journal


Stamp Out Breast Cancer

Monday, October 27, 2014
In recent memory, October has been synonymous not only with the coming of fall and Halloween, but Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well – thanks to the tireless efforts of countless people and initiatives. According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States, second only to lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in a single year.  Such figures indicate that continued work is needed to fight against this disease. One group working to raise breast cancer awareness is an Altruette cause partner: Fashion Targets Breast Cancer.
 
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer was originally created by Ralph Lauren and is now a charitable initiative of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation. It formally launched in 1994 at a White House reception hosted by then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. During its initial campaign alone, it raised $2 million by selling 400,000 shirts. Since then, the fund has raised $50 million … and counting! The initiative aims to bring together every element of the fashion industry – including fashion designers, models, photographers, media, and leading retailers – to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer.

The proceeds from Fashion Targets Breast Cancer allow the CFDA Foundation to provide access to health care, promote reliable health information, and support the distribution of education and outreach programs to many women all over the world. Altruette is thrilled to support the initiative through the sale of its High Heel charm. So go ahead – put your best foot forward and help stamp out breast cancer!

The Sunshine Kids Foundation Boosts Morale of Children Battling Cancer

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The heat is finally breaking, the days are getting shorter, which means that National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is here. Today, pediatric cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death in children and adolescents. Although great strides have been made in the past few decades in childhood cancer research, more work is needed. However, while extremely important, research is not the only important facet of the fight against childhood cancer. Boosting the morale of a child battling cancer can, in many cases, mean just as much to the kids affected. Some foundations have stepped up to fill that need, and one such organization is the Sunshine Kids Foundation, one of Altruette's charity partners for our girls' collection of charms.

Established in 1982, the Sunshine Kids Foundation contributes to the fight against childhood cancer by providing positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients. In the last few months alone, the organization has provided once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the kids, such as Meet and Greets with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, flights on the MetLife and DirectTV blimps, a visit to the set of “Vampire Diaries,” and even a trip to Disneyland! Events hosted by the Sunshine Kids Foundation provide children battling cancer with places to boost their confidence, regain some of their joy and zest that may have been forgotten post-diagnosis, and most importantly, find peer support.

We are thrilled to support a group whose mission is to bring joy to children battling cancer. 


Making the Life of a Teacher a Little Easier

Thursday, September 25, 2014
Back-to-School time has come and gone. Parents and kids are settling into a routine. Classrooms are buzzing with activity. But as the excitement of the new school year dies down, one need still remains and that’s for supplies. In K-12 public schools across the country, it can fall to the teachers to make sure that their classrooms remain stocked throughout the year. "As the year goes on, it's definitely harder to get supplies for your kids. On the one hand, you personally have more money, but on the other, school pots of resources have dried up and are not as available,” says Maggie Phenicie, a 7th and 8th grade teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Those supplies can vary from books to pencils, calculators to maps of the world, and microscopes to music instruments. But sometimes, there just aren't the funds available to ensure that every kid in every classroom has access to all of those needs. When that happens, DonorsChoose.org is there to help.

DonorsChoose.org was founded in 2000 by Charles Best, a social studies teacher in the Bronx who realized that he and his fellow teachers wished that their students could have richer classroom experiences, but simply didn't have the funds to make those wishes reality. In response, he created a place where individuals could connect with specific classrooms who had specific requests.

Phenicie used DonorsChoose to get a subscription to Scholastic Magazines to help her students improve their access to nonfiction materials. "The best part was that my whole project was funded within a week, thanks to my friends and family and the matching code from DonorsChoose,” adds Phenicie.

Today, DonorsChoose.org serves K-12 public schools, including public charter schools, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The folks at DonorsChoose.org validate each request as it comes in from a classroom in need, and after the funds are raised, ship the materials directly to the school. 70% of all projects today are successfully funded, and when that happens, each donor gets updates, thank you notes, and photos from the classroom they helped!

DonorsChoose.org aims to enable any citizen to be a philanthropist, just like Altruette. We are thrilled to have a cause partner whose sole goal is to improve public education by providing children with more enriching learning experiences. We think you'll love them too, so check out our apple charm http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/apple)!


Play Matters to Altruette and KaBOOM!

