The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

'Tis the Season of Giving
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We all know that one person that is impossible to buy for during the holiday season. Whether it's because they have everything or they refuse to cough up their Christmas list, you're always left stumped on what to leave them under the tree. A family friend of mine, has a neat way to combat this frustrating situation, and to make sure that she isn't just spending money on useless things. She takes that money she would spend on a gift, and makes donations to charities on the behalf of who is receiving the gift or on the behalf of someone they love. When I first heard this idea, I was in awe. It was such a simplistic yet beautiful thing. It embodies the true meaning of this holiday season and it brought so much joy to my heart, as I know it brought joy to those receiving care as a result of those charities. So this holiday season, I encourage you to help out the less fortunate and to give a gift that really matters. Instead of buying candles, and mittens, and all those other cliché Christmas gifts for coworkers, friends or that person you thought of reading the first sentence of this article give to a charity or a ministry that has its sights set on bettering the world. Listed below are a few charities that are easy to donate to and have some really cool missions that would appreciate your holiday donation.

Heifer International

Heifer International uses the “to teach a man to fish” philosophy to empower families that struggle with hunger. Heifer International works to bring sustainable food and commerce to areas with longstanding histories with food insecurity. Countries impacted by Heifer International include Africa, Nepal, Haiti and even projects here in the United States. Heifer works by allowing families to donate money to purchase livestock-goats, cows, buffalo, and chickens- that are then donated to families in impoverished areas. These families can use the animals for food, agricultural work, or use their direct products, eggs or milk, as a source of income. Families then take this training and experience and pass it on to another family with the firstborn of their livestock. To help Heifer International and their mission of sustainability check out their website https://www.heifer.org.

Pay Away the Layaway

Many retailers offer the option of paying for items during the season through a process called layaway. Customers can place items that are too expensive for purchasing at once on layaway, and pay for the item over a period of time. Families can pick up their layaway items once the price has been paid in full. Pay Away the Layaway and their team of “Layaway Angels” partner with stores to pay off families’ layaway carts and surprise them with these gifts during the holidays. Many professional athletes have teamed up with Pay Away the Layaway to help relieve the financial burden of Christmas presents for families. To donate money towards a families layaway cart you can visit Pay Away the Layaway’s site at http://www.payawaythelayaway.org.

St. Jude

Well known for its mission to end childhood cancer, St. Jude is one of the leading research centers for the study and treatment of pediatric cancer and other life-threatening illness. St. Jude operates at no cost to families of patients thanks to individual donations. Christmas is an extremely hard time for families of children with illness, many residents of St. Jude will stay in their facility over the holiday. Donating to this wonderful foundation and research center not only gives money to fund research but also helps in giving these families free treatment and the most enjoyable stay possible during this holiday season. When donating you can also opt to send a Christmas card to a child in the center. To donate to St. Jude you can visit their website at https://www.stjude.org.

Salvation Army

Do you remember the first time you went shopping during the Christmas holidays and heard a bell ring outside of a department store? You glanced over to see a volunteer, maybe Santa, standing next to a red kettle being filled with change from shoppers passing by. You wondered what that was all about? This holiday memory is thanks to The Salvation Army. While The Salvation Army has hundreds of ministries and ways to help those in need, their red kettle project has been one of the most successful in fighting to end hunger during the holidays. Since 1981 when Joseph McFee set out the first red kettle in the Oakland Ferry Landing in San Francisco, this project has grown to help over four-and-a-half million people receive a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner during the holiday season. To help the Salvation Army fund this initiative or for more information on the other ministries they provide check them out at http://www.salvationarmyusa.org,

Toys for Tots

Sponsored and run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots' mission is to provide the message of hope to less-fortunate children through a new toy at Christmas time. Many cities and towns have local level Toys for Tots programs in which new toys can be donated, many of these programs are run by veterans or local law enforcement. To find where you can donate toys in your local level or to make an online donation visit their website http://www.toysfortots.org/Default.aspx.

Cure International

Cure International is a faith-based charity striving to help children with disabilities in countries where, often times, medical assistance is unattainable and unaffordable. The children Cure work to help are those who are least protected, under fed, and not included in social activity due to their disability. They also work to provide spiritual help and support to these children who grow up in cultures that often believe their disability is due to a curse and deems them unworthy of love. Currently Cure has ten hospitals in places like Niger, Uganda, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, and Afghanistan where they provide life-changing medical care. Cure International allows you to donate one time on the behalf of a child in need, or monthly for multiple children. If you are unable to give monetarily at this time, their website provides the option to send a get-well soon card to children recovering in their hospitals and clinics. I encourage everyone to visit them at https://cure.org to send a card and consider donating.




Cover Image Credit: http://www.rmhc.org.uk/files/cache/0a096fbc04d64ccbec532cf390af58c1_f1257.png

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15 Things Only Lake People Will Understand

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.
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The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people. Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look. Every year when summer rolls back around, you can't wait to fire up the boat and get back out there. Here is a list of things you can probably identify with as a fellow lake-goer.

1. A bad day at the lake is still better than a good day not at the lake.

It's your place of escape, where you can leave everything else behind and just enjoy the beautiful summer day. No matter what kind of week you had, being able to come and relax without having to worry about anything else is the best therapy there is. After all, there's nothing better than a day of hanging out in the hot sun, telling old funny stories and listening to your favorite music.

