Friday, December 18, 2009

Comfort and Joy

As happens every year now, December is passing by far too quickly, and I am left to play catch-up with my holiday preparations; this year, however, seems to be even worse than most.

I am shamefully behind on all things related to Christmas-- there are cards to be written and mailed (alright, let's be honest-- purchased...,) gifts still to be found (I know!) and I've yet to conquer any of the holiday baking I've intended to do.

I haven't even spent a night driving around to admire Christmas lights, nor have I listened to holiday music as much as I'd have liked. In a season that is undoubtedly my favorite, instead of the normal feelings of excitement over holiday preparations, I've been battling feelings of stress.

Melanie Acevedo

This weekend, I am hoping to check-off some of the holiday items on my list, while reminding myself of the joy that comes from the simple pleasures of holiday-flavored lattes, buildings adorned with twinkling lights, and falling asleep by the soft glow of a Christmas tree. In the midst of this busy time of year, I hope you find your weekend filled with many little joys too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bloggers Taking Action: Pencils of Promise

Today, in the middle of a season of giving, numerous bloggers are coming together in a collaborative effort spearheaded by Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita to bring awareness to a very deserving charity, Pencils of Promise.

Pencils of Promise, a 501(c)(3) organization established in December 2008 and based in New York, partners with local communities and organizations to build schools in developing nations for some of the world's most impoverished and undereducated children, a designation that fits some staggering 75 million children worldwide.

Last December, the Pencils of Promise team visited a small village in Laos where the annual family income averages $400; by July 2009, they had built a new school for the village children who began attending classes a short two months later on September 1. What started as a small project by founder Adam Bruan to build one school has turned into something much more; this month, Pencils of Promise will open its third school.

The foundational belief of the organization is: No ripple of effort is so small that it should be viewed as insignificant. The first school they constructed is an example of this as it was funded by 2,000 individual contributions of less than $100 each.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we are asking for your help in a special project to be funded by our actions today. We are raising money to build a new library and dormitories for a secondary school in Champet, Laos; as the only high school in a larger area, in order to attend school, students must leave their families and homes to live in dormitories.

These buildings are worlds away from what comes to mind when we think of Western boarding schools; for the girls, their dormitories are little more than makeshift bamboo huts, and some parents are unwilling to send their children to the school as they view the current living conditions to be unsafe. Our goal today is to raise funds to be able to build a dormitory to house 200 Laotian girls and to provide the school with a new library.

Think of the enormous impact we could have if each person who reads a blog post on Pencils of Promise today donates something; remember, "No ripple of effort is so small that it should be viewed as insignificant." If you are willing and able to give more ($35 buys wood for bookshelves, $50 buys pencils/pens for one year, $75 buys 40 books for the school library, and so on,) it would be greatly appreciated. We hope you will find it in your heart to make a donation to this worthy cause today. Together, we can make a difference.

Image Credits: Nick Onken-- a photographer who has donated his time to Pencils of Promise.

If you would like to stay informed about the difference Pencils of Promise is making be sure to become a fan on their Facebook page.