Friday, July 18, 2014
It's summer. The perfect time for kids to get out and play. But in today's screen-obsessed world, the importance of good old-fashioned play is sometimes forgotten. In fact, only one in four children get 60 minutes of physical activity of active play every day. Having playgrounds and safe opportunities to play close to home makes the choice of heading outdoors a much easier one, especially on a hot summer day. 

Darell Hammond, the founder of KaBOOM!, refers to child-rich areas without playspaces as “Play Deserts,” and calls the overarching problem the “Play Deficit.” When Hammond first moved to Washington, D.C., in 1995, he read a story in the Washington Post about two children who suffocated in an abandoned car because they were using it as a play space. Realizing that this horrifying example was indicative of a larger problem, he founded KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization which has worked with partners to build, improve, and open more than 15,000playgrounds and advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities. Additionally, KaBOOM! has mapped over 100,000 playspaces in an effort to discover locations where the Play Deficit is at its worst and provide a resource to public policy makers and non-profits who seek to address the issue.

The work being done by KaBOOM! is also important with regards to the fight against childhood obesity. Researchers from the Department of Health and Human Services have found a correlation between childhood obesity and the Play Deficit - in fact, the incidence of childhood obesity increases by 26% in areas without some form of play area present for children.

KaBOOM! has a vision of bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all children by creating great places to play and to also inspire communities to promote and support play. To support that dream, Altruette created the adult and girls Slide charm for kids and adults. http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/slide-gold
Each purchase of the Slide charm helps to destroy the Play Deficit and provide kids a great place to play, everyday!

Providing Humanitarian Aid Since 1933: The International Rescue Committee

Friday, July 18, 2014

If, like us, you've watched the news lately, you’ve definitely heard about the growing crisis in Iraq. One of the tragic consequences of the turmoil is the amount of people who have had to flee their homes – 650,000 in the last few weeks alone. These families join many others previously displaced from their homes in Iraq.

Fortunately, non-profit organizations like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) exist to provide assistance, not only to the people of Iraq, but also to other countries that need support. Founded at the request of Albert Einstein in 1933, the IRC currently operates in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities. The organization prides itself on arriving to the scene of a crisis within 72 hours – and staying as long as they are needed!

We recently checked in with our cause partner, and we learned that just a few weeks ago, the IRC announced that they would be working to provide clean drinking water to 5,000 Iraqis, including those uprooted from their homes and residents of the communities where they have sought safety. The IRC is also providing key household items to thousands of families in need and working with a vast network of health workers and authorities to distribute medicines to those suffering from chronic health concerns. And they are helping to keep vulnerable families informed of humanitarian assistance programs, as well as their rights and entitlements.

We love how dedicated and diligent the IRC is at pursuing their humanitarian mission. In fact, one of our favorite things about them is that they send more than 90 cents of each dollar raised directly to their programs and services that benefit communities in need! We are happy to support their work (check out our Suitcase charm – http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/suitcase-gold – which will remind you of how the IRC is helping to rebuild the lives of those affected by war and disaster) and we hope that you will, too!





We're Celebrating Operation Gratitude for Honoring our Troops!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

As America celebrates its day of independence, we think it's a perfect time of year to check in with the team at Operation Gratitude, one of Altruette’s military-focused cause partners. The Operation Gratitude team works year round with volunteers from across the country assembling care packages to make the lives of American troops a bit brighter. The organization ships out some 150,000 care packages a year (1,116,414 care packages have been sent since its 2003 inception!) to deployed U.S. troops, their children, and our wounded warriors. Each care package includes a letter of encouragement, snacks, hand-made items, toiletries, and some form of entertainment like a DVD.

This year Operation Gratitude is expanding its mission to include new recruits. According to Carolyn Blashek, the founder of the organization, the idea came from her Director of Operations, Angel Cuevas. Cuevas, she says, “suggested that the moment when a Marine Recruit finished Boot Camp and had earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, would be an ideal time to say 'Thank You for stepping forward and dedicating the next four years of your life to our nation.'”

We couldn’t agree more. We’re thrilled to be supporters of this terrific nonprofit (check out our Love Letter charm which serves as a reminder of the letters of encouragement and gratitude included in each care package). We hope Operation Gratitude’s work inspires you to take time during this holiday weekend to find a way to thank our troops.


