Be The Change, Be The Match

Be The Change, Be The Match

This post was written in partnership with Be The Match.  Real patients like 11-year-old Kamryn are currently searching for a life-saving marrow donor. Learn more and sign up for the Be The Match Registry® at www.join4kami.org.

There is no bond like that of a parent and child. From the moment they are born, the overwhelming love is unmatched by any other experience in life. We do our best from the very start to ensure we are doing our best to keep them from harm, keep them healthy, and protect them at all costs. I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to not be able to protect them from a debilitating disease that is attacking their body. We count our blessings each day that we have two healthy and active boys. Although, that just doesn’t feel like enough at times.

Essentially Erika

I remember being a young teenager and feeling helpless, watching the doctors scour our family members asking for blood. My dad was involved in an accident, and desperately needed transfusions. At the time, I didn’t know my blood type, and I was unaware that I was a match for his rare O-Negative blood type. This has always been a deep regret of mine, and has always effected me. My father would eventually succumb to his injuries, and our lives were forever changed.

Adolescence

The moment I turned eighteen, I made a few very important adult decisions. One of those key decisions was to donate blood as quickly as I could. I wound up donating platelets as well. Seeing the need for my blood type and having been through my own experience with my father, I began to dive more deeply into donating in different ways. Changing the lives of real patient’s like 11-year-old Kamryn, suddenly became a possibility.

Joining the marrow transplant donor list was one of the most profound decisions I could make as an adult. Be The Match makes is possible for donors like myself can have a profound life-changing effect on people’s lives like young Kamryn. Marrow transplants can provide life-saving treatment for over seventy diseases. It may be hard to believe but most marrow transplant patients don’t have a match within their own family, and rely on organizations like Be The Match to help connect them with their donor match. While I am older now, I am glad I signed up when I was young. The younger a person, the healthier their marrow, which means they will more likely be a match for more patients, and change more lives.

Essentially Erika

Signing up is as simple as a three-second cheek swab to get you in the system and see if you are a match for anyone like Kamryn, who currently doesn’t have any match just yet. The procedure can be simple and painless, or require a bit of recovering in a few cases, a small price to pay for saving a young life,  like Kamryn’s. You can learn more about her story and sign up to join the registry at join4kami.org.

Essentially yours,

Erika

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Give a Gift That Changes The World

Give a Gift That Changes The World

Holiday gift giving is a personal choice. I’m a big believer in putting your money where your mouth is. Creating the world you want to see. Putting your power to work in the world. You get the picture… Buying power is the most underutilized force in the world. Or shall I say, positive buying power.

For so many years we buy the crap that commercials peddle to us on a daily basis. Consumerism is at an all time high, and what’s worse, it’s gotten to our kids. You can’t watch five minutes of “children’s programming” without being sold a plastic toy that they will only play with for five minutes and ends up broken or decapitated in a box I’ve aptly named, the toy graveyard.

I prefer to put my money to use in all facets of my life, including gift giving. Sure, it’s nice to give toys to kids at Christmas time so they have something to open. But what’s important, is giving kids a chance. A gift that can feed them and provide milk for an entire year. Giving them buying power of their own. Empowering young women who would not otherwise have a choice or a chance. Now that’s a gift for change!

holiday gifts

 

CARE.org is an excellent organization with over seventy years of experience, and they are dedicated to empowering young women all over the world. Girls like Maliyana, a 13 year-old girl who wants to be a doctor, and buy her mother, Magret a house. The CARE Gift Catalog allows you to donate either $75 or $150 to purchase one or two goats for her family. A goat that will provide nourishing milk, and is also a vital source of income when and if they decide to sell some of that milk.

Giving the gift of piglets can help farmers to sell for profit, or a cow that is a valuable investment for a family. There are even options to pay for the sharing of a cow. This could change the life of a girl named Alinafe, a 7th grade student from Malawi that wants to be a teacher.

