Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I hope that you all have had the opportunity to spend time with the ones you love. Let's also remember those who aren't able to be with their friends and family during the season. Let's Say Thanks is a partnership between several organizations that gives us a way to say thank you and send our wishes to troops overseas. It only takes 2 minutes to select a postcard, a message, and send it on its way. Best wishes for 2010!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Are Christmas Cards a Thing of the Past?

I love sending cards and I love receiving cards, which is one of the main reasons I send them. I'm still like a little kid when I go to the mailbox, hoping for mail (not a bill of some kind) or a magazine. And (I think) there are still some people out there like me. I wrestle with the eco-friendliness of mailing cards, but it just takes more time and effort to send something via snail mail versus shooting a quick email and I hope that those people receiving my mail think of it that way.


Facebook has been on everyone's lips for the past two weeks as they've changed the privacy settings and they way they're presented to users, seemingly in hopes of having people share more with more people. All of that aside, the traditional vehicle for updating friends and family on your life and what you and yours are up to has been the Christmas card. Letters and photos described the progress your family, children, dogs, and cats made over the past year. But, are they still relevant today?

With college students and baby boomers alike using and loving Facebook, we update friends and "friends" weekly, daily, and even hourly on our comings and goings, the latest pictures of our loved ones, and our opinions on college football. What would be big Christmas card news is now a status update on your news feed.

So are you sending Christmas cards? Have you received as many as you usually do?

Here's another option. You can sign up on Jackcards.com, enter important dates you'd like to send a card for, choose a card, and Jack Cards sends you pre-stamped and addressed envelopes to sign and mail in time to get it to your loved one. Sure, that seems like cheating, but THEY don't have to know that. It seems like a good mix of a quick email and that person that ALWAYS remembers your birthday with a card and a thoughtful note. Do those people exist anymore? Also, a great option for forgetful husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Raising Charitable Children

Although I'm a long time off from having children of my own, the holidays make me think of those things I did when I was younger to help others in my community and those traditions that I'd like start with my children. Many of the volunteer projects I participated in were organized through my school and they had a profound impact on my outlook and involvement today.

Beth Kanter recently posted some great ideas to get your children involved in giving in volunteering, regardless of their age. Encourage your children to give their time or money and lead by example. It's the perfect time of year to start a tradition of giving!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Will You Be the Match?




This Sunday, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will feature the story and reunion of a bone marrow donor and the recipient and her family. Tom Wilhelm joined marrow donor registry, Be the Match, in 2000 and successfully donated marrow to Joey Stott, at 29 year old wife and mother. 


I joined the marrow registry earlier this year and I encourage everyone eligible to join as well. It's a simple cheek swab process. There are two ways to donate: bone marrow donation and PBSC donation. As someone who has donated before, it's not nearly as scary and painful as people seem to think. Especially considering what the patient and the family goes through. It's a relatively easy process and helping someone, anyone, in such a personal and LIFE SAVING way is such an incredible experience. I hope to have the chance to do it again.


I was lucky enough to be a match for my mom and I donated via PBSC. PBSC donation takes place at an apheresis center. In my case, while I was donating, my mom was close-by as I donated for her. This picture is of her at Duke that same summer with our dog Dixie. 



For 5 days leading up to donation, you receive daily injections that move more blood-forming cells out of the marrow and into the bloodstream. The blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood forming cells. The remaining blood is returned through your other arm. 


So I ask you to do three things.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Magazine's Best: Finance

I read a lot of magazines and I subscribe to a lot of magazines because I know that I'll buy them in the grocery store or in line at Target anyway. To justify spending about $100 on subscriptions a year, I try my best to use the recipes, workouts, and the other information from the 10 or so magazines I get each month. (And please don't judge me, I'm an avid recycler).

I get a lot of great ideas out of these magazines and since I'm a sucker, I try some of the recommended products (assuming I need new mascara or whatever the product may be). I also find a lot of websites that have good tools and information. And I'd like to share what I've found with you! Be on the lookout for posts on these topics, starting with this one!

Starting out after college is hard enough, these websites can help you navigate your finances.
  • Mint.com- A comprehensive budgeting website that links directly to your bank accounts and categorizes what you spend. Endorsed by Money Magazine and Kiplinger's. Safe and secure.
  • Smartypig.com- A virtual "piggy bank" to save money for specific goals like family vacations or big purchases. It's easy to use, interactive, and you can share savings goals with friends and family so they can add money as gifts. I use it for general savings. It's easy to get to if you need to use it for emergencies, but not easy enough for the "emergency" dress that I want to buy.
  • CreditKarma.com- Get a free, no strings-attached, no need to opt-in credit score. I used it this week to check my credit score and found out I'm also entitled to one free credit report a year from AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Freeshipping.org- Shop online frequently? Find free shipping codes here!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tales from Light the Night

I walked in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night walk for the first time on November 5th. The event was a celebration at the end of a fundraising season with games, a jump castle, a memorial service, balloons that light up and of course, a 2 mile walk. I formed a team with my sister (first picture below) in memory of my mom and in honor of a friend's nephew. Our team (second picture) raised $2200, while the Charleston Walk raised $50,000 total, which is incredible! Special thanks to Walsingham Academy for helping me with Dress Down Days for $1.







This cause is close to my heart and I've raised almost $10,000 through several different events, including a half-marathon. I hope to continue to participate and help raise money for those suffering from the disease. If you'd like to donate, go to my Light the Night page.

Is Social Media a PR Must?

As I work to further my expertise and career in communications and public relations by reading blogs and engaging in social media (among other means), a majority of the blog posts and articles that I read emphasize the need to engage and become an expert on social media. I blog, I tweet, I'm on Facebook, LinkedIn, and most recently, Yammer. But, so are most other professionals of my same age pursuing a similar career path. Some engage because they want to, others do because they think they should.