Introducing Altruette's Letters & Literacy Collection

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope,” said Kofi Annan. And Room to Read is helping build that bridge for children across Africa and Asia. That's why Altruette has developed our Letters & Literacy Collection, a new line of letter charms that benefits Room to Read. Each charm represents the power of a single letter. It represents your name or the name of someone near to your heart. But it also represents the gift of reading. For each charm sold, we’ll donate a book through Room to Read.

Room to Read began with the goal to bring books to the children of Nepal. Now it works in nine countries across Africa and Asia. So far, Room to Read has established nearly 9200 libraries and published 433 original local language children’s titles in 21 different languages.

We want to help Room to Read to reach its goal of impacting more than 10 million children by 2015.

Room to Read inspired us to create this new line of charms. And as writers ourselves--we spent a decade working together in the magazine industry--we feel a special connection to this important cause. Working as writers taught us so much about the power of language to inform, inspire and shape the debate. Words have power, and they give power to those who use them well.  In honor of the launch, we’ve asked 26 amazing women to share with us the book that’s most inspired them. Over the next 26 days (A-Z), we’ll share with you quotes from these inspirational women (mainly writers themselves) on our facebook page and through @altruettecharms. Remember: Books Change Lives (#bookschangelives)

 


The Tale of the Traveling Charm Bracelet

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

At Altruette we’re always inspired by amazing causes and the work they do to help others in need. But we’re also moved by stories about friendship. So when we heard this story about a group of women in the NYC area, we couldn’t help but share it with you.

The Girl Group has been together for more than two decades. Over the past 25 years, the nine “girls” (Deirdre Virgie, Danica Nedela, Kathy Hobbs, Alison Cirenza, Andrea Costello, Sharon Kiernan, Diane Greer, Kathleen O'Neill Lynch, Sheila Riordan) have developed close, sister-like friendships. Some met in college, a few grew up together, others met as co-workers and roommates during their post-college NYC days and some were all those things! The group is now spread across the Tri-State area, Boston and Atlanta but they keep in touch through e-mails and phone calls and set off for regularly getaways together wherever and whenever they can.

“During a weekend away at one of the girl’s beach houses in Rhode Island a few years ago, we were talking about the story of the traveling pants and someone mentioned hearing about a group that shared a diamond necklace,” says Kathleen O’Neill Lynch. “And then someone suggested we share a charm bracelet.” It would be the perfect symbol of their tight friendships, they thought, but also a way to highlight who they each were as individuals. Each friend would wear the bracelet for her birthday month and then pass it along to the next birthday girl in the group.

“Would the idea, concocted over wine, ever come to fruition?,” wondered Kathleen. “I was doubtful that this often over-committed, somewhat far-flung group of wives and caregivers, moms and stepmoms, urbanites and suburbanites, Wall Streeters and media types, board members and volunteers, would be able to pull it off.” So convinced it wouldn’t happen, Kathleen bet against her friends. “If the bracelet came together within the year, I would treat everyone to a lobster dinner.” And to her surprise, it did. (She eventually added a lobster charm to commemorate that special dinner.) Andrea, one of the busiest of the bunch, had a gold bracelet her mother had given her and added the first charm to get things going. 

The hand-offs are sometimes in person, sometimes mailed, and frequently late. But that's okay, says the group. As lives have become more complicated, the bracelet has risen to the occasion. It’s transitioned from a birthday bracelet to a support bracelet. It spent time with one friend when her husband had major surgery. Another friend had it during a personal family crisis.  And a few friends have depended on it to help get through the death of a parent. “What started out as a lighthearted way to mark each of our birthdays,” says Kathleen, “has evolved into a symbol of support for challenging times as well. When something in life goes amiss, it's wonderfully comforting to know that the power of the bracelet–which is really the love of these incredibly thoughtful, long-term friends–is close at hand.”

Here at Altruette we are so moved by their story that we are sending them each a charm that represents their favorite charity.

Do you have a “charming story”? Send it to us at info@altruette.com. 