Holiday gifts

holiday gifts

There are also other packages you can purchase in the CARE catalog such as school supplies, uniforms, or chip in to build a school. Water wells so young girls don’t have to spend a day fetching clean water. Lifesaving medicine can be purchased, a community garden, emergency food, and fruit trees. These are the gifts that truly matter and can change the world. I’ve requested that all of my family members shop for me in the CARE catalog that you can find online.

I sat with my boys and asked which gift they would like to choose so that I can share in this incredible opportunity and allow them to feel the same sense of gratitude. Becoming a part of the change that we wish to see in this world, that’s the message I want to impress upon my children at holiday time, and throughout the year. We buy the world we wish to be a part of, and where we put our money is what will manifest. If we keep dumping money into a gazillion toy companies, we can complain about the greed or disconnectedness of our youth.

I encourage you to consider these young girls in your holiday shopping this year by visiting CARE.ORG/GIFTCATALOG and contributing whatever you can to helping their dreams come true. You can provide a three month supply of water for only $30!

Who runs the world??? 

Girls!

holiday shopping

These inspiring young women are sharing their stories with the world on Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/carefans from December 5th – 16th. Tune in to hear their stories and interact with them live.

Essentially yours,

Erika

DIY Holiday Gift for Neighbors + Elf Cookie Recipe

DIY Holiday Gift for Neighbors + Elf Cookie Recipe

This blog post was sponsored by Starbucks® but the opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

There are few things are a given in gift-giving. Clothing is pretty personal, you need to have the person’s correct size and style in order to make the right choice. Perfume is another personal item that takes a certain level of intimacy in order for you to get just the right scent. Homemade gifts are always a welcomed surprise. Nothing says you care like a little DIY.

However, not everyone is crafty or wants to spend time hot gluing themselves to stuff. Personally I love it. But there are some really simple recipes that you can whip together and surprise a friend of neighbor and they will be truly touched. The season is all about giving, and giving a bit of your time and attention says way more than anything you could have purchased at a department store.

We started gifting our neighbors with cookie mix a few years ago. I noticed the smile it brought to parents faces (I’m sure they’re relieved they have one less worry on X-mas Eve), and the excitement on their kids faces when we drop off cookies for Santa! It brings the community and families together. The kids are excited to move the process along in anticipation of jolly old St. Nick. I pour all of the dry ingredients into a mason jar, then cover it with a nice fabric (in this case burlap) and tie on a holiday-themed cookie cutter.

Starbucks

I realized that I wanted to also give a gift to the parents in my neighborhood, and nothing says love more than a hot cup of joe. I figure if I’m giving their kids sugar the least I should do is give their parents some caffeine. I used the Starbucks® K-Cup pods in festive flavors like Peppermint Mocha, and poured the dry ingredients into a clear bulb I found at a local craft store. I added a few marshmallows for good measure. I purchased a holiday mug and tied them together with a festive bow. Add a chocolate stick or a candy cane and drop by to share some moments of joy, I promise you will be met with all smiles. Be sure and include a tag with instruction on how to proceed with baking. You can find printable tags here with instructions.

Starbucks
I’ve learned that no one will turn you away when you have coffee.

Starbucks

I also used some of the Starbucks® signature Holiday Blend available at Walmart. Perfect for gifting your friends, neighbors, or co-workers. Everyone loves experiencing the rich taste of the holiday season. It’s perfect for inviting friends over to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season! Right now you can receive 75 stars with purchase of 3 qualifying Starbucks® products at Walmart by 12/26/16. Find out how by going to: www.walmart.com/starbucksholiday.

Starbucks

Starbucks

Starbucks

 

 

Elf Cookies

Elf Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla

Instructions

  1. Add all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix. Add wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix. Fold the dry ingredients into the bowl with wet ingredients and roll into balls on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes and enjoy!
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Essentially yours,

Erika

Starbucks

Holiday Gifts

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