Byline: Ann Geracimos, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Because spirits of all kinds are high on holidays, what better time to share with the needy?
The nationwide Capital Grille restaurants, Lagos jewelers and American Express Co. are inviting customers this season to order a $1,000 charity martini - a colorful cosmopolitan cocktail adorned with a white-topaz-and-diamond rope bracelet - in support of Share Our Strength (SOS), a nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America. Lagos makes the bracelet; Amex is a corporate partner with SOS.
Sound unrealistic to expect people to shell out such an amount in this economy? Never say never, the old saw goes. The same offer last year raised $136,000, according to a Capital Grille spokeswoman.
A less ambitious scheme is Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants Group's Cocktails for a Cure. For every $12 Rouge on the Rocks, Scarlet Night or Ruby Sparkle cocktail ordered this month and next, the chain will give $1 to local AIDS/HIV charities. The drinks are part of a so-called Red Ribbon Campaign.
For homebodies, an online philanthropic site is promoting the notion of sleeping in instead of shopping on so-called Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally a time when consumers go on a gift-buying frenzy. The idea of GlobalGiving (www.globalgiving.com) and its Great American Sleep-In project is for people with the true giving spirit to pick a cause and make a donation in a loved one's name for as little as $10.
The money ordinarily spent on a present for someone already well-endowed with possessions goes to others less fortunate. Donors select the locally run charities they want to support. Corporate partners include eBay Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Gap Inc., Nike Inc. and others.
The Trip Advisor, an online travel resource, sponsored a novel campaign from Sept. 15 through Nov. 9, asking visitors to vote on how $1 million should be divided among five travel-related nonprofits - a philanthropic project called More Than Footprints. Doctors Without Borders won 39.2 percent of the vote and will receive that same percentage of the sum. Save the Children, the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and National Geographic Society are to receive a percentage of the rest in descending order.
Helping Hands and Feet
Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that distributes shoes to the needy worldwide - as many as one pair every 23 seconds, it claims - has launched a campaign called 50,000 in 50 days. The project asks the public to donate $5, which will buy two pairs of shoes - and do it by year's end. A special enticement is built into the plan: a free trip to Mexico for an especially generous soul, plus a guest, to hand-deliver the shoes they bought to a person in Mexico who never before has owned shoes. See soles4souls.org.