Introducing Altruette GIRLS

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nov 24, 2012

Altruette is thrilled to announce the launch of Altruette Girls’ our new line that is debuting this month at Nordstrom’s across the country. The collection is exclusive to Nordstrom and Altruette.com this holiday season and is made up of a group of 16 amazing cause partners including:  African Wildlife Foundation, CARE.org, Girls Write Now, Girl Up, GlobalGiving.org, JDRF, KaBOOM!, National Park Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Save the Whales, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Special Olympics, Sunshine Foundation, Tailored for Education, KidsAgainstBullying.org (part of Pacer.org), KitchenCommunity.org.

Each charm does something no other piece of jewelry can: they turn the wearer into an ambassador for a cause she cares about. And like our original collection, each charm benefits a different charity that we love.

Shop the charms on our site or at Nordstrom.com and Nordstrom stores.

 

 


Fulfilling My Passion for Africa

Monday, March 05, 2012

How a Young Woman Found Herself and Her Future Career in Africa 

By Amy Rizzotto, Major Gifts Officer, African Wildlife Foundation

Like many of my peers at the George Washington University, I was dedicated to the idea of studying abroad during my junior year. Hungry for a challenge, I decided to stray from the pack and avoid Europe altogether. When it came time to apply there was only one place I wanted to go: Senegal.

I packed my bags and headed off to Africa. I was only 20. But it was in Senegal that I truly came into my own as a person. Being truly out of my element for the first time—tasting new food, experiencing a new culture, hearing unknown languages, and living with a host family—forced me to figure out who I was. So often our surroundings define us, and it’s easy to blend into our environment. There was no blending in for me in Senegal.

Beyond the personal confidence and identity I found during my time in Senegal, I also fell in love with a continent and its quandaries. It was in Africa that I decided I wanted to focus my future on Africa. Many African economies are beginning to experience the kind of growth rates we have previously only associated with East Asia. The International Monetary Fund projects that Africa will continue to grow at a rate of 6% in 2012—on par with many rising economic players in Asia. (Incidentally, much of the recent burgeoning development in Africa has largely been fueled by investment from China.)

As someone who believes that development should be achieved in a socially sustainable and environmentally conscious manner, I do worry that there are some drawbacks to this type of growth. There are also the omnipresent effects of climate change—desertification and deforestation being two of the biggest threats. Africa is rich in natural resources and human capital, but still suffers from exploitation and avarice. Most African countries have been independent since the 1960s, but there are new powers pulling the purse strings that need to be kept under the international microscope.

Five years after my first trip to Africa, I’ve landed an Afrocentric job with a dream organization, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). At AWF, I constantly encounter development and conservation paradigms like those I’ve already mentioned. Our biggest challenge as an organization, however, is to debunk the notion that conservation and development are diametrically opposed. Conservation is by definition the protection, preservation, and reclamation of natural ecosystems and the biodiversity they support. Development, meanwhile, is essentially taking concerted actions that will lead to economic growth and a raised standard of living. AWF has developed a unique conservation model wherein people are the most important agents in the conservation of their wildlife and wild lands.

Too many conservation organizations take people for granted in their programming—but AWF understands that its conservation goals are unattainable without community agency and buy-in. Our efforts focus heavily on capacity building and community empowerment. We seek to make conservation and development go hand in hand by ensuring that people benefit from our endeavors to protect Africa’s biodiversity. For example, we preserve the integrity of natural wildlife corridors, which are essential to the survival of migratory animals like the African elephant, wildebeest, and lion, but we also work with communities to develop conservation enterprises—such as high-end eco-lodges—that allow locals to gain an economic benefit from having this wildlife nearby. From Rwanda to Kenya to Zambia and elsewhere, we’ve created multiple such win–win situations for wildlife and people.

In addition to our efforts to address the complex human–wildlife dynamic, AWF is the only conservation organization that is solely focused on Africa. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and upwards of 80% of our employees are native African. AWF has also been rated a four-star organization by Charity Navigator 10 years running—a feat fewer than 1% of nonprofit organizations can claim. These pride points make my job as a major gifts officer for AWF much easier.

Professional fundraisers are only effective if they genuinely believe in the cause they represent. I'm so fortunate because my values couldn’t be better aligned with those of AWF.