Thanks to Dr. Russell's Week's Best Post, I came across an interesting post by Sean Moffitt. Sean discusses the limitations of social media and the accompanying "fever pitch" associated with it. Many businesses have trouble leveraging social media for valuable uses.

One of Sean's points relates to one of my recent posts and reflections on how technology affects our relationships. Yes, social media allows for real-time engagement across states and countries, but it's also becoming a soapbox for many to broadcast, not engage.

From what I've read recently, Sean seems to be in the minority on the value of social media, but his post does remind us not to abandon traditional strategies and tactics.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Creating a Window to My World

There's no doubt that social media is a cornerstone of communications and public relations today. As a twenty-five year old, fairly recent graduate, I've used Facebook since it opened to Clemson's campus in 2004. I joined Twitter and began blogging in graduate school, thanks to the influence and assignments of one of my professors, Dr. Karen Russell. However, I still have trouble leveraging these tools for career related purposes, despite the plethora of posts on how to do so.

So here begins my quest to join the conversation. I recently started really following Dr. Russell's blog again and find the Week's Best post to be particularly helpful. Although I'm not fresh out of school, or currently a student for that matter, I am still new to and trying to learn my way around the field. The Week's Best points me to hot topics and helpful information, and also helps me find professionals that I can follow and learn from.

It was through a variety of clicks and blogrolls that I found PRos in Training and a post on giving your blog direction. Although I'm still not sure exactly what direction my blog will take, I'm looking forward to the experience. I think my main obstacle will be sticking to a schedule, but practice makes perfect right?

Any tips or tricks are much appreciated!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Days without a Cell Phone

For those of you who don't know, I'm rough on cell phones. From dropping them down storm drains to losing them completely, it's rare that I have the same phone for more than a year. This time though, my phone simply died on its own. After many trips to Verizon and missed FedEx deliveries, I haven't had a cell phone in three days.

The first day without my phone, panic ensued. Who am I going to talk to in the car on the way to work? How am I going to get in touch with people? What happens when people can't get in touch with me 24/7?

The second day, I was less stressed. I wasn't constantly checking my purse or pocket to make sure I hadn't forgotten it. When I did talk to my dad (thanks to the generosity of my roommates), I had a more meaningful conversation with him because I hadn't already talked to him 4 times that day. I Skyped with a friend rather than just texting him. I stopped by another friend's houses to hang out.

Today I'm wondering if I even need a cell phone.

Who am I kidding? Of course I do, but this time reminded me of a conversation our class had in grad school about cell phones and technology in general. From Facebook to Twitter to email, we have an abundance of ways to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. But, do we lose those moments we might have had with others in our lives or miss a connection while in the grocery store/in an elevator/on the subway because we're chatting away to someone in another state?

I understand that it's a give and take. I've maintained close relationships with my friends from high school and college and my family in other states thanks to this technology, but it does make me think.

First Day with Meals on Wheels

I began volunteering with East Cooper Meals on Wheels last Thursday and I'm so glad I did. With 8 volunteers and 2 staff members, we packed 2 meals for over 150 homebound people for that day alone. Since it was my first day, I was responsible for dividing and counting bananas. The others formed an extremely efficient assembly line to divide, package, and pack hot meals, all while chatting animatedly about the fundraising dinner the night before.

I learned a lot that day about the East Cooper distribution center. The following lists a few of the highlights:
1. Of the five local distribution centers, East Cooper is the only one without a waiting list of any kind.
2. Although most meal recipients are the poor elderly, East Cooper delivers to anyone of any age who is homebound for any length of time and/or unable to independently provide a meal. Recently, they delivered to a woman in her 40s with breast cancer who was too ill to fix meals.
3. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, East Cooper delivers a veritable feast including fresh turkey and all the fixins!

I'm looking forward to many new experiences!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How can you CARE?

In my last post, I said that I would discuss CARE, an organization committed to fighting global poverty. One of CARE's main focuses is on educating and empowering women because, according to CARE's website, "women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty."

I first learned about CARE at our division's annual conference in January. The woman who spoke showed us an extremely moving video and discussed some powerful statistics. The hardships that many women around the world endure daily was something that, to my own embarrassment today, I hadn't truly considered before. It made me want to do something, volunteer, donate, visit a foreign country... but, again, to my own embarrassment, CARE was something that I didn't think of again until recently.

Then this month, our book club (yes, I'm in a book club), read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. This book highlights events in Afghanistan over the past 30 years, but focuses two women, their struggles as women in that part of the world, and their relationship with one another. If it's possible, this book made me feel so incredibly appreciative and incredibly spoiled at the same time. Either way, it made me think, consider, and learn about a part of the world I'd only really learned about on the news and who knows how much truth is in the news anyway.

So, I revisited CARE's website, read about their initiatives, and decided to do what I can from where I am, and support their cause this month. I encourage you to read about what they do and do whatever you can to help, if you choose to do so.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Blog Direction

As some of you know, I originally started this blog to track my training and fundraising progress for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training and the P.F. Chang's Rock & Roll half-marathon in January. As you can see by the number of posts, I did a terrible job blogging (I found that writing about running was just as much fun as the running itself, not at all!) but I finished the 13.1 miles in just under 3 hours (miracle!) and raised $7,720! Which is incredible!




Now I'd like to go back to my roots and follow PR and social media issues, as well as focus on nonprofits. As I navigate a career in communications at a company that develops fundraising software for nonprofit organizations, both topics are of extreme interest to me. I hope to engage and be engaging, so all feedback is appreciated!