me and foodAlmost a year ago I had an idea to throw a party and the theme would be that we would some-how give back during the party. In other words, my friends and I would get together and a choose a charity or a cause and support it while we ate, drank, and got merry. Well, it is funny how quickly 1 month turns into 12 months without following thru….

Friday night my delightful sister-in-law hosted a girls night in at her house. She provided food and too many drinks. The only catch was that everyone who came was asked to bring some non-perishable food items for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. The boxes and bags piled up quickly! No one broke their bank, and we still managed to collect a decent amount of food to be donated. It was just how I imagined it.

food drive

We all get together with our friends, we all go to parties, we all host parties- why not turn them into a party with a purpose? One of the things I hope I never forget is that I am blessed. I grew up and had a lot of advantages. We were by no-means rich, but I lived in the suburbs and went to a great school and was far-removed from any danger or real risk. I always knew I would go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, etc. It is EASY to take all of this for granted. So many people are just trying to make it thru high school. So many kids are going to school hungry. So many people are out of work. So many people need a little bit of help.

There are lot of ways you can do your own party-with-a-purpose:

-Have a food drive like I mentioned above
-Have a birthday party but instead of bringing gifts for you, everyone brings a book to donate to a school in need
-Have a party and instead of bringing a dish to pass or a bottle of wine, everyone brings a donation for a charity (save a pet, food banks, cancer society, etc.)
-Have a girls night in and everyone brings 2 pairs of shoes to donate to the women’s shelter
-Have a block party where everyone in the neighborhood comes with an item to donate to the homeless shelters (they always need socks, underwear, tooth paste, deodorant, feminine products, etc.)
-Have a party where you play a bunch of games and do raffles where half of the money goes to a charity (50/50 raffle, bean-bag tourney, flippy-cup, poker, etc.)

Be creative. There are literally hundreds of ways to get involved!

***Did you know that summer is the time of the year when the hunger problem is the worst? Normally, low-income children can get a meal or two at school thru the various programs available. In the summer, when kids don’t have that opportunity, they are often hungry. It is very sad and very scary. Regardless of your politics, kids should not suffer. There are a ton of great organizations that help feed our most vulnerable. Do a little research in your area and see how you can help. Cereal and Peanut Butter are very hot-commodities that they always need.

Here are a few organizations worth donating to:

http://www.bbbs.org (matches at-risk youth with mentors, graduates 100% of participants, A+ rated, award winning charity)
http://www.solvehungertoday.org (feeds northern Illinois, has great ‘buying power’ and can provide 6 meals for every dollar donated)
http://www.hfa.org (promotes humane farming, very important to me)
http://www.projectchinelas.com (donates shoes to kids in the Philippines, a friend from high school started this organization)

There are so many out there, and so much good to be done. Be kind.