport, we donate what’s left to a local charity.

3) We pack children’s clothing and shoes that no longer fit to donate. Ask at the front desk of your hotel, they will know where to direct it.

give back when traveling

4) We visit non-profit tourist attractions that serve the greater good, like The Turtle Hospital in The Florida Keys.

give back when traveling

5) We are mindful of the footprint we leave behind when visiting another country and are cognizant of waste. Where possible we have donated to local environmental protection groups.

Recently, however, I attended the TMS Family Travel Conference in Niagara Falls and found two more amazing ways to give back when traveling.

Passports With Purpose

First is Passports With Purpose. This amazing organization was started by a group of passionate travelers in 2008. Since then, they have helped raise money for Heifer International, helped build a school in Cambodia, built an entire village in India, helped build libraries in Zambia and ensured clean water for many through last year. This year, they are striving to raise $115,000 USD to help buildOn build three new schools in Mali.

Travel bloggers around the globe secure travel prizes and on November 25th, 2013 they will each publish a post about their fabulous donors and the even more fabulous prizes. This is where you come in. You buy raffle tickets for $10 a piece and each of your tickets can be designated to the prize of your choice. Past prizes have included a stay at the Marriott in San Juan, a luxury penthouse in Mexico, and assorted travel goodies. Of course, this year promises to be even more exciting with more travel bloggers participating than ever. Mark November 25th on your calendar now.

Together For Good

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of traveling with Together for Good founder Nancy Schretter in Jamaica. We collaborated pre-trip to bring school supplies with us for a local school. It was not surprising for me to find out then that Nancy ran this amazing website.

Together for Good lists an amazing ninety opportunities in the Caribbean for you and your family to give back while traveling. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a cruise, visiting an island or looking for an immersive voluntourism opportunity, Together for Good can help you find the perfect way for you to give back when traveling.

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Christmas Doesn’t Come From A Store

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Truer words have never been spoken about the holiday season and yet every year, we lose sight of what’s important for all the “material” things the holidays promise. So, while I’ve been busy giving you ideas on gifts for everyone from Dad to Tweens to Philanthropists and Fashionistas, I think it’s equally important to remember that while the gifts are fun we can’t lose sight of what really matters this time of year.  Here are a few suggestions to keep your Christmas balanced and focused on your family:

Make time your gift.

• Bake cookies, make candy, make homemade cards, and make paper snowflakes.
• Designate the four Fridays (or whatever day works best for you) leading up to Christmas a movie night at home. Snuggle under blankets, watch Christmas movies, eat popcorn.
• Look through photographs of Christmas past with your children, bet you talk more about the memories than what was received under the tree.
• Elf your neighbours –take home baked goodies and a homemade CD of your favorite holiday tunes, place in a plain bag you decorate yourself with a note. Leave it on their front step, ring the bell and RUN! You can’t get caught when you elf someone. Delight in watching your neighbours get into the spirit of the season!
• Read Christmas stories. Sing carols.
• Join in the 25 Days of Christmas and try to keep the store-bought items to a minimum.

Gingerbread Night ’09

Don’t keep up with the Jones’

• Shop online. If you are an impulse buyer, avoid the stores and the frenzy it can create. Sit down at your computer, list in hand and buy only what you need.
• Think before you purchase. Do your children really need that thing-a-ma-jig? Where will it end up in a month? If it’s simply filler leave it behind.
• Buy one less gift this year for everyone. Bet nobody notices.
• Admit it, we all buy gifts out of obligation. Who do you buy for that you really don’t need to? Let them know in advance, bet they’re relieved to not have to buy for you either.
• Get your shopping done early, then stay out of the stores. Getting home stressed out and annoyed takes the joy out of giving.
• Visit local crafters markets and bake sales for fun gifts that aren’t mass- produced and are made from the heart.
• Give experiences that mean you get to spend more time with your family. A movie night out, a ski day, bowling, or a cooking class are just a few examples.
• Write you children, husband, and/or parents a letter and stuff it in their stocking. Tell them why you love them so and reminisce about the past year.
• Talk to your friends about gifts for their kids. Do they really want more toys in their house? Start a Christmas ornament exchange, so that when the kids grow up they have a collection of ornaments to start their own tree with.

Giving. What it’s really all about.

• Ask your children to replace one thing on their list to Santa, with a gift for a child in need. Have Santa leave a special thank you under the tree for them.
• Along with the toy catalogues strewn all over the house, include catalogues from Unicef, World Vision, Plan Canada or Free the Children. Better yet, “accidently” misplace the toy catalogues. ☺
• PVR your children’s television and skip the commercials to keep the “give-me’s” at bay.
• Talk to your kids about consumerism. Set an example. Do you really need that that thing-a-ma-jig?
• Find a place to give your time. Call your local shelters, missions, schools, food banks. Do they need help wrapping presents, serving meals, sorting food? Try to include your children.

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