2. You know the best beaches and coves to go to.

Whether you want to just hang out and float or go walk around on a beach, you know the best spots. These often have to be based on the people you're with, given that some "party coves" can get a little too crazy for little kids on board. I still have vivid memories from when I was six that scared me when I saw the things drunk girls would do for beads.

3. You have no patience for the guy who can’t back his trailer into the water right.

When there's a long line of trucks waiting to dump their boats in the water, there's always that one clueless guy who can't get it right, and takes 5 attempts and holds up the line. No one likes that guy. One time my dad got so fed up with a guy who was taking too long that he actually got out of the car and asked this guy if he could just do it for him. So he got into the guy's car, threw it in reverse, and got it backed in on the first try. True story.

4. Doing the friendly wave to every boat you pass.

Similar to the "jeep wave," almost everyone waves to other boats passing by. It's just what you do, and is seen as a normal thing by everyone.

5. The cooler is always packed, mostly with beer.

Alcohol seems to be a big part of the lake experience, but other drinks are squeezed into the room remaining in the cooler for the kids, not to mention the wide assortment of chips and other foods in the snack bag.

6. Giving the idiot who goes 30 in a "No Wake

Zone" a piece of your mind.

There's nothing worse than floating in the water, all settled in and minding your business, when some idiot barrels through. Now your anchor is loose, and you're left jostled by the waves when it was nice and perfectly still before. This annoyance is typically answered by someone yelling some choice words to them that are probably accompanied by a middle finger in the air.

7. You have no problem with peeing in the water.

It's the lake, and some social expectations are a little different here, if not lowered quite a bit. When you have to go, you just go, and it's no big deal to anyone because they do it too.

8. You know the frustration of getting your anchor stuck.

The number of anchors you go through as a boat owner is likely a number that can be counted on two hands. Every once in a while, it gets stuck on something on the bottom of the lake, and the only way to fix the problem is to cut the rope, and you have to replace it.

9. Watching in awe at the bigger, better boats that pass by.

If you're the typical lake-goer, you likely might have an average sized boat that you're perfectly happy with. However, that doesn't mean you don't stop and stare at the fast boats that loudly speed by, or at the obnoxiously huge yachts that pass.

10. Knowing any swimsuit that you own with white in it is best left for the pool or the ocean.

You've learned this the hard way, coming back from a day in the water and seeing the flowers on your bathing suit that were once white, are now a nice brownish hue.

11. The momentary fear for your life as you get launched from the tube.

If the driver knows how to give you a good ride, or just wants to specifically throw you off, you know you're done when you're speeding up and heading straight for a big wave. Suddenly you're airborne, knowing you're about to completely wipe out, and you eat pure wake. Then you get back on and do it all again.

12. You're able to go to the restaurants by the water wearing minimal clothing.

One of the many nice things about the life at the lake is that everybody cares about everything a little less. Rolling up to the place wearing only your swimsuit, a cover-up and flip flops, you fit right in. After a long day when you're sunburned, a little buzzed, and hungry, you're served without any hesitation.

13. Having unexpected problems with your boat.

Every once in a while you're hit with technical difficulties, no matter what type of watercraft you have. This is one of the most annoying setbacks when you're looking forward to just having a carefree day on the water, but it's bound to happen. This is just one of the joys that come along with being a boat owner.

14. Having a name for your boat unique to you and your life.

One of the many interesting things that make up the lake culture is the fact that many people name their boats. They can range from basic to funny, but they are unique to each and every owner, and often have interesting and clever meanings behind them.

15. There's no better place you'd rather be in the summer.

Summer is your all-time favorite season, mostly because it's spent at the lake. Whether you're floating in the cool water under the sun, or taking a boat ride as the sun sets, you don't have a care in the world at that moment. The people that don't understand have probably never experienced it, but it's what keeps you coming back every year.


Cover Image Credit: Haley Harvey

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10 Reasons Why Having A Boyfriend Is Especially Awesome Around The Holidays

No better time of the year than Winter break to make all the memories with your honey freezing in the weather or sweating by the fireplace.

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A date for looking at Christmas lights is on the top of the list, for sure.

1. You have someone to do all of the activities with

He's like your built-in partner for everything. Wanna watch a movie? Take a nap? Need someone to help you clean your room? You've got your person.

2. You can steal his hoodies when its chilly outside

It doesn't even have to be cold for you to want to. Chances are its a size or two bigger than you need and his cologne is all over it.

3. Chances are he's more willing to drive in the snow than you are 

Guys typically have a little more of a heavy duty vehicle. If you've got a good man, he might even rescue you an hour away in a blizzard if you think you're tougher than the weather.

4. Christmas movie partner!!

Do I need to add more?

5. He can always keep you warm

Bear hugs. Cuddles. His trucks dual air 90 degree heat on your side. He'll find a way to keep you warm.

6. Your family holiday events partner

Multiple Thanksgivings and Christmas' are a breeze with your favorite person by your side. Plus, no one to ask you where your plus one is or why you're single.

7. Matching Christmas pajamas

I don't know about you, but my family has matching Christmas jammies every year. You can even get your favorite person in on them too for a cute insta picture.

8. Your errand running partner

He's your built-in Christmas shopping partner so you aren't bored standing in line forever or while you're still shopping and he can act as your place holder.

9. You aren't the only single one in your family on Christmas Eve anymore. 

It's awkward when all of your siblings are taking pictures with their others, but when you've found your person, you can do all the same things, including looking forward to your new year's kiss.

10. Making more memories

No better time of the year than Winter break to make all the memories with your honey freezing in the weather or sweating by the fireplace.

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